It didnâ€™t take long for me to realize that Councillor George V. Colella was a man who didnâ€™t mince words.
He was the kind of man that would look you in the face and tell you without flinching that he thought you were doing a very poor job.
In fact, at one point many years ago when – for several weeks – I hadnâ€™t quoted him or written about his key issues, he approached me at City Hall.
We shook hands.
I asked him how he was doing and he shrugged, seeming disinterested.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on around town?â€ I asked.
â€œI doubt you would know,â€ he said, staring me directly in the eye.
â€œI doubt your paper knows either,â€ he continued. â€œCertainly no one is buying your paper to find out. I see an awful lot of them sitting on the shelves at the CVS in Northgate.â€
Then he walked away casually before I could get a word in the discussion.
I got the message.
After I had paid him more mind for a few weeks, he made sure to mention to me that the paper was really looking a lot better.
From that day on he affectionately called me, â€œSeth olâ€™boy.â€
It was trademark George Colella, and I wasnâ€™t the first who had felt his strong stare or his sharp words.
It was his sharp tongue and quick wit that blindsided many people in the Mayorâ€™s Office or in the City Council Chambers.
For that, he was known far and wide.
Many of the uninitiated – lawyers from Boston or representatives from the telephone or cable company – would get the brunt of his comments and then say, â€œOh, you must be the one they warned me about.â€
I once asked him where he got his sharp wit, especially being that his profession outside of politics was in the insurance business.
He said it was always a strong suit of his, but became more focused in later years when he began watching â€˜The Oâ€™Reilly Factorâ€™ on Fox News – which became his favorite channel.
â€œI have had that ability most of my career, for better or worse,â€ he said at the time. â€œIâ€™m not sure, though, itâ€™s been one of my strengths all of my lifetime, but itâ€™s increased since Iâ€™ve been watching the â€˜Oâ€™Reilly Factorâ€™ on Fox.â€
Some of his greatest quips that quickly came to mind were:
â€¢Recently when he was displeased with Mayor Tom Ambrosinoâ€™s proposal to increase water rates by more than 10 percent, he commented, â€œIâ€™ve said it before and Iâ€™ll say it again, the people of this city are getting a real hosing.â€
â€¢Several years ago, when speaking with a Boston financial attorney about the cityâ€™s bond rating, the attorney was waxing poetic for several minutes about the way Wall Street looks at the cityâ€™s finances. Colella, having enough of that speech, interrupted and said, â€œSir, I donâ€™t care too much about what theyâ€™re saying on Wall Street, I care about what theyâ€™re saying on Revere Street.â€
â€¢Many, many years ago, Mayor Colella was in discussions with members of union leaders – one of whom was being very critical of Colellaâ€™s decision to go non-union on one project. The man, who was overweight, told Colella that he was taking food off of the table of working people. Colella retorted, â€œIt doesnâ€™t look like Iâ€™ve taken any food off of your table.â€
And the list could go on and on.
He did battle with everyone. He took no prisoners in a verbal altercation.
And, more than anything, he always got the last word.