The filing deadline has once again passed for candidates for the Boston City Council, and it looks like we’re in for another two years of minimal entertainment from the fifth floor of City Hall.
I understand, the Council is now more “diverse,” which doesn’t bother me. The problem is, it’s also become very boring.
The City Council has never had any power – but once upon a time, they tried to make up for it by delivering comedy gold. Now if they deliver anything, it’s a lecture, not that anybody is listening. Who in their right mind pays attention to a Boston city councilor – just ask Josh Zakim.
(Speaking of which, now that he’s not running for reelection, how long before Zakim decamps to the suburbs from which he came? My bet is he takes the moving van right through his hometown of Newton straight to Wellesley.)
Of course Ayanna Pressley was elected to Congress from the City Council last year, but that was about demographics, not the august office she occupied. When was the last time you saw a city councilor on local TV? (For that matter, when was the last time you watched local TV news?)
Entertainment tastes change – racetracks are gone, NASCAR is a shadow of its former self, attendance has even plummeted at Civil War battlegrounds. Maybe the sitcom that was the City Council is just a victim of the nationalization of politics – all Trump, all the time.
Today is Wednesday, which used to be the big day of the week at City Hall. All the camera crews would swarm in, to see Dapper O’Neil and Freddy Langone ham it up, along with all the rest of them, the Tierneys and the Cravens and the Foleys, who were so successful that an Italian guy named Interversato went to court to change his last name to Foley.
One day Freddy Langone was holding a hearing on Mayor Kevin White’s spending, and he asked a witness, “Who ate at the Parkman House?!?! H-W-O-H?!?! Who?”
Dapper O’Neil used to pack a gun – a .38 revolver, he was old-school all the way. He once shot an ex-con outside Amrhein’s who’d tried to mug him. So Larry DiCara put in an order to ban firearms from the Council floor. The Dap went crazy.
“Some day,” he thundered, as the TV cameras rolled, “some day some… nut is going to come into these chambers, and when that day comes, you’ll be thankful the old Dap is packin’, because I’ll protect you, all of you.” He glared at DiCara. “Everyone but you, DiCara!”
Most of the councilors had vied for higher office at one time or another, and they’d learned the hard way, by losing, that sometimes you just have to learn to appreciate the blessings you have.
Chris Iannella had run for mayor, lost, then had to hold off a jailbird ex-state rep named Iannello (who had once beaten Dapper in Ward 8) who thought he could baffle the voters into casting a ballot for him.
Anyway, Chris Iannella had come to terms with his career. One day, a younger councilor was sworn in, and Iannella called him into his office.
“You know what’s really great about being on the Council?” Iannella said.
The young guy leaned in, eager to learn exactly what was really great about being on the Council.
“The parking space,” Iannella told him. “Do you know how much these parking spaces would cost you?”
Nowadays, you get the parking space – and a $100,000 salary.
No wonder the sons try to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. Richie Iannella succeeded Chris, Ed Flynn is the son of the former mayor (and city councilor and state rep) Ray Flynn.
Two years ago, my daughter in Charlestown asked me who she should vote for the race for the district Council seat that was being vacated by Sal Lamattina. I told her, Passacantilli – he’s Freddy Langone’s grandson.
“Who’s Freddy Langone?” she asked me.
Freddy Langone, I told her – one time he lost a vote he was thought he had in the bag and he stood up and yelled at the other councilors, “This time yooze have pissed in my pants.”
Freddy’s grandson was crushed by a black woman from East Boston. I see she’s running unopposed for reelection this year.
Thank goodness for Donald Trump – if he wasn’t president, there wouldn’t be any fun left in politics.