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Tue December 4, 2012
Boston City Council on Mayor Menino: What, Us Worry?
Boston Mayor Tom Menino has been in the hospital for nearly six weeks. Admitted to Brigham and Women's with a respiratory infection following a brief Italian vacation, Menino has also been treated for a blood clot that traveled to his lungs, a fractured vertebra, and an infection in his back. In addition, the mayor has been diagnosed with diabetes.
These aren't the first serious health woes Menino has faced. The mayor has suffered from Crohn's Disease for years, and has had operations on both knees. Still, his current stint in the hospital is unprecedented — and many of Boston's political pundits are now suggesting that it may be time for the mayor's 19-year tenure to end. Last week, the mayor's team allowed a Channel 5 news crew and reporters from the Globe and Herald into his hospital room in what looked like an effort on damage control. But that exercise — during which Menino looked aged and tired — didn't stop the negative speculation about his future.
Still, there's one key segment of Boston's power structure that doesn't think the mayor's health woes are troubling. In the Boston City Council — where future mayors (including Menino) have historically been groomed and launched — there's scant evidence that anyone views Menino's health as a source of concern or a political opportunity (or both). We asked the thirteen members of the Boston City Council to weigh in on Menino's health woes. The vast majority of respondents accentuated the positive. As they see it, the city is humming along despite Menino's absence, and it's just a matter of time until the mayor is back at full strength and running the show from his office instead of a hospital room.
The question we posed to Boston's city councilors was this: Do Mayor Menino's long hospital stay and growing list of health problems raise doubts about his ability to effectively lead the city? Here are their answers:
Stephen Murphy, President / At-Large
I have been in constant communication with Mayor Menino since his return from Italy on October 26th. The Mayor has been effectively leading the city from the outside of City Hall since then. He has a strong management team in place at City Hall. He has been directing them, with regard to city operations, on a day to day basis. He and they have been in regular contact with myself and my office regarding the city’s legislative agenda. He continues to effectively lead.
Felix Arroyo, At-Large
The city has continued to run as residents expect it to and we wish the mayor a speedy recovery.
John Connolly, At-Large.
Ayanna Pressley, At-Large
[Did not respond to requests for comment]
Salvatore LaMattina, District 1
Listen, I think he’s sick, but he’s still functioning. Everything that’s going on in the city, he’s well aware of. I know that because I speak to him. I know that today’s he’s stronger. I know he's speaking to [House Speaker Bob DeLeo today. Any time I need to reach him I reach him.... He'll be out there again, all over the city, nonstop.
Bill Linehan, District 2
My main concern right now is for the health of Tom Menino, the man. The city is running fine for now. Our intention as a city should be for him to get well. I and my colleagues are keeping an eye on his administration while he gains strength.
Frank Baker, District 3
Charles Yancey, District 4
[Did not respond to requests for comment]
Robert Consalvo, District 5
Not at all.
Matt O'Malley, District 6
The Mayor is resilient. He’s had a tough run the past several weeks, but none of his health problems appear to be serious enough to prevent him from leading this city. I believe he is in good hands and that his doctors are doing their best to get him strong and healthy. I look forward to having him back at City Hall and in the neighborhoods soon.
Tito Jackson, District 7
Just as [with] any family member, it’s my hope and expectation that Mayor Menino gets better.... I wouldn’t walk away from or stop supporting someone in my own family. So I’m not going to do that with him. I think that he’s done a really great job over the past 20 years, approaching 20 years, and it would be my expectation and hope that he gets better and continues to lead.
Michael Ross, District 8
Having recently experienced significant health issues in my own family with my father, I have a far greater appreciation for the time and energy it takes for recovery not only for the individual but for their entire family and can only imagine how much more difficult that is under the glare of the media spotlight. My only comment on your question regarding Mayor Menino is that I wish him the best of health and hope for his continued recovery.
Mark Ciommo, District 9
I am confident in the Mayor’s ability to lead the city and I am pleased to hear his health continues to improve.
Whether the council is exceptionally loyal or exceptionally afraid of incurring the mayor's wrath is an open question. But this much is clear: at a time when many Bostonians are contemplating the possibility of a post-Menino mayoralty, it's a subject that no one on the Boston City Council wants to discuss.