By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Chuck Turner (allegedly) joins the 90 percent

Best stretch of Howie Carr I’ve heard since — oh, since Dianne Wilkerson was arrested. I haven’t had a chance to read the affidavit yet, but Amy Derjue offers highlights at Boston Daily.

Most outstanding quote from the soon-to-be-ex-councilor: “If you took out all corrupt politicians, you’d take out 90 percent and be left with us 10 percent.”

Us? Well, he is innocent unless proven guilty.

Here’s what I don’t understand. I always thought Turner was one of those hard-core ideologues who would never take a dime. The only way this would make sense is if we learned he donated the money to the North Korean government, or to Cynthia McKinney’s presidential campaign.

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  1. Nial Liszt

    Dan- The next time that you are walking down Huntington Ave. and see a crowd gathered around a guy with three playing cards on a milk crate, do not stop under any circumstances.

  2. O-FISH-L

    Dan, due to your frequent criticism of Howie Carr, I’m not sure if your praise of today’s show is in jest but today Carr did remind listeners of these other Turner transgressions that I had forgotten about (how could I?)further undermining your assessment that Turner “struck [you] as honest.” Cutting and pasting the relevant passages from a Boston Globe piece by Andrea Estes 02/28/06:”Three councilors have had liens placed on their homes for failing to pay income or property taxes. Councilor Chuck Turner of Roxbury, before he was elected to the council in 2001, had repeated run-ins with the Internal Revenue Service; it was only in 2004 that he paid off an $18,637 lien placed on his Roxbury home for taxes owed during four years in the 1980s, according to federal tax records.””Turner was sent to the eight-hour National Safety Course in 2002 after being hit with several violations during the year, including driving with improper equipment and without a valid inspection sticker.””His license has been suspended nine times, largely for unpaid fees, according to Registry records.”—Turner’s defense, as reported by Estes, was that as a community organizer he earned less than he was worth with a B.A. from Harvard!

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Here’s what I told the Globe about Carr in August 2007, when it looked like he was leaving WRKO for WTKK: “It just seems to me Howie is their only asset, and this leaves them in really dire straits.”Carr called me up and thanked me afterwards. It was a pretty amusing conversation because no, we are not the best of friends. But I’ve never denied that he’s got a lot of talent, even though he rarely puts it to good use anymore.The stuff you point to about Turner doesn’t get at his honesty at all, although perhaps it gets at his need for money. After Wilkerson got arrested, there was talk that a city councilor was going down. I’m not going to say who my prediction was, but it wasn’t Turner. Maybe my prediction will come true, too. This isn’t over.

  4. O-FISH-L

    Dan, thanks for that bit of inside baseball. The fact that you would praise Carr is one thing, but that he would pick up the phone to thank you is something that I wouldn’t have expected. Credit to you both for acknowledging good work. To defend my point though, in utilizing your label feature for Carr, I found that more often than not you’ve been critical of Carr here, mostly for not putting enough time into his columns. That’s why I wasn’t sure your praise was sincere or tongue-in-cheek.As for Turner’s prior transgressions being a question of honesty or poverty, to my knowledge IRS issues have to do with taxes on earned income, so he was actually making money but refusing to pay his fair share when the taxes came due. Nine license suspensions? How about taking the T instead of continuing to rack up traffic violations? If these aren’t issues of honesty, surely they are issues of integrity. I agree this isn’t over. I think member(s) of the Boston Licensing Board are next. In appearing to clear Menino and other legislators, US Attorney Sullivan refused to comment when asked if any License Board members were in jeopardy.

  5. Marc Larocque

    Power to the People! I stand behind Chuck Turner. It’s curious that the FBI doesn’t pay their “informants” to allegedly hand off wads of cash to local pols of color but not SAL DIMASSI, the most blatantly crooked politician at the highest ranks of power in Massachusetts government. And, seriously, that photograph IS grainy and I can’t even discern a dollar, I believe it may be photo shopped. because with today’s technology. The F.B.-motha’ fucing-I. is able to take high quality pictures while in action.Double-standard if I ever saw one. It’s a shame this all. A damn shame.

  6. Brad

    C’mon, Dan…you of all people should know that there is no such thing as an elected official who’s also a hardcore ideologue.Chuck plays to his base, sure, but he’s just still playing…specifically, he’s playing “politician” just like everyone else. You have to…you have to be able to tell your constituents what they want to hear, otherwise they’re not going to vote for you. Chuck happens to have the loony left as his “constituents” (I use the term somewhat loosely) and I never envied him. Say what you will about slimy business on the right, at least you can anticipate them. Left wing crazies will spin a zillion miles off into frothing-at-the-mouth land with little or no provocation.But regardless, he knew how to play to them and to do that, you have to be a real hardcore cynic. Borderline contemptuous, really. Because if you’re not, you WILL get sucked into their world and end up drinking the koolaid.However, consider me among those who thinks the Boston FBI still just doesn’t “get it” when their first two big indictments are two of the most prominent black politicians in Massachusetts. I mean, c’mon. Justice is blind, but the Boston FBI has a history of seeing color all too well. Not to mention a history of corruption and general ineptitude. This could have been a real chance to start rebuilding that image…but that chance is long gone now.For example, and to be rather blunt: I highly doubt Wilkerson and Turner are the ONLY two guilty parties; the Feds couldn’t have thrown a few white folks to the wolves between Wilkerson and Turner to keep the racism charges at bay?

  7. O-FISH-L

    As a conservative retired lawman, I agree it’s a potential PR problem that so far only black pols are under the microscope. Still, I say wait and see as I continue to find it interesting that Sen. Wilkerson was first brought in on a rare federal criminal complaint and not an indictment. From what I can tell in the last 24 hours, Turner hasn’t been indicted either, merely arrested and subjected to damning photographic evidence leaked to the media. Of course Wilkerson was indicted this week, but that gave the feds weeks between the story leaking and the actual indictment to talk to her. I wonder what she said, if anything, to save herself or to drag others down? Isn’t it notable that a day after Wilkerson resigned from the Senate, Turner was arrested? The pictures shown today of Turner allegedly taking a bribe were from last year, so was it something Dianne said recently that gave the FBI the finishing touches to make the arrest? I smell a deal and possibly more arrests but likely on a lower level (License Board). My question now is what will Turner say between now and his indictment? Is there a deal for an indictment on lesser charges if he brings down a big fish, possibly one who they also have pictures of? Who will Turner bring down to save himself?If they eventually get DiMasi, it probably won’t be in this round, as I doubt he’d be playing ball with these two, but who knows?

  8. Bill H.

    As I understand it, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney moved in on Wilkerson and Turner because the agency received specific allegations that they had a practice of taking pay-offs. In other words, there was at least one witness willing to testify and there was evidence. Is Marc saying that there are similar witnesses and similar evidence available against DiMasi and the FBI is purposefully not pursuing the case? If so, he presents no proof of that, and it seems to me that Marc’s argument boils down to this: Many politicians are crooks, but since only some of them get caught, we should blame law enforcement for not catching the ones we really don’t like.

  9. Ani

    Bill H.,Disparate treatment for the same behavior is a form of discrimination, so if there are white officials suspected of being corrupt who are not being investigated, that’s a problem. It seems to me that starting with a willing witness is a little like letting the tail wag the dog.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Ani: Taken to an extreme, you might seem to be suggesting that because there are many politicians who might take the money if it were dangled in front of them, then it’s unfair to dangle it front of those for whom there’s probable cause. In fact, you need probable cause in order to dangle the money in the first place — otherwise, it’s entrapment. (Warning: The preceding was written by an amateur lawyer. Caveat emptor.)As for DiMasi, consider that the case against him is quite arcane and technical. With Wilkerson and Turner, there is no question that taking cash for help with a liquor license is illegal; the only question is whether that’s what they were really doing. With DiMasi, the question is whether he’s been accused of doing is even illegal.

  11. Ani

    Dan,Then, how about, “If there are white officials for whom there is equally probable cause that they are engaging in corrupt behavior, and they are not being investigated, then that is a problem”?(I tried to post a similar comment earlier, and I don’t know where it went.)

  12. An Astute Observer

    …to allegedly hand off wads of cash to local pols of color…3…2…1…RACE CARD!….but not SAL DIMASSI, the most blatantly crooked politician at the highest ranks of power in Massachusetts government.An accusation with nothing to back it up. He IS under investigation. No charges have been brought. You don’t know if they tried to offer him cash and he refused.And, seriously, that photograph IS grainy and I can’t even discern a dollar, I believe it may be photo shopped.You ARE kidding, right?Is this a joke post?The F.B.-motha’ fucing-I. is able to take…I suppose the “M-F-ing” FBI took down Whitey cuz he was Irish?And La Cosa Nostra because they were Italian?(I didn’t hear the Irish and Italians complain that the FBI were doing it because of ethnicity.)Funny, how when caught red-handed, people will find anyone else to blame.I thought his indignant comments to the press were humorous. That by shutting off his phone for half a day stopped him doing “constituent services”. …than he was worth with a B.A. from Harvard!Chuck Turner had a BA from Harvard? Who wouldn’ve guessed?

  13. Dan Kennedy

    The FBI took down Whitey? Did this just happen? Do you have a link?My God, this could be the biggest exclusive Media Nation has ever had!

  14. Ani

    I would also like to add some context to my concern about starting with the willing witness: I have seen cases where the “willing” witness had not actually come forth sua sponte, despite claims to the contrary, but had been pressured, manipulated, and otherwise worked with by investigators until they had what they needed to go forward with the investigation of a person whom they had already decided they wanted to target because of other, illegitimate reasons.You know, I hope the Wilkerson and Turner cases are not such cases, but my experience causes me to worry.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    Ani: I’m not sure I could find the link, but there was a report early on that this started with a witness (Ron Wilburn, I guess) going to the FBI of his own volition and telling them that he was sick and tired of getting shaken down by Dianne Wilkerson.

  16. Ani

    Dan,I think I saw a report to that effect way back when (and, thanks) — I just don’t know what to make of it. Like I said, I hope it’s true, in the sense that my need to trust the system exceeds my need to trust an individual politician.

  17. DA

    The FBI took down Whitey?OK..Whitey’s gang…not Whitey himself…but it was all because the were after Irish folk.

  18. DA

    This could have been a real chance to start rebuilding that image…but that chance is long gone now.Speak for yourself.This investigation re-invigorated their image in my book!I think better of them now!

  19. Bill H.

    Ani, I hear what you’re saying, but my point was that, from all we know to date, someone went to the FBI and said that Wilkerson and Turner were on the take. It seems to me that the agency and the U.S. Attorney had to act. If there are white politicians against whom there are similar allegations and the FBI has chosen not to investigate, I agree there is a problem, but we have no knowledge that this is the case. In fact, just from what little I know about the U.S. Attorney, he seems to be more than delighted in moving on allegations. I don’t think for one minute that he wouldn’t love to bring charges on DiMasi and perhaps others, and, as far as I know, all of the members of the Boston Licensing Commission are white, and I bet we haven’t heard the last word on this investigation yet.

  20. O'Rion

    Apparently US Attorney Sullivan is going to be called on to resign Tuesday (Lovell Diet show). Sullivan would be preparing to leave as a result of the election, not for the reasons which will be cited next week, regarding indictments. The TV stations will revel in this.

  21. the zak

    Will this matter bring to light the routine deflecting of citizen enquiries for Boston City Council stenographic machine records of Councilors’ debate at public meetings of our Council ?… for too long the budgeted City Stenographer from E. Fritch Stenographic Associates has kept these public records at home.

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