Archive for the ‘Thomas M. Menino’ Category

Mayor Menino: Municipal Leadership for Tough Times

December 9, 2008

Mayor Menino delivered his annual speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce this morning. He addressed an enormous crowd at the Park Plaza Hotel. The theme was leadership.

A highlight of the speech was Menino’s proposal to create a $40 million fund to keep development going in the city. I sensed a palpable feeling of excitement in the room over this plan. 

The mayor drew laughter when he likened the ceos of the Big Three auto makers trip to Washington to the film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

With Boston in need of revenue, he called for “equitable PILOT agreements.” These are arrangements whereby non-for-profit entities give a payment to the city in lieu of being taxed. 

The best thing about today’s speech was that Mayor Menino confronted the tough fiscal times. He did not attempt to sugar coat what is happening. That is called leadership.

I write, as always, as a former press secretary to the mayor.

The Taste of Roslindale: September 18

September 9, 2008

 The Taste of Roslindale

I am a tremendous fan of the restaurants in Roslindale Village. At times, however, this leaves me with a problem, sort of a culinary prisoner’s dilemma: Do I stop into Sophia’s Grotto from the Spanish antipasto and open faced ravioli or head over to Geoffrey’s for the chicken saltimbocca?

Now, at least for one night, September 18, I won’t have to torture myself with food scenarios. Many of my favorite eateries will all be under one roof, that of the Annunciation Church on VFW Parkway for the 2nd Annual Taste of Roslindale. Some of the others participating will be Boschetto’s Bakery, the Birch Street Bistro, Bangkok Cafe and Fornax Bread Company.

The event will also feature its own version of a Throwdown called a “Butcher Block.” Mayor Menino and Vinny Marino of the BrickHouse Cafe in Dedham will battle Roslindale’s Charley McCarthy and WCVB’s Susan Wornick in a unique food demonstration. 

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets for $40-per-person can be purchased upon entry. I’m a board member of the Roslindale Village Main Street, which is sponsoring the event, with proceeds  to benefit the Jason Roberts Challenger Little League Baseball and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

A Taste of America’s Cities

August 27, 2008

The National Conference of Democratic Mayors sponsored an event that highlighted one of the great strengths of America’s cities — food. The group gathered the cuisines of 8 American cities and allowed attendees to taste what they had to offer. The cities were Boston, Chicago, Denver, Louisville, Philadelphia, Providence and Seattle.

What a perfect event for me! I love cities and I love food. I’m obviously partial to Boston, which offered Legal Sea Foods clam chowder and giant shrimp cocktail as well Boston Cream Pie. Numerous guests told me how much they liked the shrimp, the chowder and Mayor Menino who was in attendance. 

Boston aside, here’s my view of the other cities’ fare.

Philadelphia — Philly offered only one simple dish, the Philly Cheese Steak. When Dan Kennedy and I were down in Philadelphia for the Republican Convention, both of us were bitterly disappointed with the dry, stringy steak offered to us at the vaunted Jim’s Steak. I remember thinking what’s the big deal, I can get a better sandwich at many sub shops in Boston.

What I got to try from Tony Luke’s completely dispelled my earlier perception of the signature Philadelphia sandwich. The meat was incredibly tender, and the hoagie — as its called down there — was lovingly made. Tony Luke was on hand with his son personally making the sandwiches. He said he made a personal commitment to Mayor Nutter to create the best food possible.

It’s interesting that while not gourmet in any way, Tony Luke’s fresh, crafted sandwich really stood out. Tony Luke told me his business really took off since defeating Bobby Flay in a Throw Down. He’ll be on Dinner: Impossible in September.

Providence — Mayor Cicilline, who is now the head of the NCDM, welcomed me and pointed me over to the Providence station. I sampled both a Sloppy Guiseppi (a version of a Sloppy Joe) and veal stew, which I noted would make for a hearty meal when the weather turns cool in a few weeks. The food was from the Old Canteen on Federal Hill, which offers a tremendous value menu, salad, main dish, dessert.

San Francisco — When I walked by San Francisco’s station, I almost passed right by. I saw a menu that looked like it came right from a public health agenda, heirloom tomatoes, peaches with a fresh mozzarella-like cheese and dungeness crab (which I didn’t get to try.) When I put some cheese and tomatoes into my mouth, I had a taste explosion. The tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and a few sprinkles of sea salt, were filled with flavor; the cheese’s freshness enhanced both the taste of the tomatoes and the peaches.

Mayor Newsom showed up and was far more inquisitive when meeting guests than I thought he would be. He gets a lot of national press, which is understandable. 

Denver — Here the Rocky Mountain Trout Confit stood out. I was less impressed with the Buffalo “Loose Meat” sandwiches.

Louisville — I didn’t know what to expect from this Kentucky city. I wasn’t a big fan of their Hot Browns sandwich. I did like the Derby Pie, a pecan pie with chocolate added. The bourbon whipped cream was a little too bitter although their booth also offered a collection of Kentucky bourbons.

Seattle — Something of a disappointment. I was so excited to sample some poached wild Washington salmon. But then when I took a bite it lacked punch. Many guests, however, were raving about the more than 30 wines from Washington State available for tasting. I counted three guests ask for pinot noir only to learn that that grape is not a specialty of Washington state, cabernet and syrah are.

Chicago — Chicago set up several different cheese cakes. It made for a solid dessert, but I think they would have been better off with Chicago Dogs and Italian Beef.

Mayor Menino at the Municipal Research Bureau: Expand the Emerald Necklace to the Charles

March 7, 2008

Mayor Menino just finished his speech to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. While the mayor didn’t use the words “emerald necklace,” he sketched out a vision that will expand Frederick Law Olmstead’s historic plan for Boston system of parks to the Charles River.

Menino posited using the opportunity of the repair project of the Storrow Drive Tunnel as a chance to rework the city’s green space, a time to take, what he called, “a big picture view.”

“We can create a seamless connection of green space from the Public Garden to the Esplanade while improving transportation,” told attendees at the Seaport Hotel. “Think about this for a minute: we can reopen the riverfront to residents, connect the Charles River and the Public Garden, and create more green space in the heart of our downtown neighborhoods.”

The mayor’s idea is one that makes sense — why is it so hard to get to the Charles from downtown — and demonstrates his continued energy and vision.

Updates: Local and National

February 6, 2008

Now, with the results in, several have pointed out that Obama actually won Boston. Even with the margin, you’ve still got to credit McGovern in Worcester and Menino in Boston. Clinton won Worcester by more than 30 points and cleaned up throughout central Massachusetts. But Obama’s margin in Boston was just 8%, a fall smaller margin of victory than Patrick’s more than 20 point win in 2006. Left alone, Obama should have won huge in Boston. What would have happened, it’s fair to ask, without the mayor’s organization here?

Given the strong showing of Mike Huckabee, we now have conclusive evidence that Mitt Romney’s much-trumpeted address on religion failed. However Romney hoped Evangelical Christians would react to him, it didn’t work. It may not have been the only factor, but it’s hard to dismiss anti-Mormon sentiment in one of the factors in Romney’s performance in the South.

Finally, I have to credit the press, but it came late. Chuck Todd of MSNBC delivered a compelling and convincing delegate breakdown long after midnight, that had Obama winning the entire night by just four delegates. Wow! This couldn’t have presented earlier, because it wasn’t possible any earlier. He really broke it down.

Here are updated delegate results.

CNN’s John King Gives Credit to Menino

February 6, 2008

CNN’s John King just gave credit for Hillary Clinton’s victory in Massachusetts to Mayor Menino. Standing in front of a map of Massachusetts, King said Hillary Clinton didn’t have the endorsement of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry or Deval Patrick. He said she had the support of one very important person, Mayor Menino. He then circled downtown Boston, where City Hall is, to emphasize his point.

I’m sure, King said, that Menino can expect a congratulatory call soon. He deserves one.

Menino and McGovern Come Through for Hillary Clinton in MA

February 6, 2008

Now that Massachusetts is being called for Hillary Clinton, credit has to go to Mayor Menino and Congressman McGovern who collectively have the best political operations in New England. National pundits, in a tizzy over Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama, overlooked the support of McGovern, whose organization in central Massachusetts is so strong. Even further overlooked was Mayor Menino, whom I’ve always said, has the strongest political organization east of New York City.

The results also have to be viewed as a rebuke to Deval Patrick, who failed to deliver MA to his ally Barack Obama.

Mayor Menino’s State of the City

January 16, 2008

In a night filled with news, tonight just happened to be Mayor Menino’s State of the City Address. And, in historical terms, it was a doozy. He called for the end of busing in Boston. For anybody familiar with Boston’s history, the way in which the desegregation plan ordered by Judge Arthur Garrity tore up the city during the 1970s looms as one of the momentous events of the last 50 years.

The event’s planners set the stage for the announcement perfectly.The night began with a series of Boston public school students greeting the audience in their native tongues — Vietnamese, Cape Verdean, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Arabic and English — a reflection of the demographic reality of today’s Boston public schools. During his speech, Mayor Menino also expressed the growing recognition of the quality of the schools. He then spoke of his proposal as one that would save money and be green.

“Right now, we’re spending tens of millions a year on yellow school buses,” Mayor Menino said. “We can save significant money on the majority of transportation costs which currently total about 40 million dollars. If we do nothing, this number will reach 60 million within five years. That’s crazy. I will not allow us to pour dollar after dollar into gas tanks [when] we could invest more of that money in our classrooms.”

Also good for the mayor: At tonight’s Democratic debate from Nevada, Tim Russert asked the candidates about “Mayors Against Illegal Drugs,” which Mayor Menino started with Mayor Bloomberg.

Menino at the Chamber of Commerce

December 11, 2007

Mayor Menino just completed his annual speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. The talk highlighted one of his greatest strengths, persistence. Held at the Westin Boston Waterfront, a gorgeous hotel in a neighborhood that didn’t even exist a decade ago, the speech served as a reminder of Menino’s commitment to the South Boston Waterfront, an idea derided by commentators and pundits, including myself.

The mayor talked about two substantive policy areas which have the potential to bring growth to Boston in the future, energy and life sciences. While he hasn’t gotten the national credit that Mayor Bloomberg has received in New York, Menino has been ahead of the curve on green buildings and sustainability. He announced the formation of a new non-profit to maximize the city’s opportunities in this area, Clean Tech. He also stood by his backing of the bio-safety facility at Boston University as part of his commitment to life tech in Boston.

“We’re going to attract the best scientists in the world,” he said, vowing “the biolab will come forward.” I think it’s interesting how all the criticism of this proposed lab in the South End has focused on Menino with the other public officials who heralded its announcement, Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney, going MIA on the issue.

Finally, he also addressed the presidential race. Asked by WBUR’s Paul La Camera about the importance of urban issues in the national election, Menino said “this is one of the things we keep pressing presidential candidates to talk about.” While alluding to one candidate whom he said talks about urban issues, presumably Hillary Clinton whom he has endorsed, he said “there are some phoney issues they want to talk about forever.” He specifically mentioned housing and healthcare as issues which should be on the agenda.

I’m on the road this morning, so I’ll add links later.

Santoro’s: A New Trattoria in Dedham

December 7, 2007

Santoro's LogoYou don’t hear much about it, but there’s a quiet Italian-American community where Boston meets Route 128. I’m reluctant to describe this as Roslindale, Hyde Park or Readville, although all these neighborhoods are part of it. (This is also the same community that has given rise to Councillor Rob Consalvo, Rep. Angelo Scaccia and Mayor Menino.)

Dedham is part of this community too. When my parents were first married they lived in a town house development owned by Arthur Stivaletta in Dedham not far from where Vinnie Marino’s Brickhouse is today. This Dedham Brickhouse is cozy and serves massive quantities of quality Italian food.

A few weeks ago, coming back from an early morning reporting trip in New Hampshire, I happened to spot a new sign on a strip of Bridge Street for Santoro’s Sicilian Trattoria. I entered and found a family behind a small deli counter bustling to get ready for one of their first days of business. I ordered “the Agostina,” basically a dressed-up version of a classic Italian, and an older woman said to me “that’s me. Agostina.” She told me how years ago she had owned a bakery in Roslindale Square at which the original John, of John’s Bakery, learned his trade. I didn’t quite catch the name of this Ur-neighborhood bakery, but I think it was “Aggie’s.” The new place is run by her peppy daughter, Tina Santoro Asmar, who has so far demonstrated strong culinary instincts.

I’ve subsequently had three meals at Santoro’s — eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana and pizza. I have to say I found the thin-crust Sicilian pizza topped with sausage the best. The sauce was tasty and the thinner-than-usual crust a welcome change from the usual approach to Sicilian pizza I’ve experienced in New England and New York. The bread and rolls, which I believe are homemade, are also outstanding. I don’t think Santoro’s will replace the superior “Tutto Italiano,” which lies 3 miles away in Readville. But it doesn’t have to. I would say that Santoro offers a good new alternative to the other Italian delis in and around Dedham Square.

[EDIT. An informed source tells me the old Roslindale bakery was also Santoro’s.]