I don’t remember the first time I met Larry DiCara, but he definitely made an impression. It was at least 5 years ago, more or less, and I was meeting a lot of new people – sometimes every night.
Like with most people, I do my research, and found out that back in 1971, he was elected the “youngest Boston City Councilman in recent history.” But that was merely a tip of the iceberg, because throughout his career on the Council, he supported many reforms worthy of notice, long before they became reality.
Back in 1973, for example, DiCara proposed altering the then-current state of council composed of nine members all at-large, to five-at large members (of four year terms) and ten-district members (of two year terms), because certain areas of Boston have been tragically unrepresented. By Novemner 1981, changes would occur as according to The Boston Globe article, “Sansone Asks Neighborhood Input On Hub Voting-District Lines“:
While many veteran Boston politicians are still mulling over the results of last week’s municipal election, the coalition that produced the surprisingly strong vote for district representation already is gearing up for what promises to be a citywide debate on how district lines should be drawn.
And already a key question is being asked: Who will make the first proposal of what the actual lines should be?
Outgoing City Council member Rosemarie E. Sansone, who led one of two major groups that campaigned for the district system, said in an interview yesterday that she is contacting more than 400 neighborhood and civic associations, inviting their members to participate in the districting process.
Sansone also said she has filed a measure, to be considered at next week’s council meeting, creating a special council committee on districting. (The council did not hold its regular meeting yesterday because of the Veterans Day holiday.)
Questions 1 and 2 on the municipal ballot were binding referendums calling for a mixture of district and at-large representation on the City Council and School Committee.
Passage of the referendums, which won by margins of about 55 percent to 45 percent, requires that the council draw up nine equally populous districts within the city. The same districts will apply to the council and the committee.
The referendums provide that the number of district seats on each body will remain stable at nine, while the number of at-large seats is to fluctuate with the population of the city. Initially, there will be four at-large seats on both the council and the committee.
State law under which the referendums were held gives the council 90 days to draw up the districts, beginning with the day the council is notified officially that the referendums passed. Unless there is a referendum recount, which does not appear likely given the margin by which the questions were approved, the official notice probably will be given at next Wednesday’s council meeting.
City Hall observers and many politicians contacted privately acknowledge that the issue of where lines will fall is potentially explosive because there are bound to be numerous neighborhood objections to any initial proposal.
Sansone said yesterday that she “would prefer that there be no maps introduced initially that are drawn by just one person.” She said that, if her committee proposal is accepted, she would like to see the members put together a rough composite of districting ideas advanced over the past several years and “take that to the neighborhoods as a starting point.”
Sansone’s proposal would allow the committee about a month to hold hearings across the city, leaving another two months for debate and final agreement of a council majority on the district lines. Whether the final map will be voted on by the outgoing council or the council elected last week depends solely on the pace at which the old council works.
The South Boston Information Center, which led opposition to district representation, has been invited by Sansone to participate in the districting process, but James M. Kelly, who headed the center’s effort against the referendums, said yesterday, “I personally would not sit down with Rosemarie Sansone and that coalition.”
Terence McDermott, a newly elected councilman who backed the referendums, said he intends to get involved in the districting process before taking office Jan. 1, and added that, because the four newcomers elected to the council all favored districts, “I don’t think the transition will be any problem” if Sansone leaves office and the newly elected members take office while the creation of districts is still going on.
Sansone said she will have demographic data and other information relevant to districting available “to anyone who wants it” at her City Hall office starting next week. She said her staff also is taking districting suggestions by phone.
Certainly, when it comes to integrity, I would say I am in agreement, whether I am an elected official or not.
Integrity is so important, and a requirement for being me.
Notably, the proposed changes to the City Council appeared to be a tough battle.
As far back as 1976, DiCara proposed a ban on smoking in public places, which would later occur as the norm in the early 2000s, as according to MassLive article, “Some Boston smokers not pleased about smoking ban in city’s public parks“:
Boston has long been at the forefront of the war on smoking in the United States.
– In 2003 the city banned smoking in all indoor workplaces, a ban it would eventually expand to outdoor workplaces in 2008.
– In 2008, Boston banned the sale of cigarettes in pharmacies and on college campus.
– In 2012, the city became the largest in America to ban smoking in public housing.
– In 2018, the one remaining cigar bar in the city will have to either close it doors or go before the city to request permission to stay open.
By 1978, he would be elected President of the Boston City Council by a 6-3 vote which included other councilors Patrick McDonough, the legendary Christopher Iannella, and James Connolly.
Also in 1978, a young Mark Roosevelt would serve as his campaign manager, who would later become a State Representative of the 8th Suffolk House District (1986 through 1994), as well as a candidate for Governor in 1994 against then Governor, William Weld.
DiCara would run again for the City Council Presidency in 1981, and lose to long-time City Councilman Patrick McDonough on a 5-4 vote, with the deciding vote being cast by Iannella.
Following this, DiCara would chose not to seek re-election on the Council, and as such, rather ironically, McDonough was voted off of the Council as it’s President.
In 1982, DiCara is noted for acknowledging the legitimacy of the gay community, particularly in regards to the Massachusetts Gay Political Caucus.
In 1983, he would ran unsuccessfully to be the next Mayor of Boston. In politics, as I have told others, you must be fine with losing, because it may happen. As such, losing is not my biggest concern, but rather giving up, because tomorrow is an opportunity to make change, even incrementally, which is well worth the wait.