For Immediate Release
December 10, 2013
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
In his annual address to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and his final major address as Mayor of the City of Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino reflected upon the changes that have made Boston the city it is today and looked ahead to the challenges the City will face in the future. [Remarks as prepared for delivery attached.]
“The thing that makes a city most is change, the fact that something new is always just around the corner,” Mayor Menino said in his address. “It’s change that attracts immigrants. It’s opportunity that draws students. It’s action that invites visitors. And it’s progress in a city that compels neighbors to stay neighbors and to stay here. There are places you would go to enjoy sameness, but they aren’t cities. There are places you would go to soak in the status quo, but they aren’t here.”
Some of the changes Mayor Menino highlighted from his 20 years in office included:
- Making Boston Public Schools one of the greatest urban school districts in the nation: In 1996, one in four high school students passed the state math exams. Today, nearly 90 percent do. More students graduate from Boston Public Schools today than ever before and fewer drop out. Ninety-four percent of BPS parents report that their child’s school is a good or great place to learn.
- Adding 13 million square feet of office space and the jobs to fill those spaces: In 2014, Boston will have more people working in the City than at any point in its history.
- Building new housing, as much as the City of Somerville has altogether, and adding more affordable housing than the Town of Wellesley has of any type.
- Leaving the City with an estimated $200 million dollars in reserve
- Cutting crime in half: The year Mayor Menino took office, the City experienced 98 homicides. Today, there are 38, with a decline in crime achieved by reframing crime prevention as a public health issue that affects the entire City, rather than a police issue that singles out neighborhoods.
- Becoming a proud, majority-minority city and creating the Office of New Bostonians to welcome new immigrants with services and connections.
- Leading the way on same-sex marriage. Today, nearly one in every 10 marriage licenses issued in Boston is to a same-sex couple.
Mayor Menino also spoke of plans to assist Mayor-elect Walsh in an effective transition process. Over the summer, the Mayor’s administration began executing a ten-point transition plan to ensure the city doesn’t miss a beat, including focusing on a safe summer, a strong start to the school-year and leaving the City in outstanding financial shape. The Mayor’s Next Boston transition blog (next.cityofboston.gov) continues to feature daily posts on key departments, looming issues, and little-known aspects of city government.
Looking ahead to challenges that will face the City in the months and years to come, Mayor Menino spoke of the dramatic decline in Federal support and the impact it has on the City’s non-profit and research sectors; the rising costs of higher education and the implications for this core of Boston’s economy; and a substantial increase in income inequality and the need for the business community to play a role in the solution.
“If you aren’t talking about this in your boardrooms, you should be,” Mayor Menino said. “If you aren’t worrying about what it means for your workforce and your customers, you are missing the boat. If you don’t think a new generation of division will damage this city, you haven’t looked around the world, where deep inequalities breed deep distrust.”