Save Nonantum in the Press
Wealthy 1 % City councilor Vicki Danberg, has used her political power to smear the Nonantum people. Councilor Danberg had her contacts at the Boston Globe run a one sided propaganda piece against Save Nonantum P.A.C.
Below are the questions we were asked by the Boston Globe and the detailed answers from Save Nonantum P.A.C.
look for yourself at the story, the Globe did not include our voice at all.
Here's the link to the article: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/03/09/opinion/proxy-culture-war-newton/#bgmp-comments
Below is the details Q & A with the Boston Globe, It is obvious the Boston Globe and the Newton political elites do not want to hear the voice of the working class people of Newton
1) Who founded the Save Nonantum PAC?
The Community Organizing Committee of Save Nonantum is drawn from a broad range of leaders from our neighborhood; Kevin Riffe, Eric Busa, Teresa Sauro, Charles Proia, James Pellegrini, Anthony Pellegrini Jr, Mairead Devlin, and Fran Yerardi. Since its founding the group has grown by hundreds of members drawn from throughout the community.
2. How much money has the Save Nonantum PAC raised so far?
Our initial target was to raise $10,000 over a number of weeks. We succeeded in meeting that goal in one day. Subsequently, we raised over $20,000 in five days from about two hundred donors in the community.
3. I am hoping you can clarify why specifically Save Nonantum was created.
After the passing of our beloved City Councilor Jay Ciccone, it became evident to the people of Nonantum they needed a strong voice in politics. The way the Newton city charter is written, the political power elites control who is elected to represent our neighborhood. This insulated group effectively disenfranchises all voters in Newton. They have proven time and again they don’t have the best interest of our neighborhood, or many other neighborhoods, at heart.
4. The original GoFundMe for “Save Nonantum” says: "Instead of respecting our differences, they claim our traditions are offensive. They want an end to all the Italian colors and flags in our neighborhood. They have already forced the cancelation of celebrations of being an Italian American. If we allow them to continue they will end our festival, our procession of saints in our streets and even put an end to our Santa!”
a. Who is the “they” referenced in that paragraph?
Politicians both current & prospective, and their extremist supporters, who think they know better than anyone else, what is best for us.
b. Who specifically has threatened to “put an end to our Santa”?
The specific recent comments were in regard to our neighborhood displays. Again, they want to exploit our differences for their own personal political gain. We have seen what has happened in the past when politicians float ideas like that. If any group that is targeted does not put up a fight, their interests are ignored and they are eliminated.
c.Has one of the candidates running in the special election said anything to that effect?
5. Are there other traditions in Nonantum that are being threatened currently?
In addition to the recent comments made, yes.
a. Your website specifically mentions the "St. Mary of Carmen Society Italian Festival and the Nonantum Children’s Christmas Party Association holiday tree lighting.” Who is threatening these traditions?
The traditions, like painting the street lines, are part of and associated with those events. Additionally we have had negative comments made regarding these traditions and how they take place.
b. I am trying to understand exactly why Nonantum’s traditions need to be protected. Genuinely trying to find out, not questioning how people in Nonantum might feel.
For far too long our community has silently gone along, hoping politicians will lead us and do the right thing by us. Instead, we have been disappointed. Not by all, but by many. City Councilor Jay Ciccone was our last genuine voice representing Nonantum. We have a current candidate who has already broken their promise to Nonantum when it comes to having a neighborhood voice in the political process. Another candidate publicly portrays themselves as raised on our traditions and loving our neighborhood but overtly works behind the scenes to bring change to our community ideals.
6. Why do you think that people in Nonantum need a voice or a group representing them?
Because many of the current city councilors answer to the Newton political power elite and not the neighborhoods. One of our current local Councilors who is supposed to represent our neighborhood flat out said “if you want someone to represent Nonantum, it's not necessarily going to be me.”
7. What policies and/or positions do these neighbors have that no one else in the city council (or elsewhere in local politics) support? Trying to understand why the neighborhood feels like it doesn’t have a voice or representation and where the split lines are.
We've been ignored when we ask politicians to address our real concerns, They have always turned instead to global issues and not those real hard city issues that the local politicians should be focused on. For example fire hydrants that don't work resulted in one of our local families' home being burnt to the ground as a result. Parking on both sides of Nonantum’s narrow streets have caused a problem for emergency vehicles to get down in case of an emergency. We have rats flooding our neighborhood & entering people's homes, at Jewett street for example, due to the rapid massive developments happening around us.
8.You endorsed Tarik Lucas and John Oliver in the special election. What positions do they hold that are in direct contrast to their opponents?
Lucas and Oliver focus on our local issues not global ideals. They have pledged to do their jobs as city councilors, to make sure our city infrastructure works, that our homes are protected, that our children get the education they deserve. Additionally, they listen and respect people's differences, instead of attacking people who don't agree with them.
9. Another way of asking is, in the statement announcing your endorsement of Lucas and Oliver you wrote that Save Nonantum PAC was created “to make sure the politicians elected in Newton are focusing on issues that truly matter not only to our community but to like-minded residents across our great city” — What are those issues specifically?
It's not all about the multicolored lines on Adams street, and the flags we fly. We almost lost an entire family to a fire because two fire hydrants on their street were inoperable at two am on a freezing cold winter morning. Fortunately they escaped with their lives, but they lost their home and everything in it. Complete loss, burned to the ground and the house next door heavily damaged by the fire. We, as a community, are traditionally overlooked by the rest of the city.
Our local elementary school had to close for weeks because the antiquated heating system failed in the dead of winter. This was before COVID! Youth athletic playing fields are an embarrassment. These are just some of our issues but many neighborhoods have similar issues in their communities.
Also Lucas and Oliver are focused on zoning changes that fix loopholes and improve our community, not a radical zoning overhaul that will decimate neighborhoods across the city. They support improving our police not defunding it. Neighborhoods want listeners and consensus builders for our local elected officials. Today with some of our politicians if you disagree with them in any manner, you are labeled a racist... it just goes too far.
10. The Save Nonantum PAC has paid for ads attacking Bryan Barash.
Our message is designed to elevate the voices in our community, in this instance it was the Ciccone family, who our community feels their voices are not being heard. They have made significant contributions to this city and have been long time leaders and public servants in our community.
The day Bryan Barash double crossed Councilor Jay Ciccone and tried to take our neighborhood's voice away was the day when our community realized he could not be trusted. His political double cross could happen in any neighborhood. And it probably has. Integrity matters and it should matter to every resident of Newton, no matter the neighborhood.
11. Could you elaborate on how and why the group decided to get involved with this ad? Again, if there are specific policy positions or behavior or incidents that you can point me to that support your claims in the ad, that would be great.
Since Jay Ciccone’s passing, Mr. Barash has denied the fact that he double crossed him and our community in regard to local neighborhood representation. Here is some background on the issue of the city charter: https://newton.jackprior.org/2021/03/02/why-the-2017-newton-charter-fight-matters-today/
Jay is no longer here to denounce Mr. Barash and the double cross of our community, but his father Al Ciccone. Sr., also a community leader and former city councilor, was witness, with others, to the incident between Barash and Jay on this issue. Jay had a another interaction with Mr. Barash at city hall in front of other city councilors. Current Councilor Emily Norton has come out publicly and stated she witnessed the incident. Jay told his family & friends in our community that Mr. Barash could not be trusted.
12. What are these “pretty vicious attacks” that you reference in your note below? Why do you think you’re being the target of these attacks?
Anyone who disagrees with the current Newton political elites, gets attacked. Look at the attacks from Village 14. As recently as this week when the state report of our donors became public, the Village 14 bullies harassed our donors at their places of work. These are regular people working to support their families and contributing to their community, who are being harassed.
Since Save Nonantum was founded the Newton political elitists have made false accusations about us, calling us racist,bigots, and white supremacists. Which is incredibly ironic because our neighborhood is the most diverse and welcoming in Newton. They have used ethnic slurs, made disparaging remarks about our immigrant backgrounds, and committed hate speech. All because we seek to honor and preserve our open, welcoming, and immigrant traditions. The Newton political elites just go too far, if you disagree with them and don’t conform to their ideals then you are labeled, libeled, and lied about. They just go too far…
13. The reference to "they have already forced the cancelation of celebrations of being an Italian American."Does this refer to the renaming of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day?
The day was originally established to combat anti-immigrant and anti-Italian rhetoric. We don’t appreciate the removal of any day established to combat anti-immigrant and anti-Italian rhetoric. However this issue is not the main focus of the Save Nonantum group, but it does highlight another in a series of broken promises from the politicians who pledged “We will establish another day to honor Italians” - they have yet to do so.
Below is Vicki Daneberg's email to just one of the globe reporters we know of.
Political Action Committee Save Nonantum Forms In Newton
By Julia Remick
February 28, 2021 Updated March 7, 2021 at 8:15 pm
A new political action committee called Save Nonantum recently formed in Newton to “preserve, protect, and promote the culture of the Nonantum community,” according to the group’s website. The group said that Nonantum, a village in Newton, is under attack by a group of politicians working to end Nonantum traditions.
Save Nonantum was established through Massachusetts’ Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Feb. 8.
Ahead of the special election on March 16, the organization has been the subject of controversy on social media, particularly in the Newton Civic Action Forum Facebook group. The special election is being held to fill two vacant at-large seats on the Newton City Council. Jake Auchincloss previously held the at-large seat in Ward 2 until he was recently elected to Congress, and Jay Ciccone, who died in November, held the at-large seat in Ward 1.
“After the passing of our beloved City Counselor Jay Ciccone it became evident that the people of Nonantum needed a voice in politics,” Francis Yerardi, chair of Save Nonantum’s Community Organizing Committee, said in an email to The Heights. “With the way the city charter is written the political power elites in Newton control who is elected and oftentimes those elected officials don’t have the best interest of the people in the neighborhood at heart.”
John Oliver and Madeline Ranalli are running for the seat in Ward 1. Bryan Barash, Tarik Lucas, and David Micley are competing for the seat in Ward 2.
Save Nonantum announced its endorsement of Oliver and Lucas on Wednesday.
“We will endorse and or spend money now and in the future as it is needed to protect, preserve and promote the culture of Nonantum. We will support those in politics who support us, and stand against those who don’t,” Yerardi said in the email.
Both candidates reposted the statement on their social media accounts and said that they are grateful for Save Nonantum’s endorsement.
Kevin Riffe, treasurer of Save Nonantum, said in the statement that Oliver and Lucas are candidates who share the values of Nonantum residents, as well as residents throughout Newton.
“We are especially proud that our inaugural endorsement includes a person, Tarik Lucas, who if elected would be the first African American in 35 years to sit on the city council,” Riffe said in the statement. “Nonantum is the most diverse community in Newton, and the time has come to have some real diversity on the council.”
Demographic reports for the City of Newton by Barry Bluestone from Northeastern University in 2014 indicate that Nonantum is the third most diverse of Newton villages, with 20.1 percent of Nonantum residents being non-white, based on census data from 2010. The most diverse villages include Newton Upper Falls with 27.8 percent non-white residents and Oak Hill Park with 22.5 percent non-white residents.
On the organization’s GoFundMe page, which received its first donations over two weeks ago, the organization describes which traditions it feels are being threatened.
“Instead of respecting our differences, they claim our traditions are offensive. They want an end to all the Italian colors and flags in our neighborhood,” the GoFundMe reads. “They have already force[d] the cancelation of celebrations of being an Italian American. If we allow them to continue they will end our festival, our procession of saints in our streets and even put an end to our Santa!”
The GoFundMe page also says that 100 percent of the funds raised will go toward preserving Nonantum’s traditions and culture, including supporting politicians who support this mission and opposing those who do not.
“For far too long our community has silently gone along, hoping you will lead us and do the right thing by us. Instead, we have been disappointed. Not by all, but by many,” a letter from Save Nonantum to the community reads. “You have disrespected our firefighters, our police, our Italian American heritage, and the straw that broke our backs, recently it was suggested by a candidate that our community culture is not inclusive. We will not get into a who said what blame game.”
Barash and Ranalli publicly responded on social media to the issues raised by Save Nonantum.
Barash told The Heights that he has no desire to eliminate any Nonantum traditions and explained his personal connection to Nonantum, including the first home he bought there with his wife and his frequent bike rides in the area.
“I don’t know why anyone would be against flying the Italian flag or painting the streets green, white and red, but I will state for the record that I am for being able to continue doing those things,” Barash wrote. “I’ve been to the St. Mary of Carmen Festival many times, and in fact hope it resumes safely this summer. And as it relates to Santa, I even made a donation to the Nonantum Children’s Christmas Party Association this winter. I have the receipt if anyone is interested.”
Barash said in an interview with The Heights that he denies any claims that Save Nonantum is making about him.
“I don’t have any desire to take away people’s cultural heritage or their Italian flags,” Barash said. “I don’t have any desire to change the way that they paint the streets, or the way that they celebrate their cultural days.”
Barash said he first saw Save Nonantum on Facebook and feels that it is a smear campaign aimed against himself and Ranalli.
“The people who are leading it made it clear in their private Facebook posts that they were raising money to attack us,” Barash said in an interview with The Heights. “But they, you know, they didn’t indicate who it was against in the fundraiser, which I think was part of the tactic, right, to use generic allegations rather than specific names, because there’s people who donated to it who wouldn’t have a face to all the names.”
Yerardi would not name the politicians that Save Nonantum is referencing, saying that the group would not “get into a who said what blame game.”
“We have not mentioned any candidates on our website or anywhere else, the reaction by many politicians and candidates over the course of the past week have spoken volumes to us,” Yerardi said in the email.
Barash said he expects the Save Nonantum funds to be used for attack ads, although there would be no way to confirm this because the organization does not disclose its finances.
Save Nonantum received its first GoFundMe donation, raising $18,230 through 189 donations, some of which appear publicly as anonymous donations. The GoFundMe is currently disabled and not accepting new donations at this time.
Political action committees are required to document the name and the address of each political contribution, according to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. If the donation amount is greater than $200, contributors are required to list their occupation and employer. Yerardi said that Save Nonanum is collecting all required information and is working with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to ensure compliance with state regulations.
Based on the contributor list on the GoFundMe page, 21 of the donations are currently listed as “anonymous.” Four of the anonymous donations are equal to or greater than $200.
“Anonymous may show on the public side of the site, but the back end administrative side is not anonymous.” Yerardi said in the email. “Many people don’t want their names listed because they fear retaliation by the very politicians that we want to hold accountable. Frankly, given the vicious reaction we have gotten from some over this past week, I don’t blame them.”
Save Nonantum is accepting donations online through eFundraising Connections or by mail to 328 Watertown St., which is the preferred method, according to the group’s website. Save Nonantum instructs contributors donating over $200 to include their occupation and employer.
“Funds are coming in every day by day 5 we were over $20,000,” Yerardi said in the email. “We could raise a lot more, however there are special interests that are strategically trying to jam up our funds electronically. I assume it’s because they don’t want us to have a voice.”
Yerardi said that Columbus Day was originally established to combat anti-immigration and anti-Italian rhetoric, which he said demonstrates the promises that councilors have not followed through on. Newton City Council voted on Nov. 2 to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“We don’t appreciate the removal of any day established to combat anti-immigration and anti-Italian rhetoric,” Yerardi said in the email. “However this issue is not the main focus of the Save Nonantum group, but it does highlight another in a series of broken promises from the politicians who pledged ‘We will establish another day to honor Italians’ – they have yet to do so.”
Eight City Councilors—Emily Norton, Jake Auchincloss, Alicia Bowman, Becky Grossman, Bill Humphrey, Josh Krinzman, Brenda Noel, and Holly Ryan—proposed the renaming of the holiday. Ciccone and Lenny Gentile voted against the change.
Barash told The Heights that it is unfortunate that people feel the need to engage in negative politics in a local race. He said that he feels this is what people are exhausted with on a national level.
“I think this is just a symptom of campaigns, that campaign of my opponent where they’re using language like, radical and, you know, other kinds of attacks that we see at the federal level that I don’t think we want to see in Newton politics,” Barash said in an interview. “I’m trying to run a positive issue-oriented campaign, and I think that’s what Newton voters want us to be doing. So I just call for them to stop these negative attacks.”