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Meet Rinaldo


Rinaldo Del Gallo III

Rinaldo Del Gallo III has not only been in the Berkshires for the last 16 years, he was raised in Pittsfield. He is one of us and has not been living elsewhere. He has also been a highly visible member of the community during the entirety of that time. (One of his opponents moved to the Berkshires in 2014. The other has lived here for ten years, not remotely been the visible presence in the community as Del Gallo.)

Del Gallo attended Williams School, South Junior High School (now Herberg Middle School), and then Pittsfield High School. After high school, he attended Northern University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from one the most rigorous programs at the undergraduate level, electrical engineering. He graduated in the top half of his class. While at Northeastern, he was a coop student at Pittsfield General Electric’s ordinance division, working on the fire guidance system to the Trident submarine, and quality control for the transmissions of the Bradley Fighting vehicle.

After engineering school, having performed well on the LSAT, Del Gallo attended the George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C.; the law school ranked 20th in the nation, out of approximately 170 law schools. A selective school, it accepted 1 in every 37 applicants. He concentrated in intellectual property. While there, he received the “Corpus Jurus Secundum” for academic excellence and graduated in the top half of his class.

One of Del Gallo’s characteristics is that he is outspoken. Just having graduated from George Washington University, a partner in a law firm he worked for asked him to write a law review article on whether there was such a thing as a “business method exception” to patentable subject matter (i.e., “stuff” you can get a patent for). For a long time, it was thought that there was a “business method exception” to the type of “stuff” one can get a patent on, and there were legal treatises on patent law that so stated. But Del Gallo carefully studied the then existing case law and determined that there was no really case that firmly stood for the proposition that there was a “business method exception.” Most law review articles are summaries of recent cases, however, Del Gallo had come to a remarkable and highly controversial position.

After he wrote the law review article, his partner would not affix his name to it. Moreover, he advised Del Gallo not to submit the law review article for fear of a lasting professional embarrassment that would last a lifetime. The advice was given from a kind and loving place, but it invoked a fear that Del Gallo could potentially be jeopardizing his career. Imagine Del Gallo’s position: he wanted to have his law review article published, but after spending a handsome sum for law school and years of non-stop study, a law partner was warning him not to have it published. The partner’s fears was that publication would lead to a lifetime of professional embarrassment that could compromise that expenditure of a vast amount of time, effort and money that Del Gallo had put into his law school education.

However, a character trait began to emerge that would be a hallmark of Del Gallo—the willingness to speak out. With great trepidation, in 1998, Del Gallo had published “Are Methods of Doing Finally out of Business as a Statutory Exception?” in Franklin Pierce’s IDEA Magazine, an intellectual property law review published by Franklin Pierce Law School. His law review article that his partner warned him to not have published went on to become one of the most famous law review articles of all time.

Del Gallo’s law review was cited in the famous case of State Street Bank v. Signature Financial. The case is a famous case, and is even studied by business students, let alone law students. Del Gallo’s law review article was cited twice in the slip-opinion and once in the final opinion and followed Del Gallo’s logic. His law review article had an immediate impact on millions of dollars of software patents, web-based patents, and other patents related to business systems.

The law review article Del Gallo submitted with great anxiety and fear became one of the most famous law review articles in patent law ever written. Today, books and treatise have been written on Business Method Patents, after Del Gallo discredited the idea that there was a “business method exception” to patentable subject matter. (Click on this link to see just one of them.)

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Del Gallo taking risk and being on the vanguard of ideas, often controversial ideas, has happened over and over again in his life in the Berkshires. Del Gallo has ushered these ideas from a state of controversy to a state of acceptance and implementation. Del Gallo has boldly stepped out where others feared to tread. At the turn of the century, Del Gallo returned to the Pittsfield where he grew up, practicing law. He has been living in the Berkshires continuously for the past 16 years. Ever since returning to the Berkshires, Del Gallo has been prominently involved with the community.

Examples of Del Gallo speaking out include:

  • Around the year 2000, Del Gallo became interested in father’s rights and became the spokesperson of the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition. When the local media blasted Del Gallo for supporting shared parenting, Del Gallo was instrumental in having it put on the ballot and it won by 78% in Berkshire County and in the state representative district representing Northampton.
  • Against heavy criticism and discouragement (including a 2-3 loss in Pittsfield’s Ordinance and Rules Committee), Del Gallo led a fight to have Styrofoam banned in Pittsfield—he inspired the ban on single use plastic bags and Styrofoam in Williamstown.
  • Del Gallo was a leader in filing a petition in Pittsfield City Hall, for transgendered rights when no others would speak out. While he only garnered one-vote on the Pittsfield City Council, he is proud of that petition, and believes he was on the right side of history.
  • Del Gallo was one of the extreme few public officials that advocated decriminalizing marijuana when it was placed on the ballot—the entire Berkshire delegation and all law enforcement were against it. The decriminalization measure won by an overwhelming margin in 2008.
  • Del Gallo spoke out against school bullying and filed petitions in Pittsfield City Hall well before it was recognized by the press as a serious issue.
  • Del Gallo was the only person with a bar-card in Berkshire County that criticized District Attorney Capeless for defending the Bernard Baran case. The Berkshire Eagle was to agree with Del Gallo’s position.
  • He has written columns when Bill Sturgeon was mysteriously asked to leave WTBR, the Taconic radio station.
  • Del Gallo wrote, “Grass-roots group uprooted,” published in the Berkshire Eagle of when Thom Pecoraro and his grass-roots organization was pushed out of the West Side Community Farm Project they helped to start.
  • Del Gallo has taken on several First Amendment cases that others would not handle. In fact, Del Gallo is one of the leading First Amendment attorneys in Berkshire County and has protected that right in a court of law. (Read more below.)
  • Del Gallo was only one of a small select group of leaders in Berkshire County that backed Bernie Sanders before the Massachusetts presidential primary. In addition to traditional means of support with phone calls and door knocking, Del Gallo wrote many columns supporting Sanders. Bernie Sanders ended up taking Berkshire County.

Del Gallo has a cordial relationship with the Pittsfield City Council and gets along very well with them. He can get things done. In fact, while never serving on the council, he has a “legislative history”. Though one petition, he was able to get Secret Service Agent William Craig recognized on Pittsfield’s Police Memorial Day. He was thanked by his descendants in a letter. Through another petition filed with the Pittsfield City Council, he was able to have a “Do not Obstruct Street” sign put in front of the Pittsfield Post Office so that cars would not clog Fenn Street waiting to pull into the Pittsfield Post Office. A small accomplishment, but one that improved the quality of life.

However, without doubt, his two greatest accomplishments include passing two different ordinances. In 2008 Del Gallo filed a petition with the Pittsfield City Council called the “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act” based upon Proposition 2 in California. The petition ultimately was enacted. His ordinance prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. He drafted the legislation and it was codified in Pittsfield ordinance is codified at Chapter 2½ Article III.

Del Gallo’s other great accomplishment was obtaining a ban on Styrofoam in Pittsfield, an effort which garnered a considerable amount of press. Codified in Section 8-2.2, the ordinance took years of perseverance. Del Gallo received a Hero of the Ocean” award from Massachusetts State Senate (presented by Ben Downing) for efforts to ban Styrofoam and Single Use Plastic bags. Del Gallo inspired Brad Verter in Williamstown (who is now a state-leader on the subject), and the Lee Recycling Committee in Lee (with the enormous efforts of Peter Hoffman). Del Gallo actually filed the original petition in Lee that was tabled, upon which the Lee Recycling Commission performed inspirationally, tailored a new ordinance to their locale and were able to get it passed at the Lee town meeting. Del Gallo actually filed the original petition in Lenox. Through the efforts of Eric Federer and the Lenox Environmental Committee, the Board of Health has Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags banned in Lenox.

All this shows that there is a “we” in all this, and together we can make positive changes, including for the environment. It also shows what inspiration Del Gallo can be, and how we pass it on. Del Gallo, for instance, was inspired by the town of Great Barrington, that both banned Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags.

Del Gallo has written countless columns published in the Berkshire Eagle, the North Adams Transcript (now combined with the Berkshire Eagle), the Pittsfield Gazette, and the Advocate. He has written on a wide variety of political, cultural, and local history over the course of his time in the Berkshires.

Del Gallo’s voice has not been limited to the Berkshire’s. His columns have appeared in many newspapers and magazines across the country. A non-exhaustive list of places his columns have been published in, include the Boston Globe, the Baltimore Sun, the Buffalo News, the Albany Times, the Springfield Republican, the Charlestown Gazette, the Washington Times, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, the Lowell Sun, the North Adams Transcript, the Berkshire Eagle, the Brooklyn Eagle, the Gloucester Daily Times, the Greenfield Recorder, the Saratogian, the Keene Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), the Union Leader (Manchester, New Hampshire), the Concord Monitor (Concord, New Hampshire), the Taunton Daily Gazette, the Pittsfield Gazette, Intellectual Property Today, and the Thoroughbred Daily News. `

Del Gallo’s legal acumen, coupled with listening to others, has also been of great benefit to the community. One example includes a time, over a decade ago, where in western Pittsfield, a new strip club was going to be placed in the old Munchies tavern on Route 20, at the western gateway to the city. Pittsfield then passed an Adult Entertainment ordinance. From listening to others and using his own legal judgment, Del Gallo was able to see that Munchies was far enough away from any residential housing to be converted into a “strip club,” and that the adult entertainment ordinance might not be enough protection. Del Gallo tried to have the ordinance amended, but without success.

While the former Munchies did not turn into a strip club for other reasons, had it otherwise complied with the ordinance, it would have. It then was far enough away from residential neighborhoods to be converted into a strip club, so long as the suitable screening and other provisions were implemented. After a near miss, the Adult Entertainment ordinance was re-drafted extending the distance between residential housing, in essence incorporating Del Gallo’s suggestion before the near fiasco.

Another example of his acumen, was his particular attention to the new proposed Pittsfield City Charter. The new charter had substantially changed the requirements for office for school committee and city council. Formerly, one could be on the school committee and be on the “city side” of government, and one could run for the city council and work for the school department. The new charter changed this but did not include it in its summary to the voters. This caught the attention of the Berkshire Eagle and they wrote an article on it. These examples demonstrate his attention to detail and quick thinking when dealing with legislation that could be brought to the state house.

It still happens today. Recently, Del Gallo noticed an ambiguity in the wording of the Adult Entertainment Statute that repetitiously used the term “a substantial or significant portion of its stock” when describing adult books, videos, and paraphernalia. He filed a petition to make the language more certain. Today, “Wild Orchard” on West Housatonic Street did not get an adult entertainment permit, and does not meet the screening requirements needed to obtain such a permit. But Wild Orchard sells adult paraphernalia seemingly within the ambit of the adult entertainment ordinance. The neighbors feel cheated because they believe “a substantial or significant portion of its stock” relates to adult entertainment. And no doubt, Wild Orchard will argue that because of its additional stock unrelated to adult entertainment, they have not reached the “substantial or significant portion of its stock” threshold. Del Gallo saw an ambiguity and tried to have it corrected. Del Gallo is certainly not running on an anti-porn crusade and is not running on this issue. But the situation exemplifies Del Gallo’s ability to examine carefully legislation, a legal skill that will serve him well in the State Senate.

Del Gallo has not only drafted legislation that became ordinances in Pittsfield (farm animal anti-cruelty measures, Styrofoam ban), but has thoughtfully reviewed ordinances and charter changes, providing valuable legislative insight to the community. He has done this all as a volunteer.

BIG HEART

But apart from his academic credentials, Del Gallo has a big heart. One case that garnered coast-to-coast attention in print, on television and radio, is the case of Richard Rodriguez and his son. While living in Pittsfield, the mother took off one day with their son and went into hiding in another part of the country. After a long effort, Del Gallo was able to get the child back. That can be read about by clicking HERE , HERE , HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. But after that, almost all his efforts (often resulting in considerable media coverage) was done for free or nearly for free.

Consider this quote from the Berkshire Eagle, covering Del Gallo’s announcement, where people gave testimonial to Del Gallo’s contributions to our community:

Several supporters attending the evening event praised Del Gallo, 53, a city native and attorney, for his work on behalf of progressive causes — often performing hours of pro bono legal work.

Brad Verter said, “I was inspired by Rinaldo Del Gallo,” when Verter began pushing for bans on polystyrene foam containers and shopping bags in Williamstown, both of which were enacted.

Del Gallo’s proposal for similar bans in Pittsfield spurred his own, Verter said, adding that he previously hadn’t realized such changes could be enacted, before he saw a Del Gallo column on his citywide effort in The Berkshire Eagle.

“He held my hand through the entire process [in Williamstown],” Verter said.

Since then, he said, he has launched MassGreen.org, which assists communities around the state in similar environmental protection efforts.

Jim Martin, who said he has known Del Gallo for many years, said the attorney worked pro bono for numerous hours on a probate court issue for him.

“He has always been more concerned about helping people than making money,” Martin said.

Speaking later, Del Gallo estimated he has done “a fantastic amount of pro bono work” over the years in numerous causes.

Martin also praised the candidate for “being the first against the [Kinder Morgan natural gas] pipeline in this county.”

Grier Horner, a retired Berkshire Eagle editor and artist, said Del Gallo helped rescue his neighborhood when a developer planned a 375-unit timeshare development nearby. Not seeking any compensation, Del Gallo “knocked the [legal] footing out from under the developers,” Horner said.

He also praised the candidate, who has promised to run “as a Bernie Sanders progressive,” for his positions on taxation, the environment and many other issues. Through changes in the state and federal tax structures, Del Gallo wants to “ease the stranglehold” wealthy interests have obtained, Horner said.

“We need more candidates like Bernie Sanders and Rinaldo Del Gallo,” he said.

SOURCE: Berkshire Eagle, May 31, 2016, “State Senate candidate Rinaldo Del Gallo makes formal announcement:

Since returning to the Berkshire 16 years ago, Del Gallo ran a free legal clinic for the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, for non-custodial parents (and sometimes custodial parents) for over a decade. With the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition, he has appeared in the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade, the North Adams Fall Foliage Parade, and the Pittsfield Halloween Parade on over 35 occasions, turning the organization into a community group benefiting the community.

Del Gallo has also, for a very small fee or none at all, fought for the First Amendment on several high profile cases that garnered national media attention. He successfully fought for the right of a non-profit to host a musical festival for a political cause who could not afford the police detail the city was quite needlessly requiring. He fought for the right to gather signatures in front of the Pittsfield Post Office. He successfully fought for the right for blogger Dan Valenti to write freely when Valenti was slapped with an anti-harassment protection order.

At no cost, Del Gallo has been involved with several local zoning issues, including preventing a large time-share unit from being put on the grounds of the former Camp Sumner in Pittsfield. By putting his legal skills to work for the community, Del Gallo has helped make Pittsfield a better place to live.

Whether it was his fight to give farm animal enough room to turn around (an ordinance which Del Gallo drafted), or the effort to ban Styrofoam or single-use plastic bags in Pittsfield and throughout Berkshire County, Del Gallo has worked as a volunteer. Both efforts to ban single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam involved a three-year effort, as well as numerous appearances before the Pittsfield City Council, the Ordinance and Rules subcommittee, and the Pittsfield Green Commission. Del Gallo drafted ordinances for both petitions. Del Gallo has also worked extensively with the Lenox Environmental Committee, as well as having inspired the initial petitions in Lee and Lenox.

From doing the pro bono work of any 30 average attorneys in Berkshire County for the indigent; to writing about progressive causes for local papers (as well as other topics) without compensation; to his endless volunteer hours at the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition both lobbying and running a weekly free legal clinic for over a decade; to his fight for the First Amendment pro bono or for almost no cost; to his volunteer efforts to have good zoning laws; to his fight for animal’s rights and the environment (done also without pay); to his involvement in numerous other causes and issues of public interest too numerous to enumerate without recompense; to volunteering as an usher and greeter at both Tanglewood and Shakespeare and Company; Del Gallo has shown a willingness to give and volunteer for the betterment of his community over and over again. He has big heart that will serve him well in the legislature.

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