Tom Menino's address
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No surprise: Tom Menino's running for re-election: "I am ready to lead Boston into its magnficient future," he said at his "state of the city" address tonight.
His address offered something for everyone, from his announcement that he got $1 million from the DNC committee to "beautify" neighborhoods to his hiring of some former Patriot as a sports advisor. Some issues:
Taxes: As a Boston homeowner, I'm suddenly very interested in this issue, given that our property taxes are now more than 50% higher than they were three years ago. Menino's answer: Stare really hard at Mitt Romney and the legislative leaders in attendence and hypnotize them into sending more money to Boston. He said that for every $5 Boston sends to the state in various taxes, it only gets $1 back. One example: All of the extra meals tax paid by DNC delegates went to the state, not Boston.
Education: As the parent of a Boston public-school student, I was surprised to hear him proclaim Boston public schools the best big-city schools in the country (well, OK, proclaiming that Forbes proclaimed that). I agree with him they don't deserve the reputation of 30 years ago, and yes, it's great MCAS scores are rising faster than anywhere else in the state, but, um, those scores still kinda suck. Still, I liked his proposal to increase the number of K-8 schools in the city, given that there currently seems to be this big gaping, scary void between the decent elementary grades and the exam schools called middle school (can anybody please tell me one good thing about any middle school in Boston today?). He sidestepped the whole busing issue, though, i.e., what to do about the white people in West Roxbury who want their neighborhood schools all to themselves.
Minority issues: He reached out to the majority minorities, initially somewhat generically ("Diversity gives our city a competitive edge; that's key to understanding the strength of boston going forward"), then with some more specific issues: such as a public/private partnership to figure out why minorities have more healthcare issues than whites and then do something about it ("I refuse to wait on Washington to take action").
Crime: He said he'd directed the police to deal with four priorities: Guns, drugs, gangs and terrorism.
Development: He pledged to increase the number of housing units in the city by 10,000 by the year 2007 (with 2,000 being "affordable'). He did not discuss downtown development or the role of the BRA.