Venerable, veteran blogger Tom Devine wins the just-this-moment-created Headline of the Month award for last week's post "Raipher on Trial: Should he go to Hell?"
Raipher, as any self-respecting follower of Springfield politics knows, is Raipher Pellegrino, former city councilor and current star of back-of-the-phonebook legal ads, the sort of celebrity easily recognizable by one name, like Madonna, or Potsie. Among his distinctions: being one of the rare incumbents actually voted out of office by Springfield voters (who, quite frankly, ought to exercise that option a lot more often). Pellegrino was also the guy who tried to shut down the citizens' initiative opposed to the full-of-holes plan by his pal, Mike Albano, to build a minor league ballpark in the North End (a plan that was eventually killed in Superior Court). Raipher's mother Kathleen, meanwhile, earned her own notoriety for trying, after retiring from her job heading the Springfield Parking Authority, to both collect her pension AND get back on the SPA payroll through a separate contract—a greedy little double-dipping deal that, thankfully, tanked after word got out.
While there are plenty of people in Springfield's political circles who would no dobut enjoy watching Raipher meet the business end of the devil's pitchfork, as Devine notes, it's actually his legal career that's landed Pellegrino in the hot seat—namely, on "People You'll See in Hell," a website that invites posters to name those folks they'd most like to see burn in the proverbial flaming pits. The entries are helpfully organized by Deadly Sin committed (curiously, the site leaves "wrath" off the list of the Big Seven, replacing it with "insanity"). While you might expect the site to be populated by two-timing exes and former middle-school wedgie tormentors, most entries, in fact, entail much darker tales of domestic violence, pedophilia and general senseless, cruel crimes. Indeed, even Pellegrino's fiercest enemies might find it a bit jarring to see his smiling corporate head shot among the scowling mug shots and grainy surveillance-camera stills that illustrate many of his fellow nominees' entries.
What landed Pellegrino in such illustrious company? His successful use a few years back of the so-called "sleepwalking defense" to win the acquittal of a college student arrested on rape charges (a case cited, in fact, as one of Pellegrinos' accomplishments in that phonebook ad). "if you thought there could not be another reason to lose sleep at night, Raipher D. Pellegrino is there to defend that which goes bump or more like 'boink' in the night," wrote his anonymous nominator, who used the pen name "The Nibbler."
According to poll data at the bottom of Pellegrino's entry, 51 percent of readers agree that he shoud, indeed, burn in hell. Twenty-one percent would spare him the big trip down south, while 29 percent prefer to streamline the process and simply send all lawyers directly to hell.
Meanwhile, Devine is left with an interesting question: "What I'm wondering is why, instead of picking on Raipher, no one has written up an indictment to Hell for former Springfield Mayor Mike Albano, whose administration helped corrupt a whole generation of young (and not so young) local politicians."