A week after announcing he would step down as head of a Dorchester advocacy group, one of Boston’s most prominent black community leaders reversed course Thursday and sought to defend the group’s decision to send a questionable $105,000 invoice to the state’s new commuter rail company for services that were never under contract.
The Rev. Bruce Wall, pastor of Global Ministries Christian Church in Dorchester, said in an e-mail distributed to supporters Thursday that he will hold a community meeting at 7 p.m. April 24 at his church to “publicly respond to the insulting accusations leveled against me and the entire Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan (DRM) Advisory Group, a group formed to act as a community-based clearinghouse for local economic opportunity.”
The group, he said, had been trying to work with Keolis North America, which recently won a $2.68 billion contract to run the state’s commuter rail system. He said minority communities should benefit from economic opportunities available with the new pact.
Efforts by the advisory group to work with Keolis were the subject of a Globe column April 9, which depicted a meeting the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, another prominent community leader, had with a Keolis representative.
In that meeting, according to the column, Rivers handed the representative a $105,000 invoice for services that were never discussed. The Keolis official described the meeting as a possible “shakedown.” The invoice, which was also e-mailed, was signed by Wall.
According to the Keolis representative, Rivers said he was working “below the radar,” and that he was “secret ops.” Rivers denied to the Globe doing anything wrong and said that the invoice was meant to push Keolis to keep its commitment to diversity in its new partnership with the commuter rail system and that he never expected any money. Rivers has not returned calls since then.
Wall said last week that he would step down from DRM, saying he wanted to distance himself from people in the group who made decisions that had adversely affected him as chairman.
“What has happened is that people have made decisions that have tarnished my integrity, and now I am in a fight for my life to defend who I am and what I represent,” he said.
Wall sent out an e-mail Thursday, however, saying he wanted to defend himself and the group from “misguided” and “sensational” newspaper articles based on “one-sided” information that “embarrass the black community.”
Reached by telephone Thursday, Wall said he would not comment on his change of position until the community meeting.