William M. Bulger
William "Bill" Michael Bulger (born
February 2, 1934) is a retired American politicianfrom South Boston, Massachusettswho rose to become President of the Massachusetts State Senateand president of the University of Massachusetts. He is the third of six children born to Irish immigrants who settled in South Boston during the Depression, and brother of infamous fugitive Whitey Bulger.
Education and early career
Bulger was born in
Dorchester, Massachusettsto Irish immigrants James Joseph Bulger and Jane Veronica "Jean" McCarthy. The Bulgers moved to South Boston's Old Harbor housing project when it opened in 1938, when Bulger was four years old. He grew up there and has maintained lifelong friendships with many of those who were his neighbors there. The late Congressman Joe Moakleywas a close childhood neighbor.cite book | title = While the Music Lasts | last Bulger | first = William | id = ISBN 0-395-72041-9 | date = 1996 | publisher = Houghton Miffen Co ] Although the Bulger family was poor, William successfully matriculated into Boston College High School. He enrolled at Boston Collegein 1952, but his undergraduate career was interrupted when he joined the United States Armyin order to serve his country in the Korean War. He served from September 1953 to November 1955, then returned to Boston Collegeand completed his undergraduate degree in English Literature with the help the G.I. Bill. Then he entered Boston College Law School, from which he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1961.
As a graduate of
Boston College High School, Boston College(as an undergraduate), and Boston College Law School, he is what is commonly referred to as a "triple eagle." He is also the recipient of over 20 honorary degrees from a variety of academic institutions, and is renowned by friends and acquaintances for his erudition, his facility with Latin and the Classics, and his voracious reading habits. In August 2008 he was a featured guest on [http://thekindlechronicles.com The Kindle Chronicles] , a weekly podcast program on the Amazon Kindle and the reading habits of Kindle owners.
Bulger became interested in politics in 1959, a watershed year in Massachusetts politics, following the death in November 1958 of
James Michael Curley, former Mayor of Boston, Governor of Massachusetts, congressmanand two-time convict. [ [http://www.celebrateboston.com/sites/jamesmichaelcurley.htm "James Michael Curley Park" Web page at "Celebrate Boston" Web site] - accessed September 12, 2006] Bulger was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1961 and served four terms. He was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1970 representing the First Suffolk District. He was elected President of the Massachusetts State Senatein 1978 and re-elected every two years to 1996, making his time as State Senate President the longest tenurein Massachusetts history.
South Boston Irish Americanpolitician, Bulger joined other South Boston leaders in vocal opposition to court-ordered busing, an intervention that never achieved its goal of meaningful integration of Boston schools.
Like other Massachusetts politicians who were elected leaders of their legislative chambers, Bulger was frequently pilloried on the talk show circuit and in newspaper columns, but remained very popular in his hometown. He won his district election every two years from 1961 to 1994 without ever facing a challenge more serious than he faced in the Democratic primary in 1988, when a neophyte liberal activist and bookstore owner from Dorchester won 31 out of 60 precincts, only to lose the district by a landslide due to Bulger's huge turnout and margins in South Boston.
During the 1960s, he led efforts to write the first
child abusereporting laws in the state.
Bulger was among the first advocates of
charter schoolsand public schoolchoice. During the 1980s, he advocated funding of public libraries, the expansion of childhood nutrition services and fuel assistance programs. As Senate president, Bulger led the debate on welfare reformin the early 1990s, with the resulting legislation becoming the model for a national law.
For many years, Bulger hosted the annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast in South Boston. This was a "roast" of politicians.
President of the University of Massachusetts
Although a lifelong Democrat, Bulger was appointed President of the
University of Massachusettsby Republican Governor William Weldin 1996.
August 6, 2003, Bulger announced that he would resign as President of the system with effect from September 1, 2003. His resignation came due to pressure from Republican Governor Mitt Romney.
Controversy over brother
Bulger's older brother, James (aka Whitey), is a fugitive sought for murder and several other crimes. William Bulger's role in his brother's escape from authorities is a matter of some dispute. On June 19, 2003, he testified to a House about an incident in which, while still President of the Massachusetts State Senate, he "went to an arranged location in 1995 to take a call from his fugitive brother, apparently to avoid electronic eavesdropping. He said that accepting the call from the gangster without bothering to inform the FBI was 'in no way inconsistent with my devotion to my own responsibilities, my public responsibilities.'" [Edward Achorn,"The Anti-Brahmins: Not Every Massachusetts Dynasty Is Great," book review of The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston For a Quarter Century, by Howie Carr, The Weekly Standard magazine, July 24, 2006.]
During the hearing, when asked what he thought James (Whitey) did for a living, William Bulger said: Rep. ...“ I had the feeling that he was uh in the business of gaming and and uh ... Whatever. It was vague to me but I didn't think, uh—for a long while he had some jobs but uh ultimately uh it was clear that he was not uh um being um uh you know he wasn't doing what I'd like him to do. [Edward Achorn,"The Anti-Brahmins: Not Every Massachusetts Dynasty Is Great," book review of The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston For a Quarter Century, by Howie Carr, The Weekly Standard magazine, July 24, 2006.]
Bulger also testified that the FBI never asked if he knew of Whitey's location. Those remarks were disputed by a former FBI agent who claimed Bulger declined to submit to an interview with the bureau. [Fox Butterfield, "F.B.I.Used Killers as Informants, Report Says," New York Times November 21, 2003, accessed September 10, 2006] Months later, the committee report found Bulger's testimony "inconsistent" about whether the FBI had contacted him in its search for his fugitive brother. [Fox Butterfield, "F.B.I.Used Killers as Informants, Report Says," New York Times November 21, 2003, accessed September 10, 2006]
Bulger is a past president of the
Boston Public LibraryBoard of Trustees and continues to serve on the board. He is also Overseer Emeritus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he is a former member of the Massachusetts General HospitalBoard of Trustees, Museum of Fine ArtsBoard of Trustees, McLean HospitalBoard of Trustees and Citizens Bank of Massachusetts Board of Directors. He joined the faculties of Boston Collegeand Suffolk Universityas a lecturer of political science in 2004. Bulger lives in South Bostonwith Mary, his wife whom he married in 1960. They have nine children ("Bill, Jim, Sarah, Patrick, Mary, Dan, Kathleen, Chris and Brendan") and now have 30 grandchildren.
*Bulger, William M. "While the Music Lasts: My Life in Politics". New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. ISBN 0-395-72041-9.
*Carr, Howie. "The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston For a Quarter Century." Lebanon, IN: Warner Books (Hachette Book Group, Inc.), 2006. ISBN 0-446-57651-4.
*Gitell, Seth. [http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/02585292.htm "Bulger's Denouement."] "
Boston Phoenix" December 12, 2002. Accessed September 11, 2006.
* [http://thebrothersbulger.com/William%20(Billy)%20Bulger.htm Billy Bulger]
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