When the wave of condo conversion fueled displacement hit Allston in the 1980’s, Steven Disarro was right in the middle of it. Check the Boston Glove Archives for 1981 if you don’t believe me. Disarro was the subject of a four part series on the abuses by condo converters against tenants, a series which was written by star Globe reporter Eileen McNamara.
How deep was the involvement of organized crime in the condo conversion of Allston? From a distance of 35 years, it’s hard to say. But it’s worth pointing out that the now defunct Capitol Bank, one of Disarro’s major source of funds, was so respectable that it’s board of directors featured an actual loan shark enforcer.
None of the above is exactly classified information–which is why the Globe’s coverage of Steven Disarro’s murder trial is so mystifying. The Globe seems intent on ignoring Disarro’s career as a condo converter, even though the information is right in its own files. Instead they seem eager to point in some other direction–any other direction. Lately they’ve been treating the trial as some kind of exercise in nostalgia–those old mobsters — relics of bygone days. Any money laundering that took place is assumed to be limited to Disarro’s ownership of a nightclub.
Old news, right? Who cares what happened to tenants in Allson 35 years ago? I would argue that the truth about what happened back then does matter, because history repeats itself.
Take Steven Disarro. We may never know exactly where his money came from, but if you read McNamara’s series, it’s clear he had an MO for emptying out a building. He would send out eviction notices and wait for the bulk of his tenants to panic and move. Then he would start construction in the building to drive out the remainder.
Buildings are still being emptied out today using Disarro’s technique. Landlords killed a home rule bill from the City of Boston which would have required landlords to notify the city when they filed for eviction. The landlords themselves said why they were against such a bill. It might give activists a chance to inform tenants of their rights, which would slow up evictions.
Not that today’s landlords are wise guys–they just want the option to act like it.
It matters how the paper of record reports this trial. It matters that they tell the truth about the participants.