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[This Just In]

Dapper days may come again

By Dorie Clark

In the past few weeks, a swarm of Boston city councilors have clamored to put their names in the running for Congress, Suffolk County district attorney, and mayor. But those aren’t the only jobs coveted by council members. Mickey Roache, the ticket-topping at-large councilor who used to serve as the city’s police commissioner, reportedly hopes to be named Suffolk County register of deeds. The position, usually elected, has been open for three weeks because of the death of Register Paul Tierney. Secretary of State Bill Galvin has the authority to appoint a replacement who will serve until next year’s election.

“I know Councilor Roache was interested in it,” says his colleague Brian Honan of Allston-Brighton, who himself has his eye on the Suffolk County DA post. But Roache is keeping mum on the subject. “He’s not really taking any questions about that,” says staffer Mike Larkin. “He wants to take a respectable time for the family to get over their mourning period. He’s going to wait a while to make sure plenty of time has passed.” So is Galvin. Says his spokesman Brian McNiff, “As far as any time frame or any candidates, we have no comment.”

If Roache is tapped, he may leave the council before his term expires this fall. But what the media haven’t yet pointed out is that, if Roache departs, his job would go to the cantankerous octogenarian former city councilor Albert “Dapper” O’Neil, who was voted out of office in 1999. Because O’Neil finished fifth in the at-large race, he can rejoin the council if one of the top four finishers leaves office — a disturbing thought to the city’s progressive activists. “We would clearly not welcome a return to the old days of the Boston City Council,” says Jeremy Pittman of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Political Alliance of Massachusetts, who notes that O’Neil “had a long record of making remarks that we considered to be offensive, not only directly to gays and lesbians but also to members of other minority groups in Boston.”

But O’Neil — who now works part-time for the city’s elderly- and veteran-services departments — insists he doesn’t want to rejoin the council. Though the Boston Herald reported in February that he was seriously considering a comeback attempt this fall, he now says, “I will never go back. I think the next fellow in line is [Greg Timilty], and I wish him luck. I had 28 years of that, and that was enough for any human being.” Says O’Neil, “I’m out of the picture forever.”

Issue Date: May 17 - 24, 2001