THE BLUE SUIT
Personal and private, hush, hush discussions with the mayor’s favorite Blue Suit and Leader Herald editor Josh Resnek.
Last week, the mayor was supposed to become the chairman of the School Committee.
It never happened.
“What went wrong?” I asked the Blue Suit.
“I’m not sure. Carlo never said anything to me about it,” the Blue Suit replied.
“Does Carlo care that Mike Mangan was elected chair of the School Committee?” I asked the Blue Suit.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Maybe he stayed away because he knew he didn’t have the votes,” the Blue Suit added. “People like Carlo, mayors everywhere, wherever they serve, do not want to walk into an ambush. That’s just the way of the political world.”
“On the other hand,” he reflected in the late afternoon Tuesday as we drove around the city in my Lexus, “he might have been away. I don’t know,” the Blue Suit said.
I told the Blue Suit I thought it was strange the mayor would give up on the opportunity to become the chair of the School Committee. Then I let the Blue Suit in on a little secret.
“What secret?” he asked me.
“When Mangan got elected, and unanimously, it was a sigh of relief for School Committee members Joe LaMonica, Millie Cardello, Jason Marcus and especially for – you guessed it – Mike McLaughlin.”
“Why is that?” the Blue Suit wondered. “What are you talking about, Josh?”
“The folks who have given their vote to the mayor – LaMonica, Cardello, Marcus and McLaughlin sighed with relief when Man- gan became chair because Mangan won’t badger them, or bother them, or twist their arms to do as the mayor would likely order them to do. That’s a real advantage to public officials whose political lives are entirely dependent upon the mayor. When you think about it, it is hard to imagine just why the mayor is able to control these people as though they are robots with computers that direct them to do only as the mayor demands,” I said.
“You make some good points, Josh. But you must ask yourself, will Mangan now revert back to being owned and manipulated by the mayor?”
I thought for a moment, as I tend to do from time to time. I listened to my inner voice, as I tend to do from time to time. I tried to quiet the brain static making noise in my head. I answered the Blue Suit.
“That train has left the station,” I said with assurance. “Mangan, from what I can tell, will be his own man – believe it or not. I’ve come to like him, actually. I did not think he was very fair or smart. Today, I believe he is both about his politics. His rise to chair of the School Committee is a real time accomplishment for him. It signals that others either believe in him or were willing to vote for him as antidote to the mayor becoming the chair. Either way, it is a win win for Mangan, and, I think, for the school kids of the city.”
“So you think you’ve become friends with Mangan?” the Blue Suit asked.
“I didn’t exactly say that,” I answered. “What I said is that I’ve come to know him and to know him is to grow to like him. He won’t be bullied around by the mayor or by anyone for that matter as chair of the School Committee.”
“Can Mangan command a majority vote on matters important to him? For instance, can he get the School Committee to give Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani another contract? Can he cause the contract to be considered, let alone to be extended?” I asked him.
The Blue Suit closed his eyes. He tugged at his belt. He unbuttoned his suit jacket.
“I don’t know how far Mangan is willing to go for Tahiliani. I know Carlo will be all over him to get rid of her. In fact, when Mangan came onto the council, that was the plan, to do the mayor’s bidding and to remove Tahiliani. Mangan, however, has come to respect the superintendent. He and Jeannie Cristiano both share similar, positive views about Tahiliani. Extending her contract could become a real battle,” the Blue Suit predicted.
“You getting hungry?”
“Yeah. I’m real hungry,” the Blue Suit answered.
“Let’s have it. What do you want to eat?” I asked him.
“Kelley’s at Wellington Circle,” he suggested. We were instantly on our way.
We passed through Santilli Circle and wound our way down to the roundabout at Wellington Circle, and then headed back toward Kelley’s. Several people passing us in their automobiles waved to the Blue Suit or honked their horns.
Inside Kelley’s the Blue Suit went from table to table exchanging handshakes and high fives. A younger woman cried out: “It’s the Blue Suit,” before hugging and kissing him on the lips. He loves the notoriety.
“I’m better known than the mayor,” he said to me.
Then we ordered.
The Blue Suit ordered from the menu.
“I’ll have two roast beef sandwiches with cheese sauce and onion, a clam roll, a large chowder, two dogs all around, and a large fries. And a vanilla frappe for dessert,” he told the woman behind the counter.
Lunch would cost me about $100 after my order of a salad and a cup of chowder.
“Are you the Blue Suit?” she asked him.
“Yes I am,” he answered.
“I thought that was you,” she admitted.
“You look a lot different out of the mayor’s closet I suspect,” she joked.
“You’ve got that right,” he replied.
“Would you please give me your autograph. My kids will fight over it when I get home after work,” she added.
The Blue Suit signed the autograph on a napkin.
Then our food came.
We got down to the business of enjoying lunch and one another’s company and that was it.