Reporter’s Notebook: Menino makes a move; physician upbeat on 2013

And on the thirty-first day, he was still resting.

Mayor Thomas Menino did experience a change of scenery, however, as he was transferred this week to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital after spending more than a month at Brigham and Women’s.

The move appeared to do little to cap speculation about What It All Means for 2013. Dr. Charles Morris was pressed by a reporter about the political implications for the mayor, who has had to battle a virus, a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his lung, and a compression fracture in his back, on top of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

“I don’t see his medical issues being an obstacle there at all,” he said, after glancing at Dot Joyce, a top Menino aide who had joined him at a press conference inside Brigham and Women’s.

His back is “much better,” Morris said, and doctors are turning their focus to ensuring Menino regains his strength after the lengthy hospital stay. Neither Morris nor Joyce could offer a timeline for his stay in rehab.

“He will rebound from this,” Morris said.

Joyce said Menino, who normally would be in the thick of the annual spate of tree lightings, was “itching” to get back out to the neighborhoods. She noted that after the diabetes diagnosis, the mayor expressed interest in raising awareness about the disease. It is considered the most common type of diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

In late October, Menino, 69, cut short a trip to Italy with his wife, returning ahead of a storm that was about to hit the city and checking into the Brigham. Since then, he has kept a low profile, seeing few City Hall insiders while staying engaged in city business from his hospital room.

The low visibility has fueled discussion among the chattering class and political junkies hungry for information about the next election cycle. On Wednesday, Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh encouraged the mayor to call it a career and enjoy a “valedictory” victory lap over the coming year instead of another re-election contest.

At the City Council level, a presidential election is coming up on its agenda. The presidency, currently held by Stephen Murphy, is largely a ceremonial post that guides the council’s agenda and helps with the title-holder’s fundraising. But it has also been a pathway to the mayor’s office. Menino was council president when President Bill Clinton tapped then-Mayor Ray Flynn as ambassador to the Vatican. The Hyde Park councillor became acting mayor and ended up beating Dorchester’s state Rep. Jim Brett in the election that followed.

Murphy is seeking reelection and asking colleagues for votes. But he’s not the only one. “Everybody’s interested,” said District 4 Councillor Charles Yancey, when asked whether he was interested in running. “That’s my assumption.” Yancey said he has been approached by several councillors interested in serving as president, though he declined to name names. The vote occurs in January.

Councillors want hearings
on voting lines, water fountains
City councillors are pressing for hearings on long lines on Election Day and better access to the city’s tap water. In separate hearing orders filed earlier this week, District 2 Councillor Bill Linehan called for the former while District 6 Councillor Matt O’Malley called for the latter.

Linehan, in his call for a hearing, said some constituents claimed they had to wait three hours to vote in areas of his district, which is anchored by South Boston. “The voters in these largest precincts are disadvantaged from exercising their right to vote on Election Day, as they become faced with long lines caused by an unequal division of city resources – particularly emphasized by a large turnout election such as this past election,” the order says.

For his part, O’Malley hopes to explore the feasibility of building new water fountains around the city. “Boston’s tap water is among the best in the country. It’s clean, it’s clear, it tastes good,” he said. “We have all the infrastructure. We have all the pipes.” Tapping the water with new fountains around parks and playgrounds could be done for “short money,” he added. O’Malley said he hopes to have a hearing before the end of the year.

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