So here I am, sitting at City Hospital (or Boston Medical Center for you youngins) in a wing of the hospital named for the Capo di tutti capi,(The Boss of all Bosses) Mayor Tom Menino. It’s surgery day for my mother, she’s finally having her hip replaced. I can’t help but to find this ironic given his announcement today and the ribbing I have given the Mayor over the years.
You can’t help but feel the presence of Mumbs all around this city of ours. Like all good mayors, he has memorialized himself everywhere. When he walked into the office for the first time, the central artery was still standing, the Seaport District was a cement wasteland, the old Boston Garden was still standing and WBCN was playing Nirvana songs while Curt Cobain was still breathing. 20 years….plenty of time to get his name on just about every major advancement in the City of Boston that we take advantage of on a daily basis. Including the first internet connection in city hall and our city’s first website. His nickname the “urban mechanic” is well deserved.
The secret sauce to the success of Menino lies in his ability to rule with an iron fist. He’s a masterful delegator that has surrounded himself with only the most loyal of people. If you weren’t exactly loyal, he knew about it and made sure you felt it in one form or another. The “naughty list” has been a sticking point in a few debates over the years. Mumbs made his fair share of enemies due to his policy. A typical meeting for candidates running against him were held privately out of fear of repercussion. If you worked for Boston or was a loved one of someone who did, you stayed clear of any public showing of support to a challenger. He always had feet on the ground scouting for him. For better or worse, this has served Mumbs well. When challenged with shady links to Suffolk construction or accusations of favoritism given to family members on the BPD, this demand for unyielding loyalty proved to be his Teflon….NOTHING stuck to the Capo.
Mumbs was never an orator, whenever our president or foreign heads of state would visit Boston his fat tongue would make me cringe. Like all good Bostonians, Mumbs was quick to take jabs at himself publicly for this shortcoming. Although, Menino never let this define him, which endeared him to the average Joe. I gotta admit, I will miss is his sports commentary…..so will Wilcock and Gonk.
It’s the end of an era in Boston. The retirement office at city hall is probably flooded with requests. Judgement day for the loyalists is near but most have no worries because Mumbs has carried them for 20 years. Others will blend into the woodwork either because of their skill sets or unions. For a chosen few, the bridges they have burned in support of their Capo are going to be the source of an anxiety filled summer.
I’m looking forward to a new mayor, Mumbs has done a good job, but we are due for a fresh vision for our city. Someone with a common sense approach to the major problems facing our city that comes from experience. Someone who knows that curbing violence on our streets is facilitated not only with a tough stance, but with good economics and a change of the single parent culture so prevalent in the inner city. Kids that answer to 2 parents tend to be more accountable. Making sure parents have access to solid jobs further strengthens those families. Make life so hard on deadbeat dads that walking away from a child is just not an option. WTF…It sounds like I’m running for Christ’s sake.
Now I have written this article in small chunks throughout the course of the day here at the Menino Pavilion. Mom came through ok, she’s a little sick from the drugs but she’s a Grove Hall girl and tough as nails. I tested her comprehension a bit to see where her head was at. The convo went like this…
Ma, did you play your numbers? – “Now how the frig am I supposed to do that?”
Ma, are you hungry? (I know she didn’t eat since yesterday) – She gave me the finger.
Ma, you know Menino is retiring? – “Yeah, he was good but he’s getting old.”
What do you think of Marty Walsh? – “He’s from Dorchester right? Handsome guy?”
Yeah he’s a Dot Rat Ma…Do you think he would be a good Mayor? – “I like him…Can you ask the nurse for some ginger ale?”
Now, I’m really not sure what Marty’s plans are, but Mom has spoken. Here’s a young guy with a great resume that gets it. And man would I love to vote for a Dot Rat….
Looking at my old Jim Brett sign is like dusting off the old 86 Superbowl tape… PAINFUL!
Congrats Mumbs…..you where a great Mayo!