I will be very proud if I have changed our city in some ways that last.
October 30, 2014 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Tom Menino, Boston's 53rd and longest-serving mayor, dies at 71. He had recently published his memoirs, but announced last week that he was suspending both his book tour and his cancer treatments. "Because of his leadership," current Mayor Marty Walsh said in a released statement, "Boston is a better place today." That is an understatement -- some polls showed that more than fifty percent of Bostonians had met him at one time or another; Tom Menino was the People's Mayor.

• 30-minute documentary from 1984, produced by WGBH years before he became mayor: "Meet Tom Menino"

A remembrance by WaPo's reporter who covered Menino during his last year in office

• "In Boston you know what we call immigrants? Mom and Dad. You know what we call 'same sex couples'? Our friends. Our brothers and sisters. And in Boston, we know government isn't the answer or the enemy. It's a partner." More from his 2012 Democratic National Convention speech.
posted by not_on_display (51 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
posted by lalochezia at 9:32 PM on October 30, 2014

posted by XMLicious at 9:34 PM on October 30, 2014

posted by drewbage1847 at 9:45 PM on October 30, 2014

posted by benito.strauss at 9:56 PM on October 30, 2014

Mumbles was a gift.
Truly will be missed.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:02 PM on October 30, 2014

Thank you for posting this, n_o_d, and for doing it so well. This news did hit hard in these parts, and I was afraid it might be too parochial for MeFi. Mayor Menino was a heck of a guy, and he really did love the city and the people in it. ALL of them.
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:10 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mayor Menino was the type of politician who made you realize, simultaneously, that politics was both the height of absurdity and the most important game going. I remember my company won an award and I shook Menino's hand at some random tech industry gathering not long after I'd stood in the rain in Copley Square waiting for John Kerry to address the crowd. Kerry never showed and instead John Bon Jovi came out to placate us with some line about how it wasn't a concession, but anyway... I was really bitter and cynical about politics but Menino had that sort of Clintonian ability to disarm your skepticism and for the most part, he backed it up with good works. As far as politicians go, I don't know what more you could realistically ask for. He was one of the good guys.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:11 PM on October 30, 2014 [7 favorites]

I met him twice when I was helping out at Neighborhood Network News, Boston's public-access cable news show. He came in every so often to go on the air and talk about stuff that was going on in the city and what he was doing and planning on. He was always well-tanned, friendly... and he swore like a sailor! It was just a good feeling to meet him, listen to his voice, feel his love for the city, and know that he was Mayor.
posted by not_on_display at 10:21 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by Smart Dalek at 10:32 PM on October 30, 2014

posted by dhammond at 10:44 PM on October 30, 2014

posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:46 PM on October 30, 2014

posted by ghostbikes at 11:18 PM on October 30, 2014

posted by cadge at 11:56 PM on October 30, 2014

He wasn't my mayor--I live across the river--but he was Our Mayor.

posted by Spatch at 2:36 AM on October 31, 2014 [6 favorites]

Yesterday we were in Bosron when the news hit, and all the hospital staff were whispering about it. On the drive home I saw a car dealership on the Route 1 "Automile" that had lowered their crazy-huge flag to half-staff, which seemed to just fit the scale of the city's grief.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:20 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't say this often, but I was pleased to vote for him. He left the city much more livable then he found it.

The thing that I admired most about Tom Menino was his sincerity; a TV reporter asked if he had aspirations to run for higher office, like governor of Massachusetts. He replied that he didn't-- he already had the job that he had always wanted. And you could tell from the affection in his voice that he meant it.

Lastly, he detested Governor Mitt Romney. Menino thought that Romney was an offensive, phony stuffed shirt who didn't give two shits about Massachusetts and only wanted the job to pad his resume for the presidential run that Romney felt his wealth entitled him to.

I have a superstitious habit: when I pass the statue of Mayor Curley near Haymarket, I ALWAYS go out of my way to touch his hand. This is to say 'thank you' to the City of Boston for nurturing various members of our family for nearly 400 years, and bringing its current incarnation together. When Menino gets a statue, I will never just walk past.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:27 AM on October 31, 2014 [28 favorites]


Met him when he delivered an address at the high school robotics competition I used to run. Did a lot of good things for the tech industry in Boston.

Also really appreciated his support of the LGBTQ community, including his steadfast refusal to march in the St Patrick's Day parade (a BFD in Boston) as the organizers refused to let any gay groups march in it.
posted by olinerd at 3:48 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by The Michael The at 3:55 AM on October 31, 2014

I was surprised at how gutted I was by this news. But Menino was a huge figure in Boston life and a really great example of what a mayor should be.
posted by lunasol at 4:00 AM on October 31, 2014


I lived in Boston for five years while he was mayor and I saw it change for the better during that time. He is one of the few politicians who left a place better off then how it was when he entered office.
posted by Renoroc at 4:17 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's an interview I saw a few months back where he was talking bout the decision to disallow smoking in bars in the City. It wasn't overly complicated, but he understood the science and the externality of harm for the staff of those places and for him it was an easy, though unpopular, call to make.

He wasn't the most progressive guy on the planet, but he understood what the City needed to (slowly) evolve and he knew to take care of stuff like that.

posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 4:28 AM on October 31, 2014


Hopefully the Red Sox will do a tribute to him on the Jumbletron early next season. Maybe Manny Ortiz will speak.
posted by neilbert at 4:36 AM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hopefully the Red Sox will do a tribute to him on the Jumbletron early next season. Maybe Manny Ortiz will speak.

There are slick politicians who know the right thing to say at the right time, and are always perfectly polished in their delivery, and well coached for every media appearance. Then there are the politicians who get shit done and move the ball downfield every time it's handed off to them, and prefer to go out to meet constituents over preening for the camera with carefully crafted soundbites.

Guess which one "Mumbles" Menino was?
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:58 AM on October 31, 2014 [6 favorites]

posted by sammyo at 5:19 AM on October 31, 2014


Those clams were good.
posted by GetLute at 5:45 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by Lighthammer at 5:47 AM on October 31, 2014

posted by rtha at 6:05 AM on October 31, 2014

From one Mayor to another.

Sad to walk down the steps at Ruggles this morning as see the flags at half staff. Once I remembered why they were like that I got kind of bummed out.

posted by bondcliff at 6:09 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:24 AM on October 31, 2014

He pushed hard to get done what he thought was right for Boston, and sometimes that meant pushing through or over people (metaphorically). He made sure the neighborhoods were not forgotten during Boston's rise during the 90's and early 2000's. The Dorchester Boys + Girls Club (known as the Colonel Daniel Marr when I was a kid) got help from Hizzonor back in the day, and I know that it helped make it a better place. There are countless stories like this.

One of the very best. If there is a Heaven, he is probably drawing up plans for new expansions and redevelopments there right now.

posted by andreaazure at 6:42 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

My sweetheart grew up in Boston and she said that as a kid she had this impression that there was a permanence to the idea of Menino being mayor - like he would always be the mayor, or at least, the mayor would always be named Tom Menino.
posted by entropone at 6:51 AM on October 31, 2014

I liked it when a few years ago he got the idea "Boston needs more Bikes", and we got the rentable bike program and I got to watch a "one hundred laps around City Hall Square" bike race.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:54 AM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by A dead Quaker at 7:03 AM on October 31, 2014

Many people have only ever known Menino as their mayor. He was always a homer, and was said to have Curley-like abilities to remember names and faces. He fought some strange battles (Walmart) and championed some others ( Gay rights). I will miss his speeches. He will lay in state at Faneuil Hall because people aren't allowed to gonjugate on the Common.
posted by Gungho at 7:23 AM on October 31, 2014

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2014

I love that his legacy, and that I live in a place where this could be a mayor's legacy, is, in a sentence, "He got the streets plowed."
posted by maryr at 7:49 AM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

PS: Oh. My. God. bondcliff, that tweet is AMAZING.
posted by maryr at 7:52 AM on October 31, 2014

I remember how when he was first elected, people were fussing over the fact that he wasn't Irish-American was Italian-American. How times change.

posted by Melismata at 7:56 AM on October 31, 2014


Yeah, he was a supporter of gay rights way before it was mainstream-acceptable, nevermind popular. I didn't think he'd end up surpassing Kevin White's record for length of term in the mayorship, but he did it.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:10 AM on October 31, 2014

posted by Aizkolari at 10:11 AM on October 31, 2014

posted by fremen at 10:38 AM on October 31, 2014

posted by of strange foe at 11:18 AM on October 31, 2014

posted by JakeWalker at 11:28 AM on October 31, 2014

Rest in peace.
posted by threeants at 11:52 AM on October 31, 2014

I liked it when a few years ago he got the idea "Boston needs more Bikes", and we got the rentable bike program

Not just that; he started riding around himself. Not just once or twice for a photo-op, but actually riding a bike in the city.

40 miles outside the city near my job, I saw flags at half-mast. On the way home, the interstate DOT signs read "Thank you/Tom Menino"
posted by Dr.Enormous at 2:01 PM on October 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

RIP, Mumbles. He got stuff done and had a wonderful sense of humor about himself. But I also loved this line of his (from the NYT obit): "Mr. Menino, who never groomed an heir, suggested in his memoir, “Mayor for a New America,” published this month, that the image of him as an autocrat was exaggerated but that he exploited it to maintain leverage.

“Fear is power,” he wrote. “I owed it to my city to keep fear alive.”

It was a formula that worked. He ended each fiscal year with an operating surplus, drove up the city’s bond rating and avoided being tarred with a major scandal."

posted by TwoStride at 11:21 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by raeka at 1:13 AM on November 1, 2014

Mayor Menino weighed in on a few of my projects and it was always helpful; he could channel different constituencies' reactions accurately and effortlessly, unlike many big city mayors with whom I've worked as a consultant. I happened to be in Boston, where I grew up, this past week and somewhere in WBUR's wall-to-wall coverage they played a snippet of Menino talking about having shaken 1000 hands at an event. "There was only one person I hadn't met before, and I said to that guy, 'Where you been?'"
posted by carmicha at 6:36 AM on November 1, 2014


Even though we knew it was coming, it still hurts. Watching the beginning of "Meet Tom Menino" with him doing his speech behind his TV stand and his wife correcting him and commenting was precious. What a wonderful man.
posted by danapiper at 9:53 AM on November 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm also impressed/happy that he kept going almost up to the end. He was going to appear at an event as part of the Boston Book Festival on the 25th, just six days ago. From the added note it looks like he didn't manage to make it, but I like that he had scheduled it.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:33 AM on November 1, 2014

Even when I didn't agree with what he was doing (I loved Bernie Margolis) you really felt like he was going the best thing for the city, in his estimation. He was a politician you could feel good about liking and while I'm sorry he's died, I think we were all richer for his good example of giving a shit.
posted by jessamyn at 1:06 PM on November 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

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