In His Final Speech, Mayor Menino Reflected on What’s Changed

He spoke to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Tom Menino delivered his final speech as mayor of Boston to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning. He offered as a thesis that “the thing that makes a city most is change, the fact that something new is always just around the corner.” That was a convenient jumping off point for him to list what he sees as the most important changes he made as mayor in 20 years. (He’s not the only one reflecting on his tenure these days, by the way.)

Among the accomplishments he listed were changes to Boston Public Schools, the addition of new housing, new offices and jobs, and a focus on the environment and same-sex marriage. It was an impressive list that focused a lot on physical development, and it’s true that before-after pictures of Boston under Menino give a striking sense of what’s changed in his two decades in office.

But the Mayor also looked forward a bit, mentioning his new gig as a Boston University professor by joking that, “The next time I give a big speech like this, it will probably be in a lecture hall. You are welcome to come, but I am a very tough grader.” Actually, BU students need fear not, for won’t teach classes in his new role.

Marty Walsh also need fear not. Menino said he probably won’t be a tough grader on the next administration. “I won’t be hanging around to critique his work. The job is hard enough already. Even with the city poised to achieve great new heights, I see three great changes that will make the task of leading especially tough.”

Those three challenges as he saw them were declining support from the federal government, the rise in income inequality, and increasingly unaffordable higher education.

Those will be problems for someone else to solve, but that doesn’t mean Menino won’t stop thinking about them. In his role at B.U., he’ll head the Initiative on Cities which the Boston Globe reports “will include the academic study of urban issues and serve as a forum for practical training for municipal officials from around the world.”