Norwalk’s Future Now victim of nasty campaigning, councilman says

Mangiacopra mailer 005
Parents of these children featured in a Norwalk’s Future Now flier signed waivers, Vinny Mangiacopra said.

NORWALK, Conn. – A complaint about a Vinny Mangiacopra mailer is being called dirty campaigning by Councilman David Watts.

Schoolchildren give Mangiacopra a thumbs up in the photo that spans the 13-inch wide flier sent out by Mangiacopra’s campaign, Norwalk’s Future Now. Mangiacopra smiles at two young girls on the other side.

They are students of Mangiacopra’s wife, Kelsie Fedor, a Cranbury Elementary School teacher. A source reports that Deputy Superintendent Tony Daddona went to speak to Fedor about the use of the children in the photo. A visitor to the registrar’s office complained about the mailer, Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons said Friday.

“One of the candidates in this race has run a nasty campaign,” Watts said. “This is part of their strategy. To me, instead of talking about the issues, the person behind this, and we know who the person is, are only emulating the same tactics of the administration.”

Mangiacopra said Cranbury’s principal approved the photos, and every one of the children had a release signed by their parents. The photo was taken during the summer, after a summer school session.

Superintendent Manny Rivera confirmed those details, but hinted that the approval may have fallen outside the school system’s policy.

“The Superintendent’s office was not aware that such activity had been authorized and Mr. Dadonna is reviewing the matter,” Rivera said in an email. “We do have a Board Policy that addresses the responsibilities of employees engaging in political activities (1311.1 a) and we will be sending out a clarifying communication to all principals.”

Mangiacopra said all of the bases were covered and it’s unfortunate it has become a political issue so close to Tuesday’s primary.

“I think it’s a political ploy by my opponents,” he said. “A few short days of a historic election gaining momentum, of clearly one where our campaign is picking up momentum each and every day.”

Mangiacopra mailer 003
The flier with this photo spells out Vinny Mangiacopra’s education platform in his drive to be mayor: get fair funding from Hartford, renew focus on early childhood education, bring a Boys and Girls Club to Norwalk, fully implement Common Core standards and revamp the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

Mangiacopra said he is going to author an editorial talking about the future of education.

“Those are the things that I like to talk about,” he said. “I don’t like to talk about other people’s mail, especially when other people’s mail seems to be attacking me these days.”

Councilman Matt Miklave has sent out mailers urging a clean sweep of Norwalk’s Democratic leadership. Mangiacopra is Democratic District D chairman.

Watts said he wouldn’t name which of the other three mayoral candidates he feels is responsible for an attack on Mangiacopra.

Neither Harry Rilling nor Andy Garfunkel responded to a request for comment. Miklave said, “No comment.”

That unnamed candidate has also organized a campaign against Watts, Watts said. It’s nasty tactics over all, he said.

What’s been nasty?

“The dirty campaigning, anonymous bloggers, just a bunch of behind the scenes dirty techniques and standing with people who are known for dirty campaigns,” he said. “Norwalk rejected dirty campaigns last year when they sent out negative mailers on the state senate.

“People don’t like dirty campaigns, they don’t like negative campaigning, they want people to talk about the issues. Instead of talking about or debating what was on the flier, by saying ‘I disagree with this issue,’ and put forward their education plan, they want to attack the kids, the parents, the mailer. I think people don’t want to hear from them. They don’t want to hear this, they want to hear about what their plan is for the future.”

There have been other photos of candidates in classrooms, he said.

“The mayor has pizza parties with people’s kids,” he said. “If you’re going to be the mayor you have to deal with children. I think it’s more about their lack of ideas than to talk about what’s very important to Norwalk. … I applaud Vinny for at least highlighting education.”

Watts has not sent out a statement endorsing Mangiacopra but he is listed as a supporter on one of the fliers. This is no way to run an election, he said.

“People are tired of the same old divide and conquer tactics, that I’ve seen in the past few weeks alone,” he said. “Democrats need to understand that this is not the election, this is only the playoff. They need to keep in mind that instead of trashing other Democrats that there’s only a few more days left before the election. Keep it clean. Get over the primary. Let’s unite and put a good team together for the fall.”


24 responses to “Norwalk’s Future Now victim of nasty campaigning, councilman says”

  1. I am ALIVE

    Hey HOT SHOTS, yeah you, you four rookies that roared up Main ave doing over 100, taking main and Union at 75 mph northbound in the SOUTH BOUND lane, AFTER, (AFTER) 5X5 was called out at Winnapauk and you were ordered to slow it down. Chief Kuliwak, Rilling didn’t tolerate reckless operation in city vehicles on city streets, threating the lives of other motorists and pedestrians, do you? Reminder to you hot dogs. When 5X5 is called out and your told to slow down DO IT or loose your job.. Norwalk has no tolerabnce for cowboys none… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR9nRefl1hU

  2. Mr. K.

    Why doesnt Norwalk PD have at least one dash cam in prowl cars. They do have all the other toys they could posibly ever use, maybe once anyway, perhaps. Well that four wheeler has its uses and looks cool but the SEGA? Accountability, perhaps. It is way past time for dash cams in all patrol cars. Many professional departments even have lapel cams now. The union has resisted but its a win win, a no brainer. Solid prosecutions and protection to officers from unwarranted complaints. What is up with that anyway. Why doesnt NPD have at least simple dash cams. Why indeed…

  3. Joe Espo

    Is Vinny running for mayor of Stockholm or Norwalk? This flyer is quite intrinsically racist, excluding his wife’s african american pupils from the image. Where’s David Watts on this?

  4. Hobbes the Calvinist

    If the candidate used a Norwalk Public Schools classroom for a campaign photo shoot, did he pay the usage fee? Churches are charged to use schools- candidates should be too.

  5. Don’t Panic

    It’s interesting that Mr. Mangiacopra chooses to characterize these questions that are being raised as nasty without once calling them untrue. Same for the alleged push poll. Perhaps a history of better judgment wouldn’t leave you open to questions about your actions.

  6. M. Murray’s

    Is there a published school board policy covering this? If so it should be included in article.

  7. M. Murray, the School Policy referenced by Dr. Rivera (1311.1(a)) says that “employees shall engage in no political activities on school premises during school hours”, so Mr. Daddona will have to determine whether this photography met that standard or not. Policy 1325 states that “schools shall not be used to foster and promote the interests of … political organizations that are partisan in nature.” Policy 1100(a) allows the news media to photograph students in school with permission of the school principal AND the students’ parents, but this is for the news media, not political campaigns. We’ll have to review this incident in relation to each of those policies.

  8. Daisy

    He shouldn’t have used his wife’s students. And Ditrio shouldn’t be campaigning in the open for Miklave, and managing his finances.

  9. Jlightfield

    Hey @Mike Lyons, I’m not so sure Dadona would be qualified to answer the question since I think it becomes a legal interpretation. In a larger sense it raises the very interesting dilemma these days if what constitutes public space versus private space, especially since these days everyone is a photographer and publishing is now as easy as Instagraming or on-demand printing of anything. You may be unaware but the social media services have been attempting to explicitly state they have the rights to use images (content) on their services for other purposes. That of course is a different issue than you responded to, however I think it relates because at stake is the issue of in this 24/7 digital world what constitutes private versus public? Getting back to the issue here, if school is not in session, and a third party has rented the space, who’s governing rules are in effect?

  10. M. Murray’s

    Sounds like the only violation may be under 1325 as long as it was done after school hours. I photo was not in classroom it would probably be fine altogether but it probably should not have “used the school”. Ditrio can campaign for anyone he wants as long as it is not on school grounds or during school hours. He cannot speak as a representative o the school district, but probably has the authority to speak on behalf of the union he represents.

  11. Hi, Jackie. Mr. Daddona is just investigating the facts; he won’t make a determination of whether there was a legal violation (we always consult with Atty. Mooney before making a call like that). I have a Facebook page so I’m aware of their constant efforts to grab ownership of people’s content. In the case of the schools, our policy is pretty clear — we don’t want school employees making use of school resources to promote partisan political objectives, and whether they do it with “old media” or new media makes no difference.

    If a third party is renting space in off-hours, it would be up to them to deal with use of people’s photographs. There is well-established privacy law on “misappropriation of name or likeness” with covers photographs, and people who use other’s photographs without permission are liable for invasion of privacy (there are some exceptions for the news media not relevant here).

    Since our policies prohibit use of school facilities to “promote the interests of … political organizations that are partisan in nature”, of course, it would be improper to take a campaign photograph inside a school building at any time, and as M. Murray states, that’s a problem in this case since even after school hours that ban remains in effect.

    As for Mr. Ditrio, as long as his political activities for Mr. Miklave are during his off-hours and outside of school, he’s perfectly free to engage in them (as our policies explicitly recognize).

  12. RU4REEL

    Those first two posts had nothing to do with the article.
    @ NON, I think Vinny is District E and he is not smiling at the two girls.
    @ Espo, you realize there may not be an African American in the class or they may have been out of the class that day.

    (Editor’s note: Mr. Mangiacopra is the District D Democratic chairman as stated in the article. Also, if you open the story and scroll down to the second photo, the one referred to above, you will see Mr. Mangiacopra smiling at the two girls.)

  13. NorwalkLifer

    This is ridiculous. Tony Dadonna is matt miklave’s official campaign treasurer. The real investigation should be into dadonna’s usage of his administrative office for devious political means. A FOI inquiry into his and matt miklave’s emails on this might be interesting! In any case, who can trust dadonna’s inquiry with his glaring conflict of interest.

    According to the article the mangiacopra campaign got permission and the parents signed waivers (they weren’t her real students indiots). It also wasn’t even during the school year.

    Mike Lyons should be ashamed of himself for giving this political circus any credibility. And seriously, tony dadonna’s communications with the miklave campaign on this should be investigated.
    …desperate move by a desperate and negative campaign

    (Editor’s note: Tony Ditrio, Norwalk Association of School Administrators president and Kendall Elementary School principal, is Mr. Miklave’s campaign treasurer. Tony Daddona is Norwalk’s deputy school superintendent and is not, to our knowledge, involved with any political campaigns.)

  14. Chrissy

    NorwalkLifer — Get your fact straight. Tony Dadonna is not Matt Miklave’s campaign treasurer. Your willingness to talk about things you clearly know nothing about speaks volumes about your credibility.

  15. NorwalkLifer

    Same difference. They are using their non-political positions to do political acts. Reporters should ask if Miklave has spoken with Tony Ditrio about this and if Tony Ditrio has spoken to Dadonna about this.

  16. Chrissy

    Sorry! No credibility Lifer.

  17. SJ

    Instead of talking about this “Vinny Mangiacopra’s education platform in his drive to be mayor: get fair funding from Hartford, renew focus on early childhood education, bring a Boys and Girls Club to Norwalk, fully implement Common Core standards and revamp the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.”

    The do nothing crowd wants to talk about this. ““We do have a Board Policy that addresses the responsibilities of employees engaging in political activities (1311.1 a) and we will be sending out a clarifying communication to all principals.”

    The parents deserve an honest debate about the issues. However, the status quo is pushing back here. Does the current Mayor, Mike Lyons, Dadonna have an legislative agenda. NO!

    Duff, Morris, and Perone are hurting this city. Every year, they come back home with more and more excuses. Duff voting against paid sick days for working class folks. Sure, vote against people with real jobs.


  18. NorwalkLifer, I responded here to an inquiry about what school policies are, and simply provided an accurate report of what they say. How does that give “credibility” to a “political circus”? And since when does honestly answering a question constitute something a public official should be “ashamed of”? On this blog, fail to answer a question, and you get attacked. Answer a question, and you get attacked.

    How is Daddona acting “politically” if he responds to a complaint that our policies have been violated? Should he sit back and LET them be violated? Then he’ll be accused of “political favoritism” or ‘looking the other way.’

    Also, let’s keep our Tonys clear here. Tony Ditrio is a school principal, head of the administrator’s union, and treasurer of Matt Miklave’s mayoral campaign. Tony Daddona is Deputy Sup. of Schools and not involved in any campaign.

  19. SJ

    @Mike Lyons,

    This is just another attack on a good teacher. Parents have a right to hear about our kids future. This complaint is politically motivated and the parents are being short changed by this fake debate.

    I think you and your buddies are out of fresh ideas. We need new leadership on the BOE and in Hartford.

    I support teachers not nonsense.

  20. McKeen Shanogg

    The point is, if you want to be mayor of a city the size of Norwalk, you should have enough good judgment not to get caught in a “political circus” like this. There are a zillion ways Mangiacopra could convey his message about education without straying into a gray area of what’s legal, what’s ethical, and so forth.

  21. Don’t Panic

    At this point Mr. Mangiacopra seems to be applying the old adage of any publicity being good publicity. That press conference endorsing Mr. Rilling has him on the ropes. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. He set himself up to take one on the chin from Mr. Moccia even though Mr. Moccia vowed not to engage with the candidates until the primary is decided.

  22. Norwalk Spectator

    The flier with this photo spells out Vinny Mangiacopra’s education platform in his drive to be mayor: get fair funding from Hartford, renew focus on early childhood education, bring a Boys and Girls Club to Norwalk, fully implement Common Core standards and revamp the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.

    Uhm, not to put too fine a point on it, but HOW does Mr. Mangiacopra propose to get fair funding from Hartford?
    Exactly what does he plan to do to renew focus on Early Childhood Education? I thought Norwalk had an Early Childhood Council that was already working on this and doing credible job. Does he plan to revamp or remove the group and take it over himself?

    He wants to bring a Boys and Girls Club to Norwalk? How does he propose to do that? The YMCA had to close. Will the Girls and Boys Club be a city entity, like the libraries or will it be privately owned and operated?
    Mr. Mangiacopra wants to fully implement the Common Core curriculum? I thought that was Superintendent Rivera’s job. Another point is that the District hasn’t fully decided on which curriculum to use. Last I heard, some of the standards were still being developed. And finally, has he considered the cost? It’s rather staggering.
    Kindly remember that the BOE already gets more than 60% of the City’s total budget. Not only that, but it’s the BET that sets the cap on the school budget and the Council approves it. Once the money goes to the BOE, that’s the end of the City’s jurisdiction.
    And he’s going to also revamp the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program?
    Okay, good for him. But it sounds to me like he’d be better off applying for a BOE administrative position rather than the Office of the Mayor of the City of Norwalk.

  23. Admo

    Wow what a waste of time this it! Big deal !Politicians have always taken pictures with students when they speak about education. Stick to the issues so we can keep young families in Norwalk and our schools.

  24. RU4REEL

    Thanks Mark.

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