MontClairVoyant: Montclair Republicans’ Dinner Pick Is Hard to Digest

Tonight, March 28, the “Montclair Republicans” organization is co-hosting a dinner at which Chris Christie is scheduled to speak. Did his record as New Jersey governor merit that invitation?

Teflon Chaney

Hmm…the “Bridgegate” and “Beachgate” scandals. Frequent maligning of Jersey’s great public school teachers. An approval rating that sank to 15%, including below-40% support from fellow Republicans! Being out of state much of the time during his failed presidential run, which was especially annoying because most of us wanted him out of state ALL the time.

So why the heck was he invited to speak?

Puzzling Without a Crossword

It’s a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, who had nothing good to say about her namesake’s 2010-18 gubernatorial term. She died in 1976, but still…

Tonight’s GOP dinner invitation had this to say to Republicans in and near Montclair: “Thank you for your support of limited government, economic opportunity, liberty, and the integrity of the U.S. Constitution.” Care to break that down?

Platitudes R Us

“Limited government” as in many male Republican politicians trying to interfere with decisions only women have the right to make about their own bodies? Those GOPers are as libertarian as a box of Cheerios (aka tiny bagels).

Go on…

Seeker Not a Speaker

“Economic opportunity” as in opposing a $15 minimum wage for hardworking employees? Of course, corporate execs are struggling, too; the mogul who wants to build a 60,000-square-foot house in Montclair can’t also build a 60,000-square-foot pencil eraser.

Go on…

Seeker Not a Sneaker

“Liberty” as in caging children of color near America’s southern border after their desperate parents fled poverty and violence? No wonder the Statue of Liberty won’t be at tonight’s Republican event. Plus she can’t fit into an Uber.

Go on…

Seeker Not a Beaker

“The integrity of the U.S. Constitution” as in Trump ignoring separation of powers as he tries to ram through a border wall despite Congress refusing to fund it? When The Ronettes sang “Be My Baby,” Mexico didn’t even pay for “The Wall of Sound.”

Heaps of hypocrisy. Now we have Chris Christie’s weak Democratic successor Phil Murphy, who hasn’t ended the PARCC tests he promised to end, even as they are now cynically disguised under the new name New Jersey Student Learning Assessments. And…

Murphy Bed of Exams

…in a NJSLA-pushing letter from Montclair Superintendent Kendra Johnson, there’s no hint of how disliked and time-wasting those Pearson-profiting tests are. Heck, another Johnson — famed pitcher Walter — had nothing good to say about the 21st-century PARCCs. He died in 1946, but still…

Also, that March 19 superintendent letter tries to discourage Montclair parents from refusing the test, which is tone-deaf in a town with perhaps the highest PARCC-opt-out history in Jersey. Wouldn’t a few sympathetic words have been nice?

Pearson Is Wearisome

If you’re looking for sympathy, try Amazon. They sell everything.

But I prefer to shop local!

Bea Hemoth-Avoider

Okay, I’ll hop in my car and try to find a sympathy store on Bloomfield Avenue. But given the overdevelopment-worsened traffic there, it might take a few years for me to get back to you.

At least we learned at March 25’s Board of Education meeting that fewer teachers and paraprofessionals would lose their jobs in the latest version of the 2019-20 school budget.

Rowan & Martin’s Staff-In

Great news for those who wouldn’t be laid off, even as we still lament the smallness of Montclair’s school-aid increase from the state. I hope Gov. Murphy, a former ambassador to Germany, didn’t spend the money at Bratwurst Hut.

Will you be at tonight’s Republican dinner?

Right-Wing Rite

I plan to opt out.


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.




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  1. Dave, you have what my mom would call “a way about you” that makes me laugh over stuff I’d been furious about. I was once at a recording session with Phil Spector and really LOLd at your Wall of Sound line. And the “but still….” and the Bratwurst Hut, and the Statue of Liberty in an Uber, and “tiny bagels,” and, well, I guess the whole thing has lightened my load a lot. Thanks, Dave.

  2. Thank you very much for the kind words, uniquelyMe! Glad you liked the column. 🙂

    I’m extremely impressed that you were once at a recording session with Phil Spector! A musical genius, albeit not a good human being (from everything I’ve read).

    One thing Spector is known for is adding choral and orchestral elements to the Beatles song “The Long and Winding Road,” which I don’t think was about Montclair’s Grove Street…

  3. I love the “smaller government” promises, which typically mean fewer people cutting the budgets of folks who need stuff the fewer control. Like a notice I got the other day from an oil & coal supporting org, saying government should not pick winners (wind and solar) and losers (gasoline would be about $16/gal at the pump if we paid by the gallon rather than only once a year (on April 15).

    But I think my favorite part was doing away with PARCC by calling it something else.

  4. Spector (from the Bronx) had been around just a few years when I met him, and made his mark early on, perhaps late 50s or early 60s, in L.A. He considered himself to be the Wagner of rock ‘n roll. Instead of Isolde he ended up married to the lead singer of The Ronettes. I would not hesitate to say that his, er, “idiosyncracies,” surpassed even those of our current president, and may have been exceeded by only those of King Ludwig of Bavaria. LOL

    I hadn’t known about adding choral and orchestra elements to the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road.” You are a master of knowledge, dear Dave.

  5. That’s some “idiosyncratic” company, uniquelyMe!

    I guess Phil Spector was sort of “the Wagner of rock ‘n roll.” (A mixed claim to fame given that Wagner’s great composing talents resided in his brain along with toxic anti-Semitism.) Spector certainly wrote and produced more complex rock/pop music than most of his peers in his heyday, though of course other people also took complex rock/pop-music paths soon after — starting in the mid- and late-’60s (Dylan, the Beatles, the Who, etc.).

    From what I read, Paul McCartney was not happy with the way Spector made his “The Long and Winding Road” song a lot more “busy.”

    Perhaps the biggest rock star associated with Montclair would be Joe Walsh of James Gang and Eagles fame — Montclair High Class of 1965.

    Great comment!

  6. Dave, Slow down and take a breath. Christie was far from perfect but actually did some good things too. Feel free to take your one-sided view and trash him all you want. He did bring a lot of misery his own way. While you take down Christie you might want ease up with your gushing over Phil Spector. You do know he is a convicted murderer.
    Now as for Joe Walsh! He is the best!! When my kids went the MHS I would point out his plaque to my kids and any other kid within ear shot. They thought I was crazy. The amazing thing is he still funds 2 scholarships for music students at his alma mater. BTW, my first concert was The James Gang. Second row in front of Joe….1971? I was 3…..

  7. Thank you for the comment, jmesseder2!

    Yes, changing the name of something that’s deeply unpopular (such as the PARCCs) is so transparent and desperate. Yet it sometimes works, at least temporarily. 🙁

    And Republican “small government” promises are indeed “interesting” — and rather selective. For instance, plenty of federal money for public education-harming charter schools (one of which Montclair dodged a few years ago after an outcry) and WAY more for the military than is needed to defend the U.S.

  8. Thank you for the comment, flipside!

    I did say in a previous comment that Phil Spector was not a good human being. I understated that. An awful human being.

    And, yes, a lot to admire about Joe Walsh — including his generosity and his terrific half of the guitar solo in “Hotel California” (not Hotel MC 🙂 ). Great that you saw Walsh in concert!

    As for Christie, he did indeed do a few good things — even a broken clock is right twice a day — but overall he was a REALLY bad governor. (For reasons I included and didn’t include in my column.) He deserved that 15% approval rating.

  9. Anyone who thinks he was not behind Bridgegate is ready to buy a bridge. He was an old school, back alley kind of politician. He got through his agenda but did so as a bully and often his ego rather than the needs of the constituents determined what his legislative priorities were. He is as disgraced as Richand Nixon and accomplished a whole lot less. His vilification of teachers has had real life effects. Good students don’t want to be teachers anymore because they have been so disrespected by people like Christie and Walker. He can be charming, but in the end is a small minded bully who is vengeful and corrupt. His obsequious behavior toward Trump was just one more sign of someone who has no moral core.

  10. Thank you, heisenberg! Your extremely well-written comment is about the best sum-up of Chris Christie I’ve ever seen.

    I also think Christie was behind Bridgegate. Even on the infinitesimal chance that he wasn’t, he set such an “anything goes” tone that his subordinates felt they were doing what he would have wanted them to do. But, again, I think he was behind Bridgegate — and letting his subordinates take the fall for him was yet another example of his ethics deficit.

    And, yes, his obsequiousness toward Trump was stomach-turning.

  11. No disagreement on the character assessment, but let’s also acknowledge the Democratic office holders in the poor governance of the State that brought Christie to the position. NJ had McGreevey, Codey & Corzine as Governors from 2002-2010.

    NJ has bigger education issues than PARCC. PARCC is just a treatment plan that shouldn’t have been approved. The disease is still here…and without a treatment…local or State.

    I originally voted for Christie to offset the dysfunctional NJ Democratic machine.

    Name a NJ governor you liked in the last 25 years.

  12. Thank you for the comment, Frank!

    I totally agree that NJ’s four most recent Democratic governors (also including Phil Murphy) have ranged from mediocre to bad. And yes, one reason Chris Christie was elected was that his Democratic predecessors weren’t that good. I still think Christie was the worst of the lot, but…

    PARCC should indeed have never been approved. But I guess there was/is a mania amid politicians and bureaucrats (both of whom usually have little or no teaching background) to spend tons of money on standardized tests to measure students when that money could be better spent on things like alleviating poverty in order to give every student a better chance to succeed academically. Plus some politicians and bureaucrats seem a lot more concerned about shoveling profits into PARCC producer Pearson’s coffers than in what’s best for students and teachers.

  13. And it’s not just “politicians and bureaucrats” who push for more standardized testing and other kinds of often-harmful education “reform.” Also business execs and others — many of whom are national figures (such as Bill Gates) and some of whom reside in Montclair.

  14. Phew! I thought your last comment would be a segue into Mtc’s loss of diversity.

    It’s not how you start necessarily, but how you finish. We’ve had some good presidents as examples. Let’s see how Murphy does over time.

  15. Ha, Frank! I’m trying to keep my comments diverse by not always mentioning diversity. 🙂

    An excellent point about Murphy. Not a good start, but he could get better. Not holding my breath, though. I didn’t have high hopes for him even back in the primaries, when I voted for someone else on the Democratic line. Murphy talked a progressive game, but he basically seemed like a centrist to me. And having a Wall Street background — Goldman Sachs in Murphy’s case, as was also the case with Corzine — usually doesn’t bode well when later holding political office.

    I’m trying to think of presidents — including those from before I was born — who I mostly admired. Maybe Lincoln is the closest. Then probably FDR, though he had some big moral stains such as his imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. LBJ if one looks only at his domestic record. Franklin Pierce was awful, but at least he was the subject of a campaign biography by his pal Nathaniel Hawthorne… 🙂

  16. Yeah, it hard to compare Presidents. Now if we had standardized testing of politicians…:)

  17. LOL, Frank! Hilarious line. 🙂

    I’m trying to imagine Trump haltingly tapping out PARCC answers on a Chromebook…

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