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No is no: Caccaviello should drop out

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By Sunday, Sep 23, 2018 Letters 16
To the Editor:

Even for a woman on the planet, with all our experience having men disregard our clear “No, Thank You’s,” there remains a degree of shock when your choices are casually batted away by someone who feels entitled to get what he wants.”Would you like more of me?”

“No, thanks.”

“Have you really thought about it, though? I don’t think you know what you’re talking about, so I’m going to ignore you. I’m going to make you have to keep saying No, and even then, I might not listen.”

News of Paul Caccaviello launching a write-in campaign on the heels of his defeat to Andrea Harrington is one of those moments.

After a long primary season that included numerous debates across Berkshire County and ample opportunity for residents to learn about each of our Democratic DA candidates, voters made our decision. We said “Yes” to Andrea Harrington, and “No” to Paul Caccaviello.

We expressed ourselves clearly, selecting a new, more effective, more humane direction for our community: a model of social justice that seeks to undo the savagery of mass incarceration, that relies on data to achieve actual solutions to our addiction crisis, that takes seriously the sexual and domestic assaults of women in our community. We chose a model that will move us towards actual justice, collective public safety and a healthy community where people are being lifted out of poverty, treated with fairness, and offered the supports and treatment they need to thrive, instead of disappearing into our criminal legal system.

We said “No” to Paul Caccaviello. And now he is ignoring us.

If Paul values the community he has been charged with serving in his role as DA, then he should accept our verdict and drop out of the race. This primary season has been exhausting for Berkshire County. We would like to move forward with addressing the serious issues facing our region.

There are actual lives at stake here.

Instead, we are being pulled back into a campaign courtship that has already been decided. We have said no, and no means no — a fact that should be clear to a prosecutor.

Why is he refusing to hear us? And what does that tell us about his judgment, and his level of respect for this community?

Peggy Kern


16 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Carl Stewart says:

    Even though I believe that Andrea Harrington is almost completely unequipped to handle the role as Berkshire County District Attorney, I nevertheless agree with the substance .although not the reasoning of…Ms. Kern’s letter to the editor.

    The purpose of the primary election was to determine who the voters of the county wanted to represent them on Election Day on the Democratic Party line. As the Republicans chose not to field a candidate, the decision by the voters on primary day was virtually assured of becoming the next DA. Mr. Caccaviello received just a bit more than 1/3 of the vote, which meant that 2/3 of the voters did not want him to be our District Attorney. One must suspect that having spent virtually his entire professional life in that office, that he is worried about what he will do next. It is a reasonable cause of anxiety but the role of the voters on Election Day is not to ease Mr. Caccaviello’s anxiety about where his legal career goes from here.

    Note: In fairness to Mr. Caccaviello, it should be pointed out that Ms. Harrington can hardly be said to have received a mandate with her primary victory. If she had received more than half of the votes in the primary it would have been a convincing win, but her vote total was only marginally greater than the Caccaviello vote.

  2. William R Hassenmayer says:

    Why should we deny Mr. Caccaviello the right to run as an independent? The thought of the whole electorate having a choice in the D.A.. race certainly gives people more incentive to show up to vote. I hope that the rest of Berkshire Co. won’t be too “exhausted” from the primary season to show up on election day. I’m still undecided, but I’m glad to have a choice.

    1. Michael Wise says:

      No one denied Mr. Caccaviello the right to run as an independent. He chose not to do so. He could have gotten onto the November ballot as an independent by submitting enough signatures on nominating papers. Instead, he changed his voter registration in order to seek the nomination of the Democratic Party, and he failed to get it. There is little practical difference between the two paths to the ballot box, because qualifying for the Democratic primary ballot required the same number of nominating signatures as an independent would need to qualify for the general election ballot.

  3. liza kay says:

    Does it not bother anyone that Harrington has no track record of public service? None at all. I just don’t get how citizens can vote for to put someone in such an important position as the lawyer for the people who has almost no relevant legal experience AND has never shown up at or for any of the “causes” she now seems to care so deeply about: fighting substance abuse, domestic violence, public safety, youth. Have you ever seen her at any fundraisers or working on behalf of the Brien Center, Elizabeth Freeman, Fairview, Railroad St. etc? There is simply no THERE there. I really hope people wake up in November.

    1. Mary says:

      Liza, I’m with you. This has very little to do with Andrea Harrington, the candidate, the lawyer, the woman, the mother, the non prosecutor, and EVERYTHING to do with this insidious group of political people in Pittsfield commonly referred to as “the machine behind Linda Tyer”. They have an agenda, not for the county, but for Pittsfield. They are under the impression that the DA’s office does police work – that is how much they don’t know – and she is a puppet because she is willing, naïve, and can lie. Where have you ever seen a sitting mayor, council president, council vice president and a STATE REP all endorse a DA? This is ridiculously beyond words.

  4. Kayemtee says:

    Wow, if the Harrington folks were really confident in their candidate’s ability to win, why would they so vehemently object to a long shot write-in campaign?
    Is it possible that a majority of Berkshire County voters will be concerned enough about Harrington’s lack of experience, to take the trouble to write in the name of a candidate who, by everything I have read about him, appears to be an honorable guy with a great deal of experience?
    I am a retired former prosecutor with 36 years at the job. I have worked for an elected District Attorney without any prosecutorial experience for eight of those years. However, the size of the office I worked for (approximately 500 attorneys) allowed for many senior lawyers, who were in a position to advise the elected DA about common practices, past experience, and important technicalities of which she might not have been aware. This allowed her to implement broad policy changes she favored without making mistakes owing to inexperience.
    I have no idea whether the Berkshire County District Attorneys Office has the size and bench strength to support Ms Harrington, but it is not an unreasonable question for Berkshire County voters to consider.

    1. Egidio says:

      I emplore you to spend a day in court to watch a failed system in real time, defendants are treated differently, Capeless would hang on to a cases that in other counties would have been disposed of because they lacked merit, especially domestic cases he would literally hang on to the case until the last second even having Police go searching for a alleged victim that didn’t show up on trial day even though they have already recanted, said it didn’t happen, they lied etc. Caccaviello policy will be no different, he lost get over it, show some initiative, start a private practice, or another career . Drop out of the race Paul The people have spoken!

      1. Kayemtee says:

        It is a very common practice around the country for prosecutors to keep domestic violence cases pending, even without the complainant’s cooperation, until speedy trial laws force a dismissal. This is not unreasonable. The vast majority of domestic violence complainants are being truthful when they make accusations which result in an arrest. Their affection for the perpetrator, life circumstances (financial dependence on the perpetrator for example), and lack of respect of the system are all reasons why victims falsely recant subsesequently. In these circumstances, prosecutors around the country, even in the most progressive offices, keep the charges pending in the event of a reoccurrence of violence, so that the original charge can be prosecuted if the complainant has a change of heart.
        I am not defending many of the choices Capless made in office; he may well have been overly aggressive in his prosecutions. My experience is that the public is more accepting of aggressive prosecution when the crime rate is high; that most people are seeking less zealous prosecutors is great news; it means that the crime problem is diminished.
        My point is simply this; experience counts. It is by no means the only qualification for office. The primary result has left the citizens of Berkshire County with only one candidate, who has virtually no experience in criminal law, on either side. Rather than rail against a write-in candidate, simply vote for Harrington in the general election.

    2. Egidio says:

      The Entire system in place in The Berkshires needs to change, it seems as though you’re a Caccaviello and Capeless lover, I can’t support a failed system, where people aren’t treated fairly, the overbearing victim advocates addressing defendants in court and nobody stops them that’s a crime, it’s wrong, unheard of but they get away with it, it’s time for a change, The People have spoken, find a job Paul yours is taken, it was never really yours, we didn’t elect you! Capeless retired because he was going to be ousted too! And to your comment victims tell the truth that results in an arrest, they also lie and abuse the system especially restraining orders that they use to control their victim , they hand out 209A like candy and every woman knows that these out of touch Judges won’t question their motives on seeking one.

  5. Peggy Kern says:

    This is the age of mass incarceration. Let’s start there. This is the time when we now have ample data explaining how our criminal legal system has ended up incarcerating more people than any other country on the planet, to no end but suffering, to no end that has anything to do with actual public safety.

    Among other things, Berkshire County is notorious for having a DA office that 1) actively lobbied against our state’s rather centrist criminal justice reform legislation, 2) holds people of color on bail amounts five times higher than white people.

    Across the Northeast, from Boston to Philly, people are electing district attorneys who have a background in defense litigation, NOT prosecution. They are choosing to do this because defense attorneys have the PRECISE experience necessary to understand how the State misuses its power. Across the Northeast, these new DAs are unseating incumbents in their democratic primaries – incumbents who actually had to campaign for their positions rather than inheriting them. In all of these examples, the incumbent accepted the terms of their primary defeat. Except for here.

    Also. In Philadelphia? Violent crime is down, thanks to the stewardship of their new DA, who had “no experience” in prosecution, but did have a deep understanding of how the system functions, and what needs to change.

    I am personally, deeply embarrassed that our county has become a topic in the national press because of what is going on with this write-in campaign, along with our history of unjust practices within our courts. Sure, Paul has a technical right to prolong this campaign. But it doesn’t make that decision any less boorish or selfish. I find it embarrassing that he, who has never had to compete for his job until now, is now moving the goal post because he doesn’t like the outcome of the primary he agreed to compete in.

    1. liza kay says:

      Peggy is spinning propaganda that has no basis in reality in Berkshire County. Please point us to the cases where people are in jail here who shouldn’t be. Please specifically name a single case where a person here of any color is serving time who did not more than deserve what they got. Making vague blanket statements about unjust treatment in our courts based on no facts is simply irresponsible.

  6. Mary says:

    Peggy, she had 8 cases in 12 years. Is this what you call PRECISE experience? Please. You could have at least voted for Judy if this is how you feel.

  7. liza kay says:

    Peggy is spinning propaganda that has no basis in reality in Berkshire County. Please point us to the cases where people are in jail here who shouldn’t be. Please specifically name a single case where a person here of any color is serving time who did not more than deserve what they got. Making vague blanket statements about unjust treatment in our courts based on no facts is simply irresponsible.

    1. Peg says:

      Liza, this data is publically available. And has been printed in numerous national publications. And is up on the ACLU web site. I’ll leave you to do your own research.

      1. liza kay says:

        You have murdered you own argument. The ACLU’s campaign is a national one backed by a $50 million grant from billionaire donor George Soros to invest organizbational muscle in local district attorney races in 2018.
        Their focus is primarily on cities with large jail populations that feed overcrowded prison systems, while our jail capacity is at an all time low. They want diversion programs, which we do have. They are attacking a massive national problem without regard to whether we here in the Berkshires have criminals on the street.

  8. Egidio says:

    Liza, You’re really Paul Caccaviello are you not, you sound silly and disgruntled what do you know personally about the Court system in place in The Berkshires, have you ever been charged with a crime, had to play the game in a failed system, Caccaviello needs to find a job he lost his!

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