Tuesday Morning: Maybe You Did See ‘Whitey’

Published June 28, 2011

Dismissed as fantasies or mirages, some of the hundreds of James “Whitey” Bulger sightings that have been reported in the Boston-area since he skipped town ahead of an indictment in 1995 may have actually been real. According to court documents, the reputed former mob boss told investigators that he had visited Boston several times while on the lam to “take care of some unfinished business.”

Bulger’s girlfriend, Catherine Greig, hired high-profile defense attorney Kevin Reddington yesterday to represent her in court. Meanwhile, prosecutors and Bulger’s defense team continue to wrangle over whether the public should foot the bill for Bulger’s representation. Should the judge order him to, it may be difficult for Bulger to find a private practice lawyer because the case will be so difficult.

A young boy, perhaps as young as four-years-old, was shot and seriously wounded at a park in Dorchester last night. Police are looking for teens on motorized scooters that might be responsible.

Lawyers for Salvatore DiMasi are attempting to protect DiMasi’s pension payments after the former House speaker was convicted on corruption charges earlier this month.

You think your commute is bad? There could be a “traffic meltdown” on a congested stretch of Route 128 in the next 10-20 years, according to a local planning agency. Yikes.

In other commuting news, the T rolled out “quiet cars” on all 13 commuter rail lines yesterday. Passengers riding in the the cars located nearest the locomotive will be required to refrain from conversations above a whisper during peak commuting hours in an effort to bring “civility and sereneness” to the daily commute, according to MBTA General Manager Richard Davey.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino said that a threatened strike by the city’s unionized part-time bus drivers would hurt disabled kids the most.

What we’re following: We’ll continue to report on a Beacon Hill summit devoted to driving down health care costs, the Holyoke fire chief who allegedly prank-called his own fire station and new methods of evaluating local teachers.

Monday Morning: Bulger’s Crimes Continue To Reverberate

Published June 27, 2011

As Boston continues to process “Whitey” Bulger’s arrest, the families of his alleged victims are looking for closure. Shawn Donahue, whose father Michael was allegedly gunned down by Bulger or one of his associates almost 30 years ago, hopes that he’ll finally be able to confront Bulger about his father’s death.

Now that he’s in custody, Bulger may name names in a final effort toward settling old scores. He’s an old-school mobster, the Herald said, who offered his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig a glamorous life on the lam. Of course, pop culture loves a seamy Boston mob boss.

The Bulger case is a throwback to the old days when warring Irish and Italian mafia gangs fought over Boston’s turf. While the Boston mob may still exist, it’s only a shell of it’s former self.

In non-Bulger news, the MFA agreed to pay restitution to the heir of a Jewish art dealer killed at Auschwitz. The museum believes that a 17th-century Dutch painting in its stores may have been acquired from Walter Westfeld under questionable circumstances.

Hundreds of cameras are set to start recording on MBTA buses in the coming months. Rich Davey, the MBTA’s general manager, said that it should help make the T system safer.

Social programs in Massachusetts may get a boost in funding. Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration is considering several plans for “social impact bonds” that would allow investors to fund social programs and realize profits based on their successes.

What we’re following: We’ll continue to report on the reverberations in the Bulger case, the state’s mosquito testing program and the progress on the state budget.

Eyewitness: ‘It Was Absolutely Bulger I Saw’ In 2006

Published June 24, 2011

Past Southern California sightings and tips that were never followed may well have been right: It was Whitey.

One of the best of the hundreds of Bulger sightings people have called in to me over the years was from a law enforcement guy in San Diego a couple of years ago.

Now that Bulger’s been arrested in California, where’s he’s said to have lived for years, that call and others warrant a second look.

“What do his legs look like?” was the first question out of the guy’s mouth. The guy he’d seen was wearing shorts.

Check out the article I wrote for the Boston Phoenix in 2007. Now consider the phone call I got Thursday morning, the morning after Bulger was arrested in California not far from where I had last heard from the cop back in 2007.

Here’s the message:

Hey. It’s your buddy in sunny San Diego, where crime bosses wear shorts and walk around downtown. What comes around, goes around, huh buddy?

Having seen our photo of Bulger being booked Thursday, my “buddy” says he’s absolutely the same guy who was wearing shorts that day in San Diegeo at the premiere of the movie “The Departed.”

You can’t make this stuff up.


Family Wants To Face ‘Whitey’ Bulger In Court

Published June 24, 2011

When James “Whitey” Bulger is arraigned in Boston federal court Friday afternoon, the Donahue family will be there. “After all these years of waiting,” Patricia Donahue said, “We need to see this man brought to justice. We need to be there.”

Patricia Donahue, wife of an alleged victim of "Whitey" Bulger, outside federal court in Boston on Friday (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Patricia Donahue, wife of an alleged victim of "Whitey" Bulger, outside federal court in Boston on Friday (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Donahue’s husband, Michael, was murdered in 1982. His son Tommy had just made his first Communion. To celebrate, Donahue was going to take his son fishing. He’d been on the South Boston waterfront that day getting supplies for the trip. He’d stepped into a bar for a drink, and when he left, he was with Brian Halloran.

Halloran was a criminal who had tried to turn in Whitey Bulger. He’d asked Donahue for a ride. When they got into the car, men who’d been waiting, allegedly including Bulger, fired a hail of bullets into the car.

“There was more than one trigger man,” Tommy Donahue said. “So hopefully now, with Whitey Bulger getting arrested, he can rat out the other people who were there.”

The Donahues have seen Bulger’s recent mugshot. It hardened their resolve to see Bulger face-to-face in court.

“Don’t be thrown off by that old frail man smiling there,” Tommy said, “My family always said that if anyone ever lives to get charged, we will represent my father to the fullest.”

Hear more of the interview with the Donahue family, Friday on Radio Boston.

It’s Not The Same Boston Whitey Left In 1994

Published June 23, 2011

When James “Whitey” Bulger returns to the city he lorded over as Boston’s reputed crime boss, he’ll see many changes. Bulger skipped town on Dec. 23, 1994, and had been living on the lam until he and his girlfriend were arrested without incident Wednesday night at their apartment in Santa Monica, Calif.

It’s unlikely Bulger will be allowed to visit any of his old haunts when he gets back to town, but even if he did, many of them wouldn’t be there anymore. A quick check of the Boston Globe from the day Whitey vanished is chock full of ads for Filenes, Bradlees, Lechmere and Circuit City, all retail giants that have since closed their doors. Building 19 is still around though, still selling good stuff cheap.

Whitey would find things a little more expensive around the old neighborhood. In the Globe classifieds (sort of like Craigslist, but printed with ink in the newspaper), a two-bedroom apartment in South Boston, in what was described as a “nice neighborhood” with a roof-deck, was renting for $600 a month, plus utilities. A quick check of the Internet shows a two-bedroom apartment in Southie now going for around $2,500 a month. If Whitey needed wheels back then, he could have picked up a brand new 1994 Ford Escort wagon for only $9,885, delivered.

Whitey’s younger brother Bill was still making news back in 1994. On the front page of the Dec. 23, 1994, Globe Metro section, a headline proclaimed then-Senate President William Bulger was irked over a convention center setback. The article described the give and take between the Senate and the House over the future of a new convention center. Whitey will be happy to know his little brother ultimately prevailed, with the Convention Center now a major draw in South Boston, just down the road from Whitey’s old home.

Some things haven’t changed since 1994. Boston is still a big sports town, and when Whitey left, there was a huge article on the front page of the Globe about how their 22-year-old phenom quarterback Drew Bledsoe was about to lead the Pats to their first playoff game since they lost Super Bowl XX back in 1986. Of course, not even Whitey knew back then that it would be another six years before the Patriots dynasty took hold, with Super Bowl wins in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

No one knows if Whitey got that Globe on the day he left town, but if he did, perhaps he might have read his horoscope. Virgo: Buckle down to work this morning so you can leave early. Banish any feeling of jealousy or suspicion.

Feds Offer Some Details On Bulger Arrest

Published June 23, 2011

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz says today is the day justice begins for the 19 victims of James “Whitey” Bulger.  She does not expect him to face the death penalty for cases pending in Boston.

Eighty-one-year old Bulger and his longtime companion Catherine Greig were living in Santa Monica under the names Charles and Carol Gasko.  Ortiz says Bulger was lured out of his apartment by undercover agents and arrested without incident.  Agents returned to the apartment and arrested Greig, who will be charged with harboring a fugitive and possibly additional charges.

Ortiz declined to describe the tip that lead to Bulger’s arrest, but said it came in days after a publicity campaign that featured pictures of Greig.

Authorities have launched extradition proceedings to bring Bulger and Greig to Boston.  They are due in court in Los Angeles today.

Bulger and Grieg had been on the run for 16 years.

Wednesday Morning: Inspector General Unravels Education Collaborative Theft

Published June 22, 2011

The state inspector general says a former director of an education collaborative spent millions of public dollars that were intended to help educate special needs students. Inspector General Gregory Sullivan’s allegations against former Merrimack Special Education Collaborative Director John Barranco come a day after Sullivan detailed a “no-show” job at the collaborative.

We talked to Sullivan this morning:

According to documents obtained by the Globe, gubernatorial candidate and former Treasurer Tim Cahill directed a change in advertising strategy for the state Lottery while running for the corner office. The change stressed the Lottery’s effective management. The Lottery is run by Treasury.

A $2 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center took a small step forward yesterday when a state panel signed off on the proposed project. In other waterfront development news, this afternoon Vertex Pharmaceuticals breaks ground on its big Fan Pier complex.

Following last month’s bus driver “game of chicken,” a Herald review found that MBTA drivers have been hired despite driving histories that include suspensions and at-fault accidents.

A supplemental budget bill signed yesterday by Gov. Deval Patrick includes $15 million to pay for tornado response and $10 million in youth-violence-prevention grants.

Universal Hub says Borders liquidation won’t start next week, as previously announced, leaving the Downtown Crossing location a bit more in flux.

Tuesday Morning: Hill Lobbyist Back Under Scrutiny

Published June 21, 2011

Days after being convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges in the DiMasi corruption trial, the state’s inspector general says Beacon Hill lobbyist Richard McDonough obtained a “sham” public position that gave him health benefits and a generous pension. In a letter (PDF) first published by the Boston Globe, Inspector General Gregory Sullivan asks the state Board of Retirement to review McDonough’s pension he received for the alleged “no-show” position at the Merrimack Education Collaborative. Through his lawyer, McDonough denied that he did anything wrong.

Documents released in a Sept. 11 wrongful death lawsuit reveal potential failings associated with Logan Airport security screeners. Detailed by the Herald, the suit alleges that security personnel were unaware of al-Qaida’s threat, didn’t know how to identify Mace and struggled speaking English.

Would you believe that targeted ads during “The View” are part of the FBI’s new strategy to hunt down fugitive crime boss “Whitey” Bulger? Well, they are. The agency’s commercials turn the focus to tracking down Bulger’s longtime girlfriend.

New figures show the number of people using food stamps in Massachusetts has nearly doubled, compared to four years ago. A state commissioner says part of the rise is due to outreach efforts. In other economic news, the state’s under-8 percent unemployment rate means that some residents will lose jobless benefits.

Also, shhhhhh. Rolling along during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, the Red Sox poured in runs again last night, improving to 14-3 this month.

Monday Morning: Mass. To Revamp Its Homlessness Plan

Published June 20, 2011

As of last week, 1,540 homeless families were living in motels throughout Massachusetts, according to a Boston Globe report. By the end of the next fiscal year, the Patrick administration will try to get that number down to zero. That’s the aim of a new approach to homelessness, as the state tries to cut down on costs and keep families in more-permanent housing.

Today the Federal Emergency Management Agency opened seven more disaster recovery centers in tornado-damaged communities in western and central Massachusetts. In Monson, one of the communities hit hardest, a very proactive realtor is doing her best to find housing for displaced residents. (MassLive has compiled a comprehensive tornado resource post.)

After Sal DiMasi last week became the state’s third consecutive speaker convicted on federal charges, the Boston Herald says current Speaker Robert DeLeo is under renewed scrutiny, especially as “Beacon Hill prepares to get cozy with casino lobbyists.” That casino debate is occurring behind closed doors, a fact that’s drawing criticism in the wake of DiMasi’s conviction.

With an eye toward the fishing communities in their districts, two Massachusetts representatives — Barney Frank and John Tierneyhave issues with the Obama administration’s next Commerce Department nominee. The nominee, John Bryson, has ties to the Natural Resources Defense Council. To the Globe, Frank says some environmental organizations have “been reflexively antifishing” in their support of regulations.

What we’re following: The FBI will announce today a new campaign focused on nabbing fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger via his longtime girlfriend.

Let The Duck Boats Roll

Published June 17, 2011

From left, Bruins Dennis Seidenberg, Greg Campbell and Nathan Horton pose with the Stanley Cup at Tia's Restaurant in Boston on Thursday. (AP)

From left, Bruins Dennis Seidenberg, Greg Campbell and Nathan Horton pose with the Stanley Cup at Tia's Restaurant in Boston on Thursday. (AP)

Mr. Claude Julien, I bow at your feet! I kiss your Stanley Cup ring! Never one to like your coaching style, never one that appreciated your stubbornness, I will never again question your coaching decisions.

Mr. Julien, you have done what the likes of Don Cherry, Fred Creighton, Bep Guidolin, Gerry Cheevers, Terry O’Reilly, Mike Milbury, Steve Kasper, Brian Sutter, Rick Bowness, Pat Burns and Mike Keenan could not do. Dave Lewis and Robbie Ftorek were clueless about what you have accomplished.

Mr. Julien, you have brought Boston a Stanley Cup and you did it your way. Critics like me, be damned! You never wavered in what your plan — whatever it was — would be. You didn’t change your mind on who would dress and who would sit. As you have said numerous times, all that matters is what those men in the locker room believe in. And they believed in what you said, planned, drew up, and they went out and did it all and captured the most beautiful chalice in the world.
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