Don’t Mess With Mayor Menino: Boston Strong, IndeedElizabeth Entenman

I’m proud to say that I live in Boston. It’s a beautiful city with a strong will – one that’s grown even stronger in the months since the Boston Marathon Bombings. The way my city, its lawmakers and its people responded to tragedy with immediate compassion and humanity reminded me that even though I live in a busy city, it’s still a caring community.

In the days following the bombings, things were grim and uncomfortable. There were cops on my corner and army men at my subway station. A general lack of trust loomed in the air, and nobody made eye contact, for fear of… we weren’t sure what. I did, however, have Mayor Menino. He became a shining beacon of hope, broken leg and all, and I looked forward to seeing a positive figure in the local news.

Of the three cities I’ve lived in, I’m confident that Thomas Menino is the only mayor I could both name and identify in a lineup. He does an excellent job of making himself known, in times of tragedy and not. If something is important to his people, if his people feel threatened, if something calls for a change – he’s on it. Even if it’s a text during a snow emergency, he’s just there for us. And it’s shown, time and time again. Like this past week.

Mayor Thomas Menino’s letter to Rolling Stone Magazine publisher Jann Wenner isn’t the first time he’s made news for voicing his opinions via public letter. So when that letter circulated the internet, I was pleased, but I wasn’t surprised. “Can you believe he said that?” “Yup.” “What a guy!” “I know.” He’s a passionate guy, and it especially shows when he’s talking about matters related to Boston.

His letter got me thinking of his other letters out there, both known to me and still unread. Some have been equally as recognized, but surely, there are more. So I dug a little deeper.

Here are some more public letters from the desk of Mayor Thomas Menino. He’s sharp, quick and just a liiittle sassy, but he always proudly represents the people of Boston. If you’re the other guy, that’s a deadly combination. Boston Strong, indeed.

Letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy
July 20, 2012

Re: There’s no room in my city for your company’s opposition to gay marriage

Re: There’s no room in my city for your company’s opposition to gay marriage

“I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.”

One of Mayor Menino’s more newsworthy letters. It was refreshing for someone to say what everyone else was thinking – especially when that someone was an elected official in public office. Menino takes a stand on our behalf and reminds us that our beliefs are protected. He’s not afraid to be an ally, he doesn’t care who knows it, and it’s awesome.

Letter to US President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner
December 1, 2012

Re: I know a thing or two about the fiscal cliff

Re: I know a thing or two about the fiscal cliff

“Oh, and there’s this: I just spent a month in one of our world-class health care institutions and am writing you from another. So, yes, my perspective on the big budget debate happening in Washington is unique.”

Zing. Did Mayor Menino just casually “so, yeah, I know what I’m talking about” Obama? I think he did. When the fiscal cliff was upon us, Menino had a unique perspective and wasn’t afraid to share it with the president. And I respect that.

Letter to Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra
May 8, 2013

“You know the darkest depths of tragedy, but you also know that unity, resilience and strength allow us to triumph over terror.”

Re: Thank you for the kind banner

Re: I appreciate your kindness

Well said, mayor. Newtown went out of their way to acknowledge the events in Boston with a kind gesture, and Mayor Menino went out of his way to write them a heartfelt reply. You know he sincerely meant every word of it.

Letter to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
June 11, 2013

Re: Betting on the Stanley Cup

Re: Betting on the Stanley Cup

“You see, here in Boston, we have sports fans with a little something called heart. And so, as one of the country’s winningest mayors (championship titles, municipal elections, etc.), I’d like to offer you the following, though I feel strongly none of these items will be arriving at either of your airports.”

The Mayor of Chicago attempted to bet on the Stanley Cup with Mayor Menino, and it was cute. Sure, it’s common thing: if my city’s team wins, you have to send me X, and if your team’s city wins, I’ll take an embarrassing picture of me doing Y. But I don’t think he was prepared for Menino’s “two can play that game” reply. I love a lot of things about this, but my favorite part is that Mayor Emanuel tried to keep it casual, posting his letter to Mayor Menino on Facebook (attention, young voters!) but Menino replied with a formal letter. And before anyone turns the comment section into a “Blackhawks 4lyfe!!!!!1” forum, both teams played a great series, so calm down.

Letter to Boston Marathon Victims and Families
June 17, 2013
Re: Boston Strong

“It is my hope that the respectful closing of the temporary memorial will help us all look to the future.”

I live four blocks from the Boston Marathon finish line. Every morning on my way to work, without fail, I get asked for directions to where the bombing happened. Usually, tourists do not bother to word their request so eloquently, and they’re chomping at the bit to take a picture – even mine – of anything related to what happened that day. I would direct them to the popup memorial that had been created down the street. But after a few months, it was time to dismantle the memorial and begin the healing process. I haven’t read Mayor Menino’s entire letter to the victims and families affected by the bombing, but I’m sure it’s one of his best.

Letter to Rolling Stone Publisher Jann Wenner
July 17, 2013

Picture of Letter to Jann Wenner from Mayor Menino

Re: Your cover is tasteless

“The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them.”

This brings us to the Rolling Stone letter. Mayor Menino didn’t appreciate that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was on the cover, and his sentiment made national news. Maybe my Facebook newsfeed is biased because I live in Boston, but I’ve seen this letter everywhere. Whether you agree with the magazine’s decision to put Tsarnaev on the cover or not, you have to admire Menino’s response to it. He reminds us that when we look back on the Marathon bombing, the victims and the heroes are what we should remember – not the terrorist. The Rolling Stone cover was released at a time when Boston was just starting to not flinch at the name “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev”. It would be easy to retreat back to fear, but I will instead follow Mayor Menino’s lead. Hold your head high, Boston. We don’t need Rolling Stone.

It’s nice that my mayor sticks up for me. That he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. I’m sad that the longest-serving mayor in Boston history will not be running for re-election, but Mayor Menino set the bar high and he’s finishing his fifth term strong. Boston Strong, that is.

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