Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Was feast killed by politics?

The web site Change for Boston has a lengthy post on the cancellation of this year's Italia Unita festival. The site claims that the annual East Boston feast was, in essence, squashed by the mayor in a case of political retribution. Here is the key paragraph:
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.
Now, Change for Boston seems to be expressly devoted to unseating Menino in the coming mayoral election. The posts on the site are written by "ADMIN," so for all I know it could be part of Councilor Flaherty's campaign, and I can't find any other references on the Internet to McPhee breaking this story.

I have no other information on this issue, but I thought I'd point out the allegation.


John said...

If this is true I'd be pretty disappointed in the Mayor. I'm generally a supporter and think he's done a great job with the City but with all these side references to things that need changing (charter schools, the mayor's machine, tax expempt property) I'm starting to think it might be time for a change.

Megan said...

"if this is true" of course this is you also know that Flaherty was scheduled to host a fundraiser at GameOn on the 25th but "by accident" the venue double booked for that night! Really??? Because the way I read it, it's that the owener gives a ton of money to Menino and something tells me that by having GameOn support Flaherty, that was just a slap in the face to Menino and he just wouldn't have it in "his" city! God forbid any Bostonian think for themselves or express support for anyone who is NOT we not live in 2009 where we as a NATION we elected a black president? I do believe that people CAN think for themselves and CAN vocalize their OWN opinions! I know that there is dirty politics in every city, town and state but I think East Boston wins this one in a landslide.

N.starluna said...

This is what I don't understand. According to Italia Unita's tax forms, in 2007 they pulled in $110,755 in revenue and had only $84,655 in program expenses and a little over $30,000 in management and fundraising expenses (there was a $11,000 in the bank at the beginning of the tax year).

Even given inflation and a possible reduction in donations, the loss of East Boston Foundation's $15,000 does not strike me as enough to cause the cancellation of the entire event. In 2005 they managed to put on the festival with only $99,000. Although I don't have access to 990s earlier than this, I would imagine that the festival was a leaner machine in 2001 when they only raised $80,000.

This doesn't add up to me. It is possible that the Mayor squashed it in different ways, but it doesn't seem likely that the nail in the coffin was the East Boston Foundation. If it is a budget issue, McPhee should have looked into that. It can't only be the East Boston Foundation who pulled funding if they are canceling the entire festival.

N.starluna said...

Also, I looked up the website and I think you may be right that it is a front for Flaherty. You can tell because the meta keywords are: "mayor menino, boston politics, michael flarhety, boston mayor".

No, that is not my spelling error. I cut and pasted that directly from the whois database, which is where you find information on the history and ownership of a website.

Personally, I can't say I care that this is a pro-Flaherty web page. All modern campaigns have to have a web presence; indeed multiple web presences. But, I would have more respect for the website and the campaign if they were transparent about the purpose of the website. I don't like attempts to manipulate voters like this.

Anonymous said...

Worth a repost on this blog item:

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.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is steve admin from Change for Boston .Michelle McPee had Pat Capagrico on her show .Pat didnt want to throw anyone under the bus. But fellow East boston resident Mcphee who knows hows thing work in the city was quick to say that this was all politics. You should call her up on her show and get her view on the story. proof you want of course there is going to be spin to cover for this kind of henchmen work. Just call Michelle McPEE

Murdock said...

I think N.starluna is on the right track. Even if the EB Foundation pulled back all or some of its funding, my guess is that Italia Unita probably started running into other issues as well – ie, problems with getting permits, having to pay for police details, etc. – problems that might not have existed in years past. If this is true, it’s a shame to see the Mayor throw his weight around in this fashion, since his vendetta is really against one person at Italia Unita, but the whole neighborhood suffers.

Anonymous said...

It was political pressure all the way.Menino is very petty in matters like this,a major character flaw.He sees the world as with me/against me. All he cares about is hanging on to power.He has alot of people fooled with the kindly grandfather image he carefully cultivates,but people around politics all know about him

Mary B. said...

To me, that sounds an awful like a description of George W. Bush, especially the reference to power.

Anonymous said...

Menino suffered from "Rodney Dangerfield syndrone" for many years as Timilty's aide--no respect.Now he cant bear the thought of being an old man tending to his tomato garden.Power to him is like oxygen.It's pathetic really,but he has tied up his whole identity in being Mayor.People around him say he is neurotic,but not to his face.He will not adjust very well to retirement.

Anonymous said...

Tell pat to stop collecting rent then they might have money left over.

Anonymous said...

N-star luna. I think the Attorney General should audit their books and find out how all capogreco family and friends have been paid. Why not run a feast like sacred heart where no one is paid. What a joke.

N.starluna said...

I am not aware of any law that prohibits a public charity from steering expenditures towards certain individuals or organizations unless the existence of the charity is a front used for the explicit purpose of doing so. If you believe that any individual charity is a front for any individual or group of individuals, you should contact the AG's office on Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division via email at, or by phone (617) 727-2200, ext. 2101.

In this case, it would be a difficult argument to make unless you find that individuals have been paid, but services to the community have not been rendered.

Anonymous said...

I told you so a month agao on a different post it was political retaliation,and now that R Lynds is involved case proven 10000000000%

Its political payback,and as far as sluna ,shes talking out of her hat ,and is a Mayor coat holder.

Come on if anyone needs to be audited its R.Lynds the foundation,Air Inc,and Piera park.

Say gpood bye to the mayor ,and helo to Mike F.

Plus there is a massive legal action coming soon that just may open the books on Lynds and the crew going back to the very beginning.

Ah the justice in a court order under the words Discovery.
cancelled checks
written documents
actual books

Lets try to see thenm tell a suffolk superior judge no,as the complaint is being filed first at the atty generals office,then in court.


its also going to count the Savio money since most of the directors served on that board to.

Savio is in bankrupcy cour right now,and boy are they fighting to give up financial records.

Yet they still feel untouchable.

can you imagine whats in the e-mails from all the directors,as well as city hall accounts
many smoking guns.

how these people sleep ill never know ,throw the bums out who dont live here

Anonymous said...

But the Eastie Times is garbage? Nice touch Jimbo. Reference to an anonymous blog with low level reliability and no named administrator - where is the critique?

Maybe I would say that Michelle McPhee and that blog post made a good point - except of course for the obvious but overlooked major flaws in their suggestions: (a) there never was an annual commitment for Italia Unita (all grants are reviewed on a yearly basis); (b)they never applied for a grant for this year's festival; and (c) they lacked the support from other major sponsors - not the Mayor.

Instead of trying to make a story out of nothing (like McPhee seems to do lately), why don't you post about something more entertaining like the upcoming District 1 Council Race? Oh wait a minute, you are on Sal's payroll so we shouldn't expect to see anything critical about him on here. Right jimbo?

Jim said...

1. I never referred to the Times as "garbage." I generally attempt to be fact-based and not resort to namecalling (although I did refer to the Post-Gazette as "fishwrap").

2. I did offer caveats when I mentioned the Change for Boston story, but I thought it was something people might want to see. I also mentioned that, "I have no other information on this issue, but I thought I'd point out the allegation." I have no idea what the truth of the matter is, having heard several stories and rumors, and it'd be nice if a reporter somewhere looked more deeply into the matter.

3. I do indeed work part-time for Councilor LaMattina and have never attempted to hide that. I also haven't written or not written anything because of that, although I'd probably agree that this blog is not the best source of information for that campaign, though you may not have noticed that I mentioned the challengers for the District 1 seat -- Laura Gaza and Christian Kulikoski -- in a posting on May 16 and gave links to information about them that I searched out on the Internet. Overall, it should be clear that I have never trumpeted my ramblings here as being objective about anything.

cheryl said...

Dear Readers,

This is a BLOG.
This is Jimbo's blog.
He posts whatever he wants, about whatever he wants.
He is not required to justify what he posts.
If he wants to complain about a local newspaper article, or rave about an eating establishment, or question why a local feast has been canceled--he can!
He is not getting paid to write this--it is not his job to write unbiased articles or to investigate issues (although he often does both, anyway.)

That being said: I think that his posts are well-written, and a lot of the comments from his frequent readers are well-written.

Jimbo also does a good job of looking into multiple sides of a story (although not a requirement of a BLOG.)

I do not feel that he uses this blog to advance his personal agenda, nor to hinder someone else's.

So let's remember that, in the end, the Hubster is doing a great job of informing us about Eastie events/happenings, and of generating discussions and getting us to talk and to think.

Thanks, Jimbo.

Mary Berninger said...

Cheryl, I completely agree with your take on this blog.

As I've said to many, this blog is important because it provides one more mechanism for East Bostonians to find out about what's happening in the community or the city as a whole. For those detractors who might claim it's not important, I say this: I think it's important to read both city weeklies, to read more than one national periodical, to read the local weekly newspaper and to visit more than one news website to get many viewpoints about issues. How else can one form his or her own opinion about those very issues?

Blogs are here to stay and I, for one, think they should no longer be discounted as unimportant. Filter the blogs by yourself and you'll be sure to come across something of interest or of use to you. Of course, that filtering will convince you of some of the inane in our society, but the truly thoughtful are also availing themselves of this new medium.

Please, Jim, keep up the good work. If your postings get under some fingernails, then I think you've been successful: people are reading your musings, posting their responses and everyone else benefits from both sides of an issue. It's a great communication tool.

Anonymous said...

Just catching up w/this whole thing (was away) and I was reading the older blog on the same subject and now this one.
It seems to me, an indepedent newcomer living on Webster St., that the feast organizers and thier freinds have waged a smear campaign against Richard Lynds, the Foundation, elected officials and the local newspaper on this blog using insults, rumor, paranoia, plain sillyness and ignorant neighborhood bullying.
Reading some of the blog comments it always seems that the people responding to any incorrect information (and I believe they are most likely foundation members) with facts they are greeted with more of the same rumors and innuendos--no facts really to back up thier comments--just hearsay.
On the other side, whenever the people start putting forth what they heard about feast organizers like questions about where the money goes, how come they (Italia Unita) charge so much for local businesses to be part of the feast and why so many local Italian businesses no longer partcipate and haven't for years and what else Italia Unita does in East Boston the response from the others (who I assume are Italia Unita organizers) there is only silence and my opinion silence speaks volumes. There has to be some truth to the rumors being hurled Italia Unita's way.
Before I left on my trip I read the release feast organizers put forward and it blamed the economy and corporate support--never really pinned the blame on the Foundation.
So I guess that's the answer plain and simple--they couldn't raise the money.
I went last year and noticed that Coca Cola was a big, if not one of the biggest sponsors of the event. How come nobody's coming on here and throwing them under the bus.
I think the only people trying to make it political are the feast organizers who alone made the decision to cancel the feast.
All this other talk is stupid and it would be a shame if organizers put forward thier reasons for canceling the feast in the local paper and then used this medium to try and smear one organization.
That sort of petty stuff is just terrible in my opinion.
I'd like to see Italia Unita answer to some of the accusations made against them.
Because if the people I assume are Foundation people on here responding they've done a pretty good job of being transparent and presenting facts not rumors about hier organization and its role here.

Anonymous said...

Those are all good points and Italia Unita can't really defend the fact that no one wants to be part of the feast so they want to blame one person.
How come they haven't come forward and said 'we have local partcipation' it's becuase they don't plain and simple.
People in the neighborhood got wise that the feast, which started as a great celebration of Italian culture, turned into an abomination of Italian Culture.
Where in Italy do fat men sit around and see who among them can eat a sausage the fastest? No where becuase it doesn't happen--I've been there, my family was from there and it's an insult to Italians everywhere that this caricature of Italian culture was displayed in a neighborhood rich with Italian history.
Maybe when the feast returns we can have a Tony Soprano impersonation contest or who can do the best Joe Pesce from Goodfellas!
Get real, make it a cultural event like the Portuguese Festival and New Bedford and people will respect it more.

Anonymous said...

To the second last post
correcto mundo

This is a fact for the last few years Coke was sold exclusive rights for close to50 ,000.00.

No vendor could buy from any one except the refrigerated trucks parked onLondon Street.

If you got caught even buying coke say at walmart to offset the huge cost of a booth,the cntract gave them the right to shut your booth down.

We were a major sponsor,and pulled out after that,and a few bills not being paid.

We were a sponsor for the entertainment,not the food stations.

Thats when it statrted too fall apart .

It is clearly a FOR -PROFIT company,not a NON-PROFIT.

One last thing star you must be very nieve if you think the tax returns are alll the money that came in.