Pastor Bruce Wall last week defended an advisory group’s efforts to obtain money from Keolis North America, a company which won a contract to run the state’s commuter rail system. Wall’s defense came during an event that functioned as both a prayer service and a rally at the Global Ministries Christian Church on Washington Street.
Wall, who hosts a show on Boston Praise Radio (WRCA 1330 AM), has been linked to an alleged shakedown of a Keolis representative. Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III delivered an invoice, signed by Wall and on behalf of the Dorchester Roxbury Mattapan (DRM) Advisory Group, for $105,000 to the representative, according to the Boston Globe. After the report, Wall said he would step down from his post at the DRM group.
At his church meeting, Wall attempted to provide his version of what occurred between Keolis and DRM to community members and reporters who attended the event.
Wall talked about the group’s commitment to working with Keolis as a way to ensure that the needs of the community are met when it has control of the city’s commuter rail system, particularly the needs of low-income residents.
“We have to challenge and change the economic opportunity paradigm,” Wall said.
Wall said the advisory group had come up with a nine-point proposal that was presented to Keolis long before the alleged “shakedown” occurred.
Wall described the invoice exchange between Rivers and the Keolis representative as an attempt to communicate that the DRM was serious about their partnership with Keolis.
“This is not about buying off the black community,” Wall said to the crowd. “The advisory group sought to formalize its business relationship with Keolis by presenting an invoice.”
He then spent the last 15 minutes of the gathering to address the media coverage that the exchange has received, saying that the press had “caught him off guard.”
“No threats, no deception, or attempt to obtain an unfair compensation was made or implied by the submission of the invoice,” he said.
He also went on to say that Rivers’ word choice during the invoice exchange to Keolis is debatable, calling him a pastoral colleague who is not directly involved with the DRM.
Wall closed the meeting by saying that he wanted to share his perspective on the situation, and said he would continue to advise the advisory group from the church pulpit, over the radio and on television.
“The revitalization of the commuter rail is an opportunity that must and will be seized,” he said.