Excerpts from the Globe’s opinion and news analysis blog at www.boston.com/theangle.
Much is made of how Menino can be gruff, or how he yells at people with whom he’s unhappy. I never understood this concern, perhaps because I have seen it from an up-front and close perspective.
We’ve all gotten angry or raised our voices with our kids. Why? It’s because we love them and disagree with what they’re doing.
It was always clear to me that if Tom Menino cared about you, he would occasionally get angry with you. Over the years, it has happened to a lot of us, but I never felt it was mean or personal, but rather, it reminded me that, as a Bostonian, I was a small part of what he considered his extended family.
Though many aspects of Mayor Tom Menino’s tenure will be evaluated and reevaluated, one that doesn’t get much attention is how often Menino has taken on the federal government’s security apparatus — no matter which political party is in charge. . . Menino hates the liquefied natural gas tankers that come into Boston Harbor, believing them to be a potential risk to the city. . . On immigration, Menino has pushed back at both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Menino has viewed the safety and security of his city less through the lens of homeland security and more as hometown security. . . For him, the safety of the city has been personal.
When I first became mayor of Newton, I had a chance to meet with Boston Mayor Tom Menino. . . It turned into a 45-minute talk about how to be an effective mayor. . . He really emphasized the importance of giving kids opportunities. One of the things I’m pushing this summer is internships for local kids. I got that idea from him. He advised me that it’s important to have the long-term view, but it’s vital to be on the ground.
When I arrived in Boston in 1972, it was a decrepit city of the past. Sure, it had great universities and hospitals, but, by and large, residents of greater Boston were ashamed of what it had become, and many wanted to get out. Not any longer. Over the past 20 years, Boston has established itself as world class. . . The fact that this turnaround happened in such a short period of time is a tribute to Menino.
Menino didn’t plan like Daniel Burnham or Baron Haussmann; the city simply transformed all around him. The success of the Seaport right now cannot be attributed to any plan. . . Some, like the self-trained urbanist Jane Jacobs, argue that cities flourish best when they are allowed to be more self-organizing. In terms of the physical city, to a large degree, Menino let Boston happen. In not spending too much time on grand pronouncements or bold visions of metropolitan coherence, it is possible the mayor had it right all along.
The cranes rising above Boston’s Seaport district mark the spot where Mayor Tom Menino’s legacy looks to be rising. . . But focusing on what Menino built crowds out his real accomplishment, which was changing the relationship between Boston neighborhoods and downtown development.
Roiling tension over development defined Menino’s predecessors. Kevin White built the Financial District and saved Faneuil Hall, but left office caricatured as a downtown mayor. Ray Flynn framed his successful 1983 mayoral run against White’s downtown focus, arguing that he would return City Hall’s focus to the city’s neighborhoods. . . Menino became the first modern Boston mayor to straddle both these worlds.