Mayor Martin J. Walsh holds first department head meeting facing casino deadline

Mayor Martin J. Walsh held his first department head meeting Monday at City Hall, an event that drew 60 to 70 commissioners and Cabinet chiefs to the Eagle Room. It was standing-room-only for the 45-minute summit, which included officials from parks, finance, police, fire, public works, and more.

“Mayor Walsh convened his first department head meeting to bring the leaders of each city department together and thank them for the tremendous work they do for the people of Boston,’’ Walsh spokeswoman Emilee Ellison said. “He again emphasized his open door policy, inviting everyone to bring their ideas to the table.’’

Walsh has appointed a handful of his own people, but the majority of department heads and Cabinet chiefs are holdovers from the administration of Mayor Thomas M. Menino.


It was another busy day for Walsh, who acknowledged he is still getting used to the pace of his new job. He spoke to reporters in the morning after addressing a conference at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center.

“When I said the line ‘one day at a time,’ I mean it literally, one day at a time,’’ Walsh told reporters. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow, but today we have a full agenda meeting a lot of State House — State House — I mean City Hall, staff.’’

The most pressing issue Monday was a filing deadline for two proposed casinos. Wynn Resorts has proposed a casino in Everett, near the Boston line. Mohegan Sun has pitched a gambling resort on the Revere side of Suffolk Downs, the racetrack that straddles the East Boston- Revere city line.

The state gambling commission rejected Walsh’s request for an extra month to review documents to determine if Boston has grounds to assert it is a host community for one or both projects.

Both developers have invited Boston to negotiate compensation for the city as a “surrounding community.’’

Under state law, host communities have far more leverage in negotiations than those designated surrounding communities, and host communities have the right to vote on casino proposals.


On Monday, Walsh decided tentatively to accept Boston’s status as a “surrounding community’’ to both casinos, but he reserved the right to assert host status. He reiterated that he could take his fight to court, but seemed skeptical of taking legal action.

“I don’t know if there is grounds to fight the two proposals . . . but we’re going to look into that,’’ Walsh said. “We spoke about it over the weekend. The grounds, some people say they are there. I just think if we go that route, it’s going to be very expensive for the city.’’

Earlier in the morning, Walsh gave opening remarks at the meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association
, a trade group for people who put on conventions. Walsh was preceded on stage by two men dressed as pilgrims.

“As I was walking in, I guess there was some discussion of should I speak in a Dorchester accent so people really get a feel, or should I fake it,’’ he said. “But I don’t have to fake it. I have the real accent, and this is it.’’


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