Mayor Thomas M. Menino today took his record fifth oath of office at Faneuil Hall.
In his inauguration speech (complete text), Menino said his next four years would be devoted to four main goals: Transforming education in Boston, creating a high-tech research community on the waterfront, improving basic city services through new technologies and bringing the city's residents and neighborhoods closer together.
Menino compared Boston as the recession seems to be ending with Boston in 1776 after the British fled: A bit shaken up, but still fundamentally strong. He said the city's population is heading toward 700,000, the public schools are "the most improved educational system" among big cities, crime is down, the budget is balanced, and neighborhoods are stronger than ever.
But, he said, we can do more. "Today, knowing that all of our potential remains, we innaugurate a new era of shared innovation."
Education: He called the right to a decent education "the civil-rights issue of our time" and called for a series of reforms, including bypassing arbitration at "persistently underperforming schools." He said he wants "one system of education in Boston:" free of "wasteful feuding" of resources in arguments about such issues as pilots and charter schools.
Tech development: Called for an "Innovation District," focused on green, biotech and Web development, which would include "live/work opportunities" for entrepreneurs and researchers on the South Boston waterfront. "It's time to get back to engineering," such as "new designs, new floorplans, new material."
Improving municipal services: He said he was never really "the urban mechanic" and the monicker is completely outdated now because "we are all urban mechanics," who, thanks to things such as smartphones, are increasingly involved in fixing problems. He issued "an open call to foundations, entrepreneurs, technologists and neighbors: Help us make Boston the hub of municipal innovation."
By April, he said, he will identify two dozen existing programs to cut and consolidate and six more to expand and support.
Bringing Bostonians together: "We've come very far, from the divisions of decades past, but we still have some distance to go. [Sometimes, it seems] We share zip codes and sports teams more than a shared sense of experience. ... Complacency is no excuse for leaving people out. Our aim should be even higher." He said he would propose ideas for using parks, businesses, houses of worship, even our restaurants "to bring our city closer."
He concluded, "let us show the world that here, history is just a prelude, that here we don't lay capstones, we lay foundations."