UEP Colloquium: Memories of Mayor Thomas Menino

Last Wednesday, at an event held to honor the 21 year long career of Mayor Thomas Menino, UEP invited a panel of alumni from within and without City Hall to talk about the late mayor’s legacy. The panel consisted of:

May Louie, community activist with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI).

Kris Carter, director of programs at the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.

Thomas Menino was the 53rd Boston mayor, in office from 1993 until he stepped down last year. According to a 2013 poll in the Boston Globe, Menino’s approval rating rested at a healthy 74%. Notably, nearly half of the poll’s respondents had personally met the mayor at some point. His “politics as personal” approach was mentioned by both panelists as one of his greatest attributes.

May Louie, whose career has been outside of city hall, recounted the history of DSNI’s relationship with the mayor. Having been given eminent domain power by previous mayor, Raymond Flynn, they feared a loss of support under a new administration. Those fears turned out mostly unfounded. Louie says that Menino was comfortable in Roxbury, though there were times when the neighborhood disagreed with his tactics.

Carter spoke about Mayor Menino’s desire to bring in new, talented people to work in city hall. He had begun working in the mayor’s office during the mayor’s final term. He went on to speak about Camp Harborview, started by Menino as an opportunity for students 11-14 in at-risk neighborhoods to spend part of their summer outside of the city and living the summer camp experience.

Comparing Mayor Menino to new mayor, Marty Walsh, both panelists remarked on their shared approach of spending time on the street with communities. Louie mentioned that Mayor Walsh comes from a labor background, which Menino had often found some friction with. Menino had the benefit of decades of experience, something that can only come to Mayor Walsh in time. The panelists did agree that the new mayor “knows what he doesn’t know,” and doesn’t forge into new territories without the help of experienced staff.

Mayor Menino was “a beloved figure” in Boston. For much of the younger generation, he has been the only Boston mayor. His leadership will be missed.

The next UEP colloquium will take place this Wednesday, March 11, at 12pm in Sophia Gordon Hall. We will be visited by representative of Right Question Institute and UEP alum Marcy Ostberg. As always, lunch will be provided.