Menino: 'I Never Did Anything Special, I Just Did What I Thought Was Right'

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Longtime Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and WBUR's Bob Oakes in Menino's Hyde Park home. (Shannon Dooling for WBUR)
Longtime Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and WBUR's Bob Oakes in Menino's Hyde Park home. (Shannon Dooling for WBUR)

As Boston Mayor Thomas Menino prepares to retire after two decades in office, WBUR's Bob Oakes sat down with him and his wife, Angela Menino, to discuss their work for the city and the coming changes in both of their lives.

Interview Highlights:

On his approach to the job:

I never did anything special, I just did what I thought was right. I came up from Hyde Park Avenue, there were gangs all over the place and I was the victim of some of them, I know what it's all about. ... Nothing special, nothing fancy. I'm not a fancy guy, that's for sure. But whatever I did I thought was the right thing for the young people, for the adults, for the business community. When you take the oath as mayor, you're mayor of all the people. And how do you improve all of their lives, not some of their lives.

On the Boston Marathon bombing:

It was 2:50 in the afternoon, I think it was, and I was in my hospital bed and my police officer came and said to me, "Mayor, they just had a bombing at the finish line." And I said to him, "Get the police commissioner on the line right away." Just stay calm, don't get nervous. The most important thing is to get people and the city to understand we're still in control. That's my job.

On evolving as a leader:

I'm more patient, I'm more understanding, I reach out to a lot of folks. ... When you become mayor, you get elected you say, "Oh my God, I'm in charge. I'll do everything." But my success I believe in my 20 years is I've been able to reach out to people, bring people into my administration who have helped me make decisions.

On his nickname, "Mumbles":

Oh it's a wonderful name. Just think about it, I'm "Mumbles" but I've been mayor of 20 years. ... I was never elected because I was a fancy talker, that's for sure. Do I mumble sometimes? Maybe that's part of my gig.

On his legacy:

Legacy is like transparency, it's one of those fancy words that I don't understand. I just hope when I leave office people say, "He did a pretty good job, what's our next step?" That's who I am. I'll never change — no matter where I am in life, I'll be Tom Menino from Hyde Park.

This program aired on December 3, 2013.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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