South Boston Realtor Joyce Lebedew testified in a defamation lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court on July 25, 2016 that offered insight into the role civic associations play in the development process. The lawsuit was filed by developer Gregg Donovan against the newspaper South Boston Today and three of its principals. The newspaper’s editor in chief is Brian R. Mahoney, who is also a longtime civic association leader.
Here are excerpts of testimony transcribed by Globe from audio recordings of the proceedings, purchased on the website FTRCourt.fm.
JOYCE LEBEDEW: South Boston is a very tight community. And although I love it, there’s things about it I don’t love. There’s a list of codes and there’s some rules and you’re not supposed to go against them. And if you do, there’s repercussions. This newspaper is a weapon. It’s not used – he’s flexing his muscles with the other developers.
LAWYER: Have you ever asked Mr. Mahoney directly about why he was writing these statements about Mr. Donovan?
LEBEDEW: I did.
LAWYER: OK, and where did this conversation take place.
LEBEDEW: The 200 block of West Broadway, um, 198 West Broadway, and the parking lot of a former restaurant which is currently being developed. Um, liberty bell parking lot.
LAWYER: And describe what you were doing and how you came to interact with Mr. Mahoney. This was not a planned meeting, correct?
LEBEDEW: No, it was not a planned meeting. My daughter … lived on the top floor of 198 West Broadway … I didn’t want her on the top floor of a condominium. I was moving her into a home. And I had movers there moving some furniture, off the back deck being hoisted down. I was in the parking lot, watching them because I kept thing it was gonna—you know, someone was going to get hurt. And Mr. Mahoney—I was facing this way, looking up at my daughter’s deck and he came this way.
LAWYER: Driving or walking?
LEBEDEW: He was walking. I didn’t notice him until I heard his whistle. He was whistling a song. I looked and he said hello and I looked back to focus what I was doing. And he stopped and said, ‘I said, ‘Hi, Joycie.’’ I said, I heard you Brian; I’m choosing not to respond.’ If you say ‘Hi’ twice and someone doesn’t answer you, they’re ignoring you and that’s what I was doing. And he said, ‘the problem is, you forgot where you came from.’
LEBEDEW: And I said how do I forget where I come from? I remember. I know where I come from. Old Harbor Projects. Some great people there. I remember almost losing my home before I sold real estate. Being in foreclosure. I remember have no toys under the Christmas tree for my kids. I remember where I come from. You forget where you come from. I said, ‘Slandering and hurting and taking food off of people’s table is just like, those days are over. Those days are over.’ And he said—I said especially – Mr. Donovan …
LEBEDEW: I said, ‘It’s, it’s bullying, is what it is.’ And he said that, ‘He’s treated no different, Joyce, than the others; he can pay or he can pay.’ And he started whistling again as he walked down the street. He just walked and was whistling as he walked away. At this time I came out of the parking lot and I yelled down to him, Um, ‘Those days are over, too. Those days are over too.’ …
LAWYER: What did that statement he can pay or he can pay mean to you?
LEBEDEW: It is known in South Boston that if you don’t pay Brian Mahoney cash in an envelope then your job gets opposed.
OTHER LAWYER: Objection.
JUDGE: I’m going to strike that answer.
LEBEDEW: It’s the truth.
JUDGE: Please Miss Lebedew.
LEBEDEW: I’m sorry, it’s the truth.