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Chuck Turner’s parting shots: $1G bonuses to 3 aides

Chuck Turner’s parting shots: $1G bonuses to 3 aides
By Dave Wedge, Richard Weir and Hillary Chabot  |   Friday, December 3, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Politics

Photo by John Wilcox

Disgraced ex-City Councilor Chuck Turner gave a parting shot to taxpayers on his way out of City Hall, handing three aides each $1,000 Christmas bonuses in one of his final moves as an elected official — the same amount as the bribe he was convicted of pocketing.

Just hours before he was booted from the council Wednesday for taking a $1,000 payoff, Turner filed paperwork to bestow the holiday bounty on his three staffers. The bonuses were paid out of Turner’s annual $185,000 office budget and were within council rules, President Michael Ross said.

“Nothing untoward happened here,” Ross said. “Councilor Turner has the right to make those allocations as long as he’s in office. Of course, he now no longer does.”

Turner was in City Hall working yesterday and today will be his last official day on the job. The Roxbury lawmaker did not return calls seeking comment on the bonuses.

Six other councilors also made similar filings giving bonuses to staffers. Ross, who did not give out any extra pay, said the bonuses are “common practice,” although some councilors choose instead to save the money to use for summer interns.

“They all have the same amount (in their budget). It’s just a matter of how it’s spent and when,” Ross said.

Word of the bonuses comes a day after Turner enraged several Hub pols by blaming “the Irish” members of the council for his ouster and comparing himself to former Mayor James Michael Curley, who was elected after a felony conviction.

Asked about Turner’s comparison to Curley, Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday said he didn’t see any similarities to the mayor who once ran Boston from jail.

Patrick declined to comment on Turner’s Irish rant but said he agreed with the council’s decision to bounce him.

“He’s convicted of a very serious crime and I think that there are a lot of consequences that ought to come from that and that is one,” Patrick said.

While Turner has been removed from the council, there is nothing barring him from continuing to go to his office.

“He has the right to go to City Hall every day,” Ross said. “He’s not being prevented from going into the building. But he will not be able to enjoy the rights and privileges of being a councilor, such as pay.”

There is also apparently no law preventing Turner from running in the special election for his own vacant seat. Asked yesterday whether he might run in the special election, Turner said, “If I was, I wouldn’t tell you,” and hung up on a reporter.

John Donovan, the city’s assistant registrar of voters, said if Turner’s Jan. 25 sentencing is delayed for several months, there does not appear to be any law restricting him from running.

“He probably could. I don’t see anything that would preclude him, except that they would probably throw him off again,” Donovan said. He added that if Turner was incarcerated he could not run from prison because candidates need to be able to vote and inmates lose that right.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view.bg?articleid=1300475

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