Reporter’s Notebook: Menino tells Board of Trade, that things are on the uptake

Addressing members of the Dorchester Board of Trade on Tuesday, Mayor Thomas Menino ticked through a laundry list of city-wide and Dorchester-specific proposals and projects his administration is working on as the state emerges from an economic recession.

“Let me just tell you: As mayor of this city and having to deal with the recession over the last three or four years, we’re really coming out of it, folks,” Menino told the board, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Menino also pledged that the $16.5 million rehabilitation of Dorchester Ave. will be done by next spring. The project, funded by federal stimulus dollars, upgrades 15 intersections along Dorchester’s main thoroughfare, including Andrew Square, Glover’s Corner, Fields Corner, and Peabody Square.

“And someday we’ll deal with traffic,” Menino quipped. “You start down at one end of Dorchester Ave., you have breakfast. By the time you drive down to the other one, you have supper. But we have to do something because what they’re doing is going into the neighborhood streets.”

Menino also highlighted the Strand Theatre, telling the crowd of board members to “go there, see what’s happening.” In a special report, the Reporter wrote in August that the Uphams Corner theater appeared moribund despite millions in city funding.

Menino said the Boston Ballet had performed there recently. “We had full houses both nights.”

Menino also pleaded for help from businesses on providing summer jobs to teens, saying little money is coming from the state or federal government this year.

Noting he was able to put 10,000 children in summer jobs last year, Menino said, “It’s going to be tough for me to do that this year without the state government being part of our plan. Kids need summer jobs because it gives them a place to go, it gives them economic independence, they network and it’s a learning process for them. If you have a business, one, two jobs, ten jobs, a hundred jobs, we need you to help us out because it makes a big difference in a young person’s life.”

Flaherty is back…on Twitter
Hours after the Reporter’s article on the City Council At-Large race ran, potential candidate Michael Flaherty returned to Twitter, the popular social networking site, and jump-started a campaign feed that had been inactive since his unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2009.

“Whatever my decision, good to see so much early interest in the council race!” Flaherty wrote late Thursday. Flaherty is mulling a return to the 13-member council and told the Reporter earlier this month he plans a decision by this spring. He was spotted in Roxbury during the recent special election to replace Chuck Turner and marched in South Boston’s St. Patrick Day parade.

In the space for his biography, Flaherty wrote: “Boston attorney, former At Large member of the Boston City Council, 2009 candidate for Mayor of Boston, and future candidate for public office.”

His Twitter feed is available at www.twitter.com/mfflaherty.

Menino backs tribute to Flynn
Mayor Menino is backing the creation of a tribute to Ray Flynn, his predecessor and occasional critic. A bill (H 3029) creating a special commission to come up with ideas for the tribute is awaiting a hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

Flynn, a former city councillor and state representative, served as mayor from 1984 to 1993, when he was tapped by then-President Bill Clinton to be U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. Menino, then head of the City Council, took over as acting mayor and has held the post since.

The bill creating the tribute commission is being sponsored by state Rep. Nick Collins, a South Boston Democrat.

In a March 22 letter to the committee, Menino cited Flynn for “bringing together young people” through his work with the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League” and his support for public housing and the homeless.

“There is so much more I could say – a new Boston City Hospital, the renovation of Columbia Point and the construction of Tent City, and the advancements of downtown projects such as the Boston Harbor Hotel – but the Mayor Flynn we know best is the one who stood up for the poor and needy, while opening up our city and its neighborhoods to a brighter future,” Menino wrote. “I hope that any tribute to Mayor Flynn will recognize the special impact he has always had for people who need someone ‘on their side,’ and to that end, I pledge my full support for this legislation.”

The relationship between Menino and Flynn has not always been on the best of terms, including during the 2009 race for mayor, when Flynn supported Menino’s opponent, South Boston’s Flaherty.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report.