MontClairVoyant: ‘The 800 Club’ and a 2020 Prediction Hub

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
This is your 800th “Montclairvoyant” column — 152 for Baristanet (2017-present) after 648 for The Montclair Times (2003-17). Thoughts?

Sincerely,
Reelin’ in the Years

Glad to have more separation from Pat Robertson’s bizarre right-wing show “The 700 Club.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Last week you ended your 2019 year-in-review with a brief look ahead to 2020, wondering if every Montclair resident would run for mayor and finish in a 39,000-way tie for first. Any other brilliant predictions for the new year?

Sincerely,

Screen Name: Claremont205

I predict Montclair’s 11 public school buildings — which reopened today, January 2, after the long winter break — will visit the Jersey Shore this summer to star in a remake of “Ocean’s 11.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Won’t be easy getting a bathing suit on Montclair High. Any other sublime forecasts?

Sincerely,
Beach Your Children Well

Given the churn in Montclair superintendents this past decade, I predict our school district will have 365 of them in 2020 — including interims to the interims to the interims.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Will there also be a different superintendent on February 29?

Sincerely,
Leap Day Fray

A 366th superintendent in one year? That’s excessive.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
I don’t know the predicted finish date, but the too-big “arts district” will continue to rise in 2020. Plus the too-big Lackawanna Plaza redo might be well underway if the citizens’ lawsuit against it unfortunately fails. Downtown will get as crowded as…

Sincerely,
Seymour Congestion

…meetings of “The Former Montclair Superintendents Club.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The downtown mega-projects have/will have only a token amount of affordable housing amid the pricey units, and rents for some older Montclair apartments are skyrocketing. So, what are the local housing prospects for non-affluent renters in 2020?

Sincerely,
Give Lease a Chance

Not good. There are reports that Mayor Jackson said at Councilwoman Dr. Renee Baskerville’s December 30 community forum that he sees affordable-housing progress in Montclair. Ophthalmologists were stunned.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The Historic Preservation Committee seems okay with several of the proposed changes in the (might reopen in 2020?) Bellevue Theater, but has misgivings about moving the iconic entrance eastward. Comment?

Sincerely,
Marquee de Sad

Moving the theater entrance eastward to Bloomfield’s ShopRite does seem a bit much, but a long tunnel with dine-in sneakers could be constructed under Bellevue Avenue to get filmgoers to their seats.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
The entrance would not be moved THAT far — just a few feet east at the theater building.

Sincerely,
Left Is Not Right

Comedy can happen when things are deliberately misunderstood, so humor me here. And think of the possibilities if the Bellevue entrance began in the ShopRite aisle that has popcorn and continued through the ShopRite aisle that has butter.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Getting back to the 2020 municipal elections, might there be an overdevelopment slate?

Sincerely,
Hope-Not Scott

If some Montclair candidates want to pump up with steroids, it’s a free country.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What about an anti-overdevelopment slate?

Sincerely,
Cynical About Pinnacle

That kind of slate might help keep accused “juicers” Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and A-Rod out of “The Former Montclair Superintendents Hall of Fame.” That and the fact those three baseball players were never Montclair superintendents.

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.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Congratulations on #800! Very impressive. What was the impetus for your column and what was the first column about?

  2. Thank you, Frank, for the congratulations! πŸ™‚

    I like writing humor, so I thought I’d send an unsolicited guest piece to The Montclair Times back in 2003. It was a jokey column about parking problems in Montclair, garbage-pail lids flying in the wind, etc. To my surprise, it was accepted — after I was asked to make it a little more pointed, not just silly. Then I sent another…and another…and it became a regular weekly column by 2005.

  3. Wow! You are getting a lot of columns out of parking and the weather! I also do vaguely recall the days when the Montclair Times was more pointed, not jut silly.

  4. Parking and the weather are definitely perennials, Frank. πŸ™‚ I just found a scan of the first column in an old laptop folder, and the piece also talked about other perennials such as potholes and affordable housing.

  5. The Montclair Board of Education under the leadership of Eve Robinson will take no substantive action to recruit a permanent Superintendent. We will also never learn why her BoE failed in the process to update teachers’ salaries. David Herron will pop up every few months and blame any current BoE issue on former Superintendents and independent of any facts to the contrary. Jackson or his surrogate will be re-elected since voter apathy and the Essex County machine will continue to roll right along. Your taxes will continue to rise. Happy New Year!

  6. Happy New Year to you, too, Jon — and thanks for the predictions! I certainly agree that local taxes will rise. That’s as inevitable as the sun rising (though sunshine might be divided differently than our taxes in terms of how much goes to our school system vs. our town vs. the county πŸ™‚ ).

    The rest of your points? My responses:

    “The Montclair Board of Education under the leadership of Eve Robinson will take no substantive action to recruit a permanent Superintendent”: I find that hard to believe. The current interim has not exactly gotten rave reviews from everyone, and the district needs another permanent superintendent. Though how “permanent” she or he will end up being is iffy. Of course, if the BOE has trouble finding the (hopefully) right candidate, the process could bleed into 2021.

    “We will also never learn why her BoE failed in the process to update teachers’ salaries”: While the Eve Robinson-led BOE of course shares some of the blame for Montclair Education Association members being the victims of that salary debacle (the current BOE not correcting it/nipping it in the bud fast enough), the seeds of the debacle were planted under the previous Laura Hertzog-led BOE. Four members of that BOE (all gone now) hired the superintendent who in turn recommended the hiring of the Central Office person (now also gone) reportedly most responsible for the salary fiasco.

    “David Herron will pop up every few months and blame any current BoE issue on former Superintendents and independent of any facts to the contrary”: I disagree. The work David Herron has done is admirable and fact-based (he often gets his info via government records he tirelessly seeks out).

    “Jackson or his surrogate will be re-elected since voter apathy and the Essex County machine will continue to roll right along”: That’s possible, but not certain. I think there is a good deal of anger about the way the mayor and other town officials have pushed for/enabled rampant overdevelopment, and also dismay about some (not all) of the BOE appointments the mayor has made during his two terms. So maybe there’ll be less apathy and different results in the 2020 election. Or maybe not. Also, there’s some dismay with the Essex County machine — especially county executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who’s not exactly popular with many Montclair residents for reasons such as his amoral willingness to accept tons of ICE money from the Trump administration to fund the jailing of immigrants in Essex County.

  7. We’ll see. I stand by my predictions.

    PS – Trying to blame Hertzog for the pay debacle is like blaming Obama for the current situation in Iran. “Seeds”? Get real bru…

  8. Thank you for the follow-up comment, Jon. “We’ll see” makes sense. πŸ™‚

    But I don’t see the two situations you mentioned as being analogous. The Iran nuclear agreement that the U.S. under Obama was part of helped stabilize things with Iran, while Trump’s reckless withdrawal from that agreement started the cycle of the disaster we’re seeing now. I still PARTLY blame the Laura Hertzog-led BOE for the pay fiasco, for the reasons I stated in my previous comment.