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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

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March 17, 2013

Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

by at 10:29 pm.

 photo PericlesPic2_zps800c1f44.jpg

“For him to use a symbol of our immigrant story as a prop in a perverse ploy for a cheap laugh is insulting and belittling to the Greek-American community,” said former state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos. “There seems to be a pattern here of hostility to the Greek-American community.

“A mayor is supposed to show leadership, not divide a community.”

Update: Jen Myers Says:
March 18th, 2013 at 7:52 am e
Pericles was moved back to the MRR in October, after the former state senator approached the Mayor at a UMass Lowell event and asked him to move it. That was the FIRST time anyone personally asked for it to be moved. So, it was.

I agree, in spirit with Pangy, ‘… a symbol of our immigrant story as a prop in a perverse ploy ..’ is not cool. Too bad Pangy and Mr. Behrakis started it.

Before I get into examining how much of a bunch of touch holes a few prominent Greeks are being, I’d like to place this into context. By a show of hands, how do you think the French, Irish, Cambodians, etc. are digesting the Greeks high dudgeon? Who the hell proclaimed Pericles, or Perkuleeze in Rita speak, belonged parallel to the Father of our nation, George Washington? Not too presumptuous on the part of the bust donors? Maybe a tad? Did Mayor Murphy strike a blow at the inflated Aegean egos, on behalf of all the ‘lesser’ ethnicities?

As The Blog of Record will never opt to sort it out, let’s give it a try here. We’ve already covered some ground.


From April 1, 2012:
ONE ITEM was missing from the mayor’s reception room in City Hall during last weekend’s portion of Greek Independence Day weekend: The bust of Pericles, Greek statesman. It was a gift from Lowell’s Greek community to the mayor’s office as part of last year’s festivities.

The Greek community wanted the bust to sit on the mantel on the left side of the room, across from the portrait of George Washington. The father of Greek democracy and father of American democracy would face one another.


The bust’s location surprised Murphy’s predecessor, James Milinazzo. Milinazzo said someone had suggested he take the bust home upon leaving office. Milinazzo said. “It was my understanding it was supposed to stay in the mayor’s reception room, which is where Sen. (Steve) Panagiotakos said it should be the night the gift was given. The idea is Pericles would balance off the room.”

Local Greeks say they just want to see Pericles back in his rightful place.

Do you find yourself scratching your head after reading the Blog of Record? I do.

Why are “prominent Greeks” approaching the Mayor on this through a flawed emissary, The Sun? Do they think that they need to muster a little public outrage to convince Murphy?

I understand that The Sun is using the ethnic flavor of this matter to drive deeper a wedge between Murphy and segments of the “likley voter” base. The fact that Murphy takes some pride in his ancestry is being exploited by weak political minds that can only manage to brand him, the “Irish Mayor.”

Please tell your friends, Lowell is a city that celebrates diversity. And by celebrate, I hope to mean that we sustain unique identifying qualities of heritage, while concurrently uniting in common purpose, as America calls us to do. Those that wish to use what makes us best, to divide us, are petty and poisonous. Shun such efforts and reinforce what unites us.

Who remembers this?: Translating Progress

Murphy’s approach to campaigning and governing gives me hope. As my own Irish, Scottish, French, Swedish ancestry does not paralyze me, I hope Lowell can progress as the beautiful mutt that it is.

For certain “prominent Greeks” that may need pacification on the matter, maybe some solace can be found in Patrick’s twitter response to this flap.

Patrick Murphy @thinkmurphy

@lylemoran @suneditor What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but what is woven into the lives of others #Pericles

8:43 AM - 1 Apr 12via web


It didn’t take but a day or two, days The Sun opted not to use, before more light came out as to how Pericles was banished to the Mayor’s office:

7.Greg Page Says:
April 2nd, 2012 at 8:06 pm e
Got to work today, turned everything on, settled in at the desk…and in walked the morning/early afternoon custodian, Jim. He looked up at the Pericles bust and said, “I don’t understand why the paper even brought this up. Someone asked me to move it in December, just before the Mayor’s Holiday Reception, and it’s been sitting in that exact spot ever since.”

..and so went a conspiracy theory.

In the many months since, my understanding is that it was Diane Bujnowski that had Pericles removed for the annual Christmas shindig, under Mayor Milinazzo’s tenure. Apparently, to some, Pericles doesn’t even rate up to Santa Claus. I stumbled into the Mayor’s office, after Greg Page had arrived, noting the good Greek there. I never knew of the bust’s rightful location, but to me, Pericles was right at home, greeting the Mayor’s entry to his office.

Lest we forget, on Inaugural Day, it was Mayor Murphy that quoted from The Athenian Oath

Murphy sworn in as youngest mayor
Jennifer Myers, 1/4/12 (Archived Online)

Murphy concluded his speech by alluding to a line from the oath the citizens of Athens took in the time of Pericles : “We seek to transmit our city, not less but greater, better and more beautiful, than it was transmitted to us.”

At 27:36

Maybe the local Greeks have a Spartan heritage and Murphy’s rendition of an Athenian was the first stone? I’d have thought them impressed upon that their ancient kin would be dusted off and brought to life in modern civics.

But, no. Instead of coming to Murphy, face to face, the Greeks of Lowell sent a trojan virus, aka The Column. The underhanded assault, coupled with Mr.Behrakis’ grousing over attire, seemed to cement Murphy’s resolve on shoving back. And by shoving, I mean ignoring. The bust of Pericles resided in the Mayor’s office for months to come.

At some point, towards Christmas 2012, the bust was spotted back in the Mayor’s Reception Room.

 photo PericlesPic1_zps194820db.jpg

THE COLUMN: Charter school facing bumpy ride
12/9/12 (Archived Online)
DURING HER passionate speech about the importance of all councilors’ names being on city citations, Councilor Rita Mercier revealed that the bust of Pericles has been returned to its proper place in the Mayor’s Reception Room.

Mercier did so by saying she was not going to wait as long as the Greek community did to have a perceived slight by the mayor rectified, and she did not have to, because the Mayor’s Office has addressed the citations issue.

Pericles was a gift from Lowell’s Greek community to the mayor’s office during the tenure of Mayor James Milinazzo, but for most of the year it has resided in the entrance to Mayor Patrick Murphy’s office, not the reception room.

The Column first raised the Greek’s community’s concern about Pericles ‘ location in April.

The Greek community wanted the bust to sit on the mantel on the left side of the room, across from the portrait of George Washington. The father of Greek democracy and father of American democracy would face one another.

Former state Sen. Steve Panagiotakos said several weeks back he had a discussion with Murphy about the Greek community’s hopes that the bust would be returned to its rightful home. The community is pleased the mayor has made that happen.

“I don’t think he was apprised of the significance of it,” Panagiotakos said. “We are grateful to the mayor for putting it back in the reception room.”

Jennifer Myers, Murphy’s aide, said the bust was returned to the reception room at some point in October.

You can come away from all of this with your own opinion. Mine, is that this is all blown out of proportion by a faction of Murphy haters and a colluding dead tree rag. Murphy is an existential threat to the status quo and they know it.

It is no wonder that Murphy took Pericles down for a pint. If you have ever listened to Murphy, you can tell he is the only one around here that even listens to Pericles.

32 Responses to “Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts”

  1. Jen Myers Says:

    Pericles was moved back to the MRR in October, after the former state senator approached the Mayor at a UMass Lowell event and asked him to move it. That was the FIRST time anyone personally asked for it to be moved. So, it was.

  2. Tax Payer Says:

    The “Prodigy Mayor” is nothing but an embarassment to the City!

  3. Shaughnessy Says:

    Oh dear god, who cares? This is news?? Get over yourselves “prominent” Greek community (all two of you - Pangi and the other guy). I wonder what the lesser, unremarkable Greek community members think. I mean, there have to be more in our city than the two that we get these opinions from.

    And, it’s not as though this is some ancient statue passed down from days of yore, people. It’s been in there for a couple of years. Get over yourselves!

    The Mayor must have the thickest skin in town to deal with this crap. First he can’t hire his own aide, even though that’s allowed. Next he can’t decide what he decorates his office with? Thank god for the private sector!

  4. Lynne Says:

    That…last…line…Jack. Precious. Just awesome.

    “I mean, there have to be more in our city than the two that we get these opinions from.”

    Yes, thanks for that!!

  5. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    If the reaction to self depricating humor is outrage then the St Patrick’s Day breakfast needs to end. The humor at this thing hasn’t always been good (anyone remmeber Dick Johnson?) but it has always been understood and taken for what it was, humor. Maybe all those expressing outrage should skip the breakfast from this day forward. Get over it!

  6. Lynne Says:

    Basically, Pangy has totally jumped the shark.

  7. joe from Lowell Says:

    Although the textile industry has moved, there still seems to be quite a bit of feigned outrage being manufactured in downtown Lowell.

  8. joe from Lowell Says:

    As an Irish-American, I am profoundly disturbed that a former state senator would so callously, seemingly deliberately, harken back to ugly stereotypes of the Irish as “hostile,” and “perverse.”

    Howdya like them apples?

  9. Tax Payer Says:

    I think Murphy needs to earn some respect first, then he can play with the big boys, and until then he just a ceremonial Mayor who everyone will forget come November! Old Lowellians paved the way for the New Lowell! Without them there is no “New Lowell”

  10. Jack Says:

    Tax Payer? You pissed we won’t pay the vig, like you did?

    It’s embarrassing to play ‘kiss the ring,’ I’ve heard. Buck up, guy. It’s okay that you did what you did. That was the way, back then.

    It gets better.

  11. joe from Lowell Says:

    Mayor Murphy’s apparent lack of interest in playing with the “big boys” is one of the reasons I like him so much.

  12. Tax Payer Says:

    Ummm Jack what are you talking about can you plz tell me becuase I ahve actually no clue what you are talking! The big boys are the people who have made things happen in Lowell! Senators, State Reps. Etc. Murpgy is just a weak Mayor with ambissions to work for Ms. Tsongas. hahaha thats a joke!

  13. Lynne Says:

    “ceremonial Mayor”

    Sorry, love him or hate him, he’s accomplished more in four years than most of the Councilors do in 40.

  14. Tax Payer Says:

    Umm what has he single handedly accomplished? It takes Council approval for anything to pass. So, again what has he accomplished, I can’t wait for the this long list!

  15. Daniel Patrick Murphy Says:

    Her are ignant-words for the ransomed souls who adorn themselves with Depends and lie with the Sun

    Because I Will Not Stoop For Lower Cases

    Answer me, you gutsy censors of verse,
    You dainty crew, as I ram with wit
    These lines for your affectacious maw.
    I mind the raw haggis of your words:
    I pit sagacious sounds against your ink,
    You dullard cranks with dry hearts out of sync.
    Don’t let art mucker up your schemes.
    The only underlings are underling’s mislaid dreams.

    Haul your fancy out of bed,
    Three-quarter inch plywood beneath the mattress,
    That place on which you spread your limbs so long
    And dressed them like a mummy in disgrace.
    If any hairy parts intrude, let them go
    Hide under the sheet, at last, to grow.
    Don’t fret nighttime’s crinkly seams.
    The only underlings are underling’s mislaid dreams.

    –Daniel Patrick Murphy

  16. Jack Says:

    @Tax Payer Gerry Nutter compiled a list, before the 2011 election. I’m impressed.

    That said, I concede that no Councilor lives in a vacuum. That is how Plan E is designed and I like it that way. Checks and balances.

  17. Prince Charming Says:

    This whole thing is really getting creepy.

  18. Jack Says:

    Are you talking about how Pangi is raising his leg on us? Marking his territory, so to say.

    Even Gabriel Gomez, the former Navy SEAL running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, recently called Panagiotakos out of the blue and may set up a time to meet with him.

    Those who have worked for Panagiotakos and his friends say they are not surprised top public figures seek out his advice and support.

    “He is still popular around here, he has a lot of connections and people like him,” said Fred Simon, who used to work on Panagiotakos’ Senate staff. “As a candidate, who else would you want around you?”

    Simon attributed Panagiotakos’ popularity to his accessibility and down-to-earth approach. George Behrakis, a prominent member of the local Greek community and a well-known philanthropist, agreed with Simon’s assessment.

    “He is a people person,” Behrakis said. “He does not play the role. He is not a faker. People like that.”

    Fred Doyle, a longtime friend of Panagiotakos who has gone through many political campaigns with him, said he thinks the top politicians come to Panagiotakos because he speaks the unvarnished truth and is a man of his word.

    “He is honorable and if he tells you something, it will not change tomorrow,” Doyle said. “He is the type of guy people should look up to as a politician.”

    State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, who won Panagiotakos’ seat when he did not run for re-election in 2010, has also met with Grossman and Lynch. She said they are wise to seek out her predecessor.

    “Steve served in public office for many years and he is active today in his own business,” she said. “He covers both sides of the track, so to say.

  19. Prince Charming Says:

    There’s no doubt that he’s got skills, knowledge and connections from being in the business for so long. Anybody that’s interested in running for even the smallest of offices would be smart to talk to him. Are we returning to the days of Boss Tweed? I don’t see it. But I do think you’re seeing your next City Manager.

  20. Tax Payer Says:

    Jack, that is a very long list, yet they are motions not accomplishments. Those motions only pass with support of the Council and vice versa. On another note, I support the Manager he does an excellent job, I just feel like our rookie Mayor should work with and not cause drama with our elder more respected Delegates. When I played sports you join the team, do your job and shut your mouth until you proove yourself. That takes times espcially in the elected political world! You don’t become a CEO when you first get hired!

  21. Jade Says:

    Pericles, following Athenian custom, was first married to one of his closest relatives, with whom he had two sons, Paralus and Xanthippus, but around 445 BC, Pericles divorced his wife. He offered her to another husband, with the agreement of her male relatives.

    The woman he really adored was Aspasia of Miletus. She became Pericles’ mistress and they began to live together as if they were married. This relationship aroused many reactions and even Pericles’ own son, Xanthippus, who had political ambitions, did not hesitate to slander his father.

    To the “pompous, prominent Greeks”, you all have many skeletons. Some even criminal. So spare us all the self-righteousness. I don’t worship or hold reverence to statues of flawed people. I only worship GOD! and,….. I am GREEK!

  22. JohnW Says:

    The issue of where the bust should be located was definitely blown out of proportion. It was a gift; and the city should decide where they want to display it.

    But if the bust shown in these photos is the actual one given to the city than the mayor should be thoroughly embarrassed. I can’t imagine the mayor actually taking the bust out of city hall and bringing it to the old court ( just to make a joke at the Greek communities expense) but it does appear to be the real bust. If it is, then the “prominent Greeks” were pretty reserved in their comments. Pericles would never drink guinness anyway

  23. joe from Lowell Says:

    The big boys are the people who have made things happen in Lowell! Senators, State Reps. Etc.

    Umm what has he single handedly accomplished? It takes Council approval for anything to pass.

    A total of thirty-six minutes passed between these two comments.

  24. Lynne Says:

    Yeah someone is on the war path here. Another astroturfer? The instant the conversation can be taken into the direction of bashing Murphy, no matter how tenuous, our buddy “taxpayer” seems to get a gleam in his eyes.

    I’m starting to wonder if we’ve been invaded by some drones…Jim Bowen is that you??

  25. Jack Says:

    I like “Tax Payer.” Let’s not dogpile.

  26. Tax Payer Says:

    I like you too, Jack it’s wonderful to have our discussions and opnions voiced! Do we agree thatTthe Sun “Tabloid” Stinks! Hopefully and plz no more snow! hahaha

  27. Prince Charming Says:

    I’m a fan of Murphy. I just can’t understand what he’s up to. If he’s trying to stick his finger in the giant’s eye, mission accomplished. If he’s going at the giant in biblical terms, well that only happened once. By continuing with the antics, he’s doing the impossible - making Elliot look good. Even Rodney can’t do that. Personally, I think your patient is on life support and it’s time to let go folks. Find a new savior.

    Note: I sent this comment to ’spam,’ accidently. Good news: I recovered it, but it is out of sequence, by a wee bit. - Jack

  28. Jack Says:

    I’m not too keen on you employing the Obama slur, “Savior.”

    It just so happens that individuals can embody specific ideals of ‘good governance.’ That does not make them divine. Nor, do I think any one is confused about anyone’s humanity. Patrick Murphy embodies certian ideals that, imho, would benefit Lowell to incorporate. His flaws don’t degrade those ideals. They remind us of how we all must lean in and pull the weight, together.

  29. Eric J. Says:

    I don’t know the personal histories – the back and forth of this dispute but this I do know. All this energy is poorly spent on ancient history. You aren’t Greek or Irish or French Canadian. You’re an American.

    I respect personal history but I don’t get the vapors over a statue.
    I am concerned about what kind of country my 7 year old is going to have.
    Let’s fight about things that matter. The Golden Age of Pericles should not be more important to anybody now. We’ve got our own problems – American problems. Let’s work on that.

  30. Lynne Says:

    Amen, hallelujah.

  31. Young Greek Lowellian who is also a "Tax Payer" Says:

    As a 4th generation Lowellian who is quite proud of my Greek ancestry, I am quite upset at the idea that my heritage and my ethnicity is being hijacked by people with a personal ax to grind. I don’t always agree with the Mayor on his style, but is there anybody who seriously believes he has some sort of prejuidice against the Greek community? No, this was a personal issue between people who attacked him in the newspaper and he chose to make a joke about it to get back at him. Plain and simple. Did people take offense? I’m sure they did. I take offense to the idea that these “prominent” people whose ancestors came from the same country as me purport to represent me in 21st Century Lowell.

    One of the best qualities about Patrick Murphy is he reaches out to those who are not “prominent” members of the community. He treats all people like equals, including an equally short fuse for those who get on his bad side. I wish he would be more concilatory at times. There is an art to the political game that he chooses to bypass and sometimes its to his detriment. But I should also be considered a member of the Greek community and maybe my influence (and certainly my bank account) is not as big as those names, but my voice should not be co-opted.

    I hate to see so many of my fellow Greek Americans letting our ethnicity be hijacked in the name of petty personal vendettas. Maybe it was a bad joke to use the Pericles statue in that way. But it wasn’t unprovoked. The real joke is what the newspaper and other petty people choose to focus on. And while the Mayor isn’t blameless in that, he used a traditional morning of off-color nature to express some self-deprecating humor. These people are making serious accusations and are trying to take Lowell back. And its a shame because many of the people involved fled Lowell years ago to the suburbs. Murphy’s wife is having a child right? He, like me, seems more concerned about the future of Lowell than what room is the right place to celebrate the past in. He pays attention to Lowell more than just every March 25th.

  32. Jack Says:

    We have a ‘Tale of Two Patricks.’ Policy Patrick=Awesome, Political Patrick=Hamfisted.

    The game of “Turn the other cheek” politics is a losing proposition when playing with old sketchy Lowell.They have no integrity.

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