Montclair Special Meeting: Especially Contentious

Tonight’s special town council meeting was filled with bitter words, the voting of a new township attorney and 2010 budget ideas. There were statements of frustration. Deputy Mayor Roger Terry likened the transparency of the proceedings to a piece of coal. The council appeared divided and at times combative with each other. And the crowd of a 100-plus residents expressed their dissatisfaction audibly, sometimes booing.

Resident Allyn Hobeck, asked several questions, questioning the background of the new township attorney, Ira Karasick. His questions were interrupted by Mayor Jerry Fried who said his questions were not appropriate.

“We should be talking about the budget now, not this,” Councilor Richard Murnick said about the decision to appoint a new township attorney. “This is not a time to speculate and try something new. We need to consider salary, insurance, pension. We need to do much more homework on this.”

The resolution passed appointing Karasick as the new township attorney 4-3, with councilors Murnick, Cary Africk and Deputy Mayor Roger Terry voting no. After the meeting, Karasick was sworn in, accompanied by his wife (pictured).

Allan Trembulak had no comment after the meeting but did give Baristanet a written letter. “I am proud of my work as Township Attorney and my record of service to the Montclair Community. It has been a unique honor and privilege to have served our township in this challenging position for the past 5 3/4 years. … I also extend my sincere gratitude to the previous Township Council for their confidence in appointing me to this position, and I wish the current Council members good luck during the remainder of their term in office,” part of the letter said.

After the meeting, Mayor Fried said Kurasick was the second choice behind Trembulak over a year and a half ago. “In time nothing has changed,” Mayor Fried says of supporting Kurasick back then and still today. “I support him and feel he is the best for the job, the only difference is one council member changed their mind since then.”

Mayor Fried also added that it is common for the governing body to change attorney’s when they are voted in.

Before deliberations continued on the 2010 budget, town CEO Gordon Stelter said there could be problems if the budget is not passed soon such as a mailing delay of tax bills and lowering the town’s bond rating. Stelter was unable to give a specific amount of money that it would cost the town. Councilor Renee Baskerville asked if he could have a ballpark number for Tuesday because if any money the town could potential save by not passing the budget right away could be lost in penalty fees it could change some votes.

The $70,430,948 that failed on Monday would have given a 5.6 percent property tax increase. “The 2010 fiscal year is not a budget to celebrate,” Township Manager Marc Dashield says.

Dashield also explained that one of the reasons increases were so high was due to a nearly 20 percent reduction in revenue compared to 2009, adding up to a $3.2 million reduction. “We can’t change this in one year, it needs to be a multi-year process,” he says. “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.”

Councilors were able to present their budget decrease ideas on a white board and give the approximate number in cuts or added town revenue. Some suggested ideas were selling the Clary Anderson Arena, renting municipal properties, and taking $1,00,000 out of the sewer connection fee money from Montclair State University.

Councilor Baskerville urged the council to have resolutions prepared on some of these changes for Tuesday. Without the resolutions, she would not feel comfortable moving forward and voting in favor of the budget. “I don’t want these issues to take a backseat to other projects like they have in the past,” she says.

The Mayor constantly reminded the council that the council is to discuss the 2010 budget right now and that some of these ideas would only be beneficial for the future.

In a straw poll taken by the Mayor, Councilors Murnick, Africk and Terry said as of right now they are not ready to vote on a budget. Councilor Baskerville said she will have to wait for Tuesday to see if anything has changed with resolutions before she makes a decision.

During public comment, two-year resident Domenic Cotter said he refuses to be the town’s financial fall back. “When times are tough we have to make hard decisions,” he says. Some of his suggestions to the council were to cut library funding, privatize workers and stop plans for curb construction. After the meeting, Cotter said the white board suggestions had some great ideas that could be a spring board for the 2011 budget.  “I like any suggestion that would save me literally a penny this year.”

Other sentiments during public comment were that these ideas and talks about the 2010 budget should have happened a long time ago — not nine months into the year. “We were waiting on transitional aid and people through their hands up in the air and nothing got done,” Africk said after the meeting. “The mayor was also in China for a month. People are right these discussions should have been going on for two years.”

Hobeck brought a four page outline to give to the council on ways he thought the town could save money. Some revenue reductions he suggested were eliminate the purchasing and planting of trees, eliminating parking commission functions, which he thought could be absorbed by the town clerk, and to increase the student to classroom ratio by five, which could reduce the teaching staff by 100 instructors.

After the meeting, Mayor Fried said, “I felt really good to have the meeting with all the proposals put on the board.”

The Mayor also thought that taking $1 million out of the sewer money would be a “really irresponsible act” leaving a future tax payers of Montclair to be accountable for the money.

“The 2011 budget needs to be started immediately,” he says. “It will be at least as challenging, if not more.”

Did you attend in person (or follow in real time) and what did you make of the proceedings?

Below, Don Zief addresses the council, and Mayor Fried in particular, about the process of hiring a new attorney. It was taped off public access channel 34.

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  1. The first question that enters my mind is: this guy wants the job why exactly?

    Let me get this straight. It’s the mayor’s prerogative to appoint a new attorney, provided he has the votes on the council, which Fried hasn’t had for the past two years, until he bought Baskerville off with the planning committee appointment. Okay so far?

    So now there’s no official 2010 budget, which is due in about an hour, after which the town is fined, and the council spends its special session, called to deal with the budget crisis, on the appointment of the mayor’s crony? (Whom I have nothing against, btw.) Do I have that right?


  2. I think I am willing to concede the fact that the 2010 money has already been spent and now we have to figure out to pay off the credit cards. As much as it annoys me that we will have the tax increase, I would be slightly consoled if the council would announce some of the goals for next year. I would like them to promise that there will not be a tax increase next year under any circumstances, we will have a balanced budget, and we will give the Board of Education notice today that next year they will not get a dime more than $100 million.

    The full council received a number of good suggestions from attendees and councilors and I hope they will act on them. It may be too late to save us this year, but at least they can start working now to avoid nailing us again next year.

  3. I don’t know why they wanted to name a new town attorney now. At this juncture the issue is taxes and doing whatever can be done to save the community from all of our past excesses. Let’s worry about personnel changes later. That’s why we have back burners.

    There are many things I would like to not do without in Montclair, but if we can’t afford something then we most likely can’t have it. I don’t know if 16 secretaries in the high school is overstaffing, but over 50 secretaries working for the Board of Ed does appear to be excessive. But I am guessing there are excesses at all levels.

    The only suggestion that I have not heard from the council is that we beg the state to come to our rescue and show us how to manage ourselves. It would be quite an admission of failure, and who knows what the state would recommend… beyond the broad concept of fiscal restraint and the admonition to stop digging. Maybe the Governor will even share a few of his ideas.

  4. I have zero confidence in the state. They’ve booted the school systems they took over, and quite frankly they may be even more clueless than this lot.

    But the big question remains unanswered. Is it a requirement, buried deep within the charter, that all male officials sport some sort of facial hair?

  5. In the world where I come from when you have seemingly insurmountable problems you brainstorm. You put out every idea possible. You don’t censor yourself. You approach the problem with optimism, that you are going to solve the problem.

    I saw in the last two days people only too willing to say, “that won’t work.” Forget about the reasons why something WON’T work and find some way to MAKE IT WORK.

    The $2.6MM for the Sewer Connection was a windfall. Water/Sewer has a regular Capital Improvement plan, despite the current administration’s unwillingness to work with the Capital Finance Committee.

    The $2.6MM was UNANTICIPATED. The first thought of the administration was to use it to ACCELERATE THE CAPITAL PLAN. Without any discussion with the Council. We are in crisis and it should be used to offset the 5.8% tax hike, or at least a portion of it.

    If things were “normal” it should be used to reduce our enormous debt.

    If your credit cards are maxed out, and you can’t buy groceries, and Uncle Max dies and leaves you 10 grand, you probably don’t want to use it to put an addition on your house which is what has been proposed.

    I say set aside some money for groceries, pay down the credit cards, and put off the addition.

    Baristanet is really shining here. The reporting is good.

    Cary Africk

  6. Sadly, Uncle Max died in his bed at the venerable age of 86. He wanted to stay in Montclair so he spent down his next egg on taxes and only had $10K left for you.

    Besides he left the other $2MM to his “companion” Lorraine, 23 years old and a former cocktail waitress. Lorraine was at his side when he died. He had a smile on his face, as did Lorraine.

  7. Dashield: “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.”

    That simple statement encapsulates the entire problem. In these guys’ minds all money problems are solved by higher taxes. The town is going to get into a death spiral if we’re not careful(higher taxes -lower revenue- higher taxes) and these losers don’t even SEE the problem.

  8. I don’t doubt that Max had a smile on his face, having flummoxed you into thinking he spent it all on “taxes”.

    Right. And I spent all of my money on sewer fees.

    Wait a minute…..

  9. “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.”
    That’s an easy one to solve then, just increase revenue. Man, wish I had thought of that.

    Cro–yes that’s in the by-law to section 48.3b, which is an ordinance that town folk must support local barber shops.

  10. This revenue situation is a complicated problem and I can’t claim to understand it all. That’s why I’ve pleaded to bring in more knowledgeable people. A new auditor, for example.

    Revenue has as a large component “surplus.” And Montclair’s surplus has been fed, in the past, from school spending. Basically, the schools have a different fiscal year than the town which enable us to make our surplus look good. But this artifice only works when school levies are going up. And as you may recall our schools lowered their spending this year.

    I am trying to get a better handle on this, but the situation is not unlike your mechanic snowing you into an expensive repair by telling you you need a new “framus lever” or some such fictional part.

    I am trying to dig into this, and will pass on the true explanation once I get it.

  11. A couple of obvious points regarding the new attorney:

    1) No one has explained publicly WHY Fried is changing attorneys now or WHY Mr. Karasick is a suitable choice for this position.

    2) Fried now has a Township Attorney who is beholden to him for the job….how convenient when you have talk of recalls and it is getting harder and harder to ram the tax increases down the taxpayers throats.

  12. “We don’t have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.”

    We have a problem alright. If the revenues aren’t there, then adjust the budget to fit the revenues. It’s more than obvious that the some of the council members think it’s okay to put a band aid on a huge problem and we’ll be seeing the same kind of increase next year. And next year we’ll be told, again, it’s not their fault. SUCK IT UP!!!!! It’s YOUR fault. You cannot continue to blame the last council and Trenton for spending more than you have. Yes, the state isn’t going to fund us anymore so deal with it.

    Frankly, I’m appalled by the arrogance of the Mayor wanting to brush aside any real discussion of the budget by claiming that we’ll just be wasting more money if we don’t pass this one. Or brushing aside any idea that doesn’t have a dollar amount attached to it. Or thinking it’s a good time to make a political appointment. IT’S THE TAXES STUPID.
    Talk to any real estate agent in town and ask why people move out. It’s a no brainer.

  13. the ever-escalating taxes are why people move out … and also why they don’t move in. I’ve spoken to three different people in the last two years who all have young families and who wanted to move to Montclair because of its unique character, diversity, restaurants, etc. Long story short, all three decided to move elsewhere, not because of the high cost to buy a house but because they saw that their property taxes would rise EVERY year and the multiplier effect made them nervous. “how high can they possibly go?”. Well, there’s really no good answer to that.

  14. Mara, that article is so biased it’s a joke. I don’t think Montclair only has a handful of very vocal anti-tax residents with a “pack mentality”. Also, the article states the crowd didn’t know the purpose of the meeting – they did know, they were appalled that time and energy of our council is being spent on something like changing the town attorney while there is a truly serious problem here. That article also said the public behaved poorly – not the Mayor who tried to keep people from speaking? And although the tomatopress might believe the council when they say they have cut all they can and shrug and throw up their hands, I don’t. There is always more that can be cut.

    And people are moving out, and every time I have tried to convince someone looking to move to the burbs to live here I get the same answer every time – the taxes are out of control.

  15. Agreed, Jerseygurl. I couldn’t attend but wrote an email to the council members voicing my opinions. I read 4 different articles on the meeting. 3 of them put the public attendance at 50 to 100 people. Diane Lilli’s article puts it at 25. Is she a better counter than the others or is she trying to downplay the number of people protesting this council’s handling of the 2010 budget process? Her article appeared to me to be more of a scolding of the public than an unbiased report on the proceedings.
    BTW, I thought Baristanet’s coverage of this meeting was the best thing I’ve seen from any local blogging. Great job.

  16. Yes, Howard. Kudos to Baristanet on this one. Great job. Diane’s article was indeed just a scolding of the public – as well as her own personal opinion regarding the budget. The future Montclair I see is full of hirsute, and well off aging hippies living in big old houses that are worth about half of what they should be with tax bills about double what they should be. And people from Manhattan or Brooklyn with school aged children who can’t afford private schools. That’s not a town.

  17. Yesterday may have been one small step for the Baristas, but it was one giant leap for Baristanet. Opinion and analysis and voices and all that crap are important, but reporting is where the rubber meets the road. I almost didn’t want to leave the office to take the train home because it meant I would have to miss the live feed. Would I jeopardize my commute for that blinkered, school-marm-ish screed from tomato press? Not in a million years.

  18. I don’t know if 16 secretaries in the high school is overstaffing, but over 50 secretaries working for the Board of Ed does appear to be excessive.

    I work for a large, well-known law firm with offices across this country as well as in five others around the globe. I mention this only to demonstrate that the firm is not without adequate resources. That said, every legal secretary in my office supports no less than four attorneys, including those who support partners. Don’t think they’re happy about it. Intending no disrespect, I think it’s a safe bet the work they are required to perform and the deadlines they are expected to meet are a far sight more difficult than anything expected of a secretary within either a high school or the Board of Ed.

    I can’t imagine a scenario under which 16 secretaries in the high school and 50 at the B of E is even defensible under current circumstances, let alone appropriate or necessary.

  19. The Diane Lilli article really is a sight to behold.

    With two other online newspapers clearly writing down comments and quoting the angry words of the pubic at this meeting, here is another way to explain what happened at the meeting.

    She’s clearly unnerved by having competition, but instead of stepping up her game, she just lashes out at her competition, without really naming them.

    What’s even more irritating is she very, very clearly has little idea how municipal government works. Though that doesn’t stop her from lecturing the unwashed masses for treating their councilmembers poorly.

  20. We are in a great starting place. Montclair is resource-rich, with smart people who are invested in staying here and making the town’s future bright. So let’s keep positive!

    That said, the current council was elected in different times and just does not have the collective ability to deal with the hardships now faced. Renee, Cary and Rich seem to get it. Jerry and Nick don’t. Roger and Kathryn have effectively left the building.

    For the 2011 budget I would suggest paring all but the essential capital expenditures, keeping only repairs and needed maintenance — this will reduce the need for an engineer or two. I’d cut a few more “nice to haves” on staff, then adopt the budget. It won’t be a huge improvement from the present draft, but time is running out.

    Immediately the focus should be on 2012. I’d recommend 4 things. (1) form a study group to look at the parts of the budget we are told are “off limits” and get by year’s end, some assessment of those items that are “less off limits”. We cannot reduce in a serious way the monies needed with huge swaths of the budget fixed and frozen. (2) operating budgets for fire, police and schools must come in at 90% of 2011. People must take salary reductions, contribute more to their health care and some must be let go. The world will not end, it can be done with political will and leadership. (3) Outsource one department. Pick one and outsource it completely. (4) Create local jobs. At present we send money to a company in Colorado to register alarms and a company in Rochester, NY to load money into our schoolkids’ lunch accounts. As we spend money, outsourced or not, we should make efforts to spend it locally. Well-timed and publicized RFPs could even allow time for local firms to extend themselves, to grow to provide proposed services, creating jobs locally.

  21. Diane Lilli of “The New Jersey Tomato Press” is a joke, her article that was linked in one of the comments above is the worst piece of reporting ever. I was at this meeting, i heard her on her way out trashing residents and speaking negatively about Murnick, Africk , and Terry.

    I hope her paper/blog fails. She is inherently a loser for making the claim that “The public behaved poorly, and the atmosphere was truly ugly.”

    Her story and attitude are ugly, our current council and their ineffectiveness is ugly. But she is a partisan hack, so i do not expect much less from her!

  22. “Montclair is resource-rich, with smart people who are invested in staying here and making the town’s future bright.”

    Yet it’s a big fight to get someone to realize 67-67=0 is preferable to 67-70=-3.

  23. “For the 2011 budget I would suggest paring all but the essential capital expenditures, keeping only repairs and needed maintenance — this will reduce the need for an engineer or two. I’d cut a few more “nice to haves” on staff, then adopt the budget. It won’t be a huge improvement from the present draft, but time is running out.”

    Nonesense. There are 6 months before the 2011 budget is due. Make some common sense assumptions it’s gong to be bleak and reign in spending in the first quarter of 2001 and CUT THE BUDGET.

    It can be done.

  24. Most townships pass them in March. It SHOLUD be due before January and I’d like to see them gravitate in that direction but it does not seem to be the general practice.

    What’s more important is that the council be realistic and not rely on wishful thinking and some magic money from on high. Start working on it now rein in spending in the very likely event we’ll be in the same boat in 2011.

  25. We will be in the same boat in 2011. They shouldn’t wait until next October and then say it’s too late in the year,they did the best they could.

  26. I don’t even care anymore. I am so outta here come the Spring. It will be fun to watch the debt implosion from next door.

    Fried is the biggest boob Montclair has ever had serve. Have fun sending in your dues for his worldly projects. We still haven’t heard who is going to pay for the electricity for the ‘free’ charging station which will be located behind either the police department or the municipal building. Can’t wait for Fried to spend $70,000 each of your dollars on brand new electric cars for municipal use, when he could have bought new gas powered ones for $30,000. It’s to reduce our carbon footprint so it’s worth it. He knows better than the rest of you.

    Enjoy it Montclair or recall the mayor now. Mark my words. Your increase next year too will require a state waiver and your property taxes are going to increase in proportion to your drop in property values. The cycle has already begun. Ask any realtor about sales in Montclair versus sales in Glen Ridge or Verona or Cedar Grove. Fried refuses to meet with local realtors. It’s the truth. Montclair is dying and the Fried 4 have signed the refuse to resuscitate order. Actually, the new lawyer will make absolutely sure that the progressive agenda passes. Have fun with new hippie lawyer Cary. It’s only two years before you’ll get to fire him. Toodles.

  27. My point was simply that, whenever the deadline, only a certain amount of time remains and this implies that only certain actions can be taken prior to the deadline. Afterwards the larger, more time consuming reengineering should commence with haste.

    “Cut the budget” is too vague. We need specifics. What do we do with the Police department budget? Do we cut it? How? Where and by how much? Same with Fire, Education and Sanitation. How about we abolish the parking authority? Would this save money? And as I mentioned in my earlier post, we need to look at these untouchable items, said to be off the table.

  28. “Facebook Page for boycotting “TheJerseyTomatoPress” and its advertisers.”

    That’s stupid. Because you don’t like their opinion in local politics you should hound them out of business.

    Suddenly everyone’s a Stalinist.

  29. Last evening I read of the “special meeting at 4:00” to deal with our tax problem that should have been dealt with a long time ago, “like stop spending & cut the budget so not to raise taxes at all”! To include the appointment of our new town attorney is absurd, whats that about, we need to deal with our tax PROBLEM. I would have gone had I known sooner as I’m sure many others would’ve too. I’m sure the council knows that too.If close to a 100 showed that’s pretty good under short notice.

    I can’t afford the tax increases anymore! So I put my home on the market and dropped my price 3x, well under the assessed value. My realtor tells me that as of today there are 209 homes on the market and only 5 are in attorney review, of which 2 have been in AR for over 3 weeks. Up until this month the norm would be 12 to 20 in AR on any given day.

    I am mentioning this because buyers are now looking elsewhere because they don’t want to get caught up in our towns tax mess. If our council & BOE don’t lower the tax burden THIS year we will see many more homes on the market including short sales and foreclosures. AND NO BUYERS! All of our properties will continue to decrease in value as a result of our councils & BOE poor spending habits. We need to cut the budget and STOP spending NOW. It’s that simple.

  30. townie

    we agree. except for the determining what to cut in advance part. Human nature does not work that way. Commit to zero percent tax increase and budget accordingly with that assumption. The “figure out what to cut first” approach ALWAYS ends up with raised taxes because no one can agree on the cuts.

  31. ROC – Stu talks a big game, but he won’t be in any position to say “I told you so”. We’ll still be paying taxes on the Montclair multi-family that we will pretty much never be able to sell for the long-term future.

  32. After all that’s how it works in our lives. We don’t say “what should my monthly budget be, assuming I can make as much money as I want?”. We say “how much money do I have coming in and how can I live on this?”

    The mayor and council need to stop assuming there is an infinite amount of money to collect and star living within our means.

  33. Townie, where can one find the budget as a per line item. I think that should be made public and that the public should vote on where they would like to make cuts.

  34. ROC-

    It’s not about “I told you so.”

    We heard the same tired BS from Fried and his lapdogs last year at this time. That they would come up with a responsible budget starting with the day after the 2009 budget was passed. And you truly believe the 2011 budget will be handled any differently. I might sound like a broken record, but your, “Commit to zero percent tax increase and budget accordingly with that assumption.” is about as likely to occur as our mayor regrowing hair. And your constant ripping of Cary is tired to. It’s bad enough that he has to work within the framework of a coucil of seven where the six others were oblivious to our fiscal problems. Now we are down to five at best as I’m far from convinced that Roger Terry gets it and Renee simply sold her soul to the devil in the town lawyer decision. Does she really think her position on the planning committee will reap rewards for my 4th ward? She’s been used and doesn’t even realize it.

    In other news, the homeless girl is still in Erie Park and must be suffering horribly in this weather. I’m going to call the police to see that she be moved to Mayor Fried’s front lawn.

  35. To include the appointment of our new town attorney is absurd, whats that about…

    It’s about the mayor realizing he had four votes for the town attorney he’s wanted for two years, and if he didn’t do it now someone could have changed her fourth-ward mind.

  36. “And you truly believe the 2011 budget will be handled any differently.”

    Yes if enough political pressure is applied and in the correct manner. There are smoldering elements of a taxpayer revolt glowing red.

    “Commit to zero percent tax increase and budget accordingly with that assumption.” is about as likely to occur as our mayor regrowing hair.”

    If so, then all your energy on this issue is a waste isn’t it?

    It’s fine to be a doom-saying prophet stu, but you also have to show the sinners how to amend their ways.

  37. What political pressure ROC.

    About 15 residents got up and praised Trembulak. No one except for one kook had anything negative to say about him. There was absolutely no praise for Ira except for that he served the planning board well. One thousand people could have spoken and written letters and the same political result would have occurred. Want to change the process, recall the mayor. Nothing less will work IMO.

  38. I thought the mayor didn’t even want to hear public comment on this until afte the vote. Our opinions are not valid. Just shut up and pay.

  39. The recall is more of a long shot stu. Besides when would the election likely occur? late 2011? Mid 2011? There are 3 votes on the council which seem likely for a zero increase policy and one swing vote – Baskerville. If we’re concerned about 2011 that’s where to put the effort.

  40. I think the headline of the Patch story shows why Fried went there: “Amid Long List Of Suggested Budget Cuts Are Few Realistic Options”

    Is that Fried’s view? Patch’s view? It’s certainly not an objective view.

  41. I guess she’s jokingly suggesting Fried owns stock in AOL, so he wants to give them more publicity?

    From what I’ve been told, it’s pretty much an open secret that the mayor detests The Montclair Times, too. When they won a few awards earlier this year, Cary Africk suggested giving them a proclamation of congratulations, and the mayor squashed it. He wants fawning, slobbering coverage, not the kind he gets from anyone but Patch and Diane Lilli.

  42. When it comes to the privatization of the pools, Fried said: “We don’t spend a lot making the pools fancy. I’d rather have pools that are affordable for even the lowest-income families, especially if they can get scholarships. The Montclair pool membership fees are very low and I want to keep them that way. We have private pool clubs in Montclair for those who want that.”

    From the Patch interview. Just one of many comments that shows how out of touch he is.
    First, there are NO private pool clubs in Montclair. Second, I don’t want fancy pools. I want to be able to use MY pool in MY neighborhood and not drive to the “fancy” club in Clifton.
    The pool fees should cover the cost of the pools.

  43. You are absolutely right about that, nickcharles. The Times–Terrence McDonald in particular–has done some good stories on the town’s budget woes. Wasn’t it McDonald who wrote the $3 million library story on the front page, comparing Montclair’s library to those of surrounding towns?

    This week, Tanya Drobness does a spendid job of giving library director David Brinkley enough rope to hang himself:

    If any cut is made to the library’s proposed $3.3 million budget, then more hours could be slashed, decreases in materials would be “massive,” and it would be uncertain whether the library could function, trustees said. “Keeping it open could become a real question,” said Library Director David Brinkley. “The library can’t handle an additional cut.”

    The town is in a fiscal crisis, and his position is: any cut–no matter how small–is an utter catastrophe.

  44. I’m nauseous. We can’t cut the BOSE budget, we can’t cut any more from the municipal budget, we can’t cut anymore from the library and it’s irresponsible to consider making people pay $5 more for a pool pass while it’s okay to make the average homeowner pay $600 more this year (on top of the $1,000 from the two prior years). This is really crazy. Just crazy.

  45. Oh, quit yer whinin’, ‘gurl. You can totally afford it. Just give up one of your many vacation homes–perhaps the one on the Cape? Or the south of France? I knows times are tough, but remember it’s better to give than receive.

  46. “Tanya Drobness does a spendid job of giving library director David Brinkley enough rope to hang himself”

    Anyone else think it’s a little unseemly that a township employee is inserting himself into the political process via the press? Shouldn’t his “concerns” be more rightly expressed to his supervisor?

  47. “The problem with Patch is not a lack of objectivity, but a lack of smarts.”

    Not always.

    Patch seems to have gotten the story about 6 schools plus the High School (for the 4th year in a row) not making AYP (adequate yearly progress) correct:

    Whereas Baristanet seems to have gotten the story wrong:

  48. Of course Fried detests the Montclair Times. Week after week M.e. Cohen has brought the mayor and the council to task for failing to do what was necessary to bring taxes down and vote in a sensible budget. M.e. Cohen is consistently on the forefront, alerting readers to the spending and budget issues that this mayor has failed to address. Where is the proclamation of congratulations to M.e. Cohen? Unfortunately, the sheer fact that Fried won’t give the Times an interview is a testiment to M.e.’s success.

  49. Funny how the B-kids redesign is similar to… the old design. I wonder if the Baristas aren’t preparing to jettison this home page and go retro. One can only hope.

  50. syoung – please. m.e. cohen has about two ideas: taxes are too high, and it’s funny that the mayor is in China. practically all of his cartoons are on these two topics. they were funny the first 100 times. they aren’t funny, or insightful, or witty, anymore.

  51. Issue is not so much that we need tax cuts and where to cut. Issue is more that we need regional cooperation (this economy hits every town) to reengineer, combine services, even combine towns. I’d eliminate county government too (a big chunk of Montclair RE taxes flow to Newark) and start fresh.

  52. Just returned from the Essex County Hazardous Waste Drop Off in Cedar Grove — there are 50 people working! They give out tote bags as you leave. “Waste” is right term for this event.

  53. Has anyone looked at the agenda for the council meeting on Tuesday?? There is a resolution to OUST Terry as Deputy Mayor and replace him,,,drum roll..with Kathryn Weller-Demming. So, if you are really interested in a change verus “talking” about it, I implore you to search for the changes you are looking for. E-mail your friends, talk to your neighbors, pick up the phone because there are several groups that are taking action. Find out who these groups are and what actions are being taken. Have you received E-mails from any of these groups yet?? I must tell you though that these groups are bi-partisan and looking only at accountability, transparency and fiscal restraint! I hope your searches are fruitful!

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