Reporter’s Notebook: Menino staying put as doctors probe back pain

Mayor Thomas M. MeninoMayor Thomas M. MeninoIt took reporters two dozen questions until they finally raised the one that people inside and outside City Hall had been privately asking ever since Mayor Thomas Menino checked himself into Brigham and Women’s Hospital nearly three weeks ago: What about 2013? The Boston Herald asked one of the mayor’s top aides and two of his doctors, “Can you comment at all? People are speculating… he’s [nearly] 70 years old…he’s got an election next year…is he up for it?”

Dot Joyce, Menino’s spokeswoman, sat at the table with Dr. Charles Morris and Dr. Dale Adler, the Brigham and Women’s logo behind them. “I’m not going to get into politics right now,” she said, adding that the mayor is focused on getting better. “He’s a strong guy, as you all know... so anybody speculating, I’m sure, should take that to heart.”

The press conference, held on a rainy Tuesday inside the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, provided a nugget of news on the medical side: Menino is suffering from increased back pain during a hospital stay that was primarily prompted by a virus and a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his lungs. A compressed fracture in his back occurred after he was admitted.

Adler said that when the mayor cut short his trip to Italy with his wife and came to the hospital, he appeared “extremely washed out.” He’s now on the mend, with a minor setback in the form of the fracture, the doctors and Joyce contended. “His spirits are excellent,” Adler said. “All the other problems are taken care of. Now the focus is on why his back is hurting him more.”

The doctors and Joyce declined to offer a timeline for when he would be released. And while Menino is not moon-walking, he is up and around at the Brigham. “At this point, the mayor’s fully engaged, there’s no need,” Joyce said when asked if there had been discussions about City Council President Stephen Murphy taking on some mayoral duties.

Another question was raised, this one veering into the mayor’s penchant for getting out from behind his desk at the City Hall: “Are you saying, because Mayor Menino is known for being a pretty active person, it was best to keep him here to slow him down a little bit to rehabilitate him?” a reporter asked. “I understand, it’s probably hard to rein him in because he’s got so much energy. Was that one of the motivations to keep him here?”

“I think you phrased that well,” Adler said. And his heart? “He’s got one,” Joyce quipped, before Adler added that it is doing “very well.”

O’Toole will pay OCPF over campaign finance issues

John O’Toole, who ran for the District 3 City Council seat in 2011, received prohibited contributions from unregistered political action committees during the race, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. “In response to inquiries from this office, you acknowledged the receipt of these prohibited PAC contributions and have agreed to disgorge these contributions…by making a payment to the Commonwealth in the amount of $1,250 from your Committee account,” Michael Sullivan, director of the campaign finance watchdog agency, wrote in an Oct. 22 letter to O’Toole.

O’Toole and Sullivan signed a memorandum of understanding on Oct. 30 laying out a schedule to pay the money to state coffers.

Cedar Grove’s O’Toole lost to Savin Hill’s Frank Baker, last year by 56-44 percent. The fierce race for the open seat was prompted by the departure of Maureen Feeney, who is now serving as city clerk.

Quote of Note: Elizabeth Warren

Do they pick this up in freshman orientation? Ed O’Keefe, a Congressional reporter at the Washington Post, noted the following on his Twitter account: “As they approach reporters en route to lunch, Elizabeth Warren turns to Tammy Baldwin and says: “Pretend you’re talking to me.” The senators-elect – Warren won a six-year term in Massachusetts last week and Baldwin was victorious in Wisconsin – were on Capitol Hill for orientation meetings.

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