MontClairVoyant: Hey, MPOA! Go Away, Okay?

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
A judge ruled that the Montclair Property Owners Association can have the cell-phone numbers and email addresses of residents to seek signatures for a November referendum to try killing much-needed rent control. Reaction?

Sincerely,
Tearful Tenants

Gross invasion of the privacy of those who signed up for township alerts. The only number the well-funded MPOA should text is 973-DON’T-BOTHER-US-WITH-YOUR-PROPAGANDA.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Unusual cell number. The Township Council, which passed rent control in April, strongly but unsuccessfully opposed the MPOA effort to get residents’ contact info. Does the MPOA now think it’s “more powerful than a locomotive,” like Superman?

Sincerely,
Another Clout-y Day

I’d revise that to “more powerful, with a loathsome motive.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What was the motive of Renaissance’s principal in showing a video during a school-district staff meeting that caused him to be replaced?

Sincerely,
Clipped By a Clip

I watched the video, and liked that the comedian in it lauded teachers for their work. But there were some troubling elements to his routine, which lasted about 180 seconds and changed the principal’s career 180 degrees.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
What was troubling?

Sincerely,
Poor-Judgment Day

The Black comedian came off kind of buffoonish at a time when race is an especially sensitive subject. And he even (jokingly) called his own child a cheater. You’ve heard of binge-watching? I was cringe-watching.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Speaking of our school district and race, the reported ending of student-equity positions while the 2019-20 interim superintendent was on the job is being looked into by the Montclair NAACP’s education committee. Comment?

Sincerely,
Ruth Sleuth

Equity positions are important, plus I’m troubled by how much power the Board of Education can allow an interim superintendent to have. PSE&G knows power, so I left a message with that utility company and should hear back by 2022.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Today is the first day of Montclair’s 2020-21 school year — remote instruction for now, of course. What most surprised you about the September 10 start?

Sincerely,
Pre-Hybrid Hy

The large number of students bused from their beds to their bedroom desks.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Didn’t happen. Tomorrow, September 11, is when the court hearing on Montclair’s disputed spring election is FINALLY supposed to happen. Can you recap the situation?

Sincerely,
Ballad of the Ballot

Yes, I have the ability to recap the situation. Next question.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Um, WILL you recap the situation? In this column? Now?

Sincerely,
Summery Summary

Only 195 votes separated mayoral “winner” Sean Spiller from Renee Baskerville — even as more than 1,000 ballots weren’t counted for reasons such as arriving late (despite being mailed on time) and minor signature issues that voters never got a chance to correct. Route 195 will travel from Central Jersey to testify.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
“Stay in your lane,” Route 195, but I wish Dr. Baskerville the best of luck. Those 1,000-plus votes SHOULD BE COUNTED. Do you agree?

Sincerely,
Another Fairness Doctrine

Absolutely. And when Route 195 testifies, the gondolas gliding in the ditch that highway leaves behind in Central Jersey should obey the 65 mph speed limit.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Speaking of 65 and other older ages, why did the Township Council recently resist a proposal for a much-needed senior center in Montclair?

Sincerely,
Balking the Balk

The affordability was questioned in this Covid time of strained government budgets. Those budgets couldn’t even visit a gym in recent months to lift weights and bulk up.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,
Don’t you wish a rich Montclair developer would fund a senior center and situate it in one of the too-big projects that have recently been built or are being built?

Sincerely,
Space-y Idea

Yup, but that would leave less money for the MPOA to try to kill rent control. Priorities, you know. To misquote a “Sound of Silence” lyric, “The words of the profits are written on the high-priced walls.”

 

 

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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26 COMMENTS

  1. Dave,

    You know what is hysterical about how the Township’s Online Privacy and Terms of Service policy ? Yes, the policy that doesn’t quite exist. Yes, for the silly stuff it does, but not for the really good info.

    For example, if you use their Zoning Map Viewer, you have to check a pop-up on privacy/ToS. You go into their 911 Alerts system, and…Welcome! No Privacy/ToS popup.

    Full disclosure: I knew better because it was a blatant red flag by anyone’s rules.

    I also remember the whole municipal attitude against Opt-In on the energy aggregation plan. Credit where credit is due, Hurlock & Schlager argued for Opt-In and, not getting it, voted against the plan. Kudos. (See, I can be fair & balanced Bill)

    Anyway, somewhere in the back of every constituent’s mind they knew giving information to the government was giving up privacy protections. Can you say Census 2020? But, hey, it’s fun to make it a dust-up! I certainly enjoyed it.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank.

    You’re right that there’s virtually no expectation of privacy these days. When one gives out contact info, it often gets around. Still, the Montclair Property Owners Association’s successful effort (to get cell numbers and email addresses to help its push to kill rent control) feels especially invasive. Particularly in a town where 42% of residents are renters, and where many homeowners are also sympathetic to rent control.

    The MPOA is well-heeled enough to have funded other ways to try to get more signatures during a pandemic. It could have hired a bunch of people to walk every street in Montclair and stuff flyers in mailboxes telling people how to go about signing the referendum petition. Or mailed flyers to every household. Or done a Vulcan mind meld. Well, maybe not the last thing…

  3. Yes, true…and the Council and TOOM could have shown just a little character. These days at least lay bare our more base behaviors.

  4. Frank, I’ve disagreed with a number of Township Council actions over the years, but I commend it for passing rent control (even if there were some do-it-just-before-an-election vibes) and also commend it for being angry at the MPOA for pushing to overturn rent control.

  5. Thank you for the link, lacamina. I’ve seen that line of reasoning before, and it makes sense in certain ways. But some less-affluent renters are having trouble staying in Montclair NOW. With no rent control, a number of those residents would be gone — speeding the unfortunate process of Montclair losing some of its economic (and racial) diversity. So, if rent control has possible long-term negative implications, it seems to me worth the risk.

    As for economists, many of them have an ideological bias that hardly favors the less affluent. Meaning I take what some of them say with a grain of salt.

  6. Dave,

    How can I tell the economists with this ideological bias? Can I use pickling salt? You were a little vague.

  7. LOL, Frank! ๐Ÿ™‚ For one thing, many (not all) economists tend to be on the affluent side. They canโ€™t relate to struggling renters on a visceral basis. That can influence their research.

  8. Ok, yes, the ever-present “until you have walked in my shoes” standard for inclusion! Fortunately this standard is prevalent across the entire human diversity spectrum.

  9. True, Frank — the “until you have walked in my shoes” standard doesn’t just apply to affluent economists.

    In warmer weather, the standard is “until you have walked in my sandals.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. So weโ€™re Evaluating evidence and arguments on rent control by income/status of the researcher?
    I recall youโ€™re a renter Dave. Does that disqualify your views on rent control? Is it all about diversity as you repeatedly say or partly about the ole pocket book?

  11. I am indeed a renter, lacamina. But the owners of the apartment complex I live in raise rents reasonably every year (unlike some local property owners), so I’m not holding any personal grudges. ๐Ÿ™‚ And, yes, income often (not always) influences a person’s views. I earn only a modest amount as a writer, so that helps me viscerally sympathize with people who are struggling financially.

  12. Dave, You are well educated guy. If as a writer you can only make a modest income that is your personal choice. Society shouldn’t have to subsidize you anyone else’s career choices. Living in Montclair has never been cheap and is not a right. Why should some people get subsidized housing? And who decides who those lucky people are? Should people who work 14 to 16 hours a day bear someone else’s burden. You seem to be under the impression that wealthy people have a money tree in their backyard. I assure you that is not the case.

  13. Ah, flipside, the “if you’re not making a lot of money it’s a personal choice” trope. The U.S. economy has not been in great shape for many of the 12 years since The Great Recession, and money-making opportunities for writers have decreased significantly as print publications shrink and most online outlets don’t offer much pay.

    Not just affluent people work 14-16 hours a day. I would estimate I work that number of hours (this column is one of several things I do). Others put in those hours while working two or three jobs for minimum wage, and can barely pay their rent (I’m talking about the U.S. in general, not Montclair per se).

    As for the Montclair Property Owners Association, rent control, and money trees, let’s look at one MPOA leader — a developer who’s part of a mega-million-dollar household, yet is among those trying to kill rent control that can help modest-income people struggling to stay in town. Not rent control that prevents rent increases, but rent control that allows a perfectly reasonable increase every year. How much wealth does one person need?

  14. Dave,

    You have a point. The the economic system in NJ gives preferences to the Suburban landed class (including homeowners). The rent control ordinance is just a small concession to balancing the scales. The Suburban landed class also contribute disproportionately to Global Warming. Personally, I think the State should determine how much wealth is enough while simultaneously surtaxing all those families over 2.25 children as expediting Global Warming (and irritants to Seniors Aging In Place). Seriously, you don’t need to have more children than there are caregivers.

    This whole Choice thing is whacked.

  15. Dave, How do you think leveraged landlords are doing now? Maybe a little stressed? You chose a career that doesn’t pay well. I would like a career picking daisies and should society subsidize me? Why would anyone care about how much money someone else has earned? How much wealth does someone need? That is up to them and the free market to decide. This is still America. Sometimes the ultra rich give all their money away to causes they deem worthy. Much better than giving it to corrupt politicians to decide. Chuck Feeny.

  16. Thank you, Frank! You make several excellent points. Homeowners (I was one in Montclair from 1993-2014) do indeed have advantages such as being able to deduct mortgage interest. And, yes, detached homes — and the larger families that often dwell in them — are in various ways less eco-friendly for Planet Earth than apartments.

  17. flipside, Covid has indeed hurt many landlords — especially smaller ones. But it has hurt a greater number of renters, including the many who have lost their jobs.

    “How much wealth does someone need? That is up to them and the free market to decide” — except the market is not as “free” as you say it is. The rich have all kinds of advantages codified in law and tradition. For instance, the reckless big banks and such that helped tank the economy in 2008 should have been allowed to fail; instead they were bailed out — receiving government help courtesy of the politicians you disdain. Hardly a “free market.”

    Yes, some of the ultra-rich are very charitable, but many are not. Quite a few dole out just enough to have a thin veneer of decency.

    I think all daisy pickers should be subsidized with free downloads of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Dave, Your lack of understanding of markets and what led to the to the financial crisis is unfortunately pretty typical of the general public. Did big banks get bailed out? Only after the bailed out Congress and their reckless policies. Here is a hint, Chris Dodd and Barney “Lets roll the dice” Frank were a couple of crooks.

  19. C’mon Dave, a little love for our landlords? 37 Orange Road Montclair, Llc just offered a surprise $150,000 donation to Montclair’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. They didn’t have to.
    And they didn’t toot their own horn either – announcing it on a Township WebEx mtg, by an attorney, on a Monday, a Monday offering a Monday Night Football opening night double-header! Kudos.

  20. Of course, flipside. (Eye roll.) It was the fault of a couple Democratic congresspeople even though there was a Republican president and cabinet at the time and most corporate CEOs are Republicans. (Eye roll 2.) I, along with MANY others, lost my full-time job in 2008 — and later sold my Montclair house to get out of the resulting debt. I know who to blame.

  21. You’re right, Frank. That donation didn’t have to be made, and it was a nice gesture. Also a gesture to try to soften the development company’s less-than-popular reputation. Also a gesture that’s tiny compared to all the money that company has raked in over the past few years overdeveloping Montclair.

  22. My 6:29 post was in jest.

    The offered donation was submitted to the Planning Board with an expectation it would receive favorable consideration of the developer’s application.

    This expectation was acknowledged, understood and confirmed by 8 of the 9 members of the Planning Board when they listed the donation as the first condition of approval. One member voted against it.

  23. Frank, sorry I missed the humor and sarcasm in your 6:29 am post. My bad. I reread that comment and…well done!

    So the donation was sort of a quid pro quo. Of course…totally not surprising. How could I have thought otherwise? Giving something just to be nice/charitable is not a “thing” for quite a few rich people and big companies. It’s all about “bidness.”

  24. Dave, Keep in mind everything that happens to us in life we have ourselves to blame. That makes life a lot more tolerable. The problem started with the repeal of Glass Steagall under the Clinton Administration. Republicans and Democrats both were involved. Turning Freddie and Fannie into government sponsored hedge funds and the letting the Indy Macs, Countrywides’, and Wamu’s run wild was definitely sponsored by the Dems with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd leading the charge. As early as 2003 John McCain and Bush were raising concerns. Barney Frank played the race card and said it was old white men not wanting to lend and he wanted to “roll the dice.” The financial crisis was years in the making. The fact that people think it all happened in 2008 is why the world seems so unfair and confusing to so many people. The picture is always bigger than it appears. Did the big banks get bailed out…yup, because congress begged them to fix the problem that congress created. The big banks got sweetheart deals and in return took over the bad loans from Wamu etc. It is much more pleasant to blame others for our troubles but that doesn’t change things and just makes us angry and bitter. Peace out.

  25. “Keep in mind everything that happens to us in life we have ourselves to blame” — wow, flipside. You really believe that? An innocent/unarmed Black person gets shot by a white police officer, and he only has himself to blame? A non-smoker gets a fatal case of lung cancer, and she only has herself to blame? My first daughter died because of medical malpractice, and she only had herself to blame (she was three)? Wow, just wow.

    Sure, centrist or right-leaning Democrats such as Clinton, Dodd, and Frank shared some of the blame for The Great Recession — which of course wasn’t overnight in the making. Dems like that are “Republican Lite” in their fealty to corporations. But Republicans in the Bush administration and in corporate suites were more to blame. One reason why Democrat Obama beat Republican McCain in 2008, though Obama ended up being pretty darn centrist.