Montclair 2020: Will Joe Kavesh Run?

He was late getting back to us for our roundup of incumbents and others planning to run in the Montclair 2020 election for town council, but Joe Kavesh, who expressed interest in running in 2012 and has served as both vice president of the Board of Education and past chairman of the Montclair Civil Rights Commission, gave us an answer about what kind of candidate he would be, should he choose to run:

“If I were to run for town council next year, my focus would be on education, Township compliance with civil rights and affordable housing laws – which, at times, has been seriously lacking (time, perhaps, for a new Township Attorney) – and public and pedestrian safety. Also, Montclair faces an affordability crisis. I am seeing too many people struggle to stay here, myself included. We have to explore more in the way of shared services and other cost saving measures, what I have sometimes referred to as ‘Glen Mont Grove.’”

Kavesh, an attorney specializing in appellate practice, alternative dispute resolution and risk management, was not reappointed by Mayor Robert Jackson when his term ended on the Board of Education. He was replaced by Dr. Alfred Davis, Jr., at the same BOE meeting where Laura Herzog abruptly resigned. Kavesh considered a run in 2012, but ultimately pulled out of the race.

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  1. Smart guy, but sometimes loses control…perspective. Attacked the current Council for not opening up the last town Manager search to all. Implied racism when he chaired the civil rights commission. But this was after we just had an African American Township Manager for many years.

    Even Mayor Jackson called it “pandering on steroids”.

    After this, the entire Council didn’t reappoint him to the Civil Rights Commission. Kavesh then resigned in a huff from the Board of School Estimate. Announced publicly he couldn’t work with Council members any more.

    Was it any wonder Jackson now also didn’t reappoint him to the school board after?

    Kavesh was part of the last group of BOE Kendra Johnson supporters who made racism their one note focus — yet took their eyes off the ball to hire competent people. Today’s staff discrimination lawsuits and administrative blow-ups are the result.

    Some less generous say his positioning has all really been a calculated move to attract African-American and forth ward votes for the long time planned Council run. So the big question is: will other African-American leaders now get behind him if he really puts his hat in the ring again? Not clear. They didn’t back him up with the Mayor to keep him going on the Board of Ed. We shall see.

  2. I went to school with the Somebodies. While I respected their privacy dictates, I found their lack of accountability precluded any possibility of direct engagement. Of their progeny, Some clearly demonstrates a lack of generosity. I don’t know the rest of the considerable, extended family. They are just anonymous pronouns to me. Clearly you know them better.

  3. Even Mayor Jackson called it “pandering on steroids”.

    The same Mayor that, in a fit of anger to a complaint about the Jazz Festival suggested a white resident move to Chatham? The point is that our Mayor, like the rest of us, says stuff when he is angry.

  4. Did de Koninck and Mernin vote to create the $125,000/year Assistant Superintendent of Equity position. And did de Koninck, Mernin and Robinson also vote to add the $90,000/year Student Equity Advocate position? It always amazes me how that one note can be played different ways.

  5. I often say Montclair leads on most things. Here is no exception – an anonymous avatar makes up stories about man considering entering the political realm. We have our own Steve Bannon, how cute. Seems this same team was doing character assassination back in 2012, and they just want to start earlier this time. What’s next waving shovels at BoE meetings and calling Board members criminals? Your old song and dance is tired spotontarget and it drives you nuts that someone cares about issues that most residents do and that Jackson has delivered on his promise to build large buildings and not much else. Perhaps you should spend some of your creativity asking Jackson’s other BoE appointment, who is now the BoE President, if she’s got the teachers’ paychecks right yet? Maybe you can get more than a “no comment” out of her. JB

  6. “Perhaps you should spend some of your creativity asking Jackson’s other BoE appointment, who is now the BoE President, if she’s got the teachers’ paychecks right yet?”

    Very nice, you chafe at accusations of accountability and then turn around and do the same thing. Yes, the paycheck debacle has been cleared up but if you think it was created by the board members remaining and NOT the under-qualified district employees hired by the Super championed by Kavesh and Company, you are hopelessly partisan on these issues (much like Steve Bannon).

    The first thing Mr. Kavesh should do before running for anything is to explain what he knew and when about the board member who allegedly did not live here and then resigned after he cast the deciding vote for the aforementioned Super. Who, for the record, was negotiating her escape shortly after a damaging state audit on the district was filed last winter.

    Other than that, he’d make a swell candidate.

  7. I’m confused. Which State audit last year. Are you talking about the damaging 3rd graders reading scores? Or are you referring to the district-wide attendance problems? I’m thinking you might be referring to the certification audit. Or, maybe it was our own audit of how much capital fund reimbursements we will have to write off because the MPSD has been financially incompetent for the very longest time.

  8. One more thing, board presidents, NEVER do the day to day running of any school district. But then again, I know that you know this. That is what the administrators are supposed to be doing. Do please stop trying to place the blame on the board, perhaps they can do better in holding the responsible administrators accountable,that would be a would be a start.

  9. Yes, we can & must do much better holding administrators accountable and should be the first step. Couldn’t agree more.

    This Board of Education, like every other board before them, has one – yes only one – direct report to supervise. One. Just one. Really, only one. Not kidding, one.

    Now, I understand there are a few parents in Montclair that have a modicum of managerial experiences. Some even had their managerial role stipulated in their job descriptions. So, I know there are some trained managers that understand supervising one….yes, a single direct report…is not complex. Yes, that one, single direct report can be the bane of one’s existence. But, it is not complicated and it’s really hard for me to understand how the BoE members as a group – and each individually – can lose sight of this, so very uncomplicated responsibility.

    Let’s talk about how we got here. I really think not enough time has been spent on how the Montclair Public Schools have devolved over the years. How perverted the process of educational excellence has become. Let’s have a hindsight week. Forums each night what is wrong with education in Montclair. But, in the end. In the very end. Even you have to have a point where the buck stops.

  10. And Montclair thinks this is going to get better because we’ve all identified the shortcoming. Well, we are all missing the forest for the trees. The salary control came off the Superintendent’s position in NJ. OK, even Montclair can figure out the impact on this position. No, the fun starts when you look at the organizational chart of the Montclair Public School District. Specifically, for now, the Central Office. Why is it designed the way it is? What will it be going forward? I wanted to say should be, but that is never an option around here.
    Anyway, look at it when you want a giggle.

  11. Frank, You are correct, the board, any/every board only has direct reporting and responsibility only for the superintendent. Only the board can hire or fire a superintendent. Only the BOE can evaluate a superintendent. ALL other responsibilities and direct reporting flows upstream to the superintendent. ALL. That’s how it is in every school district in New Jersey. BOE’s make policy, and policy only. And one more thing, An yes I did giggle. This organization fact is missed by many. This is why it is vital, that Montclair hire a superintendent who is experienced, with the necessary skill sets to effectively manage a $129 million dollar enterprize.

  12. Dherron,
    Yes, hiring a strong superintendent is critical, but the BoE’s responsibility doesn’t stop at this level.
    The BoE has a responsibility in vetting of all key hires by the superintendent. This responsibility does not subjugate the superintendent’s legal authority as the superintendent can still choose to hire without the support of the Board. But, is that the type of superintendent – one that makes important decisions without the support of his/her boss – we want? Isn’t that the bad situation we are digging ourselves out from now? Should we accept the unilateral choices and the Board’s sole recourse to fire the superintendent as the limit of collaboration between the CEO and the Board?
    A strong superintendent and a strong Board are not mutually exclusive.

  13. Yes, we did completely miss the boat on this one. Why, for whatever reason, did the board in lock step, support the hiring of a super, without superintendent experience, is mind boggling, and defies all logic. As does the lack of vetting of key hires, recommended by the superintendent. To complicate matters further, only 4 board members were present for that vote, and none are current members. Of those four who voted; 1 resigned soon after the vote, another resigned amid residency questions, a third was not reappointed and the 4th, the BOE president abruptly quite. And here is what the statute state about super appointments and voting;
    It should have been the full membership voting; not the majority of those in attendance. ….
    N.J.S.A. 18A:17-15.Appointment of superintendents;
    N.J.S.A. 18A:17-15. The board of education of a Type I district and of any Type II district, now having or hereafter authorized to have a superintendent of schools, may, by contract appoint, for a term of not less than three nor more than five years and expiring July 1, a superintendent of schools by the recorded roll call majority vote of the full membership of the board.
    We are seeing the residual effects of hiring unqualified, inexperienced administrators to steward our education machine. We must do better. So… do we get out of this mess, and stem the tide of lawsuits, I fear, more are coming.

  14. I don’t have a sense that MPSD has a disproportionate number of lawsuits now. Using your analogy, they seem to ebb and flow over the years. I do think we were likely overly optimistic in reducing legal expenses & reserves for judgements in 2019-20, but I don’t think the CAP applies to legal expenses. So, the financial exposure of the ones I read about is relatively small and will be spread out among all the taxpayers.

    The of there 4 interim hires by the Interim Superintendent, 3 are half-day hires, including his 2nd in command. It seems we have bought temporary, high-end expertise to stabilize the district, make hard choices to cut some organizational inefficiencies, and focus on shoring up our public school mission basics.
    Given their limited time with us, that would be a substantial accomplishment.

  15. “The BOE has a responsibility in vetting all key hires by the Superintendent”

    The ball was definitely dropped there!

    Also what I’d like to know is – where are the years evaluations for the Superintendent and Principals? Let’s not forget that even though Frank seems to not have a sense that there is a disproportionate number of lawsuits, that these lawsuits AP being reported about are all from staff inside our schools. Seems a lot of people aren’t doing their jobs very well. One Principal (Glenfield) got moved around before the lawsuit came out. One is out of the district. I would like to see accountability from those that still remain.

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