Dapper O'Neil's Boston

It's easy, when you read stuff like today's Howie Carr column on Boston City Councilor Dapper O'Neil, to pine for the days when Boston politics wasn't the snoozefest it is today.

Then again, some of the characters who used to make Boston politics so interesting were pretty problematic. Like, say, Dapper O'Neil.

Howie reminds us that O'Neil carried a gun, hated liberals, made fun of Maura Hennigan, and disliked Rosaria Salerno. But other parts of O'Neil's past should be remembered, too. Such as:
June 1992: O'Neil was caught on camera lamenting all the Vietnamese businesses in Fields Corner during the Dorchester Day Parade. "I just passed up there. I thought I was in Saigon, for Chrissakes," he told a Boston Police Department official, according to the Globe. "It makes you sick, for Chrissakes."

December 1993: In the council's final session of the year, O'Neil (according to the Herald) "[t]wice publicly offered to marry Councilor Rosaria Salerno; [a]ngrily threatened a staffer of Councilor David Scondras because he smiled while O'Neil was speaking; [s]creamed at citizens in the audience who applauded passage of the controversial domestic partnership ordinance, which O'Neil opposed; [s]houted at reporters who questioned O'Neil's request that councilors meet privately, in possible violation of the state Open Meeting Law, to discuss a vote at the podium; [r]idiculed a reporter who was attempting to leave the council chamber."

February 1995: After being accused of sexual harrassment by a City Hall employee, O'Neil tried unsuccessfully to speak with the woman in question. Afterward, the Globe reported, "he reportedly called her names, including a lesbian slur, according to sources who heard him. O'Neil also reportedly telephoned her and threatened to have her job excised from the budget, according to an aide to [Mayor Tom] Menino."

January 1999: O'Neil defends the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group with white-supremacist and anti-semitic views, after literature for the group cites him as a supporter. "I'm not a member of it, but they are a good group," he tells the Globe. "They are concerned about this country and what goes on in it."

That's interesting, no question. But it's also embarrassing, especially when you think that O'Neil was a frequent ticket-topper in council elections. Maybe we should be grateful that today's Boston City Council is so boring.
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