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Chuck Turner: I’m a ‘paragon of virtue’ Vows fight to keep City Council seat

Chuck Turner: I’m a ‘paragon of virtue’
Vows fight to keep City Council seat
By Richard Weir  |   Wednesday, December 1, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

‘PHOENIX’: City Councilor 
Chuck Turner talks about his felony corruption conviction 
in his City Hall office yesterday.
Photo by Angela Rowlings

Facing the biggest City Council vote of his career, an unrepentant Chuck Turner yesterday laid out the case he plans to make to his colleagues, arguing it would be a “moral mistake” to expel him from office despite his federal corruption conviction.

“It’s a question of whether the council will rise to the level of moral integrity as opposed to political expediency,” the 70-year-old Roxbury councilor told the Herald on the eve of today’s vote on a motion by Council President Michael Ross for Turner to be stripped of his position.

“Moral integrity says, ‘No. He’s been a paragon of virtue during our 11-year experience with him, and it’s clear the government decided to try to tear him down,’ ” said Turner, who still maintains he “didn’t take the money” and was framed by a corrupt U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Political expediency says, ‘Get rid of the bum. Follow the mayor’s advice.’ ”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has little sympathy for Turner’s fight to keep his $87,500-a-year job after his conviction last month of accepting a $1,000 bribe.

“Chuck was one of the better city councilors, but he broke the law, and under the City Council statute, he must resign, and I think the council will do that tomorrow and take that vote,” Menino said yesterday.

But Turner vowed to plead his case on the council floor. He said he will remind his peers that he’s been one of the council’s fiercest “fiscal watchdogs,” for example having voted against giving Liberty Mutual a $16 million tax break when it hauled in $31 billion in profits, and against awarding firefighters a raise for agreeing to drug tests when the city was laying off low-level workers.

He will also mention how he spent $180,000 of his own money, loaned to his campaign, to help run his full-time district office — a “little City Hall” in Roxbury that spawned the Boston Workers Alliance.

“I am not a rich man. That came from my salary,” Turner said, adding, “I’m the only councilor who did that.”

Scores of Turner’s supporters are expected to hold a rally outside City Hall prior to today’s vote, which will take place before the public at Turner’s request.

Questioning the council’s authority to remove Turner, former state Rep. Mel King said he may attend to support his friend.

“On what grounds or legitimacy do they have?” King said. “All of this is murky.”

Ross said an analysis of established case law, the City Charter and the council’s own rules shows “we’re on solid footing here” to expel Turner, an unprecedented move. Never before in the council’s 100-year history has a councilor been removed.

“This was not an easy decision,” Ross said. “It’s a reluctant decision, but in the end it will be the right decision for the City Council.”

Turner said he expects to be sentenced Jan. 25 to prison. However, the Harvard-grad-turned-community activist said his life is not over. Next week he plans to file papers for a business he’s long dreamed of launching: “The Roxbury Institute of Space Exploration . . . to help people understand how they can explore their inner space.”

Greeting supporters yesterday, he told one: “People see me as going down. But I think I’m coming up. I’m the phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction.”

Thomas Grillo contributed to this report.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1299993

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  1. Christopher King

    Exclusive Chuck Turner Council Vote Video:



    Chuck Turner is the 2007 winner of the Community Church of Boston Sacco and Vanzetti Social Justice Award

    01 December 2010

    KingCast presents faces of consternation as the Boston Civil Rights Community vows: "We will keep Chuck Turner's fight for Justice and Equality alive!"

    KingCast65 video regarding the expulsion vote, which was cast without any clear authority to do so, as will be duly noted shortly by the eloquent presentation of Councilor Yancey, the Councilor with more experience than anyone else in the entire room. If you want to start talking about expansion of plenary powers to take such a grand action then so be it, but Common Sense says that if the Charter intended for the Council to have such power it would be clearly enumerated.

    And oh, yah Attorney Sullivan, have your day of Glory, you spent $30K of our money to trick a guy used to spending his own money on community projects to pick up $1,000.00. A guy with zero history of corruption or selfishness who worked for everyone in his community regardless of age, race, sex, orientation, religion or color. Even your own witness was disgusted by you and your racism and he openly said as much.

    But here's the thing, Counselor: You just made Chuck Turner bigger than he already was, because the Community is going to begin and sustain a vigilant, directed missive toward the Goal of Justice, and I will be right there to document it. Thanks for lighting the Fire, you threw down the Gauntlet now we will pick it up and smote you right 'cross your noggin with it.