In a blow for the Green Party and many others, the party’s only City Councilor in Boston, Chuck Turner, was voted out of office by the City Council today. He had been previously reelected with about 60 percent of the vote, even after accusations of bribery that eventually led to his conviction were made (see Turner’s defense of himself here). Turner had been on the Council for 11 years. More from other media outlets, including video of Turner himself, below.
From the Boston Herald:
Embattled City Councilor Chuck Turner today became the first member to be booted from the panel as his colleagues voted 11-1 to expel him for his federal corruption conviction.
Several dozen supporters rallied outside City Hall in support of the Roxbury lawmaker before the board took the vote to end his 11-year run. Turner has pleaded with the council to let him serve out his term — despite his October conviction — proclaiming he was the target of a racially motivated government set-up.
Councilor Charles Yancey cast the lone dissenting vote and Turner abstained.
Councilor Charles C. Yancey of Mattapan was the lone no vote. voting against removal. Turner abstained after asking for the vote to be held after he is sentenced on January 25. He said:
“The reality is that the conviction that is being used as the reason for my removal…was a setup. That conviction was rotten.”
A special election to fill Turner’s District 7 seat will be held in February or March.
From FOX in Boston:
Following the vote, Turner urged angry supporters who had packed the chamber to respect the feelings of other councilors, adding: “They have judged me today, we will judge them tomorrow.”
Turner, a longtime community activist and one of the city’s most visible African-American politicians, was first elected in 1999 to represent a district including the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Fenway and the South End. Already under indictment, he was re-elected with nearly 60 percent of the vote in November 2009.
In his motion calling for Turner’s ouster, City Council President Michael Ross praised Turner for working tirelessly on behalf of constituents. But he said councilors must act in accordance with their own rules.
“We are not above the law and none of us is above the rules we have established as a body. If we act as if we are, this body loses its credibility, its integrity and the trust of the people we serve,” wrote Ross.
The council acted under a rule adopted in January 2009, allowing it to determine if a member is unqualified to serve as a result of his or her conduct, including a felony conviction. But Yancey questioned whether the rule explicitly gave the council authority to expel a member.
And the videos of Turner defending himself: