By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Jim Marzilli

The ghosts of James Michael Curley

In my latest for the Guardian, I report that Massachusetts has returned to normal since Election Day. Which is to say that corrupt politicians are running wild, tolls are going up and the traffic jams the Big Dig were supposed to alleviate are now worse than ever. James Michael Curley’s statues — yes, both of them — are laughing at us.

Two contradictory thoughts

Yes, state Sen. Jim Marzilli, D-Arlington, should resign, and I suspect he will now that he’s been indicted on charges that he sexually accosted four women in Lowell on June 3.

But this effort by the Massachusetts Republican Party to push Marzilli out the door is cheap and sleazy. It’s unworthy of a major political party, which, of course, the state GOP isn’t.

Jim Marzilli and mental illness

The amateur psychologist’s award for today goes to the Phoenix’s Adam Reilly, who blogged on June 5 that state Sen. Jim Marzilli’s bizarre behavior toward women could be the result of manic depression.

Now the Boston Herald’s Casey Ross reports that Marzilli, D-Arlington, is being treated at McLean Hospital for bipolar disorder, the preferred medical term for manic depression.

Ross rather cynically writes that Marzilli “could be laying the groundwork for a defense based on a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.” Well, yes. And I would imagine Marzilli will have as hard a time convincing a jury as most defendants do when they cite mental illness.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid — in Marzilli’s case, and in those of many other people, too.

By the way, why is Marzilli’s lawyer, Terrence Kennedy, still attacking people? Now he’s calling Wendy Murphy, the lawyer for another alleged victim, “a grandstanding ambulance-chaser,” according to Ross.

It’s true that Murphy is a heat-seeking missile when it comes to microphones and cameras. But it’s also true that she’s got a serious case to make.

Howie being Howie

Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr’s snide attack on state Sen. Jim Marzilli today is by the numbers, but it’s worth reading all the way to the last two lines. No, he hasn’t gotten over it. Will Carr get chewed out when he shows up at work this afternoon at WRKO Radio (AM 680), or will this just be waved off as Howie being Howie?

Meanwhile, good Jon Keller commentary on WBZ Radio (AM 1030) this morning on Marzilli’s lawyer, who’s gone way, way beyond the call of duty. While Marzilli himself has made it clear that he’s got some serious problems by checking in to a psychiatric hospital, his lawyer, Terrence Kennedy, has dismissed the charges against Marzilli as “ridiculous.”

That’s pretty offensive. What ever happened to “my client has pleaded not guilty, and beyond that we have no comment”?

Marzilli won’t seek re-election

State Sen. Jim Marzilli, D-Arlington, has announced that he won’t seek re-election. Here’s a report from the Boston Globe.

Sounds like he’s not planning on resigning before his term expires next January. Frankly, though, I’d be surprised if his legal problems make it possible for him to continue serving.

Jim Marzilli’s in big trouble

The Lowell Sun reports some disturbing details from state Sen. Jim Marzilli‘s arraignment this morning on charges of sexual assault. According to Sun reporter Lisa Redmond, the Arlington Democrat tried approaching another woman hours before he was chased and pepper-sprayed by Lowell police after he allegedly tried to grope a woman on an outdoor bench.

A trio of Boston Globe reporters pass along some nasty details as well, including an allegation that Marzilli initially identified himself by the name of another state legislator (nice touch!), and that police say he broke down and said his life was over upon being arrested. Ugh. And here is the Boston Herald’s update.

As we know, Marzilli was just cleared in a more ambiguous situation. It’s impossible not to evaluate what happened yesterday in light of that. Needless to say, it doesn’t look good.

Marzilli is a smart, hard-working legislator with a strong reformist impulse. In August 2003, I wrote a profile for the Boston Phoenix of then-House Speaker Tom Finneran, who was under fire for his authoritarian streak. Marzilli, then a state representative, had a characteristically smart take, telling me:

Tom Finneran is not the devil. He is a man of enormous talent and intellect, and he is one of the most charismatic people you’ll find. He is at the same time very conservative, and he has a very controlling manner. He wants to be in charge. Now those are not bad characteristics automatically. But in an institution of legislators who are spending less and less time and attention on public-policy matters, it’s dangerous for our democracy. It’s dangerous because a conservative ideology dominates with precious little dissent or input, for that matter.

In an era when liberals are often accused of being socialists, it’s interesting to note that Marzilli actually is one. He chaired (PDF) the Boston Democratic Socialists of America in the 1980s, and his name has continued to pop up in DSA literature in recent years.

Tuesday update: It’s now clear, according to Lowell police reports, that Marzilli was not pepper-sprayed; rather, he was told that if he didn’t stop resisting arrest, he would be. At least one early news report that I saw stated that he had been pepper-sprayed, so I’m not calling this a correction.

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