I've been working on Howie Carr's book, "The Brothers Bulger." For those of you not familiar with him, Howie does the 3-7PM radio show at WRKO in Boston, and he is equally well-known as a columnist for the Boston Herald. Depending on who you talk to, Howie is either awesome or evil - I fall in the category of the former. Not only is Howie extremely entertaining, but he is a journalist of the highest caliber, and he is also, in my opinion, an extremely courageous human being.
He has followed the career of now retired Massachusetts senate president William "Billy" Bulger, and that of his brother James, also known as "Whitey", for the better part of the past 25 years. Whitey holds the number 2 slot on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List, right behind Osama Bin Laden. According to Howie (and others as well), Whitey Bulger has had a rather long and storied criminal career with a list of crimes committed to include loansharking, armed robbery, and murder. He also apparently has been an informant for the FBI, and the circumstances of that would make up a whole other blog entry simply because of the dirt that was found under that rug. But as heinous as Whitey's crimes are reported to have been, it is his brother Billy that fascinates me.
It blows my mind that someone like Billy Bulger could rise to where he went in the hirearchy of the Massachusetts legislature and wield as much power and authority as he did. From what I have read up to this point (I'm up to about 1984-85 in the book), Billy was not only extremely powerful, but he was also incredibly corrupt. Much of this is well-known by many people (including myself), but I had no idea just how far-reaching it was. He could topple people simply with a word or two. He also spent the latter part of his career as the president of the University of Massachusetts system, where I understand he employed many of the same tactics that he used at the senate. He was able to retire with a pension that most people would never see (I had read somewhere it was in the neighborhood of $350,000 annually plus benefits), and he still got away with all of the things he did while he was in elected office. Many would say that he was doing what was necessary to "benefit his constituents." Of course he was.
Anyway, I'm sort of shamelessly plugging the book - it's a great read, and I highly recommend it. I am gaining nothing by talking about it; Howie doesn't know me from Adam. I just think the book is worth reading.