In a recent interview with Greater Boston host Emily Rooney on WGBH, Menino, by implication, singled out the teachers union as the worst of the lot.
Menino cut the firefighters some slack by pointing out that they have been working without a contract for three years and their situation is in arbitration. He credited the police union with helping to lobby Washington for federal funds that will save 45 police jobs. But he was noticeably silent about the teachers union.
Clearly, Menino's intension was to put the teachers on the spot, as well he should. Even by the high-handed and tone-deaf standards of so many public-employee unions, teachers union leader president Richard Stutman's response smacks of arrogance and irresponsibility.
Here is a suggestion that might resolve this standoff: Stutman should let the teachers vote by secret ballot to determine if his membership is willing to sacrifice in order to save the positions of young, new teachers who will lose their jobs if City Hall has to impose further budget cuts.
That way Stutman can stop worrying about covering his own backside with his membership. The Phoenix suspects that the teachers — as opposed to their union leadership — will turn out to be more public spirited than some might think.
Obama's latest update
There was little new in President Barack Obama's speech at Georgetown University earlier this week, even if he did exhibit an extraordinarily high degree of eloquence, concision, and analytic rigor.
While he warned that there are still more foreclosures, job losses, and economic reversals to come, Obama was able to report that the rate at which the bad news flows seems to be slowing. Keep your fingers crossed.
Even if Obama is right — and only the Rush Limbaughs and Jay Severins of the world hope that he isn't — next year is sure to be even more challenging for the state of Massachusetts and the city of Boston than 2009 has been so far. Officials and workers who don't adjust to these painful circumstances do the public a grave disservice.