Councilmember Godden left office on January 1, 2016.
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Mission to Boston

I arrived in Boston yesterday to attend the 2010 Study Mission. The mission is a program that has been jointly sponsored by the City of Seattle and the Greater Seattle Chamber for the past 20 years. The goal of these missions is to study what other cities are doing and learning how those lessons might be useful to Seattle. This is my third Mission, the last two taken at my own expense, in these difficult budget times.

Last night we were welcomed to the city by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has been elected five times as mayor of Boston. They call him “the Urban Mechanic” for his work ethic (tireless, they say) and his dedication to the basics that make up a thriving city.

The mayor spoke at length on education and his work to close the city’s academic achievement gap. During his five terms in office, he worked to reform the school system. One of the first steps was to change the elected school board to a board that he, the mayor, appoints. Among his accomplishments, he cited full-day kindergarten for four-year olds, high graduation rates among students who speak 28 languages, after school homework programs and a college preparatory program. He said he did not achieve these goals without considerable opposition from teachers, but said that he had convinced parents that he was waging the campaign for the benefit of the students. After he completed his speech, I felt as if I was expected to cast a vote for “the Urban Mechanic.”

The mayor addressed us at a reception held in the historic Boston Public Library, founded in 1848. It is the oldest free public city library, supported by taxes, in the world and the first to allow its patrons to borrow books and other materials. The library building on Copley Square was completed in 1895. Its main hall is decorated with murals by Puvis de Chavannes. Other rooms have murals by Edwin Austin Abbey and John Singer Sargent. The reading room with its green-shaded reading lamps is an awesome sight, seeming to contain all the knowledge of the western world. No one needed hush us as we passed, awestruck, through the oak-paneled doorways.