June 23, 2009 |
Today’s podcast guest, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, doesn’t seem to shy from tough topics. He does, however, have the skills to turn his answers to his main theme — this year’s race should be exclusively about advancing the city and not any past problems or policies.
I have to admit that I was unsure what to expect. His reputation had been of someone hypersensitive to anything resembling criticism and loath to admit to problems in Beantown. That’s not whom Ryan and I heard today.
Timing note: The Mayor come on at 10 minutes and 39 seconds into the show.
We spoke on a range of topics, including the trigger ones of crime, schools, home rule, homeless families, stalled developments, and even teachers’ unions.
Menino faces his hardest and most diverse challengers this election. Two City Councilors and a construction company owner/civic activist are gunning for the job, as the Mayor looks for years 17 through 20 in office.
Challenger podcasts: We previously have had his three challengers in this election on. Catch those here:
With only two pre-primary and one pre-general election debates scheduled, Menino’s positions in our podcast may foretell his approach. Listen in to hear him speak to how he perceives the advances he led in each major area of the city. He doesn’t accept the charge that the schools worsened under his rule, even when he got the right to appoint the previously elected school committee. He lists the accomplishments of the schools, but admits where he sees problems, problems he says he can correct.
Likewise, he points to a loss of $94 million in state funding, but sees money coming from federal sources as well as more equitable payments from colleges and universities, as well as a meals tax. He thinks Boston will see growth in revenue from its four sustaining sources — academic, biotech, medical and tourism.
He admits to looming and continuing fights. Those include teachers’ unions where he wants longer school days and other work-rule changes and the legislature in giving Boston the power to generate revenue.
The Mayor is sanguine about Boston’s future, but not irrationally so. He’d be a tough debate.