The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, March 11, 2008
RINALDO DEL GALLO III
"Don't leave fathers out of custody cases"
By Rinaldo Del Gallo III
DIVORCED FATHERS and their children deserve a better deal than they're getting from the courts. A shared parenting bill in the state House would create a "rebuttable presumption" - that as long as both parents are fit and it is practical, both parents are entitled to equal custody of the children. Currently, custody almost always goes solely to the mother when she objects to shared parenting.
A "rebuttable presumption" is an easy concept.
The court starts with the common sense position that it is usually in the best interest of children that they be raised equally by both parents after separation. As much as is reasonably practical, the court allows the children to spend equal time with both their mothers and fathers. It is a "rebuttable" presumption because the other parent could introduce evidence that a parent is unsuitable, or that as a practical matter it would be logistically unworkable, and that they have not done anything improper to make it unworkable.
The chief focus in child custody cases would continue to be on what is best for the child and nothing would be "automatic." A judge would still examine every individual case to make sure the child's needs are being met. In fact, "rebuttable presumptions" are nothing new in child custody cases.
Since 1999 we have had a "rebuttable presumption" that seriously violent parents should not be awarded custody of their children. None of the silly parade of horribles of judges with their hands tied automatically dispensing custody decrees without examining the facts of each individual case, resulted.
Currently, Massachusetts statutory law does not presume that there should or should not be joint physical custody. But there's a big difference between the law and reality. In courtrooms across the state, when a mother objects to joint physical custody, she essentially extinguishes the hope of the father, even when sharing custody seems eminently workable and in the children's best interest. A study by Joseph McNabb of Laboure College found that mothers obtained sole physical custody 83.2 percent of the time, fathers obtained sole custody 8.8 percent of the time, and joint custody was only awarded 8 percent of the time.
That's a devastating number for fathers who want to be meaningful parts of their children's lives. Many fathers justifiably feel as if their children have been the victims of state-sponsored kidnapping, punished for committing the unpardonable sin of being the primary breadwinner. Though opponents claim that more research is necessary, the effects of fatherlessness have been abundantly studied.
According to divorcemag.com, fatherless homes account for 63 percent of youth suicides, 90 percent of homeless/runaway children, 85 percent of children with behavior problems, 71 percent of high school dropouts, 85 percent of youths in prison, and more than 50 percent of teen mothers. Dr. Robert Bauserman did a meta-analysis (a study of all the studies) of 33 studies between 1982 to 1999 published by the American Psychological Association. In total, 1,846 sole-custody and 814 joint-custody children were studied. He concluded that "Children in joint custody arrangements had less behavioral and emotional problems, had higher self-esteem, better family relations and school performance than children in sole custody arrangements."
Most people don't need research to convince them of the obvious overwhelming benefits of fathers. They already know. That's why shared parenting won 87 percent of the support of Massachusetts voters when it was a non-binding ballot question in 2004.
Shared parenting reduces litigation as parties do not have to continually go to court in the never-ending battle to prove that they are the better parent and deserve sole custody of the child.
Equality, mutual respect, ending conflict and endless litigation and providing children both of their parents - values not fostered by the current system - would not only benefit the parents, but it would be of incalculable value to the children. That's why we need shared parenting.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is a family law attorney and a spokesman for Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
Re: My friend's essay on shared parenting in the Boston Globe
Go to: www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/03/11/dont_leave_fathers_out_of_custody_cases/
I concur with Rinaldo Del Gallo III's essay on shared parenting in The Boston Globe! The courts should put the interests of the good of society, the children and both parents first by weighing the merits of each case in probate court.
I believe the way child support and custody cases work leads to violence and social injustice for a worse off society. Our system is perverse to disallow an indigent father not to be forgiven for his child support debts. The state government makes money off of the demise of the traditional American family. Social programs & policies are mostly funded by the federal governments to the state government. The more social problems, the more money the state receives in return for human suffering. The traditional American family is sold out by the way the current system works.
I am relieved I am not in the situation so many victimized families are in today. I support Rinaldo's work because society's interests are more important than the state government's fiscal coffers!
In regards to Rinaldo,
Rinaldo Del Gallo III
"© Copyright 2006 Rinaldo DeGallo"
Pittsfield's Politicians and community activists
Rinaldo Del Gallo III
RE: An ode to Rinaldo Del Gallo III
Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Bloggers, & the People:
Pittsfield Politics is the politics of persecution, not grassroots democracy.
I had dinner this past Thursday evening with my 97 year old maternal grandmother, along with my parents and brother and his lovely family. I thought of the vicious rumor that Denis E. Guyer's conduit, Peter Marchetti, spread about me that my Grandma asked me to leave her Pittsfield home in the early Spring of 2004. My grandmother's maiden name is Marchetti, and the corrupted Pittsfield City Councilor is her great nephew. Talking to my elderly grandmother made me feel proud of myself because prior to parting ways with her, I saved her life by ensuring she go to the local hospital after the doctor's office called and apprised me that she had a diabetic blood sugar count of over 600, and a normal blood sugar count would be between the numbers of 60 - 120. At 97 years of age, my grandmother looks better than ever in recent years. Due to my help of my elderly grandmother, she is still living and proud of herself for her savvy sale of her Pittsfield home. She loves living in Rhode Island with her son/my uncle George. While I like New Hampshire, In only a good way, I envy my grandmother for living in Rhode Island because it is such a beautiful state to live in!
My grandmother and I talked about my paternal grandmother who passed away in North Adams this past March 16, 2007 at 81 years of age from diabetes. Like my maternal grandmother, I wish I still lived in the Berkshires so I would have been able to save my paternal grandmother's life. I lived with my paternal grandmother in North Adams from July 1, 1997 through August 31, 1998 during my semester breaks while attending graduate school at U Mass. My paternal grandmother and I would play Parcheesi and watch TV together. She helped me through a family crisis, and the wounds of family conflict have healed due to my paternal grandmother's grace.
Then my grandmother asked me about my 83 year old elderly lady political friend in Pittsfield. I told her that she is doing well, too. Later this past Thursday evening, the night of a Blue Moon, I called my elderly lady political friend to say hello and tell her about my grandmother. After talking for a while, and being updated about different events and people in Pittsfield Politics, she apprised me that she attended a political dinner and was honored for being a Democratic Party member for 62 years, and that everyone stood up and applauded her work except one man: Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. She apprised me that Luciforo laughed at her during her moment of recognition. I responded that Luciforo should not have been mean-spirited to her.
My grandmother and I talked about her friends and family in Pittsfield. I asked her about her friend Harriet, whom I would also help out during the time I lived with my grandmother and saved her life. My grandmother did not know how her friend of many decades was doing and informed me that she should giver her a telephone call. My grandmother told me I looked good. I responded to her, "Thank you, but I have a belly." I then shook my belly to be funny, and she said to me, "I have a belly, too. That means we eat well." We both laughed.
I think of Pittsfield Politics and the negative tone set by some of the insider politicians there and I shake my head in disgust. Growing up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the people were NOT like the politicians who now run the city. Back in the summer of 2005, when Cliff Nilan called me and asked me about my father, which I credit him for doing, I told Cliff that during my childhood everything in Pittsfield was not the way it is now: The Eagle was locally owned, the politicians were about the people, not themselves, and the community cared about each other, there was NO persecution. I told Cliff that a few bad apples with bad agendas claimed Pittsfield for their own ends and now the people live in fear and intimidation. Cliff responded that no one cares about politics anymore.
That leads me to my point about why I love my grandmother and get along well with elderly people, in general. During the period of time I lived with my paternal grandmother in North Adams, the dichotomy was clear that she and her elderly friends cherished me, but the younger generations were out to spite me for supporting my father's tenure as Berkshire County Commissioner. When I had political disputes with Dan Bosley, John Barrett III, Andy Luciforo, et al, my late paternal grandmother said to me, "It is a beautiful thing that you are doing, Jonathan!" I said to my grandmother, "What do you mean, the entire Berkshire political machine dislikes me intensely, Grandma?" She said to me, "You love my son, who is your father. You are committed to helping him in his time of need, Jonathan. You have shown yourself to be a good man because you put aside all of your own interests to protect your father from what Nuciforo and those guys down in Pittsfield have done to him."
In the end, it was Judge Barbalunga who ultimately saved my father from ruin. My heart was in the right place, but I will never be as good of a man as my father's old boss. But like me, Judge Barbalunga represented the Pittsfield of my youth. He saw my father being politically persecuted by the Berkshire State Senator, Luciforo, and he also saw Luciforo's dual, coterminous attempt to have my father's son jailed under false pretenses, and worked to assist my dad to keep his state job until his retirement. I thank God for the good man that is Judge Barbalunga who helped my father at the risk of his own interests.
My elderly Pittsfield political friend told me on many occasions the slanderous rumors being spread about me in the Pittsfield area after I moved from the beautiful Berkshires to Southern New Hampshire to live with my family. When she was being applauded for over 6 decades of work on behalf of the Democratic Party, I knew that Luciforo laughed at her because she is committed to humanely helping her fellow man and woman before fulfilling an agenda or corrupted interest. She, like my dad, two grandmothers and Judge Barbalunga, still represent the Pittsfield of my childhood. My elderly Pittsfield friend, my two grandmothers, my dad and Judge Barbalunga, are the people I admire most in politics for their commitment to what matters most in life: PEOPLE! Friends! Family!
There are other good people in the Pittsfield area whom I admire immensely who participate in politics: Rhonda Serre, Richard Delmasto, Larry Caprari, among others.
I consider Rinaldo Del Gallo III as another person who represents the Pittsfield of my childhood. Furthermore, I consider Rinaldo as one of my political friends. Rinaldo has worked tirelessly to better the ailing social conditions in Pittsfield, but because he does not comply with the corrupted agenda of the local political oligarchy, he is laughed at like my elderly Pittsfield political friend was laughed at by Luciforo amidst a room of standing applause. Rinaldo did what countless others have done, including myself, which was to collect campaign signatures inside and outside of the United States Post Office on Fenn Street in Pittsfield. The corrupted special intests who have taken over and soured the Pittsfield of my childhood saw it as an opportunity to politically persecute him for practicing his constitutionally protected rights and liberties to participate in democracy.
For the same reason I wanted to help my dad in his time of political persecution, I protected the sanctity of human lives during my honorable service in the U.S. Army and was honored by the sitting president by being ordered a hearing one block from The White House to be granted my VA Benefits, for saving my maternal grandmother's life during her time of illness and need, and for leading a good life and being best known for being a good man, I am going to sign the following affidavit on behalf of another good man, Rinaldo Del Gallo III.
Jonathan A. Melle
AFFIDAVIT OF JONATHAN MELLE
I, JONATHAN MELLE, testify under pains of perjury that all of the following statements of facts are either true or believed to be true, all of the following statements of belief are believed to be true, and that all of the following statements of law are beliefs believed to be true:
That on or about the time period of the entire month of February and up to the middle of March of 2004 I gathered signatures on the sidewalk of the Pittsfield Post Office when I was running for State Senator in Berkshire County.
Jonathan A. Melle
Date: June 02, 2007
Deadbeat dad culture hurts families
Friday, November 16, 2007
We hope you will read the essay, "A Letter to A Father From a Fatherless Child," that can be viewed by going to the home page of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition's Web site: www.berkshirefatherhood.com. It is a poignant essay that starts "Father Dearest:" What follows are the stark lamentations of an African-American male who suffered his father's absence. The essay is written by Brett Russell Andrews, a promising Berkshire author residing in Pittsfield and is in form of a letter to his father.
The essay is a powerful display of the stark feelings of abandonment that is caused by a father's absence. Andrews writes of "mercilessly being left at the doorstep of this contemptuous unfeeling world." He writes, "No child should have to feel such feelings of worthlessness." He comments, that due to his father's absence, "I cannot love to trust or trust to love." He summons the effect of fatherlessness: "My fight to survive for so long from such an early age has left me powerless to comprehend any other way to exist or coexist without second guessing everything and everybody especially myself." Andrew's essay reminds us of the extreme importance of having a father in a child's life, and the emptiness and confusion that can be experience for years when a father is gone.
The Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition is fighting to preserve the father/child relationship. Sadly, many fathers choose to be absent, but most do not. Most are escorted out of a child's life, at the behest of the mother with the full support of our legal system. Most absent fathers who chose to be absent (the small minority) are inclined to spend more time with their children, but between restraining orders which are given for the asking, the outrageous child support system that is nearly impossible to comply with, and endless lectures about "responsible fatherhood," many fathers cope by being absent. They view their absence as "moving on to more positive things in life." It is an opportunity for them to seek new environs were they are welcomed, loved, respected, appreciated instead of feeling like a criminal. The result is a child who then feels unwelcomed, unloved, unrespected, and unappreciated due to the father's abandonment.
The absence is unexcused by Andrews who writes, "You committed the worst cardinal sin of all, father dearest. You betrayed your own flesh and blood." But the reality is that people have a tendency to avoid situations wherein they are made to feel like a piece of garbage, which in turn breeds a child that feels like a piece of garbage. I do not mean to imply, however, that Andrews fathers was anything less than selfish.
As for "moving on," the Andrews essay vividly depicts his father's "new family," which he calls "your family," to which Mr. Andrews is clearly not a part. A culture which thrives on words such as "deadbeat dads" and teaching dads "responsible fatherhood" cannot realistically wonder why some weaker souls would want solitude from it all.
Perhaps a family court that did not thrive in the deadbeat dad culture and that made shared parenting available would not have made a difference in Mr. Andrews case, but in most cases involving absent fathers, it would have.
Brett Russell Andrews recently released, "Gift to Pittsfield: Gifts to Life." It is published by Lulu press, and can be purchased from a link from our Web site.
The author is an officer of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III
Is this free country for which our father's fought?
November 13, 2007
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Esq.
I would like to convey some brief thoughts on this year’s Veterans Day. Those who fought in our countries wars fought to preserve freedom. By “freedom” I mean not freedom to do whatever we want, but freedom to engage in fundamental rights. Today, however, our country has deprived fathers of some of the most basic rights. From time to time, it is a worthy endeavor to make a cursory observation of our basic rights.
1. THE RIGHT TO FAMILY: Our nations family courts have deprived of us the right to be with one’s child. We are becoming a fatherless nation. (It is also in many cases impossible to live with our wives if they are foreign born.)
2. THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL: One of the most basic rights—the right to move about—has been reduced to a chimera by pulling driver's licenses. For failure to pay a debt—child support—fathers are being denied the means to go to work, shop, attend worship services, meet friends, attend meetings, and provide care and aid for relatives and friends.
3. THE RIGHT TO EQUAL TREATMENT OF THE LAW: Every day in family court, we as fathers are denied our equal dignity for no more a reason then our gender. These type of forgone conclusions based on our gender is un-American.
4. THE RIGHT TO EXIST AND SURVIVE: Child support levels (when coupled with taxes) are so staggeringly high, that to pay for child support (which pays for the mothers cost of living—not the incremental cost of having a child) one has to deprive oneself of food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. While the childsupport guidelines in each state are high in and of themselves when real numbers are used, judges often make up incomes to “attribute” to an individual. This makes the debt amount owed actually consuming, if not outright surpassing actual income. Retroactive modification has been outlawed under federal law (thanks to former Senator Bill Brady), and there can be no relief in bankruptcy. (President Roosevelt referred to this as the “Freedom from Want”—a similar, if not identical right.)
5. THE RIGHT TO SPEECH: I was arrested for gathering signatures at a Post Office while running for political office—many believe I was singled out (the practice had gone on for generations)—because I am a father’s rights activist. One father, Kevin Thompson, had his book banned by a Massachusetts family court judge.
6. THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW: We are not allowed to meaningfully speak at our proceedings. Judges are not listening. Fathers are being yelled at and otherwise spoken to disrespectfully by judges. Outcomes are foregone conclusions. Our courts are so teeming with women who want to dump their husbands, take his money and children, that meaningfully paying attention is an impossible task given the volume of cases. At the appellate level, straightforward cases based upon established bedrock law is dismissed as “frivolous.” Fathers are being incarcerated for failure to pay child support without the benefit of a jury trial. Judges ignore even the most basic and well-established law—such that civil confinement cannot occur unless there is a present ability to pay and the key is one’s hands. While the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that there is a fundamental right to family life and family integrity, the courts refuse to apply this precedent to the father/child relationship, its most natural and obvious application.
Those that fought for us, did not fight for a nation wherein one’s child could be taken by a whim of the court, where the basic right to travel was denied due to owing a debt, where one lost their child in family courts of law merely because of their gender, where the financial demands of government are so onerous that survival itself is impossible, and wherein the right to speech, assembly and ballot access to fight for these rights is denied. They did not fight for a court system that denied Due Process of law.
(Notice Lincoln in the Background)
A country that denies its citizen the basic rights to family integrity, the right to travel, equal treatment of the law, the right to earn a living and keep it so as to survive, Due Process, and the right to speech and petition and ballot access to correct these errors simply cannot be called a free country. No earthly country can provide godly perfection. But for fathers, we live in despotism with an occasional freedom, rather than freedom with an occasional despotism. This is not what our veterans fought for.
* Attorney Del Gallo may be reached at 413-445-6789. His website is BerkshireFatherhood.com. For another essay on father's rights being basic civil rights, read "The Father's Rights Movement is a Civil Rights Movement" written by Attorney Del Gallo in 2002, an address that was delivered to then state representatives Shaun Kelley and Peter Larkin.
From: Rinaldo Del Gallo III - RDelGalloIII@aol.com
Subject: BFC Meeting TONIGHT: Paternity Fraud Article
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I have authored an extensive article available on our website’s legal help section about paternity fraud. It a very detailed law review style article. Its purpose is not to generate general interest or engage in a political tract, but to provide people with detailed information about this subject. This “ASK RINALDO” article is put in our LEGAL QUESTIONS section: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?page=legal-questions. You may read it, by clicking on the following link: What rights do fathers have when there has been paternity fraud?: http://www.berkshirefatherhood.com/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=441&cntnt01returnid=15.
Since 2001 I have been attending and then leading free legal seminars for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition that is open to the public. It initially startled me how often the subject of paternity fraud came up during meetings. Continually, I meet men who believe that they are paying child support for children that are not theirs. Some have DNA test to prove it.
While "paternity fraud" has been a catchy topic as of late, as of December 1, 2007, only 10 courts in the United States have actually used the term in an opinion. Nonetheless, a Google Search showed 59,400 hits for the same term on the same date. The lack of use of a term so commonly used in our culture should suggest to one how uncomfortable courts are with not only the term, but the subject. In one important Massachusetts case, the 2001 case of In re Paternity of Cheryl, the court incessantly referred to the victim of paternity fraud as the “father” and then refused to stop making him pay child support. Many opinions berate such victims of paternity fraud who seek redress in courts. One Vermont opinion referred to such a “father” as having “self-serving concern over a child's biological origins.” Such shockingly calloused opinions have animated some states to pass paternity fraud statutes to assist victims of their wives adulterous relationships.
What is paternity fraud? As Judge Maynard of West Virginia’s highest court put it, “Fraudulent conduct exists in every case where a wife gives birth to a child cognizant of the fact that paternity is uncertain, yet remains silent while her husband innocently assumes the care of the child." Judge Maynard elaborated in a court opinion how extensive the problem is: "In 1999 alone, almost one-third of 280,000 paternity cases evaluated by the American Association of Blood Banks excluded the individual tested as the biological father of the child. In a period of only one year, that is almost 100,000 men who were falsely accused of being the father of a child which they simply did not father. And that is only one year!"
It is possible in Massachusetts to challenge an order or judgment that has been procured by fraud on the court, but such challenges are filled with peril because of the nuanced case law. There is an unfortunate tendency in Massachusetts Courts to “protect children” by making a cuckolded husband finance the household of a child that is neither biologically his, nor the subject of a legal adoption. Currently, we have posted an extensively detailed legal article on the BerkshireFatherhood.com website on the subject of paternity fraud. Simply go to our legal help section and go to “legal questions,” which is available from the home page and click on the related article. You may also call us at (413) 445-6789.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Esq.
Spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition
I concur with your essay, below. I think you are one of the most intelligent and good-hearted people I have ever met. I enjoy reading your policy essays a lot!
I think Pittsfield, Massachusetts is a good place to live! I am glad I grew up and spent most of my life in the Pittsfield area.
It is just that mean-spirited politicians like Denis E. Guyer, who spread vicious, hurtful, racist and violent rumors against me, Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr., who always picks on me to political insiders, and Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., who tried to both ruin my dad's career and put me in Carmen's County Jail, and who is also now behind Denis E. Guyer's dirty politics, makes me very angry.
When I read online propaganda news articles describing how wonderful Denis E. Guyer is, I want to vomit! When I see through Carmen Massimiano's backing of Andrea Nuciforo for a future run for U.S. Congress based on the pretense of Western Massachusetts issues when they are both insider Boston-run Pols, I want to scream! When I hear Mayor Jim Ruberto mock me while playing into the hands of Denis Guyer, Carmen Massimiano & Andrea Nuciforo, I want to dissent.
The ugly truth, Rinaldo, is that Pittsfield is being ran by the Boston Pols' political machine special interests. Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Jim Ruberto talk up Pittsfield's economy, but it is all propaganda!
Pittsfield is the number ONE place in Massachusetts for job LOSSES! Pittsfield's public schools are among the ten worst performing educational institutions in the commonwealth. Pittsfield's teen pregnancy rate doubles the statewide average. Pittsfield's welfare caseloads are skyrocketing upwards every year. Pittsfield, Massachusetts is a place with a myriad of devastating social programs. The Mayor and like state and local politicians are to blame!
I feel like Pittsfield's public policies are all done by design for the city to collect its annual tens of millions of dollars in state administered, federal funds for social programs, including public education, and then complement the public dollars to its municipal tax base to fund only special interests and keep the property tax liability artificially low for the elite wealthy residents. This kind of governance behavior is called (intentional) "Perverse Incentives" in Economics.
Rinaldo, this was NOT the community you and I both grew up in. It breaks my heart to read about even one more teen pregnancy, high school drop-out, underperforming public school, lost job, and the like. A couple of years ago, you used to write essays about Pittsfield's perverse governance behaviors. Now, you remain silent. That breaks my heart, too.
As Amherst, Massachusetts State Senator Stan Rosenberg pointed out to me in our past email correspondences, the problems he works on for Western Massachusetts are in New Hampshire too. He is absolutely right. Every public school in Manchester, NH is now underperforming! That breaks my heart, too. Suffice it to say, I will NOT be voting for Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta next Tuesday or possibly in November either!
Thank you to all of you who correspond with me. I read all of your emails. We should all care about each other. That is why I continue to write, because I CARE!
Jonathan A. Melle
RDelGalloIII at aol dot com wrote:
You have many good things to say which are very intelligent. Here however you accuse the mayor of essentially not loving his mother, using her, and putting her in a nursing home in an effort to steal her house. I have had many disagreements with the mayor Jonathan on policy, but I am 100% certain that he has the utmost affection for his mother and would not do anything that he did not think was in her own interest. The decison to put a parent in a nursing home is a difficult one to make. I am sure the mayor's only motives were what was best for his mother and that his own interest had nothing to do with the analysis. Jonathan, I think it might be better to keep your criticism centered around public policy. I know deep inside there is a lot of good in you.
Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III,
I have read a lot of what you have written about economics in Pittsfield. I came across the following news article: "Bump looks to address job losses in Berkshires" (Capital News 9: The Berkshires, 2/19/2007): This news article states: "Currently the Berkshires have the highest rate of job loss in Massachusetts."
Suzanne Bump says this sad statistic can be changed with the right policies in place. Have you attempted to contact Ms. Bump to share some of your great ideas for economic growth for Pittsfield?
Jonathan A. Melle
Bump looks to address job losses in Berkshires
By: Karen Honikel
Governor Deval Patrick's new Executive Director of Workforce Development isn't wasting any time getting down to business.
Former State Representative Suzanne Bump is working to introduce herself to the local business communities and let them know she will make sure the Berkshires are not forgotten on Beacon Hill. She says a major concern right now is addressing the loss of jobs in the Berkshires.
Currently the Berkshires have the highest rate of job loss in Massachusetts. Bump says this can be changed with the right policies in place. She says she will be meeting with the Governor once a week to work on bringing skilled workers and higher paying jobs into the area.
Bump says a key part to local job growth and development will be finding a way to keep the younger workers in the Berkshires.
Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III:
Before I get into your email: "Economics in Pittsfield", I want to note that I think it is cool that Mary Carey blogged about us. She is from Pittsfield, too, and is a good person who also calls for positive change for the Western Massachusetts region, including for Pittsfield!
Anyway, back to your recent email focusing on the pathetic outcomes and negative impacts for Pittsfield by "The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority" (PEDA). Last night, I printed out you lengthy email and spent the later hours of the evening reading what you had to say very closely. Let me begin by saying that you are much more informed and intelligent about legal matters than I am. I liked how you began your letter looking at outcomes and whether the impacts of PEDA were either positive or negative for the Pittsfield local economy. Of course, PEDA's outcomes are all FAILURES and the impacts for the Pittsfield local economy are all NEGATIVE.
You went on to describe "Spice" restaurant on North Street, which is a false facade for "social service alley" and the "banality of social injustice". My mother did not understand why North Street was a banality when the outcomes and impacts on Pittsfield are net losses. I explained my logic to my mom. In college, I read Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil." My mom interrupted me and said that there was nothing "banal" about the Holocaust. Furthermore, there is nothing banal about "Welfare Mothers" and "Troubled people" going to North Street for social services. I replied to my mom that the Holocaust was very tragic, and the needy people that fall victim to North Street is also very sad, indeed. I told my mom that the point I was making is that the banality of both situations is that some BUREAUCRAT -- Adolf Eichmann -- sat behind a desk and designed the genocide against the 1930's Jewish people; and some BUREAUCRAT sat behind a desk and designed and transformed North Street from a business district into a social service district. The banality of both very different situations was not the Holocaust itself, nor the needy people themselves, but the planning, implementation and administration of the mass murder of the 1930's Jewish people, and the exploitation of the needy Pittsfield area people on North Street (for the city to annually receive tens of millions of state administered, federally funded dollars for social service programs and public education dollars, and then meet the minimal regulatory requirements so that the city can then complement that state via federal money to their own tax base to artifically lower property taxes and also spend the rest on a new restaurant and the renovation of a theater). My mother then understood my point that North Street was not only "social service alley", but it is also "the banality of social injustice" via the city's intentional PERVERSE INCENTIVES.
Remember what I said about failed policies and negative impacts: The INCENTIVES were intentionally PERVERSE instead of RATIONAL! Instead of the city growing the local economy, the city's real interest was to grow its own fiscal coffers while they let the local people "eat cake." In your essay, Rinaldo, I find it interesting that you use the word INCENTIVES, but I find it frustrating that you don't put the word "PERVERSE" in front of it. All of your points led me to conclude that Pittsfield's incentives were perverse instead of rational, but you rarely made that distinction.
Under "C: PEDA's Rights and Obligations With Respect To The Transferred Property", you, Rinaldo, ask "Why are the [PEDA] tenants accountable to GE [and not PEDA]?" I am actually able to answer your question, Rinaldo! The answer to your questions about who is liable to whom and why GE is really still in charge, not PEDA, are because the clean up of PCB pollution on the GE/PEDA site mainly consisted of "capping", not really cleaning up and disposing of, the PCBs. Now, the "capping" of PCB pollution only lasts a maximum of 25 years before the "caps" become useless and PCBs will begin to be toxic and spread around the city and region. So in the "Consent Decree", GE has 15 years of control before PEDA may transfer fee title to land without GE's written approval. After the "caps" become useless in about 25 year from when GE "capped" the PCB pollution, PEDA -- meaning the City of Pittsfield -- will have to "re-cap" the PCB pollution on the PEDA site every concurrent 25 years. In short, PCBs were never really cleaned-up and disposed of, but rather "capped" for a 25 year period so that GE can "get out of Dodge" and leave PEDA with all of the liabilities ("Financial Obligations").
On your point that GE's legal settlement with Pittsfield was not really a "gift" at all, but I saw the $10,000,000 in 10 yearly installments as a bribe that provides further proof to me that the real power brokers in Pittsfield have instituted an insidious system of perverse incentives to fill their fiscal coffers while also limiting liabilities in the short-term. In short, Pittsfield took the BRIBE from GE. Whoever wrote up PEDA and participated in the "Consent Decree" must have had experience and skill in the insurance field because many of the issues in the "Consent Decree" center around "Insurance Issues", which seem like "Insurance Fraud." Not to be petty, but the name ANDY NUCIFORO comes to mind.
In your email, Rinaldo, you ask many questions that there are answers to. If you want to know where the PEDA money is and came from then simply use the proper legal procedures and request an audit of all funds, liabilities, and accounts. Moreover, to answer your questions about the location of GE's PCB infested oil barrels and other pollution that was omitted in the "Consent Decree", again, use the proper legal procedures and request a Freedom of Information Act disclosure of these omitted items. If you legally demonstrate that there was financial fraud and bad faith business dealings between the City of Pittsfield and GE, et al, then you will be able to help Pittsfield annul the "Consent Decree" and begin anew to finally find real solutions to Pittsfield's problems of "Post-Industrial Waste!"
Rinaldo, you made many other good and solid points in your essay. Please use the power of the rule of law to find legitimate answers and solutions to the very good questions you have asked and points you have made. I admire your work, Rinaldo, and I hope that you are someday elected to a municipal and/or state government office so that your strong voice is able to represent the needs of the people of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. You have every right to speak out, and I enjoy listening to what you have to say.
Yours Very Truly,
Jonathan A. Melle
"Courts ignore paternity fraud"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I have been attending and leading free legal seminars that are open to the public for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition since 2001. I was initially startled at how often the subject of paternity fraud came up. I continually meet men who believe that they are paying child support for children that are not theirs. Some have the DNA tests to prove it.
While "paternity fraud" has been a catchy topic only 10 courts in the United States had actually used the term in an opinion as of Dec. 1. Nonetheless, a Google Search showed 59,400 hits for the same term on the same date. The lack of use of a term so commonly used in our culture should suggest how uncomfortable the courts are not only with the term, but the subject.
In one important Massachusetts case, the 2001 case of "Paternity of Cheryl," the court incessantly referred to the victim of paternity fraud as the "father" and then refused to stop making him pay child support. Many opinions berate such victims of paternity fraud who seek redress in courts. One Vermont opinion referred to such a "father" as having "self-serving concern over a child's biological origins." Such shockingly calloused opinions have animated some states to pass paternity fraud statutes to assist victims of their wives adulterous relationships.
What is paternity fraud? As Judge Maynard of West Virginia's highest court put it, "Fraudulent conduct exists in every case where a wife gives birth to a child cognizant of the fact that paternity is uncertain, yet remains silent while her husband innocently assumes the care of the child."
Judge Maynard elaborated in a court opinion how extensive the problem is: "In 1999 alone, almost one-third of 280,000 paternity cases evaluated by the American Association of Blood Banks excluded the individual tested as the biological father of the child. In a period of only one year, that is almost 100,000 men who were falsely accused of being the father of a child which they simply did not father.
It is possible in Massachusetts to challenge an order or judgment that has been procured by fraud on the court, but such challenges are filled with peril because of the nuanced case law. There is an unfortunate tendency in Massachusetts Courts to "protect children" by making a cuckolded husband finance the household of a child that is neither biologically his, nor the subject of a legal adoption. Currently, we have posted an extensively detailed legal article on the Berkshire Fatherhood.com Web site on the subject of paternity fraud. Simply go to our legal help section and go to "legal questions," which is available from the home page and click on the related article. You may also call us at (413) 445-6789.
RINALDO DEL GALLO
The author is the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition and a practicing family law attorney.
Dear Rinaldo Del Gallo III:
You are one of my favorite politicians/activists because you are passionate about your causes of social and economic justice for estranged and marginalized fathers who are exploited by the system, which is ran by the Corporate Elite, among other causes impacting the working poor people and geographical location throughout our very wealthy nation.
My response to your recent essay, "Why America's Child Support Laws Violate Basic Biblical Principles; PART 1: Bribing the Judiciary -- WHY AMERICA'S CHILD SUPPORT LAWS VIOLATE BASIC BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES; PART 1; Bribing the judiciary with regards to both child support enforcement awards and child support enforcement" (mensnewsdaily.com, 6/3/07): The federal political class, which only serves the demands of the Corporate Elite (or no more than 10% of our nation's population), does not give a damn about either your own or my own political concerns because we are citizens serving our political elites, and we are NOT supposed to see above their level of power. Ergo, the political elite uses corporate elite economics terms such as "EFFICIENCY", "PRODUCTIVITY", "UNIFORMITY", and the like, to justify laws that disadvantage the working poor bloke who does not know the difference between the doublespeak meanings of the business and government bureaucratic jargon. To illustrate, the Corporate Elite only represents no more than 10% of our nation's population, and they only employ no more than 20% of our nation's workforce, and the other 90% of our nation's population is regulated by these very wealthy and powerful for-profit business institutions and leaders by having the political elite's on Capitol Hill speak their language to the masses.
That is why, my good friend: Rinaldo Del Gallo III, your essays are misguided when you focus on biblical philosophies, legal arguments, and financial well being. None of it is REALITY because the political elites are ONLY serving the Corporate Elite. Everything else other than stratify wealth and high incomes to 10% to 20% of the nation's population is just peripheral propaganda to keep guys like you and me powerless (and clueless) in the real world of American Politics: RULE BY OLIGARCH's that serve their Corporate Elite master's with EFFICIENCY, PRODUCTIVITY, and UNIFORMITY!
God Bless You, Rinaldo! I am with you on equality for marginalized and estranged Father's who are being exploited by the system. It all fits the design of perverse incentives to bribe the state and local politically connected Pols to serve their political elite counterparts on Capitol Hill, who serve their Corporate Elite masters on Wall Street, NY, NY (but we are not supposed to see the last part of the insidious political process). Please keep up your good work!
Yours Very Truly,
Jonathan A. Melle
RADAR ACTION ALERT: Call the Boston Herald.
"Boston Herald Fans Domestic Violence Hysteria"
In an article entitled "Domestic violence at point of 'crisis'" last week (see below), the Boston Herald quoted Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett claiming that "domestic violence is murder waiting to happen" and demanding the Mass. Legislature "enact an emergency bill that would potentially double jail time for serial batterers before they maim or kill."
D.A. Blodgett clearly wants the terms "domestic violence" and "serial batterer" to conjure up a mental image of a menacing brute who beats women just because he can. But all across the nation, "domestic violence" has been defined down to the point where simply raising one's voice makes the accused a "batterer". RADAR has documented how the systems in place act as perverse incentives to induce women to make false accusations. (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Perverse-Incentives.pdf) And Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association, has warned that "Everyone knows that restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply."
So, when Blodgett says "serial batterer" he's just as likely to be talking about the innocent husband or boyfriend of a vindictive woman as the slavering beast he wants you to imagine.
As the nation learned from Mike Nifong, innocence is no defense when the D.A. needs to grandstand in order to win an election. And unfortunately for the innocent, most of the Nifongs out there aren't dumb enough to get caught.
Please call the Boston Herald and ask them to run a followup article to correct the unbalanced and inaccurate portrayal of domestic violence created by the Herald's publication of this article. The followup should highlight the facts that:
false allegations of domestic violence are now rampant, men are just as likely to be victims of their wives' or girlfriends' violence, victimized men are routinely turned away when they seek help from domestic violence service providers
The Boston Herald's editor, Kevin Convey, can be reached at 617-619-6403. The Herald's comment line is: 617-619-6789. As always, state your opinion in a polite and courteous manner.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Original URL: www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1048411
"Domestic violence at point of 'crisis'"
By Laurel J. Sweet
Calling it "a crisis" on a "record pace," authorities project that by New Year's Eve 57 people will have died this year in Massachusetts because of domestic violence - a toll not seen in 15 years.
"It's alarming, it's unacceptable and it's a crisis," said Toni K. Troop, spokeswoman for Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.
The news comes as Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, for a fourth straight year, pleads with the state Legislature to enact an emergency bill that would potentially double jail time for serial batterers before they maim or kill.
"Domestic violence is murder waiting to happen," Blodgett said.
Sheila Sicard, whose daughter Ronda Healy was slain Tuesday allegedly by an ex-beau she'd split with nine years earlier, is sick of it.
"I don't think (politicians) do enough," Sicard said. "Let mothers come up (to the State House) and speak. Let them hear our cries."
When Healy, 28, a waitress and mother of three, was stabbed to death as she left her job in Millbury, she became the 38th victim of domestic homicide in 2007. An additional 12 perpetrators have committed suicide, elevating to 50 the total number of deaths attributed to domestic violence, Troop said.
The last time Massachusetts came close to a tragedy of that proportion was in 1992, when there were 60 murder and suicide deaths. Since then, year-end totals have fluctuated between 14 and 39.
In addition, Troop said 15 minors have been orphaned in the past year. Ten more youths have lost their mothers, including Norton teens Brittany and Danielle Cann, who both survived being shot in the head by their mother's ex-boyfriend. Robert McDermott murdered Elizabeth Cann, 44, and the family dog, then killed himself.
The day before Healy died, 60-year-old Esther Ventola of Milford was stabbed to death, allegedly by her husband.
Only days before her death, Christine McGee, 31, was fatally stabbed in Chelmsford in front of her 3-year-old son, allegedly by her estranged husband.
Currently, unless a prosecutor can prove a domestic-abuse victim has suffered serious bodily injury, the longest the law can hope to put a batterer away is 2years in a house of correction.
Blodgett's legislation would enable prosecutors to indict serial abusers - who cops call "frequent flyers" - with the threat of a state prison stint up to five years.cw0
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley applauded Blodgett's tenacity, saying, "What we see in these horrible, vicious, violent attacks is frightening. It's a very stark reminder more needs to be done."
Blodgett testified last week on Beacon Hill that the state is on a "record pace" toward one domestic murder per week.
"We have so many batterers who are serial batterers," Blodgett told the Herald. "They have multiple victims, they groom their victims, they move from county to county, state to state. They've been through anger management, they've been through batterers' programs and they move on to their next victim."
As for why the startling spike in domestic homicides, Blodgett said, "My gut feeling is we've got a lot of angry people out there who won't hesitate to use violence to get what they want."
Troop points to ever-dwindling funding for programs and resources.
"It sounds simplistic," she said, "but funding is what allows us to have programs and adequate staff to help those who are making that very difficult journey from violence to safety in their lives. We need to re-invest. We can't deny these numbers and turn our backs on victims."
Date of RADAR Release: December 12, 2007
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org .
"Historic viewpoints on child support"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The modern jurist, right up to our highest courts, continues to utter completely false statements regarding the legal history of child support.
Two of the more common fallacies are: the law required provision of level of support to maintain a "suitable lifestyle" of the child as opposed to the bare necessaries of life, and the law required an otherwise fit non-custodial parent to pay the other parent to raise his child.
As to the first fallacy, our common law only required the provision of the necessaries of life, and even this had severe restrictions to cases where the child was unable to work. Blackstone's Commentaries assert, "For the policy of our laws, which are ever watchful to promote industry, did not mean to compel a father to maintain his idle and lazy children in ease and indolence: but thought it unjust to oblige the parent, against his will, to provide them with superfluities, and other indulgences of fortune; imagining they might trust to the impulse of nature, if the children were deserving of such favors." As Joel Prentice Bishop noted in his celebrated 19th century treatise, "Commentaries on the Law of Marriage and Divorce," "A wealthy father should never be compelled to do by a court what many wealthy fathers do voluntarily, lavish on the child money and luxuries which money brings." The incessant clamor of modern jurist notwithstanding, there has never been a legal obligation to "maintain the lifestyle" of a child after divorce.
As to the second fallacy, at common law, custody of children always went to the father. In fact, this had always been the law of England and the European continent. It was the law of Rome, dating back to its foundation. Bishop summarized the common law, "The Fathers is entitled, not only against the rest of the world, but as against the mother likewise, if the parents are living apart, to the custody of the children, of both sexes, during the entire period of minority." But with this absolute right to custody of the children after divorce came absolutely no duty on the part of the mother to provide support no matter her personal wealth or station. Throughout the millennium, the person that enjoyed the society of the child bore the sole expense of keeping them.
It is not my purpose in this letter to declare the law of our fathers regarding these subjects as being right or wrong, but to set the record straight.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
The author is an officer of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
Excellent point! Now, I ask you to please continue to keep an open mind and extrapolate that thought to the ever-increasing numbers of incarcerated criminals, teen pregnancy numbers, welfare caseloads, underperforming public schools, and the like. You now see that the growing numbers of child support accounts in perversely incentivized by the state & local governments because the federal government rewards the states, who reward the municipalities, for the numbers of divorces, teen pregnancies, welfare caseloads, and public schools that net the average kid an $8 per hour service sector job. The state government, in your case Massachusetts, literally receives billions of federal dollars for all of these social services, including public education. The state government then administers these billions of federally appropriated public dollars to itself and its political subdivisions--cities and towns. Before the state government administers these federal public dollars that are in theory intended for social service programs, the governor and legislature COMPLEMENT these funds to its state government tax base. That means that the state takes federal money awarded for each dollar collected in child support awards and transfers a percentage of that money into its other funds, such as the General Fund. Now, after the state finances the federal dollars, it takes another portion and appropriates it to state social service programs. Now, after the state meets its own special interests and its obligations under federal law, the state then administers and appropriates social service dollars to the cities and towns for their social service programs, including local public schools. Remember that local governments behave like mini-state governments. Local governments then take the money one pays in child support, its federally appropriated and state administered grant, and finances that money to its municipal tax base by AGAIN complementing funds. The local government transfers social service dollars to its other accounts and funds its pet projects and other special interest items. After the local government gets through financing these funds, it meets its obligations for its social service programs, including social service dollars. By the time the money collected in child support is quantified by the federal government by state government, and then redistributed back to the state and local governments for social services, most of that money went somewhere else than to the "sanctified single mother caring for her abandoned children." The money that is "where the rubber hits the road" and reaches the social service clientele is so watered down that the social service programs only serve to create a dependency on the social welfare entintlement system instead of a means out of "dodge city".
Rinaldo, my illustration of state's being disingenious on social service programs is the state's terrible financing of Massachusetts' mandated healthcare insurance program. The state has two funding sources to subsidize its top 5 insurance companies to provide healthcare insurance to most of Massachusetts residents.
The first funding sources is:
#1 - FEDERAL FUNDS that are committed only through June 30, 2008 *,
* The Massachusetts FY2009 state budget takes effect on July 1, 2008! How big will next fiscal year's budget gap be after the FEDERAL FUNDS are gone? Where will the financing come from to subsidize the state's top 5 healthcare insurance payers?
The second funding source is:
#2 - The state's free care pool, which had previously benefitted hospitals and health centers, NOT the state's top 5 insurance companies!
Moreover, 5 Massachusetts insurers control about 90 percent of the healthcare insurance market in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
#1 - Blue Cross Blue Shield
#2 - Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
#3 - Fallon Community Health Plan
#4 - Health New England
#5 - Tufts Health Plan
My point is, Rinaldo, that if Massachusetts cared about society instead of its financing via perverse incentives, then Massachusetts would have: (a) a single-payer universal healthcare insurance program instead of one that depends on federal funds and charity care from hospitals and health centers that primarily grows the economy of scale for the top 5 Massachusetts healthcare insurance companies, (b) shared-parenting that allowed children to bond with both parents, respectively, (c) low teen pregnancy numbers through effective social programs and sex education programs, (d) low welfare caseloads because the real or rational incentive would be for the state to find one a good job and feel secure in life's journey, (e) great public schools that would train our children to be the best skilled workers in the World, and the like.
Instead, Rinaldo, Massachusetts, like its 49 state counterparts, is into financing its own fiscal coffers via perverse incentives that keeps the state's coffers flush with blood money, the special interests fat as can be, and the rest of us indignant and incensed at the way the system operates and does its business. The local governments profit off of their state government's economic perversities so they march lock step with their fellow political cronies. It would take a real leader with a lot of courage to change the system from its current economic perversities to an idealized one focused on social justice.
Keep up your good work, Rinaldo Del Gallo, III! I hope I am helping you to understand the system. I then hope you will be one of many who will someday bring back common sense and moral decency to our political forum.
Happy New Year!
Jonathan Alan Melle
Without using loaded language, the federal government literally grants money to the states based upon each dollar collected in child support awards. This would be akin to making federal grants predicated on the amount of medical practice judgements awarded.
"Accused deadbeat dad from Mass. deported from Canada"
The Associated Press
Monday, December 31, 2007
MILFORD, Mass. (AP) — A former Hopkinton man who was once on the state's Ten Most Wanted list of deadbeat parents is back in Massachusetts after being deported from Canada.
The state Department of Revenue says 48-year-old David Fisher owes more than $314,000 in unpaid child support for his three children. Along with interest and penalties, the total amount owed by Fisher is nearly $500,000.
The DOR's Child Support Enforcement Division says Fisher was a computer programmer earning more than $100,000 a year in January 2000 when he was ordered by a judge to pay $883 in weekly child support.
After failing to convince a judge to reduce the payments, the DOR said Fisher fled the country after making his final payment in April 2001.
Fisher faces arraignment this morning in Milford District Court.
"Bay State ranks 5th in share of patents: But no one is sure why totals dropped"
By Todd Wallack, (Boston) Globe Staff, December 31, 2007
Despite a drop in the number of patents awarded nationwide in the past year, Massachusetts remains a haven for inventors, according to data from the US Patent and Trademark Office and the US Census Bureau.
The Bay State ranked fifth in patents per resident in fiscal 2007, which ended in September, trailing only Idaho, Vermont, Oregon, and California.
Put another way, Massachusetts claimed 4 percent of all patents awarded to US residents last year, a figure that has held relatively steady over the past few years, even though the Bay State has just 2 percent of the US population.
"We are, in effect, an innovation economy," said Paul Guzzi, chief executive of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, citing the area's wealth of elite colleges and medical research centers. "We have consistently been high in terms of patents. That is our comparative advantage."
Overall, Massachusetts residents received 3,876 patents for the most recent fiscal year, down 5 percent from 2006. Nationwide, the number of patents awarded to US residents slipped 2 percent, to 94,618.
But it is too soon to know if the numbers indicate a trend, since the figures tend to fluctuate from one year to the next. A Patent Office spokeswoman also pointed out that a glitch pushed some 2005 patent applications into the 2006 totals, which might help to explain the decline.
According to an analysis by Foley Hoag LLP, a Boston law firm with a busy intellectual property practice, many of the top recipients of Massachusetts patents were technology companies, such as Analog Devices Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., EMC Corp., IBM Corp., Intel Corp., and Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories Inc.
In addition, MIT and two consumer products companies, Acushnet Co. and Gillette Co. (now part of Procter & Gamble), also made the top 10.
Hopkinton-based EMC, which makes data storage products primarily for businesses, said it won 181 patents through Dec. 19, up from 165 in 2006, mostly from Massachusetts inventors.
"We have been issued more and more patents every year," said Krish Gupta, EMC's vice president and assistant general counsel. In Massachusetts, EMC leads in the number of patents.
Gupta said that the company has developed an increasingly diverse pool of technology as the company has grown and made acquisitions and that EMC has been committed to protecting that technology by filing patents. Still, Gupta said, the company has also tried to maintain the quality of its patents, rather than going to the expense of patenting every minor development.
Idaho, which ranked first in US patents per resident, has a relatively small population of 1.5 million, but several tech companies that file mountains of patent applications, including Boise-based Micron Technology Inc.
The Patent Office has not officially released data for the 2007 calendar year. But the agency's database indicates it awarded 5,092 patents in 2007 that included at least one Massachusetts inventor, down 10 percent from 2006. By comparison, the number of patents awarded to US inventors fell 8 percent over the period. A Patent Office spokeswoman, Brigid Quinn, said the agency has not studied the data.
However, the Patent Office has gradually become stingier about awarding patents. In fiscal 2007, the office approved 51 percent of applications, down from a record 72 percent in 2000.
Patents have been a hot topic lately in Massachusetts and in Washington, with some in the tech industry pushing for limits on patents, while biotech companies have tried to maintain broad protection for new inventions. The issue has been debated not only at the Patent Office, but in Congress and the courts, as well.
Last spring, the Supreme Court curtailed companies' abilities to sue over patent violations. In one case, the court made it easier to challenge existing patents. In another, the justices ruled against a company's effort to sue for alleged patent violations in products made overseas.
Meanwhile, a federal judge blocked the Patent Office from imposing new rules on Nov. 1 that could potentially make it harder for companies to broaden the scope of their patents. The ruling came after drug maker GlaxoSmithKline challenged the new regulations.
In addition, Congress has been weighing proposals to limit patent suits, after complaints by some technology companies that they have been forced to fend off legions of lawsuits alleging obscure violations. The House approved a bill in September that would limit damage awards, but a bill is stalled in the Senate.
Todd Wallack can be reached at email@example.com.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III
"Jury says not guilty: The charges included assaulting his father and threatening his mother"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Friday, January 11, 2008
PITTSFIELD — Following a day of conflicting testimony, a jury in Central Berkshire District Court yesterday found attorney and father's rights advocate Rinaldo Del Gallo III not guilty of assaulting his father.
Del Gallo, 45, of Reservoir Road in Richmond, had been charged with one count of assault and battery on a person over the age of 60 and two counts of intimidation of a witness for allegedly shoving his then-76-year-old father to the ground in July 2006.
In addition to the assault charge, Del Gallo had been accused of threatening his then 70-year-old mother after she called Pittsfield Police for help and of threatening his father for talking to the police. District Court Judge Paul M. Vrabel dismissed those charges before the case went to the jury, ruling the state had failed to present sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges.
The one-day trial took place in District Court's jury-of-six session. The jury deliberated for about 30 minutes before returning a verdict on the remaining charge.
Del Gallo smiled and slapped his attorney, Gregory A. Hession of Springfield on the back after the verdict was announced.
"I'm not in any way surprised by the verdict," Del Gallo said after being discharged. "I thought they had a very weak case."
Del Gallo said his father, Rinaldo Del Gallo Jr., had asked the commonwealth not to bring the case forward. "But they did anyway," he said.
Letter carried little weight
Prosecutor Kelly Mulcahy Kemp said Del Gallo's father had sent a letter to the district attorney's office asking that the case not be prosecuted. But she said the commonwealth had enough evidence to prosecute the charges and believed that the incident took place.
"With all due respect to Mr. Del Gallo's position, whether or not to prosecute is at the discretion of the commonwealth, not the victim," she said.
"This was a case of domestic violence," Mulcahy Kemp said. "And a lot of time the victim wants to protect the perpetrator. We found no difference in this case than in your typical domestic violence case."
Del Gallo also claimed the entire affair was a "witch hunt," a statement that Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless angrily denied.
"That claim is outrageous," Capeless said yesterday, pointing out that Del Gallo's mother, Joyce, was the person who had originally called the police.
Capeless said he is encouraged to prosecute a case when an eyewitness tells police that someone pushed a 76-year-old man to the floor.
"That's a serious case," he said. "It's not only a crime against that man, but a crime against the citizens of Berkshire County. That's what I'm sworn to uphold."
Del Gallo was arrested on July 13, 2006, after Joyce Del Gallo called police and said her son had shoved her husband to the floor following an argument over mail in the kitchen of their Pittsfield home.
The commonwealth claimed Del Gallo's actions constituted a crime. The defense termed the incident a "family dispute" that did not rise to the level of criminal activity.
The three members of the Del Gallo family all testified yesterday that a loud argument took place between father and son over the placement of mail on the kitchen table. But there were conflicting versions over the kind of physical activity that took place between father and son.
Despite giving a statement to police on the day of the incident that stated Del Gallo had shoved her husband by the shoulders and pushed him to the floor, Joyce Del Gallo testified yesterday that "it's harder and harder to remember" whether any physical contact took place. She admitted calling the police during the argument because she was "concerned."
The three police officers who were dispatched to the Del Gallo's Pittsfield home — Sgt. Matthew Hill and patrol officers Robert Najimy and Jennifer Jayko — all testified that they had been told father and son were involved in a physical altercation.
Hill and Najimy both testified that Del Gallo's father placed his arms on Najimy's shoulders to show how his son had shoved him.
Rinaldo Del Gallo Jr. — testifying for the defense — said his son "just touched me" and denied that he had been knocked down. Under cross examination, Del Gallo said he is currently in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease but can remember important events.
Del Gallo also said he touched his father, but described the action as the kind of nudge someone would give to wake up a sleeping person rather than a shove or a push.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224
"Del Gallo considering suit vs. DA: After acquittal, advocate cites 'malicious prosecution'"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Saturday, January 12, 2008
PITTSFIELD — The day after a jury acquitted him of assaulting his father, attorney and fathers' rights advocate Rinaldo Del Gallo III said yesterday that he may file a lawsuit against Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless for malicious prosecution, claiming that Capeless has been trying to have him disbarred for many years.
"What happened yesterday is what has been going on for the last year and a half," Del Gallo said, referring to the time between his arrest on July 13, 2006, and Thursday's trial in District Court's jury-of-six session.
"It has been an attempt to totally destroy me," Del Gallo said. "Mr. Capeless has been after my bar card."
Speaking to reporters in front of the Berkshire County Courthouse, Del Gallo claimed that Capeless has tried to get him disbarred before by "making complaints" to the "Ethics Committee."
"They were immediately dismissed," Del Gallo said. "It's extremely disgraceful what happened here."
Capeless said yesterday that in his role as district attorney he has reported incidents involving Del Gallo to the Supreme Judicial Court's Board of Bar Overseers.
"I'm not going to get into what they are," he said.
Established by the SJC in 1974, the Board of Bar Overseers is an independent administrative body that investigates complaints against lawyers.
"No attorney, including myself, enjoys reporting a person," Capeless said. "But we do so as a member of the bar and as a matter of law."
Del Gallo's attorney Gregory A. Hession of Springfield told The Eagle on Thursday that it was possible Del Gallo could lose his right to practice law in Massachusetts if he was convicted of assaulting his father, but said that decision would be up to the Board of Bar Overseers.
According to trial testimony, the 45-year-old Del Gallo has been a lawyer since 1996 and began practicing in Pittsfield in 2000. A Pittsfield native and graduate of George Washington University Law School, Del Gallo said his practice consists of family law, intellectual property and "some criminal" cases.
When asked what possible reason Capeless would have to want him disbarred, Del Gallo said that the district attorney has a "very sullen and petty personality."
Del Gallo said that after he wrote a letter to the Berkshire Eagle during Capeless' 2004 campaign for district attorney, Capeless became "highly offended" after Del Gallo asked if he could join his campaign.
Instead, Del Gallo said he joined the campaign of challenger Timothy J. Shugrue, who lost to Capeless in the Democratic primary. Capeless has "seemed to bear malice toward me" ever since, Del Gallo said.
Del Gallo said he considered the criminal charges filed against him a "frivolous lawsuit" that was another attempt by the district attorney's office to have him disbarred.
"There is no possible way any jury in the world would have found me guilty," Del Gallo said. "This is malicious prosecution."
"My response to that claim is that it is just outrageous," Capeless said.
"The fact is, we had enough evidence to go ahead with this case," the district attorney said. "I believe that people would have been outraged if we didn't pursue this case.
In this case, Del Gallo was charged with assault and battery on a person over the age of 60 and two counts of intimidation of a witness following an argument over the placement of mail at his parent's Pittsfield home.
Del Gallo's mother called police to report the incident, then later gave a written statement to patrol officer Jennifer Jayko saying that she had witnessed her son shove his then-76-year-old father to the floor.
The intimidation charges were filed against Del Gallo after he told his parents not to talk to police. District Court Judge Paul M. Vrabel dismissed the intimidation charges before the case went to the jury.
"In a report by his mother, he pushed his 76-year-old father to the ground," Capeless added. "If we had not pursued it, people would have thought it was favoritism."
When asked yesterday if he did push his father, Del Gallo said he gave him a "nudge."
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224.
Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless is part of a group of politically well-connected Pittsfield (area) Politicians who only take actions in order to consolidate their own political power in order to stay in political office and collect their 6-figure salaries.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is a political OUTSIDER! In many ways, Rinaldo represents Pittsfield's manipulation of "have-nots" who feel political power in state and local government, but are really only mere pawns and scapegoats in a bigger design.
So you have a dichotomy: Insiders v. Outsider "Rinaldo". A word you hate me for: EXTRAPOLATION. This Insiders v. Outsider EXTRAPOLATES to Good v. Evil, Us v. Them, Haves v. Have-Nots, Powerful v. Powerless, Predators v. Prey, Bullies v. Bullied, Winners v. Loser, Whites v. Black & Blacks v. White, Perpetrators v. Coward, Bureaucracy v. Fairness, and the like.
I have been through these kinds of situations in all facets of my life. Right now, I am being charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes I do not believe I committed. I cannot comment on my own pending criminal case/trial because I do not want to be held in contempt.
In all areas of my life, I have been placed into unfair roles where people have seen me as the Outsider, Evil, Them, Have-Nots, Powerless, Prey, Bullied, Loser, Black, White, Coward, Fair. I have been placed in these unfair roles as a child, young adult, college student, graduate student, soldier, worker, family member, friend, community member, etc. NO-WHERE do the ascription of unfair roles take place more-so than anywhere else is in and around PITTSFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS!
When you live in Pittsfield, you take the dirty business of the powerbrokers or you end up in Carmen's Jail. When you live in Pittsfield, you are made an example of for all of the others. When you live in Pittsfield, you live in FEAR!
Pittsfield is like its own little World in of in itself. Reality is based on The Twilight Zone's rules of society.
Rinaldo was PERSECUTED. We all have trouble, problems and conflicts in our lives, but we don't all get made an example of for them.
I tell my dad about the allegory of FDR, Winston Churchill & Adolph Hitler. FDR was disabled, had a mistress, drank & smoked. Churchill was no better than Roosevelt in human vices. Hitler was "perfect", he never deviated from model behavior, and solved his nation's military, economic and social "problems" with efficiency. HOWEVER, Adolf Hitler was the biggest "SON of a BITCH" ever known to humankind!
Who do you choose, Glenn? The "perfect" Pittsfield powerbrokers or the imperfect Pittsfield outsider?
I choose RINALDO DEL GALLO III!
Jonathan Alan Melle
From: "Glenn M. Heller"
Date: Tuesday, 15 January, 2008
You mean to say that if you were Berkshire County DA (or DA in any other county in MA) and you were faced with a situation where a domestic dispute climaxed with an adult male family member assaulting a senior citizen living under the same roof, that you would NOT prosecute the attacker?
Even though the senior citizen declined to press charges in this case (and even asked that the case not be prosecuted), do you really think that emotional pressure isn't brought to bear on family accusers in cases like this?
Further, how is a case like this any different under the law from a battered wife declining to press charges against an abusive husband (where the husband undoubtedly brings emotional duress to bear)?
The DA has an obligation under current State law to prosecute cases of domestic abuse especially where there is evidence beyond reasonable doubt that an assault took place.
In this case the mother stated to local police that her husband was pushed to the floor by Mr. Del Gallo.
(Mr. Melle, what kind of individual pushes a 70-year old man to the floor? This all just begs the question of why an educated, able-bodied man is still living at home with his parents.
Would any of this have occurred had this paragon of fathers' rights been living elsewhere on his own?)
Your theory that the Pittsfield political system is having its revenge for whatever reasons upon Mr. Del Gallo may or may not have legs, but no one forced Del Gallo to push his father.
That aggressive action put the attacker on a collision course with the local justice system no matter which city or county he was living in.
My guess is that if you were DA, you too would have brought the matter to trial in order to let the jury decide.
If Mr. Del Gallo does not take pains to turn his life around, my guess is that this story isn't over.
Jonathan A. Melle"
What my dad & I went through in the Spring of 1998 after Luciforo (& co.) tried to get my dad fired from his job and his son (me) thrown in Carmen's Jail, I have read about many others who have since suffered similar unjust fates in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Do not you see, Glenn Heller, among others, that is only about POWER!
Rinaldo is another persecuted Pittsfield resident - Just like my dad, just like me, just like many others who are not named Andrea F. Nuciforo, Carmen C. Massimiano, #1, #2,..., James M. Ruberto, Mary O'Brien, John Barrett III, and the like.
-Jonathan Alan Melle
Del Gallo won't answer legitimate questions.
Despite his so-called 'court victory' he's got zero credibility at this point.
RE: Mr. Del Gallo
Acquitted or not, what's a grown man with a law degree doing living with his parents under their roof?
It also raises issues to the man's credibility as head of a fathers' rights group.
I wrote an email, asked him about it, and he responded "Mula".
So I asked him what does his lack of money have to do with imposing on his folks.
I'm still waiting for a reply to that one.
Glenn M. Heller, editor
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THE BOSTON GLOBE
"Chief justice of probate presses for an overhaul"
January 13, 2008
Paula M. Carey, the new chief justice of Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, said she is determined to address the lack of medical documentation and other flaws in the court's handling of guardianship cases.
Carey, who was known for her diligence in guardianship cases during her years as a probate judge in Norfolk County, said the court should appoint independent fact-finders to review cases before guardianship decisions are made or have an attorney appointed to represent the patient. But Carey said the courts cannot routinely do this without legislative authority and funding.
Carey also expressed hope that the state will soon approve an overhaul of probate law that has been mired in the Legislature for nearly a decade.
The legislation would require much more detailed medical information, limit the scope of guardian powers, require the court to examine a guardian's qualifications, and provide for the incapacitated person to be present at the hearing and have the right to counsel. The measure would require additional court approval for nursing home placements and mandate guardians to file detailed annual reports about the physical and mental health of the person entrusted to their oversight. The bill would also create a Public Guardianship Commission to set and enforce standards for court-appointed guardians.
Given the bill's long shelf life, Carey acknowledged that the probate courts should have moved more quickly on their own to implement some changes administratively.
"I can't explain to you why it wasn't done before," she said.
Her predecessor, Sean M. Dunphy, who retired in September, said in an interview that he was hesitant to embark on any major overhaul while the legislation was pending.
Some of those changes, Carey said, are about to happen after a yearlong review begun by Dunphy. Perhaps within a month, Carey said, probate courts will begin demanding greater medical proof that guardianship is warranted. She said her office had already initiated additional training in guardianship cases for judges, lawyers, and guardians.
"I recognize that we in Massachusetts are not in the forefront in terms of guardianship reform," Carey said. "We are now making significant efforts."
"Federal judge rules against Del Gallo"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
PITTSFIELD — A federal judge has ruled that Pittsfield Postmaster Robert Parent was within his rights to bar an office-seeker from collecting nomination signatures on the Fenn Street post office walkway.
In a 49-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor stated that Rinaldo Del Gallo III was "campaigning for political office" on April 21, 2004, while standing on federal property, which is against the law.
"The postal sidewalk constitutes a nonpublic forum, and the regulation banning political campaigning within it is reasonable," Ponsor wrote, drawing the distinction between that and a public sidewalk.
Del Gallo contended that the federal regulation was not consistently enforced before, and that he was the victim of bias.
"No reasonable jury could conclude ... that the decision to enforce the regulation arose from bias against the content of (the) plaintiff's views or expressions," Ponsor wrote.
Del Gallo was seeking signatures in a bid for the Governor's Council.
When customers complained that he was bothering them and blocking the entrance, post office supervisors called police. Del Gallo, who is also a Pittsfield attorney, was arrested after he refused to leave.
Del Gallo later was ordered to pay a $25 fine after being found responsible for trespassing. He then sued Parent, which led to Ponsor's decision.
At the time of Del Gallo's arrest, another candidate running for political office said that she had gathered signatures at area post offices, and that it appeared post office officials were selectively enforcing the law.
"I don't believe that people really believe that one day in 2004, for no particular reason, the U.S. Post Office had an epiphany and decided to enforce a regulation that they haven't enforced in decades," Del Gallo said. "Some people didn't like me, and they went into the post office and complained."
Del Gallo said he has not decided whether to appeal Ponsor's decision in federal appeal's court.
"I don't know," he said. "It's so much work."
U.S. Postal Service spokesman Robert Cannon could not be reached for comment.
Although pleased with the amount of time that Ponsor took in deciding the case, Del Gallo said he would have preferred his case went to trial. However, he said that when the state's Supreme Judicial Court transferred the matter to the U.S. District Court in Springfield, it prevented him from using a section of case law to present his case.
Re: "`She would not lie' mentality tips scales in custody fights" (The Baltimore Sun, Letter published by Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, April 25, 2008): For about the past 5 years, I may have mistakenly believed that Rinaldo's cause for Father's Rights and Economic/Financial Equity for men in broken homes was purely fought for Social Justice. I must take issue with Rinaldo's negative statements against people, in this case men, SUFFERING with mental illness and the associative link to prejudicing estranged fathers from accusations of domestic violence.
Rinaldo discriminatorily states:
(a) "The [Mark A.] Castillo tragedy might have been seen as a wake-up call to stop being politically correct about mental illness and accept the fact that people who attempt suicide or engage in exceptionally erratic behavior might be unacceptable behavior risks to children."
(b) "What went wrong in the Castillo case, according to domestic violence activists, is not that the courts were allowing an obviously mentally ill person to visit his children."
(c) "...Our [nation's] immigration laws also provide an incentive for false claims of domestic violence."
(d) "Cases such as the Castillo's are exploited to make the situation worse."
In response to Rinaldo's latest article, I believe he is exploiting "other" groups of people to bolster his seemingly "fascistic" belief system that men should prevail over women and children in our nation's patchwork of probate court systems. Rinaldo's logic is eerily similar to that of Nazi Germany: The artificial Aryan race should prevail over all other sub-races, which lead to the most iniquitable travesty in human history know as the Holocaust.
I suffer, let me repeat, SUFFER!, from mental illness! I have two young nieces whom I love dearly. They play kid games with me, I read book and watch kids shows with them, and they bring warmth to my difficult and troubled life. I do NOT want to be USED by the proverbial "Rinaldo" to be seen as inferior so that a father in a broken home situation may prevail in court over the interests of the mother and children. I want the EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW, or the same equal rights that all other citizens of our nation of laws, not men, enjoy. I want to be a positive influence in my family's life, even if it means only giving my love and affection.
Furthermore, I have saved lives. President George W. Bush sent me his regards and ordered me a hearing one city block from the White House on 7/19/2004 so that I may be heard in my nearly 7-year claim and appeal for VA Disability Benefits. Why? The answer is because I saved or protected human lives as a soldier who served honorably in the U.S. Army. When my maternal grandmother, who turns 99 a little over 4-months, was ill, I ensured that she went to the local hospital and ended up saving her life, too. The point is that just because someone is mentally ill or disabled, that does NOT automatically mean that they are dangerous and prejudice the legal rights of "others".
In closing, I have been mostly impressed with Rinaldo Del Gallo, III's work in the legal and political community. In his past work, he has stood for both Social Justice and Economic Fairness. BUT, none of that means anything if he does not stand for Human Rights for ALL Peoples.
Lastly, when anyone claims justice in the name of progress without regard for Human Rights, they are no different than all other totalitarian regimes. Human Rights for ALL Peoples is PARAMOUNT for justice and progress for peace and humanity!
Jonathan A. Melle
Human Rights for ALL Peoples comes first and foremost!
The worst of men have said and still do say they stand for social justice and peace, but not for Human Rights for ALL Peoples. These are, indeed, the worst of men!
It is all about the universal GOLDEN RULE: "Do unto others as you would have done onto you."
Jesus Christ's Holy Sermon on the Mount: Beautitudes!
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Jonathan A. Melle
"Gov. swears in local lawyer as probate judge"
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Saturday, May 17, 2008
PITTSFIELD — Attorney Richard A. Simons was sworn in as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court by Gov. Deval L. Patrick yesterday.
Patrick administered the oath to Simons, a Pittsfield family law attorney, during the hour-long ceremony in Berkshire Superior Court. More than 150 people filled the courtroom, including attorneys, judges and numerous local and regional dignitaries. The event also included an invocation by Rabbi Herman J. Blumberg of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland.
Simons, 48, is expected to work mainly in Pittsfield and Berkshire County.
Judge Edward J. Lapointe, first justice of Berkshire Probate & Family Court, said he was thrilled to have Simons on board. Although he was officially sworn in yesterday, the new judge has actually been on the bench for about two months already. And, so far, he is doing a great job, according to Lapointe.
Simons has earned the "respect, admiration and affection" of virtually everyone he has come in contact with, said Lapointe, who thanked the governor for appointing Simons.
Simons' father, William W. Simons, a retired judge himself, shared anecdotes about his son, who, as an industrious boy, had a paper route that made him plenty of friends but not a lot of money. His lack of business acumen aside, Simons was always a fair and patient boy, according to his father.
"Richard, keep it up," the elder Simons told his son, who was seated at the judge's bench next to Patrick and Lapointe.
The governor, who received a standing ovation when he was introduced, said Simons was an "extraordinary new addition to the bench."
The judicial branch is the branch of government people turn to after "the other two branches have failed (them)," said Patrick.
When the governor shook Simons' hand and wished him good luck, the audience, rising to its feet, burst into loud, sustained applause.
Simons, staring out at the capacity crowd, which included his family and scores of legal colleagues, said: "I accept this with gratitude, enthusiasm and tremendous humility."
The ceremony was immediately followed by a reception at the Crowne Plaza.
To reach Conor Berry: firstname.lastname@example.org; (413) 496-6249.
“A Study in Irrelevance”, The Boston Herald, Page 16, In Part
The (Massachusetts) Governor’s Council is up to its old tricks, reminding us of our fondest wish for this relic of a bygone era to simply go away!
The latest little flap is over Governor Deval Patrick’s nomination of Cambridge attorney Maureen Monks to serve as a judge on the Middlesex Probate & Family Court. …
On Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 – (tie) VOTE: Defeated the nomination, including legal councilors Mary Ellen Manning & Marilyn Petito-Devany (both women).
Attorney Maureen Monks predominately represented women as their legal counsel in Probate Court matters, such as divorce, alimony, & child support and custody cases.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III
"Roots of Teen Pregnancy is Fatherlessness"
June 29, 2008
It’s often odd what people focus on. Was there a “pact” in Gloucester, Massachusetts for young girls to become pregnant or were these girls simply individually irresponsible? While the perversely salacious idea of simply using men as sperm donors literally made headlines around the world, what is more important is the fact that Gloucester is seeing a spike in teen pregnancy, pact or no pact.
Teenagers know what causes pregnancy. They know how to prevent pregnancies. It does little to assume that these teenagers have the IQ of grapefruits and the worldly sophistication of a toddler. What we don’t need is yet another government program. Teenagers become pregnant because they that lack values. So too with teenage boys that impregnate them. They lack values because they lack fathers.
The high correlation between father absence and early teenage sexual activity and pregnancy has long been noted and is a conceded point. According to divorce magazine.com, “Fatherless homes account for . . . well over 50% of teen mothers.” US Department of Health and Human Services summarizes the risks of sole custody, single parent families: “More than a quarter of American children—nearly 17 million—do not live with their father. Girls without a father in their life are two and a half times as likely to get pregnant.” They may have understated the case.
Despite the data, anti-fathers’ rights groups have been trying to dismiss this data as misleading by arguing that while there is a high correlation between fatherlessness and teen pregnancy, there was no cause and effect relationship. But a relatively recent longitudinal study (2003) shows that the cause-and-effect relationship between teen pregnancy and fatherlessness may be much stronger than people thought.
Bruce J. Ellis of the Department of Psychology at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand performed a study in conjunction with the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the United States. 242 girls living in one of three U.S. cities and 520 girls living in Christchurch, New Zealand were studied—a huge sampling body. The participant girls were interviewed annually from age 5 to 18, as well as their mothers. These longitudinal studies are exceedingly laborious but produce data that are hard if not impossible to obtain by a study done at one particular moment of time. This is the type of quality study that must be taken seriously.
Fatherlessness was hardly the only measure being taken. The multiple interviews and questionnaires administered over the years to both parents and children yielded data that covered everything from family demographics to parenting styles and child behavioral problems to childhood academic performance.
“A widely held assumption is that it is not father absence per se that is harmful to children, but the stress associated with divorce, family conflict, loss of a second parent, loss of an adult male income, and so on,” Ellis stated. What Ellis does not mention (and rightfully so since his was a scientific work) was that the not-so-hidden political agenda was to stop the compelling argument for shared parenting legislation so that fathers could be more involved in their children’s lives, but rather to advance arguments in favor of greater child support awards and enforcement, plus domestic violence legislation.
The study found that girls who grew up in otherwise socially and economically privileged homes were not protected. “Father absence was so fundamentally linked to teenage pregnancy that its effects were largely undiminished by such factors as whether girls were rich or poor, black or white, New Zealand Maori or European, cooperative or defiant in temperament, born to adult or teenage mothers, raised in safe or violent neighborhoods, subjected to few or many stressful life events, reared by supportive or rejecting parents, exposed to functional or dysfunctional marriages, or closely or loosely monitored by parents,” Ellis reported. Wow!
Ellis concluded, “The current research suggests that, in relation to daughters’ sexual development, the social address of father absence is important in its own right and not just as a proxy for its many correlates.” It was found that “father absence was an overriding risk factor for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy.” Conversely, father presence was a major protective factor against early sexual outcomes, amazingly, even if other risk factors were present.
The city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, America, and frankly the nations across the world need to wake up. The problem of teen pregnancy is one of fatherlessness.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III
The author is a practicing family law attorney, spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, and a columnist regarding legal issues. To read his other columns, go to BerkshireFatherhood.com.
This column first ran in the Berkshire Eagle as “Roots of Fatherlessness” on Saturday, June 28, 2008.
"Father must be a good role model"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I am writing in response to Rinaldo Del Gallo's op-ed column in the June 28 Eagle "Roots of teen pregnancy." As an attorney who has been specializing in family law for 17 years, I have represented many women and men, mothers and fathers. In my practice, I advocate for both parents to be involved with their children in a manner that is best for the children once a divorce is inevitable. The active involvement and participation of both parents in their children's lives post-divorce is an extremely difficult balance to strike, but many parents accomplish this without the court's intervention.
To some degree, I agree with Mr. Del Gallo's premise that a lack of a father figure in a girl's life increases her likelihood of early sexual activity and teen pregnancy. However, where I differ with Mr. Del Gallo is the concept that a father's presence alone (with no regard for the quality of that relationship) is the panacea to this social dilemma. A father who does not foster the self-esteem and well-being of his daughter; a father who is abusive to her mother or a father who is addicted to drugs or alcohol or has an untreated mental illness can actually exacerbate the risk factors for his daughter, as well as render her more likely to end up in an abusive relationship herself.
In my experience with Mr. Del Gallo and his organization, their goal is primarily to protect the legal position and status of "father" rather than foster and promote participation in programs that address the problems that may cause some fathers to be displaced from their children's lives. To be fair, I have also participated in cases in which mothers are displaced from their children's lives because of domestic violence, substance abuse or untreated mental illness.
The goal in our community should be to provide counseling and programs for all parents to enable them to foster and promote their children's well-being. The further goal should be to have zero tolerance for domestic violence and to protect our children from the devastating effects that domestic violence can have on their growth and development. I applaud the vast majority of fathers, who have (or work toward) healthy and positive relationships with their daughters, and I agree that when girls have positive male role models, their chances for the future are brighter.
VERONICA J. FENTON
The writer is also a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association's Family Law Section Council and has taught continuing education courses for lawyers throughout Massachusetts.
"Coalition does speak for children"
The Berkshire Eagle - Letters
Monday, July 07, 2008
Beware of those with political agendas that claim to "truly speak for the children" and suggest that others do not. Usually, some other agenda is being served. In a letter to the editor in response to a column by Rinaldo Del Gallo ( "Roots of Teen Pregnancy," June 28), Veronica Fenton ("Father must be a good role model," letter July 1) has this to say about the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition:
"In my experience with Mr. Del Gallo and his organization, their goal is primarily to protect the legal position and status of fathers rather than foster and promote participation in programs that address the problems that may cause some fathers to be displaced from their children's lives." In other words, it is Fenton and those of similar mind that "really" have the interest of children at heart, not the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
The reader should review Del Gallo's column with Fenton's letter to the editor. A highly scientific longitudinal study is presented discussing a study of fatherlessness and teen pregnancy in the Del Gallo column. The study shows a very strong cause-and-effect relationship between the two, surprisingly undiminished with the absence of many of the usual correlates of fatherlessness, such as poverty. But even in a column that is done in the context of what is best for children from a scientific viewpoint, Ms. Fenton states that, again in her words, it was more about "protect(ing) the legal position and status of 'father.' " A response to such a scholarly work about child psychology and adolescent development is met with the vacuous assertion that groups such as the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition are "father-centric."
Ms. Fenton may hold herself out as spokeswoman "for the children," but pardon us if we do not accept the self-appointment. Moreover, merely impugning the motives of a group can hardly pass as a substantive response to such a learned study such as Ellis'.
The overwhelming majority of fathers who lose custody in family court do not have "problems" other than a court that will not let them share in the parenting. Reasonable people can disagree with how violent men actually are. But if you believe that non-custodial fathers, which represent the vast majority of post-separation cases, are so violent that the court got it right 50 percent, 75 percent, or even 85 percent of the time in cases that warrant depriving the child of equal parenting, you really need to deeply examine your attitudes about men.
The author is an officer of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy - www.intellectualconservative.com -
"Are Cigarette Taxes Fair?"
Posted By Rinaldo Del Gallo III On July 5, 2008
The cigarette tax is the most regressive form of taxation out there, even worse than a flat rate tax.
The Massachusetts House passed a bill with a 93-52 vote to increase the cost of cigarettes by $1 per pack. According to the Boston Herald, the increase would generate $174 million in new taxes.
As of January 1, 2008, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators (taxadmin.org), Massachusetts currently ranks 15th in nation on cigarette taxes, with a $1.51 of state taxes on cigarettes. The highest in the nation is New Jersey, which $257.50 in taxes. The lowest state in the Union is Missouri, which just charges 17¢ per pack. If the Massachusetts cigarette tax goes up $1, the $2.51 of taxes will be around the third highest in the nation.
As for the bordering states, on January 1, 2008, the cigarette tax in Vermont was $1.70 per pack (11th), $1.08 in New Hampshire (24th), $2.46 in Rhode Island (2nd) and $2.00 per pack in Connecticut (4th). It is not known whether the expected revenue projections included the fact that we will lose many purchasers of tobacco products to New Hampshire where the cigarette tax will be $1.43 per pack lower, as well as purchasers from Connecticut or Rhode Island where there will no longer be a significant tax disparity. On January 1, 1008, New York had a $1.50 taxes rate on cigarettes, but it was raised to $2.75 in June, making it the highest in the nation. Of course, on state Indian reservations in New York there are no cigarette taxes producing whopping savings for consumers.
There is little denying that cigarette smoking is just about the most harmful thing you can do to your body, save for taking up using crack cocaine for a hobby or jumping off a cliff without a parachute. The problem is that it is powerfully addictive, and those that smoke may be powerless to quit.
One justification for the tax is that cigarette smokers overly taxes the health care system. But most of the studies only consider cost imposed from dying of cigarette related diseases. Since everybody dies, it by no means is certain whether that the cost of dying by cancer is actually more expensive than the cost imposed by the type of death which would have occurred later in life but for the patient’s smoking. Moreover, there are costs associated with living—there are routine health care costs, dental cost, and cost for things such as broken hips. There are also the costs associated with providing housing for an elderly person who has not died, as well as exorbitant nursing home costs that often must be picked up by the state. Finally, when people die early, there is the savings on Social Security and Medicare. Obviously, I am not advocating not imposing a cigarette tax so that people would die off early so we would save money; in fact that would be demented. However, the argument that there is somehow a net savings when people live longer and die of non-cigarette related reasons may be specious.
The more credible argument for increasing the cost of cigarettes is that it may reduce the number of smokers. One problem with this argument is that it does not account for the number of people that take up rolling their own cigarettes and who often do not use filters. Another is that monies that were promised to be spent on fighting smoking almost never end up being used as promised and the taxes just end up back in the general tax revenues, as has happened in Massachusetts before.
Still, there are some people that decide that they cannot afford to smoke anymore, and actually do cut back or quit altogether. But the question is how many? According to the Birmingham News, when Alabama raised its cigarette taxes in 2004 from 16.5 cents per pack to a still low of 42.5 cents, there was no reduction in the percentage of people that smoked. According to a 2001 study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “Laws limiting vending machine access had a statistically significant deterrent effect among youth who smoked, but cigarette taxes did not.” The problem is that when you start smoking, you do not yet have a one pack a day habit making the monetary deterrent minimal, and by the time you acquire such an addiction, you are so addicted you just pay the excess taxes to feed your habit.
One thing is for sure—the cigarette tax is the most regressive form of taxation out there, far worse than a flat rate tax. The $916 a year of Massachusetts state taxes for those who have a pack a day habit constitutes 3.66% of income if you make $25,000 per year, but just .916% of income if you make $100,000 per year. By way of comparison, the state income tax is currently a flat rate of 5.3%
Article printed from Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy: http://www.intellectualconservative.com
URL to article: http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2008/07/05/are-cigarette-taxes-fair/
"…there are costs associated with living… Finally, when people die early, there is the savings on Social Security and Medicare."
Hey, Mr. Del Gallo: If you cut off your legs, you'll never get flat feet.
Comment by sedonaman | July 5, 2008
Well written and well researched article. I am not a smoker and am glad of some of the changes made (like not being stuck in a smoke filled office), but I am not one of those who, Nazi-like, want to dictate other people's choices. Taxing smokers is about revenue, the rest is smoke screen.
Comment by Bob Stapler | July 5, 2008
Why do these discussions always seem to become Manichaean – either you are for unrestricted smoking, or you are “a Nazi wanting to dictate other people's choices”? There is never a third way of looking at it. As a militant non-smoker, I’ve never felt it was about “dictating other people's choices.” I just wanted to breath relatively clean air. What others chose was not my concern unless they were causing me unreasonable discomfort. Since breathing is a necessary and natural activity whereas smoking is only a self-induced need, I claim my right to breath clean air trumps someone else’s “right” to foul the air without consideration. As other non-smokers, I had to be considerate and endure about 40 years of smoke anyplace a smoker chose to light up where I couldn’t leave. It took about 20 years for the table to turn, and now I’m reasonably smoke-free. However, I do think any more initiatives that further restrict smoking might cause a backlash, and we non-smokers would end up less better off than we are now.
Comment by sedonaman | July 5, 2008
I'm with you, but this article hasn’t proposed we reverse smoke free work environments. It discusses only the way government has clouded and is still exploiting the issue (well after we won) to unfairly tax. The idea draconian government measures can or should be used to control personal behaviors having minimal effect on others is wrong. It is wrong to inflate the effects of second-hand smoke to do this. If you object to others befouling the air we breath (and I do), then object strenuously on that basis. If a co-worker decides to bring his dead cat to work and leaves it rotting next to his desk so that someone (anyone) nearby cannot work without vomiting, she has a perfect right to complain and make him get rid of it. This argument should have been sufficient, but we were outnumbered, out-voted, and even our bosses sympathized as fellow smokers.
When fanatical anti-smokers did not get their way on that basis, they decided it was fair to claim second-hand smoke not only noxious but highly toxic. They did this even before having proof, and much of the proof we have now is of questionable quality. They compromised principle further by using lawyers to go after tobacco companies in lieu of smokers. When this still did not have the desired effect, they turned to government to intervene ‘on behalf of children’ (always a sure sign of fraud) and government complied by backing hyped claims, abetting court determinations, mandating smoke-free zones and workplaces, schools, colleges, restaurants, theaters, food stores, parks, &c. In the latest round of criminalizations we have extended the restriction even to bars, pool halls, and adult entertainments inappropriate to children (a nice quiet pool-hall [landmark] near me closed shortly after this ban went into effect because most of the clientele were smokers; now an abandoned property attracting bums and delinquents); and are, in many places, dictating parents can no longer smoke near their own kids or in their kid’s habitat (home, car, &c) even when the kids are not around. So, where before, the claim was we non-smokers were chased out with no place we could patronize, it is now the smokers who are chased from every venue and business suffers that no stone remain unturned. For awhile, government resists these obsessions but at some point it always caves to populism. Thereafter, it finds no cause is without its silver lining (i.e., can be taxed and increases their power). At some point, it ceases being about balancing rights as between conflicting groups; it becomes a need to dictate.
Like you, I put up with smoke fouling my breathing space (including my father's and brothers') without a great deal of complaint. When I did, I was ignored and told I was exaggerating the ill effects on me; which I resented. I never allowed others to smoke in my own home, but compromised at work and public because that’s just how things were and the only way I’d ever known. The anti-smoking lobby took the easy route rather than principled to win. It would have taken longer and we’d have had to compromise more, but the result would be solid. I prefer things as they are now, not having to smell smoke everywhere I go and even bringing it home with me: saturating my hair, skin and clothes. Even so, I think we played dirty getting here, and it is bound to boomerang. If it does, we will never again be able to make the case inflicting smoke on others is wrong for no other reason than it stinks or nauseates.
Comment by Bob Stapler | July 6, 2008
New York state has the highest cigarette tax in the nation at $2.75 per pack.
Comment by Jd | July 6, 2008
That tax is not so bad. A packet in the Netherlands costs 4 Euros (around $6). A packet in the UK (from the last time I was there) costs 5 GBP (around $10).
They just go up and up! A nice simple way to raise taxes on those with no voice to complain. Next will be a tax on fatty foods (once they figure out how).
Comment by Leigh | July 7, 2008
By your body mass index (BMI - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_mass_index#BMI-for-age ), of course. Subtract 20 from your BMI, multiply the result by $1,000, and add this amount to your annual income tax. We can also add a surtax onto all foods, prorated by a suitable 'fat factor'. In fact the possibilities and variations are endless, making this tax ideal for creating nifty political divisions with which to set one American against another!
Comment by Bob Stapler | July 7, 2008
Re: Open Letter to Rinaldo Del Gallo III! Please respond, Rinaldo; thank you.
Did you see the report in the Berkshire Eagle today? (www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_10863646). Also, see below.
The news article states: "The unemployment rate in the metropolitan Pittsfield area has increased almost a full percentage point [in the past year]." ..."The unemployment rates in the North Adams and Great Barrington metropolitan areas have also increased over the past 12 months."
Rinaldo, do you remember early-last year's news article?: ""Bump looks to address job losses in Berkshires". It stated: "Governor Deval Patrick's new Executive Director of Workforce Development, Suzanne Bump, says a major concern right now is addressing the loss of jobs in the Berkshires. Currently (2/19/2007), the Berkshires have the highest rate of job loss in Massachusetts. Bump says this can be changed with the right policies in place."
Rinaldo! What happened? Ms Bump said she was going to change the negative trend of job loss in Berkshire County "with the right policies in place". EVIDENTIALLY, Ms Bump failed in stemming the tide of job loss in Berkshire County, especially in Pittsfield!
Rinaldo, I remember when you wrote essay after essay after essay...whereby you proposed policies after policies to attract business and jobs to Pittsfield. I also remember no one listened to your ideas, and the Berkshire Eagle made a mockery out of your personal life to try to shut you up.
Well, Rinaldo, all I can say in your defense is:
RINALDO DEL GALLO III VINDICATED!
"Bump looks to address job losses in Berkshires"
By: Karen Honikel
(Capital News 9 out of Albany, NY covering the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts)
Governor Deval Patrick's new Executive Director of Workforce Development isn't wasting any time getting down to business.
Former State Representative Suzanne Bump is working to introduce herself to the local business communities and let them know she will make sure the Berkshires are not forgotten on Beacon Hill. She says a major concern right now is addressing the loss of jobs in the Berkshires.
Currently the Berkshires have the highest rate of job loss in Massachusetts. Bump says this can be changed with the right policies in place. She says she will be meeting with the Governor once a week to work on bringing skilled workers and higher paying jobs into the area.
Bump says a key part to local job growth and development will be finding a way to keep the younger workers in the Berkshires.
"Report: Pittsfield jobless rate up"
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Friday, October 31, 2008PITTSFIELD — The unemployment rate in the metropolitan Pittsfield area has increased almost a full percentage point over the last 12 months, according to the latest state figures.The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said the rate rose from 4 percent in September 2007 to 4.9 percent last month.That growth included a jump of half a percentage point in just one month, skipping from 4.4 percent to 4.9 percent from August to September.Gains 'here and there'Linnea Walsh, the director of communications for the Department of Workforce Development, said the end of the tourist season in the Berkshires has contributed to the most recent figures, adding that there have been some modest employment gains "here and there."Heather P. Boulger, executive director of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, said she is not surprised that the unemployment rate has gone up because companies are facing tough economic times.Restructuring and reorganizing"Many companies in Berkshire County have hiring freezes, which are causing an increase in people collecting unemployment insurance," she said. "A lot of companies are restructuring and reorganizing to make sure that they have their most critical workers to thrive. It's bad, but not as bad as it could be."The unemployment rates in the North Adams and Great Barrington metropolitan areas have also increased over the past 12 months. In the North Adams area, which includes Adams, Clarksburg, Florida, Monroe, and Williamstown, the unemployment rate rose from 5.2 percent to 5.7 percent between September 2007 and last month.In the Great Barrington area, which includes 13 South County towns, the unemployment rate increased from 3.2 percent to 3.8 percent in the 12 months that ended in September.To cope with the ebbing economic tide, the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board has set up a "rapid response" strategy, offering free, confidential layoff aversion and tax incentive programs to help firms prevent layoffs and company closings.The Pittsfield metropolitan area includes 14 communities located mostly in Central Berkshire. In Pittsfield, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in September, with 1,230 of the city's 22,844-member labor force out of work.'Result of difficult times'According to Boulger, the county's labor force also decreased slightly during the 12 months that ended in September."That's a result of the difficult economic times," she said. "Usually, the labor force is growing."Pittsfield's unemployment rate is slightly higher than the state September average of 5.3 percent, but far below the national average, which was unchanged at 6.1 percent last month. Adams (6.6 percent), Hinsdale and North Adams ( both at 6.3 percent), have unemployment rates that are higher than the national average, according to the September statistics."North Adams traditionally has been higher than the state average," Boulger said. "I think it's due to the small concentration of companies in North Berkshire. You have the hospital and two colleges, but the other companies are smaller manufacturers or nonprofits involved with the creative economy. When funding begins to dwindle, their funding is impacted more than the other ones."A loss of wealthThe state's 2008 unemployment rate has averaged 4.8 percent through September, higher than the 4.5 percent rate recorded for the same time period in 2007, reflecting the impact of the national economic slowdown.Michael Supranowicz, the president and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, said the fall of the stock market has created a loss of wealth."The number of older people (in the Berkshires) is much higher than in the rest of the state, not just retired people, an older market," Supranowicz said. "When you tighten your belts, there's less money, and less of a marketplace."'We're in the in-between mode'According to Supranowicz, fewer county residents are employed in the travel and tourism industry."Part of that is because we're in the in-between mode between summer and winter," he said. "Jiminy Peak isn't open yet. So people who move from one tourism job to another are unemployed right now. But part of it is the tightening of the belt."
To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224.
Re: In defense of my friendship with Rinaldo Del Gallo III
November 4, 2008 - "Election Day"
I receive criticism for being friends with Rinaldo Del Gallo III, i.e., see below. I do NOT understand why people diminish my political thoughts by negatively associating Rinaldo to me. I find Rinaldo to be very intelligent. If one listened to Rinaldo, as I have, they would find him full of many valuable political, social, economic and financial insights into government and local living wage job creation and retention.
In Pittsfield, where Rinaldo has been politically active, I know and believe that Rinaldo's predictions on the now tanked local economy under Mayor Jimmy Ruberto and the rubber stamp city council have become true. Why? The answer is that instead of listening to Rinaldo and placing the GE $10 million plus the state's millions in FINANCIAL INCENTIVES into businesses, the Mayor & city council have put the money into a downtown theater that not even one family can support themselves on, a cinema project that has had many millions of dollars in cost overruns, and "North Street" where no one chooses to go, especially after hours.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, is very FAMILY oriented in his approach to state & local government and politics. Rinaldo believes that the traditional family as a socioeconomic unit of society is just as important as business as a financial unit of society. Rinaldo believes that politicians should preserve family units through taking away the bias out of the legal system in the Probate Courts. In today's economy with a withering middle class, Rinaldo sees the "broken home" phenomenon as crushing to caring fathers made estranged to their children by the courts. Rinaldo's essays, while they lack cultural insights into our complex & modern society, point out that the family court legal system is retro to an era of time that no longer exists where in the 1950s one male wage earner provided a higher quality of life for his family than two co-ed wage earners in 2008. If politicians listened to Rinaldo, then "perverse incentives" would be lessened, and the family unit of TODAY would be kept intact instead of the harsh realities of the all too many "broken homes".
As for Rinaldo Del Gallo III's character flaws, I allude to the allegory of FDR, Churchill and Hitler. If one was to vote for a man who was fit and slim, who did not smoke and drink, who did not cheat on his wife, and who woke up early and managed his business day efficiently, they would have voted for ADOLF HITLER. If one was to vote for a man who was obese, who started his business day around noon with a mixed drink, who smoked big cigars, and the like, they would have voted for WINSTON CHURCHILL. If one was to vote for a man who was bound to a wheelchair, who wore heavy metal leg braces to stand up, who smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol, and who cheated on his wife, they would have voted for FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT. The MORAL of this story is that one's GOOD CONSCIENCE is far more important than one's superficial character flaws!
The point here also connects to Denis E Guyer's many years of his vicious attacks against my character. Although Denis E Guyer denies any and all of his hate-filled slander against me, he also misses the point of who I am. Instead of Denis Guyer using the word "PUSSY" against me in front of women and children, saying that all I did was stalk a Jewish woman from Otis and that I belong in a psychiatric institution, again in front of women and children, and having my second-cousin Peter Marchetti, who also served as Guyer's campaign volunteer for Dalton State Representative, to spread mean-spirited rumors to elderly Pittsfield statesmen and women that my now late-maternal grandmother asked me to leave her home after I lived with her for about 7-months at a campaign dinner honoring John Forbes Kerry, Denis Guyer misses the point that I served our nation honorably, was awarded a service ribbon and other awards, and received the regards of our sitting US President, George W Bush, for protecting innocent human lives as a Soldier in the US Army whereby I now receive a monthly Veterans Pension from the VA. Furthermore, Denis Guyer misses the point that I took care of my now late-maternal grandmother and saved her life nearly 4.5-years before she ultimately passed away at the age of 99-years. Denis E Guyer misses the point that the "Jewish woman from Otis" was married in the Summer of 2002 and that Andrea F Nuciforo II's insidious small-town, fourth-rate political network manipulated the entire conflict between the "Jewish woman from Otis'" family and I because I was the bait for "Luciforo" to legally bully or persecute my dad (& I, too). Denis E Guyer's attacks against me misses out on the fact that in all of his vicious slanderous rumors against my character, my good conscience shows my true colors of protecting innocent life, being a good man, and seeing a then young woman through to her rite of passage to marrying another man.
As for Rinaldo's views on people with mental health disabilities, I DISSENT against Rinaldo not taking each case based on its own merits, but instead he uses broad brush strokes that diminish the rights of people with mental health disabilities to strengthen the rights of single fathers. I am referring to a letter to the Editor of the Baltimore Sun that Rinaldo wrote where a mentally ill father tragically murdered his family and how Rinaldo saw mental health advocates harming his work on shared parenting. I am a person with mental health disabilities, and I have protected and saved lives. We are NOT all alike. Nor are all fathers alike. Nor are all sexual partners all alike. I believe there are good and bad people in every walk of life. I believe there are good politicians and corrupt ones too. I believe there are good people who suffer from mental health conditions, but there are also dangerous ones too. I believe that there are good fathers, but there are abusive ones too. I believe there are good sexual partners whereby sex is healthy and nurturing, but there are deviant and abusive ones too. I also believe that ALL people have the ability and willingness to change from good to bad to good to bad... That is why the MERITS of each case is important to consider before one discriminates against any and all demographic groups of people.
I do not understand why people diminish me for my friendship with Rinaldo Del Gallo III. I believe Rinaldo Del Gallo III is very intelligent and through his good conscience he cares about people, families, businesses, Pittsfield, and he wants to help solve social problems instead of allowing them to get worse. I believe Rinaldo is a good man. I am proud that he has flaws in his character. That makes him more like FDR & Churchill and less like Hitler. The "perfect bureaucrat" theory of government scares me. Neither life nor society is perfect, nor am I, nor is Rinaldo. Being imperfect makes us HUMAN! I defend my friendship with Rinaldo!
Bait? you mean chum. Look, the more I read, the more I am impressed with your intelligent writings, very well crafted. But it becomes more apparent that the hatred you have for all of these people is beyond normal. Would you partly agree with that, it seems you certainly have a vendetta to settle, But here is something to contemplate? You had mentioned this Rinaldo, I did some research on him, no one in here spoke of this, and I didn't know who he was until you mentioned his name and gave him a compliment. Turns out this Rinaldo' was arrested for assaulting his father, he was found innocent, probably through a pre trial plea bargain, if he kept out of trouble. He is a lawyer, which I did not know, after reading transcripts from investigators who made statements regarding the alleged assault, said that he had pushed his father. He is also a founder or one of the founders of Berkshire FATHERHOOD COALITION,where he had problems there. My point is draw your own conclusions, but if your hanging with this type of person, your just as guilty as the ones you write about, be back Prison Break is on.
"Court tosses Del Gallo discrimination case"
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Monday, March 09, 2009
PITTSFIELD — A Pittsfield man was not discriminated against in 2004 when he was arrested outside the city post office while soliciting signatures for a political campaign, a court has ruled.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III, of Pittsfield, was arrested in 2004 for trespassing and disturbing the peace after officials told him he could not collect signatures for his write-in campaign for the Massachusetts Governor's Council on the post office sidewalk. He later sued the post office, citing unlawful favoritism.
"Protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times," according to the Court of Appeals ruling. "The government, 'no less than a private owner of property, has power to preserve the property under its control for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated.' " In its decision, the court found that Del Gallo did not prove a pattern of unlawful favoritism had occurred.
Del Gallo said he felt the decision was "laughable."
"Court's about evidence and witnesses," said Del Gallo, who said he is conferring with his lawyer David Klein over whether he would pursue a rehearing or appeal to the Supreme Court. "I was ripped off in terms of the selective enforcement."
Del Gallo was referring to a regulation banning "campaigning for election to any public office" on post office property. According to him, people campaigned for years on the post office sidewalk without complaint until he was asked to leave.
According to the court decision, post office supervisor Ronald Ricci was unaware of the regulation and had allowed Del Gallo to solicit signatures on the post office sidewalk. Del Gallo explained that he preferred the post office because it generated a high amount of traffic of familiar faces and registered voters.
After customers allegedly complained about Del Gallo's activity, post office supervisor Paula Cooke instructed Del Gallo of the regulation and asked him to leave. Cooke then called the police, who arrested Del Gallo without incident.
When asked about the nature of the customer complaints, Del Gallo said that he felt the reports were largely fabricated due to his stances on gay marriage and fathers' rights. "There had to have been people who complained when nothing happened," he said. "They didn't take names of any people, and that's hard to believe."
Del Gallo said that he felt the main reason he lost the appeal was due to the increasingly complicated nature of First Amendment law. "Thirty to 40 years ago, if I was talking to you, the question would be do I have a physical right to be there and the answer is absolutely right, and did I impede post office procedure, and the answer is no," he said.
"Court rules against campaigning lawyer"
By Associated Press, Monday, March 9, 2009, www.bostonherald.com, Local Coverage
PITTSFIELD — The Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled that a Pittsfield lawyer was not discriminated against when he was arrested outside a post office while collecting signatures for a political campaign.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III was arrested in 2004 for trespassing and disturbing the peace after officials told him he could not gather signatures for his write-in campaign for the Governor’s Council on the post office sidewalk.
He sued, claiming unlawful favoritism.
The court ruled that political campaigning was expressly prohibited on post office property and "protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times."
Del Gallo tells The Berkshire Eagle that the decision is "laughable" and he may take his case the state Supreme Judicial Court.
Article URL: www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1157333
"Grossman's owner square with city"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, Wednesday, March 25, 2009
PITTSFIELD — The owner of the former Grossman's Lumber building on East Street has paid the nearly $55,000 in taxes and fees owed on the property to Pittsfield — and prevented the city from seizing it.
Attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo III said his client, Kevin Pennell of Lenox, gave city officials a check on March 10 "an hour before the hearing" schedule in Land Court in Boston.
"If he had not paid the taxes, the city would have owned the property" said City Attorney Richard Dohoney, who was ready to foreclose on the real estate because of the unpaid taxes.
"The city is happy to get the taxes," added Dohoney, "but not happy with the condition of the premises."
"I think it is very good the city got its money," Del Gallo agreed, "But (Pennell) has been over-taxed."
The 36,000-square-foot structure, originally built in 1901 to house trolley cars, was condemned by the city several years ago. Del Gallo said Pennell has had "an extreme amount of difficulty" getting city permits to fix up the building — such as replace the roof — but to no avail.
"I agree it could look better," said Del Gallo, but the city needs to cooperate with Pennell, who has owned the property since 1997.
However, Pennell told The Eagle in early February, the real estate has been up for sale the past two years — asking price $400,000 — but he's having a hard time finding buyers willing to redevelop the former warehouse because of his legal battles with Pittsfield.
The future of the property has also become a campaign issue in the special election for Ward 3 city councilor. Candidates Paul J. Capitanio and Melissa Mazzeo have deemed the site an "eyesore" to Ward 3.
"An end to free-for-all searches"
By Rinaldo DelGallo, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The Fourth Amendment requires that police searches be done only with warrants issued by judges or magistrates who have found probable cause. What to do with this pesky Fourth Amendment, this "technicality" that lets so many actually guilty criminals off scot-free under the exclusionary rule because a search was conducted without a warrant? At a time in the development of the law when the Fourth Amendment was thought not binding on the states and only applicable as against the federal government (the year was 1926), future United States Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo rejected the exclusionary rule while sitting on New York's highest court.
At the time, when federal employees such as federal marshals obtained evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment by conducting a search without a necessary warrant, the fruit of the illegal search was not competent evidence in a federal prosecution. But states were then free to determine whether to adopt the exclusionary rule, and by Cardozo's count, 31 states at the time (including Massachusetts) had rejected it. Refusing to accept a rule where, "the criminal is to go free because the constable has blundered," Cardozo rejected the exclusionary rule for New York. Since 1961, the Fourth Amendment has been held to apply against the states and there is no "opting out" of the exclusionary rule.
So what do judges do when evidence obtained by an illegal search is now mandatorily excluded? They keep creating exceptions to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement so that the search is not illegal in the first place. After decades of judicial abuse, the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment had so many judicially engrafted exceptions that it had become almost meaningless — the exceptions had swallowed the rule.
A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Arizona v. Grant, a case which has largely escaped notice by the mainstream media but is justifiably all the buzz in legal circles, appears to be a turn for the better. The case involved what is known as a "search incident to arrest." A defendant was arrested for having a suspended license. While handcuffed and in the back of a police cruiser, the police went rifling through the car without a warrant and found a gun and a bag of cocaine in the pocket of a jacket on the backseat.
The arrested was hardly likely to pull a Harry Houdini, escape from handcuffs and the locked cruiser, to brandish a gun hidden in the glove compartment of the car. Nor could he destroy evidence. Yet the search incident to arrest doctrine had taken on a life of its own, unmoored by practical concerns of police safety and the destruction of evidence.
Finally, the Supreme Court has said enough is enough, and police are not free to rifle through cars after an arrest. Prior to this recent ruling, abuse of the search incident to arrest doctrine became rampant, and police officers were arresting people for a traffic violations as an excuse to search their car. As a matter of standard practice, cars were searched without probable cause just on the mere chance that contraband might be found.
The Kafkaesque justification for the search incident to arrest rule was that since it is justifiable to search for weapons and evidence when someone might reach for a weapon or destroy evidence, why not extend the rule to people that have just been arrested for the sake of a "bright-line rule" regardless of the risk that the endangered person poses?
Police may now only search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search (not while handcuffed in a police cruiser) or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.
Frankly, Grant does not go far enough; once a person is arrested and the crime scene secured, it should always be time to start getting warrants. But at least free-for-all warrantless searches completely unrelated to the purpose of the arrest when someone could not possibly reach for a gun or destroy evidence are now a thing of the past.
The author is a practicing attorney whose columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.
"A Father's Day quiz"
The North Adams Transcript, Op-Ed, 6/19/2009, By Rinaldo Del Gallo III
This is a pop quiz about words. What famous father's-rights activist uttered these words: "We know the statistics -- that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves because a father was not in the home."?
OK, it was a trick question. It was not a father's-rights activist. Presidential candidate Barack Obama said it during last year's Father's Day speech.
Question: Who said this? "We have long recognized that a parent's interests in the nurture, upbringing, companionship, care and custody of children are generally protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment," and "The interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children -- is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." Answer: The United States Supreme Court.
Question: What reasonable person could reject these words? "We want the government and courts to recognize that the love and companionship of one's own child -- and for a child, the love, companionship and nurturing guidance of both parents on an equal basis -- are fundamental human rights of the highest order to be protected in our courts whenever possible, and that the love and guidance of both parents are equally important in a child's development."
Answer: No reasonable person would reject these words, because they are self-evident truths regarding our most sacred freedoms and core values that give us meaning to life. Yet on June 6, in the city of Springfield, these words were rejected as an amendment to the Preamble of the Massachusetts Democratic Platform when I as delegate tried to introduce it.
Question: Why do these words, introduced as an amendment to the "Justice and Civil Rights" section of the Massachusetts Democratic platform, sound familiar?
"Massachusetts Democrats support ... shared parenting legislation so that the best interests of children are protected in child custody disputes by giving children equal access to both parents, unless one parent is unfit or it is unworkable through no fault of the other parent."
Answer: Very similar language was put to you, the voters, in 2004, when you voted for shared parenting by an 87 percent margin. You voters must have gotten it all wrong, though. This language was also rejected in Springfield at the convention when I introduced it as an amendment.
Question: Who said these words? "The voters very often get it wrong." Answer: A delegate at the Springfield convention speaking in opposition to the shared parenting amendment.
Shared parenting is a rebuttable presumption that there should be joint physical custody in child custody disputes, which may be rebutted by evidence that one of the parents is unfit or that is not workable through no fault of the parent. By way of just one of many possible scenarios, if a parent is abusive or neglectful, the presumption of joint custody would be rebutted. It does not end case-by-case analysis, and nothing is automatic. Nor does it end a court's effort to determine what is in the best interest of the child.
Question: Who said this, with respect to shared parenting? "I support that presumption. ... It seems right to me." Answer: Gov. Deval Patrick at a town meeting at Pittsfield High School.
Question: Where did these words come from? "A probate and family court's finding by a preponderance of the evidence, that a pattern ... of abuse has occurred shall create a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interests of the child to be placed in sole custody, shared legal custody or shared physical custody with the abusive parent."
Answer: These words creating a rebuttable presumption in child custody disputes -- like the ones our opponents argued at the Springfield convention would "unnecessarily tie the hand of judges" and unwisely "take away their discretion that they need to protect children" -- are actually the current law. These words come from a Massachusetts statute and have been the law since 1998. It has not created a problem.
Question: Who said this? "We have too many high-sounding words and too few actions that correspond with them." Answer: Abigail Adams in 1774.
Now is the time for words to be actions instead of empty rhetoric. Now is the time to enact shared parenting into law.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III, of Pittsfield, is a spokesperson for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, a practicing family law attorney and a freelance columnist.
Reader's View: "A Dad,Travers tradition"
www.saratogian.com - Published: Saturday, June 20, 2009
By RINALDO DEL GALLO III
It was a bright summer day August 19, 1978, and I had just turned a sophomoric 16. My father had taken me and my two younger brothers from Pittsfield, Mass., in our old station wagon to the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
The year 1978 was the year of a Triple Crown winner. The Triple Crown winner was the immortal Affirmed and he was engaged in the most famous horse rivalry of all time, his ten meetings with another super horse by the name of Alydar. For the first and only time in history, while one horse was winning the Triple Crown that spring, one horse was persistently second, and that horse was the great Alydar (In fact, it was the only time a horse came in second in all three Triple Crown races, regardless of winner). Affirmed had beat Alydar by only a neck in the Preakness, and by only a hair of a nose in the Belmont.
It did not always end with Affirmed on top, having lost to Alydar twice. But of their 9 pre-Travers meetings, Affirmed came out on top seven times, including the Triple Crown which constituted their seventh, eighth and ninth meetings. But even though Affirmed came in first more often, he only seemed to win by the smallest of margins with Alydar close behind.
The Travers Stakes would be the 10th and final meeting of the greatest horse rivalry of all time. There were only four horses in the Travers that year, Affirmed and Alydar having scared off the rest. In fact, there had only been five in the Belmont that year because of the equine duo, which is usually loaded with contenders.
I came up with an "ingenious plan" to bet a large amount of money on Affirmed to place, meaning that I would win if Affirmed came in either first or second. Affirmed was no sure thing. While he won Saratoga’s Jim Dandy stakes, he struggled with horses that he convincingly beat earlier in the year. Aldyar, on the other hand, was training well and destroyed the field with a smashing seven-length victory at Saratoga’s prestigious Whitney Handicap.
Alydar might beat Affirmed, I thought to myself, but the odds of Affirmed coming in first or second were the odds of the sun rising the next day: it was an absolute sure thing.
So it was my design to lay down $20 ($66 by today’s standards), which was weeks and weeks of allowances. If Affirmed came in first or second, I was only going to get 10 cents on every dollar bet. Dad strongly advised against it, shaking his head, telling me that the horse would not pay enough and that anything could happen in a horse race. But he did not stop me and placed my bet for me. Part of being a dad is letting your kids make their own mistakes.
Somewhere in the backstretch, Affirmed and Alydar started breaking away from the other horses with Alydar bursting along the rail, Affirmed ahead by a neck. Then all of a sudden Alydar’s head bopped up, as horses do when halting. The announcer exclaimed that Alydar had "dropped back very suddenly and appears to be out of the race." Never giving up, Alydar gathered his mettle and made a heroic charge, but could not quite get Affirmed as they charged down the stretch. Affirmed had gained too much ground.
My wager was secure (so I thought), so I went to pick up my easy money. But as we went to cash our bets, an INQUIRY sign appeared with the announcer telling everyone to hold all bets. There was pandemonium on the track. As time dragged on seemingly forever, my father repeated several times that that was a sign the inquiry had merit. We waited and waited.
The television monitors showed the replay over and over again, with Affirmed bearing into and cutting off Alydar, forcing Alydar to check sharply and lose stride. Everywhere there was debate about the merits of the inquiry. After what seemed an eternity, the announcer finally announced that racing stewards had disqualified Affirmed, a controversial call to this day, and the crowd erupted as losers suddenly became winners and vice versa. I could not believe it, my sure-fire plan had failed. Why didn’t I listen to Dad?
Fortunately for me, it was ruled that Affirmed was to move from first to second and not completely disqualified from the race. I collected my spare change in winnings, but much more importantly, my original wager that I so foolishly put at risk. Lesson learned from Dad: There is no such thing as a sure thing, and to carefully weigh the risk and rewards of a situation.
Dad won that day. That night we stopped for dinner at Red Lobster, enjoying an after-race dining tradition that my father, Rinaldo Del Gallo Jr. started with his own father, Rinaldo Del Gallo Sr. One day, I hope to take Rinaldo Del Gallo IV to see the Travers.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is spokesman for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, a practicing attorney and a freelance columnist.
"Yes in my back yard"
The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, By Rinaldo Del Gallo III, 7/26/2009
Here is the big problem; everybody likes wind energy, just "Not in My Back Yard." Those who feel that way are commonly called NIMBYs. Who is a NIMBY? Well, "green" folks like Ted Kennedy and Robert Kennedy Jr. who support wind power except off the shores of Cape Cod where the senator lives. They really do want wind energy but want it in "suitable" places that are "appropriate." In other words, not in their backyards.
Green Berkshires is one of these NIMBY groups. "GREEN" in "Green Berkshires" seems to stand more properly for the acronym, "Getting Rid of Environmental Efforts Nearby," not being green.
I do not agree with the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the moneyed gentry who want to keep wind turbines off the shores of Cape Cod so as not to spoil the view from their yachts or hundred million dollar mansions, but I cannot complain about their name. That said, I highly recommend the five-minute John Stossel piece on "ABC Dateline" (put "NIMBY" and "Wind Power" in the YouTube search engine) that gave a scathing review of these spoiled patricians.
NIMBY is by no means unique to wind turbines. Everyone wants affordable housing -- just not in their backyards. Before you know it, the same Volvo liberal who supports affordable housing also supports local land use laws that maintain the "character of the community," i.e., land use laws that make affordable housing virtually impossible.
That is why Massachusetts passed anti-snob laws in 1969 in an effort to promote the development of affordable housing. Anti-snob laws limit the ability of local government to use its power over land use and development to effectively exclude housing that lower-income households can afford.
Just as those advocating for affordable housing need anti-snob laws to combat NIMBYism, those that advocate green energy from renewable resources need the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act. The act is needed so that those who would like to turn to wind energy can realistically hope to find a site for their wind turbines without encountering years of NIMBY resistance before local boards and in the courts.
It is the aim of the act to mandate clear and predictable siting standards for wind facilities, and to provide one-stop permitting at the local level, with any appeal to go before the siting board -- not a court. Also, the siting board would issue a one-stop permit for all state permits that are needed. The act aims to create procedures to decrease the amount of permitting time from the current eight to 10 years to nine to 18 months.
Quite literally, local regulation and NIMBY groups such as "Green" Berkshires and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound are making it nearly impossible to find suitable locations for wind turbines. Am I exaggerating? According to the state Energy and Environmental Affairs Web site:
"Hoosac Wind, a 30 MW wind farm in the Berkshires that is supported by the two host communities, has been in permitting since 2001, and has been delayed by successive appeals of a wetland permit for an access road. The wetland permit was issued in 2004 and is still on appeal to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, even though the local conservation commission, the regional staff and commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Berkshire Superior Court have all determined that the project met applicable wetland standards.
* "Princeton Wind, a 3 MW municipal wind project, was delayed for 31/2 years because of appeals of zoning permits. The appeals caused the private developer that was partnering with the town to withdraw, requiring the town to assume the full cost of the project.
* "Berkshire Wind, a 15 MW project in the Berkshires, has been in the development process for over 10 years due in part to efforts by anti-wind opponents to enact restrictive zoning bylaws, and by lawsuits from abutters."
The Wind Energy Siting Reform Act’s assertion of state authority is a strength, not a weakness, as claimed by Green Berkshires. If everyone could ban wind turbines in their communities while arguing that they support wind turbines, but they do not "fit" their community, they all would. And we would have no wind turbines.
Why the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act? So that the procedures for the siting of wind energy facilities result in timely and predictable permitting decisions making it an economically viable enterprise without all the NIMBYs getting in the way with endless local opposition, permit refusals, and lawsuits. The downside of the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act? It does nothing to reform the siting of wind turbines on our oceans, allowing for continued NIMBYism on Cape Cod.
Call me a YIMBY -- Yes In My Back Yard. I love looking out of my North Street office and watching the beautiful windmill on the mountains of Jiminy Peak.
According to one article in the Boston Globe, "For most Danes, these towering turbines are anything but an eyesore, and anything but a threat to the environment. In fact, they are featured on postcards and proclaimed attractions by tour guides on ferry boats."
Good for Berkshire tourism? Probably. I can picture the postcard now.
Rinaldo Del Gallo is a practicing attorney whose columns have appeared in newspapers across the nation.
"Arts and tourism: A recipe for failure"
By Rinaldo Dell Gallo III, The North Adams Transcript (Online), Op-Ed, 10/14/2009
In countless cities and towns in America, former industrial municipalities have turned to tourism and the arts to rejuvenate their communities. Almost all of these efforts have failed.
If you want to have a tourist destination, you need something truly special, such as the quaint town of Stockbridge or the excitement of Orlando, Fla. The trick is having the wisdom not to go on the fool's errand to try to make Pittsfield a Stockbridge, or try to make a Flint, Michigan or North Adams into an Orlando.
An economy of a major industrialized country can only have so many places that do not revolve around mining (and other forms of removing materials from the earth), manufacturing, construction and food production.
If you really think about it, what do you spend most of your money on? The point of all this is that turning former industrial cities into cultural destinations is usually an untenable idea because there is not enough of a market.
Pittsfield and North Adams have sustained record population losses over the last half-decade by relying on cultural tourism. Making matters worse, poorer and less educated classes have displaced what once was a solid, highly educated, middle class community.
How does one get industry, high tech and other high-paying white-collar jobs to come to Pittsfield and North Adams? Government does not create wealth for the most part. Government usually gets in the way of wealth and job creation by doing one of two things -- 1) taking from the corporation through taxes (or other fees) and 2) regulating so as to cause delay or outright obstruction of production, while also increasing cost.
One of the biggest incentives for companies to move here is by the simple act of getting government to get less in the way of profits. This means taxing less (or not at all) and reducing and expediting government regulations.
There should be one-stop shopping for permits at the municipal level instead of going to various municipal agencies, as well as a limit on the days necessary to get the permitting. It is dull stuff to the average person but everything to the business person.
Unfortunately, there are many in Pittsfield and North Adams who would regard tax incentives, less regulation and stream-lined regulation in an effort to be competitive as a "race to the bottom." And for decades, certainly during the Ruberto and Barrett administrations, we have not relied enough on lowering taxes and decreasing regulation on those corporations that have high-wage jobs and could locate themselves anywhere.
What I am proposing is actively discriminating in our tax rates between companies that offer high-wage jobs and could locate anywhere, and other companies (such as fast food operations) that have to be in Pittsfield or North Adams should they want to exploit its markets -- as well as improving the regulatory process.
More fundamentally, I am looking for Pittsfield and North Adams to realize that most corporations do not come to an area based upon cultural amenities such as theaters, arts, ballparks or other recreational opportunities. Rather, tax incentives, regulatory burdens, quality and cost of the work force and infrastructure continue to be the most important factors in site location.
As for the quality of living afforded to its employees, a corporation is infinitely more likely to consider the cost/quality of housing, as well as the quality of its schools and crime.
Instead, we focus on cultural amenities, the very thing that matters least to corporations, and delude ourselves into thinking that corporations will move here because of a revitalized downtown while we remain otherwise uncompetitive.
Think I am wrong? I highly recommend reviewing the 22nd annual Corporate Survey Site Selection Factors at www.areadevelopment.com. While cultural amenities and downtown development cannot be said to have no importance, it can be safely said that they have low importance. And, unlike tax incentives and decreasing regulation, there is a chicken and egg problem. In order to keep the downtown theaters and restaurants going, you need the disposable income of those high-paying jobs that are not there yet.
Pittsfield and North Adams cultural institutions have not created many jobs, and for the most part the jobs that they have created pay lower wages, have poor benefits and are seasonal. (Yes, I am aware of the studies by Professor Sheppard of Williams College and find them problematic, a subject of another article.)
If you stop and think about it, Northampton and Great Barrington have downtowns that are teeming with arts and are incredible places to work and live. Northampton even benefits from a local state university. But corporations are not flocking there. Why?
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is a Pittsfield attorney, freelance columnist and occasional Transcript contributor.
"Protecting political speech"
By Rinaldo Del Gallo III, The North Adams Transcript, Op-Ed, 1/27/2010
The 183-page PDF file that constitutes the U.S. Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission can be reduced to three words and a simple admonition. The three-words: Money equals speech. The simple admonition: Political speech is political speech, even if it comes from a corporation.
Protecting political speech is at the core of the First Amendment and warrants the utmost protection. So, why should these "rich" corporations be given as much protection to engage in political speech as folks like you and me?
For starters, while we create the legal fiction of an entity known as a "corporation," which is an "it," corporations are made up of real people with real things to say. The dissent -- pretending that we are not trampling on the rights of real individuals by suppressing the rights of corporations or labor unions to engage in political speech -- is too cute of an argument to be taken seriously. A gag over a mouth, even the mouth of a CEO, is still a curtailment of an individual right.
More importantly, the First Amendment is not there just to protect the right of people to express themselves; it is there to protect the marketplace of ideas so we become informed voters. A political advertisement (and certainly a movie that is critical of political candidate) tells that there may be something wrong or right with a candidate that we should know about.
The case centered around a movie, "Hillary: The Movie," and advertisements to promote the video-on-demand opportunities to see the movie for a fee.
We are free to accept or reject viewpoints expressed in advertisements, but it starts the conversation. As the majority put it, "Political speech is indispensable to decision-making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual." ... "When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought."
The majority, the conservatives of the court, did grossly understate the very real dangers of the ability of corporations to spend any amount of money it wants on electioneering communication. The majority argued "that independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption. In fact, there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate."
Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only does it simply appear that extravagant "independent expenditures" would possibly ingratiate, the result is ineluctable. Politicians dance with those that brought them to the ball.
The corrupting influence of money is not limited, as the majority would seem to argue, to a "quid quo pro" exchange arranged under a bridge with men donning sunglasses and black fedoras. Not only would politicians fight harder for positions they already believe in when money enters the picture, they would be far less likely to compromise. It is not beyond possibility that money would even change a mind or two.
But under the law in question, the majority noted that all the following would be felonies:
"The Sierra Club runs an ad, within the crucial phase of 60 days before the general election, that exhorts the public to disapprove of a congressman who favors logging in national forests; the National Rifle Association publishes a book urging the public to vote for the challenger because the incumbent U.S. senator supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creates a Web site telling the public to vote for a presidential candidate in light of that candidate's defense of free speech."
The dissent, unpersuasively, argued that speech was not really being banned because there was still the opportunity to fund speech through PACs (political action committees). But the PACs imposed enormous burdens on speech fraught with red tape. Few corporations have gone that route. The regulation was so monstrous, according to the majority, that "fewer than 2,000 of the millions of corporations in this country have PACs."
My law school professor, the liberal Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, called this one of the most difficult cases he has seen in his academic career with the competing interest of good government and free speech -- but he sided with the conservative majority.
Ultimately, the First Amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech" not, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, unless it sounds like a really good idea."
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is a Pittsfield attorney and columnist.
"No confidentiality, no justice"
By Rinaldo Del Gallo III, The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, April 3, 2010
Suppose someone has serious mental health issues. We want such a troubled person to see a psychotherapist. The law should insist upon the utmost confidentiality in psychotherapist communications to encourage that relationship. Yet, such is not the case in Massachusetts. In this state, people seeking the help of a psychotherapist may have their "confidential" communications disclosed when they least want it. Imagine such damning evidence coming out in a child custody case, or a care and protection case when the state seeks to put one's child in foster care, or when the state seeks to have the child adopted by another without the parent's consent. That nightmare is a reality in Massachusetts.
It surprises many to learn, that unlike most states, there is no doctor-patient privilege in Massachusetts that would normally protect psychotherapist communications. In 1968, the legislature passed a statute specifically protecting psychotherapist communications. Under Massachusetts law, "a patient shall have the privilege of refusing to disclose, and of preventing a witness from disclosing, any communication, wherever made, between said patient and a psychotherapist..."
Improvidently, in 1974, the Massachusetts legislature added an exception in family law cases. After 1974, in any case involving child custody, adoption, or the dispensing with the need for consent to adoption, the judge may have a hearing in his or her private chamber to decide whether or not to honor the psychotherapist privilege.
Pursuant to Massachusetts statute, "upon a hearing in chambers, [if] the judge, in the exercise of his discretion, determines that the psychotherapist has evidence bearing significantly on the patient's ability to provide suitable care or custody, and that it is more important to the welfare of the child that the communication be disclosed than that the relationship between patient and psychotherapist be protected," the judge may compel the patient or the psychotherapist to discuss the confidential communications. As a practicing family law attorney, I can tell you that judges routinely elect to compel patients or psychotherapists to disclose "confidential" psychotherapist communications.
In fact, it is usually the case that patients need not even be informed by the psychotherapist that their communications could be used against them in a court proceeding as a prerequisite for the judge to admit the "confidential" communications into evidence. In 1986, the legislature did add that before a judge can set aside the privilege, "a judge shall determine whether the patient has been informed that such communication would not be privileged."
But this only applies to cases of adoption or dispensing with the need for consent to adoption, not regular child custody cases or Care and Protection proceedings where the state seeks to place the child in foster care. One court has suggested that the warning need not even be that clear, holding, "The statutory exception by its terms prescribes no particular form that the warning must take, other than to inform the patient that the communications will not be privileged."
Worse still, the privilege only applies to "communications," which is not all the information that emanates from the psychotherapist/patient relationship. The privilege usually does not protect the fact, dates or purpose of a hospital admission or visit with a psychotherapist. One court has gone so far as to say that "conclusions based upon objective indicia rather than on communications from [the patient]" are not "communications" and are not privileged. Psychotherapists must disclose portions of records documenting times and lengths of patient appointments, fees, and treatment plans.
Diagnoses are usually not "communications" subject to protection; for instance, a Massachusetts Appeals Court has held that a generalized diagnosis, such as schizophrenia, without more, is not privileged. I have had judges compel my clients to disclose the medication they are on for mental health issues, as well as treatment plans, as well as diagnoses, all justified on the premise that these are not "communications."
What's the bottom line for laypeople? Much of what happens when they meet with their psychotherapist, some of the most intimate, damaging, and highly personal information will not even be privileged because it is not a "communication." And for the "confidential" communications, when it matters most, when custody of their children is on the line, none of it may be privileged.
This is not a wise ordering of relationships in our society. The purpose of an evidentiary privilege is to foster a relationship that benefits the individual and society even thought it comes at the expense of the truth. We want spouses to speak together. We want the penitent to console with a priest. We understand without the evidentiary privilege, people may not get the help they need, and we may not have the statements anyhow out of fear of disclosure. And that is why we value the relationship more than the truth and have evidentiary privileges.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is a columnist, practicing family law attorney, and spokesperson for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
Richard Rodriguez Sr. is hoping to be reunited today with his son, who disappeared from his Pittsfield home in February 2008. (Eagle file)
"Father, son to reunite"
By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff, April 28, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- More than two years after his then-5-year-old son disappeared from his home, a Pittsfield man is hoping to be reunited with the boy today -- in Kansas.
Ricky Rodriguez Jr., now 8, was located on Tuesday by authorities in Americus, Kan., through the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"It was amazing; I couldn't believe it," Richard Rodriguez Sr. told WSHM-TV in Springfield on Tuesday. "There was no sign I was ever going to get him back."
The elder Rodriguez was en route to Kansas late Tuesday in hopes of retrieving his son from the Lyon County Sheriff's Office once some paperwork was ironed out.
The circumstances of the boy's recovery remained unclear Tuesday night. It also was not clear whether the boy's mother, Tina Marie Helfer, is facing charges.
The boy has been missing since Feb. 3, 2008, when Rodriguez returned home to find that his girlfriend was gone -- as well as their son and all his son's belongings.
After extensive efforts through his Pittsfield attorney, Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Rodriguez finally got the Massachusetts Probate Court to rule that he had full legal and physical custody last November.
Once that ruling came through, Del Gallo said, he contacted the Massachusetts State Police, asking them to include young Ricky in the database of missing and exploited children.
"They seemed reluctant, but they must have finally done it," Del Gallo said Tuesday night.
Rodriguez and Helfer had been in a relationship since the early 1990s. After she apparently left with their son, Rodriguez found that she started a relationship with a man in Kansas on the Internet, and had gone to be with him.
"I just miss my son," Rodriguez said Tuesday.
"Significant reform of alimony law"
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, September 27, 2011
Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick signed alimony reform into law. The vote in the Massachusetts State Senate on "An Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth" was 36-0 in favor, and the vote in the House was 151-0.
Up until now, the only way to get out of alimony was for one’s former spouse to remarry, and some they would not so they could keep collecting. And there was almost no limit in the amount of alimony that could be awarded. Alimony never ended, had vague standards, its purpose was not clear, and there were horror stories of people forced to work in their retirement years.
Steve Hitner, president of Massachusetts Alimony Reform, told me in an interview that the law’s biggest accomplishment is the "sunset provision" so that that "people can go on their lives without one person being dependent on the other." The sunset provision put term limits on how long alimony may last. For instance, with a few exceptions, people cannot be forced to pay alimony beyond the usual retirement age.
Unlike current alimony legislation, the new law clearly sets out different kinds of alimony instead of it all being just undifferentiated "alimony." This follows the trends of other states. Now judges must give greater scrutiny as to why they are awarding alimony, rather than a general notation that it somehow vaguely feels "just."
One new category is "rehabilitative alimony" in which an ex-spouse is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a certain time such as by reemployment or completion of job training. Rehabilitative alimony is limited to five years, although it can be extended if a number of factors are shown through "compelling circumstances," which is a high standard. To get rehabilitative alimony beyond five years, the ex-spouse must show that (1) there are unforeseen events that prevent the recipient spouse from being self-supporting ; (2) the recipient endeavored to become self-supporting; and (3) the payer has a continuing ability to pay and no undue burden.
"Reimbursement alimony" is for recipient spouses of marriages of five years or less. Its purpose is to compensate for the economic or noneconomic contribution to the financial resources of the payer ex-spouse, such as enabling the payer spouse to complete an education or job training. Under the new law, reimbursement alimony is not modifiable.
"Transitional alimony" is also for marriages of five years or less for the purpose of transitioning the recipient to an adjusted lifestyle or location as a result of the divorce. It is not the dramatic effort to reeducate or retrain as in rehabilitative alimony, but like rehabilitative alimony, is meant to allow an ex-spouse to get back on one’s feet. It is limited to three years.
Finally, there is "general term alimony" for the ex-spouse that is "economically dependent," perhaps by some permanent physical disability. For marriages that are five years or less, general term alimony many only last 50 percent of the marriage length. For marriages that are 5-10 years, the maximum general term alimony term is 60 percent of the marriage length. For marriages that are 10-15 years old, the maximum general term alimony term is 70 percent of the marriage length. For marriages that are 15-20 years old, the maximum general term alimony term is 80 percent of the marriage length. For long term marriages (more than 20 years), general term alimony will end at retirement age as defined by the Social Security Act.
Under the law that will expire, case law stated that judges could consider the income of the new spouse of the person obligated to pay child support, in effect making the new spouse indirectly responsible for the alimony. This, of course, made for many an angry second wife. Under the new law, "In the event of the payer’s remarriage, income and assets of the payer’s spouse shall not be considered in a re-determination of alimony in a modification action."
And simply co-habitating and refusing to remarry will no longer keep the alimony spigot flowing. Under the new law, "General Term Alimony shall be suspended, reduced or terminated upon the cohabitation of the recipient spouse when the payer shows that the recipient has maintained a common household with another person for a continuous period of at least three months."
Under the new law, child support paid shall be deducted before considering alimony. Moreover, under prior case law, judges could kick in alimony after child support ended -- not anymore. Where the court orders alimony concurrent with or subsequent to a child support order, the combined duration of alimony and child support shall not exceed the longer of: (i) the alimony duration available at the time of divorce; or (ii) rehabilitative alimony commencing upon the termination of child support."
Finally, the amount of alimony is limited. Under the new law, ". . . the amount of alimony should generally not exceed . . . 30 percent to 35 percent of the difference between the parties gross incomes established at the time of the order being issued. "Moreover, "Income from a second job or overtime work shall be presumed immaterial to alimony modification if: (1) A party works more than a single full-time equivalent position; and (2) The second job or overtime commenced after entry of the initial order."
Rinaldo Del Gallo is a practicing family law attorney and spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition.
"Several things that men need to know"
The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, January 28, 2013
I was invited to speak at the Forum Series at Berkshire Community College this Thursday. Though the male students may not know it, what I have to tell them may be the most important knowledge they will ever learn. This is one of those columns you might want to cut out and give to your sons, grandsons, and nephews.
* In all states, as a practical matter, no fault needs to be shown to get a divorce -- you may be "dumped." This is a result of legal changes known as "no fault divorce" that began in the 1970s. There is nothing really legally binding in a marriage. It does not matter if you were a model husband.
* Courts almost never give joint physical custody in contested cases -- physical custody is almost always given to the mother unless there is something profoundly wrong with her, and even then there are no guarantees.
* Most visitation orders men "win" in contested cases are in the neighborhood of getting your child every other weekend and a few hours every Wednesday -- judgments vary but this is the norm.
* Many fathers are shocked how easy it is for the mother to move away with the children. Courts routinely allow move-aways simply for better jobs, new boyfriends, or just to give the women a sense of a "fresh start." Move-aways do not remotely require exigent circumstances. Courts routinely equate the mother’s wishes with the child’s best interest in such matters.
* Most men are shocked at the magnitude of child support, In most states, it ends up being one-third of one’s after -tax income and often leaves fathers destitute. For instance, in Massachusetts, a man who has two children who makes $1,000 per week will usually pay about 30 percent of their income in taxes (income, sales, property, etc.) according to the Tax Foundation. Thus, after tax income would be about $700. Child support would be $300, thus they would be trying to live off of $400 to pay for rent, bills, student loans, etc. A person making $500 per week with two children (roughly $350 per week after taxes) pays $149 in child support, leaving $201 to live on.
* Child support is determined by a formula using the father’s income. However, judges often literally make up incomes and "impute" or "attribute" income and apply that to the formula so that one owes far more than one-third of their actual after tax income; child support orders sometimes exceed actual income. It is notoriously difficult to lower child support due to loss of income. Child support orders cannot be retroactively modified to affect monies already owed, limitations on garnishment are laughable, and child support cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. If you fall behind, you may lose your drivers license.
* While I recommend prenuptial agreements, it is shocking how unenforceable they are. Prenuptial agreements regarding child custody and visitation are not enforceable at all. Most agreements regarding child support are also not enforceable unless the court is convinced it was reasonable, which usually means something close to guidelines. Provisions regarding child support established long before a divorce appears on the horizon are seldom enforced. So you cannot really draft a meaningful prenuptial that would cover child custody or child support before you decide to have a child in the first place. In most states, as to property division and alimony, prenuptial agreements are routinely ignored in long-term marriages as being "outdated," just when the prenuptial agreement is needed the most because the awards are the most severe. Provisions regarding alimony or property division are sometimes enforced, but there is not enough consistency.
* Unless you are willing to accept a 50 percent possibility that you will become a non-custodial parent paying one-third of your after-tax income in child support to visit your child every other weekend and a few hours one day a week, you should not have a child. Be aware of the ramification of having a child should the relationship fail. At current rates, about one in two children will be fatherless by the time they turn 18, and if you become a father, you have about a 50 percent chance of being one of their fathers -- think about this before having a child.
* As to restraining orders, they are seldom denied unless the woman absolutely fails to allege real physical abuse. They have become regarded, and rightly so, as the poor woman’s vacate order. If it is he-said-she-said with no corroborating evidence, the restraining order usually issues. You will have to move out, on a moment’s notice, with little opportunity to retrieve your belongings. Restraining orders often are game changers in child custody cases.
Rinaldo Del Gallo is a practicing family law attorney and spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. His lecture is Thursday, Jan. 31, at 12:15 p.m. in the small theater in the Koussevitzky Building at BCC.
"Pittsfield hears opening arguments on proposed plastic foam ban"
By Jim Therrien, Berkshire Eagle, April 2, 2013
PITTSFIELD -- A thorough public airing was promised Monday for a proposal to ban polystyrene food containers in Pittsfield.
Meeting before an audience of about two dozen, the City Council's Ordinance and Rules Committee heard from speakers both pro and con during the information-gathering session -- likely just the first effort to gain input from the public and business and scientific communities, members said.
On opposite sides of the issue were Rinaldo Del Gallo, who proposed a ban on the containers in February, and Martin W. Fisher, an attorney with Serlin Haley, a Boston law firm representing Dart Container Corp.
Del Gallo argued that the cost of finding less environmentally damaging alternatives would not be great for food servers, and that eliminating "the very dangerous" chemicals in the product from landfills and the ecosystem was worth the cost and effort.
"And it is very late in the day for anyone to argue that [polystyrene] is safe," he said at one point, adding that there is evidence the product is a "known carcinogen," and when incinerated or buried releases a range of potentially hazardous chemicals.
Martin argued that federal regulators have not declared the product unsafe for use. He said a large part of the problem is litter, but that a ban would have no effect in that regard. "That is human nature," he said.
The attorney said he hopes to be given the opportunity to provide scientific and other information to support the polystyrene manufacturer's position. "I think all I ask is for a transparent and open process," Martin said.
Jane Winn, executive director of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, said her group strongly supports a ban. She said the danger of chemicals in the product are a concern, but polystyrene litter in waterways and elsewhere is something her group meets with during annual river cleanup events.
Mark Miller, a member of the city's Green Committee who said he was speaking as an individual, said he supports a thorough review of the issue, including scientific information.
Committee Chairwoman Melissa Mazzeo said she had learned from the speakers Monday and hoped to learn more in subsequent meetings, perhaps before the entire council.
Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop agreed, saying he wants "an open, inclusive process, and we started that tonight."
Councilor at large Barry Clairmont said he is "not sure we should pick on just one industry," but he plans to keep an open mind, especially about environmental and health concerns.
Ward 6 Councilor John Krol said his decision will focus on the product's effects on the environment, and he hopes to have science educators from the area provide input to officials.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III: "Let a new legend begin"
By Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, Op-Ed, May 20, 2013
It was Tuesday night and I got out of "The Great Gatsby" at the Beacon Theater and received a return phone call from Patty Passetto, an old friend. The symbolism of the story that was about to unfurl equaled that of Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, yet surpassed it in its tragedy.
Earlier that day, I had read the headline about her son's death in The Eagle and called Patty immediately; she had just gotten back to me and had been on the phone all day with veterans groups and the like. She was remarkably composed and coherent.
Patty's son, Edward, had leapt from the top of Monument Mountain. The consciousness of the choice, as Patty told the story to me, could not be any clearer. But to understand it, you need to know a little about the lore of the mountain and its summit, Squaw Peak, which no doubt her son knew.
It is said the story is of Mohican legend, which was set forth in a poem in 1815 entitled "Monument Mountain" by William Cullen Bryant. According to Bryant's poem, "there is a tale in these old gray rocks" of an Indian squaw. "She loved her cousin; such a love was deemed, by the morality of those stern tribes, incestuous." One thinks of Edward with the line, "She went to weep where no eye saw, and was not found." Like the Indian squaw, Edward said, "I am sick of life." Like the Indian squaw, Edward looked upon himself as "a thing accursed, that has no business on the earth."
You see, despite the Italian last name from his father who passed from cancer in 2005, Edward is half Native American. Patty is full-blooded Native American, coming from both the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes in Maine. She has a cabin on reservation land, where she goes to escape this life's noise. Unlike the vast majority of these souls that roam this orb, Edward carefully picked the place and manner of his meeting with eternity. He was a Native American, and he was going to jump off Squaw Peak like the squaw of the legend.
Bryant's poem paints the mountain. "But to the east, sheer to the vale go down the bare old cliffs." He writes, "It is a fearful thing to stand upon the beeting verge." But Patty tells me it was not a fearful leap, but a quiet step. Patty insists, "He did not leap. He just stepped into the darkness. He did not see where he was landing." She feels it and just knows as a mother would.
You can read Edward's open letter to President Obama on Patty Passetto's Facebook page. It is the story of a war hero who was getting the run-around from the VA for more than two years with no end in sight. He was told he could not have his claim expedited because he was not homeless.
Patty was quite upset about the handling of her son's death. The Great Barrington police did not let her see the body. She told me on the phone, and wrote on her Facebook page, "As his mother, I watched as he came into the world and as his mother I should have seen him after his exit."
She had been listening to the police radios and heard the police at the top tell the police at the bottom that they did not want her to see him. She probably could have taken it. She comes from rough stock -- Patty is a Navy veteran herself. Her husband served both the U.S. Army and the Mass Army National Guard. Her daughter is currently serving the Maine Army National Guard and is training for deployment. Patty's Facebook picture is of a baseball hat honoring Native American veterans.
"Monument Mountain" was named after the monument left for the squaw, "a simple monument, a cone of small loose stones. Thenceforward, all who passed, hunter and dame, and virgin, laid a stone in silence on the pile." Perhaps we should have another monument for our other Berkshire Native that jumped from Squaw's Peek.
"But when the sun grew low and the hill shadows long, she threw herself from the steep rock and perished." Let the new legend begin of a Native American warrior who leapt to his death when forgotten by his country.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is an occasional Eagle contributor.
"Pope Joins blame-the-fathers chorus"
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, February 11, 2015
PITTSFIELD - Pope Francis recently commented on fathers and said many good things that would support shared parenting. He extols the "value of fathers" and laments that we have become a "society without fathers." He pontificates, "The absence of the father figure in the lives of children and young people produces gaps and injuries that can be very serious." He states, "Fathers are so necessary as examples and guides for our children in wisdom and virtue. Without father figures, young people often feel orphaned; left adrift at a critical moment in their growth and development."
Armed with endless studies, fathers' rights activists have been arguing the same for decades. I would hope that Family Court judges and state legislatures are taking notes.
But the pope did take President Obama's blame-the-fathers approach on absenteeism. I will put aside the issues of a livable wage and reasonable work conditions that help fathers put food on the table without working 60 hours a week, and all that "liberation theology" type of stuff. The primary reason fathers do not spend more time with their children is because their efforts are curbed by family court judges, and mothers who seek sole physical custody.
In these cases, fathers want to be with their children but legally cannot be, or can only visit minimally. Nations across the world could put fathers back into the lives of children by passing shared parenting legislation preventing courts from expelling fathers from the lives of their children at the behest of mothers.
It is well documented that mothers file for 70 percent of all divorces. It is equally well-known that when mothers seek sole custody, they get it. This happens even when the father wants joint physical custody, and the father is a good parent.
While the Catholic Church is theoretically opposed to divorce, Francis takes the politically correct course of blaming fathers rather than criticizing mothers for forsaking fathers and facilitating the breakup of families through divorce.
Lecturing fathers for being absent may have a short-lived effect on some religious Catholics who could be with their children but choose not to be. But infinitely more children would be affected if fathers that want to be with their children, legally could.
The commonality between President Obama and the pope is that while there are numerous fathers' rights groups across the country, and while there are numerous competent writers, we are seldom interviewed or given column space, especially at the national level, to rebut the argument that the primary reason for a father's absence is the father's predilections to abandonment.
My columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, including papers as diverse as the Boston Globe, the Baltimore Sun, the Buffalo News, the Albany Times Union, the Springfield Republican, the Washington Times, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Gun Digest, and numerous others. Yet, for years I was never able to get published a column against Saint Obama's annual diatribe about absent fathers that he presents on Fathers' Day. You would think bashing fathers on Fathers' Day would be about as ill-advised as bashing religion for being the inspiration of great persecutions and horrors on the National Day of Prayer.
While the pope and the president unequivocally place the blame of absent fathers on fathers, barrels of ink have been spilled on whether a good father should appropriately spank their child, which the pope supports. Why single out fathers?
Statistics show that mothers are far more likely to abuse and even kill their children than fathers. And frankly, when I am out in public and see a child being abused by a parent, it is usually the mother.
In this case, "the pope is in trouble," and microphones are put in front of spokespeople against corporal punishment. In contrast to the reaction on the subject of absent fathers, that's bias.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III is an occasional Eagle contributor.
February 11, 2015
Re: Rinaldo Del Gallo III should explain the stakes in marriage and raising children
Rinaldo Del Gallo III writes about the Father’s Rights perspective in politics and law. He wants men to be treated equally in politics - by the U.S. President and Roman Catholic Pope, and by Probate and Family Court Judges. Rinaldo wants men to have shared parenting rights after a heterosexual couple separates and divorces each other.
I believe that our politicians and Judges should treat men and women equally. But, I continue to believe that Rinaldo doesn’t understand the stakes involved with a man being in a relationship with a woman and getting married and having children. It is the biggest decision a man and woman make in their lives.
I am 39 going on 40 and I have never been married and I do not have any children. It is probably too late for me to have children if I got married in my 40’s. Ideally, I would have gotten married and had children between my mid-20’s to mid-30’s. I never had a living wage job and I was not able to support myself, never mind contribute towards a household budget. If I got married and had children at my optimal age of 30, I probably would have had to rely on welfare assistance programs including public housing, medicaid, cash assistance, and food stamps. My marriage and role as a father most likely would not have succeeded. I would owe child support and my children would ultimately join the underclass.
Everyone is not like me. There are people who have professional careers and make a living wage. But if they have a failed marriage and a broken home, a man earning $80,000 is no different than a minimum wage worker at McDonald’s in the end. He will have to hire expensive lawyers, pay court costs, child support, alimony, and other costs. I feel sorry for these men who are systematically screwed by the proverbial system.
However, I do not blame the women. This is another area I disagree with my friend Rinaldo. He cites studies that show women in a bad light as mothers, wives, and legal claimants. If I got married and had children, I would know the financial commitment I would be making to the woman I married. I would spend between $2 to $3 million dollars over the course of my adult life on my family. I would buy a house in a safe neighborhood, which would cost me at least $500,000. I would buy cars, pay taxes, have a household budget, plan for my family’s financial security, save for our retirement, save for our children’s education. This is what middle class families do.
I wish I could have lived the American Dream with a middle class family that was financially secure and safe. I also wish that men and women understood the commitment they are making both to each other and their children. Marriage is a serious contract, having children costs a lot of money, and losing it all in divorce is not the fault of the U.S. President or Pope. It is not the fault of the Probate and Family Court Judge. It is not the fault of the women. It not the fault of the men. It is not the fault of the children.
Getting divorced and having a broken home is sad. It hurts. It takes a man with a bright future and leaves him with long-term debts. Rather than blame anyone and everyone, Rinaldo should explain the stakes involved in a relationship, marriage, and family.
- Jonathan Melle
"Origins of tempest over Indiana law"
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, April 3, 2015
PITTSFIELD - There is little understanding of Indiana's Religious Freedom Law. The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]." Does this merely prevent government from prescribing or proscribing certain religious beliefs? Or does it also mean prohibiting government from causing one to engage in acts or omissions against one's religion?
One of the earlier judicial tests narrowing the meaning was the infamous 1878 case of Reynolds v. The United States. The Supreme Court ruled that while you cannot outlaw believing in Mormonism, you can outlaw practicing Mormonism by preventing bigamy. In the court's words: "While [government] cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices."
The tide started to turn in 1943. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the court ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses students did not have to salute the flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only did the Free Exercise Clause protect freedom of belief, but also religiously informed behavior. The Court made the momentous ruling that religious practices "are susceptible of restriction only to prevent grave and immediate danger to interests which the state may lawfully protect." The compelling interest test was born.
Then came the high water marks for religious freedom embodied by Sherbert and Yoder. In the 1963 case of Sherbert v. Verner, the Supreme Court ruled that a Seventh-Day Adventist could not be denied unemployment benefits simply because she refused to work Saturdays, her Sabbath. In the 1972 case, Wisconsin v. Yoder, the Court held that Amish children could not be required to comply with a state law demanding they remain in school until age 16, when their religion required them to focus on uniquely Amish values and beliefs during their formative adolescent years.
For both cases, the court decisions used a balancing test that took into account whether the challenged action imposed a substantial burden on religious practice, and if it did, whether it was needed to serve a compelling government interest. Moreover, the restriction had to be narrowly tailored to serve the compelling government interest — by the least restrictive means necessary.
Enter the cataclysmic 1990 case of Employment Division v. Smith. The defendants were fired because they ingested peyote, a cactus used in Native American Church religious ceremonies. In a shocking ruling, the Court pushed aside nearly a half century of case law and held that government need not show a compelling interest before substantially burdening religious freedom, as required by Sherbert and Yoder.
It held that "neutral, generally applicable laws may be applied to religious practices even when not supported by a compelling governmental interest." The Reynolds decision had become the law again. Since the law banning peyote was not aimed at members of the Native American Church, and since it had a rational basis, (it wasn't completely crazy) it was constitutional.
In response, Congress enacted the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993. RFRA reintroduced the compelling interest/narrowly tailored standard of Sherbert/Yoder when examining government restraint on religion.
In 1997, the Supreme Court effectively ruled that RFRA can only apply to federal laws, for federalist reasons too complex to explain here. States began passing their own RFRAs; 21 states have done so. The much maligned Indiana's Religious Freedom Law is merely a state RFRA. And that's what all the fuss is about.
Rinaldo Del Gallo is a local attorney who has litigated First Amendment cases.
“Mass. should rethink child support debt”
By The Boston Globe Editorial Board, July 20, 2015
PARENTS WHO DEFAULT on child support payments don’t generally inspire a lot of sympathy; the notion of the “deadbeat dad” has long been fixed in the public consciousness, with punitive public policies to match. But the image of the callous debt-shirker doesn’t always fit reality. Nationwide, the bulk of people who owe child support are low-income fathers who lack the capacity to pay. Their ever-growing debt can wind up serving no one well — including the children those payments are intended to help.
Unpaid debt is a sizable issue in Massachusetts, where the Department of Revenue handles about 232,000 child support cases each year. About 151,000 of those cases — 65 percent — involve parents who owe back pay. Those numbers suggest that the problem could often be structural: charges that don’t realistically match a parent’s financial means.
Interest and penalty payments can exacerbate the problem. The DOR charges 0.5 percent interest and a 0.5 percent penalty on each month of unpaid child support; 98,000 people currently face those charges. That’s not compounded, but still, by the end of a year, a parent could be paying an interest rate of 12 percent — more, advocates note, than the best stock market investments are likely to yield. Continued nonpayment can lead to larger consequences: driver license suspension, or jail time on charges of civil contempt. These policies, designed to motivate, can make it increasingly difficult for parents to hold jobs, leading to even more debt.
To get out of this spiral, parents have limited options. They can appeal to the courts, which set child support payments in the first place, but change can take a long time to wind through the system. And a federal law, enacted with good intentions in the 1980s, limits what courts can do to modify debt that has already accrued. This can cause a particular burden for incarcerated parents, who can come out of prison owing tens of thousands of dollars.
Officials at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue say they currently work with incarcerated parents to establish paternity and set up payment plans. They also say they steer people who meet certain criteria — such as unemployment, disability, and incarceration — to interest-exemption and interest-waiver programs. But they note that funneling parents to these programs can be a challenge: Sometimes parents who are behind on payments don’t return calls or answer letters to explain that their circumstances have changed.
That’s why it’s worth examining what other states are doing to address this problem on the front end, treating child support debtors not as deadbeats, but as parents trying to claw themselves back from the financial brink and maintain relationships with their children. In recent years, Virginia has revisited the formula upon which payments are set, and has been building a comprehensive program that helps parents find work and counseling.
Governor Charlie Baker has touted the benefits of bringing different agencies together to solve complex problems; this is an issue that cries out for a similar approach. There are also steps the Commonwealth can take without legislation, such as changing its policies on interest and penalties; in 2014, to help parents catch up with back payments, Wisconsin cut its interest payments on child support arrears from 12 percent annually to 6 percent. Massachusetts should continue to do what it can to encourage parents to pay — particularly, those parents who can. But the system should meet reality and acknowledge what happens when debt becomes an end as well as a means.
“A better method for Pittsfield elections”
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, The Berkshire Eagle, September 25, 2015
PITTSFIELD - In late 2012, I filed a petition for "instant runoff voting," also known as "ranked choice voting," "transferable voting," or "preference voting." Let me review the basic rules.
RULE 1: Instead of simply voting for one candidate, you "rank" the candidates in order of preference. If we had instant runoff voting in Pittsfield, the ballot for mayor would have had the four mayoral candidates on it with ovals for "first choice" "second choice" "third choice" and "fourth choice."
RULE 2: You have to win the election with a "majority" (over 50 percent of the vote) and not a mere "plurality" (the most votes, even if under 50 percent).
So for any given election, if any given candidate gets a majority of the "first choice" votes (not a mere plurality), that candidate wins. But if no candidate has a majority, the candidate cannot win with a mere plurality and there is an "instant run-off election."
The last-placed candidate is eliminated, and all the second choices of those that voted for the last-placed candidate are counted as a vote. If there is still no candidate with a majority, you repeat the process again with the second-to-last candidate also being eliminated.
The same process can work for at-large races where more than one candidate wins, such as Pittsfield's councilor at-large where four candidates are elected. As with a race for one candidate, the voter in the at-large race stills ranks candidates by choice. Essentially, you would have four consecutive instant runoff elections for first choice, second choice, third choice and fourth choice, with each consecutive election using the instant run-off process. The twist is that in the at-large election, those that have already won a seat are "eliminated" from the subsequent contests for the remaining seats.
This may sound complicated, but in practice the voter merely needs to picks his or her choices, and the computer software takes care of the rest.
Instant runoff voting makes sure there is no vote-splitting by like-minded candidates, with the minority view winning with a mere plurality. You can "vote your heart" because there is no throwaway vote.
A big advantage of instant runoff elections is that they present the option of entirely eliminating the primary or "preliminary election" in non-partisan municipalities as in Pittsfield. So a Republican can have a vote in who will be the register of deeds instead of the real race being in a poorly attended Democrat primary when everyone is asleep.
I talked to city clerk and mayoral candidate Linda Tyer the day after the election. When Pittsfield has a preliminary election, the city has to print paper ballots and make sure there is enough. Then voting machines have to be programmed and set up at the polling places. Police are hired. Each voting location has to be staffed with a warden, a clerk, and four inspectors throughout the election. They all have to be there one-half hour before polls open at 8 a.m., and be there after polls close at 8 p.m. until all the votes are tallied. Then there is the staff at the city clerk's office.
For a ballpark figure on the cost, the Pittsfield Gazette reported on February 4, 2010 that Tyer estimated the primary for the special election for U.S. Senate on Dec. 8, 2009 cost the city $22,858 and the Jan. 19, 2010 general election cost $25,016.
On Nov. 3, 2012, I reminded voters in my Eagle column, "A case for instant runoff voting," of the time Steve Fillio ran for mayor of Pittsfield as the third mayoral candidate, necessitating a preliminary. Around that time, I filed a petition to have the city consider instant runoff voting. The City Council referred it to the charter committee which ruled it outside of its jurisdiction.
In Tuesday's preliminary election, there was only a race for mayor, a seemingly purposeless election with two real contenders and two long-shots who were ignored by voters. The money spent on this poorly attended preliminary election could have been better spent on equipment for a high school sports team, scenery for a high school play, or payment towards a police cruiser rather than pushing two candidates off a stage.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III is an occasional Eagle contributor.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III: “A visit from a secular Buddhist”
By Rinaldo Del Gallo III, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, November 8, 2015
PITTSFIELD - Consider two stories. In the first, a leader of a synagogue comes to Jesus and says, "My daughter has just died. But if you will come and touch her with your hand, she will live again." Jesus went to the house where the girl lay, put his hand on hers, and she returned to life.
In the second story, the two-year old son of Kisa Gotami has just died. She looks for a miracle. She goes to the Buddha (the awakened one) for help. Buddha tells her that before he can bring the child back to life, she must find white mustard seeds from a family where no one has died. She desperately goes from house to house, and can find no family that has not experienced death. In her quest, as was Buddha's design, she comes to the realization that death and suffering are a universal part of life. She lets go and stops grieving, and becomes a follower of the Buddha.
In the first story, if Jesus had not lived or engaged in supernatural resurrection, it is just a story without a point. In the second story, even if there never was a Kisa Gotami or an historical Buddha, there is great wisdom. In the first, there is blind faith and healing from a divine source without: we search for the comfort of the miracle of divinity that is outside ourselves. In the second, there is experiential wisdom and healing from a divine source within: we are in charge of our spiritual well-being.
Thus, Buddha offers a "kick the tires" type of experiential approach to spiritual life. No blind faith here. Try it, examine it, meditate on it, practice it, and see for yourself if it is true. Buddha added, "Only when you know in yourself when things are wholesome, blameless, commended by the wise, and when adopted and practiced lead to welfare and happiness, should you practice them." And this is an approach to spirituality that transcends dogmatic religiosity.
In 2010, ABC's Dan Harris, interviewed Stephen Batchelor in a national broadcast that can be viewed online (search "ABC," "Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist.") Batchelor, who was born in England to non-Buddhist parents, trained as a monk for ten years in India, Switzerland, and Korea in both the Tibetan and Zen traditions. He wore robes and shaved his head. And then he had a crisis where he found he could not accept the belief of reincarnation or many of the other cosmological underpinnings of what he calls "religious Buddhism."
In his book, "Buddhism Without Beliefs," Batchelor argues that Buddha had an agnostic and pragmatic perspective. In Tricycle Magazine, Batchelor boldly proclaims, "I am a secular Buddhist." He argues that you can be a Buddhist atheist. By implication, though I have not heard Batchelor advance this argument, one can become a Buddhist of another faith, such as a Christian or Jewish Buddhist, by accepting the four noble truths, the eightfold path, and practicing non-attachment, compassion, and meditation — all practices that are not at odds with the Abrahamic faiths.
(On Thursday, at 6 p.m., Batchelor will speaking at the Pittsfield Sangha which meets at the Pittsfield Unitarian Church.)
While Buddha, himself, appears to have accepted the Hindu belief of reincarnation (he was an Indian living in the 5th or 6th century), he had no fixation on the afterlife. Enlightenment was to be done in this lifetime and in the present moment.
Many Buddhists believe in reincarnation and karma, a system whereby good deeds in this life are rewarded with a better rebirth. But Batchelor views this as some sort of concocted cosmological reward system for being good, much in the same way heaven or hell is in the Christian tradition.
Buddha, in fact, said, "But if there is no other world and there is no fruit and ripening of actions well done or ill, then here and now in this life I shall be free from hostility, affliction, and anxiety, and I shall live happily." If there is no afterlife in the Christian sense of the word, or there is no reincarnation, Buddhism still makes sense because it is a way to live.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III: “Stuck in '90s and doomed to lose”
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, November 27, 2016
PITTSFIELD - This is my first column since running for state Senate, and I have to confess to being in a state of depression over the whole election cycle this year. There is something that I want to get off my chest, and it is vitally important that we understand this: Bernie Sanders would have won. We Democrats need to have a long conservation with ourselves about the direction of our party.
Understanding why the Democratic establishment believed that Hillary Clinton was a good pick requires a little history. In 1992 Bill Clinton was running for president. The Democrats had not won the presidency since 1976, 16 years earlier. And '76 didn't really count, since Gerald Ford was so abjectly tainted with the Watergate scandal and his pardoning of Nixon that just about any human being with a pulse and a "D" next to his name could have beat him. The last legitimate pre-1992 victory came back in 1964 when LBJ beat Barry Goldwater, a remarkably distant 28 years earlier.
In 1992, the Democratic Party was really rethinking itself. When pondering the candidates that went down to defeat - Hubert Humphrey (`68), George McGovern (`72), Jimmy Carter (`80), Walter Mondale ('84), and Michael Dukakis ('88) - it was thought that they were too far to the left. It may be genuinely debated as to just how far to the left candidates such as Carter or Mondale really were, but by 1992 it was thought by many Democrats that things need to change.
In 1988, the anti-death penalty Dukakis struggled over a debate question as to whether he would favor the death penalty if his wife was raped and murdered. Dukakis' answer seemed canned and antiseptic. Many pundits considered this to be a major factor in Dukakis' crushing defeat by the first Bush.
In 1985, the Democratic Leadership Council was founded, espousing a turn to the center. These centrist Democrats were called "New Democrats." Bill Clinton was one of them. During the '92 New Hampshire primaries, then Gov. Clinton made sure to publicly head back to Arkansas to oversee the execution of Ricky Ray Rector. Rector had already self-lobotomized himself in a suicide attempt. When Rector was taken to be executed, he asked the guard to save his pecan pie from his last meal so he could eat it later.
With Clinton came the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (welfare reform), banking and securities deregulation, and The 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill (which featured mass incarceration). In fairness, there was also an economic boom and the first projected government surplus since 1969.
This is where the pro-Hillary mentality began. They figured what worked for Bill would work today. The belief in Hillary's potential for success was a holdover view of politics from a political school of thought that lost resonance in the '90s - centrist, corporate, establishment politics. Even Hillary Clinton seemed confused. While later often claiming she was in strong support of progressive ideals so as not to alienate Sanders supporters, she said in September of 2015, "You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty."
On Feb. 5 of this year, the Eagle ran my aptly-named column "Trump, Sanders are riding the same political wave." I then wrote, "Both Sanders and Trump speak to this dystopian reality of a disappearing middle class in a way that Clinton and the other Republican candidates do not. Both Sanders and Trump brandish a type of populism absent in their same-party counterparts. Many hear `the big sucking sound' that Ross Perot warned us about regarding NAFTA and our other trade deals. They see Sanders or Trump as the answer. When Sanders says we cannot allow banks that are too big to fail, he has a credibility that the Glass-Steagall-eschewing Hillary Clinton does not."
As recently as November 5, 2012, Clinton had called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the "gold standard in trade deals." She tried to disavow this position, but the damage was done. I concluded, "Americans distrust establishment politicians . . . Sanders is the more electable candidate than Clinton." I was right.
Trump and Sanders were filling arenas when Hillary Clinton could not fill small halls. She inspired no enthusiasm, had almost no ground support, and her seemingly only redeeming quality was that she was not Donald Trump. Moreover, Clinton's image as corruptible, corporate, and out-of-touch was exacerbated by the shenanigans with the DNC, the debates, the convention and the Clinton Foundation.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III writes occasionally for The Eagle.
November 27, 2016
Re: Open letter to Rinaldo Del Gallo, III
Your loss in the Berkshire-based State Senate primary was predictable from the start because the Good Old Boys chose Adam Hinds for the position from the beginning. You would have been an independent voice for the people of Western Massachusetts, while the G.O.B.’s wanted a political puppet they could control. You never stood a chance against the top-down, one political party system that runs Pittsfield politics!
The G.O.B.’s get “elected” by representing the vested interests that are sinking or tanking the local economy in Western Massachusetts. The vested interests always gets their cut of the loot, while the average working class taxpayers are losing in their financial net worth. To illustrate, every fiscal year, Pittsfield politics raises its operational budget by about 5% regardless of the economic realities the community faces, such as Sabic moving away, or Best Buy closing its store in the Berkshire Mall.
The bottom line is that the vested interests control the political system via the Good Old Boys political network. Pittsfield politics has been like this for decades, and they were not about to let someone like you upend their iron grip on political power!
Per your column on why Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, I agree with you that Hillary represented the establishment, while Donald represented change. It is an interesting contrast from Pittsfield politics, where the establishment always wins.
Bernie Sanders is a Socialist, and after the presidential election, Sanders did not list himself as a Democrat as a U.S. Senator from Vermont. Yet, Bernie Sanders ran against Hillary as a Democrat for U.S. President. That frustrates me. Bernie Sanders would have been a Democrat as U.S. President, but he won’t be a Democrat as a U.S. Senator.
Hillary Clinton is a political centrist and sides with corporate wing of the Democratic Party, like her husband did in the 1990’s. She was in the pocket of Wall Street and wealthy financial interests. She made careless management decisions with her private email server as Secretary of State. She stood by her husband’s infidelity and bald faced lies about his promiscuous sexual history, yet she also represented the modern feminist movement to break the ultimate glass sealing by being the first woman U.S. President.
Donald Trump is a fascist. Both domestic and foreign leaders and journalists have used this term to describe the president-elect. His proposals are unconstitutional. He used sexist, racist, hateful, and violent speeches during his campaign. Fringe hate groups fully support him. Also, he, similar to Bill Clinton, is a moral hypocrite who has been married three times, and openly cheated on his first two wives. He declared his businesses bankrupt multiple times. He made money off of casino gambling, which is regressive taxation.
Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump ran a populist campaign for the presidency. Hillary Clinton ran on continuing Obama’s public record on healthcare and progressive politics. Bernie Sanders’ promise was to radically grow the federal government’s share of the national economy to help the working class. Donald Trump’s promise is to diminish the federal government’s share of the national economy to help the working class. Both Sanders and Trump would massively grow the national debt by trillions of dollars!
The working class voters chose Donald Trump’s proposals to help their financial interests. The wealthy will pay less in taxes, so-called “entitlement” programs will be reformed, meaning budget cuts, and the Supreme Court will legislate morality in the name of big government. The Republican Party under Donald Trump will hope for economic growth of around 4% per year for the next 4 to 8 years, which will increase employment in the labor market.
The Republican Party will soon control the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government. Conservative policies will become law. The working class’ hopes for financial security hangs in the balance. Will the middle class finally make a comeback after four decades of financial losses? We can only watch what unfolds.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III: “Let's work democratically to create a true democracy”
By Rinaldo Del Gallo, III, Op-Ed, The Berkshire Eagle, January 15, 2017
PITTSFIELD — Having parked in downtown Pittsfield, I recently found a note placed under the windshield wiper of my car: "Thank you for still being a proud Bernie Supporter. We must stick together in these precarious times. Bless you and happy holidays. A fellow Bernie Supporter." I still have a "Bernie Sanders 2016" bumper sticker on my car, and the writer was moved to reach out to a kindred soul. But "these precarious times" might have been avoided if our electoral system had two fundamental changes.
In this newspaper and the Taunton Gazette, I have written favorably about instant runoff voting (IRV) (articles at DelGalloColumns.Wordpress.Com, "A Better Method for Pittsfield Elections," (9/25/15) and "Put Instant Runoff Voting on the Ballot," (11/4/14)). To summarize instant runoff voting (or "ranked voting") in four sentences: Instead of voting for a single candidate who wins with a plurality (the most votes, even if less than 50 percent), in instant runoff voting, a candidate must win with a majority (over 50 percent). At the ballot, voters rank the candidates in their order of preference. If no candidate reaches a majority, the candidate ranked in last place is crossed off; her/his votes are allocated to the second ranked choice of her/his voters — an "instant runoff." This process repeats until a candidate has a majority. IRV allows voters to vote their conscience at no cost to the electoral process and other candidates.
The idea is starting to get traction: on Election Day, Maine voters approved instant runoff voting, which will now govern the elections of all state elected officials (legislature and governor) and congressmen and senators, but not the president. While many cities have adopted IRV already, Maine is the first state to do so.
Instant runoff voting prevents vote-splitting among like candidates. Had there been IRV in the Republican primary, I doubt Trump would have been the nominee. There were two main camps of Republican voters: those who supported Trump, and those who opposed him. Those who opposed Trump significantly outnumbered the supporters, which under instant runoff voting would have assured a non-Trump winner.
In those important early voting states, Trump probably would not have been able to attain a clear majority and he would have been ranked lowly by most Republicans that did not have Trump as a first choice. Someone else would have emerged, via IRV, and become the preferred candidate. But the non-Trump votes were instead divided among many candidates, which is fatal in our present plurality system. That, coupled with the fact that Republicans (unlike Democrats) have many winner-take-all primaries, helped make Trump victorious.
The abolition of the Electoral College is a second change that would have kept Trump from the presidency. Even as a child, I thought the system wherein candidates lost elections despite having won more votes was unfair and undemocratic. In 1876, the Democrat Samuel Tilden lost to Rutherford Hayes despite having won the popular vote. (Tilden was born and raised in New Lebanon, N.Y, within the readership of this newspaper. The price paid for Republican Hayes' Electoral College victory was the effective end of Reconstruction.
In 1888, Democrat Grover Cleveland lost to Republican Benjamin Harrison (who attended Williams College) despite beating Harrison in the popular vote. When Cleveland won against Harrison in an 1892 rematch, he became the only president to date to win two non-consecutive terms. As we all know, in 2000, Al Gore lost to George W. Bush despite winning the popular vote. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by the largest margin ever by a losing candidate, nearly 3 million more votes than Trump, but still lost the Electoral College.
Popular vote compact
While the Electoral College is provided for in the United States Constitution, the effective end of the Electoral College might be achieved without actually amending the Constitution. This could be done through "The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact," of which Massachusetts is a member. Under this Compact, member states would have their electors vote for the presidential candidate who won the popular vote. If enough states sign to reach the magical number of 270 electors (the majority), it would be enough to assure the winner of the popular vote the presidency. Enough states have now joined for 165 electoral votes, or 61 percent of what's needed to override the undemocratic Electoral College.
Turning back to IRV, a requirement of a majority has precedence in the Electoral College itself. While a majority of votes is not needed to win a state's electoral delegates (Bush took Florida in 2000 with only a plurality of 48.85 percent to Gore's 48.84 percent), a candidate must actually get a majority of the electoral delegates to become president. Otherwise, the House of Representatives determines the president by choosing among the top three vote getters, with each state getting one vote, a majority yet again being required.
In 1824, Andrew Jackson lost the election to John Quincy Adams despite beating Adams by 38,221 votes nationwide. Jackson also had the most electoral delegates, but he only had a plurality of those votes (29.93 percent). The House chose Adams over Jackson.
So, in these "precarious times," let's work democratically together for these changes, to create a true democracy for us all.
Rinaldo Del Gallo is a local attorney whose columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.