Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Weak Defense Tries To Poke Holes In A Weak Offense

Published October 28, 2010

Closing arguments are underway in the corruption trial of Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner. A verdict could be reached as early as Friday. WBUR’s David Boeri files his latest dispatch from federal court. –AP


The key for me today will be the closing arguments by the defense. The defense put on no witnesses, of course. Chuck Turner, you ask? Well, he put himself on the stand.

“Why didn’t the defense ask him more questions after the prosecution was through with him?” a reporter asked outside the courtroom yesterday, after the defense said it had no further questions. The question was on par with asking, “Why don’t we let kids play with guns?”

In pursuing what he called his duty as a public official to testify, Turner had played punching bag to the prosecutor for two days. His credibility seemed as drained as his memory of Ron Wilburn, the government informant who gave him something — something Turner said he couldn’t remember. Something the prosecutor delighted in describing as a big, green wad.

So, having called no witnesses, and despite the seemingly counter-productive exertion of its own defendant, attorney Barry Wilson will make his case that the government hasn’t proven theirs. He does have material to work with. There is that notorious videotape. Though it shows something changing hands, it’s vague what it is. Wilburn says he gave Turner money.

But Wilburn never counted it, so he can’t say how much. The government claims it was $1,000. Unbelievably, though, the FBI agents never frisked their informant before or after he gave what he gave to Turner, so the government doesn’t know whether Wilburn gave him all the money — or any of it. The defense might suggest Wilburn skimmed most of it.

And there’s no recording of the phone calls, which, the witness says, set up the meeting in which he allegedly gave Turner money. This despite the witnesses having regularly and secretly recorded phone calls from the targets.

Did Turner extort the money? If he did, it was with none of the bluster and bluntness of the classic shakedown artists who normally go to trial. It is in the matter of creating doubt among the jurors — or just one — that the defense will delve.

Barry Wilson has his work cut out for him.

Thursday Morning: Election Mania

Published October 28, 2010

What’s news on a mild beautiful fall morning in Boston:

The Boston Globe endorsed Gov. Deval Patrick. “While Baker is right to insist that Patrick can do more to change government, he’s wrong to suggest that the governor has been slow to embrace the need for major reforms.” (Globe)

Bill Hudak dropped his defamation suit against Rep. John Tierney. In a statement, the Tierney campaign called the suit “frivolous.” (AP)

Candidates for treasurer are in a fight for the finish line. “Typically it’s not a tight political contest, but there’s nothing typical about this election year.” (WBUR)

The Internet is transforming elections, but voter registration is stuck in the 20th century. “Voter apathy is not the primary (turnout) problem. … It is the state’s antiquated and paper-reliant registering system that keeps many voters away.” (ElectionWire)

Boston police are reviewing a video of officers using force to arrest a juvenile. Commissioner Ed Davis said the question is whether the force was excessive or not. (Globe)

A federal judge blocked a Mass. obscenity law meant to protect minors, “ruling that the statute was written so broadly that it would criminalize legitimate websites and general electronic communication.” (Globe)

Photo Of The Day: Ghoulish Granary

Published October 27, 2010

Granary Burying Ground (Tim Wheatley/Flickr)

Granary Burying Ground (Tim Wheatley/Flickr)

The soft gray light makes Tim Wheatley’s 2006 photograph of the Granary Burying Ground sufficiently spooky. The Granary is a historic graveyard, established 1660, on Tremont Street in downtown Boston. Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock are buried here.

Wheatley writes on his Flickr page:

Taken on a rainy day in Boston, Massachusetts. I constantly had to wipe the rain from my lens and was worried at the time about the lighting. I took most of the photos with a longer exposure than suggested by my camera to try to bring out the colors more and was delighted by most of the results. Was also a total rookie with photography at this point and it’s this set which probably helped teach me a lot.

This image was submitted to WBUR’s Flickr group. Submit your best shots for Halloween.

BPD Sweep Nets 10 ‘Dangerous’ People

Published October 27, 2010

Boston Police busted 10 alleged crack cocaine dealers in and around O’Day Playground in the South End last night, the culmination of a three-month sweep of “dangerous individuals” in the community.

[googlemap url=”,-71.075385&sspn=0.005813,0.008744&ie=UTF8&hq=O%27Day+Playground&hnear=O%27Day+Playground,+Boston,+Suffolk,+Massachusetts+02118&ll=42.340838,-71.075202&spn=0.005813,0.008744&z=17&iwloc=A” width=”250″ height=”200″ align=”right” title=”South End”]

BPD calls them “impact players,” the most violent alleged gang members.

“Let this serve as a message,” said Police Commissioner Ed Davis in a statement. “We will continue our ceaseless efforts to hold violent perpetrators accountable.”

BPD needs the PR. Seven people were shot last Saturday alone; three of those victims have died. That includes a shooting in which a man allegedly entered a Roxbury convenience store and opened fire with an AK-47. Commissioner Davis vowed the killers “are going to pay the price.” Two more shootings occurred Sunday.

Boston’s body count for 2010 is rapidly approaching 60, less than three weeks after reaching 50.

Meanwhile, the Globe reports two unflattering stories today: The department is reviewing a YouTube video (explicit language) that shows officers punching and kicking a young man while trying to arrest him at Roxbury Community College. And a 26-year-old officer from Dorchester is under investigation for charges of domestic abuse.

Radio Boston Rundown: Frank Vs. Bielat, Jill Stein

Published October 27, 2010

As election season reaches a fever pitch, Radio Boston continues its fine coverage of the candidates and issues.

On Wednesday’s show:

  • Rep. Barney Frank, Sean Bielat. The candidates in the closely watched  4th congressional district will debate.
  • Jill Stein. In our continuing series of conversations with the gubernatorial candidates, the Green-Rainbow Party candidate takes your calls and comments in studio. (RB spoke with Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday. Charlie Baker is Thursday, and Tim Cahill is Friday.)

Past Radio Boston debates:

And elsewhere on WBUR:

Don’t say you’re not informed on Nov. 2.

Outtakes: He Brings Bagels (Not Pork) To The Office

Published October 27, 2010

Gov. Deval Patrick waits in line to order lunch before talking with WBUR's Bob Oakes about the 2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. (Dominick Reuter for WBUR)

Gov. Deval Patrick waits in line to order lunch before talking with WBUR's Bob Oakes about the 2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. (Dominick Reuter for WBUR)

Gov. Deval Patrick sat down with WBUR’s Bob Oakes yesterday at Panera Bread, the little mom-and-pop café down the street from our studios on Comm Ave. Freelance photographer Dominick Reuter tagged along.

By the way, Patrick ordered a salad with grilled chicken, an apple and hot tea.

Bitter Cyclist Breaks Up With Allston

Published October 27, 2010

Remember how I broke up with Brookline? This person — an anonymous bicyclist who is fed up with Boston drivers — just broke up with Allston:

Seriously is every single person that lives or travels within your confines a total moron? Why is it that the students that call you home are smart enough to go to Harvard, but can’t figure out how to cross the damn street? Does EVERY motorist have to drive in the bike lane, or make turns with no signals, and whats with all the moms dropping kids off at school and nearly dooring me every damn day.


In short Allston, you’re a hot mess. I never had this kind of trouble when I was with Dorchester, or Somerville, or even Down Town (and DT is wild). I think I might be forced to start dating the BU Bridge area just to avoid you…yea its gotten weird between us.

As Twitter @HubScout told me on Twitter:”Allston’s the town you have fun with, Brookline’s the town you marry.”

Via Universal Hub.

Turner’s Sisyphean Task

Published October 27, 2010

There are so few apparent highlights to Chuck Turner’s day in court Tuesday that it may be fair to start with them.

Under gentle questioning from attorneys who never wanted him to take the stand to testify in his own defense, Turner got to describe himself as:

  • A selfless public official. (He alone among Boston city councilors runs a district office, which he pays for with his own salary and campaign funds.)
  • A lifelong activist, devoted to the liberation of African-Americans.
  • A Harvard graduate whose interests are with the poor and disadvantaged.

And that was pretty much it for the highlights. Turner reached the high-water mark quickly. As soon as the prosecutor stood up, the tide dropped.


The prosecution turned to that video tape recorded by FBI informant Ron Wilburn — the video that shows something changing hands. Wilburn had testified it was cash, although he never counted it. The FBI said it was $1,000.

[pullquote align=”right”]My memory of yesterday will be of Barry Wilson, a bear of a defense attorney, slumping into his chair.[/pullquote]

To his credit, Turner didn’t say it was a candy bar. As it was, Turner testified he couldn’t even remember Wilburn, let alone any money.

“Can’t remember, don’t recall” became the courtroom mantra. The prosecutor was relentless. He feigned amazement that Turner couldn’t recall and didn’t remember.

You don’t have to be 71, Turner’s age, to understand the affliction of failing memory. But losing your memory in front of a jury, especially when you’re the defendant, is seldom a positive development. Especially when you’re on tape and someone’s putting something in your hand. Especially when it looks like money.

My memory of yesterday will be of Barry Wilson, a bear of a defense attorney, slumping into his chair. The prosecutor lashed into Turner. Nothing good could come of Turner’s taking the stand, Wilson had warned. He was watching his fears unfold.

Going into court, Turner had professed the belief he could defend his reputation and honesty by taking the stand. Defense attorneys routinely counsel their clients that taking the stand seldom accomplishes that. Turner said he was only telling the truth. He did get to testify he meets so many people that he doesn’t remember a lot of them, including Wilburn. The jury, obviously, will decide whether Turner is telling the truth.

Turner is back on the stand today, and it would appear that his defense attorneys have the job of pushing the boulder out of the hole and up the hill.

Wednesday Morning: Turner Can’t Recall; Novartis Expands

Published October 27, 2010

What’s news on a drizzly Wednesday morning in Boston:

Chuck Turner invoked the “I don’t remember” defense. The Boston city councilor returns to the stand today in his federal corruption trial. (WBUR)

Drugmaker Novartis plans a $600 million expansion in Cambridge. (WBUR)

A Hyde Park high school might be spared. “Superintendent Carol R. Johnson presented a revised proposal to the School Committee last night.” Boston police had to be called to restore order. (Globe)

Framingham settled a discrimination suit for $1 million. SMOC, a social services agency, sued after the town blocked a drug recovery center from opening. (AP)

The majority of Massachusetts voters are independent. “Of nearly 4.2 million residents registered to vote Nov. 2, 51.6 percent were unenrolled, 36.5 percent identified as Democrats, and 11.3 percent identified as Republicans.” (Globe)

The Celtics beat the overhyped Heat, 88-80. Shaq debuted. (Herald)

Red Sox tickets are going up 2 percent for 2011. “That’s the lowest percentage increase over the past 16 seasons — save for 2009 when the Sox froze all ticket prices.” (Herald)

Photo Of The Day: I Got It, I Got It

Published October 26, 2010

I got it, I got it (Scott Kasper Photography/Flickr)

I got it, I got it (Scott Kasper Photography/Flickr)

Here’s an oldie but goodie, submitted to WBUR’s Flickr group back in 2007. Photographer Scott Kasper captured this priceless moment at the pumpkin patch in Concord. (As always, you can click the photograph to view it on Flickr.)