Montclair Councilor Spiller’s Third Ward Community Meeting Addresses Policing, Development

Montclair Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller makes a point at his April 22 community meeting at the Montclair Inn
Montclair Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller makes a point at his April 22 community meeting at the Montclair Inn

Montclair Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller returned to the Montclair Inn for a community meeting on April 22, a year after holding a community meeting at the same location.  The small size of the meeting room did not deter local residents from attending the 90-minute event.


Community policing, redevelopment, refurbishing the fountain in the Church Street roundabout, parking and the conflict of interest issue regarding Spiller’s seat on the Board of School Estimate were some of the topics discussed.

As always, Councilor Spiller featured a Montclair police officer, Christopher Barnes, as a guest to discuss community policing.  But this time the discussion touched on national policing issues when resident Marcella Simadiris, a familiar face at school board meetings, brought up the issue of race and law enforcement after Officer Barnes talked about efforts to get the police to establish a friendly rapport with boys and young men.

Simadiris, a white mother of two black boys, said that her sons have felt targeted by police, and she added she has been made to feel different in public places when walking into a building with a black person and questioned by security officers as opposed to walking in by herself.  She pointedly asked Officer Barnes, who is white, what is being done to address this.

Officer Barnes admitted that that there has been an us-against-them mentality in police training for decades, and that mentality has to stop. He also stressed the importance of building relationships with residents out of respect.

“We try to deal with everybody  the same. We’re trying to show respect for everybody, and hopefully everybody will show respect in return,” he told the audience. “The best I can do is treat people with respect; that’s the way I ‘m trained, that’s the way I was brought up.”

Redevelopment, an issue that has rarely come up in Councilor Spiller’s community meetings despite the CentroVerde project (Valley & Bloom and the hotel) being in his ward, was also a hot topic.  Resident Maggie Joralemon linked the project to the issue of gas leaks, expressing concern the development may be putting a strain on the gas lines running through Montclair and also suggesting that the manhole cover explosions of recent weeks may have been caused by gas leaks.  Her comments arose from a broader concern regarding a proposed pressure increase in an existing gas pipeline that bisects Essex County.

“It would seem to me that those issues have to be addressed in a meaningful way, before there’s any more development,” Joralemon said.  “What I’m concerned about is, how is it all going to play out?  When those apartments are opened . . . when the hotel is open, how’s it going to play out?”

Councilor Spiller cited the request submitted by the council to Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford to find out from PSE&G about what’s going on with gas leaks at the last council meeting, but he added that he has in fact seen holes drilled in the streets all over Montclair to look for leaks in the gas lines.  He hoped that the township would get some answers and get PSE&G to invest more in replacing the township’s aging gas supply infrastructure.

Resident Maryellen Kluxen brought up the fountain at the roundabout at Church Street and Valley Road near the Valley & Bloom development and the shabby state it’s in. Councilor Spiller made it clear that Pinnacle and LCOR, the two developers involved with the entire CentroVerde project, are obligated to restore the fountain, which he said should happen as soon as the Valley & Bloom apartments and infrastructural work on Valley Road are completed.  That time may not be far off, as the smaller apartment building is nearing completion and the larger building is on the verge of being topped out, as windows are already being installed in its lower stories. Councilor Spiller reminded his constituents the Montclair Environmental Commission supports such development as a way to encourage mixed-use living patterns that in turn encourage more walking and cycling and less motor traffic.

The larger of the two Valley & Bloom apartment buildings, called Building 2, under construction, photographed on April 8, 2015. The topping-out is expected soon.
The larger of the two Valley & Bloom apartment buildings, called Building 2, under construction, photographed on April 8, 2015. The topping-out is expected soon.

Coincidentally, Montclair Environmental Affairs Coordinator Gray Russell also dropped by to brief residents on his recent undertakings. Russell informed them of Montclair’s efforts to buy residential electricity in bulk from a third party in an attempt to lower costs for individuals, with an increased component of renewable energy, such as wind and solar. He also announced when the Saturday Montclair Farmers’ Market opens at the Walnut Street railway station on June 6 and the Tuesday market opens at South Park Street on June 9, vouchers from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Women-Infants-Children (WIC) program, and the senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program will be accepted and also doubled to allow low-income individuals to buy more locally produced food. The doubled vouchers are made possible by a grant from Partners in Health, a local nutrition foundation.

Much of the rest of Councilor Spiller’s meeting was devoted to updates on issues familiar to regular council meeting attendees,  such as employing a computerized ranking system to prioritize and identify  repaving projects and handle them more aggressively, the current status of the Social Security Administration property on Bloomfield Avenue (it’s going out for open bids), and getting expert help to analyze and develop an overall parking plan.

Inevitably, the issue of Councilor Spiller’s seat on the Board of School Estimate (BoSE) as a possible conflict of interest with his position as treasurer of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) came up. The question wasn’t whether it was a conflict of interest — Councilor Spiller has already insisted it isn’t. Rather, the question was why it wasn’t considered a conflict of interest, despite the fact that the councilor is a union leader and five of every six dollars spent on Montclair schools go to teachers’ salaries and benefits.

Councilor Spiller explained the BoSE has no say in what teachers’ salaries and benefits are. The BoSE’s  role, he said, was to decide the school’s operating budget. “We get a passed budget from the school board itself,” he said. “They come in and say, ‘This is what we asked for in our budget,’ we look at it and say, ‘That should be higher than you want,’ ‘It should be lower than you want,’ and that’s our role. We don’t  to go in and say, ‘Pay teachers more.'” He said that the BoSE meticulously questions everything in the operating budget.

 

 

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Sean Spiller made an embarrassing mistake holding this event during the one week most parents were out of town because of spring break. It was not smart. In a town that assume the worst in people, it only created more drama. Whether intentional or not, the whispers are mounting that its time for him to go.

  2. MCASgate you are wrong. Spiller’s issue is NOT the day he chose to have this town hall meeting, though I guess it is suspect that he would pick a day when 3/4 of the town seem to be gone, the issue is his response to this complain.

    I know he is lawyered up with a million dollar union lawyer, but not sure all the money in the world can help him if his answer is that the “BoSE has no say in what teachers’ salaries and benefits are.” – because that is not true.

    When Spiller stated – “We get a passed budget from the school board itself. They come in and say, ‘This is what we asked for in our budget,’ we look at it and say, ‘That should be higher than you want,’ ‘It should be lower than you want,’ and that’s our role,” I bet there was a collective groan in the NJEA General Council suite.

    As this reporter states –

    Five of every six tax dollars dollars is spent on money for schools, specifically teachers’ salaries and benefits

    As a paid teacher’s union leader, Spiller’s job is to get the most for his teachers.

    As an appointed member of the Board of Estimate, Spiller oversees and votes on where that money for teachers go.

    This does not look good for anyone.

  3. and yet a JUDGE – not a random internet troll – has decided you’re wrong. womp womp for you. this crusade is not gaining momentum.

  4. Fair point @Empower, can you please tell me more about Spiller’s lawyers. Why is the NJEA representing Spiller? If the NJEA is defending Spiller’s appointment to the Board of Estimate, not the town, doesnt that already prove the point of a conflict of interest?

  5. MCASGATE – Spiller is NOT being represented by the town, he is being represented by Newark law firm, Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, Kleinbaum & Friedman – which gets hundreds of thousands of dollars in billable hours from the teacher’s unions in New Jersey. They are the Union’s go to law firm. I agree it looks pretty bad to have these guys representing Spiller.

    bubs – A judge has not made any decision on the case. A few weeks ago, the people who filled the complaint asked the judge to rule immediately, before this year’s budget vote. The judge decided not to. The complaint is still filed and will be ruled on.

    This is an important distinction, not only because the facts are facts, but because the timing highlights the most disturbing issue. If the judge ends up voting against Spiller, it could prove that all the budgets he voted on need to be reviewed. Had Spiller just stepped down and let Ms. Baskerville be on the Board, all of this mess would have been avoided.

    I would guess the union leadership that pays him and his high priced newark union law firm urged Spiller to defend the union at all costs and fight this issue. It shows both groups really do not care much for Spiller’s future political career, they just are interested in defending the union at all cost. Win or loose, Spiller is taking the fall.

  6. again: blah blah blah. that is the sum total of your content. if i didnt think you were don katz in disguise i’d offer to bet you your vendetta against spiller will result only in these time wastey internet comments.

  7. all hail bubs, the smiter of minions, for cleanly and quickly cutting throught the BS this morning.

  8. It is an unexpected good morning as I thought the Township or the school district would be covering Mr Spiller’s legal costs. As long as the unions and special interests are fighting this out with their money, I’m good.

  9. I’m surprised that Officer Barnes didn’t mention the considerable success the Montclair Police Department has enjoyed in the Mission area, one district over. Officers walking the beat, interacting with residents, keeping an eye on things. That’s something every resident of Montclair should be proud to note. And, as they

    (The regular shootings, open air drug dealings, etc vanished last Summer. With a few folks away on warrant pick-ups, parole violations, etc hopefully it will stay that way.)

  10. Montclair Times – March 26, 2015
    https://www.northjersey.com/news/education/more-words-than-numbers-1.1296585

    “Superior Court Judge Thomas Moore ruled against Montclair Kids First’s complaint for Spiller to be disqualified before the March 23 meeting from serving on the board, since MKF did not “show anything to alter the status quo” and that the group couldn’t claim at the last minute that Spiller serving on the board would be a problem, since he has served on the Board of School Estimate since 2012.”

  11. SSP,

    You do realize you just supported empower parents’ legal point that the judge hasn’t ruled yet?

  12. For someone to deny Spiller’s conflict of interest is to deny the facts. The courts will eventually rule on this and Spiller will simply be kicked of the BOSE. I’m really not sure what he gets out of fighting this anyway? Certainly the union would love a representative on the BOSE. But if not for that, then what for? It’s not like it’s a real political resume builder to serve on the BOSE. Throw out your biases and answer.

  13. Actually @bubs, the judge let the suit move forward and indicated there may be a genuine conflict in letting Spiller sit on the BoSE while he does union work.

  14. Let me be upfront, I think there is a conflict of interest. He might be a good guy. He might love Montclair. He might be a good ELECTED official, but I do not see how anyone could serve in an APPOINTED position on this Board and some how represent both the best interests of the town and also the best interest of the people the town pays at the same time. Its impossible.

    If he was voted into this Board position, I would not care because the people would be making the choice, just as they did when they elected him to the Town Council.

    BUT – I also agree with STU. It seems Spiller is being used in all this. Who really cares about being on the Board of School Estimate or not, its not a big resume booster and if what Spiller says is right…and that being on the Board does not give him much power, what the point of staying on it? The people representing him do not care about the the boarder ramifications, they seem to just want to defend the union at all costs. Meanwhile, win or loose, Spiller is now tainted.

  15. Exactly, and the involvement of the law firm is yet another sign that his union ties are just too tight. He is facing charges that his duty to the union is at crosswinds with the District’s needs and so the union goes and foots the bill for his legal defense. It is better than you and I opening up our checkbooks, but a nail in the coffin of the “no conflict” argument.

  16. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think Spiller is trying to influence the BOSE to say, raise compensation for educators. But to deny a conflict of interest is to not understand what the term conflict of interest means.

  17. “Spiller..came to the forefront with many detailed questions about various line items. While expressing pleasure with the additional savings found for health insurance, he asked Fleischer if he got a detailed analysis explaining the rationale for the increases in insurance costs and where the district was in looking for additional savings”

    https://baristanetnew.wpengine.com/2015/03/montclair-board-of-school-estimate-round-two-for-the-2015-16-school-budget/#comment-409696

    By admitting he’s going over the budget item by item he’s admitting a conflict of interest.

  18. From reading these comments, it seems the issue is not really about Spiller at all, its the union lawyers that are representing him.

    Complaints about the Spiller appointment have been voiced privately to the Mayor and Spiller for months. We heard the same reaction from them every time – “our lawyers have looked at the case and they have said there is no conflict of interest.”

    Now with a little digging, and filing this complaint, we now know that the lawyers they are talking to are the NJEA’s lawyers.

    When this first came up, I wanted Spiller off the Board of Estimate and it made me angry he was there. Now, my mind on this is really changing, I think Spiller is just being used.

    I do not know whether it sad or simply telling that Jackson and Spiller would listen to these NJEA lawyers blindly.

  19. Maybe in your eyes Frank, but empower fails to mention the judge’s initial ruling against MKF’s legal complaint to have Spiller removed immediately, nor does it note the judge’s challenge to MKF to actully produce human beings for their complaint. Can’t wait to see who will put their name on that paper.

    To expect that any conflict of interest case in NJ is a slam dunk is foolish, but after all the things going against them lately I can understand why the reform folks are all wrapped up in this one. I guess it’s the season to put all your eggs in one basket.

  20. I happen to agree that Sean Spiller has no business being on the BoSE, but can we please quit pretending that this is the only/biggest ethical issue we have with the BOE/Montclair Public School system–or even with this particular lawsuit?

    Have people forgotten that this suit was brought forth by Montclair Kids First–a group supported by Don Katz, who is the husband of board member Leslie Larson–and that Don Katz has not exactly been upfront about his involvement with this group?

    https://www.northjersey.com/news/education/what-donald-katz-s-letter-really-said-1.1303735

    Or that it’s public face of Montclair Kids First is Jon Bonesteel, who has been accused of removing posts from Montclair Watercooler–a supposedly non-partisan group–which don’t agree with MKF’s positions.

    Or that the lawyer hired by MKFs is Shaver Jeffries, who has strong ties to the charter school movement in New Jersey?

    Or that MKF claims to have 100s of members, but many of those members don’t seem to be invited to/know about the meetings in which MKF’s policies are discussed and thus don’t really know what the group’s agenda is?

    Or that Don Katz sits on the board of Uncommon Schools (a charter school) and that his wife, Leslie Larson, knowingly or unknowingly, voted to steer Montclair Public School money to Uncommon Schools

  21. SSP,

    Two separate rulings. The request for a preliminary injunction (while the matter is being resolved) did not give facts supporting the justification of irreparable harm. He had served for 2 budget cycles. I agree it should not have been granted.

    You are combining education reform issues with the a conflict of interest. It would still be a conflict of interest if we had no educational dispute. You can’t pick and choose whether a conflict of interest exists based on “no harm, no foul”, “disliking the activist group bringing the complaint”, “the integrity of the subject of the complaint is beyond reproach”, etc., etc.

    What you can say is that NJ is one of the most corrupt states in the country and our ethical conflicts abound. Many have nothing to do with the integrity of the people placed in this conflicts. Our expectations are to accept and rationalize it because it remains ingrained as a part of the state culture.

    This is only tangentially about education reform. The difference here in Montclair is we pass a unilateral Municipal Sick Time Ordinance to take a leadership position based on our values. However, we are very selective in using this tactic. I think the Council should act unilaterally – mostly because they opened up this ethical can of worms back in the Summer of 2012…and now they are sitting on their hands.

  22. fishoutofvodka,

    You are missing the point. This conflict of interest is NOT a school district problem. They have no standing, role, etc in the entire issue. That is a distinction that appears to have been lost by the unit-reformers.

    This is a municipal problem. So, it is not the biggest issue facing the school district. it is not even an issue.

  23. Not missing the point, Frank. Concerned about a different point from you–that’s all.

    Which is not to say I don’t agree with your point, because I actually do.

  24. Well, the new superintendent doesn’t think MKF is an issue and has said so in that he will not address anonymous groups. That eliminates the town and the school district. So who has MKF as a top ethical issue?

    I think the BoE was wrong not to sanction Ms Larsen, but some activist took it to the courts and it has been addressed. Not a big issue anymore. So, not sure what your other point is besides maybe free speech and holding a POV opposite of yours. MKF will fade into the ether by Fall.

  25. Fishvodka –

    As you can see from my name, I am likely what you call a “reformer,” but not really sure what that has to do with anything? We have to stop thinking past “for and against” and start thing about right and wrong.

    It is wrong that MCAS and teachers scarred parents and kids to opt out of the PARCC, telling them that there will no repercussions, when as we see in the Ledger today there will be.

    It is wrong that the status quo that has created a horrible racists achievement gap.

    It is wrong that in a district that has the 13th highest tax rate, yet we have a school system that is – at best – at the bottom half of the State.

    It is wrong that most of the kids who do well in the district need to be able to afford private tutoring after school.

    It is wrong that a couple of handful or parents, who chose not to be involved in PTA and have done no of the hard work to raise money for our schools – have the time to show up at a Board of Education meetings, yell the loudest and control the issues we as a community discuss, and run Board members and Superintendents out of town.

    AND…It is wrong that an elected union member can be APPOINTED to a Board that oversees and votes on his membership’s salary and my taxpaying dollars.

    Yes, please diminish these points by calling me a reformer. Lets ignore the issues, ignore right and wring, and just focus on minimizing the messenger.

  26. fishoutofvodka –

    I nearly spitted our my glass of wine when I read your post. The concerns you voiced are fair to ask, but don’t you think, like the Spiller case, they should be proven:

    – I do not know if Don Katz is supporting the law suit, but why would that be an issue if it was true? Members of MCAS has thrown lawsuits against other Board members, does that make those law suits not important?

    – I do not know if Jon Bonesteel removed posts from the Montclair Watercooler, which by the way he started, founded and runs…but using your words – he has been “accused.” Accused by who? If it is such as issue to you, prove it.

    – Who cares that Mr. Jeffries has ties to Charters? What does Charters have anything to do regarding this conflict of interest? He also ran for Mayor of Newark, do that mean he can’t be a lawyer?

    – Your comments about Leslie Larson, like the Spiller issue and your comment on Jon, is currently only an accusation. Like the Spiller complaint, there will be a full ruling on Ms. Larson down the road. Certainly, we can debate the merits of that case as well, just like we are doing with the Spiller case, but not sure why the reference to Larson has anything to do with Spiller.

  27. Frank, please stop portraying everything as if people don’t understanding things as well as you do. I’m not combining anything and I’m aware of the two separate rulings, and the fact that the subject of reform has little to do with this issue, other than the people bringing the suit are the same people seeking the reforms. We probably would agree though, that this is one of the few arrows left in their quiver.

  28. mcasgate, it seems essential for your belief system to think that parents who oppose “reform” or the PARCC test are misinformed and must have been duped by the union. It must scare you to the core to think that parents truly understand whats going on in their schools and are acting based on their informed judgement.

  29. mcasgate: point by point –

    “It is wrong that MCAS and teachers scarred parents and kids to opt out of the PARCC, telling them that there will no repercussions, when as we see in the Ledger today there will be.”

    Why are you people so scared? Like, all the time? Matthew Frankel, John Bonesteel and Don Katz – all so scared! It reads as totally and completely FAKE as it is.

    “It is wrong that the status quo that has created a horrible racists achievement gap.”

    What’s RACIST is trying to USE the achievement gap to try to defund public schools.

    “It is wrong that in a district that has the 13th highest tax rate, yet we have a school system that is – at best – at the bottom half of the State.”

    I mean, you know this is logically incorrect and yet you still trot this out. EVERYONE involved in ANY discussion on education knows that a diverse community, such as Montclair, is not going to beat all rich and all white towns.

    and now “empowerparents” (lol, these names are legitimately funny – I totally believe you “care” now! It’s right in the name! some others I offer to you: educationisreallyanissuenotjustanelectoraltool,
    savemontclairschoolsfromnothing,
    iswearimnottheonlymemberofMKF)

    “I do not know if Don Katz is supporting the law suit, but why would that be an issue if it was true?”

    He is. You read that article which said he’d be spending as much money as he could – “liberally” is the word he used. Inappropriate – not to mention ironic – for the spouse of a currently serving to try conflict of interest as he publishes letters like that.

    “Who cares that Mr. Jeffries has ties to Charters?”

    EVERYONE. Because the collective EVERYONE knows that everything “mcasgate” (lol again) is saying is to push to defund Montclair’s public schools and save the top 1% their pennies while the achievement gap — which is real and will NOT be solved by defunding Montclair’s schools, will NOT be solved by getting Sean Spiller off the BOSE, or by making him cry like the collective you seem to want to — will worsen.

  30. mcasgate–no worries–I don’t see you (or anyone who supports the false narrative that PARCC test will fix the achievement gap) as a “reformer.”

  31. @bubs –

    Whether you realize it or not, teachers and MCAS were part of an orchestrated campaign to scare parents into not taking the PARCC.

    Teachers in our town literally told children in classrooms not to the take the test!

    And these MCAS member hijacked our Board of Ed meeting for months protesting the PARCC. Look at their Facebook page, its all about PARCC. You seem to find humor in names, they should be called “Montclair Cares about PARCC,” because they certainly don’t care about kids.

    If they cared about kids, MCAS would have asked for a fair debate, explain that yes opting out is an option, but there are consequences. At their Firehouse meetings, which I attended, or in their speeches, or in the petitions they tried to get me to sign when I went to the post office, I do not recall any of them saying – oh by the way, if your kid does not take the PARCC we could loose millions of dollars in education funding. Instead they ran a Superintendent out of town and scared everyone. Not a very fair debate.

    BUT PLEASE explain yourself, who is using the Achievement Gap to defund public school??? Do you not think we should be investing to address the Achievement Gap in this town???? Are you suggesting we ignore it? I really do not understand your point.

    To your point about Montclair not being able to compete with “rich and white towns.” I can only assume you are not a parent or a taxpayer. 1.) I am tired of spending money on after school tutors when I am paying loads in property taxes. 2.) I also believe you should not have to be rich or white to get a great education.

    Look forward to your response.

  32. mcasgate–if you are looking for an example of where the achievement gap is being used to defund public schools, take a good long look at how charter schools actually operate in failing school districts.

    Charters are brought in when public schools are labeled as “failing,” and they take money from public schools. But these charter schools do not serve all the district’s students. Indeed, the neediest students are the ones who are often either excluded outright or who are forced out of the charters via suspensions, expulsions, and fees.

    Charters often do not serve students with learning difficulties and ESL students. They also often don’t have a great record with students of color. For example, North Star School in Newark (and Uncommon Charter School) fails to retain 75% of African American male students between 5th and 12th grade.

    A school system that fails to serve 75% of the African American male student population is not a system that’s dealing with the achievement gap in positive way.

    Here’s a discussion of how charter schools systemically disenfranchise the neediest children: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/chicago-charter-schools/Content?oid=3595045

  33. Ok, enough with the defunding schools. Anyone with a minor in math can figure out educational spending is second only to health care spending. Jeez! Talk about a non-starter in Montclair.

    mcasgate,

    Parents were not scared into opting out – at least at any level of significance. That is pretty dumb as parents here don’t scare easily. Maybe at a crosswalk, but not with MPS. Now, if you said their was social intimidation or mob mentality, I’ll buy that. But, scared? Nope.

  34. Reading through the comments there is a near-consensus that Spiller does have some degree of conflict of interest. The question now is whether it is legally actionable. The conflict is rather obvious to me, though the legal question is fuzzier. What is crystal clear is it’s time for the mayor to remove Spiller from the Board since he has no intention of doing the right thing and stepping down.

  35. “It is wrong that most of the kids who do well in the district need to be able to afford private tutoring after school.”
    Maybe those kids aren’t as smart as you *think* they are. Can’t afford a tutor, and my kid is doing just fine.
    Some people just can’t live what their kid’s true potential is. So many in this town just push, push, push their kids, until OOPS! Kid snaps.

  36. “Reading through the comments there is a near-consensus….” is quite a bold statement to make around here. I guess we all see what we want to see.

  37. flip, I can’t tell if you’re being serious or sarcastic. Considering I’m not a fan, it would seem what the man is doing in Newark is very positive. Hard to rectify that with what he seems to be doing in Montclair, but humans are complex critters.

  38. @StateStreet…clearly I was being sarcastic. As far as what you perceive he is doing in Montclair perhaps you and others should investigate a little on your own and get over the “rich guy” demonization which I find to be a desperate attempt to discredit the man. (visit his office in Newark and see what a kind, friendly writer from Montclair created. Yes, he started out as a writer not a cutthroat businessman millionaire that people on this make him out to be. I knew him then and I know him now….same guy. I looked at the Uncommon Schools website for the first time yesterday….only those with a personal financial interest in the the status quo of the present school system would feel threatened.
    https://www.uncommonschools.org

  39. flipside–Don Katz might be a good guy most of the time. He might be doing a ton of good in Newark. I’m not sure we’re seeing his “good guy” side in this situation.

    I am and will continue to be unimpressed by his “ethics are for other people” stance.

  40. @fish… I can only go by my dealings with the guy and “ethics are for other people” was never a tact he took. In fact quite the opposite….perhaps the crowd he is playing to is projecting their own behavior on him. It doesn’t matter…he looks like he is off to bigger and better things. Some will think it is Montclair’s gain, I think it is Montclair’s loss. When a guy like him gives advice I listen…

  41. “When a guy like him gives advice I listen…”
    Kida hard to any respect for a guy when he comes out swinging because his wife didn’t get reappointed to the BoE. Then he aligns himself with MKF.

  42. But flipside, you see there are some ethical issues with the stance he’s taking here, correct?

    Why did he say “In fact, I have not contributed money or time to this important effort (i.e., Montclair Kids First) but as soon as Leslie is off the board in mid-May, MKF can count on me to contribute liberally” in his letter to the Montclair Times on March 19th, when he was, in fact, drumming up support for MKF via email before that? https://www.northjersey.com/news/education/what-donald-katz-s-letter-really-said-1.1303735?page=2

    How is serving on the board of Uncommon Schools while his wife served on the Montclair Board of Education a bigger conflict of interest that Sean Spiller’s situation (again, especially considering that his wife steered taxpayer money to Uncommon Schools–which may have been inadvertent, but should not have happened.)

    If he wants to take Sean Spiller to task for his conflict of interest, that is his right. But when he doesn’t hold himself to the same ethical standards, it is my right to criticize him for it.

  43. @fish…I stated earlier that I looked at the Uncommon Schools website and it looked pretty impressive to me. I don’t know for sure but I would guess that Mr. Katz’s role in Uncommon Schools is a drain on his time and money and not a source of income. To me that makes the Katz/Spiller comparison apples and oranges. BUT… I will defend your right to have an opinion and criticize anyone you like. I am just trying to offer some food for thought….

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