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A Politician With Street Smarts

A Politician With Street SmartsTufts graduate Paul Scapicchio is no ordinary cabbie – he’s a Boston city councilor looking to get a new view of the district he represents. Boston.

Boston [05.17.04] Hailing down a cab last week, several residents of Boston may have gotten a surprise when they saw who was behind the wheel - their city councilor. On a mission to return to the streets, Paul Scapicchio took time in between community meetings to greet constituents from the driver's seat. The monthly shifts, says the Tufts graduate, give him a valuable new perspective on his hometown.

"You definitely get a different view of the city from here," Scapicchio, who was elected to Boston's City Council District 1 in 1998, told The Boston Globe.

But it's not a totally unfamiliar vantage point. Scapicchio worked his way through his undergraduate years at Tufts behind the wheel of a Boston taxicab. Seventeen years later he's back on the job - serving his constituents in City Hall and on the road.

"This is actually my district," he told one of his customers during the first of what he hopes will become a monthly turn at the wheel.

Since earning his City Council seat, the North End-native has ruminated about a return to the roads - although few thought the former real estate lawyer was serious.

"No one thought I'd do it," the Tufts graduate - who chairs the city's committee on aviation and transportation - told the Globe.

But Scapicchio - who plans to donate his earning from the shifts to the YMCA of Greater Boston - says he wants to gain a street-level perspective of the city.

"People look at you differently when you're driving a cab," he told the Globe. "There's a little bit of a stigma attached."

Named an honorary member of the Boston Brotherhood of Taxi Drivers in 2003, the Tufts graduate earned the favor of cab drivers when he testified against a Port Authority increase in cab fees and pushed through a measure that raises fines for drivers outside of the city who get Boston fares. Last year, the organization honored him as one of two "Men of the Year."

Despite his enthusiasm for life behind the wheel, Scapicchio says he has no plans to quit his day job. He also admitted to the Globe that he might need some time to regain his old form.

"I'm a little rusty," he said. "But it's my first day out."

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