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‘Rock star’ Menino had a profound impact, staffers say

Loyal staff of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, whose decision not to seek a sixth term is reverberating around the city today, said he had not only led the city, he had fostered their careers and had a profound impact on their lives.

“When I met him, I was a security guard right in this building. He kept telling me, ‘You can do more,’” Transportation Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin said at City Hall. “Not that there’s anything wrong with being a security guard, but you can do more. Within 48 hours of him being elected, he called me and said, ‘Now, what are you gonna do?’”

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Menino gave Tinlin a job in the neighborhood services department and an order: “You’re going back to school,” Tinlin recalled.

Later, Menino moved him up to transportation commissioner and sent him back to school again for a master’s degree.

“Professionally and personally, all good things that are in my life today — and I’m talking marriage, career, children — are because Mayor Menino saw in me the things I couldn’t yet see in myself,” Tinlin said. “He kicked me in the butt when I couldn’t see life beyond the corners of South Boston.”

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“I met Tom Menino and the rest is history,” said Kerry O’Brien, who has worked for the Menino administration for 20 years and is now deputy director at the Department of Neighborhood Development.

“He took a chance on a kid from Western Mass. who had worked for political stuff in Washington — Congress and Senate — and gave me deputy chief duties. It wasn’t called that back then. It was called special assistant who was in charge of scheduling, speech writing, and advance, anything that could screw up in the course of the day.”

“Working for Tom Menino, he’s guided me. He’s been my mentor. He is a rock star.”

Martha Pierce, the mayor’s education adviser, started working with him in the State House long before his election as mayor. “I’ve been with him since I was 26,” she said. “I have loved every single minute of it. There hasn’t been a day I haven’t woken up excited to come to work.”

Their work together spanned marriages, births, deaths, grandchildren, a whole lifespan. “It’s been a wonderful ride,” she said. “I’m so lucky.”

“It’s hard to match his energy, his passion, his commitment,” she said. “It’s a 24-7 job for him. Despite his work ethic, he’s always very committed to our individual families. He’s always saying family comes first.”

Pierce took down from her wall a drawing done by the third of her four daughters, Meredith, in November 1993, when Menino was elected for the first time: “It’s a sunny day. Stop look and listen. Boston has a new mayor Mr. Thomas Menino,” the drawing was captioned.

“I’m going to have a lot of trouble cleaning out my office,” she said.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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