Short Post – The Curley Effect

BrahimWe’ve been wondering the genesis of the Boston Globe’s antagonism, to use an easy word, against Billy Bulger.  I was reading an article and came upon the term Curley Effect. Here’s what it said:

“There is a concept in political science called the Curley Effect, named for James Michael Curley, who was the intermittent Irish-American mayor of Boston over an astonishingly long period of time, first elected in 1913 and last elected in 1946. Curley had a special disgust for Boston’s Brahmin Establishment—“a strange and stupid race,” he once called the Wasps—and when in office, he did what he could to compel them to leave. He lavished funds on Irish neighborhoods and systematically neglected Anglo-American ones; he arranged his tax policies to redistribute wealth from the Wasp community to his own; and he kept up a rhetorical war on the Brahmins: “The Anglo-Saxon is a joke.” By his last term, the Yankee flight to the suburbs was complete.”

Perhaps since the Boston Globe was owned by a Brahmin family it saw in Billy Bulger the reincarnation of James Michael Curley. It felt an irresistible urge to destroy this monster before he drove them off to the wilds of Maine.

They had good reason to feel that. Billy Bulger has written a book about Curley.  He was a great admirer of his.

The writing was on the wall. This time however the WASPS stung back.

32 thoughts on “Short Post – The Curley Effect

  1. For the most part I’m in agreement with MTC regarding the Whitey Bulger trial, but I part company with MTC at the intercetion of the William Bulger story and the “Curley effect”.
    Those discussions remind me of the Italian fraternal organizations that tried to make the case that the government’s persuit of the mafia was persecuting the Italians.

    Im 100% Italian like most of the these posters are 100% Irish, but my position is different. I always insisted on a vigorous pursuit of organized crime because regardless of theirn ethnicity. Some organized crime figures have badly damaged the image of Italians in America. The only Italians I knew in my life worked two and sometimes three honest jobs to support thier families.

    Some of the people that MTC has talked about, who have incidentally been Irish, have over several years repeatedly exihibited activity which has raised serious concerns within the law enforcment community. When questoned about those activities these people have offerred explanations which are riddled with phrases such as I don’t remember, and I don’t think so. The curly effect cannot be offerred as an excuse not to pursue those vague and unqualified answers

    When Sal Dimasi represented an organized crime figure in one of my cases in District Court, I raised objections and I spoke to the press and I was roundly criticzed, sometimes by cops, I didn’t give him a pass becasue as he said to me on the steps of the court “both our names end in a vowel”

    1. Robert:

      I understand you think Billy Bulger is getting a pass from me because he is Irish. That’s not the case. I just happen to think he’s been libeled and wrongly accused of things he did not do. He went before and Congressional committee that was urged on by both Boston papers and a US attorney’s office that leaked his grand jury testimony that started out to investigate the FBI and its actions in the Deegan murder and ended up trying to get something on Billy. What activity do you suggest Billy has been involved in that “has raised serious concerns.” Tell me one. Tell me if he had done something wrong if there weren’t a legion of criminals that could have gotten a get out of jail card for free if they knew of it. Tell me how it is that Wyshak has been after him for almost 20 years with all his power and has come up with nothing. Tell me how much you remember of your activities from thirty or forty year ago. How many would you remember if you knew every word you spoke was going to be put under a microscope and closely examined so that somehow you could be nailed for a perjury rap.

      Tom Foley in his book wrote about going to Tom Reilly in the Middlesex DA and suggested that somehow Reilly was the only DA not afraid to take on Billy. That’s sheer nonsense. I worked on as many OC investigations doing wiretaps with all types of law enforcement officers chasing after Whitey’s groups an not once did I even hear anyone mention Billy’s name as somehow being an inhibiting factor in our work never mind being in anyway involved in some wrongdoing. I was there and I know what was happening. Billy was beyond suspicion even though we knew Whitey was his brother. I really would like to know what activity Billy has exhibited that raised serious concerns.

      I find it surprising you would suggest that I gave someone a pass because of his ethnicity. You know until you suggested that I had never considered the ethnicity of a person I investigated or prosecuted. I’m also surprised you found it offensive that Sal DiMasi represented an organized crime guy. A lawyer should not be identified with his client. I represented organized crime guys before I became a prosecutor. Did that mean I should not have been allowed to be a prosecutor.

  2. Matt: Ditto with the Kudos. Keep up the good work. The only times I disagree with you, patty, n, jay, khalid, afraid, ernie and others are those rare times when you all obviously lack the inherent ability to see things as clearly and correctly as I do. Sincerely, Billy C., just another Savin Hill Billy. P.S. By the way, there are lots of us who agree with us, by and large! Way more agree with us than the FEDs or the Globe!!! Way more agree with us than agree with Carr. I heard Carr could get only 60% of his own listeners on his own radio show who thought it was O.K. for him to write his book, Hitman, and make money off of a serial killer, Martorano. So, it’s good to know that many others think your blog is a very honest and informative blog, and it’s not slanted, biased or money-grubbing like the Globe and Herald reporters’ chronic lies, defamations and distortions.

  3. The FBI is an amazing operation. Given the task of getting the Mafia in the 80s they performed perfectly. Who gave them the order the last twenty years to let the mafia go and prosecute the cops who put LCN in jail? What other group could have a perfect shooting record ( 150 for 150)? The only person ever to match that performance was Charles Van Doren ( 150 straight correct answers). Everyone knew the quiz show was rigged and all know the FBI report was a fake. When an FBI shooting occurs a better, well respected agency should conduct the review. Maybe the IRS, NSA or the Chelsea Housing Authority. The Post reports that FBI headquarters is being re named. Hoover is going and Van Doren is taking it’s place. 2. A Moscow paper is reporting that not only did the Russians warn the FBI about Tsarnaev being a terrorist they also told Kraft and Bellichik that Hernandez was a gang member. Both times the information was ignored.3. Connolly is not going to be a witness in this trial so C and B can blame him for everything I. e. false 209s, corruption, leaks, 9-11 and Pearl Harbor. Did C and B sufficiently undermine Morris’ credibility? If Gucci, Flemmi, Weeks and Morris are devoid of believability what is left of the governments case? If the governments case is false at it’s core shouldn’t the defense rest when the prosecution does? 4,The Bristol D A , State and local police deserve kudos for their thorough investigation in the Hernandez case. If Hernandez is convicted of three murders can he have the Martorano standard ( six months per killing) applied to him? 5. Was Doc Sagansky a Brookline bookie? Noticed the press gave limited coverage to the Morris testimony. They don’t want to undermine the Feds case. 6. If WB was not an informant what was he? If the FBI’s files are false does that indicate that all the government facts are suspect? Thanks for all your efforts.

    1. N:

      1. No doubt the FBI got the Mafia. But it sold its soul to do it. Who was the guy who made the deal with the Devil and had that great life until the Devil came to collect? I thought he was one of your friends. The 150 you are talking about are the number of people justifiably shot by agents, I assume. A perfect record is not so hard, as you know, when you score yourself. I’m sure you never lost a basketball game when you were a kid. Did’t Van Doren once ask you how you did it and you showed him the eraser on the pencil. The reason all 150 firings were justified is the presumption that FBI agents only fire when justified. Each of the persons who were killed after being shot were ask to provide evidence against the FBI officer who killed them at a hearing date in Washington, DC. Their failure to appears allowed the presumption to carry the day.

      2. I think Kraft did not ignore the Russian warning. Because Putin clipped his ring, he brought him on to show the Russians he didn’t care for their information. It was rumored that he gave Hernandez the 40 million contract just to get Putin upset since it was signed within days after te warning came in. Belechick knew nothing about it.

      3. You know as a skilled defense lawyer you always blame someone who can’t defend herself. I’ll bet you’ve done it in most of those cases where you got those obviously guilty guys off. So why shoudn’t C&B use the same tactic or have you some type of patent on it. Yeah, Brennan really took it to Morris – if he walked outside court right after his testimony all of the traffic would have come to a standstill thinking the red lights had gone on. I heard Santa just put Rudolph on waiver (Patriot’s going to use him to replace Hernandez) and made Wyshak an offer he can’t refuse if he can release Morris to lead his team.

      The defense may call it a day. I think they are feeling things could not have gone better. Weeks is coming up but he knows nothing about Whitey informing and that is the big issue. If Carney can do a job on Flemmi, it might be lights out.

      4. I agree – my hat’s off to the state, Boston and local police departments and the Bristol DA and to the judges who followed the law. I’ll tell you, those guys are as good when they get on your trail and they do it the right way with hard work and warrants.
      If the FBI had the case Hernandez would have receive immunity to give them information on Odin Llyod’s sister and some of her friends. They could charge them with a RICO offense. Had the Globe owned the Patriots that would have definitely happened with them coming in and taking over the investigation on the grounds that there was a conspiracy to deprive Hernandez of his civil rights. Kraft could then keep playing Hernandez and the fans would cheer him and Howie Carr would get together and write a book with him.
      I don’t think if Hernandez is jammed in on three murders he can get the six months a killing deal unless he has information on Billy Bulger.

      5, Yeah, he operated out of one of those security high rises in Brookline. Picked him up once on a tap. Didn’t think we had enough to hit his place – not clear where in the high rise he lived since we couldn’t get in and all we had was the telephone records which said it was in apartment 1210 – having twice before relied only on phone records and once hitting the wrong apartment and the second time just avoiding it by seeing the guys go into another apartment – I refused to authorize the warrant. The guys in the SSU were really pissed at me but I ahd to make the call and knowing I needed more than the number I said no. You won’t find much about Morris telling of his relationship with the Globe. Notices some of the tweets from Globe reporters adding things I don’t hear. Maybe I’m missing it or maybe they are embellishing.

      6. WB if not an informant was a guy who may have murdered a lot of people and ran a drug and gaming empire. It just occurred to me that Whitey will not testify if Carney can make Flemmi look like he killed the young women by himself. Other than that he has to take the stand because Irish guys neither rat or kill women, except when they do. If you sat and listened to M & M you would have doubt believing any government documents.
      Your welcome.

  4. And don’t blame the Taylors. My friends who worked at the Globe spoke very highly about the good character and decency and fairness of the Taylor family. The fact-twisting culprits are many, and among them we’ve seen Lehr, O’Neill, Cullen and others distort facts to make hay and feather their own beds and put feathers in their own headdresses. The press gives its members annual awards in journalism for toeing the leftist line.

    1. William:

      The landlord (plantation owner)has to be the one ultimately responsible since he put in the editor (overseer) to conduct his business. The Taylor’s ware velvet gloves covering fists of steel. You can’t seem to escape from the left/right conundrum that sets everyone against each other. This is an American issue and not political — it involves the preservation of our rights – rights that fall on all the radical,the pigheaded, teh conservative and progressive, the right, left, and center like a gentle snow in early December

      1. Matt: not true. Ask Paul Hutchinson: for years we’ve been denouncing left and right, democrat and republican over these issues. The fact is, though, that the Plantation Mentality, Affirmative Action, Abortion on Demand, Bloated Government are leftist ideas, and I condemn with equal ferocity (1) and the Neocon’s Imperialism, Interventionism and World Cop National Building crap; and (2) the Multinationalists Corporate types who don’t give a damn about the AMerican worker or AMerican taxpayer and (3) financiers on Wall Street who also contribute to Narco-Terrorism with their “safe financial havens” and who hire multi-million dollar lobbyists to corrupt Congress so that the rich get richer and the rest of us pay more taxes. So count me as an INDEPENDENT THINKER beholden to no socio-political regime. I wasn’t a business major or political science major in college; I was a biology major who minored in music and arts (mining those fine arts fields and the theater arts fields with girlfriends on my own; I dated “hippies.”.

        1. William:

          You sweep with too broad a brush. You condemn general ideas as leftist but narrow your complaints when it comes to others such as Neocons, multinational corporate types, Wall street money boys. What are the general idea of the right that you oppose?

          How can you dislike Affirmative Action which I consider an American idea. The blacks were being excluded from our society as a people and this was a way to bring them in and lift them up and give them a stake in society.

          Other leftist, as you call them, ideas are minimum wage, child labor and workplace safety laws. What about the leftist union? In fact the idea of taxing income was denounced as a leftist idea.

  5. The Globe hated Bill Bulger for 7 reasons: (1) While Senate President—the longest serving in Massachusetts history—He gave them no special access and treated the press in general as just another business: no special favors; (2) He was politically opposed to the Globe’s liberal darlings: eg., Bulger backed Silber over Bellotti who was favored by the Dershowitz, Dukakis wing of the Democratic party; (3) He was strongly pro-life, pro-family, for traditional values, for fair treatment for the working class and he was never bigoted against anyone and got on famously with the Yankees from Peabody to Weld. (4) He was smarter than everyone on the Globe put together (5) He was humble and had a great sense of humor: Bill Weld, a summa cum laude grad from Harvard, enjoyed Bill Bulger immensely. (6) Bill Bulger was a man of great character and integrity, would not kowtow or bow to the Globe/NYTimes/WashPost/HarvardLaw or any other bastion of liberalism and he would not sell his soul for fame or good publicity; (7) He helped poor people rise above their lot in life. For all of these reasons the elitists and hypocrites in the Globe’s editorial departments hated him; The Globe writers were the character assassins who lied and spun tales and tried to frame and oust Bill Bulger as they had conspired against former A.G. Bob Quinn when he was running for Governor. They hated traditionalist Catholics from the poor neighborhoods of Boston. How did Bob Quinn of Savin Hill, a moderate-conservative Catholic democrat, ever get to be #1 in his class at Harvard? The Globe’s “elite” elitist editors and writers couldn’t figure it out, couldn’t fathom it and couldn’t stomach it. And the Globe’s coverage of the pedophile scandal said next to nothing about the psychiatrists who advised Cardinal Law that pedophile priests could be “treated and cured” nor did the Globe highlight the role of lawyers who advised Cardinal law to sign secret deals with victims’ parents to keep the scandal secret. Nor did the Globe ever blame its vaunted “spotlight team” and other investigative reporters for failing to uncover the scandal, nor did it blame the police or social service agencies that failed to discover or coddled pedophiles and adolescent molesters. Nope! The Globe found one evil entity and it wasn’t the Boy Scouts or the Teachers it was the Catholic Church’s Cardinal Law who bore all the blame as “Whitey Bulger” was to bear all the blame for narcotic trafficking and organized crime in Boston and “Bill Bulger” was to be demonized for each and every political act or stance he took in opposition to the bullyboys at eh Globe. You’ve seen the coward Jacoby: he’s just the latest in a 50 year jihad by Globe leftists against the people of the neighborhoods of Boston. My very close friend, who self-identifies as a lifelong liberal democrat of the Hubert Humphrey school of liberalism, stopped reading the Globe decades ago; he recognized yellow journalism when he saw it; he saw a once good newspaper turn into a leftist rag.

    1. William:

      Here’s your grade.
      1. Correct
      2. Correct
      3. Correct – later part about who he got along with did not bother Globe too much.
      4. Pass – I’m not sure of that. I knew some pretty smart guys who worked in the press room.
      5. Correct – Prior to seeing this I made a similar answer to a comment.
      6. Repeated of # 1 so no credit for repetition.
      7. Pass – the Globe also helped poor people with its Santa fund.

      I don’t think you can pass the blame from Cardinal Law to others. He was the man in charge and should have known not to hide some of the things that his priests did. He did it in the same manner the FBI operates so that it avoid embarrassment.

      Had the Spotlight team uncovered it first, some would have argued that it was the Globe going after the Church. There were evil priests, unfortunately, and they should have been rooted out and taken care of long before the scandal broke, not just in Boston, but throughout the country and especially in Ireland and other European Catholic countries.

      As I understand it Whitey accepts the blame for much drug trafficking. Many people have stopped reading the Globe. It’s demise is not too far in the future because of the web. Perhaps it can be rescued by new ideas and people. As far as its liberalism, that has been ongoing for decades and did not hurt it much until other sources of news on the internet were available.

      1. Matt, (a) I give your comments a B+ as they diverge very slightly from my excellent A- comments but I disagree over redundancies, because what some see as “reduntant” I see as a necessary “variation on theme” that is “inverted chords” are variations not “redundancies. No one questions Bulger extorted money from four or five relatively major drug dealers working in Southie. However, I’ve many first hand eye-witness accounts that Bulger hated narcotics (heroin, morphine, dilaudids, Oxycontin-type pharm-drugs) and did keep major dealers of those drugs out of Southie. Guys from Southie and Savie went to Eastie, Charlestown, South End, or the Berry to get stuff. So, we must distinguish Bulger’s role with cocaine and grass (he was involved) and opium-derived narcotics (he was not involved.) Crack cocaine and heroin stole the soul. Other drugs just screwed you, often for life. Drugs, I consider my expertise, since my NIDA days and before in MED school and 45+ years living and working hands on with the closest of friends and many associates struggling with and dying from drugs. We —people who graduated college around 66, 67,, 68, 69—- were the first wave to get hit with drugs; but we survived our teenage years relatively drug-free. The younger guys got wiped out by drugs and many began heavy use in high school. Any teenager using any drug is a fool: grass, relatively harmless to adults, causes (1) the amotivational syndrome and (2) an 8-point irreversible loss in IQ in teenagers (See Science News & Scientific America a few months back). Drug addiction and abuse was an epidemic from Vietnam War in the 1960s through the 1980s, and overdose deaths skyrocketed from 1995 till today (Oxycontins & heroin-related stuff).. Some estimate 20 guys we knew from Savie died from drugs and drug-related diseases (Hepatitis; AIDs from I.V. drug use) and 200 guys we knew (or knew their families) from South Boston lost their lives from drugs. This would be the 1960-70s death toll. Allston-Brighton, East Boston, Roxbury, Charlestown etc., saw similar casualties. That’s not counting the lives destroyed, years lost, families distraught, social havoc (e.g. nice girls becoming “cocaine whores”; bright high schoolers becoming promiscuous dope-heads. P.S. Heroin addicted friends told me Crack Cocaine was worse than Heroin. CC & H = “the soul takers.”

        1. William:

          You may be into distinguishing what is being pushed on the street but I’m not much for doing that having soon too many raids on cocaine or marijuana dealers which came up with a drug set up befitting a pharmacy.

  6. Winship’s wife wrote the Ask Beth column. That was the closest thing a to porn a kid could find around the house without looking.
    Now, Jesus Christ, no wonder you don’t see kids hanging out like ya use to. I mean for crissakes type in T I T S (no spaces) and it’s better than the Mardi Gras for junior.

    Where was I? Oh yeah, fuck The Globe! Thoes Yankee bastards hit us where it hurt most. Our neighborhoods. Bust up the community by busting up the place they bond. Kindergarten through high school.

    Then the state senator from South Boston hit the Senate lottery and became the third most powerful person in the state (speaker second). BUT he turned it into arguably the most powerful by wit, smarts, congeniality, hard work, etc. and of course reputation that was helped along by the Globe.

    Mass General doesn’t put wise ass dubious punks on its board. Only the Globe had a problem with him. Howie just had a free meal off his bones.

    It is now in the federal record that The Boston Globe is corrupt and creates news at any cost for financial and personal gain for owners and some employees.

    I bet the new bidders for the Globe are watching this closely and re-adjusting their offers to reflect this newly uncovered information that the sellers were disclosing.
    This really hurts goodwill and brand value.
    Perhaps even potential law suits?

    1. Ernie:

      People may say the FBI doesn’t come out looking too good in this but the Boston Globe having created “the corrupt Bill Bulger myth” for purposes yet to be totally understood by having its reporters feed information to the FBI on him and then reporting that the FBI is investigating the information it gave them reaches new lows in reporting. Billy in his book, which I suggest his writing of it is the dumbest thing he ever did, pointed out that “In fewer than four months — from December 8, 1988, to April 2, 1989 — The Globe, under nineteen different bylines, had printed sixty-nine articles about 75 State Street, most of them on page one. It had also published six editorials, two columns on its op-ed page and five cartoons.”

      All that in a story it created itself. That to me is the height of malice.

  7. James Michael Curley articulated his attitude toward the wasp establishment in his marvelous autobiography. He went into particular detail in the second chapter while discussing what it was like to grow up a “taig” in turn of the century Boston. He entitled that chapter, “Root, Hog, or, Die.”

  8. Your insight into this trial is compelling. I thoroughly enjoy your thought process, right or wrong. The FBI 209s are total BS and you are on the right track.

    1. John:

      Thanks, although I’m disappointed to hear you think my thought process is wrong at times. 🙂 209s are a joke but many people have been hurt by them.

  9. Dear Matt,

    The list of editors has grown from three into five, and now six. I forgot to include Jack Driscoll, who served at The Boston Globe for almost 40 years:, and it was he who took over for Michael Janeway after his resignation in 1986, serving until 1992 when Matthew Storin took the helm. I’d never considered this, but it would seem that media has its own dynasties not until politics. Serving as editor for a decade or more — or two decades as in the case of Winship — a person can hold tremendous power to influence news coverage. Martin Baron was editor when those illegally leaked — and only partially excerpted — grand jury minutes were published in 2002. It was also around this time when The Globe began its aggressive exposure of the Catholic church abuse cover-ups. Perhaps it is possible by the attacks on Bulger then was motivated by proxy, because he has long been known as a devout Catholic and associate of Cardinal Bernard Law? Apparently, The Globe won a Pulitzer for that: “The Pulitzer Prize for Public Service was awarded in 2003 for a Globe Spotlight Team investigation into the concealment of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.” See Wash. Post, Biography, For those who do not remember, the minutes were leaked one week and a day before Bernard Law resigned: Bulger was even cited as being a part of Cardinal Law’s inner sanctum in this piece:

    This wave of criticism could also have been a case of guilt by association, marketed as association with his brother, but perhaps this was a mask for anti-Catholic sentiments stemming from this sad chapter. Thank you for prompting this fascinating inquiry, as we continue the search for understanding, come in whatever form it may.


  10. The “Curley Effect” Why simply put: That’s all about the “redistribution of wealth.” Are you saying that there were certain folks out there engaged in retaliation against the Curleys and Bulgers and Unions of the world for purposes of taking their money back? If so, I bet I can back you up on that!

  11. Dear Matt,

    You raise an interesting point here. You know I highly respect you and value the insights you offer here. I also hold your support and encouragement in high regard. Upon reading, I am compelled to reply based upon what I know about my understanding of William Bulger. I do not believe if, on the merits of his record, that he acted or would have acted to perpetuate “The Curley Effect.” This is a fascinating theory, which I read more about in this Harvard piece as well: What an extraordinary find you have made here, Matt! Having read Bulger’s book about James Michael Curley — which was also edited by noted Suffolk University History Professor Robert Allison, I believe I can comment fairly.

    The book is more a recognition of Curley as a fighter, someone who would not give up; someone who inspired others in an infectious way, even in his final election, which was a loss of epic proportions. Bulger seems to grasp onto the spirit of the man best summed up by his concluding paragraph there: “Some years after Curley’s death, Gertrude Dennis Curley and her son spoke of Curley’s insistence that it be known that he was grateful for the life he had lived. No one should feel bad about any of the adversity that had befallen him. It was a grand life. He was grateful for it.”

    I know that Governor William Weld was himself of “Brahmin descent” and yet he and William had a close working relationship; he even wrote an endorsement of Bulger’s memoir, While the Music Lasts. Thus, while I agree that the Globe was owned by an old school Brahmin family, the Taylows who apparently were publishers from 1872 until 1999, as noted here: I also learn that The Boston Globe office is located in Dorchester since 1958; was that not William Bulger’s district? If so, could that have made it “personal”? If not, I wonder if there was any ongoing conflict between candidates from that district and Bulger’s during his time in the House of Representatives and State Senate.

    If you mean to say that William Bulger would have, or actually did act, similarly to James Michael Curley by also perpetuating a “Curley Effect” — which, it would seem, is not regarded as a ‘good’ thing — then I would disagree on his record. If you are suggesting that he was merely targeted solely because of his admiration for Curley, then I could not agree more.

    Indeed, I am unaware of instances in which William Bulger shifted funds away from the wealthy and diverted them to the poor, purportedly for self-interest and to ensure his reelection. That seems to be the basis and foundation for the Curley Effect. In addition, it was the resulting “white flight” — which Bulger unwaveringly opposed — which actually resulted in lower income persons remaining in Boston proper, and wealthier populations fleeing the city. It is ironic that The Globe would support that so vehemently and then achieve the opposite result intended. Maybe The Globe was resentful that he was right, and they were wrong? As one other commentator noted, perhaps that was The Beginning?

    It also seems that there were three core editors: Tom Winship (1966-1986),; Michael Janeway (1985-1986),; Matthew Storin (1992-2001); and Martin Baron (2001-2012), Baron now serves as editor of The Washington Post. The current editor, Brian McGory has been in that post for a little less than six months, after a 23-year career at The Boston Globe,

    Apparently, it was Winship who pushed the coverage of forced busing. Thank you for informing myself and others about the Curley Effect, about which I previously knew nothing. I agree that The Globe may have feared this, but I do not agree that there was reason to believe those fears were well-founded, based on William Bulger’s record. If there were episodes where Bulger enriched the poor at the expense of the rich, with the goal being to secure his reelection, then I would welcome greater insight into that. I speak from the experience of having read the book about Curley and having recognized its thrust about overcoming obstacles and moreover, not to regret a life public service.


    1. Jay:

      Thanks again for your fact filled comment. You are amazing in your ability to come up with so many things to fill out a story. I really appreciate it.

      I’m not so sure the Curley Effect applies to Billy on all fours. He did love to taunt the Yankees which he did often. So the “get Bulger” movement by Winship and crowd could have come about merely from them lacking humor. When the debate on where to put an incinerator up in Boston was ongoing, Billy suggested that they move it out to a large vacant spot of land in the Weston/128 area. Weston was the home to many rich Brahmin. When the debate over Logan Airport expansion came up, Billy from South Boston which suffers everyday from the low flying planes coming from there, suggested building a larger airport out in Dover, another Yankee stronghold.

      Bill Weld was a unique guy, a Brahmin for sure but without the nature of one. He’d laugh at Billy’s outlandish proposals while the Globe would editorialize against them. Weld was open, friendly and well liked by most people. He was outrageous at times and always seemed to have a sparkle in eyes as if looking to engage himself in some type of mischief. He was extremely bright and had a good sense of himself and looked upon politics as a fun game, he played it seriously of course, but once he got his goal, it seemed after achieving it he lost interest looking around for another sport. He was totally on the level and he did work well with Billy, as did Mike Dukakis who was probably too serious for his own good.

      If though I had to make an educated guess, it was mostly a fight to the finish between the Blue Dog city Democrats and the progressive Democrats, the former being religious who stuck to their core beliefs and mostly from blue collar neighborhoods; the latter being secular who felt the religious were keeping them for advancing their agenda and mostly from suburban neighborhoods who wanted to run the City of Boston from outside of it. So chalk it up to another religious war.

      1. Dear Matt,

        Thank you for the feedback! To your points, I only add that while the examples you proffer do apply to proposals which did target wealthy areas, these were reactionary proposals, not preemptive ones. My understanding of these matters is that William Bulger made such suggestions to make a cogent point: It was fine to do it in South Boston, but to do the same in places such as these was, for obvious reasons, simply unheard of.

        I believe his even mention of these proposals made his point well, that these were motivated by targeting a poorer area which happened to have Blue Dog Democrats, working class. This NY Times article points out the incinerator proposal, for example, was in reaction to the proposal to place it in South Boston:

        Having also read his book, While the Music Lasts, as you apparently seem to have also, it seems that his goal was to bridge class divides, not to strengthen them. He just had a characteristic way of going about it somethings which not everyone could understand — as you note may be possible with those folks from The Globe.

        I also agree that the candidness which was shown in that memoir was perhaps not politically smart. There were some things I read and thought to myself, “Did he really just say that?” But he did; and he did because he chose to. In a lot of ways, that was a tell-all about so much: what he thought about certain people, what he thought they thought of him, etc. While it surely was not politically correct, it was correct nevertheless to the extent it was clearly candid and honest. To imagine he would later be faulted by anyone for not being candid is, for me, hard to fathom, particularly given his record in issues even like this memoir.

        But, as his Boston Public Library Trustee biography notes, that “independence of mind” something he is proud of, as his record has also shown — “regardless of the political consequences” —

        I have paid careful attention to the facts of his life, from my own independent research and from these anecdotes shared by you and others in the blog who may have lived through some of these moments in time and have stories and were shaped by the reactions of your friends and families when these things were happening. What I seem to find, every time, is consistency replayed over and over again.

        And it is there for those who are willing to see it; it is quite fascinating, I think, and it is comforting to know that at the end of the day, those of us who seek and believe in the truth may learn that it is not we who are the ones who are off the reservation on this issue at all.

        In every reservation, there is some sense of community; and you, Mr. Matt Connolly have indisputably been an effective and wise Virtual Alderman of the learning community which you continue to foster here.


        1. Jay:

          Thanks for all the information. I have to suggest that Billy had a right to be candid in his book but in doing so I felt he was a little to much of a triumphalist and belittler of others (also some other things I disagreed with but those were minor). I guess I have never been able to get away from my mother’s teaching of “there but for the grace of God go I.”
          Billy thought he was living in an impregnable castle, like King Duncan, never realizing that around the dark corner his enemies waited with unsheathed daggers. That’s not to say in any way he was not a man of the utmost integrity, which I believe he was. Isn’t there a saying that the gods (the fates) first grant the wishes of those they wish to destroy. Billy had all he wished or prayed to the gods for and they, as they are wont to do, decided to test him and take away, temporarily I hope, what is most important to a man, his good reputation. I’m hoping the little I can do to tell the truth about him will not anger those gods and they’ll relent and let him recover his good reputation.
          Just like the people are now beginning to see that much we know about Whitey is false, the flow over onto Billy should be positive. When he regains his good name, I’m sure he’ll look back ans see it was his hubris that caused the gods to act.

  12. As I was reading this, I thought to myself “Matt has really gone off the reservation on this one”. A grudge from a previous generation, if not 2 generations, over which section of Europe the ancestors were from? How ridiculous! What a completely absurd thesis.

    I sharpened my mind’s pencil ready to write a plea to bring the mind that serves as the engine for this sensational blog back from the twilight zone. Then it all dawned on me….

    This is Boston.

    I agree with Doubting Thomas, makes perfect sense. Brilliant find, particularly the link to the book. This passage of the synopsis is almost haunting in its familiarity.

    ” As the voice of working Boston, Curley was loved to the point of adoration, even as he was being hustled off to jail for what he called “taking care of constituents.” Bulger, who was growing up in Boston just as Curley’s career and life were winding down, explains how such a “rascal” could have been an inspiration to him and so many others.”

    1. Another:

      You probably never heard the term Irish Alzheimers which is a disease particular to the Irish where they don’t remember much about their lives except their grudges and past quarrels. You have to remember every July 12 a huge parade is held in Northern Ireland to commemorate then recent Battle of Boyle that took place in 1690 where the Protestant forces defeated the Catholic forces; or the Apprentice Boys parade that remembers the lifting of the siege of Derry a year earlier. These are 300 plus year old events but still strongly felt in the hearts of the Irish. G.K. Chesterton the British Catholic intellectual wrote: ““The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad, For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

      1. You mean the Battle of Boyne. In any case, reminds me of my former detachment commander in the MA Guard in the 1980’s who was a blue blood brahmin royal pain in my Irish lass fanny. Seems the blue bloods do have a case of Brahmin Alzheimer’s themselves!

        1. Jan:

          Did I get the battle wrong? Guess I don’t pay much attention to those old grudges.

  13. matt- that is an amazing find and proposal, It makes perfect sense, I can’t see how it could be anything else as far as the genesis of it goes, Billy Bulger was James M. Curley 2.0

    1. Doubting:

      I think Billy would probably have looked at himself as another Curley. He certainly admired him and held the Brahmins in similar disdain.

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