DA's Office Demands Passion, Experience
Do we really want a DA who holds himself to such low standards of evidence? Buoniconti's "vision" and his "community approach" to the job of DA look very much like classic campaign BS and the only assurance the voters have to the contrary are the earnest promises of the candidate. The problem for the citizens of Hampden County is that this is not just filler to round out an impressive record of success as a trial attorney or even as a state legislator who has worked to improve public safety as one of his main legislative priorities. For the Buoniconti campaign this stuff is the meat.
A review of State Sen. Buoniconti's legislative record reveals no particular passion for the issues he's been touting on the campaign trail. Buoniconti's own Web page includes absolutely no evidence that he's spent significant personal energy or political capital in the senate on helping the state's DAs do their job.
Buoniconti hasn't even tried to pretend to care passionately about his "vision" of "community prosecution models" prior to his present political campaign. His state senate Web site shows no evidence that these issues have driven him as a legislator. In fact, the only dynamic section on his Web page is the "media" section, which has some nice pictures and some press releases on issues that have nothing to do with "community pro-secution" or even crime fighting in general. Almost comical is the tab in the media section called "current activities." Visitors to that page are told "Page under construction . Thank you for your patience." The fact that this page was last updated on Aug. 21, 2005, reveals that this comedy is actually a cruel joke on the voters. How much progress can we expect on his visionary promises if elected DA when he hasn't even constructed the only part of his web site designed to inform voters of his actual accomplishments after six years in the state senate?
Sen. Buoniconti has some committed supporters who have taken exception to my efforts to expose the lack of substance in his candidacy for district attorney. Unfortunately, Sen. Buoniconti hasn't given his supporters much in the way of evidence to support their claims that he is the "most experienced" and has a unique "vision" of "community outreach" that will greatly improve the performance of the DAs office, leaving them to make silly baseless claims. Unable to substantiate such claims, these folks settle for attacking me. One high profile supporter recently called me an "internet bully."
How can Buoniconti expect to get elected based on his unique approach to crime fighting when that approach has been entirely constructed for his campaign, with considerable help from the Web sites and talking points of at least one of his primary election opponents? How can he expect voters to think he has always been keenly interested in crime fighting when his record as an ADA is incredibly undistinguished? So much so, in fact, that he felt he had to embellish it by falsely claiming to have been appointed "chief prosecutor" of two district courts, when in fact he merely filled in for chiefs who were out of the office. Why does his record as a state legislator reveal no great interest in or understanding of innovative crime fighting strategies? Why is there no record of his "vision" prior to announcing his candidacy for Hampden County DA? I think everyone reading these words knows the answers to these questions.
So, why then is Buoniconti at least even money to win his election for DA? Because what he has been cultivating and working hard on is his political organization and fund raising. Politics is his passion and his career, something, by the way, that is perfectly fine with me as long as he stays in politics. Law enforcement is NOT POLITICS! There is already too much political influence in law enforcement policy. The last thing we need in Hampden County is to politicize a job that has been conducted with high standards of law enforcement and criminal prosecutorial professionalism for decades.
Sen. Buoniconti is lucky that the DA's race is a relatively low profile election for a post that the average voter doesn't understand in much detail. He's also lucky to have a compliant local media that apparently can't muster the interest or capacity to even look at his Web site, never mind legislative records, and to hold him accountable for the credibility of his new found passions and "vision."
I have been active in politics my whole life. I have a deep and abiding respect for politicians who work hard to do the right thing, which contrary to popular opinion, is actually most of them. I even believe this is true of Sen. Buoniconti, whose legislative accomplishments are not the primary target of my criticism. Nor is he personally my target. We have many mutual friends, the vast majority of whom consider him one of the good guys on Beacon Hill. I don't quibble with that conclusion. Skilled politicians are necessary and also a net positive for the public in political offices, but not as leaders in the administration of justice and the prevention and prosecution of crime.
My focus and concern is the office of the district attorney. As an educator, I fight every day against political cynicism and superficiality. I do this because politics has real stakes and real consequences for the quality of people's lives. Every time an election is won by skilled candidates over those better suited and better qualified for an office, the cynics harden their disgust for politics and average citizens are discouraged from meaningful participation. This race for DA is a glaring example of such an election.
I simply cannot resist testing the proposition that voters can be effectively informed and educated and can see past the smokescreens of political rhetoric and advertising well enough to prevent serious mistakes at the polls. In fact, I see this as part of my own professional obligation as an educator. Jerod Duquette