MontClairVoyant: All You Need Is Guv? A Comedic Preview of New Jersey's Election


With Election Day coming this Tuesday, Nov. 7, can you discuss who and what you think will be best for New Jersey and Montclair?

Funny to See the Word “Candid” in “Candidate”

Yes, but first I’d like to say that I’ll be voting at Buzz Aldrin, not for Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin (the middle school, not the Montclair-raised astronaut) used to be Mount Hebron. I also didn’t vote for Mount Hebron — though I did vote for his wife, Mindy Hebron.


Will you please SHUT UP? Now, about the election…

Rising Snide Lifts All Votes

Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno supported the vile Gov. Christie and then moved even further rightward during her current gubernatorial campaign with such things as foul anti-immigration words so contrary to Montclair’s diverse values. I’ll never vote for her, unless she runs with Trump on the “Send Us to Mars On a One-Way-Ticket Ticket.”


You mentioned two tickets!

Mr. Obvious

Want ’em? Good seats. Face value. For “Hamilton.” Not the smash musical, but the play about the New Jersey town near Trenton. Thrill to the choreography of car-costumed dancers hoofing it on Kuser Road.


What about Phil Murphy for governor?

Also Known As “Impoverished Phil”

I don’t like that multimillionaire’s Goldman Sachs background and his basically buying the Democratic nomination over more progressive candidates. But Murphy has good views that would help Montclair: against the crummy PARCC tests, for higher taxes on the very rich, for gun control, for LBGTQ rights, etc. But would his deeds match his words? The only clue I have is that when Murphy marched in our town’s July 4th parade this year, he walked north on Midland Avenue IN THE DIRECTION OF CANADA.


Your take on Green Party gubernatorial candidate Seth Kaper-Dale?

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Excellent positions on women’s rights, racial justice, Medicare for All, and other issues of great importance to many Montclairites. And polls give Murphy a large enough lead over Guadagno that some votes for Kaper-Dale wouldn’t risk another Republican governor. My daughter attended two birthday parties last month, so I’m comfortable with a third party.


Who will you vote for?

Nosy on Northview

That’s between me and the Supreme being, although Diana Ross won’t return my calls. No surprise given that I never called her.


Then there are two public questions — one for funding of library improvements and the other for dedicating environmental settlement money to…environmental uses. A no-brainer “yes” for both on Nov. 7?

Ballots, Not Shallots

Voting that way would certainly help Montclair, where I like the main library so much that walking into it makes my spirits soar — meaning those spirits reach the second floor before I do.


In non-election news, what do you think of the planned $873,000 Edgemont Park improvements?

Bond and Pond

Very welcome. Edgemont is already a beautiful park that will become even more attractive. But the cost seems high; I’m sure some great Montclair minds could figure out a way to ruthlessly reduce it to $872,999.99.


And what’s this I hear about Lackawanna Plaza’s co-developers possibly souring on the ugly, unpopular, way-too-big, annoyingly “upscale,” historically insensitive redo they proposed?

Lacks a Wanna Have It

Skip the new housing and just use that site for some stores — including a much-needed, modest-priced, Pathmark-replacing supermarket where I can buy the developers a greeting card that says “buh-bye.”


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





Baristanet Local Offers

View More

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.


  1. Apparently Edgemont Park is considered one our most significant parks. Not significant in a historic way because the Town hasn’t designated it as such. We will spend over $900K for this rehab and will bring the 6-year total to $1.6MM. All needed to be done… and anything worth doing….etc, etc.

    But, I think this design should have been given wider circulation.

    No doubt Parks & Rec knows what they wanted. Community Services gave their input. The Friends of the park submitted their list of wants.

    And the somebody selected the light fixture, benches, etc. that will be the design standard for our other parks & open spaces.

    And the recently approved Historic Preservation Element of the Master Plan targeted Edgemont and other parks to be added to our historic inventory. Maybe we should have run the $900K design past the Historic Preservation Commisssion? We ran the first $700K part of the rehab past the HPC in 2011. How about any of our land uses bodies? Pick one.

  2. Dave,

    You should be irritated the Montclair Schools sat on $3.4MM of un-utilized bond ordinance funds; some over 10 years old. Montclair Schools probably has over $2.5MM in State SDA grants offered, but we never follow-though on.

    We can’t move those funds to the muni side of the ledger. So, the township issued a new bond this year to pay for 2/3rds of the Edgemont costs because Yes, the muni side has it’s fair share of rainy day, un-utilized bond ordinance funds and State grants.

    I don’t get it, but I think it has something to do with not dropping the debt too low that we have to increase it in later years.

  3. Thank you, Frank, for your thoughts and knowledgeable information on Edgemont Park!

    If I’m remembering right, that park’s previous $700,000 or so worth of rehab was for improvements such as dredging the pond and fixing the pond walls?

    I’m all for the Historic Preservation Commission weighing in on things. Its perspective is often invaluable.

    As for your second comment, it does seem like there’s periodically some unused money, some confusion about use of money, etc., in Montclair. One wonders if our town is worse at this than other towns, or whether officials almost everywhere sort of flail around when it comes to finance. Not my strong point, either. 🙂

  4. Yes, you are correct and that project came in @ $780,000. The $700K figure was from memory.

    The Township has not been consistent in publishing the accepted bid summaries showing the detailed costs. They tend to publish only some of the smaller ones. They should have published this one along with a design rendering.

    I can’t get to the $873,000 total for construction costs. Even if the little parking lot is $150,000, trees & plantings are $100,000, and 2 aerators for $30,000, that still leaves a half million for lights, benches, & paths.

    It should be one nice, highly illuminated park.

  5. “It should be one nice, highly illuminated park” — a depressingly hilarious quip, Frank! That $873,000 total DOES seem high. Maybe some condos for the geese? 🙂 (Although I haven’t seen geese there lately, and wonder whether they were shooed away again — hopefully humanely, and not at the cost of their lives.)

  6. I forgot the 3 human/canine accessible water fountains. Let’s subtract, say another $40,000 from the half million portion.

    I think/hope the Township has new humane guidelines for chasing the geese away. However, I don’t think Edgemont School’s Montessori curriculum is nearly as tolerant. Just a guess.

  7. Dave,

    Two questions for you.

    First, is your disagreement with Governor Chrisitie personal or policy-based? What kind of an argument is it to call him “vile”?

    Second, on what evidence will higher taxes on incomes over $1 million (assuming Ambassador Murphy doesn’t have the new taxes kick in at lower incomes, as I think likely) will “help” Montclair? That tax increase will hit towns with expensive homes—including Montclair—very hard, while only the tiniest fraction of the increased tax collections will return to Montclair in the form of increased school aid.

    Thanks for your columns, as always,


  8. Frank, maybe those fountains turn water into wine? 🙂

    I know that some people get annoyed at the goose poop, but I liked the geese being at Edgemont Park. (I often walk there, and my younger daughter has her weekly soccer practice there.)

  9. Thank you for your comment, Jeff!

    I try not to call too many politicians “vile,” but there are some who I feel deserve that designation — including Trump, Paul Ryan, and Gov. Christie.

    Why Christie? Just a few of the reasons: the Bridgegate scandal, and how he let underlings take the fall for that. His bullying manner toward teachers, liberals, union members, and others he disagrees with. The huge swaths of time he spent out of New Jersey running for president. His loyal support of the despicable Trump. Not allowing that NJ-into-NY train improvement in 2010. His brazenly spending July 4th at a state beach when his actions caused state beaches to close. Etc. I’d call him worse than “vile” if this wasn’t a family website. 🙂

    Will reply to the second part of your comment in a second answer!

  10. Jeff, higher taxes on the ultra-rich would indeed affect some Montclairites, along with other very wealthy people elsewhere in New Jersey. But they could easily afford that small added financial bite.

    In turn, the extra money in state coffers could help Montclair schools (as you mentioned) and perhaps other things in town — even if we don’t get back every cent, or nearly every cent, on the dollar.

    Thanks again for commenting!

  11. There’s no point in our debating Governor Christie’s record. I agree with you on some of your observations, particularly those involving the Presidential campaign forward, and disagree with others. I will say only that the train tunnel issue is a lot more complicated than “Christie canceled it.” The specific plan he nixed was awful, but we should have quickly found an alternative. This was literally the most shovel-ready project in the country, and the fact that our two Democratic senators could not cause the Democratic President at the time to fund it with stimulus money is as much or more of a problem as the Governor’s role.

  12. As for taxes, I would make two points.

    First, imagine the case of someone earning $1.5 million a year and thinking of moving from Manhattan to a suburb. Montclair depends on such people to support our housing values. Come next spring, however, that person would pay a significant price to choose Montclair over, say, Scarsdale. New York’s state taxes would be three percent lower for her and the property taxes (which may not be deductible over $10k anymore if the Republican plan becomes law) would be substantially lower. If people like that woman don’t choose Montclair, where are we? And if you’re thinking that those tax revenues will benefit Montclair, think again. We already know the school funding increase would be minimal, and Mr. Murphy will have nothing left over for any other kind of new transfer payments.

    Second, imagine a hedge fund guy earning $500 million a year. (I’m not asking you to cry for him, just to imagine him.). Mr. Murphy’s plan would hit that guy with two huge tax increases by increasing the income tax rate and precluding him from treating his income as capital gains. Can he afford it? Sure. Are the tax increases “fair”? Debatable, but let’s basically agree on that point. But let’s also remember that he can pick up his business and move in a heartbeat. And if he does, that’s a $50 million hit to the state budget, just from one guy voting with his feet. Is it right that we need to set State tax policy around the whims of a few super-rich taxpayers? No, it’s not, but reality is reality, and if just a couple of the richest New Jerseyans boogie rather than pay the tax increase, the revenues Mr. Murphy is expecting won’t arrive. That’s a point Governor Christie has been making repeatedly, and I think he’s right about it.

  13. @jeff:

    “You know something may go down tonight, but it ain’t gonna be jobs, sweetheart.”

    “Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?”

    “You’re a real big shot, you’re a real big shot shootin’ your mouth off.”

    “I didn’t get any sun today.”

    “I worked the cones, actually”

    …but you knew this…

  14. Thanks, Jeff! You’re right that the train-tunnel issue was complicated. Christie may have been legitimately concerned about probable cost overruns, but, then again, almost every major infrastructure project has cost overruns.

    I’m not remembering details of the federal stimulus money and its connection with the train-tunnel issue, but I do recall that Christie’s fellow Republicans (the ones in Congress) caused the total amount of stimulus money for everything to be less than it should have been — which could have indirectly impacted what might have been available for the tunnel project.

  15. I hear you, Jeff (your tax comment). VERY well said.

    It’s a shame that states have different tax levels — which allow corporations and individuals to pick and choose, and play states against each other. In an ideal world, that would not be the case

    Back to the real world: If some ultra-rich people decide to leave Montclair or not move here in the first place because of a relatively small tax hike, other ultra-rich people will live in those big houses. I don’t think those dwellings will stay empty. Montclair is a very appealing place (its architecture, its landscape, etc.) for very wealthy people. And if those mogul types feel our wonderful public schools are too liberal, there are plenty of private schools around.

  16. Dave,

    It seems some House Republicans, and some Senate Republicans, want Special Counsel Mueller to resign. I personally wouldn’t support a Republican these days under any circumstances. Of course, Montclair seems to have a solid portion of his core base with the Republicans in this town and with the Republican candidate for Governor.

    Love the Township diversity.

  17. And Dave, no problem re: there geese poop. We set aside $943,000 to cover PSE&G installation of lights and miscellaneous change orders. I’ll make sure we add a couple of dozen self-cleaning boot scrappers. It’s only another $12,000. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

  18. Thanks, Frank! And of course those Republicans want the resignation of a Republican (Robert Mueller) who was named to head the FBI by a Republican president (George W. Bush) and appointed special counsel this year by a Republican Justice Department. A real leftist, that Mueller guy…

  19. Self-cleaning boot scrapers — ha, Frank! That was funny. 🙂 Maybe there’ll be a sale at Boot Scrapers R Us…

  20. Every, Single, Day, Trump is eviscerating the Republican Party.

    That the membership is kowtowing to this trojan soldier in some misguided pursuit of a future party Phoenix is fascinating to watch. Of course, the Democrats will likely serve it up to them in the end, but this is flat-out depressing to watch. I’m sure the Millennials will save the country.

  21. Well said, Frank. It’s SO depressing that most national Republicans are going along with Trump despite knowing how truly awful he is. These GOPers have no backbone or moral compass, and have chosen party over country. I feel sick reading the news every day.

  22. What Christie had going for him was that there was never a doubt where he stood. A rare trait in politicians.

    Guadagno is now doing the “Police & Fire Pension, I’m on your union’s side (now)” dance because she needs to close the gap. I get it. But, as Republicans go, she is no Christie.

    If she should win, I think her inferior skills v. Christie will become evident in the first 10 months…like Trump.

  23. You’re right, Frank — one almost always knew where Christie stood. He was not much of a waffler. But what he stood for was virtually all mean and negative. So, in his case, consistency wasn’t a positive. Still, some voters prize “telling it like it is” even when the person (such as Christie) who’s “telling it like it is” has awful policies.

  24. My question is how & why is Shiela Oliver on the ballot for both LG and her 34th position?
    What happens if Murphy wins?

  25. Frank, as you know, many candidates hold elected positions while running for other elected positions. I assume Sheila Oliver would resign her Assembly seat if the Murphy ticket wins on Tuesday.

  26. Thank you Dave. Well, that doesn’t bode well for Montclair either for the appointed replacement or the special election next Spring.

  27. You’re welcome, Frank. An appointed replacement might or might not be as good as Sheila Oliver (who I feel is okay, not great, as a legislator). And a special election can be kind of pricey. But I imagine a large majority of Montclairites would be happy to deal with all that if Murphy defeats Guadagno.

  28. Thank you, johnqp! Cleverly and perfectly said!

    In terms of how they act as elected officials, Christie in some ways was Trump before Trump.

  29. I hear you, Frank, but I guess it depends on how we define “majority.” Trump got a majority of the Electoral College vote, but lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by about 3 million. Without things like Russian interference and voter suppression by Republican officials, Clinton might have won the Electoral College, too, despite being a very flawed candidate (supporting the Iraq War in 2003, making big money talking to Wall Street audiences during the past few years, etc.). And Trump’s current polling numbers are consistently under 40%.

  30. I define majority as majority rules. Someone had to lose. Hillary lost. She lost because she did not represent what the majority wanted. The fact that Trump was the best representation of what the majority is a big concern.

    Dirty tricks? Russian “interference”? The incompetence alone was worth 10 pts. She was the Democrats 1st or 2nd choice and lost to the Republican’s 15th choice.

  31. Excellent points, Frank!

    Yes, under the rules, winning the Electoral College is all that’s necessary. The electorate was/is in a very anti-establishment mood, and Clinton was “the establishment,” so a populist like Trump (actually, a fake populist) who had no business winning…won.

    And definitely scary that someone so incompetent, corrupt, mean, racist, sexist, greedy, and narcissistic became president. I think a real populist like Bernie Sanders could have defeated Trump. And probably Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and several other Democrats could have bested him, too.

  32. I think what scares Democrats is that a better than Trump Republican candidate will likely win in 2020…and without Russian interference.

  33. True, Frank. A better-than-Trump Republican candidate might indeed have a good chance to win in 2020, depending of course on who the Democratic candidate will be.

    Yet…a number of lower-income white voters are incredibly loyal to Trump, and they might not automatically transfer their votes to another Republican if Trump isn’t the GOP candidate in three years.

    I don’t “get” that loyalty, because virtually all of Trump’s policies heavily favor the rich over the non-rich. I suppose some of the loyalty is a sharing of racism. 🙁

  34. “And definitely scary that someone so incompetent, corrupt, mean, racist, sexist, greedy, and narcissistic became president. I think a real populist like Bernie Sanders could have defeated Trump”

    I kind of agree, but Hillary rigged the primary so we’ll never know. I think a large portion of the right and left remains in an anti-establishment mood well past 2020. Income inequality, IMO, is the greatest challenge facing this country. In the past 40 years, the establishment left and right have done nothing to address it.

  35. Thanks, stayhyphy! I agree with what you said so well.

    One can debate just how much Hillary Clinton and her high-level supporters rigged the Democratic primaries, and whether the rigging made enough of a difference to beat Bernie Sanders, but rigging there was — something described not only in Donna Brazile’s new insider book but also in previous reports. And all those Democratic “superdelegates” who undemocratically pledged to back Clinton warped things against Sanders.

    You’re right that the anti-establishment mood is going to continue in the U.S. for a long time, and that income inequality is a HUGE problem. Some establishment Democrats have tried to nibble at the edges of that inequality, but have not done enough — even when they had enough control in Washington to overcome at least some Republican blocking of their efforts. Those Democrats were/are backed by enough corporate money and such to not go against the status quo too much.

  36. “Hillary rigged the primary so we’ll never know”
    —yes! Vince Foster convinced the super delegates! Honestly, how pathetic must one’s life be to still get vicarious thrills after 30 years of bashing HRC?

    “Income inequality, IMO, is the greatest challenge facing this country.”
    —yes, and Trump voters CLEARLY spoke on this issue by voting for the corrupt billionaire.

  37. True, jcunningham — Trump LOVES income inequality (as long as he’s on the rich end of things), and has done much as president and as a businessman to try to increase that inequality. He’s as fake a populist as a fake populist can be.

  38. Thanks for the two comments, johnqp!

    I totally agree about the Electoral College. Archaic, unfair, undemocratic, and gives conservative states too much clout. It needs to go, but of course Republicans love it so it would be hard to get rid of.

    And last night’s election results were indeed pretty good! I have mixed feelings about Phil Murphy — his long Goldman Sachs career and the way he practically bought the Democratic nomination — but he’s so much better than Christie loyalist Guadagno. And I’m happy that the library and environmental public questions were approved!

  39. According to sources, the only number up for Republicans this morning is Steve Bannon’s liver enzyme count.

  40. “Income inequality, IMO, is the greatest challenge facing this country.”
    —yes, and Trump voters CLEARLY spoke on this issue by voting for the corrupt billionaire.

    Massively missed the point JC. The fact that democrats and republicans alike refuse to address the issue of income inequality has created a situation where a lunatic candidate like Trump could win. Going forward there is the potential for candidates (right or left) just as deranged as Trump to win.

  41. stayhyphy, income inequality has indeed helped create a situation where totally unqualified candidates have a chance to become president. I also think some other factors contribute to that situation. For instance, some of the big media conglomerates are so intent on boosting their audiences that they give lots of coverage to “entertaining” charlatan candidates like Trump. Awful for democracy, but selfishly good for those media conglomerates’ bottom lines. 🙁

Comments are closed.