Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shootin' for Mayor

Game is on, boys and girls. With our fall scandals, we were a center of politics (bad politics, but still...). Then my friends in Minneapolis and Illinois twitted me because they were the news makers. One in Minnesota was eager to take full credit for the elevation of excitement there.

Then, it looked like our third consecutive speaker of the house would head to indictment and maybe jail. He mitigated that a bit by sneaking out and Nixon-like declaring victory in the midst of sound defeat.

Our race to disgrace seems over. We are left with three lessened characters, ex-Speaker Sal DiMasi, ex-Senator Dianne Wilkerson, and hanging-on City Councilor Chuck play-the-race-card Turner. Together, they're a fair sitcom, but they don't have 13 episodes among them.

Despair not, the little shooters are already lining up against the playground king. Four-term (plus a running start of four months) Mayor Tom Menino already has two announced and more possible shooters for his ring.

With shame, I admit this pleases me mightily. This could be a fun campaign, more so four years ago when Maura this-is-my-time Hennigan took a run. She had lots of energy and a singularly nasty ad campaign, but, lackaday, no platform.

Search in the box at the top left to see some coverage of the Hennigan battle.

Giant by Default

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus.

Cassius in Julius C├Žsar, i. 2.

Cassius' statement is not quite accurate for our longest-serving mayor, Menino. He's more like the bear in the cave. If you want what's he's got and aim for the warmth of inside, you have to go in there and take it.

I can also let you in on a little secret, he's longest serving by a trick. When then Mayor Ray Flynn jetted off to play diplomat to the Pope, he gave Councilor Menino the last four months of his term. Thus, the acting mayor has an unelected differential over Kevin White, who also won four terms in a row.

While Menino says dryly that he may well run again — It's all he knows how to do, he says. We have to wonder whether he simply wants a fifth term to be the longest-serving mayor, with no asterisk.

I should make it plain that I don't think Menino should run again. He is still beloved and if he takes a four-year term at the height of economic panic and rising crime and angry unions, he won't leave that way.

His mayoralty brings a question mark as well as an asterisk. Why?

To those who work with him, he has quite a reputation of being overly sensitive, particularly to criticism. We voters don't see that and generally perceive him as charming.

Yet he doesn't cross over to the star quality there. He is infamous for his beyond-Boston-accent slurred speech. He is no powerful orator. He is not charismatic. His personal life is as dull as mine — long-term faithful husband and father, who doesn't race F1 cars or climb cliffs or keep mistresses.

He's been a good mayor, without brilliant or innovative programs. He can point to big successes in crime reduction and then reversals, education improvements and setbacks, business growth and so on throughout the big items. Boston won't circle the drain if he leaves or if he stays.

Look to part 2 for who wants the job, how badly and what the bring to the circle.

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