Boston City Council President Michael P. Ross today filed an expulsion order for Councilor Chuck Turner, setting the stage for a hearing later this week to determine the fate of the six-term representative from Roxbury who was convicted of accepting a $1,000 bribe.
The motion, filed this afternoon in the city clerk's office, would remove Turner from office effective Friday.
"The matter before us today is larger than any one Councilor," Ross wrote in a letter to his colleagues. "We have but one judicial system in this country, and whether we agree with the verdict or not, a jury of his peers found Councilor Turner guilty of very serious crimes."
Turner defiantly fired back this afternoon, saying, "I think it's funny when they say they are going to vote me off to protect the integrity of the Council. I think I have the best a record of moral and fiscal integrity on this council. For the council to vote me off because of integrity is absurd."
The 13-member council will meet Wednesday afternoon for a hearing sure to be crowded with supporters of the long-time activist. The city's attorney has recommended that Turner not participate in the vote because he has a financial interest in the outcome and it would be a violation of the state's conflict of interest law.
City councilors have been given a packet of information on the Turner case, which can be found here.
Turner said this afternoon he would not vote, but he would be present in the room for the debate.
Turner has continued to receive a paycheck every two weeks of $3,365.38 before deductions, according to city payroll records. That money will stop if his colleagues kick him off the council.
Expulsion requires a two-thirds majority. If Turner abstains, it would take eight votes to remove him. Four councilors have stated publicly that they will vote to expel Turner, and Ross said today that he plans to vote in favor of the motion he filed.
"This was not an easy decision," Ross said. "But in the end I believe this was the right decision for the Boston City Council."
Turner said he "would imagine" that there would be enough votes to throw him off the council.
"The interesting thing is that this is happening in an election year. They are judging me Wednesday. But I feel very confident that they will be judged by the voters of this city in September and November," he said.
To support his record of moral and fiscal integrity, Turner pointed to his vote against a 2006 pay hike for the council and mayor, against a large tax break for Liberty Mutual, and against a contract that paid gave firefighters a pay raise to submit to random drug and alcohol tests.
The only member of the body who has openly supported Turner is Councilor Charles C. Yancey, who spoke at a rally in Roxbury the day after Turner's conviction. But Yancey did not explicitly say he would vote to keep Turner on the Council, and he has not responded to repeated inquiries about his position.
Turner has urged his colleagues to postpone any vote until he is sentenced in US District Court on Jan. 25 in the hope he will receive probation and can complete his term, which runs through 2011. Federal sentencing guidelines suggest a prison term of 15 to 21 months, according to a former federal prosecutor. State law would automatically remove Turner from office if he were to be sentenced to prison.
Turner's conviction will also force him to forfeit his city pension, which will be worth a maximum of about $21,800 annually, about 25 percent of his yearly pay of $87,500. He can request a hearing before the city pension board and is entitled to a refund of the money he paid into the system over the last decade. As of Sept. 3, Turner had contributed $84,766.79 to the State Boston Retirement System, excluding interest, according to data obtained by the Globe through a public records request.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more