How much wood would a woodChuck chuck? 7

Do you remember this tongue twister from childhood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
And chuck as much as a woodchuck would
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

This tongue-twister has been playing in my mind since Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner  took the stand in his trial for accepting a bribe and was convicted on all counts.  Like many, who had had nothing but good encounters with Mr. Turner previous to this accusation, I thought that when he testified, he would have something profound to say or show that would refute the charges against him.  Turns out he didn’t.  Turns out he accepted “some” money.  Turns out he should have listened to his defense team and other community members who advised him not to take the stand because without his testimony there was still some reasonable doubt as to his guilt.  Then he took the stand and it is clear, to me at least, he took the money.  (Preachers handshake or not.)  So…

How much wood would a woodChuck chuck if a woodChuck could chuck wood?

A deuce and a five (at least).

How much good would a woodchuck do if a woodchuck could chuck wood?


How many lies would a woodChuck tell if a woodChuck thought he could?


How much damage would a woodChuck do when he continued to accuse and brood?


How fast would a woodChuck leave when he overstayed his day?


This all defies logic.  Where’s the honesty and grace?  (As Chris Rock says in one of his routines, “You know that you did it, just admit it!”)

The original wrong was when Ron Wilburn  decided to work for the FBI and didn’t care that his testimony would bring down two seasoned black politicians (former State Senator Dianne Wilkerson being the other one), corrupt/sloppy as they were.  He willingly participated in a shell game.
(A shell game is “A fraud or deception perpetrated by shifting conspicuous things to hide something else. From

He* sells seashells by the seashore.
The shells he sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

Nothing about Mr. Wilburn is naïve so I assume that $30k was enough for the ruination he caused.  Boston’s Black community remain as vulnerable as ever. Two steps forward, 10 steps back.   I hope this turnover brings new leadership that will lead thoughtfully, remain principled and know when to get the hell out of the way and let new leadership come, hell, how about grooming and mentoring new leadership?

Interestingly, after this shell game that brought down two black politicians (as able, arrogant and twisted as they might be) and a black businessman, now a pariah in his community (however he defines his community), the other perpetrators of fraud in the licensing bureau are still hiding in plain view.

 Little Community Blue*, come, blow your horn!
 The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn.
 Where’s the community that looks after the sheep?
 Under the haystack, fast asleep!

Wake up community (in Boston and beyond).  Wake up! Demand more of our politicians. Stop keeping the blinders on.  Scrutinize carefully.  Demand more. 

(Parting thought.  Perhaps we don’t need any more politicians so enamored of their intelligence that they lack commonsense.  How about some wise politicians?  How about people who have common sense and sound characters?)


*(In the original tongue twister, it’s a she.)

**(In the original nursery rhyme, it’s Little Boy Blue, for those who don’t know.)



  • An Activist to the End – Adrian Walker, The Boston Globe (Oct. 30,2010)
  • Shouting match erupts in court (US prosecutor, star witness clash at Turner Trial) – Jonathan Saltzman, The Boston Globe (Oct. 23, 2010)
  • Government paid $30,000 to its witness against Turner (Businessman took part in FBI sting operation) – Jonathan Saltzman, The Boston Globe (Oct. 19, 2010)
  • Wilkerson guilty of attempted extortion; prosecutors recommend up to 4 years – –Travis Andersen and Jonathan Saltzman, The Boston Globe (June 3, 2010)

 (Readers, for some reason I’m not able to link to all of these articles.  My apologies.)

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About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

7 thoughts on “How much wood would a woodChuck chuck?

  • Jim

    I was personally acquainted with all three of the major players in this drama. I knew Ron Wilburn best. I do think he was a victim of his own naivete, having once believed that his “sting” would lead to the licensing board and other people in positions of authority and public trust. I don’t doubt that they are sitting pretty above this particular fray, protected by their susceptible underlings who believed that the system is bound to work this way.

    To me, the saddest part of this affair is that there is a community that felt so well represented by Wilkerson, who was incompetent at managing her own affairs, that they elected her twice with full knowledge of her susceptibility to just such a scenario.

    Massachusetts politics, still nearly a one party system, was corrupt to the top (Sal DiMasi). Is it still? Not sure, but I’m with you, Candelaria, it would be great if we could elect people who not only represent us, but who will do it with personal integrity and ethics intact.

    We now have Rep. Karyn Polito running for state treasurer in spite of evidence that she directed the award of vanity license plates to her family in a public system that was supposed to award those license plates on a first-come, first-served basis. We also have Jeff Perry running in the tenth congressional district to succeed William Delahunt. Perry appears to have stood inactive while he was a police officer within earshot of a 14 year old girl’s loud protests while she was being illegally strip-searched by a rogue cop. I am dismayed that those people will get any votes at all and that some people consider them worthy of public trust. I shouldn’t be so surprised because the electorate votes on clan, allegiance, and advertising. It’s no wonder we end up with corrupt clowns and incompetent bozos representing us.

  • Candelaria

    I didn’t know you knew Ron. In terms of re-electing Dianne, so many of us in the black community have had personal financial problems that that alone is not enough to make us wary of a person.  I do believe you can be bad at paying bills and be a good person in other ways.  However, I have learned that, like everything else, handling one’s finances, handling one’s “bizness”, requires discipline, sacrifice and the ability to make smart choices.  This is certainly something we should expect of leaders.  Leaders are supposed to be the best of us.
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments – as always.

  • Pattie

    I am so disappointed but not surprised. Silence is golden and Chuck should have kept his mouth shut. I feel bad for all the people (including me) who just knew he was innocent. I just knew he had a better value system. I am not like the others though – I am done with him.

  • Lisa

    I agree so much when you say that we must demand more. Chuck Turner and Dianne Wilkerson are such a disappointment and a waste of an opportunity to do some honest good.

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