Two Men

One lives on the prosperous West Side, on Hancock Hill Drive as a matter of fact which is a left off Forest from Salisbury. His residence, which sits on a slight knoll, giving it even more of an aura of grandeur, is not far from such symbols of the neighborhood’s stature as the American Antiquarian Society, the Jewish Community Center, WPI and Assumption College. Seeing it for the first time at a cocktail party the Saturday before Thanksgiving, 2016, John Ahern, a guest from Shrewsbury, pegged the value of the property at $500,000. Maybe it was the wine talking because Mr. Ahern’s guesstimate is probably off by another half a mil. The other comes from what many would refer to as “the ʽpo’ side of town.” An apartment on Hathaway St., in a part of the city that has been ravaged for far too long by drugs, gang activity and prostitution. A nine-bedroom, three-bath, 3489-square-foot home in this area sold for a mere $155,000 in February. Their respective zip codes, 01609 and 01610, would appear to tell you all you need to know about them. But do they? At first glance, they could not seem to be more dissimilar. Francis R. “Frank” Carroll is eighty-one now, an always fashionably dressed man whose very name suggests power and prestige: the founder of the Small Business Service Bureau (SBSB) on Main St. (and the celebrated presidential library/museum housed therein), an individual whose illustrious history is fortified by his selfless and often unheralded work on behalf of the homeless and memorials and veterans. A man with connections galore, who dines at The Worcester Club and is thus part of “the establishment,” whose catered November 19th social as a tie-in to an appearance by Irish Tenor John McDermott at St. John’s the next afternoon (which Mr. Carroll helped arrange) was accompanied by the presence of a Worcester cop cordially directing people to the front door of a lovely, manicured estate. “Right there,” the officer said, pointing, on a road with leaves piled neatly along the curb. William T. “Billy” Breault is probably in his late sixties or early seventies, given to a less auspicious wardrobe (attire indeed befitting a community activist) and on the surface as fiery as Mr. Carroll is deferential and invariably polite. Chairman of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety, he is the man who created a fund to try and have Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body sent back to Russia; who has voiced strident opposition to needle exchanges and the decriminalization of marijuana; who has railed against the inappropriateness of a shelter riddled with problems operating in an already-compromised part of the city (it has since been relocated); who kept a watchful eye on the notorious Albion Hotel as it fell into hopefully better hands for redevelopment; who recently had the gall to suggest by citizen petition that City Hall examine the possible financial drain that refugees and asylum seekers are putting on taxpayer-bankrolled coffers. Incurring, by doing so, the wrath of some members of his own constituency (was that a “my God, he’s a closet conservative!” heard amid the cacophony?). Two men, polar opposites. Two men, driven by different agendas. Take Frank Carroll away and the city is diminished. Take Billy Breault away, the same. Take them both away and Worcester leaves a lot to be desired.

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