Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Mayor Tom Menino: “As cities go, so goes America”
Tom Menino has been the mayor of Boston forever. Well, since 1993, which in city politics is forever. He's seen a lot change in urban policy, and if you ask him, the history lesson is clear.
"When we invested in our cities, this country did extremely well," Mayor Menino told us. Other mayors we interviewed reflected this theme again and again. Call it the "As cities go, so goes America" theory. It makes sense. With 80% of America's population and almost 90% of our economic output, there's hardly anything to America but cities.
So the inverse of Menino's quote is also true -- when our nation stops investing in cities, America suffers. Of all the Mayors we interviewed, Menino hit that point with the most clarity. "Because Washington has no urban agenda, the cities in this country are doing poorly. Unemployment is up. Faith in the economy has gone down. Crime has gone up."
Menino expressed some hope that this presidential election could reverse that. He's backing Hillary Clinton for President, and told our interviews that Bill Clinton was the best urban president of his lifetime, "no question about it." Still, he hasn't heard nearly enough discussion of the issues that truly affect Boston or other cities. So he posed a direct challenge to the presidential candidates: "Talk more about cities. It will be beneficial to you, and it will be beneficial to the country."
Let's hope he's right.