Mea culpa. On December 4, this very blog expressed the sense that Boston Mayor Tom Menino should hang it up. Quit while he was ahead. Yield to diminished physical capacity and rest on his laurels. Accept congratulations for all he has done for Boston and ride off, if not in the sunset, at least to enjoying his wife, kids and grandkids. Last night’s performance by the mayor in his state of the city address turned that premature advice on its head.
The formerly-ailing mayor strode into Faneuil Hall to a rousing welcome, using a cane but strong in his presentation, positive about his accomplishments and optimistic about the future. It was all cemented with his humility and gratitude for the outpouring of good wishes from the people of Boston over the past several months. “I’m just Tommy Menino from Hyde Park.” Not, as he put it, a person of fancy words. Thankful. Appreciative. “You pulled me through.”
He then proceeded to highlight the manifold accomplishments of the city over several years: what’s happening in the neighborhoods, new housing, recreational facilities, school improvements, “a crane over Dudley,” the Orchard Gardens success story, reduction in violent crime, 40,000 new library card holders. On and on, with examples adding up to the assertion that the “state of our city is striking, sound and strong.” And, despite what’s happening globally and in Washington, he reminded his audience that success is all about the efforts of the people of Boston.
The city’s longest serving mayor then carved out a vision for the future that appeared to leave no doubt that Tom Menino will run for reelection. Half the residents of the city are women, he noted, and then announced a program to make Boston “the premier city for strong women.” He’ll create a women’s workforce council, work for pay equity for women, provide $1 million for day care centers, create a forum for better networking, and more. He’ll also work with Harvard and MIT to bring free online courses to community centers to connect adults in the neighborhoods with the knowledge economy. And he’ll continue his crusade against gun violence. He also pledged even more development and more housing.
Menino remains a leader with a vision for the future and the power and dedication to realize it. Coming full circle, he said he’d “never been more optimistic about our future,” and told the audience, “Just pull for each other as much as you pulled for me.” The audience of several hundred lapped it up. Indeed, it was hard not to be swept up in the celebration of his rehabilitation and reemergence. And it was hard not to believe that he will go for another, sixth term as hizzoner, the mayah of Boston. The only remaining question is: if he is reelected, will his health be good enough to permit him to serve for four more years with the vigor he demonstrated Tuesday evening.
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