In emails to Baristanet and on the Watercooler, supporters of an elected BOE have expressed their displeasure at Mayor Fried’s campaigning against an elected BOE and his absence at Monday night’s forum held by the Montclair Times and Channel 34.
Mayor Fried makes no apologies. As far as the forum the other night, he says he was neither officially invited or asked to participate at the forum. “I think it is important for the public to know as much as they can about the issue, especially if they are undecided,” says Fried. “I’m not undecided, so I don’t need to continue to attend every meeting that takes place.”
Fried says the most significant power he has as mayor is to appoint the school board which is why he has come out strongly on the side of an appointed board. “It’s the one thing the mayor has the power to do that distinguishes him from the other at-large council members,” says Fried, adding giving the mayor this power was determined in 1978 after a lot of consideration. Fried said it was always his intention to have more public involvement in the appointment process by creating a nominating committee, an idea that was part of the Unity Montclair slate’s campaign.
As residents gathered to hear arguments for and against an elected BOE, Fried hosted coffee at his home on Monday night after sending this email out to invited guests:
As I’m sure you know, there will be a Referendum on the ballot on November 3rd to attempt to change our educational system. I think the elected option is too risky for our schools. To improve our kids education we need outstanding, committed members on the Board and I believe that if we make this radical change, only people who can raise lots of money will be controlling our schools.
The email then follows with a plea to raise money.
If you feel as I do, I’d like you to help by voting “No” on the elected Board question and working with me to defeat it. I have invited members of the Appointed Board Coalition (ABC) for a coffee at my home this Monday at 7:30 PM to do three things:
‚Ä¢ raise money for the Appointed Board Coalition campaign
‚Ä¢ sign up volunteers to make calls to their neighbors
‚Ä¢ help solidify support for our school system
Please come to discuss ways to ensure we have a strong and vibrant school system for our kids on November 3rd and beyond. I’m suggesting a contribution of $50/person for the campaign.
Any amount will help the cause. But FAR more important than your money is your help.
So what’s your take? Does it trouble you that the mayor is actively campaigning for an appointed board, or is he entitled to choose a side and throw his support behind it? And have you, like the mayor, decided how you will vote?