Cary Africk: Shooting the Messenger is Not Effective

The Capital Finance Committee has served Montclair for decades. Over the years the Committee’s annual reports have helped foster a responsible and thoroughly reasoned approach to capital spending.

While in the former Council the Committee’s activities were scaled down, it has only been in this Council that active hostility has broken out between the Council and the Manager, and the Committee.

But it’s not only the Capital Finance Committee that has been shut out. The Operating Budget Advisory Committee has been ignored, and the Environmental Commission has seen its influence dwindle.

When I was appointed as an ALTERNATE to the Environmental Commission I was invited to a dinner by the Mayor, Ed Remsen, to honor my appointment.

Prior to this Council it was an honor to be on any of the Council Committees.

But now, with the constant attack from the Council “majority,” and the Town Manager, it is no longer an honor, but an obligation that fewer and fewer want.

This Town has some of the most respected and talented individuals in finance, environmental law, and planning, to name but a few areas of expertise.

The Capital Finance Committee has, or has had, dozens of the most respected municipal finance experts in the nation.

Yet we turn them away because we don’t like what they have to say.

Compare the treatment our Municipal committees get compared with similar committees helping the Board of Education. The BOE supports their committees. The BOE has given them access to all the data. The superintendent promotes cooperation. The result was half a dozen expert committees that have, and continue to provide, ideas and real world action plans.

But the town continues to maintain that outside groups are unneeded, and that “we have all the answers we need.”

We don’t.

Last night’s Council actions were vengeful, and spiteful. There are people who just don’t like what the Capital Finance Committee has to say. They have expressed concern that the reports will embarrass the administration. Some haven’t gotten over the “pie in the sky” Senior Center.

I have faith that facing facts is necessary, and the best way to handle our problems.

Shooting the messenger is not an effective strategy.

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  1. Cary has been a voice for fiscal sanity since he started attending council meetings during the last council. Judging from the number of 4-3 votes on various issues in this council, he has also been an effective voice. We need to see that he is returned to the council either as 2nd ward or at large representative.

  2. Mayor, on the Fiscal Sanity slate! There is a record to run on. Make hay while the sun shines and run roughshod over these nincompoops.

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