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The Hiller Instinct

Mayor Menino's Legacy

What we're losing is a very powerful politician. What's left is a very popular person.

The proof of the mayor's popularity is that everyone has an opinion about him, and most of them are positive; at a time when voters have never been more frustrated and divided by politicians.

This may sound odd, but I measure time by politics: The Kennedy years, the Bush years, the Dukakis years. And then there are the Menino years. Twenty of them.

To me, the most important measure of those two decades is progress in Boston, on many fronts. The easiest place to point to is the seaport. A truly new boston built on vacant parking lots and rotting wood.

Just look around and you can't miss the mark of Mayor Menino.

Now look at Dudley Square, in Roxbury. The mayor is moving the school department there to help revitalize a neighborhood that very few people wanted to move to in 1993.

But the mayor's legacy is much more than bricks and buildings. It's his values: equality, empathy, and most of all, honesty.

Think about it. Mayor Menino could live like New York's billionaire Mayor Bloomberg, if that had been his goal. But it never was, and we all benefited from that. We never had the scandals and schemes that have struck other city halls.

And, somehow, he always made it seem simple. When anyone who watches knows running a city is complicated and messy. In the future, when someone says, "the mayor," whose image will come into your mind? My guess is Tom Menino's.

He earned that, and now he has nine months to take what will amount to a victory lap.