During the nearly 20 years that he’s been in office, Boston Mayor Tom Menino has defied political gravity. Starting as an accidental city CEO, elevated to the mayoralty when Ray Flynn left for an ambassadorial post, Menino has confounded the skeptics, outlasted his rivals, pushed the city slowly but steadily forward, and vaulted into the record books by winning an unprecedented fifth term. He’s succeeded by virtue of an unmatched ubiquity, an unflagging attention to the nitty-gritty of neighborhood matters, and an intimidating don’t-make-the-mayor-mad style.
But now, on the cusp of the fourth year of his fifth term, one can almost feel the Menino era beginning to end. Mind you, no one is saying the mayor won’t run again next year. The official word is that Menino hasn’t made up his mind. All that can wait, his team says. What’s important is reclaiming his health, which is where Menino, a heavy man in late mid-life, will be focusing his energy in the weeks ahead.