A personal remembrance of Mayor Thomas M. Menino

Tom Menino died yesterday at the young age of 71.  After having declined to run for a 6th term, he officially retired from office in January this year and was soon after diagnosed with advanced cancer.  He was my boss for some 13 years – I think everyone who worked for the City of Boston considered him that – but I was far enough up the food chain to have only a couple of layers between us.  Plus I was on committees and volunteered  in ways that put me in touch with him.

I believed it was when he was running for term number 5 that a poll showed that 57% of Boston residents had met him personally.  I assume that those polled were adults and not children as I have to believe an even higher percentage of kids had met him as he made the rounds of community centers, schools and other events.

Menino spoke with Edrei Olivero, 7, of Mattapan, before a neighborhood walk in 2010. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

Menino spoke with Edrei Olivero, 7, of Mattapan, before a neighborhood walk in 2010. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)

In fact, my favorite memory of the Mayor was with a little girl.  I know I’ve told this story before but I’m telling it again.

I was at a Boston Housing Authority community day.  Early summer, late afternoon.  Some people were grilling and there were chips and stuff, but the big attraction for the kids was the ice cream.  If I remember correctly, Ben and Jerry’s had donated, or one of their stores or distributors had, ice cream and cones.  Some volunteers were scooping it out.  A little girl had attached herself to me and wanted some.  I got her a cone and we were walking away with it when the ice cream fell out of the cone and onto the ground – right at the feet of the Mayor.  She started to cry.  He picked her up and took her over the ice cream table and got her another cone.  Of course he cut into the front of the line.  One boy started to object and another whispered loudly, “That’s the Mayor.” She was happy.  The Mayor was happy.

And that is how I will remember him most.  He loved all the children of Boston and I think they loved him back.

 

Menino spent his last Halloween (2013)as mayor of Boston as he always did -- on his Hyde Park front porch giving out candy to neighborhood children. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

Menino spent his last Halloween (2013)as mayor of Boston as he always did — on his Hyde Park front porch giving out candy to neighborhood children. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

 

Election Day in Boston: Will the unions rule?

Since my pick for Mayor, Charlotte Golar Richie is not in the final, I will vote for Marty Walsh.  Some of the reasons are in Kevin Cullen’s column in today’s Boston Globe.  [Warning:  This is a subscriber link so I will quote more of it than I normally would.]

Mercifully, the campaign for mayor of Boston is over, and while I have no idea who will emerge the winner at the polls, I am quite certain who lost most in this race: union workers.

If there was a message, both explicit and subliminal, in all the debates and some of the news coverage, it’s that the city’s unions and unions in general are peopled by greedy, unreasonable, insatiable Bolsheviks who would gladly make Boston go the way of Detroit as long as they can get Bunker Hill Day off.

Funny, but I don’t know union workers who think like that, but then I’m in the tank.

My father was able to raise a family, and my mother was able to be a stay-at-home mom, because he belonged to a union. I belong to a union, and at one point, for reasons that remain a mystery, was elected president of the editorial workers at the Boston Herald back when Ronald Reagan became the darling of free marketeers everywhere by busting up the air traffic controllers union.

I grew up in a union household.  We were taught not to cross picket lines.  I joined SEIU 888 when I had the opportunity and helped negotiate one contract with the City of Boston.  I’m with Kevin.

With all due respect to Tommy Nee from the patrolman’s association and Richie Paris of Local 718 of the firefighters, if they think they had it hard with Tommy Menino’s minions, try negotiating a contract with the union-busting lawyers Rupert Murdoch flew in and sicced on us at Herald Square back in the day. I was just a kid and naively suggested to one of those Armani-clad lawyers my earnest wish that we could agree to add a dental plan because many of my members didn’t earn enough to get their cavities filled. He looked down his glasses at me and sniffed, “Maybe they should get a second job.”

That’s exactly the attitude of McDonald’s and Walmart and any number of corporations that pay their leaders millions and their workers so little that they have to get a second job or, in many cases, file for government assistance. Taxpayers subsidize corporations that pay their people off in the dark.

“Look,” Tommy Nee was saying, “unions built this country. They built this city. And right now union members make up a big chunk of the middle class in Boston. But they are stereotyped and disparaged in a way that would be considered deeply unfair if you were talking about any other group.”

I’m not sure that people know that if you work for the City you have to live in the City for at least the first ten years of your employment, but if you are priced out of the housing market, it can get tough.

The Globe and the Herald editorial pages can’t agree on what time it is, but they agree on the danger of electing a mayor who is a union activist.

It’s perfectly legitimate to ask if Marty Walsh would be beholden to unions, especially given the amount of money that unions have given his campaign, but both candidates should have been asked just as often if they’d be beholden to developers or law firms or any number of other monied interests.

The emphasis on the threat that unions pose to the future of the city left many union workers wishing they were only half as powerful as their critics believe them to be.

Martin J. Walsh at a Central Boston Elder Services meeting Thursday in Roxbury,

Martin J. Walsh at a Central Boston Elder Services meeting Thursday in Roxbury,

But I’m not just voting for Walsh because he is a union man.  I like his proposal to re-do the Boston Redevelopment Authority and what he has said about changes to education. There is also evidence from his time in the state legislature that he knows how to built coalitions.

I don’t know if Walsh can win, but I think he is the best man to make changes that will transition the City from the Menino Era.

Photograph:  Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston Globe

More politics, race and South Boston

Earlier this year I wrote about Linda Dorcena Forry, the Haitian American who won the special state Senate election to represent South Boston and parts of Dorchester.  I know Linda and I assumed that she would do a great job and win over any reluctant Southie constituents by sheer force of her personality if not her voting record.  Someone, I think it was Jim Braude on Boston Public Radio, said that she lights up a room when she walks into it.  So Dorcena Forry gets elected and you would think that would be it.  You would be wrong.  There is the small matter of St. Patrick’s Day.

For many decades there have been two events marking the holiday in Boston.  First, there is a breakfast at which Boston and Massachusetts political figures tell bad jokes and try to sing.  It was once just a small event, but now it gets TV coverage.  I think it has gone downhill the last few years, maybe since the William Bulger/Stephen Lynch hosting days ended.  Second, there is a parade.  This is a huge event, also televised.  It is notable for the drinking that takes place among those watching and for the fact that few politicians march.  They don’t march because the breakfast tuckers them out, but because the organizers do not allow LGBT groups to participate.  (I should note here that both events are organized by private non-profits and that my husband has marched in the parade as a 000000000paying gig.)  These events are an opportunity for South Boston to shine and celebrate.  Everyone is Irish at these events.  Or so we all thought.

Yesterday we woke up to this front page news. 

Southie St. Patrick’s Day breakfast slugfest begins early

Emcee struggle raises questions of tradition

What was this about?   Last year’s temporary host, William Linehan, the city councilor from South Boston, was making noises that he was not going to give up his hosting.  Linda Dorcena Forry who by longstanding tradition should be the next host was, ahem, not Irish you see.  The Boston Globe explains

The battle is over who has the rightful claim to host the event. Call it the Southie version of Game of Thrones.

For generations, the breakfast — which is essentially a political roast — has been hosted by the sitting senator in the First Suffolk Senate district. And since the 1940s, that office has been held by an Irish-American man from South Boston — from John Powers to Joe Moakley to Billy Bulger to Stephen Lynch to Jack Hart.

The neighborhood’s stranglehold on the office was so pronounced that it was referred to as the “Southie seat,” even though it also includes much of Dorchester, Mattapan, and a piece of Hyde Park.

But in May, Linda Dorcena-Forry, a Haitian-American woman from Dorchester, won that Senate seat after narrowly defeating Nick Collins, a young state representative from South Boston, in the Democratic primary.

Everyone had something to say.

William M. Bulger, the former senator who transformed the event into the made-for-television spectacle that it is today, took over hosting duties from then-senator Joe Moakley while Bulger was still a state representative. But in a phone interview this week, Bulger said “that’s mostly because I was such a ham, and Moakley finally said, ‘You want to take this thing over?’ ”

But Bulger went on to support Dorcena-Forry’s thinking, saying that “it has always been the understanding that it was the state senator that was the host.”

US Representative Stephen Lynch, who succeeded Bulger as state senator and breakfast host in 1997, also supported the idea that Dorcena-Forry should host.

“I believe the sitting state Senator has always served as host,” Lynch said in a statement. “As our new Senator, Linda should be the host, and I am happy to lend her my expertise and any assistance I can provide.”

Linehan and his supporters also weighed in.

“It’s never been stated anywhere that it has to be the state senator,” Linehan said. “It’s a cultural thing. There has never been anyone who hosted it who does not live in South Boston, but there have been people who have hosted it who were not the state senator.”

and the last host who was a state senator?

But Jack Hart, the last of the sitting senators to host the event, took a different approach. He said the election of Dorcena-Forry ushered in an “unprecedented time,” and he said he hoped that Linehan and Dorcena-Forry could sit down and work out a compromise. “There are no rules. There’s no rule book to go by regarding who hosts the thing.”

He said he did not hand over the duties to Linehan; he simply left politics, and later got a call from Linehan saying that as the ranking South Boston elected official, he wanted to host, and asked for Hart’s advice on how to do it.

Representative Nick Collins who lost to Dorcena Forry agreed with Linehan leading some to accuse them of trying to revive the racial divisions of the past.

For her part, Dorcena Forry believed she should be host and pointed out

“The sitting senator has always hosted, and you don’t have to be Irish to do it,” Forry said in a phone interview. “I believe that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Everyone’s celebrating Irish culture. You don’t have to be 100 percent Irish.”

Dorcena-Forry argues that she is no stranger to the Irish-American community. She is married to Bill Forry, an Irish-American who is editor of the Dorchester Reporter.

“I have four bi-racial children — Irish-American and black. I’ve been to Ireland four times. We celebrate the culture in my house. My two oldest sons were baptized in St. Augustine’s chapel in South Boston. I’m not just a random black woman who has this seat.”

Linda Dorcena Forry

Linda Dorcena Forry

I think that everyone realized that they were in tricky political waters which could rapidly become dangerous.  Dorcena Forry wants to win re-election next year.  Bill Linehan is facing Suzanne Lee, a Chinese American woman who narrowly lost last time, this fall.  (The South Boston council district includes Chinatown and what people would call “downtown” Boston, so it is not really a Southie seat.)  So this morning the headline read

After backlash, St. Patrick’s roast dispute is over

Dorcena Forry to host fest as councilor relents

The resolution followed mounting criticism of Linehan’s refusal to allow Dorcena Forry to host the event, as officials from the governor to the mayor to the mayoral candidates said she was the rightful emcee.

The controversy shined an uncomfortable spotlight, at least momentarily, on racial tensions that many hoped Boston had left behind. It touched a raw nerve from the halls of the State House to the walking paths of Castle Island.

Many who live in South Boston will be unhappy because Linda Dorcena Forry is not only Irish but has dark skin, but most won’t really care.  But for politicians – particularly the white men running for Mayor this fall – it was important.  They mostly lined up to support Dorcena Forry.

“It will be different, but Boston is changing, South Boston is changing,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said after a ribbon-cutting in Faneuil Hall. “Let’s have a change in leadership over there, and let’s have Linda Dorcena Forry be the mistress of ceremonies.”

And so she will be.  By next March, it is possible that there will be Councilor Lee and the Mayor of Boston will be black or Hispanic.  Boston is changing fast and Southie has to change also.  Maybe I’ll watch the breakfast next year:  All the folks running for Governor will be putting in an appearance.

Photograph: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff/file

Burying the dead

Tamerlan Tsarnaev hijacked a car and kidnapped the owner but did not kill him.  He died in a shootout with police – maybe from gunshots, maybe from his younger brother running over him.  These are facts.  It is likely he set off at least two explosive devices near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  Either he or his brother shot a MIT police officer in cold blood.  Does this mean he does not deserve to be buried in his adopted hometown of Cambridge?  Or barring that, somewhere in the Boston area.

We have a long history of abusing the bodies of our enemies.  Antigone wants to bury of the body of her brother, Polyneices.  At the beginning of the play named for her, she tells her sister

…they say he [Creon] has proclaimed to the whole town

that none may bury him and none bewail,

but leave him unwept, untombed, a rich sweet sight

for the hungry birds’ beholding.

Antigone is trying to persuade her sister they should commit what we would call civil disobedience and bury Polyneices anyway.

Achilles dragged the body of Hector behind his chariot for days after the Trojan had killed his best friend, Patroclus.  Achilles finally relents to Hector’s father.  We are told that the gods had kept the body from showing signs of abuse.

Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, and Albert DeSalvo perhaps the Boston Strangler, were both buried in private cemeteries.  So was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Massachusetts law gives a cemetery the right to refuse burial, but I haven’t seen any stories that discuss how often this right is invoked.  A number of funeral home directors have spoken out saying that the protests outside the funeral home are not right.  The most interesting comment came from a North Carolina Republican who sponsored legislation to limit protests by groups like Westboro Church.

“The family can have peace and say goodbye to their loved ones without hearing screaming and noise,” says North Carolina Republican state Rep. John Szoka, who sponsored a bill this year to strengthen that state’s ban.

Most Americans find the Westboro protests outrageous because they believe deeply in the right of a family to bury their dead and not be challenged about it, Sloane [David C. Sloane, author of The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History] says.

That’s what makes the protests in Worcester unusual. Tradition dictates that bodies of even the most heinous criminals be given over to the families to deal with in their private grief.

Regardless of his actions, though, a funeral home is not the appropriate place for such public expression of anger, says Szoka, the North Carolina legislator.

“I’m not really in favor of protesting outside funeral homes, no matter how disgusting the individual or whatever he did,” Szoka says. “There are other venues for that.”

Cemeteries in Massachusetts may have the legal right to refuse, but they should think more about why they exist and what their mission is.  The problem they are thinking of is future vandalism.  Another act that most of those protesting would normally find outrageous.

Protesters outside the funeral home.

Protesters outside the funeral home.

As I understand it, Muslim dead, like Jewish dead need to be buried as soon as possible.  They cannot be cremated.  Quite honestly, I think the statements of all the Massachusetts politicians who have spoken including Representative and Senate candidate Ed Markey, Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, Mayor Thomas Menino and Governor Deval Patrick have been less than worthy of them.  They are behaving like so many Creons.  The Worcester funeral home director, Peter A. Stefan and the Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme seem to be the only ones actively and constuctively working toward a solution.

Whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body is buried in another state or sent back to Russia, what is going on is not worthy of Massachusetts.  It is not worthy of “OneBoston.”  We are better than this.

Photograph:  AP

Translation of Antigone: Richmond Lattimore

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

Dealing with the housing crisis: The Hong Lok example

The housing crisis in the United States is more than home sales, lending rules and interest rates.  Yes, these are important to the economy, but so is the inability of people to find safe, affordable rental housing in a place they feel comfortable.  One of the things that has happened with all the federal budget cut-backs is the reduction of federal funds to help develop affordable housing.

One of the last projects I helped get off the ground before I retired was the Hong Lok House development in Boston’s Chinatown and I was overjoyed to see it featured in today’s Boston Globe business section.

The $35 million project accomplishes the rare feat of expanding affordable housing in Chinatown at a time when luxury high-rises are popping up across the neighborhood, bringing an influx of wealthier renters.

Completion of the first phase next month will create 32 units for low-income elderly residents, who will move from the old Hong Lok building to a new one next door. The original building, which has fallen into disrepair, will be demolished to make way for another 42 units by spring 2014.

Perhaps more noteworthy than the project’s recent progress is the decadelong struggle to get it financed, which underscores the extreme difficulty of keeping housing in city neighborhoods affordable to a diverse population.

Behind the struggle is a dramatic drop in federal funding for new affordable housing.

Over the past decade, Boston’s allocation of community development block grant money has plummeted nearly 40 percent, to $15.3 million this year, and so-called Home funding has dropped 60 percent, to just $3.55 million, according to city records.

A separate US Housing and Urban Development program for low-income seniors has also been slashed about 50 percent.

That forces developers of affordable housing to rely more heavily on private lending and gifts from institutions.

Jamie Seagle, who would be the first to admit that he and I butted heads more than once, deserves the lion’s share of the credit for making this happen.  It was not only the funding that was an issue, but also building in an historic district with historic structures.   I think the agreement we were able to reach that preserved the historic facades and built units behind them were consistent with the character of the neighborhood worked for everyone.  Yes, it wasn’t easy:  many architects, federal agencies, state agencies, the neighborhood, and at least 3 City of Boston agencies had to agree.  But the fact that we could shows that the process can work.

“To create a site in Boston where you can maintain affordable housing is almost an impossibility today,” said James Seagle, president of Rogerson Communities, Hong Lok’s nonprofit developer. “What’s happening for people of lesser means is that the rents are going up, and the properties where they can obtain housing are steadily going away.”

He said the project involved a decade of legal and financial engineering that generated a three-foot sheaf of closing papers; in contrast, Rogerson’s first project 30 years ago, the 75-unit Farnsworth House in Jamaica Plain, took only 18 months and produced a slim 1½-inch binder for the closing papers.

When I retired last August our first banker’s storage box was full.

When thinking about President Obama’s Second Inaugual speech defending the role of government, one need to look no futher than project like Hong Lok which are happening all around the country.  These are public/private partnerships.

In the case of Hong Lok, developers tapped a complex patchwork of 23 funding sources, including a $17 million loan from Boston Private Bank & Trust Co., a $2 million gift from State Street Corp., and $1.4 million from the Charles H. Farnsworth Trust.

That was on top of millions of dollars provided by the state Department of Housing and Community Development and multiple city agencies.

“It used to be that you’d have three or four sources of funding; now it’s 10 or 12 and sometimes even more than that,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Too many people are being forced to leave Chinatown, and this housing will create more possibilities for people who want to stay there.”

So as we head into budget negotiations, Congress and the President need to think about rental housing and how to fund it.  Yes, people like Jamie Seagle can make the current climate work and I don’t think anyone is advocating for the days when a huge percentage of any affordable housing project is federally funded, but more cuts will only hurt the people on Ruth Moy’s waiting list.

But that program alone is unable to keep up with the demand. When Hong Lok opens, for example, it will have a three- to five-year backlog of applications from people trying to get a unit. The complex will have an attractive mix of comforts, including a rooftop garden, a community center for seniors, and an expanded adult day health program.

“I don’t even want to think about it,” Ruth Moy, executive director of the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center, said when asked about the demand. “We have a very long waiting list of people who want to stay in this neighborhood. But how long can they wait for affordable housing?”

Three facades conceal a building that houses newly built Hong Lok housing units

Three facades conceal a building that houses newly built Hong Lok housing units

Photograph JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Why Mitt Romney will never be Tom Menino

Yesterday Joanna Weiss wrote a column in the Boston Globe in which she asked her readers to imagine Mitt Romney as Mayor of Boston.  After I stopped laughing, I began to think of all the reasons why this was not only a bad idea, but why Mittens would never make as good a mayor as Thomas M. Menino.

Weiss said

The beauty of a mayorship, as far as Romney goes, is that it’s less an ideological job than a technocratic one. Without the desire to use his office as a stepping stone, Romney would be free to problem-solve, to do the kind of work that made him an appealing public servant in the first place.

She goes on to cite several examples like the new flyover to Cape Cod which fixed the Sagamore Bridge problem and Massachusetts Health Reform (which was a largely Democratic idea) of examples of his technocratic skill at work when he pretended to be governor of Massachusetts.  Weiss seems to be under the impression that Mitt could be another Michael Bloomburg.  Somehow I don’t think so.  Can you see Mittens taking the Orange Line to work from his new mansion in Jamaica Plain?  Or the Red Line from Savin Hill?

So what if he never did well with the little folks? Mayor Mitt wouldn’t have to go to every ribbon-cutting or community meeting. That’s Menino’s thing. Mitt could be the fixer, the big-picture guy, ensuring that Boston keeps wielding an outsized influence on American life.

Right, Joanna.  A large part of what makes TMM a success is that everyone who lives in Boston has met him.  At least it seems that way.  And he cares about the 47%, a large number of whom make up the Boston population.  This is why a new idea was unveiled today.

Starting Wednesday, residents can pay parking tickets and tax bills, get a library card and dog license, even register to vote, at a van dubbed “City Hall To Go.” A newly refurbished bomb squad van, the vehicle was made to resemble a food truck, but is essentially a rolling office, outfitted with laptop computers, wireless access, and the necessary paperwork from a host of city departments.

City officials say the program is the first of its kind nationally, and they hope it proves a convenient alternative for residents who do not use the Internet or rarely get downtown.

The interior of the City Hall To Go truck has laptop computers and wireless Internet access.

The interior of the City Hall To Go truck has laptop computers and wireless Internet access.

Staff in the mayor’s office say the rolling City Hall provides “one-stop shopping, where residents can take care of several tasks at once.” Workers can provide information from school registration forms and summer camp guides for parents to tax exemption forms for the elderly.

The idea for the moving service sprang from meetings in City Hall this summer and was later proposed by several residents as a suggestion for The Mayors Challenge, a national competition designed to spur ideas to improve cities.

Menino, known for his atten­tion to neighborhood concerns and quality-of-life issues, quickly lent his support.

In a statement, Menino said the pilot program will show that “government can change” to become more flexible and convenient.

“City Hall To Go builds on our mission to shake up the status quo in municipal services and offer a new way for Boston residents to get information and engage with the city on a whole host of services we offer,” he said.

I do hope that Weiss was trying for humor in her promotion of Mitt for Mayor, because somehow I doubt that at idea like City Hall to Go would have been either solicited as an idea or implement by him.

Given his age and health, it may be time for Mayor Menino to retire gracefully from the picture, but there are many homegrown candidates who could be mayor.  Men and women who know where Hyde Park and Mattapan are and care about our neighborhoods.