Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Feast canned

Our friends at East Boston Online have posted a statement from Italia Unita announcing that this year's feast has been canceled "[d]ue to the current economic climate..." The group has run a three-day festival celebrating Italian culture for the past 14 years.

Update (6/5): The Gl0be weighs in.


Anonymous said...

What do you think about the idea in the Eastie Times that they merge with the Sacred Heart festival for this year?

snapflux said...

I love how this festival usually coincides with Colombian independence day, and most people are wearing yellow, blue, and red shirts there.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
N.starluna said...

I only went to the Italian Festival a few times. I'm more of a County Fair kind of person. But I'm not sure why they don't just downsize the event. They planners have some control over that, don't they?

Anonymous said...

What is the opposition to the Utalia Unita people by the Times' leadership? The Sacred Heart festival is a good community activity, but that's not to say the the Italia Unita one is no good. Is there another agenda in play?

Anonymous said...

Response to Anonymous at 3:04:

Connect the dots. The Executive Director of the EB Foundation, has had a hair across his ass for years when it comes to Italia Unita. The Editor of the Times is the Foundation Director's brother. Someone really needs to take a hard look at the EB Foundation. When's the last time East Boston received any mitigation money? Why aren't our elected officials pushing Massport for a new agreement? How much grant money is left?

Anonymous said...

Wekll lets see ,Cancelled due to the economy,don't think so.

Cancelled as their interview on channel 7 ,saying still in the Red from last year,don't think so.

First off they are a registered 501c3 Tax Exempt organization ,and like the E.B.Foundation,the books are supposed to be public records.

However neither has ever put in the paper for a press release where the money is going.

However I think one needs to go a little deeper on this one.

The head of Italia Unita is the front man for the Mayors key opposition Mike Flagherty in Eastie.
A town the Mayor must win,to win.

Although theis same guy works for Inspectional Services,word on the street is that the permits were the problem,or lack there of.

Sharing a festival means open books,and thats never going to happen.

I think given the way the City works at election time,ill lean towards the permit issue.

One last word on the $$$$$$$$$$ thing.
As most of you knbow,when you are reaching out to people for donor money,they will want to see the books.

Without 100% transparency ,no reputable donor will give money to them,or anyone else.
P.S.As far as the Times goes,just ! forgetaboutit.

Chow Bella !

N.starluna said...

If you are interested in their "books" you can easily find this information by looking at their 990, which is the tax form that all non-profits must file which details their revenue totals and most of their operational expenses. Go to guidestar.org and register (it's free).

I took a quick look and I can't say that anything sticks out at me. They probably spend more on fundraising than I expected, but nothing that would strikes me as a concern. Of course, the devil is in the details but you can't say that the basic information is not available.

I still don't understand why they don't just scale back. I think cultural festivals are not a bad thing, even if they don't exactly "match" the existing community. There are still a large German festivals in Kutztown, PA even though almost no one identifies as "German" anymore (except for the German international students who attend Kutztown University). I understand it brings in a lot of tourist revenue. Maybe Italia Unita should partner with local businesses and quantify the impact the festival has had on increasing foot traffic to local businesses on the days of the festival.

If it is important that this festival happen, isn't a one day festival better than no festival?

Anonymous said...

I heard from business owners on Meridian St. that organizers wanted like a $1500 buy in to be part of the feast--so the Italian business are saying forget about it. There was a time in the 90s when the majority of the businesses Meridian Market, Sonny Noto, Spinelli's, Rino's, Carlos Catering, Milano's, etc. They are all still in the community but don't participate so that must tell you something--maybe they think something was fishy. By the way--where does the fundraising money go? I don't really know what other services this group provides?

Anonymous said...

How did Lynds get to be the head of the East Boston Foundation? who appointed him to that post? does he draw a salay from it?anyone out there with some information?

Anonymous said...

Lynds was the Aide to then State Rep Gus Serra. Gus was the main architect of the mitigation agreement with Massport. At it's beginnings, Serra and Trav controlled the majority of the Trustees of the Foundation. The Trustees voted to give the Exec Dir. job to Lynds. He has received anywhere from 40K to 60K per year. Not bad for a job where you might have to do 8 hours of work per week.

Anonymous said...

Like everything else in this city,its always about the Benjamins.

Not who should get them.

If you get a copy of the Legal papers you will find it was a 3 part claim against Massport.

However the affidavitt reads
They sued on behalf of all of the residents of East Boston,and Winthrop.

So it should be our money ,but that has never happened,like their meeting of all 3 parties who got money,they are closed to the public.

Even though they are a Non Profit.

Here is the breakdown paid by Massport every September 1st.

1.6.Million dollars to the Foundation

75,000.00 to Piers Park Com

75,000.00 to Air Inc

This has been since 1998

They give out less than 5% to us the residents of Eastie.

Then just about every year they change the application to about 20 pages,and yes you need a lawyer to fill it out.

By design I am sure.

Now as part of this all 3 must send Massport every 6 months a full accounting. LOLOLOLOLOLOL

The fox gaurding the Hen house !

If you want any info call Massports Legal department ,and be prepared to wait a very looooooooooooooooooooooooooong time,if ever.

Nuff said

Anonymous said...

The previous post isn't quite right. I'll agree, the application process is overwhelming to say the least. But, nearly all payments from Massport to the foundation are tied to "milestones". For example, they finish the Moving Walkway project, East Boston gets a $600,000 check. They finish the Central Parking garage, another $600,000 check. I'm not 100% sure, but there hasn't been a milestone check in about 2 years. Also, the Mitigation Agreement was for 10 years. It ended in either 2007 or 2008. There is no new agreement as far as I know and there hasn't been a payment for a year or 2. Finally, I do know that the foundation has given more than $600,000 to East Boston 501-C3organizations every year, with most of the money going to sports programs.

Jim said...

I'd love to see an East Boston Times story about the East Boston Foundation and the mitigation money -- not because I have any knowledge or even suspicion about it, but because these are the kinds of things a newspaper should be writing about. How about a story explaining how much it costs to put on Italia Unita, where that money came from, why there's less now, why they can't downsize (as some have suggested), how other such events are put on elsewhere, etc.?

Anonymous said...

The East Boston Times does highlight the money the Foundation gives out--not from the Foundation perspective but from who benefits. I saw a stroy recently on a grant to appraise, photograph and document the historic art at our library--a worthwhile project I might ad. Also I've seen stories on the Y, Zumix, the EBNHC, etc. getting money from the Foundation.
Yes, Attn. Lynds takes a salary from the foundation but the board has voted several times to raise his salary and he has refused the increase each tme over the years (I believe its the original salary agreed upon in 1998).
There's a lot of bashing on the blog about him but who's going to run it?

Anonymous said...

What would you like to see in the story about the Foundation, Jimbo? How about that over the past 10 years they have given a half million dollars to E.B. Hockey programs that serve maybe 100 kids. Or that they always balked at giving 15,000 or so to the festival that is open to the entire 35,000 people in the neighborhood. You won't be reading any stories in the Times as long as the Lynds brothers have their way.

Anonymous said...

I love the Feast and will miss it this year. But give me a break with the personal attacks. How much did the Chris Gabrieli Foundation give this year and years past? What about Coca-Cola or some of their other "BIG" sponsors? How much did vendors have to pay to play? Why are we not hearing any critiques of these "supporters." Sure, maybe the EB Foundation has been less supportive of the Italian Festival than in years past - but I would bet anything they are not the only ones. And as someone who enjoys a lot of what Eastie has to offer, I believe programs that provide real benefits to the East Boston community like Zumix, the Y, East Boston Main Streets, Harborside Community Center (shall I go on) have all also benefited tremendously from the foundation over the years - just like Italia Unita has. The only difference: when certain somebodys don't get what they want, it seems to get personal and this time seems to be no different. What a surprise!

Anonymous said...

judging by the hours involved,plus the salary,everybody in East Boston would want to run it.My eyes were opened on this subject,and how Ritchie Lynds has been at the trough for years! Was he appointed for life to this job? Doesnt the board ever consider a new person every few years?For a guy that lost a rep race 10 years ago,Lynds has done alright,huh?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that they were charging the Vendors alot of money just to be a part of it. The vendors are what makes the event successful. If the committe wants to rape them, I don't blame all of the good italian establishments left in East Boston for not participating. If Italian Unita was receiving so much grant money why charge the vendors such a crazy amount of money? How are they supposed to break even if it costs them a fortune just to participate? If it rains they are the ones who get screwed!

Anonymous said...

Thats a ton of money for these 3 groups who sued on our behalf to have exclusive control over.

As far as I know most of the foundations board membners are not even fromn East Boston.

That includes Mr. Richard Lynds.

So how does this haoppen ?

Very Easy !

Connections,connections.But wait a minute,The Mayor,our Senator,our Rep,and our City concilor"all" get to pick a board member.
So why are they picking people who don't even live here?

Its called control.

I have also been shown documents that a large portion of the money 1.6.mil,has been used in the stock market / mutual funds/c.d.s.

Plus on top of all that they deducted rent,electricity,cell phones,furniture from the 1.6mil,to operate the office near the dollar store .
I always thought it was Lynds law office.

These are things that frustrate people,and make them disconnect,and eventualy move out.

There should be a link on their website to open,and read where every single penny goes.

Open the books,its the only way.

Carl R.

Anonymous said...

Carl R:

Thought I would jump in here because I think you raise some interesting points. But I also think that your points might need some clarification so as to be fair:

a. I looked at the website and recognize 10 of the 11 Board Members as being from East Boston - the only one who I do not recognize is Massport's appointment - so its not entirely accurate to say that our elected officials have picked members who don't live here. To the contrary looks like Eastie residents are exactly who they have picked;

b. Also, according to the website Lynds is the Executive Director (not a Board member) and doesn't even have a vote. I think you will find that most Executive Directors of non-profit organizations do earn a salary. Sure, 40K might be a lot to some but not overly outrageous compared to some other Executive Director salaries out there for non-profits. (I only know Lynds from a few community meetings but I agree with the previous poster that somebody is grinding a personal axe);

c. Not sure about the money being used in the stock market - probably too risky, but CD's and securities don't strike me as problematic or as risky and probably better than a run of the mill passbook savings account;

d. As for operating expenses - again I am not sure this is a huge problem. Organizations like these are usually allowed to have expenses for office and overhead.

e. I do recall reviewing links to where every penny goes - I remember looking at them before on their website. (Looks like they are in the process of updating the site with recent info(?)). Either way, the books are always open for non-profits because you can always make a written request for copies of their tax returns and financial statements directly - for which they are obligated to provide to you under Federal Law.

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

A quick glance at thier 990 filing at the Attorney General's Office shows between 140K and 150K for overhead costs per year, including salaries, rent, utilities, etc. Also, that they gave out 500K to 700K per year. Beside's Lynd's salary, there is an assistant, Lorrain Schettino, full time law student, daughter of one of the trustees and previous aide to City Councillor Scappichio. Over the years, Lynds refused the raises and passed them on to the assistant, who really does most of the work anyway.

At least 7 of the 11 trustees have worked or still work for the City of Boston, Massport, Masspike or other government agency. Make no mistake, the local politicians have complete control over where the money gets donated.

Anonymous said...

6-13 @9;55
No axe to grind.
Many Non Profits do not get paid.

Esp. if the office is never used ,except for an occasional meeting say once a month.

Many groups in Eastie do work for free,and meet n "public access buildings,with advertised meetings,open to the public.

Also the board is supposed to reflect the community,and it does not.

Also there is no way you saw all of the expenditures on their poor excuse for a website.

I noticed you did not speak in specifiics about the rent,furniture,cell phones,etc.

If you Love Eastie,you at times do stuff without expecting to get paid huge sums of money.

Plus all it takes to shut us up is to do the following;

1-Adverise,and hold open public meetings
2-list every year in the Times,and EastBoston.com (all) files,such as awarded grants,and expenses,as well as saleries.
3-Rotate board members every year,or two

Its funny how you stayed real clear of the other two heads of the mitigation millions,such as Air Inc,whos atty Peter Koff of Lexington,Ma.has gotten close to 100,000.00 dollars in fees.
Ouch !

You also never touched on the un-needed office expenses listed in the post.

Don't get me wrong Italian Unita is just as bad ,but its money "is not" the result of a massive legal action,as said filed "on behalf of the residents of East Boston,and Winthrop".

Thats our money ,not theres !
Another thing you did not touch.

Italian Unitas books,and filings are not up to speed at all in the states coporate data base.

So Mr. Anon keep up the good work !

I think its a shame that people still stick up for things like these.
Peace out
Carl R.

Anonymous said...

Are there other executive directors of EB non-profits that make more money and live outside of Eastie, i.e. NOAH, YMCA, EB Social Centers, etc.?
How come nobody is talking about that?

Anonymous said...

I don't have all of info, anon at 11:27, but it's probably safe to say that most Executive Directors put in more than 40 hours a week at their jobs and they don't have a full time law practice at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Are we suggesting that a person with two jobs providing for his family should be penalized for doing so if he or she chooses to?
Is this not Boston, Mass. United States of America, land of the free home of the brave, etc.?`
I'm sure the real time other people spend at that posts probably equals the real time the Foundation Exc. Dir. puts in. By that I mean yeah another director is 40 hours on the books but after you deduct phone calls, surfing the web, writing a letter, taking a lunch etc. whats the real hours spent working on running the non-profit?

Anonymous said...

I love the feast. Are you kidding me, you can't get a canoli like the one at the feast from that guy that owns a canoli shop 20 miles outside Eastie---oh waite, yes you can, right from Spinelli's!
The organizers got greedy with the cookie jar and now that it's been taking away they want to blame someone. Why did it cost Meridian Market a $1000 to be in the feast?
Or Spinelli's or Sonny Noto's or Milano's?
Where did the money go? What programs did it benefit?
How come no one from Unita has stepped forward and said this feast was important because....
Instead they are just trying to slam the Foundation and its dedicated Board.
Unita never had a beef with the Foundation, who ran it and who the board members were when they were getting thier fat check to run the feast so why the concern now?

Anonymous said...

Over the past 5 or so years I have heard complaints from no less than ten different non-profits in East Boston about their inability to reach the Foundation Executive Director by telephone. It was not an isolated incident, it went on for years and it was not even that he didn't call back the next day, the next week or within 3 weeks. He just doesn't call back, period.

Murdock said...

A poster on Boston.com shared the following story, which I thought was interesting and worthy of re-posting here:


I found this on www.changeforboston.org:

Menino’s East Boston Hacks put the kybosh to the Italian Festival !!!

The East Boston Italian Festival has been cancelled. Held for the past 14 years in Central Square, it is no longer. Mainstream news outlets have been reporting the reasons being the festival organizers were unable to secure necessary financing and donations to make the popular East Boston festival happen.

Long time East Boston resident and talk show host Michelle McPhee says the real story is the festival organizer Pasquale Capogreco, president of Italia Unita, is a Michael Flaherty supporter for the Boston Mayor’s race. Menino told Richard Lynds - executive director of the East Boston Foundation, a trust that supports community organizations - to pull the plug on the funding. Lynds had multiple weak reasons not to grant the festival the its annual $15,000 commitment.

Pasquale Capogreco, one of good guys in East Boston, has been caught up in a backlash of the Mayor’s Machine. This is not the first the Mayor’s Machine has worked covertly to squash regualar citizens who do good in the city and are not connected to the Mayor’s Machine. In Menino’s Boston if you are not with him you are a threat and the machine will be coming by to drop hints that you need to be with the Mayor or else .Or else just happened to the Italian Festival.

Also, where are the East Boston elected officials on this matter you may ask? Well none of them came to the rescue of the festival because they are all members of the Mayor’s Machine. Putting the Mayor before the community they were elected to serve. The East Boston community should not forget this transgression on behalf of their neighborhood. Mr. Capogreco has done more for the East Boston community then any of there new lightweight elected official have ever dreamed of.

If the Mayors name is not stamped on a festival or community project, then organizers are always at risk at getting snuffed out by the Mayor. Change for Boston has also seen the Machine working covertly by denying festivals, block partys and permits for opponent supporters. Holding up building permits for developers who do not donate to the Machine’s campaigns. Delaying necessary permits and business renewals and frequent visits from Inspectional Services for businesses who refuse hang Menino campaign signs in their windows and or put up campaign signs for opponents of the Machines’s hand picked nitwits that they will run for any elected position that opens up. We must get our nitwits in office because if with any commonsense see how we are running things, starts speaking up its all over.Mayor Menino needs to control everybody and everything to be able to sleep at night. Change for Boston will working hard through this election cycle to give Mayor Menino the much needed rest that he deserves .

development and is a drain on citizens who have no respect for the Menino Admin and become less involved in civic life.Most residents only wish to enjoy their communities and make them a better place in which they live.

Now you can understand why 70% of people do not vote in municipal elections because they are disgusted by the way politics is played in Boston. Help make a real change for Boston this election season and we can end this reign of terror that has held our city captive for 16 years. CHANGE CAN ONLY HAPPEN IF YOU GET INVOLVED! GET INVOLVED NOW!


I especially liked the comment about the “new lightweight [East Boston] elected officials” silence on this issue. Carlo Basile wasn’t even backed by the Mayor – he should grow a pair, step up, and actually make a mark during his tenure. I’d also like to see Andrew Kenneally address this issue as well. Save the Feast!

Anonymous said...

There is another festival coming up soon in East Boston. It's been a tradition for about 20 years and has been receiving grant money from the foundation for the past 10 years.

I'll bet a million dollars that they will be fully funded by the Foundation to the tune of $15,000.

In fact, if they haven't already voted this year, the Trustees will very soon have to suspend their own rules and will vote unanimously to give them the 15K.

Why unanimously? Because the Foundation by-laws do not allow the grant to exceed 33% of the revenue for the organization in any given year. In other words, non-profits must show other sources of funds besides the Foundation grant.

No program or event get's 100% funding, unless of course, your event is a Sacred Cow. I'm referring to City Councillor Sal LaMattina's EASTIE PRIDE DAY. Every year the Foundation fully funds all costs for this Politician Back Slapping one-day festival.

Once again, the Trustees have, or will, all vote to suspend the by-laws. Just one "no" vote by one Trustee will put everyone on an even playing field. Who will it be? Who will stand up to the elected officials? Will it be John?, Steve?, Steve?, Vinnie?, Dave?, Mary?, Diane?, John?, or Bob? Uh-uh, no way, not one of them. Maybe Arthur or Gail. No, probably not Arthur. But Gail, yeah, maybe Gail. She seems to be the only one that's not afraid of how far the tentacles of the local pols can reach.

Vote no Gail! Vote no to suspending the by-laws. Show them what true Eastie Pride is.