SOUTH BOSTON--While the days when sinecures flowed from Boston's City Hall like Guinness from Dublin's St. James Brewery are long gone, it was hard to tell at yesterday's 40th annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast in South Boston.
The city's legendary coterie of Irish church leaders, political operators, friends and hangers-on gathered in one of South Boston's numerous union halls for a warm breakfast of corned-beef, cabbage and ample political lampooning.
The feast is traditionally hosted by the state senator representing Southie--as the residents of this blue collar community affectionately call their home. This year's event was the first hosted by newly elected State Sen. Stephen F. Lynch (D-South Boston).
Discussion was dominated by talk of the senator's work with State Rep. John Joseph Moakley (D-South Boston) to defeat New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's plans for a professional football stadium in their community.
"Moakley showed [Kraft] the meaning of a beer and a beating," Lynch said.
When Vice-President Al Gore '69 got on the phone with Lynch yesterday in the middle of a rousing Irish tune, he too poked fun at the recent stadium scuffle.
Referring to Kraft's less-than-diplomatic discussions with Southie natives, Gore sarcastically asked Lynch if he would recommend making Kraft the new U.S. Ambassador to the Emerald Isle.
Lynch candidly expressed his doubts, but suggested another idea.
"If you're looking for an ambassador to the UK, and you do want to take someone away from us, we do have Governor Weld," Lynch said. "Being Irish and all, it would be a great way to get back at the British."
Gov. William F. Weld '66, who was defeated by U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry in this fall's senatorial race, entered the hall with a button that read "Kerry For Senate" on one lapel, and one that proclaimed his opposition to the South Boston stadium on the other.
Earlier in the month, Weld was a vocal supporter of Kraft's failed plan to build a new stadium in Southie.
After greeting the anti-stadium crowd with a light hearted "good morning sports fans," Weld explained why the event's former host, current President of the University of Massachusetts William Bulger, was unable to attend yesterday's breakfast.
Weld said that he had problems returning from a recent Irish trade mission with Bulger.
"I was trying to board the plane to come home and I got stopped by an Irish customs official who said that 'under no circumstances can you leave here with one of our leprechauns,"' Weld said referring to Bulger, who stands slightly taller than five feet.
Although the gregarious Weld made every effort to maintain the spotlight, Kerry got a few licks in with a lengthy piece of poetry which made light of the governor's international trade priorities.
"He traveled to Ireland...and did business with Guinness, Harp and Killians," Kerry said.
Toward the end of the program, Kerry and Weld joined arms and belted out a self-deprecating ballad.
"Despite our school ties, we're regular guys," sang the two products of New England prep-schools.
In an effort to eliminate any hard feelings that grew over their stadium haggling, Lynch let Kraft have one of the last words.
Kraft said he knew he had been beaten when he woke up one morning and found the Patriot mascot's head lying in his bed.
"Then I really knew which Bulger was against the Stadium," Kraft said, referring to the former UMass President's brother, Wittey, who is wanted by federal authorities