The Blue Suit
“The election is over. Carlo has won. Fred has lost. The city is divided politically. Where do we go from here?”– Josh Resnek questioning the mayor’s Blue Suit about the future
By JOSH RESNEK with THE BLUE SUIT
“Hey. Did you see the stats I got from the mayor’s campaign account?” I asked the Blue Suit.
“Yeah. What a thing, huh?” he replied as if asking a ques- tion.
“You can say what you want about Carlo, Josh. He sure knows how to raise money, doesn’t he,” he asked me.
“Frankly, I was surprised when I added up what he spent on the campaign. You realize Carlo spent something in the $340,000 range on the election. I guess his re-election is more important to him and to those who make contributions to him than I could ever have imagined,” I added thoughtfully.
“You have no idea,” the Blue Suit retorted.
We were driving around the city, not in my red Honda. It wouldn’t start Tuesday so I took my daughter’s car, a sleek, gray, sporty four door gray Toyota, late model, the way Carlo likes them – except he would never drive a Toyota. It’s beneath his status.
In the gray Toyota, no one noticed us. We enjoyed our privacy. No one was gawking at the Blue Suit. No one was looking at me. We got subs at the sandwich shop on Ferry Street in DiPierro’s building near the Malden line. We ate them inside the car outside the shop.
The sandwiches were monsters. I had a ham and cheese with pickles, tomatoes, onions and hots, salt and pepper and oil. Wow! What a sandwich. It was a very simple thing but well done.
The Blue Suit had an Italian with everything and a small meatball sub as an add-on. The Blue Suit’s appetite is enormous. His Italian rocked. How he got down the small meat- ball sub after that is beyond me. I could only get down half my sub. Guess what? The Blue Suit finished the other half!
Driving down Ferry Street in the direction of Glendale Square, the Blue Suit started his burping routine – big clappers that seem to go on for ten seconds or longer. I mean when he burps, it is an event.
After one such monster burp, he turned to me.
“Did you know Carlo is going in for a hip replacement?” he asked me.
“No I didn’t know that,” I replied.
“When is he going to do that?” I asked.
“I believe I heard him tell Jerry he’d have his hip replaced when he gets back from Aruba.”
“Wow. That’s something. I didn’t know he was having trouble with his hip,” I replied.
“Will he need a Go Fund Me to help with the cost of the operation?” I asked the Blue Suit.
“I don’t think so, Josh. No one who can raise and spend $340,000 in about six months to get re-elected is going to need a Go Fund Me effort to pay for the operation.”
The Blue Suit said he was feeling heavy indigestion. He couldn’t burp. He appeared to be having trouble breathing. He looked uncomfortable to me. He was sweating and nervously grabbing at his lapels.
“Are you OK?” I asked him.
Then it came – a burp for the ages, a massive, noisy, from the bottom of his stomach burp, a long, deep, clapper with smaller burps following the big one.
“Oh boy, I feel a lot better now. Whew! What a thing. I thought I was having a heart attack,” he told me.
I drove up to the old Whidden Hospital. We parked at the top of the hill. We stared at the Boston skyline. We talked about the mayor’s fundraising.
I asked him the $64,000 question (an old show that used to be on TV decades ago).
“Why do you think so many people from so many places who are architects, lawyers, designers, insurance people, snow removers, and real estate developers contributed $1,000 to Carlo in the past five months alone? How do you explain 137 men and women donating $1,000 to Carlo’s campaign account. The vast majority of those big contributions come from out-of-towners from places like Brookline, Newton, Weston, Dedham, Lynnfield, Topsfield, and a dozen other fine cities and towns. Why the rush by so many to give so much?” I asked.
“You know the answer to that question, Josh. Don’t play me for a fool.”
“Yeah. You’re right. I’m sorry. I do know why but I’m not going to say. I don’t have to, do I?”
“That is correct, Josh. People tend to give when there is a reason to give. Campaign contributions aren’t given because the givers genuinely like a mayor, any mayor, and this includes Carlo,” the Blue Suit said.
“If you give, you like to think you benefit because of the gift. Its really about human nature, Josh, nothing else.”
“You’re right again,” I answered. “And are all the $500 contributors afflicted by the same belief? There were 145 $500 contributors in about a six month period this year. That’s an amazing number of people giving $500 to Carlo for his re-election,” I said.
Which brought me back to Carlo spending $340,000 on his re-election effort.
He won by the skin of his teeth. His vote total wasn’t exactly about a landslide. For instance, we can’t call him landslide Carlo. For better or worse, he is now presiding over a city that is cut in half politically. Everett is almost a microcosm of the nation – which is hopelessly split between red states and blue states.
Yet when Carlo gave his victory speech two weeks ago, he paid no heed to the split or to the thin margin of victory that gave him another four year term. He viewed his 210 vote victory as an endorsement for him. That was hardly the case. Nearly everyone in this city knows this. When he threatened so many with retribution during his speech, his words resonated with a great many people who openly did not support him. They know intuitively that could be problematic for them.
The Blue Suit sighed. “I’m getting tired of talking but let me ask you this, Josh. Why do you think so many people are tossing so much campaign money at the mayor?”
I thought for a moment.
“Give to Caesar,” Jesus said, I told the Blue Suit. ”Jesus implied that if you incurred a debt to Caesar, then you better pay it off!”
“As to why so many are giving so much to Carlo, let me answer you this way, in the style of the ancient Romans. You don’t tend to pay Caesar because you like him or you want him as a friend. You pay Caesar to stay out of your life.”