MontClairVoyant: Minneapolis and Montclair, News Amid the Despair

A white police officer killed yet another African-American citizen — this time, Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis. How depressing is it to live in such a sickeningly racist country?

No Pride in Prejudice

If Montclair had a White Street, I’d want it renamed.

Many of our town’s residents are strongly protesting the cold-blooded murder of Mr. Floyd — making their feelings known in Montclair (various actions), Newark (May 30), Glen Ridge (May 31), Clifton (June 2), and elsewhere. Comment?

All the World’s a Rage

It would be easier to list where there’ve been no protests. One such place is under the chairs in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Not easy to hear about the Postal Service delivering many mail ballots too slowly in recent elections that included Montclair’s. Does that call into question Sean Spiller’s narrow mayoral lead over Dr. Renee Baskerville?

Democracy Denied

Possibly. ALL postmarked ballots should be counted, and Montclair voters should also have the chance to fix many signature mismatches — undoubtedly accidental, except for Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) signing his ballot as Taylor Swift (1989-).

Modest proposals. Doesn’t the Postal Service have a legitimate excuse for late delivery given that many of its workers have been sickened by the coronavirus and the service has been starved of funds by Republicans?

Struggling and Juggling

Yup. The GOP wants to further enrich private carriers, make mail voting more difficult (because higher turnout helps Democrats), and eliminate unionized postal jobs (many held by women and people of color). Also, right-wingers are miffed that there’s no stamp with a photo of Trump and Jesus playing golf together.

Meanwhile, what’s the story with Montclair High’s graduation? Students, like many of us, have had such a tough year.

Ann Phuh-Theater

Looks like seniors will get a virtual ceremony on June 24, some sort of in-person ceremony on July 9, and a visit from Santa the night of December 24.

Um, not everyone celebrates Christmas. People of various religions do mark July 4, but Montclair’s Independence Day events next month have been canceled due to the pandemic. Comment?

Morose on Midland

No town parade, picnic, or fireworks. Perhaps some chipmunks — which are everywhere this spring — will drive the parade route in vintage cars.

Meanwhile, the Montclair Property Owners Association continues to spend tons of money fighting needed rent regulation in our town. If that regulation would be so financially onerous to MPOA members, how are they affording such a pricey opposition effort?

This Land(lord) Is Your Land(lord)

At least one ultra-rich developer is part of the effort — angering even the fictional tenants in the old “Apartment 3-G” comic strip.

The “3-G” in that comic’s name referred to three “girls” (the strip’s sexist way of labeling its trio of career-women characters). So, if there were an “Apartment 2-R” comic featuring America’s two most infamous racists, who would draw Chauvin and Trump?

Worse Than Cartoon Villains

Um…you stole my punchline, so I’ll just end by saying no decent person has any pride in those two depraved men, but there is much respect for LGBTQ people in Montclair and elsewhere as “Pride Month” begins.


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. “If that regulation would be so financially onerous to MPOA members, how are they affording such a pricey opposition effort?”

    Are you noticing a deep-pocketed pattern here? Mayor-Elect Spiller. MPOA. Shall I go on?

  2. Great observation, Frank! Those with lots of money (whether their own or donated) often get what they want. And of course one of Sean Spiller’s campaign contributors (developer Steven Plofker) is involved with the Montclair Property Owners Association. To paraphrase George Carlin, “It’s a club and we ain’t in it.”

  3. Dave – The nearby town of Orange has a White Street. How is the irony of that on multiple levels?

  4. That’s right, silverleaf! Very ironic indeed given that the vast majority of Orange’s population is comprised of people of color. (I of course realize that street may have been named after a person with the last name of White, but… 🙂 )

  5. The dialogue around rent control here, like most places, takes the easy way out and characterizes the landlords as greedy and the tenants as victims rather than examining the policy issues and balancing everyone’s interests. Our efforts are not requiring “tons of money” by any means — even our advertising on this site has a modest cost when compared to the millions it will cost Montclair homeowners in increased property taxes when the Township has to write down the value of the apartments and when it has to pay professionals to regulate rents. While we oppose rent control, we specifically only wanted the Council to consider amendments that would have made this ordinance livable, but the politics of the moment — where tenants promised to supply mail-in ballots to mayoral candidates in exchange for rent control — overwhelmed common sense and public discourse. Sign the petition and you’ll be glad you did.

  6. Thank you for the comment, Ron.

    I agree — “tons of money” was a bit of hyperbole on my part. But spending on ads, a website, and legal action is not insignificant.

    The rent-regulation measure now stalled because of the MPOA’s legal action allows for fair annual increases, and would help Montclair keep some of its dwindling economic diversity. It IS possible that the rent measure might increase homeowner taxes to some degree, but I’d be surprised if things would get as apocalyptic as the MPOA implies.

    Yes, the just-weeks-before-an-election/during-a-pandemic timing of the Township Council vote was awkward, but the rent measure had been discussed and negotiated for many months before that. With the financial anxiety many renters are facing during the pandemic, the timing of the rent-measure vote made sense in terms of trying to give tenants some certainty that they wouldn’t be rent-gouged after the pandemic eased. I realize many Montclair landlords are fair about rent increases, but a number aren’t.

    Given that both mayoral candidates voted for the rent measure, it’s not like either got an advantage over the other because of it.

  7. “— where tenants promised to supply mail-in ballots to mayoral candidates in exchange for rent control — “

    C’mon. This is the rule in every district and every State. Politicans go to the voters and ask them what they want in exchange for their vote. The voters say I want xxxx. If that voter block is big enough, the political incorporates it into their platform.

    I seriously don’t understand your point or you don’t understand the fundamentals of elections.
    You just opened up a huge can of worms that will now ensure we look at Plofker’s contributions and developments…and variances. We will have to look at all the other major developers – especially Lackawanna Plaza – with a real microscope. That means recent appointments and reappointments to the two land use boards, the when and how long.

    Personally, I’m fine with you opening up this can. I just think it wasn’t very smart…at all.

    Know your audience.

  8. Ron,

    Let’s talk about a 2017 $137K CDBG ( federal) grant run through Essex County for low & moderate income purposes and where the money went.

    You went to the wrong place.

  9. Let’s talk about the $144K proposed to expand the upper Glenridge Ave side walk 4’… in front of just 5 properties. Is that a lot of bang for the buck? The timing is more than weird.

    And what about the water quality problem with the Lorraine Avenue municipal well? That is a very impressive H2O treatment proposal. Personally, I’m old, so water quality will have little impact on me. Back in the day, its water was quite scrumdiddlyumptious.

  10. Frank, the sidewalk expansion you mention does NOT sound like a lot of bang for the buck. Now if $1.44 were spent… (I have at least 144 pennies in a jar at home.)

    I know nothing about a water-quality problem at the Lorraine Avenue municipal well. From what you imply, an expensive treatment proposal? (I’m assuming that, for any bugs that swim in that well, only 50% of them will be allowed in when capacity limits start June 22.)

  11. Sidewalk Project: Yes, we could use that money instead to pay for ‘temporary’, partial street closures!

    Lorraine Well: You wouldn’t, as 1) I think the well has been shut down since the 2016 State order and 2) our well water has a level of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (aka, C8 or PFOA) contaminants that we find unacceptable. DuPont’s Teflon coating had C8. Many adults have detectable levels of C8. The science is unclear on it.

    We dug the well deeper around 2015 due to flow problems, but that didn’t work out too well. I think it was something to do with being in bedrock location.

    See proposed carbon filter system here:

  12. Frank, if it helps the bottom line of restaurants to have some partial street closures to create more room for outdoor dining, I’m for that.

    As for the Lorraine Well, I didn’t know it had been shut down. The quality of water anywhere can be worrisome.

  13. Agree, However,
    1) most Montclair restaurants, outside of the 6-8pm window, do not typically exceed 50% capacity.
    2) Church & Glenridge & a few other streets aside, closing streets around town gets real complicated as NYC found. I’m not sure what the answer is but I’m guessing 1-way streets will become more common.
    3) Be very wary of Bike/(No Walk) Montclair agenda glomming on to the pandemic. Not exactly this organization’s best moment. The ends justifies the means, right?

  14. I hear you, Frank.

    Whatever percentage of capacity a restaurant reaches, I feel the more outdoor dining space the better in the near future.

    Closing some streets and making some others one-way could indeed create some additional traffic issues. Driving-practice opportunities for when the “arts district” and other projects increasingly cram already-busy streets. < Sarcasm alert.

    Fun Fact of the Day: Bike&Walk Montclair has the same three initials (in a slightly different order) as BMW. 😉

  15. I like your order of letters BMW. It better reflects their agenda:

    Bike Montclair (and, oh yeah) Walk

  16. Ha ha, Frank! 🙂 And I suppose GM stands for Gait Measuring when a walker is wearing a Fitbit…

  17. Sounds right.

    BMW is so myopic it hurts my visioning skills. And the BID is tactical. We have this Arts Center coming online within the year. As part of this, the County is totally reworking the Six Corners intersection (Blmfld/Church/Fullertons/Glenridge).

    We want to close Church St, reverse 1-way of Glenridge, add in the really inappropriate & expensive sidewalk expansion there on the North side, while the Council/BID passed a resolution to keep the major crosswalk connected to the less used sidewalk on the South side.

    Guess what? The proposed Six-Corners intersection design is obsolete before it even goes out to bid. We couldn’t have foreseen COVID-19, but I think it is here now and for a while. The new pedestrian (& biker) paradigm & opportunity is obvious. Does BMW see it? Nope. They see what they know. Do they say to pause this project while they/the BID/the Town catch up? Nope. The design is wrong.

    I get it. BMW is not strategic. They are tactical. Tactical is good. It’s just not strategic.

  18. Thank you for the comment, Frank. I also worry that the “arts district” presence and design (including the street design) is going to be problematic. And while one of my concerns has been that the “arts district” — with its big new building presence, its new parking-deck presence, its plaza, etc. — would make things more crammed downtown, the pandemic effect you mentioned could also mean that crowds wouldn’t want to gather in that “district” for a while and thus the new project could have financial problems. For instance, more empty storefronts downtown? 🙁

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