CommonWealth: Menino's long ride

The fine folks at CommonWealth magazine serve up this profile of Mayor Thomas Menino in their Summer 2009 issue.

They note that "[r]ace relations have improved markedly on his watch. The schools have made gains by some measures but not by others. Crime, particularly gang violence, remains a concern, but national crime statistics indicate Boston is in the middle of the pack among cities its size."

An excerpt is below (while you're on the website, be sure to check out their blog, CW Unbound, as well):

With his somewhat garbled speech and late-in-life bachelor’s degree, Menino is a surprising leader for a city riddled with MBAs, PhDs, and high-tech wizards. But he’s managed to turn his education and speaking limitations into advantages. Voters can relate to him. Bigwigs aren’t threatened by him; if anything, they underestimate him.

Menino can be, at once, confident and unassuming, relaxed and prickly, boastful and self-effacing. Although fond of saying that he isn’t a “fancy talker,” he is actually quite skilled at manipulating conversations onto safe ground. Ask him about the giant hole in the ground at Downtown Crossing and you may find yourself listening to his thoughts on ways to improve local nonprofits. Driving past Boston Medical Center, which was created during his first term, he points and announces, “I did that.” But when a reporter comments on the hospital’s Menino Pavilion, the mayor makes a shooing motion with his hands: “I hate it. I don’t like having my name on stuff.” Yet the man who purports to hate having his name on things has his name on a great many things. It is hard to find a parks department sign or a city employee’s T-shirt or a page of the city of Boston’s website that doesn’t say menino in two or three places.