Rinaldo Del Gallo, III: A true progressive for state Senate
PITTSFIELD — I differ from my opponents for state Senate as follows:
I am running as a "Bernie Sanders progressive." They declined to say whether they voted for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton when asked by a debate moderator. They figure you are not entitled to know how they fall on the political spectrum.
They were initially undecided about whether to oppose the pipelines. This shows that they had reservations about upsetting the pipelines' advocates. They only opposed the pipelines after I jumped in the race and opposed the pipelines from the start.
To fight against global warming, which could literally cause the cataclysmic end of mankind, I am for having wind energy here in the Berkshires (and the rest of the district) by having windmills on our mountain ranges. They are opposed to such Berkshire windmills. In 2008 I wrote a column supporting the Wind Sitting Reform Act in this newspaper, streamlining the permitting process for windmills. The Eagle agreed in an editorial.
My opponents are progressive, but not as progressive as I am. They do not claim to want to follow the Nordic Model, which is the economic and social policies of the Nordic countries where homelessness and poverty is almost unknown. I am for tuition-free and debt-free state universities and colleges: they have never voiced support for such programs.
I favor legalizing marijuana to which they have repeatedly said they oppose. While to their credit both have said they want to expand opioid treatment, neither have gone to the extent that I have and declared the war on drugs a failure and call for a 100 percent focus on treatment instead of enforcement.
Andrea Harrington and I both favor an immediate and across the board $15 minimum wage. Adam Hinds initially supported this when at a forum in Becket, but at a forum at MCLA said he was for a $15 minimum wage "eventually" and there would be "lots of exceptions." Andrea and I both maintain he flip-flopped.
We have vastly different views on direct democracy. Whether it is legalizing marijuana or lifting the cap on charter schools or any other ballot initiative, I have said I would honor the will of the people no matter how the vote turns out. Despite countless opportunities to say they will support the will of the people however any initiative vote turns out, and despite my open challenge in a debate that they pledge to support the will of the people no matter the vote, they refused.
On the issue of crime, both my opponents immediately called for more spending on police after a rash of shooting in Pittsfield. I did not — I would rather the money be spent on creating hope and opportunity for our youth to keep them from going criminal in the first place.
While Hinds and Harrington spoke against money in politics, both refused to agree to my challenge to voluntary spending limits. Lately, both the media and Harrington have been questioning many of Hinds' campaign donors which the public should look into.
Opposed to Walmart plan
We all want high speed internet in the hill towns, but I am the only one calling on the government to do what the private sector will not: I liken the problem to that of rural electricity. On the issue of Walmart at PEDA, my opponents have observed that Walmart is not a great employer and wreaks economic devastation on municipalities, yet fail to criticize the city of Pittsfield for welcoming Walmart to PEDA. I am opposed to Walmart at PEDA.
On the question of shared parenting legislation, which is a legal presumption that there would be joint legal and physical custody of children in child custody cases, which may be rebutted by showing that one of the parents is unfit or it unworkable through no fault of the parents, Hinds declined to answer the question at a debate. Harrington said she is in favor of a "maternal preference," whereby fathers and mothers would not be treated equally before the eyes of the court, but instead favor mothers over fathers. The public should know that virtually nobody in the legal profession supports this position (even opponents to shared parenting legislation), and that most states have ruled that such a maternal preference violates Equal Protection and that father and mother must be treated equally.
While after 4-5 months my opponents finally supported the Fair Share Amendment, none have supported amending the state Constitution to call for taxes on the super rich with regard to capital gains, wealth accumulation, and estates. Currently, the top 1/10 of 1 percent has as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. I call on changing this to finance education, infrastructure, green energy and health care.
Rinaldo Del Gallo, III is a candidate for state Senate from Western Massachusetts.