by Sal Giarratani
SPECIAL TO EASTBOSTON.COM
Shortly before New Year’s Day, I read a piece by Boston Herald reporter Gayle Cawley and just wanted to comment that everything Ed Flynn said during the interview about his dad was 100 percent correct.
I have been friends with Ray Flynn going back to the late 70s when I was 24 years old and he was only 33 years old. I knew him when he was a young Southie state rep, when he was elected in 1975 when he won a seat on the old 9-member at large City Council. I was with him when he ran for mayor in 1983 and 1987 too.
When it came to race relations in this city, there was no better or more responsible leader who always tried to bring people together than Ray Flynn. Even during the turmoil of forced busing, Ray was a voice of calm and reason. Both sides of the busing would often get angry with him for not fully supporting their cause and viewpoint. I watched upfront and people always try to do and say the right thing.
I never saw him as a right-leaning demagogue of which this city had plenty. He truly was very much a populist. He always sought to do what was right, not what was easy.
Chuck Stuart’s case surely brought out the worst in us, most of us including elected officials and newspaper publishers too. Too many of us fell hook, line and sinker for the Stuart fable. People believed it because it sounded so real and possible. It turned out to be not one of Boston’s finest moments when it came to police work and when it came to the politics of fear which too many of our electeds fell into a false narrative and fear-based rabbit hole.
No politician is perfect. We are human, we make errors of judgement and action. Looking back I am sure Ray Flynn was not that happy with his actions or that of most of Boston’s elected leaders. However, what gets lost is that after the case ended, Mayor Flynn went to Mission Hill projects and apologized for his actions and the city’s actions. I am sure he regrets to this day how innocent people got caught up in a web of deceit that took on a life of its own.. But he did apologize for his actions. He surely recognized the hurt he caused unintentionally.
Boston has never had a mayor who truly understood the city neighborhoods and the city’s residents as well as Mayor Flynn. His son, Eddie Flynn is also right — race relations will most likely never really be solved but it is something you work at everyday. He learned that by example following his father doing his job from the time when he was a young boy.
It is easy to apologize 34 years after the fact but much harder when you show up at a project door not knowing the response one might get.
Sal Giarratani is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and a guest columnist at EastBoston.com.