Maureen Edelson To Appear on Ballot for Montclair’s Third Ward Council Seat

MaureenMaureen Edelson who handed in petition to run for Third Ward Council has been notified that her signatures have been accepted.

That means Edelson will be running against incumbent councilor Sean Spiller in the Third Ward. Last month, Judge Thomas Moore in the case of Montclair Kids First v. Sean Spiller, found for the plaintiff Montclair Kids First and ruled against Spiller, determining a conflict of interest in his service to the Township of Montclair. Spiller, a NJEA official, served as a member of the Montclair Board of School Estimate.

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  1. Here come the right-wing Republicans. Doesn’t she send out the Watercooler emails to come to all the local Republican party dinners?

  2. In theory, her Republican affiliation should not matter. In theory.

    It should be noted that Edelson co-signed a letter to the Montclair Times urging Martin Schwartz’s re-appointment to the Planning Board.

    More curious is her 11th hour decision to get in the race. Wait until the Friday afternoon before petitions are due to begin collecting signatures? Seems a bit impulsive, unless she was waiting to see how the court ruled on the MKF conflict of interest complaint.

    If the court’s ruling is the #1 issue on 3rd Ward voters’ minds – which I doubt – she has a puncher’s chance.

  3. Don’t be afraid, therealworld, I wouldn’t say the Right Wing Republicans are coming. Montclair Republicans are the most liberal – that is, open-minded – conservatives in the world, IMO. Classical liberals, I would say, and a very diverse, respectful, smart and interesting group. They even regularly enjoy the company of a good handful of our town’s most prominent and active Progressives at their sociable, informative dinners. But yes, I’m the one who sent out emails.

    Sort of like Bruce Jenner, I transitioned to from being a lifelong Democrat to more conservative. It’s a natural evolution for many, if not for you. Please join in one of our meetings and introduce yourself.

    As to intent, DevonKlein, when it came down to the wire, I was startled that no one more seasoned than I stepped up to serve. For the first time in my life, and in Montclair’s institutional memory as I could discern, we would go into a voting booth and have no choice on the ballot. As one of my petitioners said, ‘How Communist!’ While that may be fine for some, in Montclair’s 3rd Ward in 2016, voters will be presented with a choice on May 10, and I could do a small part in making that so. It’s that simple. I’m honored that sufficient signatures could be gathered so quickly.

    I look forward to meeting each of you, especially if you live in the 3rd Ward :).

  4. Thank goodness someone is opposing the incumbent (Spiller) ordered by a judge to resign appointment due to an egregious conflict of interest.

    Elcamino endorses Maureen Edelson. Go Maureen Edelson!

  5. “As one of my petitioners said, ‘How Communist!’”

    So you’re here to save democracy. Thank you. Had you written up or posted a “platform” at the time you were out speaking with petitioners, or was your initial focus on getting 74 valid signatures?

    “When it came down to the wire, I was startled that no one more seasoned than I stepped up to serve.”

    Tell us how you are “seasoned.” Forget the Republican stuff. What else?

    “In Montclair’s 3rd Ward in 2016, voters will be presented with a choice on May 10.”

    Do you consider the recent court ruling against Spiller to be one of the most important issues facing voters in the 3rd Ward?

  6. What exactly are the key issues in the 3rd Ward? It has the most schools, redevelopment areas, historic properties, parking decks, and Montclair Center Center. Of course, it does’t have any public athletic facilities or train service, but these may be a pluses. It does way better than the 2nd or 1st Wards in affordable housing units. What does one run on? Unless, which side of the Spiller/MKF divide is the biggest issue.

    PS: The great thing about having at least one contestant is that it will really challenge the incumbent slate’s united front/platform.

  7. maureenedelson; Do not feel compelled to always respond to every post. The majority of people here (Frank Rubacky excluded) will just want to play gotcha with you. Yes, the Spiller case should be a part of your platform but it will not get you elected. Spend your time knocking on doors and talking to residents face to face about issues.

  8. Thanks, elcamino, for your support! I hope we do as well as ‘’ did last year. Where do you live?

    Hi johnlayne! No heroine here, just an average American citizen using her resources to participate in our American republic (yes, ours is still a constitutional republic, where the minority has representation, despite the common use of the word ‘democracy’) in order to sustain health, safety & liberty. In response to your first question, I did both. Below is the simple statement I sent around to those whose support I sought; you can learn more about me at my LinkedIn profile:

    Most important in the ‘seasoning’ is having actively lived though and participated in personal, business, economic, community and, to a lesser degree, political cycles in Montclair, Newark and society (hosting 3 candidate ‘coffees’ in my home, including one for my old friend Jerry Fried in 2008 — is about the extent of my political experience). I use my analyst’s lens, my maternal instincts, and other filters to see what works healthfully, and what doesn’t work. With regard to the recent court order, the situation is simply emblematic of what economists call moral hazard; however, among everyone with whom I spoke last weekend (including those who agree that the 3rd Ward incumbent is a warm, pleasant, smart and handsome fellow), all who mentioned the affair were very specifically disturbed that he hasn’t stepped down. I very much appreciate your sincere inquiries, johnlayne.

    Frank Rubacky, thank you for your key questions. Despite some unique features, the issues of the 3rd Ward are generally the issues of Montclair. Our town is very much a system, or an organism, with the 3rd Ward being a vital part of the whole, as are the other wards. The important thing for an elected councilor to do is represent the ward in council decision-making, while providing leadership when necessary, based on one’s experience, perspective and skill set. In a dynamic world, that’s my best platform, instead of being issue-specific (although those 3rd Warder concerns about conflict of interest may be impossible to ignore), and I would look forward to working with the Mayor and other council members in these ways. If you’d like to drill down to finer perspectives, reach me off-line at

    I’m so glad that Martin Schwartz has preceded me on Baristanet with long, long, long missives. Hate to be the first in these ways.

    Here’s the statement I mentioned (in response to johnlayne):

    Montclair’s quality of life is being negatively impacted by high-density, large-scale development, and more.

    Independent Maureen Edelson is running for Town Council to represent Montclair’s 3rd Ward taxpayers and voters, keep a spotlight on quality of life, and provide checks and balances on the council. She is not a lobbyist, not a politician; Maureen is a mom, homeowner and financial expert who is running to make Montclair a better, healthier community.


    A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Maureen Edelson has resided in Montclair since 1982, and in the Township’s 3rd Ward since 1983.

    Beginning in 1994, she developed her husband’s business, Montclair Physical Therapy, part of an elite global network of musculoskeletal pain experts, in Montclair Center. Since that time, she worked to improve the economic vitality of the downtown through her husband’s company and her association with the Montclair Chamber of Commerce, the Montclair Economic Development Corporation, and Montclair Center Corporation, the Township’s Business Improvement District.

    Maureen is the parent of two grown sons who were educated at Parents Place, St. James Preschool, Rand Family Magnet, Glenfield Middle School, and Montclair High School.

    In addition to her business activities in the Third Ward, Maureen led the two-year, grassroots community effort to restrict the size and impact of a proposed 85-unit, six-storey apartment tower at the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Llewellyn Road, the former site of Montclair Community Hospital. The negotiated result is the 19-unit, high-quality condominium complex known as ‘The Heights at Montclair.’

    Maureen has been active with Boy Scout Troops 12 & 13, and the effort to protect and sustain the original Montclair Council’s Camp Glen Gray in Mahwah. She is currently developing new Scout units in town to increase Montclair youth’s access to the citizenship, values, character development and outdoor programs of Scouting.

    Maureen earned a BA in Economics at Ohio Wesleyan University (1978), the CFA charter in 1987, and became a Leadership Newark fellow in 2009.


  9. Maureen,

    Thank you for your thoughtful responses, and you are in good company with Martin Schwartz.

    “With regard to the recent court order, the situation is simply emblematic of what economists call moral hazard; however, among everyone with whom I spoke last weekend (including those who agree that the 3rd Ward incumbent is a warm, pleasant, smart and handsome fellow), all who mentioned the affair were very specifically disturbed that he hasn’t stepped down.”

    Going back to my original question, do YOU think the ruling is one of the most important issues in the 3rd Ward?

  10. I’m not interested in drilling down at the moment, but I’ll send you my email. As a1st Warder, my interest in the other ward’s Councilors is, as you point out, about what they bring to the Council in addressing issues and shaping policies town-wide.

    Looking back, I don’t think of the 3rd Ward’s representatives as having a strong record of leadership and decision-making in these areas of concern. It my be due, in part, to the dismal 3rd Ward voter turnout for its own representative. It has consistently been the lowest of all the wards — averaging just 21%. This anomalous election is your ward’s best chance to flip that ranking for the first time in 20 years. Of course, it will have an asterisk attached.

    Anyway, congratulations on throwing your hat into the ring. I hope that, at a minimum, a contested election —even if only in the 3rd Ward — will help elicit a thoughtful, broad discussion of where we want Montclair to go over the next 4 years.

  11. Johnlayn, the Spiller issue is settled. All that remains is what it says about him that he refused to step down honorably and then blamed it all on vast right wing conspiracy.

    Go Edelson. Stop Spiller.

  12. Ditto. I still can’t believe he said it was a right wing conspiracy. It like Trump pandering to his core. Spiller is doing the same….at the township’s expense. Just a disgrace.

  13. Sounds like 2nd from 1st (el camino resides in fighting in 2nd).

    Ms. Edelson, some hard questions, please:

    1) how will you reduce trade deficit between 3rd district and others and bring jobs back from 2nd?

    2) where do you stand on Lackawanna development plan? Does town need new MPD, etc.? Is it giving up too much developers Should city live with homely but risk fee status quo or go out on limb with grand plan/big push?

    3)leaf blowers: for or against?

    4 $190 million Montclair debt: Is debt reduction by not issuing authorized debt the same as debt reduction by actually retiring debt, i.e. is not maxing out credit card = to actually paying off credit debt? as your opponent seems to think?

    5) MCAS or MKF?

    6) Coffee or tea?

  14. Correct me if I am wrong, but the position for which Mr. Spiller was told by the judge their “might” be a conflict of interest in the future (even though the judge found none), was the position of the BoSE. Isn’t the BoSE formed once the budget has passed? That hasn’t happened yet. So what has he had to step-down from?

  15. You’re wrong, but nice tgry!.

    Judge ruled that Spiller’s service violated common law conflict of interest law AND Montclair’s Code of Ethics and judged enjoined him from serving on BOSE.
    (beware vast right wing website)

    “their “might” be a conflict of interest in the future (even though the judge found none)” I’m not lawyer, but finding conflict of interest doesn’t require showing actual malfeasance or fraud, it’s determining that interests involved could contribute to such. One doesn’t have to show that cookie guard has his hand in cookie jar, just that show that he is near jar, and can’t resist cookies.

    So to repeat, the legal issue is settled. What remains are doubts about Spiller’s character and how conducted himself. I read somewhere he was a hockey player and that’s how he behaved.

    Maybe Maureen Edelson (Maureen!) should have an ethics plank. I can’t imagine 3rd warders are enthralled with guy who got booted off a board by a judge for violating the Town ethics code, but who knows about tiny fraction that vote.

  16. Elcamino are we still trying to make a mountain out of a molehill on this conflict of interest charge?

    Like our last round, the BOSE in practical application is one step away from rubber stamp based on its legislated set-up and limited time period creating an inability to provide real oversight. So while Maureen is correct, it is a potential moral hazard, and Sean should have dropped off once it became an issue just for optics alone as he was advised rather than wait for the judge’s ruling — no real harm no fowl. And that’s despite Andrews protestations on possible BOSE input which I disagree.

    Sean had no direct personal interest. This was a political judgement call, mitigated since he was both an elected official and a tax-payer who actually directly had to pay results of any tax increase a potential BOSE decision might require.

    I could easily see this ruling being overturned on appeal. In fact, Superior Court judges are not the sharpest legal pencils in the deck and are frequently overturned on appeal.

    Regardless, this is not the real campaign issue. I much prefer to focus on Frank’s questions and concerns about the township, and Maureen’s positions on future perspectives.

    On this, she seems to have a good position on over-development from the start — except for one thing. Her “old friend” Jerry Fried, as she described him, was and is completely off base in the land use arena. Any public linkage to Fried I suspect, would be an immediate kiss of death to get land use constituency support – given his many incongruities.

    Further, while Maureen describes herself as a liberal Republican, the republican party has multiple issues today which many liberals and progressives do not stand with. So I look forward to hearing how her Republican philosophy actually plays out in this local setting – on the Montclair issues of the day.

    We may actually have one race here in Montclair where ideas and thinking actually matter and get debated.

  17. Martin,

    You really should stop defending Spiller the way you do since the decision. It is wrong on every level of reasoning and you’ll just end up with egg on your face. When was the decision?

  18. Frank, too late for Martin on this one (and it’s not the Judge looking like the dull pencil here)

    Martin, I asked Maureen(!) a bunch of specific, non-Spillergate questions. Maybe you should, instead of insinuating she is too Republican for this here town. Don’t we celebrate diversity here?

  19. El camino, you’re lobbing softballs!

    1. No need to bring jobs in from 2nd (although we should try to get them back from Cedar Grove, Verona, etc.) — Jerry Fried can switch his May 1 Forum from a talking event to a downtown business incubator & ‘Montclair Shark Tank.’ We can incorporate our own Montclair Investment Bank that day and kickstart private sector job creation. First product could be the Montclair Muffler.

    2. A town should not sell its vital, owned, assets — especially these historic assets — in favor of leasing. Call in the carpenters & decorators to freshen things up, if need be. There are elements to life that are not merely financial. The proposed moves and consolidation will be a debacle for Montclair, in many ways.

    3. Too tough a question, but the Montclair Muffler is the solution.

    4. Reducing a credit line is not reducing debt.

    5. I’m amazed that we have the Sharks and the Jets going at it in a 12 Miles West side story, but I don’t know the gangs, per se, so don’t lean this way or that. I do know individuals in MKF who, as private citizens, have been exceptionally, even existentially, charitable with their resources over many years, in direct service to the least fortunate children in the region, to help them reach their potential and climb the ladder of life; and they have done so without asking anything in return.

    6. Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, of course!

  20. Oh Frank, there you go again with your holier than thou attitude sliding through. I thought those meds had kept it in check. And elcamino..give it a rest. If you want to be a promotional vehicle for least say so openly.

    It’s not egg on my face gents – it’s reality. I advised Sean to drop off that Board..told him it was not good optics and that it did have the appearance of conflict regardless of specifics..So I’m perfectly ok now “defending” my position after which still says the reality of the situation is that this is a bogus issue. The BOSE is a rubber stamp. There is no actual conflict possible worth anyone’s salt here in actual practice.

    Can you process that? That the BOSE has so little impact into the real BOE budget process regardless of what some judge sitting in Newark writes?

    And because the BOSE has little impact, this is really a non-issue which only the MKF seemed to be incensed about. To me, it’s just misdirected policy and political anger over losing the Penny M. fight and the testing wars.

    Instead of wasting time on this conflict of interest issue, I spent my time to actually try and change the BOSE, first at the Council and then State level. I tried to get State Senator Cody to put some teeth into the BOSE’s functioning here – which is most needed. We need effectively a yearly oversight and monitoring entity for our BOE budget process — including ongoing resident committees to particiate. So guys…my political MO is clear and clean. The only egg I’ll be dealing with is at breakfast tomorrow.

    If Sean or someone in his family could make monies from his BOSE vote, I’d be the first one all over this. But the bottom line remains…while it didn’t look right…and it wasn’t right — this is still not a major issue. Plenty of other positions and POV’s to deal with if there is really is going to be a third ward race.

    So Elcamino if you want to keep playing the ethics card, really not so transparently to find ways to beat the drum for Maureen, I fear you will be at the table alone shortly – once we move on to more important town business.

  21. “5. I’m amazed that we have the Sharks and the Jets going at it in a 12 Miles West side story, but I don’t know the gangs, per se, so don’t lean this way or that.”

    Seriously, you think you can actually say this and run for the 3rd Ward. A good friend is Jerry Fried, you write in support of Martin Schwartz, and you plead ignorance? Maureen, either bring your A Game or go home now. No wonder the 3rd Ward is on the political fringe.

  22. You made my point Martin. You are one of those concerned with optics over values. I might be preachy at times, but at least it is about values rather than appearances.

  23. Martin,

    Why is it Mr Spiller is so hellbent on not giving up a rubber stamp role? Why has the Council not stepped up with their consciences to say to the head of the BoSE this is not right? Bob, Bill, Renee, Rich? Why hasn’t the Council voted a replacement immediately onto the BoSE? Why is it the Board of Education has already forwarded document to the BoSE and no one knows what the hell is going on? Ask Mr Porter of the Mtc Times. Don’t bother asking any off the PTAs. That would be funny.

    Seriously? I’m game if you are.

  24. Martin, you willingness to be incoherent under your actual name is one of your most endearing traits. I won’t even try to resolve that stew.

    On Maureen (!), how could I make my support more transparent than I have? When one candidate has been ruled, by a judge, to have violated Town code of ethics the choice is easy. You seem to have a more ethics/schmesics gestalt.

    Maureen Edelson, you passed on caffeine delivery, and get pass for now on MKF vs MCAS because it’s so fraught. However, you can’t joke past leaf blowers because it simple: Pat Kenshaft, professor emeritus, hates leaf blowers and has managed (with whomever), to have Town ban them EXCEPT for their own use. Ray Galioto (?) IS a leaf blower and is frustrated that 1) his livelihood is threated 2) and Town is imposing obvious double standard). Technical note: Kenshaft maintains, over and over, that rakes are more efficient but is obviously “misinformed” or Town and every leaf blower in the world would voluntarily be raking.

    What is you take? It seems trivial (except to those directly affected) but it has interesting implications about class (town v. gown), fairness (double standard?), role of government (maybe Kenshaft should bargain with her leaf blowing nemesis). Be careful, because Baristanet is read by literally tens of Montclair residents.

  25. A bit of putting words in my mouth here Frank, but my own fault as I should have restated the full position from our earlier debate on this issue after the Spiller story broke – following the judge’s decision.

    At last read, Montclair’s local conflict of interest laws are actually more stringent for members of the Planning Board and Commissions than for those sitting on the Council. Nonetheless, the key principle is still the potential for a DIRECT financial conflict of interest, or some personal family tie into something that could skew voting if that family member had say a direct interest, or some direct quality of life impact from the decision.

    Spiller’s linkage, while certainly the appearance of a possible conflict “optically”, given his position as treasurer for the state teachers union, was in my mind in practicality — totally in the grey zone for any direct conflict. And for the town attorney guiding Spiller initially and the rest of the Council, it was not even in the grey zone I believe. You can find all the legal papers for this case here, except it seems, the background support for the judge’s decision perhaps not yet published?

    Why do I say the potential for actual conflict is clearly in the grey zone at best? Because if Spiller voted for more money to go to the MEA he would NOT be gaining financially in any direct way. In fact, he actually loses money because he is a Montclair taxpayer like the rest of us. That’s beyond his public duty to work for the interests of all his constituents – which one hopes (at least in theory), supersedes any pull to assist fellow union members.

    So from my direct read of the conflict of interest statute here — admittedly some time ago, my first blush response was legally, there was no direct conflict.

    Nonetheless, and regardless of the legal decision from now theorist and Seaton Hall law graduate, former Roseland Councilman – Judge Thomas Moore, in contrast to the thinking and opinions of our Harvard graduated township attorney Ira Karasiak — at best on “values” Frank – this was a grey zone call in my mind on the actual potential for a conflict of interest – the underlying legal point at issue.

    Add that to my knowledge from watching the process over the years that our BOSE is a very low impact player in the BOE budget process, and you have Martin’s position of ‘much to do about nothing’ — even with the judge’s call in opposition to that stated above.

    For me, it was a grey zone at best for an actual potential conflict of interest on “values” as our Mr. High Horse Frank Rubacky wants to put it — but still a very clear, and not good appearance of conflict with the “optics”.

    For both those reasons Frank, I still suggested Sean drop once the issue came up.

    So I’m glad that I’m still endearing to you elcamino for my willingness to debate under my own name. However, rather than incoherence as you sought to put it, there actually is a multi-dimensional evaluation method and review of material facts – going on behind this thinking madness.

  26. Since the debate on the conflict of interest continues:

    “Going back to my original question, do YOU think the ruling is one of the most important issues in the 3rd Ward?”

    You still have not answered my question, Maureen.

    Yes or no, without nuance: do you think the ruling is one of the most important issues in the 3rd Ward? If your answer is “yes,” that’s fine. If your answer is “no,” that’s fine too. But please, no Rick Scott type of punts.

  27. Wow, johnlayne, you have a whole lot of conditions in your debates on how people can answer. Can you post the full list ahead of time so w can decide if we want to engage with you?

    My take is that the Spiller part of the conflict is not the most important thing in the 3rd Ward, or the town overall. Yes, his judgment to double down on his bet is not surprising, but something the voters will weigh. The really big issue part of this – much bigger than the 3rd Ward is the Council’s role and lack of action from the day after they were elected to today. The Council appointed Spiller to a one year term. They have effectively renewed it every year through today. On top of that, they have been silent in discussing it ever! What are they waiting for, their memoirs?

    It is my belief this is why Martin fights so hard here to minimize the fallout. I believe he has considered this because of his multi-dimensional evaluation method and review of material facts. So, Spiller can act in his interests, what he thinks are the interests of the 3rd Ward. But, the judge has said he can’t for the rest of the Town.

    The Council inaction is actually the biggest issue right now because it is about ethics. That tops development, parking, AH, schools, etc.

    My point is no one outside of the 3rd Ward thinks Mr Spiller is relevant anymore.

  28. Frank,

    You are generally one of the most obnoxious people on here. Bar none. I guess that’s your right.

    You attack @johnlayne for asking a basic question of Ms. Edelson — one which she still has failed to answer (and she’s answered just about every other question on here, including mine from much earlier in this post): does she, or does she not, believe that the court’s ruling against Spiller is one of the top issues in the 3W? It’s an absolutely relevant question, whether or not you care to discuss it.

    You dismiss Spiller as not being relevant outside the 3W. Define relevant, Frank. Spiiler is one of 7 votes on the Council. His vote counts as much as Robert Jackson’s, Russo’s, etc. So actually, Frank, you’re 100% wrong on the relevancy test. If Spiller’s not relevant, who is?

    And who are you to tell johnlayne to “post the full list … so we can decide if we want to engage with you”? This really underscores Martin Schwartz’s earlier reference to your “holier than thou” attitude. Maybe it’s the air on Upper Mountain. Get over yourself, Frank.

  29. Martin,

    A good example of your nuanced/multidimensional analysis is pointing out that Judge Moore went to Seton and Karsick to Harvard. What is the un-nuanced version of that insight?

    You still fail to under this case. Hypothetically, Spiller would be conflicted in opposing a big MEA salary because what would he say to his boss and union headquarters: “Sorry boss, this Union guy was just putting taxpayers before teachers.” Do you see how that might conflict with his career goals?

    And pointing out “optics” in conflict case looks bad is not nuanced. Conflicts are usually about optics, that’s why people always talk about “appearance” of conflict. You seem to think absent a suitcase of $, there could be no possible conflict.

    Devonkein, Frank is not most obnoxious, smug person here; I am. He always seems pretty civilized. And asking candidate for yes or no on nuanced is dumb.

  30. elcamino – knowing your intellect, despite our disagreements on philosophy, I intentionally left out one important piece of my analysis and proof above – expecting you to move to it eventually as an argument why I was wrong.

    I waited on this one so I could finally show you logically, legally and in practice how you are off here – even in light of the judge’s ruling. Sure enough, not only did you continue to tell me how I don’t get it and don’t understand the underlying potential for conflict – you directly took the bait.

    Remember, the conflict of interest law is about a DIRECT conflict from some potential financial gain, or a direct personal interest, or gain or personal interest for some close family member.

    I say this specific situation is at best a shade of grey over those “value” standards – but still clear on optics. Why? Because there is no direct financial gain for Spiller or his family. You disagree.

    Here’s where your argument does not hold. Above, you argue now that Spiller could be in a conflicted pickle having to go back to his Union boss President. He could have to defend putting the Montclair taxpayers before their members – should he choose not to support a local MEA salary increase. Therefore, for you — this is the underlying basis of his conflict of interest even though Spiller loses money personally from that vote to increase their salary.

    But this is not a direct conflict – it is indirect. Holding to that same indirect standard…many many other people around the state and likely the country would now likely become conflicted and prevented not just from serving on boards like the BOSE, or bodies like our Capital Finance Committee, but also prevented from serving and voting while on their local town Councils.

    Your logic means that anyone who has say a very senior position with a financial institution that trades, or participates in auctions for municipal bonds, could now be conflicted. However, they are not today because their conflict created is still indirect..not direct.

    That is why the judge is likely wrong – as our Township attorney has argued.

    Let’s say a local elected Councilor has a senior position with Goldman Sachs or Prudential. As a member of their Township Council they are likely in a position to directly impact their company’s revenues – but indirectly. Likely, at some point that official has to make votes on increasing or decreasing the town’s municipal bond levels, or make votes on health insurance..whether to self insure, or to go out into the marketplace with millions of dollars in premiums.

    If they worked for a company in one of those sector businesses – they are still potentially directly impacting their company’s profits – but indirectly from their voting decisions.

    Vehicle leasing…purchasing of supplies etc…one can image multiple scenarios where volunteer public or appointed officials are a similar indirect “conflicted” position to recommend yes or no — not exactly where a Township or city places its municipal business — but whether to expand or eliminate that business. Whether to go out to market with millions of dollars of opportunity, so their company could at least try to compete for it.

    Is that a conflict? is, but it is still indirect. It does not rise to the level described in the local conflict of interest statute.

    And your same in the face office scenario could be told in this regard. A top exec now has to go back to their bosses and say, “sorry I had to vote no” to build the new school in my town because the people didn’t want to take on $35 million in bonded debt that our company could have directly bid on.

    Or another situation…where the official’s company may even already hold a portion of the millions in bonded debt from that town. Maybe that appointed official sits on the capital finance committee, or is member of the Council and has to recommend a vote to sell off some of that debt now at higher interest rates… to refinance and go back out to auction to compete again using the market. Does this affect the official’s pocketbook or compensation directly? No. They may work in a different area within their company. Maybe they’re an industry analyst. But clearly, the official’s industry sector or company might be indirectly, perhaps even directly impacted by their vote.

    All this is the same indirect, perhaps even more conflicted scenario you imagine for Spiller. But the conflict is just too indirect given the Council’s conflict of interest statutes as they exist today.

    So while I’d like to see the judge’s decision and thinking, I’m not going to spend the time now and start reading all these legal briefs. Why, because the end result over a conflict for this largely rubber stamp BOSE board is just not worth it – as I noted.

    But for the purposes of Frank’s get on his high horse “ethics” position taken which is really just worth a fox trot not a gallop …for the purposes of the coming 3rd ward race here…and for our own little Barista debating society…it is important to show you how your held position and arguments can not hold up – if applied to actual similar, indirect “conflicts” postulated in other sectors and industries – as described above.

  31. “Martin,
    You really should stop defending Spiller the way you do since the decision. It is wrong on every level of reasoning and you’ll just end up with egg on your face. When was the decision?”


    Repeating my post of yesterday, no matter how apropos, is obnoxious. BTW, I am more obnoxious than elcamino. Unlike the Mayor, Mr Spiller’s raison d’être has been & remains solely education…and, as we all now know, it is now irrelevant. I’m sure he is a go-getter and will be a political force in NJ and maybe beyond. I’m just saying the other wards can say we knew him back when he didn’t matter to us. That’s all.

  32. Rubacky – you are right. You are more obnoxious than El Camino. Your tone to everyone here is not just preachy, holier than thou as Devonklein and others note – it’s also arrogant. And that’s not just how you write to Johnlayne, but how you speak to everyone.

    Really – you don’t deserve to hold to such arrogance. Why? Because half the time you don’t refute the person’s point, you just make new, obnoxious declarative proclamations without really answering their positions. You pivot.

    The Schwartz wrote a reasoned piece above on the conflict of interest impacts. I don’t fully agree with it. But rather than deal with his particulars, all you write (again) is that he should worry about having egg on his face for defending Spiller. But his (too long) piece was not really about Spiller. It was about the conflict issue.

    Suggestion: stop trying to play the part of arrogant peckerwood in this Baraistanet comment play. You are really not a good enough actor to generate pathos. Instead, spend your energy more intelligently and respond to people. And how about trying not to use Morse code cliches that you think we all understand — but instead only go up up and away into the unfathomable ether.

  33. OK, so we all agree I get a LOT of deductions for style & delivery. Sorry, elcamino. I like Martin’s passion, but he is sometimes a little too thin-skinned and expedient in his supporting his position. Like all of us, he sometimes crosses the line (e.g. off the meds thing), but “no harm, no fowl” should apply.

    A judge ruled. The ruling is based on State ethics law, not local. The judge is from a Top 100 law school. Fun fact: 3 of 7 NJ Supreme Court justices went to Rutgers Law. Another went to Widener. I quote Dr Cole:

    “I went to a state school in California, and out there, no one passes judgment on you for going to a state school. They think of it as a good education. But here, in the New York metro area, it sometimes feels as if you’re looked down upon if you didn’t go to an Ivy or a private school.”

    I like Mr Karasick. He is good in many things and not so good in some things. The fact he went to Harvard Law is unarguably a plus. But, his job was to provide a legal opinion and provide legal advice. His legal opinion was wrong. His legal advice may have been good, but we’ll never know.

    The BoE has sent their budget to the State. I assume they have also sent it to the BoSE as there is less than a month left to finalize it. Maybe the BoE has’t sent it to the BoSE. That just means that when the BoSE does get it, including Mr Spiller’s replacement, it will be that much less time to go through a very complicated $125MM. I agree with Martin on the BoSE’s impact. But their impact is not a justification for trivializing an ethical conflict.

    So, once you strip away the distracting elements of the argument, I think it is a waste of time to continue arguing the conflict. Now that the Council members has reformulated under a unified slate, the probability of 2 or 3 votes changing anything is minimal. The history of this Council’s votes indicates very minimal dissension ( or even any significant public debate) on a large majority of their votes. Every indication the Councilors have given is that they are going to run on their record and staying the course. So, maybe the term irrelevant is a inflammatory, but in a township where the best case scenario is 30% voter turnout, it is not as unfair as you would like to believe.

  34. Martin’s defense of Spiller is just about as ludicrous as Spiller himself calling it a “right wing plot”. You won’t read the briefs because you know better? Really?

  35. Still not getting Jon. This BOSE issue is wasted breath. It’s a low impact player in the budget process with little ability to control town finances for reasons previously stated. The BOE can just by-pass it in the end if it wants to. So whether right or wrong on this conflict issue – the results are still ‘much to do about nothing’.

    A much better and more impactful use of your conflict of interest energies would have been to stand with those who spoke out when the head of the then Montclair Parking Authority was allowed to come before the Planning Board — having previously worked as a parking consultant for Steve Plofker.

    Incredibly, the PB at that time allowed this interim Parking head to testify untainted. Of course, he substantiated the Authority’s support why the town should let Plofker and Brian Stolar’s company then out of providing 86 public parking spots they previously agreed to include in what was called the Church Street Redevelopment project – now Assisted Living building lot.

    If ever a direct conflict of interest was seen locally here in my mind, to allow that guy’s input, which ended up killing much of the very public parking the redevelopment plan was supposed to maintain — that was it.

    Instead we got the “shared parking” pivot.

    Where were you and all the MKF people then? That was an issue which actually effected our taxes and rateables…our downtown shopping area and our quality of life.

    The BOSE is still just one step up from a rubber stamp.

    Wrong place to fight and stand on your principle my point.

  36. Martin,

    While I agree the way the Planning Board has handled parking matters in the past leaves a whole lot to be desired, I respectively think you have got your facts on Mr Calu’s employment & timing here wrong and you are confusing projects. I also suspect some of these matters may have contributed to this Council passing additional ethics ordinances in the first months of their administration.

    If you want to talk about how today’s Planning Board should learn from their past decisions regarding parking in the 3rd Ward, I point you to the open issue from their Valley & Bloom resolution 7/9/12, p28, #4. I can point you to others, but this will get you started.

    PS: to avoid being again being accused of being obtuse or speaking in code, I also refer you to your Master Plan document. The Master Plan says (p32) Montclair’s recent Shared Parking experience indicates the importance of regularly monitoring existing arrangements to ensure they are not creating additional parking problems.

  37. Martin, it’s ludicrous to complain that an educational advocacy group created after those events you describe(?) did not intervene. Are you also pissed at Red Cross for ignoring a parking conflict?

  38. Maureen,

    These are scary and dangerous times for politics at the national level. Our Governor, the titular head of the Republican Party in New Jersey, has endorsed Donald Trump for President.

    Respectfully, as an activist for the Montclair Republican Party, can you talk about how this local organization will react if Trump is the party’s nominee?

  39. You just hate being wrong don’t you Martin. So, you minimize the actual issue and proclaim that MKF should expand its scope? You’ve really come off the rails my friend.

  40. Relaxpeople: As I’m sure you know, the Montclair municipal election is non-partisan. Why not ask Edelson about her platform as it relates to the local issues that Montclair taxpayers face.
    Unless of course you plan on asking every other candidate how they will react if the Democrats elect a Socialist nominee.

    Try not to be so predictable.

  41. Dark Prince,

    It is naive to believe that party politics have no bearing on our local elections. Slates are assembled based on ideology.

    So yes, it would be fair to inquire about Jackson’s ties to the Democratic Party. It is fair game to inquire about Spiller’s union ties. If a candidate is part of an advocacy group, such as Bike/Walk Montclair, we should inquire about the goals of that organization.

    Maureen has been publicly active in the Montclair Republican Party. Right now, it is an organization whose senior NJ member, Chris Christie, has endorsed Donald Trump. Does that endorsement have any bearing on the Montclair Republican Party and their agenda?

    Try not to be so gullible.

  42. relax people,

    You have the 1st amendment on your side. But, you should be aware that Montclair spends around $45,000 to hold our municipal elections in May because we want them to be as free of partisanship as possible. There might even be an ordinance covering this somewhere in the code. There was an attempt about 5 years ago to move the elections to November, but there was not enough voter support to get a referendum – if I recall correctly.

  43. My final word on this. Jon and elcamino you are excused from misdirection after reading my comments too quickly above, as both of you missed the correct MKF connection argued.

    I said MKF PEOPLE, not the organization. I’m talking about the people involved or behind MKF, a good number of whom I know. Instead, if ethics really was the concern, my point is that they should have been involved as well in the giveaways of our earlier downtown development and parking issues that have gone down here over the last 15 years.

    Why? Because that would have been a better place to spend volunteer advocacy energy if the goal really is to protect Montclair’s finances. Little was accomplished suing Spiller over this potential BOSE conflict again, because the BOSE does not have any significant financial, or quality of life impact. It’s not that I’m minimizing the issue Jon, I’m dealing with real poliik’ instead.

    For the final time, the BOSE is one step up from useless structurally as an oversight body. I can’t say it any clearer. As a result, you won ‘much to do about nothing’ in my mind.

    For me, it’s a question of focus and judgement where to put advocacy time. But I did not advise Jon’s MKF to expand its focus into development issues. Nor Elcamino, did I say MKF as a group should focus on other issues like the Red Cross – beyond education. Only rather than sue Spiller as a primary battle – why not take on municipal battles which actually count.

    With that in mind – why again this Spiller obsession? Where were all the MKF PEOPLE’s passion before when it actually mattered on the educational front. When Mr. “keep them quiet and smiling” Alvarez was our Superintendent? Why weren’t the MKF folks out then screaming about the fiscal waste and delays from all those out of control – Dana Sullivan run field projects years before – which cost us millions.

    Where was their passion or push back to the Alvarez slight of hand over promises our new school would be paid for 90% by the state. And that’s even after he was advised I was told – and knew this was simply not true. The result for all reading here is a questionable, $40 million bonded new school building we pay interest on every day.

    The list goes on….but that was the real time to carry the flag to turn things around for educational and fiscal advocacy. This issue is peanuts comparably.

    So once again..focus and judgment Mr. Boneman. Coming after Sean Spiller, to get him off the BOSE, pales in comparison for advocacy return on investment value had you and your peeps been involved in these other issues I’ve mentioned early on.

    Yup, you got a solid win in court and can certainly beat the drum all you want for that. But sadly, I continue to assert that it changed almost nothing.

  44. relax people: if you think slates are created based on shared ideology, you are totally ignorant to the process. Slates are based 100% on electability and blatantly patched together according to race, geography, gender, religion and wealth… ideology barely gets a mention. Sorry but its true.

    Montclair has become increasingly more liberal over the years, making things far more difficult for any registered Republican to get a fair shake in town despite our “non-partisan” election status. That is too bad.

    And I wonder how many times you have questioned Mayor Jackson about his ties to the Democratic party and called for him to defend the positions/statements of national party leaders? That would be just as irrelevant as your Christie/Trump questions.

    But you SHOULD be asking how Mayor Jackson got hired as the Essex County Deputy Director of the Office of Human Resources? And why a real estate developer would be considered qualified to run a Human Resources department.. now picking up two paychecks and earning double pension credits. The cronyism would be laughable if it wasn’t so egregious — but as long as he shares your “ideology” — who cares, right?

  45. Well Dark Prince,

    I see you are deeply ignorant about how our local politics works. Or perhaps you have memory loss. Let me cast your memory back to 2012, when Jackson was going to run on a slate with Karen Turner. He jumped ship once Turner’s philosophy and affiliations became apparent. Turner ended up running with other local Republicans including Peter Zorich. Factor in LeeAnn Carlson and Christopher Swenson and you have a slate that was all white and wealthy. Not at all balanced for race, geography, gender, religion and wealth. Remember now?

    It seems you harbor some anger about Jackson in particular. That’s fine, if not very productive. As I said before, his affiliations are fair game. I’m glad we agree.

    What you SHOULD be asking is how Maureen Edelson and the Montclair Republican Party (whose state head is Chris Christie and whose national front runner is Donald Trump) stand on issues such as body cameras for police, affordable housing, living wages, mass transportation, etc. Does Edelson support Planned Parenthood (located in Ward 3) and a woman’s right to choose (Pilgrim Health Center located in Ward 3)?

    But as long as she shares your ideology, who cares, right?

  46. Relax People: I have an idea.. why not just ask just Edelson where SHE stands on those issues instead of invoking Trump/Christie. I’m sure she would be happy to discuss since she is the one running.

    As for 2012, Turner was an independent, Carlson and Swenson both liberal democrats and only Zorich an actual Republican. Furthermore, their campaign manager was a self described “Communist”. I’m not making that up. The earlier rift with jackson was much more about county politics than anything else. The point is, if Turner was able cobble together a more “diverse” slate of candidates… she would have… and they would have been more successful.
    Putting a winning slate together is more about checking boxes.. and less about finding
    like-minded running mates.

    And I’m glad we agree on jackson — despite the no response.

  47. Actually, darkprince, it does make sense to me for the County Executive to hire him for that role. A successful HR for the County includes functional expertise, related professional experience and managerial skills. If our recent economy has taught us one thing, it is the traditional, one industry career path is now more the exception than the rule. I think he is leveraging his strengths and fitting a real need. The County is currently going through a high spend period on infrastructure projects. I don’t know much, but on the face of it, it does’t bother me at all. My understanding is it is an interim role which may for may not work out from Mr Jackson’s or from the County’s viewpoint, but they’re giving it a shot.

  48. We’re really re-litigating the 2012 municipal election?

    “The point is, if Turner was able cobble together a more “diverse” slate of candidates… she would have… and they would have been more successful.”

    Karen Turner’s slate, while consisting of some talented individuals, was flawed in many respects. No African-Americans; no Jews; no one in the 2nd Ward (Montclair’s largest ward). Generally speaking, you’re not going to win in Montclair that way.

    [For that matter, Harvey Susswein’s slate, too, was flawed, as they had no female candidates].

    “Let me cast your memory back to 2012, when Jackson was going to run on a slate with Karen Turner. He jumped ship once Turner’s philosophy and affiliations became apparent.”

    Not sure this tells the full story. Jackson had initially assembled a tentative slate including Turner, but also Harvey Susswein and Joe Kavesh, if memory serves. Kavesh is chair of the Civil Rights Commission and serves on the Library Board, and I’m pretty sure Susswein was active within the Montclair Democratic party, as was his wife. So the decision to “jump ship” may not have been based on ideology. More likely, Jackson made a decision based on “electability.” Nothing shocking there. He ended up picking Bob Russo, who, knock him if you want, is a proven vote-getter in Montclair. He picked Robin Schlager, who won comfortably in the 2nd Ward in 2004; and ran strongly in the 2nd Ward in 2008 (when she narrowly lost an At-Large race). And he picked Rich McMahon, whose father had been a Freeholder and who was active with the Commonwealth Club and Montclair Ambulance Unit.

    Was this a perfect slate? No, but the slate process is flawed, and, considering the end result, Jackson’s decision was correct, in that all of his running mates, but one, was elected.

    All of this, of course, really has little to do with Edelson, Trump or Christie.

  49. I agree johnlayne,

    So I repeat: Maureen has been publicly active in the Montclair Republican Party. Right now, it is an organization whose state head, Chris Christie, has endorsed Donald Trump.


    Respectfully, as an activist for the Montclair Republican Party, can you talk about how this local organization will react if Trump is the party’s nominee?

    Where do you stand on issues such as body cameras for police, affordable housing, living wages, mass transportation, etc. Do you support Planned Parenthood (located in Ward 3) and a woman’s right to choose (Pilgrim Health Center located in Ward 3)?

  50. Regular posters… SSP, ElCam, et al, you fellas watching/at the BOE meeting? Suffice it to say, smooooooooooooking guns. Wow. Wow. And wow.

  51. What a fascinating thread! So many subjects, styles of debate, and some clever wordsmithing by you gentlemen (I think you are all gentlemen). Not sure if I can address all at this time (after midnight), but it’s easy to clarify a couple of questions or concerns about Montclair Republican Club (not Party) and my own worldview, so 3rd Warders and others will know who they have on Line B of the ballot in front of them on May 10. By the way, I’ve changed my party registration to ‘Unaffiliated’ so Martin Schwartz and Jerry Fried can vote for me reasonably comfortably once they pull the curtain closed behind them ;).

    My inclinations tend toward libertarian, conservative, free-market. So, by definition, I wouldn’t project my inclinations onto others: to each their own. The Montclair Republican Club is one local community of people where these values are accepted. It’s my recollection that the Montclair Republican Club, which is independent of state and national Republican organizations, does not make endorsements at those levels. Christie is not our head. That’s John Van Wagner, a local guy. The buck stops with him.

    I wouldn’t call myself an ‘activist’ with the local Republican Club, but simply a member. I haven’t seen anyone within the club promoting an ideology. We do quaint things such as study and discuss the U.S. Constitution and host educational, social meetings, which have been refreshingly and deeply informative in the several years I’ve been associated. The range of opinions among members and friends on any particular topic is broad, and people are very, very respectful of differences. I’m sure within this local club, some folks love Christie (or Trump) and others don’t. Again, to each his or her own. The club advertises itself simply as being in favor of economic opportunity, personal privacy/liberty/responsibility, and limited government. The leadership sees our nation’s hot-button social issues as highly personal and thus not appropriate on which to stake club positions. The club is a refreshing oasis of open-mindedness and cordial engagement.

    I hope this addresses some concerns about my recent local affiliations, and I sincerely thank you for the interest.

  52. Big-time BOE meeting fireworks last night on the Board’s witch-hunt spying — part of the testing Penny M. imbroglio fallout.

    Remember, when all the dust settles – it was the Spot who first flagged you all back in early February that this would blow up. That the Jerry Fried appointed BOE people would take some serious public hits again. Sure enough, the union and their resident supporters went to the mats again last night. And the current school board now has to deal with the collateral damage.

    Is all this related to the 3rd ward Council election? It likely will be.

    [portion of comment removed]
    Good luck to Edelson if she gets caught up further in this on-going ethics-educational test till you drop political policy battle.

    Seems like she’s got her own problems now by identifying herself above directly as a libertarian and a conservative.

    Nice honesty credits for telling the truth and not trying to morph into another Bill Hurlock “covered” Republican. But those are not the political positions still most Montclairites support, or want their leaders to operate from.

    Good luck to her.

  53. Good golly, Miss Molly. Fireworks indeed. Brutal.

    For those following along with our running edu-drama at home, at last night’s BOE meeting it was revealed that were indeed some dirty deeds done on Penny-Penny-One-Too-Many’s ignoble watch… and they weren’t done dirt cheap.

    For those who thought there was no smoking gun to the MEA’s recent claims, well, last night, the parties who the aforementioned gun had been aimed at previously not only wrestled the piece away from the perps, they brought back-ups, speed loaders and a few ugly truth grenades.

    It was a one-sided shootout at the not-so-OK-Corral.

    The synopsis: a long string of educators, parents and private citizens marched up to the podium – every single one armed with knowledge of how they had been maligned by Penny’s Sleaze-vestigation. They had dates, timelines, copies of emails, names of vendors involved, and enough rightful anger to fill an auditorium (which it did).

    Among the doozies…
    – emails exchanged between District Office employees acknowledging that the leak had, in fact, not been a leak at all and they had been quite wrong
    – a directive to hire a MASSIVE global security firm to come in ANYWAY – and, from what I understood, the payments from that firms services do not appear to have shown up in any past disclosures… Hmmm, that would be rather, umm, interesting, wouldn’t it?
    – documentation to the firm instructing it to “conduct a covert investigation. I repeat, a COVERT investigation.”
    – the revelation of a “target list” to use in setting up a “macro” to perpetually sweep communications for any conversations involving everyone from MEA members, to parents, to private citizens. They were literally sweeping all emails across the whole district for any mention of certain PARENTS!

    This. Was. Ugly.

    If nothing else, I think we may finally see the Integrity Twins finally put down their pens and go not so quietly into the good night. Lombard, Larson, the other board members, the senior District Office staff (e.g. Fleisher) all came out looking every bit as bad as the very worst of the past claims suggested.


    If Spiller should have stepped down over the appearance of a conflict, spying on PARENTS should be cause to move straight out of town.

  54. “Nice honesty credits for telling the truth and not trying to morph into another Bill Hurlock “covered” Republican. But those are not the political positions still most Montclairites support, or want their leaders to operate from.”

    I don’t understand how this supports your point. Mr Hurlock, by most accounts, has served the 1st Ward & the Town well. His peers can work with him well enough that they agreed to run under a common platform. They voted him onto the BoSE from the outset and remains to this day. He has proven to be effective working with the County. Most pointedly, he is running unopposed. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of his political affiliation, whatever it is, being a concern. Would you clarify?

  55. In other news, dblespresso has found Big Foot in Montclair. Fiction piled upon fiction is no “smoking gun”.

  56. “Fiction piled upon fiction is no smoking gun.” That is, unless it isn’t fiction. Which happens to be the case here. My advice to the reformers would be to quit it with the doubling down. You can’t win every battle.

  57. Reformer, I love your loyalty to the narrative but when a public vivisection is as complete as last night’s was, the “persistence of discredited beliefs” looks a heck of a lot less like tenacity and whole lot more like something that may be worth some introspection.

    When audience members read actual transcripts of conversations that entirely rebut past claims, no matter how much you may hate crossing the road, it’s time to step over to the fact-based side of the street. On a positive note, you may like it over on this side… it’s less shady.

  58. “By the way, I’ve changed my party registration to ‘Unaffiliated’ so Martin Schwartz and Jerry Fried can vote for me reasonably comfortably once they pull the curtain closed behind them.”

    Maureen, I really hope you’re joking. Otherwise, you will open yourself up to allegations of being “opportunistic” and “pandering.” I can see it now: “Maureen Edelson was a registered Republican until she decided to run for office, and then realized it would be prudent to be Unaffiliated.”

    Stick to your guns (small “g”). Most, if not all, of the issues that will arise in the municipal election have nothing to do with political parties. There isn’t a “Democratic way” or “Republican way” to collect garbage or plow the roads, although surely some of the long-winded commentators on here will attempt to argue otherwise.

  59. Yes yes Montclair Reformer – “piling fiction upon fiction”. Brilliant! Also, great strategy: when the BOE’s critics make accusations, demand evidence. When the evidence is presented, dismiss it and call it lies. Me LOOOOOOVES it!!!

  60. Bonesteel, Frankel, MontclairReformer and to some extent even policy man Gideon. Have you read the BOE stories? Are you seeing the charges and potential official misconduct..maybe even unlawful behavior and civil rights violations?

    Whether right or wrong on testing and policy ..doesn’t matter now. Either’s time to put it to rest. The wagons can’t be circled anymore due to bad behavior of your chariot drivers. Your position has been taken DOWN…

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