Fact check: Tom Menino’s new book

Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
Former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/Boston Globe

Not surprisingly, former mayor Thomas M. Menino claims a host of major political triumphs in his new memoir, “Mayor For A New America.” Most of those are legitimate, but a few may make some observers with long memories scratch their heads. We decided to take a quick look at some of the more questionable assertions.

Claim: Menino says he helped Deval Patrick get elected governor in 2006.

Fact: He endorsed Attorney General Tom Reilly in the Democratic primary that year, only grudgingly supporting Patrick after he (easily) won the nomination.

But in fact, it’s worse than that. Menino was a major driving force behind Reilly’s decision to nominate Marie St. Fleur, then a state representative from Dorchester, as his running mate. St. Fleur was forced out of the race a day later over personal financial woes, a stumble from which Reilly never recovered.


St. Fleur isn’t in the book, by the way.

Claim: Menino says he helped Elizabeth Warren get elected US senator.

Fact: Menino dragged his feet for months before endorsing Warren. As we all know, Warren won decisively, but Menino never played a major role in the campaign, though some key aides played supportive roles behind the scenes.

Claim: Menino quotes an unnamed “community paper” as saying there were “so many gay men in my administration during the first term you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one.”

Fact: Menino was certainly far more gay-friendly than his predecessors, his refusal to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade being the most notable example. But this claim is a bit embellished. The only gay man in his inner circle was Harry Collings of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, who appears in nearly every passage in the book involving gay issues.

Claim: Menino repeatedly says he was a “pro-union” mayor, often invoking his father’s days as a union member at the old Westinghouse plant in Hyde Park.

Fact: Menino had chilly relations with the city’s major unions for much of his time in office. Certainly, that partly goes with the territory. Still, at one point, in 2004, he brought in former Senate president Tom Birmingham, a labor lawyer, to help broker peace. There were 32 union contracts outstanding at the time, and he was concerned that union members would embarrass him by picketing at the Democratic National Convention. (Which, indeed, some did.)


Claim: Menino helped Hillary Rodham Clinton pull off her come-from-behind victory over Barack Obama in the 2008 New Hampshire primary.

Fact: Menino’s political army was sent across the border in the last week or so before the primary and knocked on thousands of doors. But a Boston mayor can only do so much in New Hampshire. Clinton’s victory almost certainly had more to do with a strong closing argument in the last 72 hours, and voter skittishness about the then-untested Obama.