MontClairVoyant: This Column’s Weird Holiday Theme Will Make You Beam or Scream

December is a month of major holidays — including Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Any others you’d like to mention?

The Decemberistas

“Hurl Ornaments Day.” (Target: the Republican tax-“reform” scam for the very rich.)

A holiday gift we’d all like is a reopened movie house. Didn’t a Dec. 15 post on the “Save Montclair’s Historic Bellevue Theatre” Facebook page offer that tantalizing possibility?

News You Can Enthuse

Yes! If the Bellevue became a film venue again, two Hanukkahs could be celebrated with one showing of “Sixteen Candles.”

Um…there’s a ninth candle, too. What gifts do most Montclairites want from Santa?

The Sleigh We Were

A huge dryer in which to put all the new oversized downtown projects in the hopes they’ll shrink. Plus a can of “Gentrification Begone.”

If Santa has eight reindeer and Kwanzaa has seven core principles, why is it always Boxing Day in Amazon warehouses?

4×4-Hoof Drive

Stop with the PARCC-like math questions! Those awful tests will confuse students enough this spring.


Christmas and Kwanzaa are the same days each year, while Hanukkah varies. Does that explain why Santa didn’t go down the George Inness Annex chimney during Dec. 18’s Board of Education meeting?

If That Room Has a Chimney

Not only was it a week before Christmas, but some versions of the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” last longer than the three minutes allotted for public comment.

At the BOE meeting, there was scary talk of possible difficulties in adequately funding the upcoming 2018-19 school budget. Will Gov.-Elect Phil Murphy show more Santa-like kindness than Gov. Christie and help towns such as Montclair by upping state aid and/or ending the 2 percent cap on local tax hikes?

Make It So, Ho Ho

Chris Christie shares a first syllable with Christmas but we Hanker (same first three letters as Hanukkah) for a better Kwality (same first three letters as Kwanzaa) of life under Murphy.

Yet Murphy’s transition team includes representation from the charter-school realm, which siphons money from public schools and has other serious problems. Worrisome?

The Reform Brothers (Bo and Gus)

Very. Heck, Santa’s reindeer went to charter schools and ended up finding employment only one night a year.

Also worrisome, for all but the ultra-rich, was the Dec. 20 passage of the aforementioned Republican tax-“reform” scam. Happy that at least Upper Montclair representative Rodney Frelinghuysen voted “no”?

This Is Spinal Pap

Probably given permission to do so by his GOP overseers; after all, he originally agreed to move that vile bill forward. For the 2018 holidays, I want two things: Rodney voted out and Montclair developers restricted to building only inside snow globes.

“Twas the nights before Christmas, when all through the theater…”

Bellevue Bard

“Not a film feature was stirring, on that block near a realtor.”

“The DVDs were hung by our chimneys with care…”

Disc World

“But we’d prefer to be watching movies THERE.” (At the Bellevue!)



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.





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


  1. Dave,
    Try to cheer up…all your b#tchin’ and moaning is going to make your hair turn white.
    Merry Christmas,

  2. Ha, flipside! That hair-turned-white ship has sailed (which of course was the point of your very funny comment). Happy Holidays to you, too!

  3. At the BOE meeting, there was scary talk of possible difficulties in adequately funding the upcoming 2018-19 school budget. Will Gov.-Elect Phil Murphy show more Santa-like kindness than Gov. Christie and help towns such as Montclair by upping state aid and/or ending the 2 percent cap on local tax hikes?


    The new Governor has nothing to do with this year’s Trumped up budget issue. You will recall we had the ability to raise the school levy much more than we actually did last year. We chose not to. I warned this was a short-sighted & very silly decision for the education free-spenders. But, the fact of the matter is Montclair can not manage its way out of a paper bag when it comes to the Montclair Public Schools. It also exposes the BoSE inability to manage the budget. This was foreseen. Ask the numbers crunchers. They saw this last year.

    Also, nobody is scared. Really? Who exactly is scared? The MEA? Not the MEA I know.

  4. And for what it is economically worth, if the incoming Governor lifts the 2% school budget cap, you can say goodbye to Montclair’s diversity. Put a fork in it. We’ll be a red township within a decade.

  5. Thanks for the comments, Frank!

    I attended various BOE meetings earlier this year when the 2017-18 budget was discussed, and I’m not remembering Montclair having the ability to raise the school levy much more than it did. Maybe a little more?

    I realize the school district doesn’t spend every cent wisely, but a number of valuable people (including paraprofessionals) were unfortunately laid off this past spring. It would have helped if Gov. Christie hadn’t kept state school-district aid flat, which was in effect a cut given that local costs (salaries, health insurance, etc.) increase each year.

    If the 2% budget cap were lifted, I think it would be a good thing — as long as Montclair didn’t go far above that percentage. Diversity IS sadly decreasing in Montclair, and taxes have something to do with that, but the ever-higher cost of housing in our town is not just tax-caused.

  6. Well, I think it is a safe bet those laid-off will not be rehired.

    My favorite part of last Spring’s budget back-and-forth was the last minute “creative” suggestion by the Mayor to capitalize some salaries related to managing capital projects – and free up some money.

    Then we outsourced identifying managing the project inventory. Thinks about this one. Would you be better off capitalizing this consultant cost or treating it as a ordinary expense? Hint: it is an ongoing expense.

    Then the announcement that the total capital needs suddenly jump into a realm that almost equals the existing school debt outstanding.

    So, “the school district doesn’t spending every cent wisely” might be the greatest understatement of 2017. In fact, I think it is. But, who really cares? Just increase it the annual 3-5% we do every year, raise the debt. Just stop the whining about diversity, rent control, development, etc. These are just different flavors of selfish.

  7. I hear you, Frank, but, in reference to your last paragraph, I think an increase in state school aid (as Gov.-elect Phil Murphy implies with his desire to “fully fund” public schools) would help keep local property-tax increases manageable in Montclair and other NJ towns.

    Of course, more state aid might mean slightly higher state taxes to fund that aid, but I hope the very wealthy would bear the brunt. Yes, the GOP’s repugnant new national tax “reform” hurts even the wealthy (to some extent) in NJ and other blue states, but that tax “reform” is also kind to the very rich in red AND blue states. NJ’s “one percent” can afford to help our state’s public schools a bit more. And I don’t buy the threat that a significant number of those rich would move out of NJ if there taxes were raised a little.

  8. Yes, the argument the rich will move out of New Jersey is just moronic. Where are rich going to move, Rhode Island?

  9. Frank R…Are you calling David Tepper a moron?? Check out a list of morons who have moved out of CT while your at it.

  10. Meanwhile, Christopher Columbus wasn’t in the 1491 edition of “Who’s Who in the New World.” But, seriously, a small number of rich people might leave New Jersey if their state taxes were raised a bit, while most would stay. And the houses the small number of “departees” leave behind might be sold to other rich people moving to NJ.

  11. Guys, checkout the plight of Greenwich real estate. The very rich are moving out and the less rich (but still rich) are moving in. CT is in shambles as high taxes drove out big business including the insurance industry. Everyone has a breaking point. When Dave Tepper moved from NJ it put a hole in the state budget. That moron seems to have been a little ahead of the curve. Things could start to get a bit SALTy around here.

  12. Thanks, flipside. I see your points — and thats a great last line you wrote.

    But I did some googling, and a number of articles say there aren’t a lot of millionaires moving because of slightly higher state taxes. Here’s one example:

    Of course, one can often find articles to support either side of an issue.

    The piece I linked to does mention Tepper and all the tax money NJ lost because of his departure, but he seems to be a bit of an outlier. And NJ has already lost his tax money, so the state can’t lose it again.

  13. Someone should calculate how many days the President & his staff have worked from NJ. I suspect it is enough for NJ to tax their income from the USSR and more than make up for any multi-millionaires that moved out.

  14. I like that idea, Frank! Unfortunately, the repulsive Trump taxes our patience more than he gets taxed himself. 🙁

  15. Yes he does.

    Not to belabor a point, but trying to replace/keep billionaires who pay proportionately so much less taxes is a fools errand. We would be better off letting Toll Bros or Hovnanian subdivide the estates of the departing.

  16. Interesting idea, Frank. It’s true that most of the ultra-rich (to paraphrase Warren Buffett) pay proportionately less in taxes than their secretaries. An outrage. But I do like the open space that our town’s big-lawned mansions provide. Not that we can walk on those lawns or use them in any other way, but they’re nice to look at and make a Montclair resident feel less claustrophobic.

  17. The well-designed homes on big, landscaped lots are nice. I liked 44 Pleasant Ave’s.

    But, now, these big houses on really big lots in the R-0 zones and getting accessory dwelling units so the seniors can remain in their homes. We are creating smaller 40′ wide lots and parking across the front yards. Yup. The Township’s steadily increasing revenue accounts. Good. Urbanization. Better. We’ve ditched the “where the suburbs meets the city’ campaign and are giving up on the Montclair Center rebranding and going back to Downtown Montclair as dictated by the metro nomenclature. The MC Hotel will hopefully get a new name by its 2019 opening.

  18. A real shame, Frank, that the historic house at 44 Pleasant Avenue is in danger. And it would be replaced by too many houses for that site.

    I wonder if smaller lots are (unfortunately) designed not so much for seniors to remain in their homes but for developers to keep profits rolling in with new construction?

    Montclair is supposed to be a suburb, but “thanks” to developers and the mayor and some other people, downtown is becoming too urban.

    The MC hotel? Its name — whether short for Montclair Center or More Cash (for developers) — is too cutesy/gentrification-y for my tastes. Given its rooftop bar and too-tall height, maybe it can be renamed Hotel Hangover Hanging Over Us All…

  19. Even with coal, Santa won’t touch the Gateway 1 project. The 3rd Ward has scored the “Valley of Doom”, the “Orange Road Deck is the New Black Hole” and a final markdown (before it even opens) of the MC Hotel. If that Whole Foods closes, this may be designated an Area in Need of Re-Redvelopment.
    Of course, in the spirit of the holidays, I wouldn’t want to say I told you so.

  20. Given what you wrote above, Frank, Santa might want to drown his sorrows at The MC’s rooftop bar after that hotel opens. His reindeer might be carded…

  21. They’re not going to card female reindeer there.

    Male reindeer lose their antlers in November. So, like the Flipside of a Shakespearean cast, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen are played by females. Rudolph? Questioning.

Comments are closed.