Green Genes

They are the first family of Philly politics, having given us a dominant party boss (Bill Jr.), an enigmatic mayor (Bill III), and now a feisty new Council member (Bill IV). But in the Green family, the real drama has always been between fathers and sons

Green was president of St. Joe’s Politics Club. Boss Green knew his son had invited Stassen to speak, and called the younger man into his bedroom for a talk. “I want you,” his father said, “to attack him.”

Green balked. “I can’t,” he said. “I invited him. I’m the president of the club.”

“I’m your father,” Boss Green retorted. “And this man’s been coming after me.”    

The younger Green refused and went to his bedroom, where the truth about being Boss Green’s son settled over him. Loyalty demanded he return to his father’s room. “All right,” he said. “I’ll do it.”

He resigned his club presidency. And after Stassen took the stage, he stood up with a check for $1,000 and called out: “I’m Bill Green’s son. You’ve been accusing my father of putting 17 relatives on the public payroll. That’s a lie. If you can name them, I have a check for a thousand dollars for you to give to the charity of your choice.”  

Most fathers and sons bond over a game of catch in the backyard. Bill Greens find each other in the political mud pits. Stassen was caught flat-footed, unable to back up his allegations. Green’s father was thrilled.

In the wake of the Stassen ambush, Green started driving his father to various appointments. He wasn’t supposed to speak during any of his father’s meetings. But one day, he drove the party boss to Atlantic City, where a man his dad was meeting with made racist comments. “I found that very offensive,” says Green. “And I just couldn’t help myself, so I lit into him.”

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