MontClairVoyant: It Would Be a Pity if We Didn’t Become A Sanctuary City



This is your first column for Baristanet after writing “Montclairvoyant” for another media outlet since 2003. Why are you here?
Hound of the Askervilles

Why do any of us exist? Because of God? Evolution? Cat videos? Rec-league sports? Our Neanderthal ancestors “meeting cute” at Caves “R” Us?

I met you at Tuesday night’s Township Council meeting, where the TC was urged to make Montclair a sanctuary city as the vile Donald Trump demonizes Muslim immigrants and refugees. Thoughts?
Passion for Compassion

What a huge turnout Feb. 7! What smart, heartfelt, eloquent remarks by attendees! What a speedy…um…not so speedy vote by the TC, which might make a sanctuary decision Feb. 21. Hopefully that won’t clash with the local galas marking “Exactly Two Months of Winter Day.”

Aren’t at least four of the seven TC members strongly for the sanctuary city idea?
Quadruple’s Scruples

Yes, and a Feb. 21 vote is better than the Feb. 31 vote listed on “The Kellyanne Conway Alternative Facts Calendar,” available at not-so-fine stores everywhere.

Another federal matter with local impact was the dismaying Feb. 7 approval of ultraconservative billionaire Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, even though her only exposure to the public schools she hates was watching “Room 222” three times. Not insinuating anything, but isn’t 666 a satanic number?
Nights in White Satan

Nah, it refers to the New Jersey Devils’ 334-332 win over the Rangers.

Extreme hockey! Yet the strong grassroots opposition to Trump’s regime brings hope. For instance, what do you think of the new Facebook group Activist Montclair?
Pushback to the Future

AM has a great, informative page. And, as of Feb. 8, the less-than-three-month-old NJ 11th for Change has an incredible 5,300-plus members wanting to meet with elusive U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who represents Upper Montclair and anyone who ever played right field at Yogi Berra Stadium.

Yup, that once-“moderate” Republican now supports the far-right Trump on almost everything, which irks the admirable NJ 11th for Change members (many from Montclair!) who visit Rodney’s Morristown office every Friday. The number of visitors?
Crowd Atlas

It swelled from three the first time last month to a stunning 400-plus on Feb. 3. At that rate, Morristown’s Friday population will soon rival Beijing’s, albeit with slightly less Chinese food.

Wait a second — you commented on Tuesday night’s Township Council meeting! Isn’t your deadline Monday morning?
Day Skipper

It’s now Wednesday afternoon, meaning this column will be more timely. So let me know what y’all have for lunch on Feb. 15 (just kidding).


 Dave Astor is the MontClairVoyant. His opinions about politics and local events are strictly his own and do not represent or reflect the views of Baristanet.

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  1. I was assigned to chimney security today at middle school in the State of Washington, to prevent Betsy DeVoss from trying to climb in that way when she couldn’t get in the front door. Protesters abounded below while I rode shotgun on the roof. We’re with Montclair all the way.
    Glad you’re here MontClairVoyant!

  2. Thanks for the kind words and the colorful comment, uniquelyMe! Speaking of chimneys, Betsy DeVos is no Santa Claus for public education. 🙁

  3. I am really confused – the only people in fear of being deported right now are illegal immigrants who are criminals. Why in the world are we interested in harboring rapists, murderers, felons, who are here illegally? Many of these aliens have served time in our federal, state & local jails. They have been released into communities across the country, because their home countries refuse to accept their repatriation. What is wrong with enforcing the immigration laws on the books? We allow thousands of people into this country every year. I, for one, do not think every illegal alien has a constitutional right to come into this country! This issue is really getting blown out of control. Sanctuary city?? Give me a break!

  4. Thank you for commenting, cmnews! I guess we’ll have to disagree about this. 🙂

    Most of the undocumented people in the U.S. (including Montclair) are good, hardworking, law-abiding people who don’t deserve to be deported. Also, many have children, and I don’t think families should be split up.

    In addition, my feeling is that the Trump administration wouldn’t just focus on deporting “rapists, murderers, felons,” etc. It would focus on Muslims and people of color — most of no danger to anyone. I’d be very surprised if any undocumented white immigrants got rounded up.

    As the grandson of immigrants, I want the U.S. to continue to accept people. It makes the country a better place.

  5. Dave,

    I support the concept of a Sanctuary City resolution by the Council. However, the revised resolution has not been introduced. Further, I don’t support an immediate vote on such a resolution when it is introduced. Resolutions don’t require a 2nd reading and without a pause in the vote, it would provide the public adequate time to review and comment.

    As you are aware, the first resolution had problems. The original initiative on PanetCivic went so far as to suggest we change our form of government to facilitate the goals of such a resolution. Something I don’t agree with and I believe has been “walked back”.

    What is a real issue is that each government defines Sanctuary City status differently as there is no single definition, legal or otherwise. While I have been told Sanctuary City status does not apply to violent felons, the previous resolution did not define what our SC status means and when we want it to not apply. Or, is the proposed resolution on policy also going to provide explicit policy where discretion is allowed?

    Whatever course we choose – and I hope for SC policy here, I would hope these issues are recognized & addressed proactively before any resolution is passed. It seems to me it would served to make the resolution stronger.

  6. Thank you, Frank! Well said, and you make some good points.

    But this a matter where I think speed is of the essence — in case the intolerant Trump administration is able to get around the very welcome court stays. A Montclair “sanctuary city” resolution was suggested back in November, so the Township Council has had many weeks to think about and study the matter. And there are still eight days before the February 21 TC meeting to think and study even more.

    Also, the vast majority of Montclairites (not all) seem to want this resolution, and many spoke very eloquently and knowledgeably about it at the February 7 TC meeting.

  7. If there is one aspect of the first month of the new administration that we should agree on is that hasty implementation of policy has not not necessarily proved beneficial to the country. The difference of one more Council meeting after introduction is not going to outweigh thoughtful discourse.

    The original resolution introduced by Councilor Baskerville was not originally on the Council’s published agenda. It was a surprise to most residents and fellow Councilors. Further, Councilor Baskerville, the sponsor of the resolution, offered during the discussion to eliminate the offensive clause in her resolution that created conflict with our form of government. So, I don’t think immediacy is a valid justification to eliminate public consideration. Our councilors were elected by a non-partisan election, supposedly blind to party affiliation. Placing a party affiliation overlay, which this, in effect, proffers, and in conjunction with speed, is something we should be very careful about…because this will not be the last issue that will be put up to the Council. So, if Montclair is going down this road, let’s do it with our eyes wide open as to what it mean in the long-run.

  8. I hear you, Frank. But I think Trump’s hastiness on many things is MUCH hastier than what the Township Council is doing, even if the TC takes a sanctuary city vote on Feb. 21 (as I hope it does).

    And while I think sanctuary city efforts are much more amenable to Democrats and independents than to Republicans, this seems to me to be more of a human-rights issue than a party-affiliation issue. Or at least it should be. Heck, many Republicans hire undocumented workers…

    If the TC delayed its vote until March, I would not be happy but I could live with it.

  9. Frank, re my last line above: If the Township Council vote were delayed until March, and some undocumented people were rounded up in the interim, THEY could not “live with it.” So, on second thought, I 100% wish for a Feb. 21 vote.

  10. I always understood it was your 100% wish.

    Just for the record, 60% of PlanetCivic Montclair’s membership did not vote on the SC initiative. Voting is anonymous. How should that be interpreted?

  11. Thanks, Frank! I admire what PLANETCIVIC does, but I think the turnout at the Feb. 7 council meeting was more telling. The turnout was huge — standing-room only, people in the hallways… More than 20 speakers eloquently urged a sanctuary city resolution, while only a couple of audience speakers were against it or wanted more info first. And the latter were listened to respectfully, so I don’t think opponents of the sanctuary city resolution, if they chose to attend Feb. 21, would have anything to worry about. From the Feb. 7 turnout, and from numerous comments I’ve seen on social media, it seems that many more people in Montclair are for the sanctuary city resolution than against it. I realize that’s not a scientific poll… 🙂

  12. More than 2.5 million people were “removed” (deported) during the Obama Administration.

    Why was there no outcry, or sense of urgency, for Montclair to be a sanctuary city during those 8 years?

  13. Thanks, John! That’s an excellent point. I supported President Obama on some things, and opposed him on other things — and all those deportations (especially in the earlier years of his presidency) were something I was very much against. In retrospect, I should have mentioned that in some of my 2009-2017 columns. Those deportations were horrible for many people and families.

  14. Dave,

    I give PlanetCivic similar weighting.

    A primary objective of PlanetCivic is to provide an alternative platform for residents to participate in local government. Over fifty percent of their members have joined after the Council resolution was introduced and the online resolution was created. They chose to go through the effort establishing residency and registering their membership.

    While it is indisputable that an increasing percentage of new members exercised their votes to weigh in on SC, 1) the ratio of yes to no votes has remained fairly constant and, 2) the number of new members that didn’t vote is still large. Again, I’m assuming these members joined to participate or be aware of local issues – and even when offered anonymity – chose not to pick a side.

  15. “The only people in fear of being deported right now are illegal immigrants who are criminals.” Key word there is “right now”. We’re not even a month in. We should expect more.

  16. Objectively speaking, the executive branch has had several notable difficulties already with their basic understanding and compliance with existing law…particularly if it applies to them. I seriously doubt illegal immigrants are finding any solace in our legal finer points and all can be expected to be in fear now. We can probably dispatch any attempt to segment those who should be fearful.

  17. Thanks, Frank, for commenting again! And thanks, State Street Pete, for commenting for the first time!

    Pete, I totally agree that people never know what to expect with Trump and his administration. As you allude to, what he says and does now may change in the future. So, as you also alluded to, Frank, many immigrants and refugees have plenty of reason to be fearful.

    As for your PLANETCIVIC comment, Frank, I guess there will always be undecided people on any issue. 🙂

  18. Dave you seem to disregard the word illegal when speaking about certain immigrants. “Illegal” concerns some citizens and doesn’t concern others. Dropping it from your wording changes the discussion to fit your view point. Nice spin, and while your at it since you seem so sure of seeing the future how about giving us some stock picks…..

  19. Thanks for commenting, flipside! Fair point by you (though I prefer the term “undocumented immigrants” over “illegal immigrants”). And there have certainly been cases where overzealous law-enforcement people have rounded up legal immigrants — which turns those immigrants’ lives upside down even if things quickly or eventually get sorted out.

    Ha — your stock-picks quip! I guess I see vegetable stock in my future soups. 🙂

  20. “As for your PLANETCIVIC comment, Frank, I guess there will always be undecided people on any issue.”

    I wasn’t clear or you missed my point which was to timing related to PC site. The non-voters are trying to engage. They joined. They seen an initial resolution introduced, never published after the fact, flawed and tabled Nov 30. They have a Council indicating a more thoughtful resolution is imminent, but no specifics as yet. Unlike elections, their PC votes can be cast up to the Council takes action if they want their vote considered. Like elections, many people want to see the actual language of what they are voting on. Further, the Democratic party has not come out supporting SC. This just might not be the slam dunk you are suggesting.

  21. Sorry I misunderstood, Frank. Thank you for explaining again!

    And to address one of your points, the less-progressive part of the Democratic Party is indeed often cautious. (Too cautious, in my opinion.)

  22. Thank you, betsyk, for your comment and question! I resigned from The Montclair Times, and will now be writing the column each week for Baristanet. My next column will be posted here this Thursday, Feb. 16.

  23. That’s a shame as I really enjoyed the printed version, but I understand I think. I do have a hard time with this sanctuary city proposal though. Don’t we have more important things you could be helping to improve here in town like the need to get rid of PARCC? I am very excited that Mrs. DeVos is going to eliminate that at the national level. Don’t you think she’s great for doing that? Please do consider a printed version of your column. Paper is the future.

  24. I have to disagree with you – I too am a child of immigrants, all of us are to one degree or another. The facts are that Last week, about 680 undocumented aliens were arrested by ICE officials nationwide, many of them have already been deported. The coordinated raids targeted aliens who had committed crimes in the USA — mostly felonies.

    75%e percent of those taken into custody had convictions, including homicide and rape. I saw a report of one man arrested in Chicago who was an Iraqi citizen with a conviction of sexual abuse of a victim unable to consent. Many of the arrested non-felons were associating with the criminals. But those facts have largely gone unreported by the American press. And by the radical left, which is actively misleading you….please get facts straight.

    I would also like to pull this quote from Obama:
    “What we should be doing is setting up a smart, legal immigration system, that doesn’t separate families but does focus on making sure that people who are dangerous, you know, people who are gang bangers, are criminals, that we are deporting them as quickly as possible.”

    In 2013 Obama removed more than 434,000 illegal aliens, the highest number in history, which goes all the way back to 1892. Did you see any anti-Obama demonstrations? Did you see any screaming headlines in the national media? No..but you won’t hear that in the mainstream media. It’s a shame the way the media is conducting itself.

  25. Thank you, betsyk! I was at The Montclair Times since 2003, and spent enjoyable years writing for other print publications, but many of them are struggling these days.

    I personally think it’s okay to focus on several things at once — in my case, being for a sanctuary city designation in Montclair, being against the PARCCs, etc.

    I guess Betsy DeVos might have a couple of views I agree with, but, overall, I’m very much against almost everything she stands for — charter schools, vouchers, throwing her money around to influence politicians, etc.

    Plus it frightens me that she never went to public school and never sent her kids to public school. She has no idea how wonderful (albeit imperfect) many public schools are — including those in Montclair. And I thought her answers at that congressional hearing, after she was nominated for Secretary of Education, were shockingly ignorant about public education.

  26. Thank you for such a nice answer. I’m older and don’t have kids in school any more. I just know my taxes keep going up and that nice man who was running the schools for a while seemed to be really smart. I read they have another part time leader. Why is that? Didn’t they do their job to find a replacement? I think you have a lot of good solutions. I agree with your other comment that Obama was awful. I’m glad we have an American President now. Have you ever thought of running for office here?

  27. I appreciate the response, betsyk!

    I’m older, too, but currently have a child (adopted) in a Montclair elementary school. Given that I also have an adult daughter who went through the Montclair school system, I have an interesting perspective on the system now vs. then. 🙂

    Taxes indeed go up almost every year, and it’s one reason my wife and I sold our Montclair house and moved to a Montclair apartment. But I think somewhat higher taxes are worth it to help keep our school system strong and pay our wonderful, hardworking teachers and paraprofessionals as much as possible. (In my case, my rent goes up when taxes rise.)

    Interim schools superintendent Ron Bolandi IS terrific. But, by state law, he can only stay for two years (roughly April 2015 to March 2017) as an interim. The new interim was needed because a permanent successor probably won’t be hired until the spring or summer. The search has been going on since last fall, I think.

    I wanted to clarify that I disagreed with some of President Obama’s actions and agreed with others. And I’m not a fan of Donald Trump in any way.

    I’m flattered at your question about running for office, but that will never happen. 🙂

  28. But I realize that even a small tax hike every year can be a major hardship for some Montclair residents. If that’s the case for you, betsyk, sorry about that.

  29. Did you know Dave,that the woman you are citing was convicted for felony identity theft? She had been in the midst of deportation proceedings in Arizona prior to the Thursday immigration enforcement action that led to her deportation too. I mean are we a country of laws, or anarchy?

  30. I hear you, cmnews. But Guadalupe García de Rayos, after her nonviolent offense, had lived in the U.S. for many years with no criminal behavior — and always checked in with the authorities. Now she gets deported, breaking up her family. It’s cruel.

    And if we’re a country of laws, how come Trump and many of the ultra-wealthy people in his administration have broken or skirted various laws and are now running the country? Well, I know the answer; I’m asking that rhetorically… 🙂

  31. What laws are we talking about Dave? Demonizing the wealthy again, would I expect any less. Everyone on Wall St. is a Bernie Madoff, right? Guess what, if the taxes in this town continue to go up at the pace they are, the “ultra-wealthy” will be the only ones who can afford to live here. Honestly, I think you have your candidates confused. The last time I checked, Hillary Clinton was the one known to have committed various crimes.

    The bottom line, this woman committed a felony. I do feel sorry for her, and perhaps something will be worked out in her case – I don’t think this was rolled out perfectly by any means. But there was reason to deport her. That’s a convenient fact to just leave out.

    Trump won because he wasn’t your typical politician, he tapped into an angst & frustration felt by many in this country – not racism, as all libs & the media like to claim, but honest disgust with the direction this country was going in.

  32. Thanks for your latest comment, cmnews.

    You’re right — Trump won partly because he wasn’t a typical politician and because he tapped into white working class frustration. But he’s also a racist (Obama “birther” nonsense, etc.), a sexual predator (caught on video in his own words), someone who didn’t pay taxes for years, someone who has stiffed a number of his workers, someone who declared bankruptcy several times, someone who dodged the draft, etc. Not a person I can respect.

    BTW, I had mixed feelings about Hillary Clinton.

  33. He’s not a racist. He did not only appeal to “white working class frustration.” Ever heard of Diamond & Silk? Watch some of their videos. They express it better than anyone I have heard or seen, not to mention they are hysterical
    He appeals to plenty of minorities, and people in the gay community. Just because the liberal media doesn’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

    Trump has employed thousands of people over the years paying attention to one thing – not gender, not ethnicity, but ability. Ability to get things done, to get the job done right. You listen to what the main stream media regurgitates, and you just spit it right back out here. Oh he stiffed so many workers! He’s a racist, he didn’t pay taxes! Honestly? He’s not a career politician. His tax returns haven’t been prepared every year with political ambitions in mind. He didn’t break tax laws – he followed them & took advantage of weaknesses in the codes. I bet most of the people who live on Upper Mountain did the exact same thing.
    What did Hillary do with the Clinton Foundation particularly when she was Secretary of State? Now THAT is some illegal behavior that no one should respect. What did Bill DO to young girls & women? Much worse than anything Trump has been accused of, and that’s all it is accusations or some lewd comments.

    I just don’t demonize the rich like liberals do, and I will never understand the impulse to do so. Is it envy? Everyone who is wealthy does not have evil motives. And for the record, the birther issue does not make him a racist. People can actually be critical about Obama without being racists. You guys just love to throw that word around. Trump is the only one who’s talking about the inner cities and actually doing something about it – his “New Deal”. Just give the guy a chance! Everyone is pouncing on any little thing without seeing if he can actually deliver some good. What if the economy actually surges to 4% growth rather than remain stagnant like it has been for years. Even if he achieves some good, you people will never take off your liberal lenses to recognize it.

  34. I have to disagree, cmnews. The “birther” claim was incredibly racist. Plus Trump’s company wouldn’t rent to African-Americans back in the day, he supports police officers who kill innocent African-Americans, he exaggerates the number of crimes committed by African-Americans, etc. Sure, he has a few black celebrity “friends,” but that’s about it. He got a whopping 8% of the African-American vote. The other 92% wisely saw him for what he is.

    Bill Clinton’s behavior was disgusting, but he wasn’t running for president in 2016. Sure, Hillary wrongly protected him somewhat back in the 1990s, but did not commit the acts herself.

    Trump is narcissistic, immoral, insulting, greedy, a liar, not intellectually curious, etc. Sorry, I will not “give the guy a chance.”

  35. Mr. Astor,

    The court-enjoined Executive Order precluding travel into America and ICE enforcement efforts to arrest and deport people already here are totally separate issues. If ICE has a warrant to enter a Montclair property looking for an undocumented felon, they almost certainly will neither need nor request Montclair police assistance. Being, or not being, a “Sanctuary City,” therefore, won’t stop federal officers from carrying out their orders. And as you learned from Mayor Jackson at the Feb. 7 meeting, Montclair police *already* are barred by a State Attorney General directive from asking the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses. The only circumstance in which police officers in New Jersey may report someone to ICE is if they are arrested for a felony or DUI, which Mayor Jackson reported has happened zero times in the last 16 years. Declaring ourselves a sanctuary will not change that status quo, either.

    I have no problem at all with Montclair’s residents, acting through its elected Council, expressing strong disagreement with President Trump’s policies. A resolution expressing that dissent should not put our federal and state funding at risk. What I am fairly certain I do not want to see us do, however, is pass a “sanctuary” resolution that effects no practical change and so incurs major financial risks without any corresponding benefit. That is why I think we need to see the proposed resolution and give it some serious thought before the Council votes on it. Councilor Spiller said at the meeting that standing up for principles is more important than the money we may lose. I respect that point of view, but I would rather find a way to stand up for principles without incurring those risks, if that is possible (which I believe it is).

  36. Hi Mr. Jacobson,

    Are you sure this would put our funding at risk? As I mentioned, my taxes have gone up since the schools seem to be spending so much these days. Does this mean Mr. Astor is not really looking out for all of us? That Spiller, now he is a nice dresser. I’m sure he’s looking out for my taxes. Have any of these really smart men told us how much our sanctuary status will cost me? I saw in the paper that the courts have rejected President Trump’s immigration thing. Do we really need to be working on this? I can never find a place to park my car. Can Mr. Astor and Mr. Spiller work on that first? What does Mayor Jackson think about it?


  37. Thank you, Jeff, for your thoughtful, informative, and well-reasoned comment.

    I realize that a Township Council vote to make Montclair a sanctuary city (if that happens) could end up being partly or largely symbolic, but symbolism matters. And the more places that become sanctuary cities, the more powerful that symbolism becomes — and the more there is a chance to blunt what Trump and other deportation supporters are trying to do.

    On the subject of when the TC vote should be taken, I think speed is very important, as I mentioned earlier in this thread. One already hears reports of undocumented people being rounded up who are no threat to anyone. I think the Township Council has had quite a bit of time to think about this since the matter was brought up last fall, and there are still six more days until the TC meeting. A possible resolution could be read and discussed on Feb. 21 and a vote still taken that night.

    As for the financial risks, there have certainly been threats of withholding federal funding from various sanctuary cities, but I haven’t yet heard of any such city actually losing funding.

    Also, does Montclair even get a lot of federal funding? That’s something I don’t know.

  38. Thanks for your thoughts, Betsy!

    There may or may not be a funding risk, but, as corny as it sounds, sometimes a moral decision should be made despite the risks.

    The courts have definitely stayed Trump’s deportation efforts, as you alldue to but there’s no guarantee those stays will be permanent. And if Trump succeeds in getting a very conservative justice on the Supreme Court (after the Republicans stole that seat by not considering President Obama’s nominee last year), that might not bode well for undocumented people.

  39. Corrected version of the sentence that starts the third paragraph in my above comment: “The courts have definitely stayed Trump’s deportation efforts, as you allude to, but there’s no guarantee those stays will be permanent.” Sorry about that!

  40. I believe that Montclair applies for and receives a variety of federal grants for police equipment and training, road repair, school projects, etc. Although the amounts vary from year to year, they can be significant. We also receive State funds that are essentially federal pass-throughs. The risk, therefore, is not small. I agree that no one has yet lost funding, but I strongly suspect a test case is coming, and if I were deciding whom to pick on for a test, I would not start in a major city.

    You mention that speed on a sanctuary resolution is important because of ICE enforcement activities, but I say again: Whether or not Montclair declares itself a “sanctuary” will not stop ICE from executing a warrant anywhere in our town. The Town Council has authority only over Montclair authorities, and a binding state directive already reduces Montclair Police reporting to ICE basically to nothing. I therefore respectfully submit we have time to make sure a resolution does not run risks we do not need to run without yielding meaningful benefits. At the very least, the proposed resolution should be published well in advance of a vote, and the Council should have time to receive solid legal advice.

  41. Thanks, Jeff! Good points again.

    Given that the sanctuary city idea was brought up in Montclair last November, there has been plenty of time for legal research and advice. (Trump was elected by then, and we all knew what was coming from him.) If that time wasn’t taken advantage of enough for that legal research and advice to be completed/given by now, well, that was a missed opportunity.

    From what you say, it sounds like Montclair directly or indirectly might be getting a decent amount of federal money. But the sanctuary city concept is such a strong moral issue (even if it’s mostly symbolic and ignored by ICE) that it seems worth the risk. If the Trump does try to retaliate, well, he’d get a fierce legal response that could well be winnable. Interesting that Republicans, who supposedly champion “states rights” and by extension local rights, only believe in that when it fits their intolerant leanings.

  42. In my last paragraph above, there should be no “the” in front of “Trump” and I should have said “many” (not all) Republicans. I need some sleep…

  43. Dave, from Lao Tzu:

    ‘Quick action bruises
    Quick grasping loses
    Therefore a sane man’s care
    is not to exert
    One move that can miss, one move that can hurt.’

  44. “give the guy a chance”

    I feel the need to point out, we DID give him a chance. Once he won the election, he had a chance to act like a person elected to run a country of 300+ million people. Instead he spent two and a half months acting like a man trying to setup his own fiefdom.

    He nominates Secretaries with no practical experience in the Departments they’re to run. Their primary asset is loyalty to Trump. He makes wild accusations regarding the validity of our elections. He questions the legitimacy of our intelligence agencies. He refuses to divest himself of his business interests.

    Then, when he takes office, his first official act is to accuse the press of manipulating photos of his inauguration. He then ham-handedly changes our immigration policy, picks a fight with Mexico, gets dozens of women and children killed in Yemen, and now, not 4 weeks into his administration, has his first “resigned in disgrace”.

    I think he’s confused because he’s lived his entire life not working for anyone but himself, and now he has 300+ million bosses to please. When he screws up, he can no longer just throw lawyers and money at the problem to make it go away. The man actually responded to a Federal Appeals Court ruling against him with “SEE YOU IN COURT”.

    I’ll give him a chance when he does a single thing worth giving a chance to.

  45. Maureen, thank you for posting that poem! Beautifully written. I must admit I’m often a dunce at interpreting verse. Are you saying, through the poem, that the Township Council should not rush the sanctuary city vote? That we should give Trump more of a chance before we judge him? That Trump is moving too fast with all his chaos-causing decisions? All of the above? Something else? Sorry — I’d appreciate your interpretation. 🙂

  46. Thank you, yngdaniel! MANY great points — and perfectly expressed!

    Trump has had countless opportunities to pivot, at least a little, to a person exhibiting some maturity and some semblance of caring for others. I guess he’s not capable of either, so he doesn’t deserve a chance.

    The millions of people opposing him are doing this country a service — and are patriots in the true sense of the word.

  47. Dave,

    I think we all agree that this is primarily a symbolic vote. Montclair resoundingly judged Trump (only 11% of the vote) and Frelinghuysen (0.2% of the vote) in the general election. The Democratic Party is not supporting this. No other local stakeholder group (unions, religious, etc.) or any of our representatives have yet to join us in support, at least as far as I know.

    Speed is absolutely NOT a critical element. I think it is weakens what we are trying to accomplish. The more you push for speed, the more Montclair is letting these traditional sources of support off the hook. Are they going to be there for us if there are consequences? I don’t mind going it alone, but as I keep emphasizing, we better be really clear about this important aspect.

  48. Dave, Thou doth protest too much.

    I understand the township attorney and the BlueWave folks are not finished with defining ‘Sanctuary City’ and writing an ordinance…yet people say they are in favor of this thing — that doesn’t exist. Have you seen the final language?

  49. Thanks, Frank! As has been discussed, the sanctuary city vote might indeed end up being primarily symbolic. But symbols matter, and can have practical implications. (I know I’m kinda repeating myself here.)

    Again, the Township Council has had three months to get all its ducks in a row on this (whether or not its members visited Edgemont Pond 🙂 ). I guess we’ll see if there’s a vote Feb. 21, or whether the matter gets bumped to March. I’ll be attending Feb. 21; if you’re there, too, don’t hesitate to say hello! I’ve enjoyed our conversation, even though we see this issue in somewhat different ways.

  50. Thanks, Maureen! I have not seen the final language (if it exists yet) of what Montclair’s Township Council might vote on. Maybe it will be posted before Feb. 21? Or read at that evening’s TC meeting? I plan to attend. But I’ve read widely about sanctuary city efforts in general, and am very much in favor of those efforts. So that’s what I’m going by.

    Re “thou doth protest too much,” I think Shakespeare should run for Montclair’s Township Council in 2020. 🙂 Possible campaign slogan: “The pay to play’s the thing.” That slogan might need some work…

  51. Not implying that there’s any “pay to play” on the Township Council. Just some silly Shakespeare-related wordplay on my part…

  52. “And to address one of your points, the less-progressive part of the Democratic Party is indeed often cautious. (Too cautious, in my opinion.)” I made a mental note to me back to this posting once I had some sleep.

    Both presidential candidates had historically low approval ratings. I think it is fair to say that numerous Montclairions voted with a healthy dose of pragmatism in overcoming their candidate’s shortcomings. The better of the two who were capable of winning approach.

    Then, just 3 weeks later, a local initiative introduced that would have no effect on Federal law but, as written, would require a change in our form of local government and had high symbolic value. Three more months and only the moral symbolism remains to guide our “vote”.

    In a township with so many progressive voters, it would have been interesting what the election results would have been if more progressives voted on principle (un-winnable candidates, but very high symbolic value).

    Now, many of those people can now right a wrong and do the “right thing” this time around by ditching the pragmatism and “voting” for symbolism. On principle. And, the initiative also provides a symbolic social olive branch for those with voter’s remorse.

    Interesting shift in such a short period.

  53. Very interesting comment, Frank, and well stated. Thanks!

    I see what you’re saying about pragmatism on Election Day vs. symbolism with the sanctuary city effort. But there was actually a good amount of symbolism on Nov. 8, too. A number of Montclairites voted for Jill Stein (who I admire) knowing she had no chance to win but wanting a symbolic alternative to a flawed candidate (Hillary Clinton) and an outrageously flawed candidate (Trump).

    If New Jersey had been a toss-up state, many of those local Stein voters would have held their noses and voted for Hillary, but NJ is a safe blue state for presidential elections so those NJ Stein voters knew they wouldn’t be inadvertently helping Trump.

  54. Thank you for a perfect example of Montclair voter pragmatism. In this case, the progressives.

    And for what it is worth to other pragmatics, I seriously doubt Montclair will face any financial retribution. There are just too many reasons not to make us a test case.

  55. True, Frank — New Jerseyans voting for Stein were being pragmatic (knowing Hillary would still win the state) as well as symbolic.

    And it would be great if there were no financial retribution from the federal government if Montclair became a sanctuary city!

  56. This is a waste of time in Montclair. President Trump got over 60% of the vote in three NJ counties, Warren, Sussex and Ocean. If these counties got involved in the Sanctuary City movement that might matter. If super liberal Montclair pushes this, it has zero effect.

    The same logic applies to getting out the vote. Did the Democrats go knocking door to door in Montclair? No. They boarded buses for Pennsylvania. My view is the folks behind this effort should redirect to places that are less liberal.

  57. Thanks for commenting, townie!

    Great idea to have sanctuary city efforts in places that went for Trump. Certainly worth a try, but I unfortunately don’t think Trump-friendly places would go for it. And if some of those more conservative places somehow did vote to become sanctuary cities, Trump would ignore the votes. He wants what he wants.

    But I think SC efforts are also a good thing in more progressive places like Montclair.

  58. When all you have is a hammer every problem must be a nail. In this case the only tool we have is the Sanctuary City tool. We need different tools.

    What message would Montclair becoming a Sanctuary City send to the Trump administration and its supporters? “Liberals don’t learn. Liberals don’t get it.” And from a practical perspective, very little positive would come of it as Montclair does not get many instances where this law would kick in. Declaring Montclair a Sanctuary City is almost entirely symbolic.

    We should support undocumented people in ways that are more personal. It is possible to get involved in different ways and this can be really positive.

    This idea of feel-good government decrees is a waste of energy. The energy being spent to push this proclamation (that all it really amounts to) could instead by used to come up with a dozen ways that could positively affect people’s lives. Drive to Paterson and get a Middle Eastern meal, talk with folks. Contribute to legal defense funds for people caught up in the system. Visit the detention centers, bring food or talk with those incarcerated and ask what help their family members need. There is a lot we as a community can do. A council proclamation is an empty gesture. We are Montclair and can do better!

  59. Well said, Townie.

    Even if a “yes” vote making Montclair a sanctuary city turns out to be purely or mostly symbolic, I think it’s still worth doing — even as proponents also do some of the excellent things you suggested.

    Many people (I know some of them) are already helping undocumented immigrants in various personal and practical ways. Among many examples would be the Montclair attorney (he spoke at the Feb. 7 Township Council meeting) who had rushed to Newark Airport to give legal help to detained people when Trump’s mean, chaotic anti-immigrant order first came down.

  60. Thanks for the link, Frank! If I’m reading it correctly, it’s a resolution that (as you allude to) doesn’t seem to break much new ground and is not a “Sanctuary City” resolution per se. Humane-sounding, cautious, with little or no hint of civil disobedience. Wish it were stronger. Will be interesting to see how people react on Tuesday, and from now until Tuesday.

  61. I’ll start: I endorse and support that draft resolution and applaud the drafters. I’m also quite curious as to what more folks want and expect from a municipal resolution.

  62. Thanks, Jeff! The resolution does seem to offer what you want — it’s empathetic, measured, and doesn’t use the words “sanctuary city,” so I imagine it would almost totally eliminate what little risk there might be of the Trump administration retaliating by withholding federal funding.

    Still, I wonder if the Township Council reacting to such an extreme administration with moderation is the most moral, effective thing to do in this case. This might be a stretch as an analogy, but it’s kind of like if the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil-rights activists back in the day had written polite (and probably ignored) letters to the editor rather than practiced civil disobedience.

  63. Frank, would you have any objection to me posting the link to that Feb. 21 resolution on the “Share Montclair” Facebook page to see what people think? I know the resolution is public information — I see the link is part of the Feb. 21 agenda on the Township Council’s Web page — but you’re the one who observantly spotted it and brought it to people’s attention here. 🙂

  64. The resolution was particularly well written. Maybe one of Montclair’s top 10.

    Resolutions are a demonstration of control. That’s it.

  65. Whether one likes the resolution or feels it’s not strong enough, you’re right, Frank — it was well written.

  66. As politically adept a resolution crafted to “feel good” as one could ask for – yet without putting us on the wrong side of federal law.

    I can already hear the the advocates whine and clarion calls that “this is not enough.”

    A “Welcoming” city sure. But separation of powers puts immigration in the hands of the President and Congress to address the interests of the United States. By this resolution — Montclair is not interfering with that. Bravo.

  67. Thanks for commenting, spotontarget! Very well said.

    The resolution IS well crafted, humane, better than no resolution at all, and better than councils in many other towns might come up with. But I guess I’m one of the people who thinks it could be stronger, especially given that there are probably more undocumented immigrants in Montclair than in many other suburbs, and given that many residents want a resolution that’s a little more…courageous.

    It’s risky to be on the wrong side of governmental law, but if a law is cruel it can be worth opposing. Heck, without civil disobedience, this country would still be under British rule. 🙂

  68. Dave Astor – no one said Colonial British rule was equitable — we Americans rebelled against that rule of an omnipotent monarch.

    Here however, we pass democratic laws. And immigration law comes from the Congress and President. Both elected. You are saying we should still violate those federal laws and policies that they pass which we don’t agree with because your personal position is they are wrong.

    If everyone did that – we would have anarchy.

  69. I hear you, spotontarget, and might even agree if I were certain that Trump and various Republican members of Congress were elected in a truly democratic way. But with the Electoral College vote/popular vote difference, probable Russian interference in the election, gerrymandering, voter suppression by the GOP, etc., I just don’t know how democratic U.S. democracy is these days. Many things the current President and Congress want are opposed by the majority of the population.

  70. C’mon Dave. Democratic way? Even you referenced the need for sure patriots to hold their noses to vote for Clinton. She lost in one of the most spectacular, and truly democratic ways. She got stupid, she didn’t connect with people and she not only lost, but she lost one of the biggest leads of all time going into the last 4 weeks. It was the epitome of incompetence from a professional politician with billions in backing. And what the lasting story that came from the election is that the Democratic Party has totally lost its way, if not corrupted. The Democrats should be thankful for Trump now because no one is talking about the failed Democratic Party and what they are doing about it.

    PS: And if you want to go back in history, you don’t have to go far to find a Democratic example of “stealing” an election. You don’t have an informed view of Democracy over US history. I’m not sure you meant how democracy is these days or if you mean what it means to be human these days. One is derivative.

  71. Dave,

    Surely you are not suggesting that Republicans, alone, are the cause of gerrymandering? Democrats are just as culpable on that front. Moreover, if you want to believe that the 2016 election was “stolen” (throw in 2000, too, while you’re at it), remember that Republicans felt the same way about 1960. Democracy ain’t easy. Both parties have blood on their hands.

    Your reference to gerrymandering is appropriate in a bigger context: the overall lack of competitive congressional districts throughout the country has led both parties to move towards the extremes. Winning a primary has become tantamount to winning an election. Moderates largely get frozen out. Most of the country is in the center. Important stuff doesn’t get done. Rinse. Repeat.

  72. Thanks for the responses, Frank and John!

    The Democratic Party is far from guiltless when it comes to gerrymandering and other political shenanigans; heck, there are certainly allegations about what the Clinton faction of the Dems did to Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, as well as other examples going back years and decades — including the 1960 JFK-Nixon election you referenced, John. But, in recent years, the Republican Party has been “the champ” in gerrymandering. And in voter suppression, too — making it harder for Democratic-leaning blocs (African-Americans, students, lower-income people, etc.) to vote.

    Hillary Clinton ran an abysmal, often-tone-deaf campaign, but she might have still won the Electoral College (in addition to the popular vote) if it hadn’t been for the probable Russian election interference, the James Comey stuff, sexism, and so on.

  73. And the New York Football Giants would have won the Super Bowl is the Russians and not conducted a mind control campaign on the Mara Family to keep Eli Manning as their loser QB.

  74. Ha, Frank! Funny Giants reference! Maybe the Russians also substituted an NFL football with a deflated blini… 🙂

    People who are defeated in an election often do make excuses. I can just imagine what Trump’s excuses would have been if he had lost (rigged election, and so on).

    I should add that although I have some negative feelings about Hillary (her voting for the Iraq War, her giving those lucrative speeches to Wall Street audiences, her waffling on issues, etc.), she did beat Trump in all three debates and is a very smart, hardworking, resilient person.

  75. I totally agree. Short of A. Jackson, she was the next best 2nd-place finisher in all of our Presidential elections.

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