The Mayor retires

He is 70 years old and has had health problems, but the big reason he is leaving is because he can’t get out and meet people the way he always has.  The New York Times put it this way

At an emotional announcement Thursday inside Faneuil Hall, Mr. Menino slowly navigated his way up the center aisle with his wife, Angela, to the thunderous applause from official Boston as well as city workers and admirers from the neighborhoods. Over the loudspeaker, Frank Sinatra crooned his defiant anthem, “My Way.”

“I am here with the people I love, to tell the city I love, that I will leave the job that I love,” Mr. Menino, 70, the city’s longest-serving mayor, told the standing-room-only crowd of well-wishers. He said essentially that he was not up to the job, at least not the way he wanted to do it. After illnesses last year that left him hospitalized for two months, he said he could not keep up his schedule of attending every ribbon-cutting, every dinner for a new homeowner, every school play — the small events that filled his days and threaded him to the city’s residents.

Thomas M. Menino says has met over 50% of the residents in Boston, a city of over 625,000 at last census.  No one will argue with that.  He’s been Mayor for 20 years.  Kevin Cullen has a slightly different take on this in today’s Boston Globe.

He talked about how he’s met half the people who live in Boston. That’s a great line, too, but it is misleading if you’re trying to figure out Tom Menino’s ability to hang onto a job for 20 years in a tough, unforgiving game. He may have met half the people who live in the city, but he’s met all the people who vote.

Eveyone has their favorite Menino moment.  I worked for the City of Boston for about 14 years.  I wrote talking points for him, letters for his signature, served on committees years before I started working for the city.  We would get the word that TMM needed something and knew it was the signal to drop everything else.  But my favorite Menino moment has little to do with my work.  Oh, I was at the event because of work, yes, but that isn’t the important part.

Thomas M. Menino spoke some comforting words to a Mattapan’s Edrei Olivero during a neighborhood walkthough.

Thomas M. Menino spoke some comforting words to a Mattapan’s Edrei Olivero during a neighborhood walkthough.

I was working at the Boston Housing Authority and everyone on executive staff had to attend some communities days.  Community days were when the residents of a public housing complex got together to socialize, picnic, and have fun.  They began as part of the push to make integration go more smoothly and to ease racial tension.  I did my share.  At one, I was helping a little girl of about 4 get an ice cream cone.  After standing in line, she got her cone.  We we walking back to where her mother was waiting and the ice cream plopped out of her cone onto the ground.  We were right in front of the Mayor.  Of course, the little girl started to cry.  Mayor Menino bent down and took her by the hand saying, “Don’t worry.  I’ll get you another one.”  And being the Mayor, he got right in front of the line and got her another cone.  We then walked  her back to her mother.  Maybe that little girl remembers the man who got her an ice cream but even if she doesn’t, I remember.  It remains my favorite Menino moment.

Kevin Cullen again

About 10 years ago, the mayor walked into a seminar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He searched for familiar faces, and he settled on mine and we laughed at the odds of a couple of knuckleheads like us being in the same room at Hahvahd.

An earnest young graduate student sheepishly interrupted our conversation and asked the mayor to explain his political success.

“I’m a Boston guy,” Tommy Menino told the kid, shrugging. “I’m just a Boston guy.”

His genius is making everyone feel they are from Boston, no matter where they came from.

Photograph Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/file 2010