“How many friends do you think he has?”
By JOSH RESNEK
As we tend to do, the Blue Suit and I went over a few things after the Christmas Holiday. We spent some private time on our cell phones.
The Blue Suit hid out in the mayor’s closet in his Abbott Avenue mansion.
I was seated in the oversize leather chair with feet up on the leather Ottoman in my office at the Leader Herald on Church Street.
We both felt comfortable. Being alone helps. It is always made more difficult for us to express ourselves if people are lurking around.
“How many friends do you think he has?” I asked the Blue Suit about the mayor.
The Blue Suit thought about the question for a few moments before answering. He seemed a bit pre-occupied, like something heavy was on his mind. I let it pass for the moment.
“You know, that’s not an easy question to answer,” he finally blurted out.
“How many friends do any of us have?” the Blue Suit asked me.
I get a kick out of the Blue Suit when he’s precise and to the point.
“Not many,” I told him.
“There’s your answer,” the Blue Suit said.
“No. Not really. That doesn’t answer my question,” I added. “Let me repeat the question because I’m curious. How many friends does the mayor have? Keep in mind, the mayor has about 7,000 “friends” on Facebook.”
The Blue Suit hesitated. He was thinking.
“Hold on buddy,” I said to the Blue Suit. “I’m asking who he has meaningful relationships with besides all his Facebook fair-weather pals. How many real friends? One? Two? Three? Does he have that many?”
“That sounds about right,” the Blue Suit agreed.
“Thank you,” I said. “Let me go on just a bit.”
“Being mayor, hundreds of people want to tell you they are your friend forever. The mayor likes hearing that language. He knows it’s a lie. He understands everything is about quid pro quo, political convenience, and dollars and cents. When you live a political life in Everett, friends tend to come and go like the wind when you are Carlo. They treat him the way he treats them. He is an impossible tough guy to love. He is certainly a tough guy to be on the wrong side of – and he is always seeking retribution from those who don’t toe his line or who play games with perceived enemies. I mean, Carlo isn’t all mellow and nice. He’s got a rough edge. His jealousy poisons him. His want for what others has is a real negative. Everything is about what’s in it for him. You know what I mean?”
The Blue Suit agreed with me.
“When I think about the employees he has abused, taken everything from, and then thrown away I am made angry. He uses people. He sets people up to fail. When they fail, he gets rid of them. That’s not how you make close friends, Josh.”
“Josh, I know one person who is definitely not his friend.”
“Who is that?” I asked. “Please tell me.”
“YOU! He hates you. I have told you this again and again. It isn’t any particular thing about you that he hates. He hates all of you. Your entire being. You are never too far from his mind,” said the Blue Suit. “He hates the Leader Herald. He is driven nearly crazy because he can’t control the Leader Herald.”
“I’ve heard that. You know, I remember meeting him the first time many years ago when he had just become mayor. I had launched the Everett Independent about that time. I met him at Everett Memorial Stadium for an interview. He didn’t like me from the moment he set eyes on me. He was pained to have to speak with me. He tried to be upbeat, but he couldn’t. He was not quite polite. His happiest moment? LEAVING.”
“Let’s stay on the question. Who are Carlo’s friends?” I asked the Blue Suit. “Who would give him, say, $5,000 to pay a bill if he called them? That’s how you can usually judge the depth of a friendship when the friend is willing to give you money without you having to sign a note! Who would do this for him?”
The Blue Suit perked up.
“He’s got several “friends” who would come up with money for him. I will not reveal their names. They are not from Everett. One friend in Somerville would float him a loan. There are people in Lynnfield and the North End who might help out. From there, it gets pretty thin. I don’t think he has many friends to rely upon for money.
“What about the hundreds of city employees who contribute to his campaign war chest several times a year when asked? Are they his friends?” I asked the Blue Suit.
“Are you kidding me?” The Blue Suit replied with surprise and wonder.
“Contributors aren’t friends. They all have been given something or want something from the mayor. Those aren’t friends. Those are city employees and contributors. I can tell you this,” offered the Blue Suit.
“The mayor is a man alone. He doesn’t mix it up very much with groups except to golf during the warm months.”
“What do you mean by a man alone?” I asked.
“Josh, you ought to know that most of you people in the spotlight in the small city all feel you have many friends. But you don’t. For the most part, you are all without real friends, friends who are loyal, generous, and absolutely trusted. Carlo is alone in this world he built. He is the proverbial big fish in the little Everett bowl. He is stuck. He has nowhere to go. These people you call his friends all want something from him, every one of them. The bigger the favor he can do, the more he is appreciated by the recipient and the more he seeks to benefit from the relationship.”
“Does the mayor have friends? you ask, Josh.”
“Yes, indeed. They are worthwhile to him when they fit his needs. When he is done with them, the friendship disappears…it’s a bit like when the money is gone, love flies out the win- dow.”
“He is a lonely, angry, stand-alone figure in the Everett of today. The folks at Encore want no part of him. The city employees can’t stand him. Those who claim to be his friends are like the generals and troops who must clap and cheer North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, who must look as though they are cheering when he speaks and taking notes when they are not cheering in order to stay alive with the dictator. In fact, Josh, some of his very closest friends have joked behind his back to one another that he resembles Kim!”
The Blue Suit said he heard Carlo coming to- ward his closet.
“I’ve got to get off. I don’t want to be torn or ripped by him. Let’s talk soon, my friend,” he said to me.