With his final term in his long-held position as the mayor of Boston winding down, Thomas M. Menino spoke with The New York Times Magazine about his lifestyle, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the city he’s helped lead for the past 20 years.
The Q and A published online Friday was due to appear in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine and started with a question about Menino’s reputation as a “workhorse” and someone who has become embedded in Boston.
“Well, a mayor has to be a workhorse,” Menino said in the interview. “You can’t be a show horse, because people depend on you. We see our constituents every day. You go buy a newspaper, go to a coffee shop, buy gas for our car — you see them.”
He spoke about how he drives to church on Sunday and visits coffee shops in the morning to find out what people think, despite the fact that he doesn’t drink coffee. Cranberry juice is his morning drink of choice.
Menino made it clear that he never thought of living anywhere else in the country.
But if he were to move, he told the magazine, he would consider Baltimore and would love to visit Detroit, taking a swing at the Motor City’s recent hardships, including filing for bankruptcy.
“I’d blow up the place and start all over,” he said. “No, seriously, when it takes a police officer 90 minutes to answer a call, there’s something wrong with the system. Forty percent of the streetlights are out, most of the buildings are boarded up. Why? Inaction, that’s the problem — leadership.”
Menino’s leadership during the days after the Boston Marathon bombings were also up for discussion, specifically when he checked himself out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital after surgery on a broken leg, in an effort to get back to work.
“I just told them I was going, and I went. The public in Boston really cooperated with us. I think people resolved to fight back against all this nonsense, terrorism and hatred,” Menino said.
Menino’s future in politics was addressed and he was asked if an ambassadorship might be in his future. “They wouldn’t give me an ambassadorship,” he said. “Give me a break.”
Even his nickname, “Mumbles,” was brought up. The mayor said only in the beginning did the name hurt.
“But, you know, people said to me, ‘That’s what makes you real, that’s why we like you.’ I never changed who I am,” said Menino. “What you see is what you get. Though you see less of me now than you did a year ago. I lost a little weight.”