I am writing in support of former Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner and in response to letters from Bob McDonnell and Deb Nam-Krane in the Dec. 3 issue of the Gazette.
Far from blind loyalty, my support for former Councilor Turner comes with eyes wide open. I would suggest that the views expressed in the two letters came from a blind outrage focused on an isolated incident. Turner was found guilty of taking $1,000 from a man who was paid $30,000 to give it to him. Why did the FBI have to pay so much to get its incriminating photo, and why was there no other incident of Turner allegedly doing wrong presented? The FBI has a long history of targeting outspoken black leaders, as well as those opposing the entrenched corporatist agenda. I would predict that the FBI targeting a vocal, black leader in this country is anything but random, contrary to what Mr. McDonnell suggests.
Turner had turned his office into a position of advocacy for those in the city who do not have the money or political connections of our corporate “citizens” or big developers. A prime example has been his ongoing battle to block Boston University’s bid to operate a biodefense “biolab” in the South End. According to reports, BU’s record on this issue has included covering up lab-borne infections, having its state permits vacated in court due to short-changing the process and having its risk assessments repeatedly rebuffed by the National Research Council. This is far from the BU press release that snuck its way into Mr. McDonnell’s letter.
I am also outraged at the corruption in all levels of our government. However, my anger is directed towards politicians who truly sell out public interests wholesale. A particularly egregious example of “government for sale” came while BU was covering up their lab-borne infections during the permitting process of their very expensive biolab. Several city councilors were found to have held secret meetings with BU officials, in violation of the Open Meeting Law. There were repeated examples of the councilors violating the Open Meeting Law with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the property developers’ direct line into city government. In the end, it was not the councilors who paid any price for their illegal meetings; it was we taxpayers who paid the court costs for their trial and appeal.
I am not defending the action that Turner has been convicted of—accepting money to help a local businessman obtain a liquor license. Importantly, Turner’s voice was consistently against the plutocracy and military-industrial complex that robs us of schools, libraries and infrastructure. I am defending my desire to have that view voiced at all levels in my government, regardless of job description. We need our government officials to have the independence and courage to stand up to entrenched power in this city, when needed. For this, I will miss Turner’s voice in City Hall.