Original URL: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/272/metro/Who_Chris_Gabrieli_Where_Moakley_Federal_Courthouse_The_topic_The_Hispanic_community+.shtml
Who: Chris Gabrieli, Where: Moakley Federal Courthouse,
The topic: The Hispanic community
Sunday, September 29, 2002
As the remnants of a storm named Isidore blow into town on Thursday evening, the
air by the South Boston Waterfront fills with a breeze and a drizzle. Men and
women, wearing natty suits and elegant brocade, duck through the rain into the
Joe Moakley Courthouse, where the Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce is
having a 10th anniversary gala dinner.
This is an upwardly mobile crowd, with ties to a vast group of voters that is
starting to flex its political power. In the side room that hosts the VIP
reception, Chris Gabrieli, Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, passes
through the room enthusiastically, pumping hands and talking contrasts.
After months of competing with like-minded Democrats, Gabrieli keeps telling
people, it's finally time to talk about dividing lines. So, as he gives his
pitch for building businesses, he brings up Republican nominee Mitt Romney
Business has helped make Gabrieli a wealthy man; he helped lead a venture
capital firm and founded a multimillion-dollar software company. But tonight, as
he weaves through the room, Gabrieli is talking small. Romney, he says, has
talked about courting CEOs in other states. Gabrieli and Shannon O'Brien want to
talk to businesses that are already here.
''We're so focused on the issue of ground-up,'' Gabrieli tells one group. ''They
don't have to all be businesses that want to be big.''
And he waxes nostalgic about his own small-time days. ''When I was growing up,
my father had a little business,'' he says. ''My job was to go up to this
very hot room on the top floor of our house and photocopy about a thousand
bills. I just thought that's what you did, and then you watched the football
The story draws a smile from Tony Barros, an amiable man in a neat tan suit who
owns a children's clothing store in Jamaica Plain. He tells Gabrieli that
neighborhood businesses need more support from banks.
''That's the gateway for minorities and women,'' Gabrieli says. ''It helps root
a community ... . When you're stuck in a neighborhood, you just have to make it
The chitchat continues, as waiters pass trays of barbecued beef and Alvaro Lima,
the chamber's chairman, looks on approvingly. His chamber has seen a lot of
political traffic this season; most of the gubernatorial candidates, including
Romney, have spoken at the group's breakfasts.
And while the Republican contender was well-received, he got an earful about a
different dividing line: the Unz initiative, a referendum on the November ballot
that would replace bilingual education with English immersion. Gabrieli and
O'Brien oppose the Unz amendment. Romney and his running mate support it.
''We disagree with Mitt Romney on bilingual education,'' Lima says. ''It's not
an issue that we want to speak Spanish only. But we want to preserve our
This is the true political buzz of the night: a subject Gabrieli keeps hearing
about as he passes through the crowd. To anyone who asks, he repeats his
opposition. ''The issue is meant to aim at, frankly, white suburban voters,'' he
tells a pair of men from Univision. ''I think that there are a lot of voters who
don't understand what's happening in the schools.''