Mayor Thomas Menino’s 19th annual State of the City speech at Faneuil Hall Tuesday night was vintage Menino.
Governor Deval Patrick and nearly everyone important in Suffolk County politics and Boston city government were present as the mayor delivered an address that was very well received by the loud and boisterous crowd that filled Faneuil Hall.
The mayor made a great effort to reinforce one of his abiding beliefs – that everyone must communicate with one another and grow to trust one another and with that trust built, then good business gets done for the city and its people.
The mayor also talked about education – Boston public school education. He made a big promise about the future.
“One year from now Boston will have adopted a radically different student assignment plan, one that puts a priority on children attending schools closer to their homes,” Menino said. He said he has ordered Boston School Superintendent Carol Johnson, who was present at Faneuil Hall, to appoint a citywide group to help design the plan.
The mayor said he was pledging to overhaul Madison Park Technical and Vocational High School into a center for career-readiness and workforce development. He said the school would be transformed and that the neighborhood surrounding the school would be transformed as well.
The mayor proposed setting up a citizen advisory group to study plans for a casino at Suffolk Downs even before the Gaming Commission is put together.
“I will create a Boston Gaming Advisory Board with leaders from outside city government,” he said. “It will have a two-part mandate – job creation and transparency.
Noted in the crowd listening intently was Richard Fields, the owner of Suffolk Downs in East Boston/Revere where a casino is most likely to be located.And the mayor was especially firm and even profound about tackling a weighty issue – obesity.
“I’m determined to make Boston a leader in obesity prevention,” he said.
He pointed out that as many as 50 percent of the adults in Boston are overweight and that one-third of school- aged children are also overweight.
He said he wanted for the people of Boston to lose 1 million pounds in 2012.
The speech evoked a strong and enthusiastic response from a largely adoring crowd.
Menino even offered up a new slogan: “Don’t retire. Inspire.”
Some took that to mean he is readying for another run, which is entirely likely.
He finished with a flourish a recitation of his personal mantra.
“In our personal lives, our relationships carry us through the biggest challenges. It is the same way in our civic lives. This year, we will face many tests. We must never allow disagreements to drive us apart. The more we know each other, the more we will trust each other, and the more we will be able to accomplish. Together, we will make 2012 another landmark year in Boston’s storied history,” he said.