The scramble to shape the post-Menino era has begun, and the
stakes couldn't be higher for companies and organizations in the real estate industry, healthcare and mission-driven, non-profit sectors.
Today's announcement by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino that
he will not seek re-election means the city has the chance to elect
only its fourth mayor in 45 years. Since 1968, the year before the
Mets won a World Series and America put men on the moon, only three
people have led Boston government - Kevin White, Ray Flynn and
There will be no shortage of candidates for the job,
but the seminal question is: Will Bostonians go "big" or small in
choosing Menino's successor? While actual Boston residents will
cast the ballots, everyone knows the money and blessing of the
city's business interests will exert disproportionate weight -
especially if most of the key influencers wind up unifying behind a
Is Boston's next mayor a Paul Grogan, the head of the Boston Foundation,
a Peter Meade, the head of the Boston
Redevelopment Authority (BRA), a Stephen Lynch, the congressman from South
Boston now running to succeed former U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry? Or it
is City Councilor John Connolly, the only official candidate who
had the temerity to get in the race early. Or Councilor Michael Ross, a bridge builder with a strong
personal story to tell? Or Councilor Ayanna Pressley, the first African-American
woman to serve on the Council? Or any of the dozen or so other
councilors and state representativeswhose names are being floated
Menino has always been perceived as friendly to the development
community and the city's real estate industry is booming as a
result in Boston's core. Menino's administration has been wildly
successful masterminding a relentless PR push touting the promise
of the Fort-Point-Innovation District-Waterfront area.
Favorable financial conditions will continue to propel
commercialdevelopment in the oldest real estate market in country,
but the next mayor will also control the BRA, which is where the rubber meets the road
for commercial real estate and affordable housing.
Boston's globally renowned network of hospitals and academic
medical centers provide the jobs that employ one in five Boston
residents, driving a big slice of the city's economy, so you can
bet that institutional executives in the healthcare sector will
want to exercise some control over the destiny of their workforce
and expansion plans.
The policies of the next mayor also loom large for
mission-driven non-profits, including the city's colleges and
universities. A mayor who is friendly to labor uniongrowth and who
demands more or larger payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, for example,
would have a major impact on the business models of institutions
already struggling for stability in the post-recession economy.
And then there are the neighborhood voters, who want crime kept
low, their streets plowed free of snow, better family housing, a
better urban transportation system, especially in the poorest
neighborhoods, and, of course, better schools.
There's never a dull moment when politics and business intersect
in Boston, and they haven't had the chance to collide like this
since Menino succeeded Flynn in July 1993 and then won election
outright that November. The next nine months will produce a
political spectacle that most of the city's residents and many of
its business leaders have not experienced in 20 years.
One ironic and telling anecdote, the "Menino Won't Run" story
was broken Wednesday on Twitter by David
Bernstein, the sharp-eyed former political columnist for the
Boston Phoenix, which folded a few weeks ago.
Bernstein's scoop is a good reminder of how the media
environment has changed since the days when an army of beat
reporters and columnists from city's two newspapers and major
television stations controlled the flow of game-changing
information. It's no longer about where you work or who you work
for; when you are online, breaking news is about your
Based on a look at today's papers, it appears the Boston
Herald, led by former Boston City Hall Bureau Chief and
now Editor-In-Chief Joe Sciacca, had the story early enough to
produce a package of blanket coverage in today's edition. The Boston
Globe's new editor, Brian McGrory, also a former City
Hall reporter and Metro columnist, appears to have paid a personal
visit to the Mayor to make sure his paper remained competitive on
Menino's departure plans.
By Ed Cafasso, Senior Vice President at Solomon
McCown & Company