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In Inaugural Address, Menino Vows Fresh Look At Old Problems

This article is more than 9 years old.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino quiets the audience during his inaugural address Monday at Faneuil Hall. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino quiets the audience during his inaugural address Monday at Faneuil Hall. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

On Day One of his unprecedented fifth term, Mayor Thomas M. Menino promised an era of renewal and innovation and sought to mollify critics who say 20 years in office is too long.

“We’re going to take risks and experiment,” Menino said at his inauguration Monday before hundreds at Fanueil Hall.

“The old way of saying ‘no’ doesn’t exist anymore,” he said, promising to take another hard look at old problems.

The mayor identified four goals for his next term: to reform education; revitalize development and economic growth; improve the delivery of basic city services; and make government more inclusive.

Menino said he plans to cut or consolidate 24 programs and find six more to expand. He did not say what those programs would be.

On education, Menino was most specific. He said he is seeking authority to create in-district charter schools and the flexibility to reassign teachers to schools where they're most needed.

Menino is sworn in with his wife, Angela, and his grandchildren. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)
Menino is sworn in with his wife, Angela, and his grandchildren. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Menino is counting on legislation before state lawmakers that would let districts bypass union contracts to overhaul failing schools. He spoke directly to those who might stand in the way.

"Make no mistake: It's not pro-union to maintain under-performing schools for their own children," Menino said. "It's certainly not right to put adult interests before kids' needs."

The 13 members of the Boston City Council also were sworn in for their new terms, including the two newcomers, Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley, the council’s first black woman. The City Council will elect a new president in its first meeting Monday afternoon.

Menino was jovial throughout the ceremony, cracking jokes and making faces while reciting the lengthy oaths of office. He hobbled to the lectern with a cane, two months after having knee surgery and fading from public view.

"This time allowed me to speak with many of you," he said. "We all understand the national economic crisis touched every family."

Menino promised to create new jobs in biotech, health care and the high-tech and creative industries, focusing on thousands of undeveloped acres of Boston’s long-stalled waterfront. He said he would experiment with “alternative housing models” that allow people to live closer to work.

The mayor also pledged to complete development projects at Downtown Crossing, where a Filene’s building once stood, and Roxbury's Dudley Square.

Turning to his third priority, to improve basic services, Menino promised to turn every citizen into an "Urban Mechanic" — a nickname he acquired over the years for his hyperlocal attention to neighborhood problems.

During his re-election campaign, and under fire from critics who derided Menino as old school, the administration released an iPhone app that allows Bostonians to report graffiti, potholes and broken streetlights.

Menino took pains to invoke the renewal theme throughout the speech; the word "new" appeared 25 times in his prepared remarks.

Voters gave Menino a resounding victory again in November, silencing challenger Michael Flaherty, but Menino enjoyed his smallest margin of victory to date, and he spent more money on this campaign than ever before.

This program aired on January 4, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Andrew Phelps Reporter
Andrew Phelps was formerly a producer and reporter for WBUR.

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