No matter where any Boston resident goes, the talk ultimately turns to the health and future of Mayor Thomas Menino, who has been hospitalized for the last five weeks and is now at the Spaulding Rehab Center. This Sunday, parishioners at St. Cecilia’s in the Back Bay included the Mayor in their prayer of the faithful. Menino’s hospitalization has also fueled the fires of a mayoral race full of new entrants with many of the columnists for the Boston newspapers. We feel that this speculation is premature.
Having observed Mayor Menino over the last decade, we believe the following can be noted. The hallmark of Menino is that he is everywhere in the communities of the city on any day or time of the week. This is his strength and why he has served as Mayor longer than any other individual. Menino is probably at his best in small groups where he listens to the concerns of average citizens and always tries to help.
This concern goes not only to the voters but also to many of the downtrodden of our society to whom many have turned a blind eye and deaf ear. Several years ago, Menino was honored at a Catholic Charity event for his work. During his award acceptance speech, he passed out cards listing the seven works of corporal mercy. He concluded that speech by saying that he tries to put these works into action everyday as Mayor.
The appearances of Tom Menino at this function or that function, or going out and doing a count of the homeless and trying to get them into shelters has been well documented. What have not been documented are the thousands of downtrodden that he has helped with no fanfare during his life.
This is the key to when Menino will step aside as Mayor. When he feels that he is no longer able to perform the job of helping the citizens of Boston, being out in the neighborhoods, and meeting people on a one-on-one basis at any time of the day and night is the day that he will step down as Mayor. He has set a very high standard for being Mayor and he has the internal compass to know when the course cannot be achieved to his standards.