I met Tom Menino not long after he had become mayor of Boston, during my days as editor of Spare Change News. He probably doesn’t remember it now, and I remember that he didn’t put on any airs like most politicians do. He wasn’t self-important. He just seemed like the type of person you could meet on the street and have a conversation with. Now, after 20 years, that conversation is coming to an end; Menino will step down at the end of this term. Mayor Menino was and is beloved, and with good reason. He was all about the people of Boston. There was no desire to be anything else. There were hardly any rumors about higher office, no running off to be ambassador in some other country. He was mayor of Boston, and he enjoyed it. There was no other place he’d rather be. He was tough, he didn’t bow down to unions or lobbyists, he stood his ground for his city and the people in it, and he did it well. He was also kind to those less fortunate; I don’t hear of other mayors scouring the city in the middle of winter during the homeless census. I was tough on him about that census in my column, but I always knew his heart was in the right place. He didn’t go around making false promises about ending homelessness; he went out there in the trenches to do something about it.
You don’t get many politicians like Tom Menino—trustworthy, honest dedicated to the people of his city and to it’s children. Menino’s dedication to education is unequaled here in Boston, no one has done more to improve the school system than, under his administration. Boston now has quality schools and quality teachers who to give kids a real chance. People like that don’t come around very often, which makes it all the more sad to see him go. Already there is speculation on who will take his place. That answer is easy; no one you can just replace someone like that. The next mayor may be great, but they will not be Tom Menino—not even close. On his watch, youth violence, while still a major problem, has vastly improved. He has done much this guy who you can hold a simple conversation with. I wish him and his family all the best.