Politics can be a funny business, full of delectable little ironies that can make even the most jaded partisan smile. Take this story from freshly minted City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo, who this week showed off his new office at City Hall.
"We know that the last city councilor to actually use the desk was Councilor James Kelly," Arroyo said with a devious smile.
That's the irascible James M. Kelly from South Boston, the late longtime City Council president both revered and reviled for his unwavering principles. From behind that four-drawer, dark wooden desk, Kelly fought court-ordered busing and integration of public housing.
"Councilor James Kelly was a proud social conservative, so his office and his desk were a place where that policy really took root," Arroyo said. "Now I'm a proud progressive. To think, that desk has seen both sides of that conversation."
During his 23 years on the council, Kelly also made a name for himself for his obsessive attention to constituents' needs, often responding personally to complaints about potholes and other urban irritations. Arroyo hopes to do the same and suggested that he and Kelly also both championed the causes of organized labor.
But the irony of them sharing a desk is rich. Arroyo followed a trail blazed by his father to become only the second Latino ever to be elected to the council. Kelly was famous for what could be called a lack of ethnic sensitivity.
"All I would say is that he grew up in a different time than me," Arroyo said, adding, "When they told me it was his desk, I thought it was kind of cool."
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