MontClairVoyant: BOE Meeting Climate Was Charged, Local Climate Events Were Large

Before discussing September 20’s climate-strike actions in Montclair, can you talk about the many public comments and complaints at September 23’s packed Board of Education meeting?

Anger (at) Management

Things got so loud in the George Inness Annex that it became the George Din-ness Annex.

A big issue brought up by teachers and other BOE attendees: Montclair Education Association members are being paid 2017-18 wages during the current school year because of a district delay in processing raises in the new contract approved pre-summer break. Huh?

Sal A. Rees

Financial hardship for some MEAers, no known timeline for ending this mess, questions about the competence of certain Central Office people, and frustration that “Catch-22” author Joseph Heller is no longer alive to write a scathing sequel called “Catch-22 Valley Road.”

Ooh…Central Office’s address! Speakers at the meeting also criticized mistakes in the district’s employment-contract mailings to MEA members, the level of paraprofessional pay (including less for some paras for summer work), this month’s school-bus problems, the transportation office for often not returning parent calls and emails, and the alleged use of “seclusion closets” for some students in at least one Montclair school. All not good for our district’s reputation?

The Blunder Year

Of course. I do think Montclair’s teachers are still the best in 22-town Essex County, while Montclair’s Central Office is…um…in the top 22.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,Hundreds of Montclair High students walked out last Friday, September 20, to take part in the massive worldwide climate strike. Comment?

Activist Vista

Good for them. We have only one planet, even if a space traveler wearing bad glasses might see two.

A rather gratuitous statement — like Montclair High’s principal saying in a letter to parents that he (supposedly) supports the right of students to protest yet warned them about a “cut” for any classes they missed. Wrong of him?

The Principal of the Thing

VERY wrong of him. If climate change makes the Earth uninhabitable, his bank will stamp his future paychecks “returned for insufficient atmosphere.”

What about direct deposit?

Pixels R Us

When even online banking melts on our overheated planet, “ClimateChangeIsAHoax” ain’t gonna work as anyone’s password.

Wasn’t there also an excellent adult turnout at another local climate-strike gathering later on the 20th?

Rally Tally

Indeed. That was near the intersection of Church, South Fullerton, and Bloomfield — three more roads than the number of dreadful Republican politicians willing to publicly admit that our planet is in danger.

And U.S. democracy is endangered by Trump, whose outrages include pressing Ukraine to investigate his possible 2020 election opponent Joe Biden. Now even centrist Democratic politicians are belatedly open to impeachment?

Corruption Eruption

Yup, among them Upper Montclair’s congresswoman Mikie Sherrill — and kudos to her. But most Republican politicians don’t have the guts to publicly criticize Trump’s blatant attempt to “fix” next year’s race, meaning they’re so spineless they finally lost the chiropractor vote.


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. I’m thoroughly enjoying the contentious issue of class cuts! Only in Montclair!

    Real world: strikers get docked, unexcused absence from work your employer docks you. A cut slip…an injustice. As I recall, it was a Climate Strike Day. It didn’t require strikers to cut 3rd Period. Skipping football practice was never an option although the amphitheater was available all afternoon.

    I get that it is about rebellion, but it’s just funny to hand out excused absence notes to participate.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank! I hear you — it’s kind of a minor quibble on my part to criticize Montclair High’s principal for that. But leaving the school building for a climate-strike action is rather more important than, say, a field trip (as important as field trips are), and students don’t get cut slips for that. A protest after school? Wouldn’t have had the same impact. As for football, NOTHING MUST GET IN THE WAY OF AMERICA’S PASTIME. 🙂 (The climate certainly changed last weekend for the Giants’ quarterback situation…)

  3. Their target audience was us adults. But, they stayed on campus?
    We will need to expand their future Adulting classes to teach them how to conduct a proper protest.

  4. Ha! But with news coverage and social media and some adults near the school, I think Montclair High students got plenty of visibility for their climate-strike action despite not leaving the campus. 🙂

  5. True. Makes me think we can hold the 4th of July Parade next year in the Lackawanna Parking lot. Now if we can just figure out a way to get rid of those pesky train sheds…ummh. I’ll have to think on that one. Where there is a will, there is a way.

  6. Did you catch the Planning Board meeting about how The Sun Vow is now culturally inappropriate, maybe even racist? Who knew? I guess I should have known. My thanks to the MAM.

  7. LOL, Frank! Great Lackawanna quip! 🙂 And an excellent point — so many things could be held in a confined space, but there’s still something to be said for that not being done. It’s exciting the way the 4th of July Parade proceeds down Bloomfield and Midland avenues, block after block. But given the don’t-care-enough-about-history attitudes of some developers and some Montclair officials, those antique cars in the parade have got to go… 🙂

  8. I did read about the Planning Board meeting. I think I have a strong antenna for racism (partly because my family is multiracial), and that statue doesn’t strike me as racist. Maybe it’s a bit stereotypical or “of its time” or something, but it feels positive — and its placement certainly heavily ties in with the museum’s history. I wonder if the citing of the so-called possible racism of the statue was brought up to make the moving of that statue from the front of the museum more palatable.

  9. No, that definitely wasn’t the reason…as it was first raised by an opponent of the move.
    What I understand, from some very superficial research, was the underlying meaning intended was to represent the plight of the Native Americans as their lands were being taken away. It symbolized the futility of their situation by the pointless shooting of an arrow at the Sun. Hence the title. Who knows, that could be made up, too. Good story though. Kinda parallels the Democrats trying to impeach Trump.

  10. Frank, I appreciate the explanation and thoughts about what has seemingly become a somewhat controversial statue.

    Now I’m thinking that one reason the statue is such an interesting work of art is that its meaning can be interpreted in different ways.

  11. Yes, historic preservation is suppose to tell a story. Sometimes our choices of what to preserve & emphasize are slanted. Majority rules!

  12. Historic preservation telling a story — I like that! But, yes, the story is not always objective, and majority rule is not always positive. Sometimes that majority is the majority of a township council or planning board making a decision not representing what the majority of the town’s residents want or don’t want.

  13. “most Republican politicians don’t have the guts to publicly criticize Trump’s blatant attempt to “fix” next year’s race,”

    Gosh, darn, this u-Kraine thing is entertaining. So, the Democrats finally, finally figure out they should impeach the man…and they want credit? I don’t think so. They say they needed the CIA employee’s complaint to get the formal inquiry over the line. The Freshman 7 then do media day for credit.

    First, why is a Representative called a Freshman. Pretty stupid when you think about it.
    Second, they step forward and ignore that Biden ran point on Ukraine and his son took that very highly compensated portion. Now, I know Hunter Biden was the very best person in all of America for the job & so we shouldn’t read into this. Yes, the Freshman 7 just stepped right over this log in their path.

    We know (well, not local politicians) if a reasonable basis exists for a perception of a conflict, it is a conflict…and this case just flew past that exit.

    So, yes, the Democrats are coming around to correct what they should have done long ago. That they didn’t also call for Biden to explain himself, or withdraw, is the same mistake again! The the left-leaning side of the “we no longer follow journalistic canons” media is giving him a pass.

    So entertaining!

  14. Let’s assume the pundits are right. Trump will survive and run for reelection. Biden will survive and run as the Democratic candidate. I want to watch the public reaction to their debate on the subject of u-Kraine.
    Kettle/pot. Pot/kettle.

    2016 all over again.

    As they say, first time, shame on them, second time, shame on the voters.

  15. Sorry, Frank, about my delay in replying. I was in NYC most of the day. Or was that Montclair East? 🙂

    The Democratic impeachment decision could have definitely come earlier; Trump has committed many impeachable offenses during the past two-plus years. Better late than never, I guess. Why this week and not before? Pelosi basically said Trump’s attempt to try to fix the 2020 election via Ukraine was an abuse of power simple enough for most Americans to understand. And Joe Biden, a centrist Democrat many “establishment” Democrats like, was under attack.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some corruption tied to Biden and his son, relating and not relating to Ukraine. And the elder Biden certainly has some negative stuff in his history (his awful treatment of Anita Hill, his support of draconian 1990s crime legislation that would go on to put countless African-Americans in jail, his vote for the Iraq War, etc.). Though of course Trump is infinitely worse, policy-wise and corruption-wise.

    If Biden — a weak centrist candidate with many negatives — wins the Democratic nomination, I feel Trump could more easily be reelected next year. For one thing, some disgusted progressives might stay home or vote third party. Running an “establishment” centrist (Hillary Clinton) in 2016 certainly didn’t sit well with a lot of an electorate thirsting for change. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would be stronger 2020 candidates against Trump, I believe. Of course, Trump and his far-right Republicans enablers could cheat enough, suppress enough votes, and get enough foreign help to win the election no matter who the Dems run… 🙁

  16. I doubt Biden will be the Dem’s candidate, but if he is, I will vote for Trump just to put the Democratic leadership out of their misery. Life closing out this decade is all about finding the lowest common denominator of intelligence.

    Between this and the Montclair Republicans demanding painting equality with left-leaning HS students – over gun control! – is their evolution? They are not particularly significant and I think anyone who is Republican has just so many issues it might make their Blue Wave/North Mountain counterparts actually seem like normal people.

    And where exactly are the younger voters? Nowhere.

  17. Well, let’s hope Biden is not the Democratic candidate then! I agree with you that there’s a good chance he won’t be.

    “Painting equality” — nice turn of phrase! The Montclair Republican Party’s demand for an equal-time mural under the Chestnut Street overpass is beyond pathetic. BAD idea. I don’t think the Montclair High students who painted the “Never Again” anti-gun-violence mural are all necessarily left-leaning. They just don’t want to die in a school shooting massacre. Seems like a reasonable request…

    With the right Democratic candidate, I think younger people would vote in droves. Bernie Sanders, for one, has huge support among many in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. And younger people are very well-represented in the fight against climate change.

  18. You’re right, naive is not the same as left-leaning. I do think the Montclair Republican Party’s position is what it means to be human. They are as base as humanity gets. The Democrats are the party that tries to keep that drive under control. A lot of guilt here. The Roman Catholics believe we suck and should spend our lives seeking forgiveness. They have their issues, but they might actually have this one point right.

  19. If being naive is painting a mural that will probably not “move the needle” on anyone’s view of America’s off-the-charts gun violence, I guess that can be naiveté of a sort. But people should try to change things, people need to vent, and maybe millions of seemingly naive actions can add up to something. Better than giving up.

    And that’s an excellent description of today’s Republican and Democratic parties. The GOP takes VERY base positions that perhaps fits its view of humanity as greedy, selfish, intolerant, etc., while the extremely imperfect Democrats have at least some compassion in what they advocate.

  20. It starts and ends with how to value life. The younger ones are not paragons of virtue on this issue. This is the naïveté that they must have to be good citizens. They will be like their parents, their grandparents, etc. The DNA can’t fall far from the tree.

  21. Dave…come man, get over your self-righteous self. I am an independent and try to stay neutral but your constant vilification of Republicans is down right nasty,vicious, and is usually unwarranted. I recently took a friend to the NYU Cancer Center. Have you seen the Langone Medical Center?? I hope you never need to but it is amazing. Funded by that heartless uber-Republican Frank Langone. He started out poor but created a business (Home Depot) where people gladly gave him their money for his products. He didn’t rob and certainly didn’t tax anyone. Building the amazing hospital wasn’t enough for Mr Langone. Now, because of Frank, NYU Medical School is free. Yup, free to anyone qualified to get in. No government involvement. So when you pick up your good/evil paint brush save us the bold strokes. Compassionate deeds speak louder than words and you have to admit there is plenty of Democratic lip service. So, let’s all try to follow Mr Langone’s lead. Conservative Frank donated his money in the liberal capital of the east coast because it was where it would be of best use…a little impartiality goes a long way.

  22. Thank you for your comment, flipside.

    Yes, I am liberal, but don’t consider myself self-righteous. I have criticized Republicans in the past but not to the degree that I criticize Trump and other current Republicans because the current bunch is so much worse. The “nasty” and “vicious” adjectives you use to describe my criticism feels like projecting on your part, because those adjectives actually describe the words and behavior of Trump, McConnell, Hannity, etc. My criticism is offered in a much-less-abrasive way than their words and actions, and often mixed with humor. (Or attempted humor. 🙂 )

    Yes, there are some Republican philanthropists like Frank Langone who fund great causes — and they are to be commended. I wonder what they think of Trump, who has given little to charity and has been guilty of various “charitable” scams.

  23. Flipside,

    Vilification of anyone who is a Republicans these days is arguably justified. I am trying to disassociate myself with anyone in my orbit that still identifies as Republican. So far, I’ve said good-bye to Violet Beauregarde & Veruca Salt. Augustus Gloop was my best friend – he’s gone.

    Seriously, IMO, the Republican Party is lacking moral character. They advocate for a border wall to prevent the immigration of Oompa-Loompas and the Montclair Republican Club is underwriting the Vermicious Knids.

    A Republican once told me profiling is just common sense at work. So, if it walks like a moron, talks like a moron, quacks like a moron….well….

  24. Frank…moral character?? You find that in politicians? Where? If you tell me the Democrats I have bridge to sell you. I hope the next time you need a cop, fireman, emt, doctor, etc. you vet them for their political affiliation. That goes for plumbers, carpenters, electricians…people we need as opposed to people that entertain us. Your last sentence sounds a lot like something Trump would say. Actually, pretty much everything you and Dave say is very Trumplike. The viewpoint is different but the style is the same….kindred spirits no doubt!

  25. “I hope the next time you need a cop, fireman, emt, doctor, etc. you vet them for their political affiliation.”

    Great line!

  26. flipside, “everything [Frank and I] say is very Trump-like”? Wow — enough false equivalence to fill Edgemont Pond (much to the annoyance of the geese there). That’s actually rather insulting. I’ll let Frank speak for himself, but, unlike Trump, I’ve never boasted about sexually assaulting women (and have never, ever been guilty of sexual misconduct), I’ve never said sexist things about women, I’ve never said racist things about people of color, I’ve never told people I would pay them and then stiff them, I’ve never insulted war heroes and their families, I’ve never called people by derogatory nicknames, I haven’t told thousands of lies, etc.

    And I’m perfectly willing to criticize Democrats — as I have a number of times, including in responses to you. Plus I of course never ask about the political affiliation of police officers, doctors, etc.

    I don’t know — maybe you were just trying to get a rise out of me. But you’re too smart to really believe that what Frank and I say are Trump-like. You’re gonna make me want to drown my sorrows at The MC hotel’s rooftop bar — which wouldn’t be easy considering I never plan to enter that building. 🙂

  27. “But you’re too smart to really believe that what Frank and I say IS Trump-like.” (Not ARE Trump-like, as I mistakenly wrote.)

  28. Dave, It’s seems my point zipped past you but Frank got it. I was referring to your style of making a point. Trump vilifies those whose values he disagree with, makes moral judgements based on his personal beliefs, mocks as stupid or subhuman his perceived enemies because of course, his way of thinking is the only right way….sound like a familiar tact??? There is a little Trump in all of us and if you are way to the right or way to the left there is more Trump-like behavior happening than you think. The difference between Bernie and Trump is that you agree with Bernie. They both use the same divisive rhetoric some people just like the sound one and not the other. Same crap…Maher, Maddow, Colbert, Rush, Hannity…all the same storytelling technique just a different story. Pick your poison.

  29. Absolutely untrue, flipside. I’ve often disagreed with you, but have never said your style of making points is Trump-like. That’s basically character assassination, because Trump is nasty, corrupt, and a stone-cold liar. My style is not Trump-like when criticizing you and others because I don’t lie, don’t use profanity, and, while criticizing the words and views of a number of conservatives, I never vilify them on a PERSONAL level. (Never mentioning people’s weight, looks, etc. — as Trump does.) I also use humor, which Trump virtually never does.

    As for Trump vs. Bernie Sanders, you’re again doing the false-equivalence thing. Yes, Sanders uses tough rhetoric at times, but he “punches up” — at billionaires, at corporations and other institutions that exploit people, etc. Meanwhile, Trump “punches down” — at the poor, at women, at people of color, and at others who usually don’t have as much power in the U.S. as wealthy white males. Also, Sanders wants health care for all, Trump’s attacks on Obamacare have meant health care for fewer people. And so on.

    If you ever start a rock band, you can name it “False Equivalence.” 🙂 See you at the Wellmont!

  30. Dave…you still don’t get my point but you unintentionally prove it. “Punching up” “Punching down” no difference, it is still punching. There will be no peace or progress until the punching stops. Your boycott of the MC is your idea of throwing a punch at the greedy developers. Punches like that also land on the wait staff, bus boys, dishwashers, chamber maids, etc.

  31. flipside, so you really think that if there’s a stop to “punching up” (a reactive action to economic inequality, racism, etc.), the people doing the “punching down” will stop “punching down”? Ha! Very naive. And there’s a HUGE difference between “comforting the afflicted” vs. “afflicting the comfortable.”

    As for The MC, if it’s as great and needed and wonderful and sublime as it’s marketed to be, the people who don’t want to put more money into Pinnacle’s already-stuffed pockets will have little impact — on that developer, the Aparium hotel company, or the hotel’s staff. Everyone has the right to decide which places to patronize or not.

    All this discussion of punching and I don’t even like boxing…

  32. Dave, Where is the cut off for “comfortable” and “afflicted”? Who draws that line? The line is imaginary and it would be impossible to get a consensus on where to draw it. They tried in Venezuela and it hasn’t gone so well. With all of America’s faults it is still the best game on the planet for the ambitious. Try not to be so angry. America isn’t perfectly fair but there are tons of opportunities for those willing to do their own “punching.”

  33. “Where is the cut-off for ‘comfortable’ and ‘afflicted'”? flipside, that’s an almost-not-on-point quibble about semantics. Of course there are many people in the middle between “comfortable” and “afflicted,” but it’s obvious that there are many more people who are clearly on either side of that divide.

    Autocratic socialist countries like Venezuela have indeed had a checkered history. But social-democratic countries (as in several European ones) have done rather well by a much wider swath of their populations than the U.S. has. The U.S. might be a good place for the ambitious, but it’s also a “good” place for ambitious exploiters who care little about their workers and their communities. I’ve had some of the latter ambitious types as past employers.

  34. “With all of America’s faults it is still the best game on the planet for the ambitious.”

    I have to agree this is the best description of 2019 United States of America.

  35. “With all of America’s faults it is still the best game on the planet for the ambitious” — some of whom are pernicious.*

    *Thank you, RhymeZone website! 🙂

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