Friday, October 29, 2010

Chuck Roast in Boston

It's time to whip out some Greek and Latin, like hubris and ipse dixit. Charles A. Turner overplayed both and got caught this afternoon, found guilty on all four corruption accounts — attempted extortion and three of lying to the FBI.

Chuck Turner seems to have lapsed in his folklore here. It's believe half of what you see and none of what you hear, not the other way around.

I can hear him now, saying such criticism is only because he is black. He said that about his entrapment by the FBI in taking money from a businessman for help getting a liquor license. That claim has some credibility when you consider that so far only two local pols have pleaded or been found guilty to corruption, both ex-Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and Turner black. That will likely lose its punch as former House Speaker Salvatore F. (Sal) DiMasi goes to trial on his corruption charges.

Regardless, I call arrogance on Turner.
Background material: The Globe account today has lots of detail, including the 1/25/11 sentencing-hearing date, that he's likely to lose his pension and what options the city has in replacing Turner. UniversalHub reports that Council President Michael Ross is meeting with city lawyers to make sure they proceed correctly. Turner's Council page, which may vaporize soon, is here. The Boston Herald coverage has post-verdict quotes from Turner — he's an organizer, who'll "organize in jail" if sent there and "I’m not the first person who’s innocent to be sent to jail."
He has long been great on bluster as well as leveraging his race, age, class and whatever tools he finds lying around. Unfortunately the 70-year-old Harvard grad has often done so without those messy facts or provable details.

That was certainly the case when he insisted on testifying, and being his defense's sole witness. We were to take him at his word and that would be that — ipse dixit.

With hard-to-see but still visible and audible tape of him taking what sure looked like money from an FBI informant, he needed some kind of convincing proof,...anything of substance.

Instead, he claims not to have known the man in his office and certainly not to have taken a bribe. He claims that if he took anything from him, it would not be a bribe to help him get a license. He couldn't remember the person, the meeting, the handshake and transfer...anything.

Lackaday, the jurors saw the transfer of something and heard the informant and FBI agent's testimony. Apparently they believed at least half of what they saw.

It's pathetic in a human and political sense. A Councilor I respect greatly, John Connolly, has often spoken well of Turner. Connolly chairs and Turner has been a member of the education committee. They have worked together for the good of the kids in public schools for a long time.

Turner's other often-repeated claim that 90% of city pols are dirty may be hyperbole but probably has considerable truth to it. He certainly is not the only bribable one. Short of the U.S. Attorney or FBI admitting they picked him in part because of his race, we aren't likely to know whether that played any role here.

I'm betting that even with four counts, if Turner ends up having to serve any jail time, it won't be long. However, we can be sure if he goes, his cellmates will get an earful, an education, and lessons in polemics.

Late afternoon follow-up: Council President Ross promises a hearing in two weeks and continuity for constituents in District 7.

Halloween follow-up: While I mingled with the pleasant people, Turner did what he does second best — define all in his terms. A tip of the toupee here to UniversalHub for the pointer. At his rally yesterday, he laid down the hate on everyone involved in his sting and trial and concluded he'd never resign from the Council, and wouldn't leave, short of a bullet to the head. By the bye, for all the ego and rhetoric, what he does best is look out for his district's constituents.

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