Hey, there! Log in / Register

Mayor of 'the greatest city on earth' announces farewell

Tom Menino entered Faneuil Hall a little after 4 p.m. today to a standing ovation and "My Way."

"I never dreamed I would end up here, mayor of Boston during its best years," he told the packed auditorium, saying that in jobs, graduation rates, construction, credit ratings, population and crime, the city is at its best numbers in decades.

"Boston's neighborhoods are thriving as they never have," he said. "And most important to me, we are more open and accepting city."

Menino said that physically, he feels better than he has in a long time, although he joked he should be at a physical-therapy appointment rather than giving a speech.

"I'm back to a mayor's schedule, but not a Menino schedule," he said. "And I miss that." He fought back tears as he finally, publicly said that he would not run this fall, that he would give up the job he loves, even though "I can run, and I can win. And I can lead. But not in the neighborhoods, all the time, as I like."

Menino said he first started thinking about not running for a sixth term several months ago; vowed he has "no intention of letting up just yet" and is merely entering a new chapter in his life on the public scene. However, he said he would not endorse a successor, asking only that Bostonians "choose someone who loves this city as much as I do."

He cited the well known statistic about how he's met roughly half the entire city's population and answered the question of how he could do that with a litany of accomplishments helping individual neighborhoods grow.

"All you do is start in Roslindale and rebuild its main streets with neighbors. You walk with the proud residents of Bowdoin/Geneva." He also pointed to everything from a new supermarket in Grove Hall to a landfill in West Roxbury turned into a park, "dazzling new libraries" in Mattapan and Brighton, summer job programs and the start of the Fernandes project in Dudley Square.

He added, "you reach out to the homeless on cold winter nights and say they count also."

"I just did what I loved, then it wasn't too hard," he said of shaking hundreds of thousands of hands.

"Boston is the greatest city on earth," he added. Boston "gets gets better every day because of all of you. And as long as you work together, that will never change."

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

This was on #bospoli on Twitter. I didn't agree with Menino all the time by any means, but couldn't they just have said "thanks for your service" and left it at that...stay classy UMASSGOP.

UMASSGOP ‏@UMASSGOP
We respectfully disagree with a LOT of his politics, but thank #mayormenino for his service nevertheless.

And that speech was hands-down the best he's ever delivered...and it provided a how-to guide for anyone looking to run as his successor.

up
Voting closed 0

Didn't you just do the same thing?

"I didn't agree with Menino all the time by any means, but couldn't they just have said "thanks for your service" and left it at that...stay classy UMASSGOP." compared to:

We respectfully disagree with a LOT of his politics, but thank #mayormenino for his

I could be reading your post wrong..

up
Voting closed 0

I was saying or trying to say is that generally I think Menino is a nice guy, we share alot of the same politics, and he's done good things for the city, even if I didn't agree with every move he made. If I saw Menino on the street tomorrow, I would say, "Thanks for the service and all the hard work, good luck for the future, or something like that, not "I never agreed with you, thanks anyways." Maybe it was the use of the phrase "nonetheless" in that tweet that ticked me off...a bit dismissive of Menino's work on behalf of the greatest city in the world.

up
Voting closed 0

i think he was great. how many mayors did 5 terms. all that time

he mustve done something right. god bless him.

up
Voting closed 0

"i think he was great" "he mustve done something right"

This pretty much illustrates the issue. Here in Massachusetts, if you shake a few hands, all the bluehairs think you're a nice guy, even if you don't do jack, and they all vote for you because you're a nice guy.

up
Voting closed 0

how many of my elderly mom's friends were going to vote for Scott Brown because they thought he was handsome!

Of course they all changed their minds after my mom gave them her spiel about why they should vote for Elizabeth Warren!

up
Voting closed 0

The cheers, Menino, aren't because you've done such a great job. They're because so many people are so goddamn happy to see you leave.

Maybe now city workers will actually start doing work for the city and its residents, now that they're not so focused on re-electing you.

up
Voting closed 0

Wow! My uncle has worked for the city for much of his adult life. He works pretty hard and lives a very modest blue collar lifestyle in a home that someone with your holier-than-thou snotty attitude would probably sneer at. Fuck you right wing hypocrite.

up
Voting closed 0

is why the MAGOP is 11% and shrinking.

It be cute if what they hear on their radios was actually true, alas, it's just sounds vindictive, spiteful and cruel to most of us.

up
Voting closed 0

> vindictive, spiteful and cruel

... stupid.

up
Voting closed 0

City employee here, I voted for Flaherty last time. Many of us are very very happy to see him go. But thanks for painting us all with the same broad brush.

up
Voting closed 0

Boston, a world-class city? Too bad Boston has made it incredibly difficult to 1) Start your own business, 2) Get a liquor license, 3) Buy a cab medallian, 4) Instructed BPD to beat up veterans so that a parcel of land could be used less than it was at the time, 5) Crackdown on the culture of the city, especially it's DIY/Underground scene, leaving it up to Don Law to collect money and tell Boston who they should listen to (as we saw yesterday,) 6) Marginalize the people of each neighborhood, 7) Appeal to no one who isn't a middle-class white family.

TITO FOR MAYOR 2013!

up
Voting closed 0

were aimed at the white middle class. What are you smoking? Yuppies, maybe. But the white middle class LOATHE Boston and Menino.

up
Voting closed 0

You sure you're not talking about Phoenix Arizona?

up
Voting closed 0

says "Good Riddance"

up
Voting closed 0

those stupid bike lanes and the ban on electronic cigarettes.

up
Voting closed 0

that chick who's trying to run the DPW.

up
Voting closed 0

The bike lanes are an absolute necessity, and they should be kept.

up
Voting closed 0

Politics aside, how could you not like the guy? He loves his city as much as many of us do, and on that point alone we should all be just a little appreciative of him.

up
Voting closed 0

You can't say "politics aside" when you're talking about an elected official. Is he likable in a bumbling oaf kind of way? Sure, I guess. He's also completely incompetent and has held this city back.

up
Voting closed 0

He's completely incompetent?

It's clear you have no idea what you're talking about. He made this city what it is today. In the 20 years he's been in office this city has thrived. You clearly don't remember what it was like around here in the early 90s. Probably because you're some kid who came for undergrad in 2005, so you must know everything. The crime rate has declined, property values are up, employment is up. Every major metric that is used to judge a city is better now than when he took office. Period. You can't argue with that fact, because it's a fact. So please, tell me: where is this incompetence you speak of? How has he held this city back? Please wow us with your Boston Herald editorial of how terrible Mr. Menino was for this city.

We're all waiting for what promises to be a well thought out, academic argument to back up your assertions.

What a joke.

up
Voting closed 0

Correlation without causation. This city was going to thrive anyway. Look at what the national trend was in 1993, and look where the country is now. Boston has largely followed the national curve. A rising tide floats all boats, doesn't mean the captain gets to take credit for it.

up
Voting closed 0

We could have. Even with certain unique assets that make us a bit less vulnerable to national employment trends (education and health care in particular), post-war Boston followed the same trend as other major cities - a massive exodus of residents and companies outward (in fact, you could argue that in 1945 Boston was worse off than other cities because it had more or less been stagnating since the turn of the century).

Boston's genius has always been its ability to reinvent itself - we came out of the decades-long slump in the 1960s with the rise of high tech. As the companies that spurred that disappeared (remember when that building in the middle of the ramps by South Station had a big blue Wang sign at the top?), along came financial services and then biotech.

Most of that is not a mayor's doing, of course, but imagine if Boston had been controlled by a strong boss-type mayor for 20 years - a real boss, the kind that is forever trailed by investigative reports in the local newspapers, indictments and prison sentences. We'd be closer to Gotham City or Baltimore than we are.

As for taking credit, true, but imagine if we had descended into Detroitness and whole swaths of the city had turned to prairie (or whatever the New England equivalent would be). Who would we be blaming?

up
Voting closed 0

To all these anons posting:

The man ran one of the most important cities in the US for 20 years. He won 5 straight elections. He ran the city by the people, and acted as a true mayor should. I don't give a rats ass if you think he's a dolt, or he talks funny, or can go on tangents, and isn't too familiar with athlete names, but my god, the man gave his life to the city he loved. Get off all of your god damn high horses and show the man some respect. Sure, he did some things I wouldn't, but at least his heart was there. Love you, Mumbles!

up
Voting closed 0

Sure, he was a crappy mayor, but by God, people liked him and he tried hard. ISNT THAT ENOUGH?

Nope.

How can anyone seriously say he's done a good job of running this city?

up
Voting closed 0

He's done a good job running the city.

I'm 100% sure you or I would have done worse.

up
Voting closed 0

It's not a matter of what you or I would have done. It's a matter of what he did. I'm sure that if I tried to build a car myself, I would probably fuck it up. That doesn't mean that if I buy a new car and find that the passenger seat is loose, I can't complain about it.

It's this stupid provincial attitude that some Bostonians have that's the problem.

up
Voting closed 0

I'm 100% sure I could do better. In fact, I think most people with half a brain could do better.

Most of what Menino has done is feed the egos of intrenched special interest groups with attention and money. He was smart enough to know how to keep himself and his friends in power for 20 years. If you think that makes him a successful at running a city, you have pretty low standards. Perhaps you've never lived anywhere else...

Menino is the quintessential politician. I don't find the whole lot of them special either.

BTW, what's with all the anons coming out of the woodwork to defend Menino? I'd love to see the IP addresses for where they are coming from.

up
Voting closed 0

Well said. And to all those who are bashing Mayor Menino - I ask you, who would have done better? I will admit I was not a fan of him at the beginning, but over the ears have grown to appreciate how authentic and genuine he is. In this day and age I doubt the city of Boston will be able to do better!

up
Voting closed 0

Where have you been?

The BRA (the source of the wizard's great powers)
No schools for you! (to downtown residents who aren't a major voting block that he cares about)
Taxi driver abuse? What taxi driver abuse? (as he looks the other way while medallion owners stuff his campaign war chest)

The list goes on -

Could we have done worse? That's like saying the Sox could have done worse than acquiring Lackey - sure he had his moments- he's a major league pitcher for a reason - but we all know the rest of that story. I'd say Menino is the John Lackey of Mayors.

up
Voting closed 0

Menino's best speech was his last but all he's really been is a twenty year placeholder. The Big Dig/Greenway (if that's an accomplishment) was state and federal, the Convention Center and waterfront were mostly state (MCCA/Massport) and any development that was allowed elsewhere was private. Most of the schools are still terrible, police, fire, DPW have new faces but the same issues as twenty years ago. His greatest accomplishment was meeting people and getting jobs for friends. WBZ overnight host Jen Brien last night asked callers to speak about Menino and name his biggest accomplishment. After three hours, the host was perplexed that the only accomplishment mentioned by dozens of callers was "Main Streets".

up
Voting closed 0

I didn't see Kevin Joyce in the audience. I heard he was putting together an exploitory committee....

up
Voting closed 0

What is with all the spite against Menino? Sure he may have made some decisions that people (including me) didn't agree with, and his pace of progress has slowed down over time, but the notion that Menino "held the city back" is just nonsense or a result of horribly short memory. This city was a shit show in 1993 when he became Mayor. Although Menino obviously benefited from the same economic trends as the rest of the country, he undeniably fostered safety and development in this city and served as a great steward. Simply put, the quality of life hear is exceedingly high due to the way he runs it. To those who dislike the fact that he was a political operator, and think that Boston was ready to be run by the Sam Yoon's of the world, I have some bad news for you - our next mayor, if he or she is to be successful in running this City, will need do exactly the same thing. Politics isn't an intellectual game in this city, its a street fight. Moreover, if anything, Menino was less of a political favoratist than his predecessors and treated the neighborhoods fairly equally, doing away with alot of the true clan politics, and tolleration of clan turf traditions, that dominated this city prior to his time in office. Although I personally was hoping that he would bow out this time to let in some new blood, he has left the City better than when he found it and was a great mayor. Perhaps the next mayor will change the city even more and, hopefully, make it even better.

up
Voting closed 0

You have low standards. Lots of cities were a mess in the early 90s. Do you really think Menino has held onto his post because he's a brilliant leader and a shrewd operator? He can barely string two sentences together. Please name ONE thing that was directly Menino's doing.

up
Voting closed 0

To remember the clusterfuck of incompetence that was Ray Flynn.

The city was dirty, decaying, falling apart, and full of holes.

Menino may have outlived his usefulness and faltered when it came to learning from other cities and vision stuff, but goddamn the trash got picked up, the streetlights were lit, the holes got filled, and the place looked like somebody gave a shit again!

up
Voting closed 0

So Ray Flynn sucked. Menino made sure the trash got picked up. Whoop-dee-doo! This is a city of over half a million people. We should hold our elected officials to higher friggin standards than "do the streets get cleaned sometimes?" Mayors of major US cities don't get to hang their hats on doing the bare minimum. When I see people suggest that he was a great mayor because the trash got picked up and the neighborhood playgrounds were cleaned up, I get a little irate. The mayor should be leading the charge in ADVANCING the city, not just making sure it's scraping by.

up
Voting closed 0

Lets not be biased towards one another. Ray Flynn was Mayor during a time when every major city which included NYC, and other small sized cities like Newark NJ. Baltimore MD, most of these cities were financially strapped due to Reaganomics..NYC Boston Detroit Baltimore Hartford Miami, DC , and many other urban cities all had depressed economic conditions, rise in homelessness, crime, murder rate was high, drug use was at its peak during Reagan era, cocaine pouring in by the tons on Americas Ocean shores, vacant homes, rise in welfare recipiants, and you want to blame Ray Flynn for not doing his job!! Put it this way Ray Flynn probably tried as hard as Menino, but couldn't reach his goal, because of lack of federal dollars coming in. East Boston was a shithole in the 70s and 80s so was Brooklyn NY funding was not there, city folks had to be content in what city of Boston already had in place, weather it was an old gritty looking park with rusted seat benches, or old School buses for StudentsBack then that was the norm. We weren't living in Lexington or Concord, we all realized that. If you haven't witnessed the ups and Downs in the last 50 years, you shouldn't be analyzing or question about past mayors..This city was built by immigrants and the Irish had it tough when they arrived here in Boston, they weren't welcomed here by the Wasps they were treated like shit...

up
Voting closed 0

Brooklyn was not a shithole in the 1970s and 1980s. Parts of it, yes, but then, parts of any city of 2.5 million people would be. I say this as somebody who lived in Brooklyn in the 1970s (the "Ford to NYC: Drop Dead" era) and a bit of the 1980s.

As for Flynn, yes, he did a lot of good things - starting with getting the streets in Allston/Brighton plowed again (White seemed to go out of his way to ignore the neighborhood). Coupled with an increase in state aid (remember the Massachusetts Miracle?), Flynn managed to keep the city running despite Prop. 2 1/2. And he did a great job bringing the city back together again after busing (although the end of his term did give us Charles Stuart).

None of that takes away from what Tom Menino did, however (and really, only 70 year olds are allowed to talk about the state of the city?).

up
Voting closed 0

Ray Flynn made some pretty bad mistakes, but one thing I can credit him for is helping to cool people's tempers down during an extremely tense and turbulent time, despite his overt opposition to mandatory school busing.

up
Voting closed 0

Renovated all the neighborhood playgrounds for the kids, turned the Boston waterfront from a wasteland into a lively place with the new convention center, etc, put in bike lanes, started an autistic educatinal program in West Roxbury and a camp for autistic kids, started all of the Boston Main Streets programs for each neighborhood to help small businesses to grow and the neighborhood business districts to develop, Sorry, got to go now. More later.

up
Voting closed 0

This stuff reads like the accomplishments of the mayor of some podunk town in Indiana. Where's the meat?

up
Voting closed 0

Dudebro, it'd be nice to hear some things you might do if you were to run for mayor now in order to benefit the masses which includes everyone from business owners, big and small, to city employees to residents in every neighborhood, to visiting tourists.

up
Voting closed 0

I don't have to lay out a 10 year plan to be able to criticize the job Menino's done.

up
Voting closed 0

You could plant a lot of trees in city neighborhoods like he did.

up
Voting closed 0

You're talking in vague circles. You say the mayor hasn't accomplished anything, then when his accomplishments are pointed out, dismiss them as small time.

Someone else points out even bigger accomplishments (bond rating, health care), and you dimiss them as being from some "podunk" town in Indiana. (Whatever that means)

What specifically are you looking for? More 50-story buildings. (Please tell me that's not it...see Kevin White's administration) Bars open until 4 in the morning?

up
Voting closed 0

Hizzoner did absolutely nothing for South Boston.

up
Voting closed 0

Got rid of widespread graffiti, pretty much sent a representative to even small street meetings if there was a neighborhood problem, visited every family, without cameras, of every murdered person, started the building of Dudley a square, put events like concerts and the circus on the ugly city hall plaza (which he did not build), got the food truck businesses operating all over the city, put in the hub bike stations.

up
Voting closed 0

This is all small time stuff. It's nice and all, but again, this is a BIG city, not a small town.

up
Voting closed 0

This is a big city made up of small neighborhoods. Those of use who live in those neighborhoods appreciate stuff like this, of not being ignored at the expensive of big downtown projects as happened in the later White years.

But you want big stuff? Boston has a great credit rating, a world-class health-care system (not just the teaching hospitals, but things such as public health and emergency medical system), our economy is booming (granted, much of that is beyond a mayor's control, but getting the convention center built and getting Vertex to move in certainly were his doing).

Are Menino and his minions (hello, BPS and BRA) perfect? No, but nobody is. As somebody who lived in Boston in 1993, I think he's leaving it a better place than when he started.

up
Voting closed 0

I agree that he's leaving it a better place than when he started. I don't think anyone would disagree with that at all. I just think very little of it is due to him. It's nice that he didn't ignore the outer neighborhoods, but he gets a ton more credit than he deserves.

up
Voting closed 0

So who gets the credit then?

up
Voting closed 0

The businesses and the people. Basically, the economy of this city and state has continued to grow in spite of the backwards policies and deteriorating infrastructure.

up
Voting closed 0

I thought he held the city back and didn't let anyone do anything in the city? He was controlling and domineering, right?

Personally, my expectations for most politicians are so friggin low that I credit Menino for not having fucked up anything majorly. He put the brakes on a lot of things, but then again it would have been nice had someone put the brakes on some of the post-war urban renewal projects that seemed so great at the time. He wasn't corrupt, but he used the city to keep himself in power. At least he wanted the job -- all our Governor's over the pat 20 odd years have wanted to move on to the next thing as soon as they got in there. Our last three Speakers of the House were all criminals!

Menino was concerned with getting Boston on the "top ten" lists (Greenest cities, best bike cities, walkable cities, whatever) which is more than a bit superficial but it does result in things like the Citizens Connect app, Hubway, tree planting programs, bike lanes, etc.

He was an arrogant, petty prick and a humble bumble at the same time. Maybe we could have done better, but we most certainly could have done far far worse. That may be a pathetic attitude but I live by the theory of diminished expectations.

I just feel very anxious about who's to come. They may be better speakers or move forward lots of development, but I don't think we will find anyone who loves this city as much as he did.

up
Voting closed 0

He did hold the city back. It could be so much better. I'm sorry, I expect a lot more out of high-profile elected officials than "well, at least he didn't fuck anything up!"

up
Voting closed 0

Details?

I can name a few, but I'd like to hear from you.

up
Voting closed 0

Ultimately businesses and people make the city move, regardless of who sits in the mayors chair. I can't tell if you're problem is with Menino specifically or the concept of a chief executive.

up
Voting closed 0

Adam, it's interesting that you cite the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center as a success story and then hit Menino on the BRA. I don't want to go too far afield (I recognize that you were basically being complementary to the mayor), but I think I should remind people of something regarding the BRA, the Mayor and the convention center.

Suffice it to say that I was involved with that project when the BRA was doing the heavy lifting on it (chiefly during the parcel acquisition and environmental cleanup phase). For all of the BRA's faults, and even Menino's (about whom I was always kind of on the fence - I never thought that he himself was the visionary, but he had the sense to have lots of them around him) the team I was on in the BRA, the Mayor and just a handful of others (notably at Massport and elsewhere in government) were the some of the only people anywhere who believed that building a convention center in "a windswept wasteland too far removed from the happenings of downtown and the Back Bay" would spur massive development and turn out to be a great success story that draws hundreds of thousands of out-of-towners to this wonderful city each year.

People will likely not remember, but you can pull the newspapers from the mid and late 90s, and you will see that nearly everyday the BCEC project was excoriated as a "white elephant" or another "boondoggle", etc.

Notwithstanding Steven Lynch and Jack Hart's attempts to shake the Commonwealth and City down for tens of millions of dollars in "mitigation" that was really for their own little South Boston slush fund (google "South Boston Betterment Trust" - how Lynch has gotten to where he is still astounds me), the project was brought in reasonably close to budget and on-time considering its massive scale (it's roof used to be referred to as Logan's sixth runway).

For the many who now call Boston and its environs home and who were not around here before the BCEC project, it is difficult to get them even close to appreciating the differences between what was down there in 1995 and what is there now. I think that it is fair to say that most people think that it's better now (even if you miss Victor Coffee (fun fact: most times you drink coffee brewed from a K-cup, you get a little bit of Victor, as Green Mountain Coffee bought Victor's Roasters).

I think that the last point in this disjointed diatribe is one that I have continuously made over the years - that the SB Waterfront/Seaport is a success story for the notion of "government priming the pump". This does not, of course, always work, but it did down there. If it weren't for the Mass. Convention Center Authority, the BRA/City, Turnpike Authority, MBTA, and, arguably, mostly Massport (which has been responsible for the development of most of the offices, hotels and housing north of the Haul Road and east of B St. to the BMIP) there would be next to nothing happening down there now. The private money followed the public money in (after the public money reduced the risk) and I think that when we look back at that area in another 20 years, the public investment will be viewed as having had great returns (they are already looking pretty good).

up
Voting closed 0

The BRA has yet to figure out how to "revitalize" a neighborhood without driving out the residents and fundamentally highjacking the characteristics that made a neighborhood interesting or enjoyable in the first place. So it makes sense that the "innovation district" has been a success as, aside from some artists lofts and the Channel, the majority of the area over there was not a neighborhood. Currently it's starting to get some character, but the things people normally point to -- the BCEC, the hotels and restaurants -- could be in Seattle, San Antonio or Tampa. They're pretty corporate and soulless, but they bring people in and make money. There are things like Harpoon, the ICA, the remnants of the artist community, Childrens Museum that provide a bit of character, so maybe over time the place will grow into a neighborhood - so that's a success.

But how do you get this kind of infrastructure investment and loving care from municipal and state authorities without having to sell your soul to a mall and drive out the people who are currently there? The South End never really figured it out. JP is obnoxiously wrestling with this topic. Even the People's Republic couldn't prevent Harvard Square from becoming a mall. (I won't even mention Kenmore Square - gag.) Old families in Davis Square happily "cashed out." And now even Eastie is dealing with this (I can probably be considered part of it to a degree).

Gentrification is not an easy issue, but I think Menino generally did a decent job on that front. It resulted in him being called parochial or obstructionist, but for people who live in these neighborhoods that's not always a bad thing. In the case of the area around the BCEC, there just weren't a hell of a lot of neighbors to worry about. Less friction, so it was an easier lay-up, but his administration should still get some credit for it (along with the federal and state investments).

up
Voting closed 0

I think Menino's legacy is mixed. He's not all bad, obviously. And I don't fault him for "being a politician." That's how things get done. All the wonderful plans in the world won't help if you can't get elected.

But where I think he fell down is on housing and infill development. The legacy of that will be sharply rising housing prices that drive lower and middle earners out of the city. If you're worried about gentrification, I would tell you that it's going to get a lot worse if we don't build housing to meet the influx of demand. To be fair, the responsibility for this also lies on all the other inner suburban towns as well.

The emptiness of the cleared land of the Inner Belt, the Southwest Corridor, for the past 30-40 years is a stain. Why has that sat empty for so long? A lot of people have talked about the Seaport area. Yes there's been some development, but not really the increase in housing that we desperately need. Instead, now they're talking about "micro apartments" as if we were out of space. We're not out of space! There's plenty of room in the city for normal apartments and housing to be built. Every day I walk along Commonwealth Avenue past underutilized lots and empty spaces and wonder why. There's a scourge of single-story strips all over Boston, where adding 2-3 floors would do wonders for vitality, with minimal impact, yet nothing is done.

The job of the Mayor is to be an effective advocate for city-wide issues as well as a friend of the neighborhoods. Sometimes these roles are at odds. Everyone benefits when the city adds housing and jobs, but everyone wants it to be done elsewhere -- "not in my backyard." It's a case of dispersed benefits vs strong local opposition. The Mayor needs to cut through that and get every neighborhood to participate in growth; instead of being afraid to challenge every entrenched NIMBY group. The neighborhood groups have a role to play, and that's in figuring out how to do the investment in a community friendly way. But if all you get is obstruction then the forces of catastrophic money just wind up destroying one neighborhood at a time, starting with the politically weakest and moving up.

Finally at the end he started to make noises about addressing this problem. "30,000 more units by 2020" etc. That's too little, too late. We need to be adding more than 30,000 units every year.

Punting on transportation issues by blaming MassDOT/MBTA is no excuse either. Fact of the matter is that city departments must work with the state agencies to get things done in the city; and for a long time it seemed like they were completely uninterested in collaboration. Supposedly that is changing this year, but I'll wait til I see it. And it's more than just bike lanes -- which notably only got installed when Menino decided he liked to bike. It's about changing the attitude of the city departments towards non-motorized transportation. This is the city with the highest "walking share" of commute to work (well, besides Cambridge), and pride in being a "walking city" and yet the official BTD policy is to install push-button pedestrian "beg" signals! We have some of the narrowest sidewalks of a city, the Common is still swaddled by a set of perversely wide one-way streets, and the supposed Greenway resembles a six-lane highway median strip. Despite our small geography, we still have ridiculously high minimum parking requirements, and we still give away resident parking permits for free even though it's well known that just leads to shortages. And why aren't there more bus lanes? Real ones, that get respected. Don't want to hear about "narrow streets"; most of the buses run on busy multi-lane, overly wide streets that once hosted streetcars. Despite the heavy use of the buses, despite the low car ownership, despite the traditional urban form in many places, the attitude of the city towards buses is simply "transportation of last resort" or "managed decline." That has to change.

A lot of these problems pre-date his reign, so I don't blame him for it entirely, and even if he had tried harder, it may not have been enough. And again, the other inner suburbs have to be part of it too, especially with the wacky political borders we've got. But it's time to move on, and I'm glad he decided to go out with pride, instead of clinging to power.

up
Voting closed 0

One person is responsible for getting the Convention Center built, James Rooney, former chief of staff for Menino. Rooney is a guy who should be running for Mayor!

up
Voting closed 0

The jury's still out (at least in my mind) on whether that brand-new neighborhood between that and the court house will be a true walkable Boston neighborhood or whether it's going to wind up like downtown Atlanta - something that looks like an eastern city from afar but which close up is actually an endless series of pedestrian hostile concrete bunkers.

up
Voting closed 0

Like a decent leather jacket, neighborhoods take years to whether into being someplace with character and that you can really describe as a having its own feel or "brand" (>shudder<). Unfortunately for the Innovation District the time required to get there will probably be around the time that it will be under water.

up
Voting closed 0

As usual, you bring up a very good point. I agree with you that the jury is still out on this.

The interesting part is that that area (between the BCEC and the Federal Courthouse) was and is where private parties own(ed) the land. Much to the dismay of many, they still, even now, seem completely content to leave so much of it as an asphalt wasteland and to just continue using it as a parking cash cow. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for a developer, or consortium thereof, to build a world renowned something and to do so at 3.5% interest - but we have seen nothing but...parking.

I remember talking to the McCourts (and I'm still amazed that they were so kind and serious with a 20 something nobody!) about what they wanted to do there - but that was before they sold it to buy the Dodgers. I'll bet they wish they could have that one back.

up
Voting closed 0

I seem to recall McCourt wanted to buy the Sox and build a new stadium on his parking lots (not to be confused with the other plan to build a new Patriots stadium there).

up
Voting closed 0

I don't recall them ever mentioning building a new Fenway on their land there, but that they would do so was pretty commonly held intelligence back then (in fact, as I recall, the majority of their contribution in any partnership to buy the Red Sox was going to be that land).

Regarding a new stadium for the Patriots, that was proposed for construction on Massport land and was apparently far enough advanced that the South Boston legislative delegation pressed hard enough to get a formal legislative amendment to Massport's enabling act that expressly prohibits it from leasing land for construction of a stadium (there were existing restrictions on the land's sale).

up
Voting closed 0

Menino's lack of vision and ad hoc development cost us dearly. Per my post below, it has been a painful 20 years in the making and has at least another 10-20 years to go, pales in comparison to some truly amazing similar areas - Boat Quay in Singapore, Harborfront in Cape Town, Port in Buenos Aires and I'm sure more.

There are two things that make it successful for now:

a) Despite the amount of waterfront real estate in the city the restaurants are about the only decent places you can go to eat on the water in the city (which amazes me).

b) Sure people are moving there - but perhaps with the exception of Vertex, the main motivation is to move out of more expensive digs in the financial district - often with 8 digit payoffs to the connected developers to help entice people to make the move/build. The cost of this "success" is no bargain for the city.

Question - I know now they sing the praises of the BCEC and it's not quite a white elephant and Rooney did a good job pulling it out of a cavernous hole - but isn't it still a fraction of the original estimates on hotel rooms, economic activity etc. that they used to justify it?

up
Voting closed 0

Stevil, I understand and share the complaint about waterfront access, but I think the comparison to those other places is misplaced.

If you gave Tom Menino or anyone else the tools that officials have in those other countries (combined with the weakness of property rights that private owners have - particularly in Singapore), we would have everything you ever dreamed of and more.

I think that the Harborwalk has been a remarkable accomplishment given our legal tradition, an accomplishment which, in many instances, has brought the City right up against (and possibly on top of) the property rights of the abutters.

up
Voting closed 0

Actually has VERY strong property rights based mostly on the British system (civil rights are a very different manner). The difference is Singapore is run by planners and technocrats (many trained at Harvard and other elite US universities).

I don't know about S. Africa or Buenos Aires (I lived two years in Singapore) - but my guess based on observations they have laws similar to ours (although corruption could be a problem). As others have pointed out - this was a pretty blank canvas and in my opinion, esp. by comparison to these other places - we blew it. It's not terrible, but a lack of vision and planning threw away a HUGE opportunity by allowing the usual "one proposal at a time" to take firm hold in this area. We are ending up with an eclectic hodgepodge instead of a cohesive whole (and if you've ever been to Tokyo, you can see what that results in). I don't want Disneyland - but that area has no chance of ever having character or charm either.

up
Voting closed 0

It's not terrible, but a lack of vision and planning threw away a HUGE opportunity by allowing the usual "one proposal at a time" to take firm hold in this area. We are ending up with an eclectic hodgepodge instead of a cohesive whole (and if you've ever been to Tokyo, you can see what that results in)

The North End is an eclectic hodgepodge. Government Center plaza is a cohesive vision.

I've been to Tokyo, not sure what you were getting at though.

up
Voting closed 0

I don't think the North End is eclectic at all - endless rows of charming, mostly short brick buildings fronting narrow streets spoking off of Hanover - love it as do most residents and tourists. Perhaps not planned, but there's a character and a feel to it probably due to the era of construction - not planning. Government center is a bad example - bad building, bad planning and still only one building completely out of context with its surroundings - that's not cohesive and it's not vision and the DoCoMo architects that love it be damned - it's an eyesore and should be replaced if we can ever afford it.

If you want an excellent example of timeless planning look at the Back Bay - one of America's first (the first?) planned communities. Deliberately wide boulevards, height restrictions, architectural mandates for bays and gardens among other controls. Tourists go there just to go there!

To me the simple test is - would I go somewhere perhaps just to buy a coffee or a drink and stroll the streets - the other international places I mention, definitely. North End, South End, Beacon Hill Back Bay, even Rozzie Square to get out of downtown- I actually do that on a regular basis. If I go to the seaport, I have a destination in mind and have no desire to wander up and down the street just to admire the views. To me, that is a simple definition of failure for a modern urban space.

Not everything needs to be a strolling area (eg. - Boylston Street near Fenway) - but the Seaport - missed opportunity.

Can you name a single neighborhood or street in Tokyo (other than maybe the Ginza or one of the shopping areas like Akihabara for electronics) that you would want to wander around? Tokyo is the poster child for Urban Blech caused by a complete lack of planning.

up
Voting closed 0

"Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources."

To me, an eclectic neighborhood is one that was derived from the work of a multitude of owners, each with their own motivation, over time. So I would say that the North End and the Back Bay both qualify even though they have some clear stylistic and planning visions and histories. There's quite a bit of variation within both neighborhoods. That's one of the reasons I favor smaller parcels, as opposed to the monolithic large-block projects that most easily get approval these days. Even if a project fails, if it's a small parcel, then the negative effects are contained. And even if it succeeds, too much of a good thing can be a problem, if it's monotonous.

I'm thinking of places like Gainsborough Street, which despite the classic architecture, is overwhelmingly monolithic and repetitive. On the other hand, the intersecting St Stephen Street is ostensibly similar, but I find it way more attractive because of the variation, which reflects the ideas of different people over time.

I know of some of the "urban blech" you speak about in Tokyo -- it's a big place, and they certainly had their share of failures -- but there are places other than Ginza to go. I remember wandering into Azabu-Juban one day and being impressed by the intimate streets and shops. Sadly I did not take pictures, though these days there is street view. I would say that places like that are more characteristic of Tokyo than you would think. For example, Yanaka, Ueno, parts of Shibuya, Shinjuku (e.g. see Kagurazaka), etc. Central Tokyo is actually largely dominated by low-rise, narrow streets of this sort; some have said that the urban sprawl of the metro area is because of this lack of height. Perhaps that is a failure of planning; although the density achieved is quite good, Tokyo has unique population pressures. I think Tokyo is actually one of the most wonderful cities to wander around in, but it's definitely a different sort of place than your typical European (much less American) city.

up
Voting closed 0

Dudebro, you are exactly what your name says. You have no real intellectual argument against this man, and you can't, because he did a great job for 20 years.

Oh, this is a big city! He did small town stuff!

He lowered the crime rate. Property values went up. Every major metric of urban living is better now than when he took office.

But yeah, total disaster.

Just stop talking. You're epitomizing the idiotic crew that is anti-menino.

up
Voting closed 0

NONE OF THAT SHIT IS HIS DOING.

Property values in cities nationwide went up. Crime rate in basically EVERY city in the country went down. But yeah, let's all clap for him because he managed not to fuck up.

up
Voting closed 0

Dudebro is indeed a bit blunt and doesn't understand some of the complexity- but look at the numbers:

Lowered the crime rate - any more than any other city? - HUGE demographic/social issues behind this that happened almost everywhere.

Property values went up - yeah - less than they did since 2000 in LA, SD, DC, SF and NY and only slightly ahead of SF, Miami, Portland and Seattle and less than the case shiller Composite 10 index.

Not saying he didn't do anything (and despite the naysayers - not #^@%ing up is an accomplishment when half your workforce is very modestly paid - as a RR friend told me years ago - they only make $40k a year (I adjusted for inflation) - you can't push them too hard or they push back - like it or not dems da facts).

Epic fails:

Despite one of the fastest growing budgets in the state measured by expenditure per student, Boston's schools still rank near the bottom in the state (and that INCLUDES the exam schools)

Residential property taxes in the city have roughly DOUBLED in 10 years - probably at least 3-4 times the rate of inflation and the budget is up about twice the rate of inflation - all while reducing staff by some 1500 workers. Despite this, the city has not saved an extra nickel - per my previous post - all of that had to go into the pension fund with ZERO reforms. One more recession - especially if it hits the real estate sector and we go over a massive cliff. He has made no provision for this. Our real estate market dodged a hail of bullets in 2008 through sheer luck/timing (we were fortunately about a year or two late to the bubble) - had it happened 2 years later we would be in unimaginable fiscal pain.

Success in the seaport - are you kidding me. Hey - I enjoy the restaurants over there, but if you want to see well developed seaport areas you need to get out more - try Singapore, Buenos Aires or Cape Town - and I doubt it took 20 years to get them to look that way (it'll be 30-40 years by the time we are done with this).

Again - he did care and he held the city together, albeit with spit, duct tape and glue. Now we need somebody who can come in and fill in those holes.

I've had half a dozen friends (interestingly all people who have moved OUT of the city) ask me if I'm running. I laughed. But I'm happy to lend a hand fixing these things if the right person asks (not holding my breath).

up
Voting closed 0

Okay, Dudbro, I'm assuming at this point that you are just a troll, but in the event that you aren't: what exactly is it that Menino (or any other mayor) was supposed to do? What is the "big town" stuff you think he should have done? If the Mayor's job description includes more than making sure the city is safe, clean and a decent business and culteral environment, I really want to know. Seriously.

up
Voting closed 0

Look at it this way..... We want small town stuff in our city, like green trees, no graffiti, clean streets, sidewalks safe for walking, etc. Boston was pretty much a dive before Menino came in and worked for the people living in the city, making it nicer for them (which is why people like him so much). We appreciate the improvements he made.

up
Voting closed 0

Boston's best years should be ahead of it, but it sounds like he expects us to go downhill now. Menino has a huge ego, but he's also really touchy about his own lower middle class presentation. The result is that he can't give credit to anybody smarter than he is.

This has real results, because the best thing he could do for Dudley, for instance, was get the School Department ("Where Dreams Go To Die") to move in there. I have tried selling outside of City Hall, if those city employees have more than $10 in their pockets on any day I'd be surprised. So these people have no money and jobs with very little hope of success or advancement. What are they bringing to Dudley besides a few bucks to buy sandwiches?

The best thing Menino believes he can do for black and hispanic neighborhoods like Dudley is give a few of them city jobs. That's what I mean by lowered expectations for himself, and a low regard for what Boston could do.

Menino is not terrible, there are plenty of poorly run ethnic-centered cities in Massachusetts to compare Boston with. But it could be so much better.

up
Voting closed 0

People love living in Boston, new people are moving in, and businesses keep arriving.. Pretty darned great ending. Hope the next person does as well and can maintain what Mayor Menino has done.

up
Voting closed 0

This comment section is hilarious. 45 year olds in Roslindale and West Roxbury saying that because their fucking streets got plowed when it snowed, Menino did a bang up job. THAT'S THE BARE MINIMUM! If your streets AREN'T getting plowed and the trash doesn't get picked up, toss the bum out of office! Don't applaud a guy because he made sure city services did what they were supposed to. We have a crumbling transportation infrastructure (don't feed me a line about MassDOT, Menino deserves responsibility too), young people are leaving the city in droves after college because the ancient folks in power don't want to do anything to attract them, and BPS is still horrible. This city has real fucking problems, but I guess it doesn't matter because the streetlights work or something. Wake the fuck up!

up
Voting closed 0

This line of discussion about "young people move away from the city, we're dying here!!" It gets played a whole lot because obviously young people starting out without kids, just starting a job out of college, maybe not owning property, generally speaking have lots of disposable income to blow on shit.

But as it was highlighted in Spinal Tap, Boston is a bit of a college town. If every student who graduated from the universities around here stayed, it would be a disaster. There aren't enough jobs. This isn't enough housing. And every year there is another graduating class pumping in more young people from around the country and around the world. THEY ALL CAN'T STAY FOR KEEPS.

Back in the 70s-80s in the waning heyday of flight to the burbs, yes, there was a need to keep these people in the city, but I think that we're well on the way to doing that now. Many people stay on in Boston. The economy for over-educated recent grads is far better than for greater Boston locals with non-"creative economy" education/backgrounds (folks who would have worked in manufacturing or in the trades or service industry).

So if Menino had just catered to people who want to drink until the sun comes up and vomit in the bushes on the way home, he'd be considered a God?

up
Voting closed 0

Of course they can't all stay. But it's a well known fact that there are a large number of them being lured away by the lifestyle being offered in other cities that aren't necessarily bigger, just more willing to cater to the younger crowd.

And keeping bars and transit open till 3 on the weekend isn't "catering to people who want to drink until the sun comes up and vomit in the bushes on the way home". That dismissive attitude towards anyone who wants a more vibrant nightlife scene is a huge part of the problem.

up
Voting closed 0

...to put you in this town?

The transit issue is not one that the Mayor can do much about - but the level of conversation on that topic has gone up recently and Secty Davey has brought up the return of Nite Owl service on weekends, so it could happen. If bars were allowed to serve until 3 pm that would actually impact whether or not people stayed in the city and didn't move somewhere else?

According to the city's stats: "1 out of every 3 Boston residents is a member of the 20-34 year old age group." They even have a cheezey web site http://www.onein3boston.com

So what could we do to make it better? What is the right percentage of young professionals to have in the city? Not being snarky, I just want to understand what it is that would keep people here, aside from bars and transit until 3. At one point I was in that demographic and living in Boston. I moved away for a while because I just wanted to live somewhere else and travel, not because the bars closed early.

up
Voting closed 0

Well, we could start with more housing. We don’t even need to make it affordable. More, denser construction, even luxury gives the well to do more options and newer places to move in to. That turn over older housing stock, making it more affordable for the younger, middle, and working classes.

Transportation is a big one. More liquor licenses and making the process to open restaurants and shops easier is another (which only boosts employment and economic development). Fix the taxi problem.

They’re not inherently tough problems, but they end up being problems that are hard to fix because of entrenched interests. There’s only a few Developers, and they don’t want the competition. There 2-3 guys running the taxi cabal, and they don’t want competition. Residents who can afford to have everything dropped at their door, don’t want to deal with the masses of the city at their feet, ect.

up
Voting closed 0

I recall going out until all hours of the night in my yoot which probably officially ended in the early 90s. We often had lots of fun until about midnight/1 am. I don't recall anything good happening after 1 am and most certainly not after 2 am (any respectable bands had stopped playing an hour or two after that).

Tell me what kind of vibrancy people are having after 2 am that involves having the bars/clubs open (I get the transit part maybe running a train or two each hour until 4 am - you need to get home - I just don't see why people want bars open until the wee hours and you'll have to sell me on this 3 am vibrancy thing that doesn't involve drunks peeing and vomiting behind my car).

up
Voting closed 0

Just because you couldn't do it without getting into trouble doesn't mean it can't be done. Plenty of other major cities keep bars and clubs open late without issue.

up
Voting closed 0

http://www.universalhub.com/2013/police-use-pepper...

h/t to Adam Gaffin for impeccable timing

up
Voting closed 0

We often had lots of fun until about midnight/1 am. I don't recall anything good happening after 1 am and most certainly not after 2 am (any respectable bands had stopped playing an hour or two after that). Tell me what kind of vibrancy people are having after 2 am that involves having the bars/clubs open

I think the idea is you can't remember something that didn't exist (or wasn't allowed to exist). The request is to keep bars (and public transit) open past the current hours and people will stay up those late hours, having fun - wake up the next day and say "I want to stay."

I have some blearily happy memories of doing this in NYC -- staggering to a friend's apartment as folks were heading off to work. There can be fun after 2 am, but is that really all it takes to convince 20-somethings to stay in Boston?

up
Voting closed 0

Where the bars stay open until 4 am even in the burbs if they still have customers. My recollections of 2 am and beyond are a) there was no live music because the bands had long stopped playing, b) members of the opposite sex have all gone home c) the guys were all drunk and either drinking more, fighting, urinating, vomiting or driving under the influence.

I don't see how keeping the bars open post 2 am is a major plus for the city and as you note - I highly doubt anyone's going to move out of the city because the bars close at 2 am. Besides NY - what cities have later bar hours AND later transit anyway (DC has 3 am Friday/Sat only - that might be a reasonble cost/bennie solution)?

up
Voting closed 0

As a less than 45-year old from Roslindale with kids (apparently the most un-hip demographic you can imagine), I agree with you that the schools are a real problem and this is something I think Menino failed on or, at least, pushed for real change on WAY too late. We should have the best public school system of any city in the country. We are, after all, the best city. Public transit is run by the MBTA. If you think that Menino (or anyone other than the ghost of Tip O'Neal) has sway over what that quasi-public instrumentality does you must be new here. All of that said, please don't tell me all this bullshit and angst about Menino is about bars not staying open, or not enough concerts, or some shit like that. Let me tell you what - if you have been blaming Tom Menino for personally not letting bars stay open past 2am notwithstanding some perceived latent burning desire by the people of Boston (or the dudes on your hall) to have them stay open later, you have waisted alot of energy, or you don't get off of campus very much to talk to people in the neighborhoods. The bars close at 2am because most people who live near them WANT them to close at 2am. Menino, if anything, was (is) the people's mayor and gave people sway over the way their neighborhoods were run. Some people blame him for giving people too much say over local affairs, but I think that is how he stayed in office so long. Boston is a small town. That is part of its charm and what keeps people fighting to live here. But its not for everybody.

up
Voting closed 0

The number of burrito joints in Boston has skyrocketed since Mayor Menino took over. God bless you, Mayor.

up
Voting closed 0

I could see either Alayna Pressley or Michael Ross as the one's moving this City forward!! Old style Southie/ West Roxbury / Hyde park Politician types are the things of the past, and Boston residents do not want to go back to the days of the 1970's and 1980's..New generation new ideas..will make a better Boston.

up
Voting closed 0