Cover image for Mayor for a new America
Mayor for a new America
Menino, Thomas M., 1942-2014.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
Physical Description:
250 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
"A revealing memoir by Boston's beloved five-term mayor, explaining the power behind Boston's success and lessons for Washington power brokers After twenty years of service, Mayor Thomas Menino is stepping down from his office as one of the longest-serving major-city mayors in United States history--and one of the most popular politicians in modern memory. His political career has stretched from the busing crisis of the 1970s to the city's extraordinary response to the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Menino tells exclusive behind-the-scenes stories of urban politics and provides inspiration for Washington with his proven, people-focused method: "Do the small stuff so you can win the credibility to do the big stuff." He's not known as a fancy talker, but he gets things done. Under his wing, the city has enjoyed unprecedented economic growth while fostering a new attitude of acceptance. Menino shows how a very old city shook off its Puritan roots and racial tensions to become a truly twenty-first-century city"--
General Note:
Includes index.
From Hyde Park to city hall -- The struggle for the schools -- Police and fire -- Getting stuff done -- "To think I did all that..."
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F73.54.M46 A3 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Boston's late, revered mayor explains the power behind the city's dramatic success -- and its lessons for Washington power brokers.

When Thomas Menino stepped down from office as one of the longest-serving major-city mayors in the nation's history, he was among the most popular politicians in modern memory. In Mayor for a New America, Menino gives a play-by-play look at how he managed to wield political influence while staying fiercely loyal to the interests of the people he was elected to serve.

The unassuming guy from Boston's Hyde Park neighborhood was an unlikely politician. He'd been a backstage campaign workhorse whose career nearly ended the second he stepped into the spotlight, tongue-tied. Although not a fancy talker, Mayor Menino took to the details of running the city he loved. By taking care of the small stuff -- fixing potholes, cleaning up parks, plowing the streets quickly after snowstorms -- he won the public's trust to deliver on the big issues. He had a progressive agenda and was forward thinking in his support of an innovation economy and a champion of gay rights. He also held fast to the values of his childhood -- good schools, a growing middle class, and close-knit, welcoming communities.

In this candid look back at a career that spanned the busing crisis of the 1970s, the remarkable resurgence of the neighborhoods, and the city's extraordinary response to the Boston Marathon bombing, Menino tells behind-the-scenes stories and gives a master class in urban politics. And his proven, people-focused track record provides inspiration for a dysfunctional Washington to actually get things done -- just like he did in Boston.

Author Notes

THOMAS M. MENINO used his signature urban mechanics to lead Boston for a record twenty years and to historic economic growth. JACK BEATTY is a news analyst for NPR's On Point and the author of The Rascal King , a biography of Boston mayor James Michael Curley.  

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Former Boston mayor Menino's straightforward account of the political highs and lows of his five terms in office focuses on his passion for service. He begins by describing how he handled the city's response to the Boston Marathon bombing despite being hampered by a broken leg. A quick sketch of his family and pre-mayoral background precedes the chronicle of his time in office. The book is, for the most part, plainly written; Menino, nicknamed "Mumbles," mentions his penchant for verbal gaffes throughout. His zeal to serve the average citizen, however, shines through and lifts the book's prose at times, such as when he describes progress as "not abandoning the past but recovering its richness and spreading the wealth to new circumstances and new people." Menino's five terms speak volumes about both his political savvy and connection to Bostonians, of whom 54% (according to a poll) have met him at one time. His efforts to improve Boston's school system, settle conflicts with fire and police unions, and carry out urban renewal might not have been successful across the board, but the philosophy behind these actions is worthy of note. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.



Introduction Nothing can defeat the heart of this city. Nothing. Nothing will take us down because we take care of one another. --from my remarks at the interfaith service held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston after the Marathon bombing "Mayor, we've just had a major explosion at the Marathon!" my security aide, Sergeant Mike Cunnife, shouted from the doorway of my hospital room. "Not one, but two." I flicked on my TV and saw wild footage of racers staggering out of a storm of debris and police running into it. While I watched in horror, an announcer said that an incendiary device had just been detonated at the JFK Library in Dorchester. The news crawl reported that police had found "multiple explosive devices in Boston." Dear God , I thought, how big would this get? If two bombs (or three), why not ten? If on Boylston Street, why not elsewhere -- why not anywhere? If these wounded spectators, the ones who must be sprawled on the sidewalk under the white cloud, why not others lining the route five deep for miles? As the smoke cleared, I caught sight of a Marathon banner on a lamppost with my signature beneath the slogan This Is Your Moment. The first bomb went off at the finish line across the street from a small grandstand. If I hadn't broken my leg, I would have been sitting there cheering a runner from my staff who crossed the finish line minutes ahead of the blast. With my grandkids. In the front row. A district fire chief, I later learned, sent the bomb squad to search for a possible third unexploded bomb planted under the grandstand. As the first bomb exploded in an endless loop on television, something else came back to me, something my son Tommy, a police detectives, had told me in passing. He'd be on Boylston, he said, near the finish line. A press conference was scheduled for five o'clock at the Westin Hotel. My nurses at Brigham and Women's Hospital had less than two hours to fit me with a walking cast and a catheter. I called Governor Deval Patrick and said if I wasn't there, to start without me. Delay was our enemy. Either public officials would fill the information hole or rumor would. My doctor advised me to stay put. It was important to keep the leg elevated. (I had a history of blood clots.) It was vital not to put weight on my foot. On Saturday a steel plate had been screwed into my right ankle. This was Monday. Too soon to move, too risky . . . "I don't care what you say, doc, I'm going," I said. My city had been attacked. I had to be out there. Dot Joyce, my press secretary, reported that casualties were arriving at the front entrance of the Brigham, and reporters were collecting in the lobby. I couldn't leave that way. Not unless I wanted microphones thrust in my face with victims being stretchered into the ER behind me. Waiting in the hallway while I dressed, Dot and Mike saw something out the window that took their breath away. Sixteen stories below, police were surrounding a car stopped in the middle of the street. Mike got on his cell. Someone had abandoned the car. Inside was a suspicious package. It was being checked out. Mike would be told when it was safe for me to leave. That was the atmosphere in Boston. Fear was spreading. We took the freight elevator to the loading dock at the back of the hospital. Mike and Dot loaded me and my wheelchair into my SUV. Mike pulled out onto Francis Street. As we passed the front of the hospital, TV reporters began frantically gesturing to their cameramen to get a shot of the departing mayor. Mike turned left on Huntington Ave, heading downtown toward the Westin. The police scanner crackled. The superintendent was redeploying his forces from the Marathon route to historic sites like Faneuil Hall, to the train stations, to the hospitals. Mike flicked on the blue lights. When the traffic knotted, he tapped the siren. Dot had drafted some remarks for me to deliver. We discussed points to hit. Boston was strong, its people resilient. We would get through this if we stuck together . . . Half-heard words on the radio distracted us. We resumed talking for a few minutes, then the siren went off. The sound was hell on the nerves. The sunny April day had been warm enough to draw tens of thousands outdoors to watch the race but cool enough so the 23,000 runners did not risk dehydration. The first part of the drive down Huntington, it still looked like the same day outside -- Boston Before. We came up on the other side of the short tunnel beneath Mass Ave in Boston After. Lower Huntington had been turned into a staging area for state and city SWAT teams. Gray military-style vehicles lined the street. Black-clad officers were everywhere, automatic rifles slung over their shoulders, muzzles pointing down. It was like entering a war zone. But where was the front? And who was the enemy? If government didn't act calmly and confidently, I was afraid the solidarity seen by millions after the bombing might fray. Episodes of vigilante violence against strangers had marred the aftermath of 9/11. That must not happen in a Boston teeming with "strangers"-- Marathon competitors and fans from everywhere. I wanted the focus to be on the heroism of the first responders, on the resourcefulness of the nurses who saved lives in medical tents equipped to treat blisters, and on the decency of race watchers who took stranded runners into their homes. Instead of telling that story, I worried that the media would continue to highlight the mayhem and the manhunt. Leaving my room I had heard a TV talking head say, "State and city authorities are treating Boston as a city under attack." So when security people at the Westin meeting urged the governor to declare a state of emergency, I said that was exactly the wrong thing to do. We needed to reassure citizens that we were taking the right steps to safeguard the city. Not scare the hell out of them. Governor Patrick agreed. At the press conference, I made my points about the strength and resilience of Boston's people. Within hours Emerson College students had created the hashtag #Boston Strong, and that legend was appearing on T-shirts selling online. In photographs of the event my head is bowed, as if, in my first quiet moment since the bombs went off, the blow to the city was hitting me for the first time. I remember feeling grief for the dead and injured, and rage at the terrorists who splattered blood on the century-old Boston Marathon. And I was frustrated that at Boston's worst moment I couldn't be at my best. At a second press conference on Monday evening, I said Boston would be open for business on Tuesday morning: "People returning to work tomorrow will notice an increased police presence in the city. They should not be alarmed." Only the area around Copley Square --"the largest crime scene in Boston's history"-- would be closed off. Leaving the Westin, I asked Mike to drive to the finish line. We got close enough to see FBI and ATF agents picking over the shrapnel, nails, ball bearings, backpacks, duffel bags, and cell phones littering Boylston Street. I didn't realize it then, but the body of eight-year-old Martin Richard still lay on the sidewalk. The police commissioner, Ed Davis, called with that news. He said family members were anxious to remove Martin, but the FBI didn't want the crime scene disturbed. Jesus, I said, can't you hurry them up? "I'll try," he said. Martin was from Dorchester. I knew his family. I didn't know that his mother, Denise, had been struck in the eye by a ball bearing. Or that his seven-year-old sister, Jane, had lost her left leg. Martin was one of three spectators near the finish line killed by the blast, the cable channels reported that night. Over two hundred and fifty were wounded. EMTs, police, and firefighters carried them to ambulances, squad cars, and fire trucks, which rushed them to nine hospitals. Many were in critical condition; some had lost limbs, and a few more than one. Tommy spent Monday afternoon and evening at the Brigham, panning for clues that might lead to the bombers by gently questioning their horribly wounded victims. Senator Elizabeth Warren and I were scheduled to visit some of them on Tuesday. Tommy came upstairs to brace me. "No one should ever see what I saw today," he said. Elizabeth and I saw young women who seemed to get younger as we went from room to room past grieving loved ones in the hall. Please, I said to the nurses, ask if it's OK for us to come in. I wanted to apologize for what had happened to them in my city. But stricken people don't want mea culpas. They want help. You learn that talking to parents of murdered kids. Concentrate on your recovery and don't worry about anything else, I said. Caring people from all over the world are contributing to a fund to help you get on with your life as rapidly as possible. We met one woman who chatted and smiled as if losing a leg was no big deal. She was, we realized, trying to cheer us up. Excerpted from Mayor for a New America by Thomas M. Menino All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.