The following is a transcript from Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s interview with local news media yesterday at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. It marked the first interview Menino has given since being admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital more than a month ago.
MAYOR THOMAS M. MENINO: Thanks for coming by.
CHANNEL 5: How do you feel?
MENINO: I feel much better. I came upon this as Angela and I were on our voyage. I got very sick in Palermo. Eventually we left there and came directly home and went to Brigham and Women's Hospital. That’s when they found out that this virus, infection, this crushed vertebrae in the back.
After all these tests – interesting thing was now they say you have type 2 diabetes. I had tests in June and August, never showed any of that. Any of that at all. Now I’m going through all these tests. You’re in the hospital, I think 50 days now. It’s just wearing. I keep on reading the papers. My staff comes in the daytime going over stuff going on in City Hall.
But you know this city is working out fairly well. You know, everybody is pulling together. As mayor, I’m humbled by all the cards and letters and all the stuff that people sent. I’m only mayor, but its just amazing what they are doing.
BOSTON GLOBE: This has been a particularly long stay in hospital. Have you reflected on your long term plans political and otherwise?
MENINO: It was unexpected. This fits into an overall scheme of things that we believe my administration still has a team to carry this city forward and do good things. That’s the key. Who’s there when I’m not there? Can they carry government forward?
You can see a couple of issues we had we’ve dealt with very well. The generation election. People waited hours and hours and hours and Boston didn’t have any problems. The snow storm, hurricane, we didn’t have the problems they had. We’re well organized – a good young team of people out there committed to it.
My future? God only know that. Those decisions will be made some other day. Right now, I can’t wait to get out of this place.
The thing that bothered me the most was Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving is my favorite, favorite holiday because it is the time when you can help people. We give out turkeys to families. We gave out 800 and some odd turkeys in one group. We just go out and give it to them. The Asian groups up in Roxbury. They appreciate so much. That’s what I like about this.
Being an elected official is an honor, but more important is what you give back and how you help people is really the testament of who you really are. Elected officials a lot of them take, take, take. They live in these beautiful homes all over the place. But what do they give to their constituents. That’s the real testament, the way I look at it. That’s what I hope after all the years whenever it ends, people will say, ‘He tried to help us.’ I try.’”
DOT JOYCE [Menino spokesperson]: You do a great job.
BOSTON HERALD: Do you know when you might be feeling well enough to go back to City Hall?
MENINO: When you write that next nasty article with guns blaring.
HERALD: That’s tomorrow.
MENINO: I don’t know. I’m doing my P/T. I did three hours yesterday, three hours today, three hours tomorrow. It’s coming along really well. P/T is really good. The p/t staff here is one of the best and they do it.
You know, when you are laid up that long you aren’t using your muscles. They go lazy on you. They are not willing to work. They need to get back into shape to work. Then you have to get back to a regimen of life. Sitting in a bed in a hospital all that time, what a waste.
CHANNEL 5: What do you miss the most?
MENINO: What do I miss most? Honestly? I miss the kids. Somebody said … I get to see them at Thanksgiving. Last week, they got report cards. They are all yelling and screaming I got an A, I got a B, I got a C. My grandkids are up with their report cards. That’s a big thing, to me. It’s about the kids.
This whole job we have as elected officials and people that can influence people, it’s how we influence their future. It’s how we make our kids have a better life. We have too many people out there who keep on knocking the young people in America. It’s for kids. We need to pay more attention to them.
GLOBE: Have you made any commitments to yourself since you have been in here in terms of what you get out what you are going to do in terms of –
MENINO: Get a good meal.
GLOBE: I mean in terms of, I would assume with the diabetes diagnosis that there will be some changes in terms of eating and exercise.
MENINO: I don’t know. Changes. Of course. You know there is one gentleman in the city of Boston, probably the most successful business man, he has been a type 2 diabetic for 50 years. You know, it’s how you gauge your lifestyle. He does everything. He’s a spectacular businessman, one of the best philanthropists have in our city. It’s how you gauge it … What you eat and what you don’t eat. You can go out and eat chocolate bars and stuff, but you can have certain things. It doesn’t ruin your life. It makes you have a healthier lifestyle.
CHANNEL 5: Mayor, what are your priorities for when you get out?
MENINO: My priorities when I get out – honestly – is to go back and do my job, get caught up, see where we are with city government, make sure the government is on track and see where we are going to go and see what the issues are. What we could do to help some of those groups out there who need our help. We just increased the number of homeless beds in the city of Boston because we saw a problem. That was while I was in the hospital, we did that, because we saw a problem and we increased those numbers.
There are some things, Susan, that [inaudible] says is doing a good job. Your analysis of it is they are not doing as good of a job as they usually do. We’ve got to lift them up. You’ve got to get these people back into the business of social services.
All you hear about, I read the papers, it’s all about racetracks. All about racetracks. That’s all it’s about. Who is going to make more money than the other guy. To me, that’s a great puzzle. [Everett Mayor Carlo] DeMaria he’s a hotdog – he’s a doughnut guy. His family owns a big doughnut company. He knows doughnut.
HERALD: So you are not a fan of Steve Wynn?
MENINO: What I’m saying is, we have a lot of discussion. That’s naturally what happens in Massachusetts. About five years from how we’ll have a discussion of what’s really going to happen. By that time, all the worth of it will be drawn out of it. New Hampshire is ready to go. How many can you take? I mean, Suffolk Downs, they own the land, they own everything.
Everett – they still have marshland there, they have city land there, and they [inaudible] land, all kind of land ownership they have to work on there. They have those issues. Where else are you going to go? I mean, Wynn will come and put his stinky old nose into it and start some fun.
Then they changed the rules, the legislation has some rules, they changed those rules. You talk about the rules, the rules the game is written by is how you play it. You play until the end and get it done. How much money we spent so far on the casinos?
JOYCE: They spent a lot already.
MENINO: I think what we did in Boston, setting up the independent commission, was the best thing to do. Keep it away from all the other people. Let them look at it, make a decision and recommend it to us.
CHANNEL 5: Is that the commission that Brian Leary is setting up?
MENINO: Yeah. He won’t speak to me anymore.
HERALD: Scot Lehigh had a column yesterday saying he things you should step aside. What’s your response to that?
MENINO: That’s about the 435th article that Scot Lehigh has written about me. Maybe the 437th coming next week.
HERALD: What do you say to critics who say you’ve had a great run –
MENINO: Columnists. Scot Lehigh is a columnist. It’s one person’s opinion.
JOYCE: We’re going to wrap this soon.
GLOBE: Let me ask you about general day-to-day running of the city. Can you talk a little bit about how you have been involved with that and if you have thought at all about handing some stuff over -- I know you have to review weekly financial documents, for example – have you thought about handing any of that stuff over to the council president?
MENINO: Mike Galvin [city’s chief of public property] has taken over a lot of that stuff, capital planning. Especially Dudley, he’s the chief of the project. You’ve got Joe Mulligan [city’s deputy director of property management] up in Brighton, doing it up there. Who else do you got? You got the one other there is East Boston, the library. There are many different projects out there. You got Mike Galvin finding new locations for schools, all these different schools, and he’s been very successful in finding new locations for schools.
CHANNEL 5: But Mr. Mayor, to be clear about this, you have no plans to retire?
MENINO: Plans for what?
CHANNEL 5: Plans to retire?
MENINO: I have no plans, no. I checked my retirement. It wasn’t good enough.
GLOBE: I understand that Mike Galvin is doing some things, but in terms of the chief executive of the city. In terms of, there are certain things the chief executive has to sign off on. That was my question. If you have thought about any of the stuff that needs your signature and needs your specific review, if you have at all thought about letting the council president do that.
MENINO: You’re thinking government as run 30 years ago. Government is different today. There’s more people involved, more people involved in decision making, and you listen to them. It’s not like the old days, ‘I’m the mayor and you’ll do this or else.’ You listen to them and see how its going to work. You get their input. That’s how it works today. It’s not this fictitious dictator that some people want to make at City Hall. Its about how we listen to folks. The kid Brian Sweet –
MENINO: Swett. The new kid in environmental. He took on NStar the first week he was here because they were playing around on the energy stuff. You’re going back to how it used to be. We’re going back to the way it should be. More people involved, more people making decision and making a better government and making sure people have input. The question that always arises is people have input into the decision making process.
HERALD: Do you have any thoughts on city councilors or other politicians who might be considering running against you.
MENINO: You did the story.
HERALD: Now we’re asking you. Do you think somebody should run against you?
MENINO: Do I think somebody should run? Does your mother-in-law like you?
JOYCE: OK. We’re all done.
CHANNEL 5: Can I just ask one more question? What do you want people to know, Mayor? What do you want people who are seeing this on television to know.
MENINO: This has been hard for me to do but, I just want people to know I’m well. I’m still out there fighting. I’ll be back in a few weeks. It’ll be a great holiday season in Boston. And just because the mayor may be down for a few days, he’s not out. We’re going rebound. We’re going to be out there. It’s the holiday season. It’s time to give. It’s time to have a good time. Families come together.
To people watching tonight I say, thank you.