North End cigar smoker fumes at cops who tell him he can't set up chairs in front of a hydrant

And Caffe Vittoria in turn has the Boston Licensing Board steaming over the way one of its owners snapped at a beat cop and sergeant who told him to get three chairs away from a hydrant in front of the Hanover Street establishment.

The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take for Oct. 3 incidents involving David Riccio, who owns the cafe with his brother Gerald.

Police say that over the summer, they received numerous complaints from residents and tourists about chairs, benches, pedicabs and motorcycles blocking spaces along the congested street.

Around 10 p.m. on Oct. 3, a beat cop noticed three chairs in the street blocking a hydrant. The officer told the board this morning he approached David Riccio from behind and told him to move the chairs. Riccio, he said, ignored him. He repeated his demand. Riccio, he said, told him he was being "a fool."

The cop then came in front of him and told him again to move the chairs, that they were a safety hazard and a potential license violation for the cafe. Riccio, he said, picked up one of the chairs in a threatening manner, muttered something, then put the chairs on the sidewalk. And then called the cop a fool again and said everybody was laughing at him.

The cop radioed for help from Sgt. Paul Brooks, who told the board he arrived and tried to impress on Riccio the need to keep the hydrant free. "I was met with a little chuckle," Brooks said.

David Riccio did not attend the hearing, but his brother Gerald, who did, seemed perplexed why the cafe was cited. It's not Caffe Vittoria's problem that his brother - who lives behind the cafe - and the cop, can't stand each other. And, he continued, "All he wants to do is smoke a cigar and sit on the street."

"I'm completely appalled with the lack of respect for the police officers," board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer told him.

David Riccio is listed as a 49% owner of Caffe Vittoria and the cafe has a responsibility to keep the area in front of its door clear, she said.

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Comments

Fuggedaboutit

Cigars and chairs are funny? You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little f'd up maybe, but a chair and cigar are funny how, funny like it's a clown chair or exploding cigar, that amuses you? It makes you laugh, a guy is there to effin amuse you wit a chair? What do you mean funny, funny how? How is a chair funny? How is a cigar funny?

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Good!

These dbags do this all the time. It's a public street, not the Cafe Vittorio driveway. They block legal parking spots and sit around like they're cast members of the Sopranos. If you want to smoke your cigar in the street, find a street that's closed to traffic, or better yet, go smoke it in your apartment.

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Are u crazy in saying what u

Are u crazy in saying what u just said we have been doing this for years just because u might have just moved in to the north end and u and others want to change things because u don't like it I say get out of the north end if u don't like what u see or go with the flow and keep your mouth shut

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old world vs new world

Frank - this has nothing to do with the "old world vs new world" argument that you bring up. The issue is a safety issue, which blew up into an issue of interfering with a police officer and outright disrespect for the police who protect these business owners in the first place. The cop displayed self control and even though he apparently has some personal beef with the owners he did not arrest the owner (even though he could have). He was clearly the bigger person, my hat goes off to him.

But your attitude only fuels the fire of the 'old world vs new world" argument that comes up all too often in the north end. What does your argument have to do with this story? Just because someone didn't grow up in the north end they can't have an opinion about what goes on? This story is a classic example of how some people in the neighborhood give the North End a bad image. I don't understand how you or anyone can condone behavior that is so disrespectful to a police officer.

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Let's not overdo it

"The cop radioed for help from Sgt. Paul Brooks, who told the board he arrived and tried to impress on Riccio the need to keep the hydrant free. "

Yeah, there's not a man alive who could figure out a way to dislodge a lawn chair

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Help making an impression

From the article, it sounded like poor Barney Fife needed help making an impression (must have been that Don Knotts stutter) and had to call his daddy. But I suspect the underlying problem with getting Mr. Riccio to take him seriously was that the cop was being stupid and ridiculous. What part sitting in a lawn chair impedes access to a fire hydrant? Seriously. Like if there's a fire, then the fire truck can't get to the hydrant because cigar dude on his folding is just immovable. Riccio could argue he was improving access to the hydrant by preventing a car from parking there. In this idiot contest, beat cop wins hands down.

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What's wrong with sitting by a hydrant?

I'm not sure what's wrong. So long as he's present in the chair, he can move it in the event of an incident. If he's leaving his chair unattended, then yes, I can see the issue. I never see anyone told to remove their car from a hydrant space so long as the car is idling and the driver is in the driver's seat.

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28

this IS a first class city, thank you very much!

'No wonder they laugh at us.' Sock puppet, you sound like someone who hasn't gotten over the fact that you were picked last at dodgeball. Who gives a rat's ass if NY'ers laugh at Boston. People from around the world come here to attend our universities and receive care at our hospitals. Is that not 'first class city' enough for you? Please, do share how can we improve so as to meet your high 'first class city' expectations? So sorry to disappoint!

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19

Potential Parking Space?!!

If it's in front of a fire hydrant, how can it be a potential parking space?

Were the chairs something like big Lay-Z-Boys, or little patio chairs that blow away in a strong wind? Nonetheless, insulting the neighborhood beat cop is not usually an effective strategy for resolving such situations.

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21

Why care?

I mean, let the Cafe put tables and chairs in all of the parking spaces too. Hell, let them sit in the middle of the street so long as they move if traffic wants to get by, I mean no harm there as long as they move, right? That will never go wrong, ever...

Sure, keeping your chairs out of the street and away from the fire hydrant is arbitrary...but a line had to be drawn somewhere that says where it's appropriate to leave your personal things and where the public street occurs and where a hydrant is located and easily found without having to search around every patio set someone decides to move into the street because "hey, I'd move it if you needed me to". That line is drawn and we ask guys like these cops to go around and make sure all of us, even the neighborhood shop owners who have lived there with their families for a dozen generations, are abiding by where we decided it was best to draw those lines. Making their life harder doesn't accomplish anything. Questioning the cop on why the line was drawn where it was drawn doesn't accomplish anything. Using your special snowflake situation as the reason the line is drawn stupidly doesn't do anything.

The only thing their disregard for decent behavior has accomplished is to now make me question whether I will ever patronize their cafe ever again...and it was my favorite one on Hanover. Oh well, I guess there's always Paradiso.

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28

The question is?

The question is...is the land under the table and chairs the property of the building owner or the city of Boston? If it belongs to the city, there is no question Mr. Riccio was wrong in his behavior. If the property under the table and chairs is his, then he is technically in the right. However, that does not excuse his immature behavior borne no doubt by a misguided sense of entitlement he obviously feels he has.

It is never the right thing to do when you argue with authority. Mr. Riccio simply should have called the local police station and ask for a Sgt. or LT. to come down and resolve the issue. He did not do that, instead he tried to belittle the officer. Who likes being humiliated as Mr. Riccio apparently tried to do with this officer.

What is most perplexing is why did the person who started this NOT show up for a hearing instead sent his brother to do his bidding? He seemed to have plenty to say to the police officer at the time.

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