Maura In The News

State of City speech long on civic pride, short on specifics
By Ellen J. Silberman and Jack Meyers
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Mayor Thomas M. Menino used both patriotism and civic pride to set the scene for his State of the City address last night, playing to his strength as a mayor who relishes his role.

He introduced his audience to Eric Hill, an army lieutenant who just returned from Iraq.

He mentioned Marachio's Market in Hyde Park where he often meets his mailman picking up a newspaper at 5:15 every morning.

He reveled - once again - in his early-morning walks, calling them ``my most peaceful part of the day.''

The mayor also shared the spectacular view out his office window on the fifth floor of City Hall, improved since the old Central Artery came down. ``Now I can see straight to the harbor!'' he exclaimed.

``I love my job - even on the toughest days - because I love this city!'' he declared.

Menino showed off his pride in being the city's first Italian-American mayor and predicted that by ``breaking down barriers'' and improving the city's schools, ``someday a son or daughter of African-American or Dominican or Vietnamese roots will be elected mayor.''

``Boston is poised for a dynamic future,'' he enthused. ``The city deserves all of our enthusiasm, energy and commitment.''

But the speech - like many of Menino's recent addresses - was short on specifics or new initiatives, reopening him to criticism that he's been mayor too long.

``When you have the same people and you don't have new ideas . . . you just keep reinventing the same things over and over again,'' said Councilor at Large Maura A. Hennigan, who has mayoral ambitions of her own.

Menino said during his first mayoral campaign he would serve only two full four-year terms. But he's now in the middle of his third and is expected to run for a fourth in 2005.

In fact, the only new idea the mayor unveiled last night was a plan to establish ``Neighborhood Response Teams'' that require public works, police, neighborhood services, transportation and parks department officials to coordinate their efforts to fix potholes and repair broken street lights.

Hennigan, who has criticized the mayor's pothole repair program, said she was baffled by the new team approach.

``People call all that stuff in now,'' she said. ``I don't see how that's any different.''

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