Council Will Hold Special Meeting on Referendum

The Montclair Town Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 5 pm to discuss the school board referendum issue. Mayor Jerry Fried opposed the idea of a special meeting; councilors Cary Africk, Rich Murnick and Renee Baskerville supported it. The issue at hand will be whether to put a referendum on the general election ballot Nov. 3 for Montclair’s school board to be elected rather than appointed by the mayor. A citizen effort to put the issue on the ballot has been (at least temporarily) derailed by the fact that two separate petitions were circulated. Although the petitions, together, garnered enough signatures to put the question to voters, neither petition did so on its own.
The meeting will be in the second floor conference room, 205 Claremont Ave.

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  1. Under Montclair’s form of government, the Mayor has very little power. One significant power he does have is the power to appoint the members of the Board of Education.
    He can, and has, done this entirely by himself.
    So it’s logical that he try really hard to keep that power, rather than give it away to some “democratic process.”
    But what is really disappointing is that while he writes a million words on why he should keep this power, he has written NOTHING about the crime situation.
    How about thinking about US Mr. Mayor, instead of constantly thinking about YOU?

  2. On another note–I’m curious how the group handling the petitions bungled the process. Or is it 2 groups, and that’s why there were 2 petitions? If it’s all the same group, how hard is it to make sure you have identical petitions being circulated? Now the whole situation is further complicated because of ineptitude. (Foreshadowing of the electoral process?)

  3. If a special meeting needs to be called for anything, it’s the crime situation.
    Mayor Bike Boy seems to feel it will all go away if he just ignores it. It won’t.

  4. Oliver,
    The mistake in the petitions occurred when an earlier version of the petition was sent to the petitioners from the team lead. The language of the petition was improved (hopefully made more legal) a few days later and the team leader asked for everyone to trash their original petitions and replace them with the new one. Unfortunately, some of the petitioners did not listen or see the replacement email containing the updated version of the petition. Time was of the essence to collect the necessary number of signatures which might have lead the team to rush things causing the multiple version issue.
    Interestingly enough, I think the petitioners should be able to collect enough new signatures to make the petition with the majority of signatures meet the necessary requirements for the referendum.
    Mayor Fried’s attempt to block democracy is not surprising. He has already made it absolutely clear that the schools are excellent and believes that the BOE deserves every dollar they ask for. Like so many other politicians, Fried believes that the best way to improve our schools is to keep throwing money at it. He appoints future BOE members and I’m fairly certain that he would choose one’s who most closely represents his position on school spending.
    Let’s face it, the BOE spends 2/3rds of our property tax dollars. Don’t expect to see your taxes ever increase by less than 4% if the BOE continues to approve 4% raises to both union and non-union workers. And there is still the issue of the operational costs for the new school. Buzz Aldrin might be a good name for the new school as the operating budget is surely going to send our property taxes to the moon.

  5. On the crime situation. I attended a recent town council meeting where the chief and deputy of police presented a report on crime requested by the mayor and town council. The gust of it was that violent crime was way down, but burglary was up.
    The police force is now smaller than budgeted as the town did not receive what they expected from the Obama stimulus which they stupidly relied upon.
    In this resident’s opinion, we could have bought a lot more police officers with the money we wasted on the new school. How many new administrator offices will be housed in the new school?

  6. They should have elections…that is what Clifton does. Make them work for it. That should improve things a little bit…..maybe

  7. Funny the meeting starts well before people finish work.
    The last school board budget meeting time was changed at the last minute and very few knew about it.
    Keep it up Jerry!

  8. You know,I have to say:
    When it appeared that Attorneys were lined up on both sides of the issue (the petitions are good/the petitions are bad), and where one group of lawyers had as many excellent lawyers as the other, I figured having the Town Council “break the tie” was a “no brainer.”
    Council members (three of them anyway) were quick to say “Hey if you have 1100 people signing a petition that must say something. We should let them have their referendum.”
    I was wrong. I never thought people would come out of the woodwork to say: “We’re not going to even have a vote.”
    But more and more I see debate squashed. It’s become who can shout the loudest.
    I figure you should judge what I say based on the merit of what I have to say. If I can’t convince you, so be it. But not letting me speak is, well, wrong.
    In a town that speaks so much about “diversity,” doesn’t listening to the other person, who might have a different viewpoint than you, have a place?
    Cary Africk

  9. It should but it obviously doesn’t. The Mayor wants to keep his power and keep on appointing his friends.

  10. I figure you should judge what I say based on the merit of what I have to say. If I can’t convince you, so be it. But not letting me speak is, well, wrong.
    Thank you for putting this into play. There is no doubt what the intention of the petitions is (we’re not talking hanging chads here, both petitions were to have a vote on whether the school board should be elected), so please let there be a vote.
    By the way, it remains appalling that the League of Women Voters has come out against voting for the school board! What next, the NRA proposing stricter gun control? NORML pushing for tighter marijuana laws?

  11. If he is the “pet lawyer” then why did he allow them to shut down PAWS?
    How many animals have died as a result of that decision?

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