Detractors portray Arthur S. Demoulas as combative and money grubbing, but that is not how former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis and local powerbroker Kevin Phelan see him.
They know a different Arthur S., the one they sit with on the Boston Police Foundation board. To Davis and Phelan, Arthur S. is the model director: polite, professional, and prepared for meetings. He’s attentive and engaged, but doesn’t dominate the gatherings. And far from being stingy, they say, he is hugely generous with his time and connections, helping to raise more than $100,000 or so over the past year for the foundation, which assists officers and the department.
“He is a gentleman,” said Phelan, cochairman of commercial real estate giant Colliers International’s Boston office. “There is nothing bad I can possibly say.”
But in the current chapter of the decades-long Market Basket saga, Arthur S., 56, has been relegated by most to the role of “Bad Arthur” while his cousin, Arthur T., is “Good Arthur.” Dig deeper, and you’ll find neither is that good nor that bad, and that their famously litigious family might be bringing out the worst in each of them. The differences between the two men — said to loathe each other — are stark.
Arthur T. seems to bask in the adulation of 25,000 Market Basket employees who speak of him in terms usually applied to saints. Since he was ousted as company president in June, they have protested or stopped showing up for work, vowing to answer to no one but their former leader. Customers have shown their solidarity by staying away from the poorly stocked stores and business has ground to a virtual halt.
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