Last week, Boston’s mayor showed why he remains relevant after all these years to the vast majority of residents living and working in this city.
First, he issued a major statement indicating that he will be going to the State House to argue for health insurance reform for public employees that could save the city millions of dollars..
He pointed out that in the city of Boston next year if the city could choose its health insurers for its employees about $12 million would be saved. Over the next five years, it is estimated $60 million – $70 million would be saved as this is a line item in the city budget rising dramatically from year to year.
City unions have been refusing to allow such reforms to be put into effect.
The unions’ mantra is that great health insurance without paying much for it is something won by employees. They consider it an entitlement. They don’t wish for anything to change.
The mayor is saying that the situation is unsustainable, that the city cannot afford to pay the premiums it has been paying and to pay huge year to year increases in those premiums.
Like everything else that has changed in our lives, the mayor has said, what public employees pay for their health insurance has to change or the city will be bankrupted by the present pro forma.
Cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth need to be allowed to choose different plans that offer solid health insurance at a lower cost to public employees.
The mayor is going up to the State House to remind city employees that city paid for health insurance is not an entitlement – like everything else these days, what came before cannot go on much longer.
Mayor Menino last week asked the Boston City Council to remove Councillor Chuck Turner, who was convicted of accepting bribes – and who has refused to step down from his seat.
Again, the mayor showed leadership in asking for Turner to either resign or to be removed.
The mayor was insistent that Turner compromises the good name of the city council by remaining a member of it.
The mayor feels a convicted felon allowed to serve and to vote on the Boston City Council is a travesty.
And he is right, of course.
The mayor praised Turner for the great work he has done but in the end, the mayor is a harsh realist about the efficacy of a convicted felon remaining on the Boston City Council.
In both cases – city paid for health insurance and the reputation of the city council – Menino has taken the tough stand.
He goes where others won’t tread.
This is what makes the mayor an effective leader.