The funky old mansion on Cambridge’s Fayerweather Street was once home to a governor who wrote novels there, kept a menagerie of strange pets, and played poker into the early morning hours with his political cronies — his daughter referred to them as the “trolls.”
It was there that William Weld put the words “amber-colored liquid” into the political lexicon of Massachusetts. It fit perfectly into the concept of how old New England gentry lived — “comfortably uncomfortable.” But now the 19th-century structure is getting a major facelift. A new owner has gutted the house. City officials say the extensive make-over must follow the historical commission’s guidelines for the outside structure, but the interior will be comfortably comfortable with amenities the Weld family never dreamed of.
The most notorious public incident during the Weld era took place in early April 1993. Ron Kaufman, a former top aide to President George H.W. Bush, blew 0.10 in a breath analysis test after being picked up on the Southeast Expressway at 1:45 a.m. after leaving Weld’s house. The governor, Kaufman, and three others had been playing cards. “I saw him with one glass of an amber-colored liquid in front of him, and I remember saying to myself, ‘Ron is nursing that drink,’ ” Weld told reporters as the incident threatened to engulf him.
A month later, Kaufman, still a major player in state GOP politics, admitted to a judge that he was impaired and was ordered to attend a safety awareness course and pay $95 in court costs. Meanwhile, Weld, who as governor was on a crusade against drunken driving, dodged a political bullet. He sailed to reelection the next year with near record margins.
Weld and his wife, Susan Roosevelt, bought the house, with 6,955 square feet of living space, for $150,000 in 1976. She took possession of the property after their divorce in 2002 and sold it in April 2013 for $3.5 million.
— FRANK PHILLIPS
Ready for Ayotte
US Senator Kelly Ayotte was reaching the crescendo of her speech at a Manchester, N.H., fund-raiser last week for RightNOW Women PAC, a political action committee that backs Republican women running for federal office and works to get young people involved in politics.
Standing before a room of about 50 people, with the evening’s other keynote speaker — fellow Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota — at her side, Ayotte made a hard pitch to the group.
“Get five people in New Hampshire involved in helping, in some way, the RightNOW PAC so that we can get women engaged in this election in the fall in 2014 and keep them engaged in 2016,” she told the crowd. “One thing I know: Why not have the first woman president be a Republican?” she said to loud applause.
As the room went quiet, Thune smiled and chimed in: “From New Hampshire!”
The crowd began clapping again.
— JOSHUA MILLER
‘All in the Family’ #1
Call it the Savin Hill edition of “All in the Family,” live from City Hall. Mayor Martin J. Walsh lives in the Dorchester enclave on Tuttle Street and has turned to his neighbors for help.
In May, Walsh announced he was tapping William Christopher to run the city’s embattled Inspectional Services Department for $120,000 a year. Christopher is an architect and longtime friend who lives on Walsh’s block.
Walsh has also hired Christopher’s son, Michael, who lives at home on Tuttle Street. Michael Christopher is the intergovernmental affairs liaison at the Boston Redevelopment Authority with an annual salary of $80,000.
Immediately after college, Michael Christopher worked as an aide for Walsh when he was a state representative. Michael Christopher’s experience includes political campaigns of Governor Deval Patrick and US Representative Stephen F. Lynch’s bid for Senate. He also managed public policy and public affairs at the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Boston Redevelopment Authority spokesman Nicholas Martin noted that Michael Christopher’s experience qualified him for his new job.
— ANDREW RYAN
‘All in the Family’ #2
A postscript to the story on Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s lucrative board work for Natixis Global Asset Management mutual funds: It turns out Baker’s brother is married to the sister of Natixis CEO John Hailer. The Globe previously reported that Baker earned $180,000 a year for serving on boards overseeing Natixis mutual funds and attending six meetings a year. But Natixis spokesman David Snowden said Baker was tapped for his business expertise and not by Hailer. “They did have a passing acquaintance, but that had no bearing on Mr. Baker’s nomination,” Snowden said. Baker was recruited by a nominating committee, Snowden said, based on his leadership as president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and his “financial expertise and his proven governance abilities.” Baker served between 2005 and 2013, stepping down from the boards during his previous campaign for governor.
— STEPHANIE EBBERT
No horsing around
City Councilor at-Large Stephen J. Murphy, who caused a ruckus at a hearing on reviving the disbanded Mounted Police Unit, said there is a backstory to why he blew his fuse last week.
Murphy said he was upset that despite his numerous requests, some commanders within the Police Department had blocked Sergeant George Survillo, former head of the unit, from testifying. Murphy did not want a repeat of what happened in 2009, when he said the department ignored his request for Survillo and others to testify.
He had invited Survillo specifically and Commissioner William B. Evans to the hearing last week. When neither man showed up, Murphy lost it. “The reason I was so angry is because I knew there was back-channeling stuff going on to undermine me on purpose,’’ Murphy said.
Murphy said he specifically requested Survillo because he is the expert on horses. But some law enforcement officials aren’t buying it. They said Murphy and Survillo are close friends and that Survillo wants the unit revived so he can lead it again. “He’s gone to his friend Steve Murphy for help,’’ said a police official with close knowledge of the matter.
Murphy said he’s long known Evans and the two commanders sent on his behalf, including one for more than 60 years. He added that he went to Boston Latin School with Survillo’s brother, Eugene, who heads the Boston Park Rangers Mounted Unit. Murphy said he only got to know George Survillo in 2009.
According to campaign records, George Survillo donated $1,000 to Murphy’s campaign between 2006 and 2012, and Eugene Survillo donated $500 between 2005 and 2014.
— MEGHAN IRONS
The sheep, they don’t bleat
The ongoing federal probation trial recently has keyed in on one of Beacon Hill’s longest, and most acrimonious, House leadership fights in memory: the years-long duel between John Rogers of Norwood and the eventual victor, Bob DeLeo of Winthrop.
At the time (from early 2007 until Sal DiMasi gave way to DeLeo in January 2009), the Rogers faction flung at DeLeo and his backers the same allegation that the prosecution is now using to press witnesses: that DeLeo, as the powerful Ways and Means chairman, was dealing state jobs for votes in support of his quest for the speakership. It’s a charge that DeLeo, then and now, has denied.
The dredging up of hard feelings that split the House a few years ago could be expected to reopen the wounds. But not so, say veterans of DeLeo v. Rogers. For one thing, DeLeo has worked to calm the once-restive House, empowering progressives and rooting out a few troublemakers.
Perhaps more important, many of the lawmakers who helped lead Rogers’s bid have since departed: Marty Walsh and Gene O’Flaherty to City Hall, Mike Rush to the state Senate, John Quinn to UMass Law, others to electoral defeat. The attrition of the Rogers forces has drained much of DeLeo’s natural opposition, and the House of much of its tension. As one former Rogers booster, now working elsewhere, put it this week: “I’m happily in a new occupation here.”
— JIM O’SULLIVAN
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