Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Turner Re-tells His Truth

Nice get by Commonwealth Magazine — a post-sentencing Chuck Turner interview. Truth be told though, I expected something new, some insights. Nah.

For the positive, ex-Boston City Councilor Turner remains consistent in claiming innocence of taking a bribe and lying to the feds about it. For the negative, the story as he tells it still isn't credible.

Colman Herman wrote the piece. His is noted for such as winning a class-action suit about unpriced items and for kicking the Bay State Banner down the hall for supporting Mayor Tom Menino. I'm not sure any other of us would have come up with more revealing questions for Turner, but Herman certainly stuck to the predictable.

He did tie in the Banner by quoting the publisher/editor Melvin Miller as saying Turner had made mistakes you'd expect from an old man. He quotes Turner as thinking Miller was trying to help and that he was his usual patronizing self.

Otherwise, it's a rehash of stale coverage. The only wrinkle is a wee one. He iterated that he would not run for office when he got out of prison after his three-year sentence, with the nuance being, "...although I think I probably could be elected in my community.

Back on this planet, it will almost certainly be Tito Jackson taking the District 7 seat in the special election 3/15 and barring anything stupid and surprising, for a full two-year term in the regular in November. For Turner meanwhile, it is messy details to be decided:
  • Will he get to keep his full pension or just what he put in with interest?
  • Will the SJC rule that the Council had the right to expel him in December, or if not not, award him back pay for about six weeks between that and 1/25 sentencing?
More broadly, I am not at all convinced that the small cadre of Turner fans will be able to follow through with their threats to punish the expellers (that is the whole Council except for Charles Yancey). More narrowly, despite the obvious sincere remarks at the special meeting in December, will newish Councilors Ayanna Pressley and Felix Arroyo the younger suffer for voting with the others to oust Turner?

I was at that meeting and remain stunned recalling the vitriol directed that the pair. The screams and chants of "Shame!" and calls about the next election were at once cruel and rawly emotional. The people behind and beside me yelling made it plain at high volume that they were outraged that a Latino and black woman would dare vote against a black man...pure color identity.

Yet, both Pressley and Arroyo were plain too, in softer tones. They were voting their conscience, something they learned by lesson and example from Chuck Turner.

By the time Turner returns, his legacy may get a bit of burnishing. After all, he set the modern standard for constituent services. Plus, he hand-picked Tito Jackson to run for his spot. As such, what the new accomplishes will reflect positively on the old. The felony convictions might end up being a footnote.

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