30 thoughts on “LETTER: Former Town Council President Endorses Council, School Committee Candidates

  1. This narrative seems completely detached from what is on the agenda of any of the candidates you are obliquely referring to in endorsing their opponents. The only people discussing defunding the police are those frantically trying to make this election seem to be about that so that they can distract from what this election is really about — the investments we need to make in Watertown to support great, welcoming, rigorous schools, housing that people can afford to rent and own, streets that are safe for people to use in ways other than cars, green space that’s accessible to everyone, and both adapting to and helping to stop the worst effects of climate change.

    • I came here to say the same thing. The only people talking about defunding the police are the people promoting the “We Are Watertown” slate, who are trying to convince voters that all of the candidates have this as their number one agenda when this is not the case. In fact, many of them have made explicit statements to the contrary and either been ignored or censored.

  2. Pam, Thank you for sharing this great letter and your endorsements of these candidates. The notion of defunding WPD and Public Safety in general is insane, then add in the advocacy of Critical Race Theory CRT in our schools and we must keep these ideologues out of public office for the good our our fellow citizens. This is not a “Left or Right” issue, it is the prevailing of commonsense.

    • I haven’t heard a single candidate for any Watertown office advocate for defunding the police or teaching Critical Race Theory in our schools. Show me one example to prove me wrong. Otherwise, stop trying to scare people with this nonsense.

      • “Advocate”? Nicole Gardner’s email was more like a demand notice. Would you vote for her Paul? Can you understand why this might hit a nerve, when what she’s really saying is I want to take food off the table of your childhood friends, or their parents. So yeah, it hit’s home in a big way.

        Dear Council President Sideris and other Councilors,

        Based on an analysis published by Uplift Watertown, Watertown’s spending per capita on police $260.86 per the FY2019 budget data. However, the average per capita spending on policing in Massachusetts towns with a total population within 10% of Watertown is $196.46, per FY2019 budget and 2019 census data, roughly $65 per capita less! Only one city — Braintree — spends more per capita on police.

        Based on the same analysis, if Watertown reduced police funding to match the average police budget per capita of towns of a similar size, we would free up more than $2 million for community investment in life-affirming resources like healthcare, housing, and food access. For example, these monies could
        * provide housing subsidies through MetroWest Housing for 253 residents for a year.
        * pay a living wage to 57 residents.
        * cover the cost of providing three meals a day for a year for 555 residents.

        As a tax-paying resident of Watertown, I think it is imperative that we divert funds from our bloated police budget to other services needed by residents of our community.

        I have seen some residents say we need to be “loyal” to our police, and that they have “earned” the right for us to keep to the status quo, no matter what. This is nonsense. Allocating tax dollars should be driven by what best serves the people of Watertown, not a subset of the town’s employees. Many residents are struggling to make ends meet, and this must be your priority.

        I look forward to the meeting of the Town Council Committee on Public Safety.

        Nicole Gardner
        Winsor Ave

        • For the record, I wouldn’t vote for her in this race. I support Mike Hanlon. But proposing to discuss a shift in resources does NOT equal “Defund the Police”.

          • The term is reallocation, and a decrease in the WPD annual operating budget is exactly what it equals no matter how you spin it.

    • Please ask Watertown Public Schools Superintendent Dede Galdston whether or not Critical Race Theory is now, has ever been, or is being contemplated to be, taught in our schools. None of the elected municipal officials, including the members of the School Committee, set the curriculum for our schools; that is done by the WPS Administrative team, according to the guidelines and frameworks set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

      • I really don’t want to get into this one, but if Uplift Watertown has “advance anti-racist reform in schools” , could you briefly explain what it means. I have no kids in the schools just curious

  3. I’ve listened to most of the candidate forums and read position papers and I also don’t see a cabal of candidates organizing to “defund the police.” On the contrary, I’ve heard the candidates — and the police chief — discuss continuing a dialogue between citizens and cops. Pam, you’re doing the candidates you support no favors by terming their opponents — all of who deserve credit for entering the fray — “self appointed, self righteous, ignorant and uneducated individuals.” If the candidates you support agree with the caustic tone of your letter, then I’ll give them a second look — but not in the way you’d have hoped for.

    • “self appointed, self righteous, ignorant and uneducated individuals.”

      This letter reeks of the kind of slander and fear mongering that has emerged in this election. It is a shame. I thought Watertown was better than this.

      Everyone who has, with good intentions, put them selves forward as a candidate deserves respect. They don’t deserve to have their positions exaggerated and to be subjected to slander. Where have our sense of ethics gone?

  4. Councilor Tony Palomba is on record as having voted to fully fund Public Safety employees back in 2015 when all 8 of his colleagues did not, even against the wishes and request of former Fire Chief Mario Orangio. He sat at every Youth Coalition steering committee meeting with members of the Watertown Police Department and is on record during budget hearings praising Chief Michael Lawn’s approach to community policing (which is at least one decade ahead of the rest of the country). Tony was in front of every other municipal leader in partnering with Public Safety departments to tackle the opioid crisis, and brought all representation to the table for discussions as he recognizes the value and importance of a strong police department, as well as building support through open dialogue. Tony Palomba’s actions as a Councilor have always demonstrated fully supporting and balancing the needs of public safety in Watertown.

  5. This letter and the smear campaign being conducted on the facebook page “We are Watertown” is really disappointing. I really considered voting for a couple of the school committee candidates on this slate, and that it if 2 or 3 specific individuals from this slate got on Town Council, then it wouldn’t be so bad. In the end, all the posts on “We are Watertown” really discouraged me from thinking that anyone on this slate is willing to stand on their own merits rather than attack or let others attack for them. The paid ad on this site for “We are Watertown” advertising their slate was the icing on the cake. Some folks on this slate will probably win, and I really hope that they can work together with the other elected candidates because my sense is that some of you are not far off from those being smeared, particularly when it comes to things like protecting the environment, judicious financial planning, heeding vaccine mandates and solving for affordable housing. Finally, I do not know why Lisa Feltner is on this slate. The only thing I can think of is that the “We are Watertown”, half of whom no longer live in town, dislike her opponent Tiffany York more than they dislike Lisa Feltner. Feltner was unjustifiably demonized during last night’s Town Council meeting for ending a volatile Public Safety meeting in order to let cooler heads prevail. Her colleagues at the Public Safety meeting either tried to fuel the fire or really did not have the instincts to understand the tension emanating from the room via Zoom. Do better guys!

    • That’s funny I watched the public safety committee, didn’t notice anything Volatile about it. What I did notice, that some people were still waiting to be heard and was ended because of the time. Which a councilor voted against ending the meeting because of that.

      • Except you did not notice that Joseph Rotella, a woman name Ivy M and someone else whom I cannot recall had their hands raised since the beginning of the meeting. Russ Arico raised his hand toward the end of the meeting, and Councilor Feltner noted that because she had been timing the situation. Are you calling Councilor Feltner a liar? Having been on several of the Zoom calls for work and for these types of meetings, I know how to monitor a call. Just because one raises one’s hand it does not guarantee that they will be called on. I know I have not been called on, but did I unmute myself to interrupt the proceedings with a threatening gesture to lambast the Chair of the Committee? No I did not. Watch the video in case you missed his reaction. It was not civil. Secondly, Councilor Feltner wanted to end the meeting at 8pm and she stated that clearly in the beginning. Councilor Kounelis was one of three votes, and that vote 2-1. It was her prerogative to object but to object because one person in a large group at a difficult meeting that was supposed to end at 8pm did not get to speak, makes me question her objectivity. Unfortunately these are the facts, and not one bit of it is funny.

        • I was at that meeting on 10/19 in person from the beginning until the end. There was nothing volatile that I observed at any time. The start of the meeting was delayed due to difficulties establishing the remote connection. All speakers times were limited as a result. The meeting overran its allotted time and ended without incident.

        • Let’s get something straight here I believe ALL should be heard & second I take offence to you even suggesting me calling Councilor Feltner a liar. The fact of my statement still remains the same there was nothing Volatile about the meeting, the same as Mr. Martino pointed out also. As I did watch the video again, your suggestion.

          • That is your perception about it not being volatile. And again not everyone gets a turn to speak at Zoom meetings. I have waited at some Zoom for over an hour to be called and guess what I was not given a turn. No councilor said I will not adjourn a meeting because this one or that one did not get called on. It happens. Move on. Plus there is no reason to get hostile. It was a simply question based on wait times. The video is online for all to watch.

        • Again not Volatile, you sure do distort it. Hostility is your perception, mine is taking offence of being accused of calling someone of a liar which is what you said.

  6. I’ve been following the election pretty closely and from what I can tell one candidate advocated in the spring for a $2 million dollar cut to the police budget, which is about 6.5%. Then, based on a back and forth with one of the Town Councilors, she changed her mind and agreed the current budget was appropriate. That is it in terms of what has been documented re. the current candidates and the subject of cutting police budgets.

    Beyond that, not only is there no group of candidate whose only agenda is to defund the police, there is not even one candidate who is actually running to defund the police or any town department. Also, half of the candidates listed in the letter are for School Committee. I respect the letter writer’s experience, but I would ask her to please share the evidence for a group of candidates running for office with the singular agenda she has described.

    Personally, I am supporting some candidates this letter urges supporting, as well as some that the letter accuses of being part of a group that doesn’t exist and being ignorant and uneducated. And I know for a fact there are candidates themselves who are supporting each other from separate sides of this artificial divide. The reason they and I are supporting who we are is because we know them from our community, know they care about our community, and think they will bring value to the office they are seeking.

    But, I am very concerned that there are people who will believe the unfounded characterizations being made above and elsewhere about good candidates, because they don’t know the candidates it’s being said about well enough to know it’s not true. I am also concerned that there are people who will blame the candidates whom the people making these unfounded characterizations are supporting, because they don’t know them and assume they feel the same way as those who have become their most visible supporters.

    I fear the only winners here are the candidates for Library Trustee, who so far have been fortunate enough to be left out of this.

  7. What she said is not wrong and I respect Pam for telling it like it is whether people like it or not. Just because they don’t flat out say they want to defund or even abolish the police doesn’t mean the narrative isn’t there. Nicole Gardner, for example says she supports “full funded public safety departments” but then the next sentence states that she favors the expanding that our law enforcement need from embedded mental health professionals and so on. Where is the money for this coming from? Uplift Watertown would like to allocate police funding to this and a number of other things. Additionally, if you’re part of a lot of these Watertown groups or view them, you will see that she often shares posts from uplift Watertown which is dedicated to defunding/abolishing the police. One of the posts she shared in the Watertown people group says “coming soon” and is a post to sign up for an “Abolition of policing learning group.” Her support for uplift Watertown coupled with her round about way of describing “a full funded” public safety dept. leads me to believe she would like to defund them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Pam.

  8. Having voted some years ago for Pam Piantedosi as Town Council President to bring fresh perspective and energy to Watertown’s government, I am deeply disappointed by her false and inflammatory claim that the candidates she opposes have the single agenda of undermining public services in Watertown. One need only look at what those candidates have actually said and done, in or out of office, to see how ludicrously prejudicial that attack is.

    I believe that none of the candidates running in this election is out to jeopardize our safety and well-being. I also believe that in Watertown we do not need the smears and scare tactics that are degrading our national politics. Candidates who associate themselves with such negative, divisive campaigning should not be rewarded with our votes.

    I hope my fellow Watertown residents will consider the candidates according to their individual merits—that is, what they have contributed and what they propose to contribute to our civic life. For these reasons I am supporting hard-working, constructive people like Nicole Gardner in District A and Tony Palomba and Caroline Bays as Councilors-at-Large. Dan D’Amico also merits favorable consideration for his eloquent defense of decency and integrity in politics and government.

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