Letter: Harrington Right Person for DA

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To the Editor:

It was supposed to be easy.

The position of district attorney in Berkshire County was his to be had. It was set up so well. A shady backroom deal between the 14-year veteran DA and the Republican governor ... an early retirement of the 14-year veteran to allow him to run as the incumbent ... and a last minute switch to the Democratic Party to ensure the vote in the heavy Democrat/Democrat-leaning county. All the "right" political moves were made. He thought he was a shoo-in ... but then, something happened:

Andrea Harrington announced her campaign to run for Berkshire County district attorney. She embraced the extremely popular Criminal Justice Reform Bill supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. In spite of the current Berkshire County DA's office signing on to a letter of opposition submitted to the governor (who appointed the current DA), the governor signed the popular bill into law.

Now finding himself in a 3-way primary battle with two progressive supporters of criminal justice reform, the easy path to a continued career became difficult. In fact, Andrea Harrington recorded a solid victory in that 3-way primary. Her leadership, energy, and fresh perspective were on display and rewarded with the victory!

After all the political posturing, and backroom dealing: he lost!

Now what? Trying to claim he was never a Democrat? That he only registered as a (D) to participate in debates (and now calling for more after debating and losing). Trying to say the district attorney's elected position should not be political? (what was all that stuff he and the previous DA did?)

Pulling all the stops in an effort to salvage the one thing, the only thing, he has done for 30 years? It is time for a change.

As I stated in a letter to the editor in May:

"The competent staff of professionals who make up the DA's office need the fresh leadership, energized leadership, found in someone who embraces the Criminal Justice Reform that the people of Massachusetts, and particularly, the people of Berkshire County both want and deserve. The time to embrace that change is now. This is our moment. ...

"Andrea Harrington is the right person in the right place at the right time."

Please help change our communities for the better on Nov. 6.

Vote for Andrea Harrington, Democrat for Berkshire County district attorney.

Steve Farina
Great Barrington, Mass.





Tags: district attorney,   election 2018,   

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Ethics Commission Alleges Conflict Violations by West Stockbridge Chief

WEST STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — The Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission on Wednesday filed an order to show cause alleging that West Stockbridge Fire Chief Peter Skorput, a former Select Board member, committed multiple conflict-of-interest law violations, including setting stipends for himself, his daughter and his nephew; voting as a Select Board member to reappoint himself fire chief; and terminating a firefighter who had filed a complaint against him.
According to the order, shortly after Skorput was elected to the Select Board in 2013, a West Stockbridge official contacted the town's counsel about conflict-of-interest law exemptions available to Skorput regarding his serving both as a Select Board member and fire chief. 
Allegedly, town counsel advised the official that Skorput follow the requirements for a particular conflict-of-interest law exemption that would allow him to accept pay for both positions, and this was communicated to Skorput. From the time he was elected until January 2017, however, Skorput did not meet the exemption requirements and violated the conflict of law by continuing to hold his compensated fire chief position after his election to the Select Board, according to the order.
The order further alleges Skorput violated the conflict-of-interest law by participating officially in matters involving his own and his daughter's financial interests. In 2013, Skorput allegedly voted as a Select Board member to reappoint himself as fire chief. Also, as fire chief, he allegedly decided the amount of firefighter stipends for himself each December in 2013-2015 and for his daughter in 2013 and 2014, and as a Select Board member signed the pay warrants for his daughter's stipends. Additionally, at several Select Board meetings in 2015 and 2016, Skorput allegedly participated as a Select Board member in the board's review of complaints about his performance as fire chief.
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