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The Bay State Banner's Menino conversion

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

By Colman Herman

The Bay State Banner, an African-American newspaper in Boston, has turned from watchdog to lapdog when it comes to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino

For some years, the Banner had been known for taking editorial whacks at Menino.  Last April, for example, the paper editorialized that Menino, during his 17 years in office, had never appointed a black man to a major role in his administration and didn’t endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 Massachusetts presidential primary or Deval Patrick in the 2006 Democratic primary for governor.

“Menino has already been the longest serving mayor in the history of Boston,” the Banner editorial said. “In his 17 years of service, he has accrued many achievements. But it is not possible to be in office for so long without piling up mistakes along with the kudos. The wise politician knows when it is time to bow out on the upbeat….It is time for Menino to step down so that he will be remembered for his many achievements.”

But just a few months later, when the Banner shut down after falling on financial hard times, Menino turned into a financial angel and rescued the newspaper with a $200,000 loan from an affiliate of the Boston Redevelopment Authority at 9 percent over two years -- a stroke of genius on Menino’s part during a tough election campaign for him.

The Banner came back on the newsstand in August, but now its view of Menino seems to have changed.

“Boston Mayor Tom Menino . . . made it clear in his inaugural address that he was ready to approach the issues confronting Boston with ‘a sense of renewal and possibility,’ ” the Banner said in a Jan. 14 editorial.  “Cynics might consider Menino’s remarks to be mere political rhetoric, but that would be a mistake.  The mayor clearly sees that Boston needs a new form of civic engagement if the city is to move forward.”

No longer the Menino critic, the Banner is now carrying his water instead.

Colman Herman is a freelance writer living in Dorchester.

Posted in: Civic Journalism

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