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After winning a record fifth term in office this week, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino says he is ready to take some risks.
"You know, politics is behind me and now I've got the mandate from the people of Boston to do some things differently," Menino told WBUR interview Thursday.
The mayor said he would look at reducing duplication in city services — a task he acknowledged would not be politically popular.
"Public works, transportation, some of those inspectional services. How do we do it differently? How do we work together with different agencies? How do we use more technology?"
Just a week before the election, in a WBUR interview, Menino had acknowledged that "perhaps I didn't take enough risks." The next four years will be difficult, he said, but he is invigorated, not daunted, by the challenges ahead.
Menino identified education, job creation and the city’s overall financial health as the top priorities of his administration in the upcoming term.
The mayor said education would be a central to him and to Boston Public School Superintendent Carol Johnson. Menino’s one-time challenger, former City Councilor Michael Flaherty, attacked Menino regularly on education throughout the campaign.
Menino said he would seek greater flexibility in the school day and a focus on after-school programs.
“I’m really bullish on the Boston public schools,” Menino said. “I think teachers do a good job, but there’s some issues we have to deal with when it comes to educating our children.”
The City Budget, Health Care, Jobs
On the possibility of future city layoffs, the mayor said he would not make predictions until it’s clear how badly local aid will be hit in the next round of state budget cuts.
“I’m still waiting for the numbers to come from the governor,” Menino said. “He made some grant cuts the other day on the Shannon Grants,” aimed at preventing youth violence in Massachusetts, “and homeless programs that we have.”
The mayor said he would be very aggressive in working to both bring new jobs into the city and to retain existing jobs. He pointed specifically to Boston’s valued relationship with the life sciences industry and health-care suppliers.
“We have some of the greatest health care suppliers,” Menino said, “but how do we continue to encourage them to grow and thrive in our city?”
The mayor acknowledged that blue-collar jobs in Boston are less plentiful than they once were, and said he would work on turning those blue jobs into green jobs and on “re-instructing some of the employees in how to do it in a green way instead of the old way.”
Asked if he felt daunted or invigorated by the challenges ahead, the mayor did not hesitate.
“You know, I’ve met a lot of challenges in my time, but I think there’s a lot more challenges ahead of us, it’s going to be much more difficult than anybody even can imagine, with the economy not recovering as quickly as people thought it would,” Menino said.
“I think that we have to deal with these problems, because people in the neighborhoods expect us to deliver.”
This program aired on November 5, 2009.
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