Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chuck Turner Gets His Own Storms

The vice vise squeezes tighter. Chuck Turner got a double blow today. Commonwealth maggy reports:
  1. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock rejected Turner's request to postpone his January 25th sentencing on one bribery and three lying to the feds felonies.
  2. Ramping up for that, the prosecutors provided that judge with a 15-count perjury document, related to Turner's testimony at his trial.
Tip of the toupee to Gintautas Dumcius.

Commonwealth's Paul McMurrow compares and contrasts Turner with the recently sentenced Dianne Wilkerson. Their bribery stings were related although they were not charged as conspirators. She has a history of financial and legal troubles, failures, convictions or pleas. In contrast, his conviction was his first and no one has alleged a pattern of corruption.

He seems to figure that Wilkerson pleaded guilty and admitted to charges. She had many others dropped as part of the deal. Turner on the other hand, claims innocence, that he remembers neither the briber nor the bribe, and that the whole sting is purely a racist move by the feds to stifle a black community leader.

Being just a simple man from the land of the maple trees, I have to wonder whether the feds are giving Turner one last chance (and a huge push) to say he is guilty, made a mistake, and regrets it all.

Of course, the play within this play is Turner's grandstand effort to regain his Boston City Councilor seat, pending his sentencing. That suit is before First District Chief Judge Mark Wolf, who has yet to rule.

MA law would force Turner from office should he receive as much as a day in prison on a felony. I have no doubt his sentence in 12 days will include cell time. However, should Wolf rule that the Council as a body did not have authority to remove a convicted felon from membership and that Turner needs to keep his seat pending sentencing, that would delay his replacement. The February/March preliminary/final special election for the District 7 seat would be pushed out, and the constituents would be deprived of a Councilor even longer.

Sigh.

Wolf is damned sharp. I'm not sure how he'll fall on this. In would be great if he concurred with the Boston city counsel that the rules they adopted over a year ago do give them this power. We certainly don't need to play the home-rule-petition game with elected officials who are convicted felons awaiting sentencing. That's just what all the discussion and voting were about in the year following Turner's indictment. (Coincidentally, the vote to adopt these procedures was unanimous, including Turner.)

I am also eager to see how Turner will assimilate the current status. He has lost at every point so far — indictment, trial, Council hearing, and sentencing delay. Despite his bluster, he's neither historian nor scholar of any type. Yet, he should discern the pattern here.

For little things, he has a shot at keeping his pension for being a Councilor if he appeals it to the pension board. Otherwise, he gets back what he's paid in, plus interest.

I'm far from a chess master, but I do know how to play the game. It appears that Turner doesn't know when to concede. Like a novice who careers his king square to square to delay the inevitable, he seems to be at the mercy of those with more material and better position.

I fear he won't step back. If he pushes and pushes, he'll likely be remembered not as the powerful champion of his neighborhoods that he was for a decade. Rather, it will be Chuck Turner who sacrificed the good of his former constituents for his ego.


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