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Andrea Harrington held her first Pittsfield campaign event for district attorney on Wednesday. She also held campaign kickoffs in South County and North County.

Harrington Kicks Off Campaign For District Attorney

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Shirley Edgerton said Harrington has a better sense of the power of the office.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Andrea Harrington says the "status quo" in the district attorney's office is not working for Berkshire County.
 
"It is time to have a district attorney with integrity and who is accountable to this community," Harrington said.
 
The local attorney said North Adams has the highest crime rate per capita in the state and Pittsfield ranks ninth.The district attorney's office, which had been occupied by David Capeless for the last 14 years, can do much more in a preventative manner than it has been doing, she said.
 
Harrington is now running for the office against Capeless' hand-picked successor Paul Caccaviello and Great Barrington attorney Judith Knight.
 
"We've had four women murdered here in Berkshire County in the past year, three due to domestic violence. It is time for law enforcement to be accountable. There are lots of programs that are being tried and uses successfully across the state that we're not doing here. These are practical things that work and we know that they work," Harrington said. 
 
"An hour away in Hampshire and Franklin County they have a high-risk domestic violence task force program. It is people from law enforcement, people from the advocacy community, people from the Department of Children and Families. They come together. They look for the signs of people who are at high risk for committing domestic violence, people who are high risk for being victims of domestic violence. They have not had a single domestic violence homicide in the past five years. That's how prevention works. And we have a district attorney's office who says that's not their responsibility."
 
She said there are plenty of people and organizations tackling issues of poverty and the opioid epidemic and that the district attorney's office should be a leader in those efforts and not just serve as a prosecutor.
 
"The district attorney has a lot of power in the system," Harrington said. "We need to work together as a community to tackle these tough problems."
 
When it comes to those struggling with addiction, she said the current district attorney's office isn't working on diversion programs or trying to get addicts into treatment. She said it costs $87,000 a year to house somebody at the Berkshire County House of Correction and she'd rather see that money allocated back into helping people beat their addiction and get into job training programs, so they can become productive citizens again.
 
"We know once somebody touches the criminal justice system the chances of them coming back grow exponentially. We want to keep people out of jail. We want to get people the help they need," Harrington said.
 
However, she is not saying she'd be soft on crime. She recalled times during her law career when she sat face to face with people whom she didn't feel comfortable with being out on the streets.
 
"It is the responsibility of the district attorney to keep this community safe. And sometimes that means sending people to jail. There are people who are dangerous and they belong in jail," Harrington said.
 
Her focus is to keep the low-level crimes from clogging up the system, getting the people involved in those the help they need, and then back onto their feet while going after the more serious criminals and locking them up.
 
Harrington said she also knows that people of color are disproportionately involved in the court systems at a higher rate, that people of color get bails set five times more than white people. But she can't quantify that because the current district attorney's office doesn't track it. She said that isn't a priority for the office now.
 
She also feels the office is currently out of touch with the community and said she'd create a citizens advisory board.
 
While she has plenty of ideas to take into the office, she almost didn't get a chance. Starting back in January, Capeless hid his retirement from the public, intentionally mislead reporters by pulling nomination papers to make it seem like he was running, all while concurrently plotting with the governor to pass the reins on to Caccaviello so he could run for the job as an incumbent. Capeless' retirement and appointment of Caccaviello came on March 1, giving little time for others to get their nomination papers in.
 
"They tried to keep me out of this race. They tried to go as late as possible so I couldn't get my signatures," Harrington said. "But you know what, we had 50 volunteers from across the county and we got 1,500 certified signatures. On Sept. 4 they are going to really know that they are accountable for this community."
 
Harrington kicked off her campaign against what she called the "old boy's club" at Patrick's Pub on Wednesday night. All three candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination during the Sept. 4 primary and, with no Republican running, the primary winner will become the next district attorney. The kickoff was one of three Harrington hosted -- one in each section of the county.
 
Shirley Edgerton introduced Harrington as supporters mingled in and out of the space throughout the evening.
 
"We need a district attorney who will operate in equity, truth, and justice for all. Andrea is aware of the power and impact of this position," Edgerton said.
 
Harrington lives in Richmond where she and her husband, Tim, are raising their two sons. She is an attorney at Connor & Morneau LLP and has been practicing law for more than 15 years. She has been actively involved in the region, serving as a member of her local Affordable Housing Committee, School Council, and as an advisory board member of the regional non-profit BerkShares Inc. She also is a member of the Richmond School Committee and co-founder of the Berkshire Committee of the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus. She is a member of the Berkshire Bar Association and Hampden County Bar Association and has experience in criminal law and civil litigation.
 
She most recently ran an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for state Senate. She was defeated in that race by Adam Hinds.

Tags: Democrat,   district attorney,   election 2018,   primary,   


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Letter: Problematic Proposed Lenox Short-Term Rental Bylaw

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Under the proposed short-term rental Lenox bylaw, "up to two bedrooms in a dwelling unit may be rented year-round by right provided that the owner or tenant is occupying the dwelling unit at the time of the rental."

Presumably, bedrooms may not be rented at all if the owner or tenant is not occupying the dwelling unit.

In other words, literally, the very same use is allowed by one type of owner (an owner occupying the dwelling unit), but not another type of owner (one who does not occupy the dwelling unit where bedrooms are being rented). Because there is identical use and intensity and the only thing that differs is the type of owner or renter; it is hard to view this as mere regulation of use and not ownership.

The other provision suffers from the same problem. Suppose there is a duplex or land with two houses on it (perhaps an old robber-baron estate) but with separate owners for each dwelling unit. Under the rule regarding "dwelling units being rented in their entirety," "an entire dwelling unit maybe rented up to 75 days per calendar year by right," and "an entire dwelling unit may be rented for an additional 35 days (up to 110 days) per calendar year by Special Permit."

But then suppose there is unity of ownership and one person owns the entire duplex or both houses. In that case, "the above totals apply to the entire parcel" and "the day limits defined above shall be apportioned among those dwelling units."

A town can regulate the number of days a short-term rental may be utilized under the newly passed statute: but this additional restriction based on who owns the premises is a regulation of ownership and not use.

The same is instinct through other parts as well. Of course, Lenox residents or their guest can park in the street. But if you are renting a short-term rental, "All overnight parking must be within the property's driveway or garage." If you own or rent property, so long as you get the right permits, you may entertain on your property. But if you are a short-term renter, "events that include tents or amplified music or which would customarily require a license or permit are not allowed."

Since 1905, when Home Rules was put into the [Massachusetts] Constitution, towns could pass their own bylaws, so long as there was no regulation of a civil relationship unless it was an incident to a legitimate municipal power. This meant, among other things, zoning laws had to regulate use and not ownership. It is now a fundamental principle of Massachusetts zoning that it deals basically with the use, without regard to the ownership of the property involved, or who may be the operator of the use. This bylaw appears to violate this fundamental tenet.

By way of example of the you-may-regulate-use-but-not-ownership rule, it has been held that a city did not have authority under the Massachusetts Constitution to pass an ordinance that affected the civil relationship between tenants and their landlord, who wished to convert their rental units to condominiums. In another case, a municipal ordinance which restricted a landlord's ability to terminate a lease and remove his property from the rental market in order to sell it was invalid.

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