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Battenfeld: Mayor Michelle Wu’s ‘Wutopia’ has no cars, empty skyscrapers


No cars. Empty skyscrapers. Fossil fuels banned. Big businesses are fleeing the city. Free in the city center.

This is the Wutopia that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu wants, her vision to transform the city.

Mayors like Kevin White, Ray Flynn and Tom Menino helped build Boston, and she could preside over its dismantling.

Wu is overseeing an unprecedented business decline in the city in recent memory, with a more than $1 billion hole in the budget due to falling tax revenue. And bike paths don’t generate revenue.

His answer ? Exclude business and the titans of industry and raise taxes.

The circle of ultra-progressive advisors she surrounded with Wu figures won the mayoralty without help from business leaders, so why contact them now?

His proposal to raise the business tax rate beyond the current limit has faced stiff opposition from business leaders and may receive a cold reception on Beacon Hill, but so what?

Between rising trade taxes and new restrictions on fossil fuels, it makes it difficult to make major new developments.

Wu presents the proposed tax hike as a tax cut for residents, arguing that the late Mayor Tom Menino did the same thing when he was in office.

She talks about “re-imagining” the city, increases green fees at the city’s two historic golf courses so they are less affordable for average residents, and provides grants only to her various progressive causes.

The attempt to compare Wu’s tax increases with Menino’s is invalid, critics say, because the city’s empty downtown never experienced the decline it faces today.

And although Menino has been criticized for his authoritarian tactics, he has always been approachable to most business leaders.

Business leaders say Wu is taking the city on a dangerous path toward self-destruction, like some other cities that have imploded.

“This is an unprecedented time in the last 30 years, and placing more financial burdens on a struggling industry is not a solution at all,” said Greg Vasi, CEO of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. “We are deeply concerned that raising business tax rates to recoup lost revenue will only bring us closer to the catastrophic urban loop seen in many other American cities. »

And if the economy begins to deteriorate, it’s only a matter of time before it affects major Boston institutions like hospitals and universities.

Wu’s plan to reinvent Boston comes as she has won a series of political victories.

A year and a half before Boston’s next mayoral election, there are no challengers and serious questions are being asked about who would be bold enough to take on the job.

Despite the close scrutiny Wu faced during his first term, no member of the right stepped forward to become a voice of opposition.

Is she unbeatable? Will she just run for another term – if she runs again?

For all the criticism progressive darling Wu receives, she still enjoys enormous support in liberal areas of the city.

She’s made major missteps, like trying to move O’Bryant School from Roxbury to white West Roxbury and throwing a segregated Christmas party, but there’s no indication those mistakes are significant enough to hurt her re-election chances .

The question is, what will Boston look like after he leaves?


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