Elected School Board Fails

UPDATE: At 9:14 pm, with all polling places counted, the referendum on the elected school board in Montclair has failed. 42.34% voted Yes, 57.66% voted No.

“We fought a good fight,” said referendum organizer Pegi Adam. “We got a dialogue going. We’re proud of Montclair. We’re proud of ourselves. We started people questioning. We started people watching.”
In the governor’s race, statewide, at 9:40 pm, with 53% of precincts counted statewide, Christie was leading Corzine, 49% to 45%. Daggett trailed with 5% of the vote.

“We’re not going to give up,” said Adam, who had prepared a news release:

The Elect the Board Committee (ETB) wishes the vote had gone for an elected board of education, but is delighted that the voters of Montclair had the opportunity to express their opinion. “We take pride in the fact that by placing the referendum on the ballot, we engaged the community in a much needed dialogue abut the change that’s needed in our Board of Education,” said Pegi Adam, chair of the committee. “We cast a spotlight on this entity, the way members are selected and the sad lack of transparency and responsiveness that have been the modus operandi. Hopefully, this campaign will result in change. Hopefully, our mayor will refine and carry out his proposal for changing the selection process – far from perfect, but a step in the right direction.”

Mary Beth Rosenthal, an opponent of the elected school board, told Channel 34, “While we’re certainly grateful that the town has voted to retain that structure, there’s a lot of work ahead.”

“I really hope that we as a community can come together to talk about the things we agree on,” Rosenthal said. Otherwise, “we’re going to be wasting our time yelling at each other.”

Adam congratulated her opponents on the school board issue, then left for Just Jake’s on Park Street where her coalition watched results. Despite the loss, the mood was bright. Councilor Cary Africk said he was pleased with the vote, which he said proved “people want to be heard.”

“I’m really excited that we have some closure on the election,” said Montclair Councilor Rich Murnick. But he added, “The numbers show we need to make some changes.We’re at Code Red, and we’ve got to see things change.”

Supporters of an appointed school board celebrated at the Erie Saloon, where they presented a $400 check to the Montclair Pre-K.

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58 COMMENTS

  1. I guess I should buy Bike Boy a biscuit so maybe, if I’m good and he like me, he might APPOINT me….
    I’ll wear something sexy, something he’ll like because rather than make my argument to the citizens of our great town, the fear-folks have left it to ONE MAN!!
    One Bike Riding Man.
    So, please Bike Boy…. Choose me….
    (Maybe I should wear a tight sweater…..)
    Thinking about it, I know a friend of a friend’s sister, whose cousin once baby sat for Bike Boy…. Maybe I can ask him to ask her to ask her to ask him to appoint me.
    Shake those tail-feathers prof!!!!

  2. getaclue, did you just equate the school board referendum in Montclair, NJ with the presidential elections in Afghanistan? Perspective much?

  3. scruff,
    The analogy on first look seems very wrong.
    However, if Afghanistan= patronage politics where one must know someone to get a head (or anything for that matter), and you consider that IF the appointed board prevails, what’s the difference?
    You must know someone to get ahead and the will of the people is irrelevant as we will only care what ONE PERSON says- the Mayor.
    (Which is why I’m trying to find out what the Mayor likes, so I can impress him and maybe, just maybe….. I’ll get a plum appointment.)

  4. Christie will win by a small margin. Too many people dislike and or have negitive feelings toward Corzine, and or tranposing their anti-Obama feeling to Corzine. Christie will win two terms, too. He will surprise the surprise outta open minded people. His popularity has not yet peaked, even. Daggett is pulling votes from Corzine from Dems who will not vote for Corzine, but do not want to vote for a Republican. Daggett is neither helping nor hurting Christie, as I & others see it.

  5. The vote total mirrors the unscientific sample I took of people on my block. I was outnumbered in supporting the question, but my neighbors all said that if it passed, they would vote me onto the school board.
    So, there’s some relief.

  6. Perhaps Corzine made a mistake by playing the fat card. The commercials questioning whether Christie is “fit to serve” sure seemed to backfire. I wonder what those smart alecks who came up with that idea are thinking now?

  7. Pegi seems like a well-spoken, classy lady. I appreciate the work she put into this campaign and I hope her hopes are realized.
    I also have appreciated some people’s posts, like appletony’s. Although he has a strong opinion, he never forgot that the current board members are citizens of Montclair that volunteer their time with good intentions–even if he didn’t agree with their actions. He got his point across without being nasty, was often funny, and was always respectful. I don’t really like the posters who besmirch local people’s names while hiding behind an anonymous user name. They totally suck.

  8. Mr. Mayor — you kept your power, but barely. If you don’t manage to cut the school budget (CUT means less money, not a smaller increase) for 2010-11 this will be right back on the ballot.

  9. What I find sad is that fewer people in Montclair voted for the school board question (yes and no combined) than for the Register of Deeds and Mortgages. I’m starting to think that we deserve what we get.

  10. I’m saddened to learn that an elected school board failed. Pegi Adam fought the good fight here. And really, it seemed that those who defended the concept of an appointed school board could make no case whatsoever for it, save that they had (clearly misplaced) faith in Mayor Fried’s good will and ability to pick “winners.”
    It was appalling that Fried basically pleaded with the electorate not to denude him of his one geneuine mayoral weapon. Whereas, if he’d been a good, capable, concerned, even wise mayor in the first place, he wouldn’t have had to get down on his knees to beg for preservation of his power. That so many wish him to retain that power is truly a depressing consideration. Perhaps even explains why Montclair, for all its wealth and all the journalists and media people it shelters, is not quite be the first-class town the Baristas themselves like to pretend it is.

  11. Well, it certainly created a town-wide conversation, didn’t it? I like our schools and am content to live with this result, even though it’s not the result I would have preferred.
    Congratulations to Ms. Adam and the other petitioners who overcame the petition denial — it was an impressive effort to actually make the deadline.

  12. Thanks to all who have invested time and efforts to promote and improve education. Best wishes in moving forward.

  13. An elected board would have been a circus, so defeat comes with some measure of relief.
    It’s an interesting result, though. In a town where so many people like to think of themselves as progressives, in the end a great many were fearful of change and reluctant to defy the town authorities.

  14. Thanks to pegi and cary for all their hard work and brave words.
    Let’s see how well Fried follows up on that plan for transparency, review etc. In a week or two I doubt if he — or any of us, for that matter — will even remember it.

  15. Who has an egg time to see how quick it goes back to the same old same old.
    Anyone that voted to keep the appointed has given up the right to complain about the BOE. One they decided to give all their rights to bike boy and the PTA gang, they have to live with any decisions that they make.
    Enjoy your BOE

  16. I think Diane Lilli of TheJerseyTomatoPress put it best when she quoted John F. Kennedy:
    “We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
    Readers – here’s the real question: what are you afraid of?

  17. I’ve never posted on here before but one of the comments I read above inspired me to.
    I find it curious that a person would think that a progressive is a person who advocates for change, no matter what that change might be, for the sake of change. Like a progressive is nothing but a butter churner.
    I think that even butter churners have principles.

  18. ruby, that definition of a progressive would include Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, advocating change for it’s own sake (actually they endorsing change for the sake of their own bank accounts and ego)

  19. Hopefully, the BOE will take a very serious look at the budget for 2010. I hope we can see NO increase just once, but I suspect we’ll be paying a few extra million dollars more, again. And if that gets rubber stamped, we may wind up with yet another referendum.

  20. “Mr. Mayor — you kept your power, but barely.”
    “Barely” ? A margin in excess of 15% in electoral politics is a substantial majority.

  21. “”We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.””
    But Cary, we did entrust the people and they did judge their own truth. And with a 15% majority they made their choice.

  22. I don’t see this as a direct referendum on the mayor. However, given the ill will he has generated in his term, if I was running in the next election then I would be hesitant to be on the same slate as Fried.
    Personally, I don’t get the whole slate thing anyway. Other than as a mechanism to pool campaign resources I don’t see how it helps the candidates or the electorate. If you are not able to run on your own qualifications then perhaps you shouldn’t be running for office in the first place.

  23. On a bit of a tangent, does anyone know if any of the town’s volunteer commissions or committees have any real power or responsibility or are they mechanisms of the town to offload work while the council and town administration retain the decision-making authority?
    Thanks.

  24. Does anyone know what kind of lipstick Bike Boy Mayor likes??
    I would have run for BOE HAD I been allowed.
    But now my only hope is that he likes the sway of my hips.
    Pucker-up Mr. Mayor, the prof’s gonna shower you with his special kinda LOVE!!!!
    (Or do I need to give a BIG donation?)

  25. justacitzen,
    Give you a small example, ask anyone that has serve on a school review committee. In the entire history of school review, which parent committees make suggestions on how to improve elements of their specific schools, NOT a single suggestion has ever been used
    Actually that is not true, one time, they did change the brand of fish sticks at Glenfield in 1998
    and Profwilliams, Trek makes a brand of lipstick, bike boy loves the cycle red

  26. BTW, the PTA gang kept saying that the appointed BOE is not the problem, we need to lobby Trenton for more money. Well, after last night good luck with that
    mmmm, In wonder where they are going to get more money???????? Actually Profwilliams, you should pucker up, as we all are about to get………

  27. “And with a 15% majority they made their choice.”
    The choice was to hide their head like an ostrich and let others make their decisions for them.

  28. Thanks Bob. I do have experience with a school district-wide advisory council. The only productive item that came out of my several year membership was an admission by folks at the central office that the school program was not working (which we all knew already).
    I was actually thinking more about stuff like the Capital Finance Committee, Montclair Planning Board, etc.

  29. The Elect the Board folks should feel very good about the numbers. Last time around, the referendum was defeated more than 2 to 1. I should know. My late husband, Jerry Mosier, along with Alan Milchman ran that fight. This is progress. I say, persist. Keep putting the question before the voters and the elected board will eventually pass.

  30. Ever noticed how lots of election campaign are using fear? Fear about terrorism, fear about tax load, fear about death panels, fear about socialism and fear about Magnet School system.
    Land of the fearful ?

  31. butterfly,
    The question is not whether one uses fear in an election- fear is the oldest political gambit around.
    No.
    The real issue is the fools who BELIEVE the fear mongering.
    So to those who believed that an elected board would destroy the Magnet system, or widen the “achievement” gap.
    You get what you get.
    For us, it’s a continued closed community of friends of the Mayor who will make decisions for us.
    So be like the prof: go get some Trek lipstick in Cycle Red- thanks MontclairBob- find Bike Boy and move those hips!!!

  32. I highly laud Pegi Adam’s response to the vote. Having a dialogue, questioning and paying attention- That is indeed the Democratic process. With the exception of those who have resorted to nastiness and name-calling, I too am proud of Montclair. Not caring is the worst of all possible worlds. I love this town!

  33. (I would add that the Democratic Process requires a vote. Here we voted to not allow a vote, which I consider UNdemocratic!)

  34. “While we’re certainly grateful that the town has voted to retain that structure, there’s a lot of work ahead.”
    Yes, and a small group of people will continue to do it behind closed doors. And we’ll all be SHOCKED when the people who ran the appointed coalition end up on the appointed school board. SHOCKED.

  35. (I needed to work for the appointed coalition to get appointed??? Damn!!!! I was just trying on a pair of bike inspired Jimmy Choo’s to entice our Mayor…)

  36. “And we’ll all be SHOCKED when the people who ran the appointed coalition end up on the appointed school board. SHOCKED.”
    But snappy, at least you can hold your head high in that you are not fear mongering or questioning anyone’s motives!

  37. Progressive
    adj.
    Moving forward; advancing.
    Proceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments: progressive change.
    Promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods.
    n.
    A person who actively favors or strives for progress toward better conditions, as in society or government.

  38. Irony
    Main Entry: iro·ny
    Pronunciation: \??-r?-n? also ??(-?)r-n?\
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural iro·nies
    Etymology: Latin ironia, from Greek eir?nia, from eir?n dissembler
    Date: 1502
    1 : a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning ‚Äîcalled also Socratic irony
    2 a : the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning
    b : a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony c : an ironic expression or utterance
    3 a (1) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) : an event or result marked by such incongruity
    b : incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony, tragic irony

  39. Particular congratulations go to ROC, who got the precise form of elitist local government he’s been striving for. Thank goodness decision making will remain a few steps removed from the will of the people, eh ROC? It’s a triumph for your new value system.

  40. The World According to ROC:
    Elitism is the belief or attitude that those individuals who are considered members of the elite — a select group of people with outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight or those who view their own views as so; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern.

  41. To your point, Walleroo
    It’s red meat for Palin / Beck Republicans to detest the liberal elite, and, actually, much of the conservative elite, too.
    I guess all that hard work in school, college and career, not to mention community volunteer work, was a waste of everyone’s time.
    I think we should all burn our resumes, drink away our better brain cells, and join the Palin generation. Then we can join the riff-raff and rejoice in their new America.
    I’d invest in loincloths and clubs now, while the price is right.

  42. “And we’ll all be SHOCKED when the people who ran the appointed coalition end up on the appointed school board. SHOCKED.”
    Should all the appointments come from the Elect the Board group? I thought the whole point of this was to bring the best and qualified people to the board. Shouldn’t matter whether they worked on either side. There were a lot of new faces as well as many who have been working as volunteers behind the scenes who were involved this round who might be good candidates. Should working on the appointed side automatically disqualify someone?

  43. “I thought the whole point of this was to bring the best and qualified people to the board. Shouldn’t matter whether they worked on either side.”
    Do you also still believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus?
    This just in… Bike Boy appointed Pegi Adam to the board

  44. “I thought the whole point of this was to bring the best and qualified people to the board. Shouldn’t matter whether they worked on either side.”
    Do you also still believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus?
    This just in… Bike Boy appointed Pegi Adam to the board

  45. Nellie —
    I’m confused. I’m actually old enough to have watched Tyne Daly on Cagney & Lacey, back when she was a brunette and skinny. So was that a compliment? Or are you engaging in . . . name calling & nasty remarks?
    Mary Beth Rosenthal

  46. “The Elect the Board folks should feel very good about the numbers. Last time around, the referendum was defeated more than 2 to 1. I should know. My late husband, Jerry Mosier, along with Alan Milchman ran that fight. This is progress. I say, persist. Keep putting the question before the voters and the elected board will eventually pass.”
    Agreed, the numbers were much better. I miss Jerry. He was great on the last go round and a real inspiration. I hope it won’t be another 10 years before it boils up again. Given the “dedicated” morons on the compliant BOE and the emptiness of Bike boys promises it shouldn’t take that long.

  47. A quote from the mayor in the Montclair Times. The headline for this article should be
    BIKE BOY NOT GOOD WINNER
    ~Fried dubbed the battle to retain the appointed BOE as “a fight against people who are just angry, and they don’t know why and they’re not involved” in the community.”~

  48. Bike boy is a uniter not a divider….. every one is going to hate him.
    question, does his wife have 3 more BFF? I want to know who the three appointments for the BOE will be for next year.

  49. Roman, you are wrong there is a nominating committee, they will gather the best that Montclair has to offer and after careful review, bike boy will then pick Schlein and Daly and let’s not forget Harvey (I hope the BOE will start communicating but it is not my problem any more) Susswein

  50. This is my first comment on Baristanet.
    I never understood the rationale for electing the school board because, except for those who are obviously incompetent, I don’t know how I would pick someone. I voted on Tuesday and as usual I did not vote in two races, sheriff and register of deeds. While not totally tuned out I’m not a student of politics and have no clue whatsoever who these people are, what the job entails, whether the incumbent is terrific or a disaster or whether a challenger would be better. I don’t believe in simply voting for voting’s sake, or in blindly voting by party affiliation (not at the local level anyway). On what basis do people vote for sheriff or register of deeds? Unless you are friends with a candidate or vote the party line (which I suspect most do) you really need to be abnormally interested to vote with conviction.
    I think the same would be true were we to be voting for school board. With higher offices (US President, Governor) at least the issues are broad and I might find affinity with a candidate. The town council election is a popularity contest; it is pure luck when someone turns out to be exceptional. Would we really be that much better off if Joyce Michaelson or Ted Mattox had won in 2008? Would our services be that much better and our taxes that much lower?
    We have things upside down. In these local elections the stakes are low.

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