MontClairVoyant: Buckle Up for a Bus-Themed Column

With our town’s elementary schools reopening in hybrid mode April 12 after over a year of remote instruction, I saw some students standing at bus stops this week. What were they waiting for?

Yellow and Behold

Um, the obvious answer is “buses,” but I’m assuming this is a trick question. They were waiting for…Godot? No. Guffman? No. Lefty? No. For Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift to stroll by singing “the wheels on the bus go round and round”? Bingo!

There is no record of those singers going through customs at Montclair’s border. Meanwhile, when will Montclair High and our three middle schools also reopen in hybrid mode during this COVID time?

Sign of the Four

Unknown, as of my deadline. Hopefully not TOO soon given that some teachers and staff have yet to be fully vaccinated since becoming eligible for shots on March 15. But if you need an answer, those schools will probably reopen…on a weekday.

Also on April 12, there was the great news that Out Montclair had officially launched. What is part of the nonprofit organization’s reason for being, in its own words?

Quote in the Queue

To “offer educational, social, and leisure activities and events to support and promote inclusivity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary, and gender-fluid youth and adults.” Buses might occasionally be involved.

OM is a welcome and needed organization. Who are some of its leaders?

Naming Rites

Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis is president, Reubena Spence is first vice president, Madeline Gale is second vice president, and Ms. Frizzle of “The Magic School Bus” is NOT third vice president.

I’m detecting a bus theme in today’s column. Anyway, is it significant that the new group’s OM initials are reminiscent of The Moody Blues song “Om”?

Hayward, Just In

That’s a stretch, although the band has a Montclair connection from playing the Wellmont in 2010. I assume 33 or 66 concertgoers took DeCamp buses that night; hopefully they returned the vehicles.

ALSO on April 12, the often-rolls-over Planning Board met — and it looks likely to approve the neighborhood-crowding Orange Road parking deck despite problems such as the developer partly changing the plans for it and the worry that lots of valet parking will at times be needed to cram in cars — perhaps resulting in long exiting waits for drivers. Question, please…

Beethoven Also Rolls Over

Do buses get valet-parked?

Doubtful — and no van is a hero to its valet. Meanwhile, The Gap on Valley Road is scheduled to close April 23. I know you’re not generally a fan of retail chains, but what do you think of that store?

Sleeve Martin

A useful, affordable place. I even purchased a dress shirt there for my older daughter’s 2017 wedding — to which some of her friends were bused from NYC to NJ but the DJ didn’t play “Bus Stop” by The Hollies.

This Sunday the 18th will see a gathering of New Jersey Peace Action, which has many Montclair members and was based here before moving to Bloomfield. Who will be a guest speaker and award recipient?

Give NJPA a Chance

Well-known progressive journalist Amy Goodman. The gathering will be virtual, meaning no buses needed unless an attendee rides one from their sofa to their computer desk. The fare would be low.

Ms. Goodman has of course covered the many horrific murders of Black citizens by white cops — very much in the news these days with the trial of George Floyd killer Derek Chauvin and the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. Has there been any local reaction?

Heartbreaking Happenings

Plenty, including Montclair NAACP President Albert Pelham releasing a powerful statement April 14 about racist police violence in America. Cops who kill for no legitimate reason should be imprisoned for a LONG time — whether they’re transported to jail by car or bus.



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. Montclair’s COVID infection case numbers this week are better than I expected.

    I am hopeful for next week, especially Monday as the school district will start COVID screening, using the group method (albeit only voluntary participants).

    If the schools can get through next week without a shutdown, that would be reason to celebrate. Let’s make it happen.

  2. Dave, unlike Roger Daltry, “every day I get in the queue, to get on the bus that takes me to you”, I somehow I have not missed the daily 66 grind to PA via DeCamp.

  3. Ooh, clever Who/”Magic Bus” reference, silverleaf! A bus reference I neglected to put in my column. And, yes, while the 66 bus to the Port Authority came in handy at times, I also don’t miss some things about it — including the NYC-bound buses often being late to arrive at various Montclair stops. Of course, when a DeCamp bus drove east on Route 3, it was nice for passengers to “see for miles and miles.” πŸ™‚

  4. Oh well, the school district group testing start date has been moved out to…the future.

    Darts & horseshoes. Darts & horseshoes.

  5. Frank, I’m happy that a different kind of testing — the NJSLAs — is not happening this spring (according to a Montclair School District letter sent out yesterday, April 15).

  6. The reason we have so many cases is because we are testing too much. If we don’t test cases go down. Ya just can’t fix stupid.

    I just hope folks are tuning out the anti-vaxxers and doing the right thing. I’m sure the teaching staff is all in. Any reports on hospitalizations, cases, variants, quarantined staff yet? Of course not, why should we be informed? Without full reporting and testing the stats are meaningless.

  7. Dave, while heading in to NYC on the 66 being able to β€œsee for miles and miles” was a rare thing especially when the bus lane was at a standstill. Arriving late for work I’d often vow to take the train and say to myself, “won’t get fooled again.”

  8. Thank you for the comment, louielouie! I’ve heard no reports of major problems during the first week of reopening elementary schools. I hope that’s because there were no major problems rather than because there wasn’t enough transparency, but who knows? And I agree that virtually all teachers and school staffers have gotten/will get vaccinated. Few or no anti-vaxxers in that group, I’m sure.

  9. True, silverleaf, that the eastward view on Route 3 wasn’t ideal during rush hour(s). “Won’t get fooled again” — ha! πŸ™‚ Per your reference, I took the DeCamp bus when I first commuted to NYC but quickly switched to the train. “I Can’t Explain” why I switched to the train. Actually, I can. πŸ™‚

  10. Louie louie,
    Why can’t you just trust the public health protocols that are in place for managing cases? That is their job, not the union’s! You are not entitled to all of that information. The health professionals, administration and the local health department are in charge of that! Not the union! There’s that sense of entitlement showing up again.

  11. Let’s be objective and put aside the emotions. There is no way on this Earth that the teaching staff is all in on doing the right thing. It is a statistical impossibility. Further, it would indicate a lack of diversity in the staff.

    Like the medical profession, I suspect there is a minimum 30% that are not, for various reasons, not vaccinating. A hard 30%. Ask the PR people at Mountainside what the % of vaccinated personnel they have, including the doctors with privileges. There is a possibility their UMHC vaccination %’s are lower than the MEA. And who got the big head start?

  12. And on a 3rd cousin related note, the Bellevue Branch of the Montclair Public Library is being mismanaged. If the Board can not see the change required, they should sell it. I don’t think they see the opportunities – maybe because the other Main Branch programs are siphoning off $ and preventing investment. Actually, it doesn’t matter.

    It would’ve been interesting to see St Cassian/Lacordaire/Buzz Aldrin collaborate on the MPL space to free up spaces in their respective buildings….but, that is not a possibility. However,, it is illustrative in conceptualizing future options. A bicameral use, with or without synergies, is one obvious path. Kinda like Hillside Square. It also provides the workaround to push the ADA access issue, & funding, to Phase 2.

    And please, stop with the missing the historic building and the literal historic use. And it doesn’t advance your cause when you piss off your 3rd-term Councilor. What are you thinking?

  13. sickntired, I hear what you’re saying, but teachers and school staffers (the two groups who basically comprise the Montclair Education Association union) are among the people impacted by health protocols and other COVID-related matters as Montclair schools reopen in hybrid mode. So, I feel they should be in the loop on knowing a lot of information, even if certain info has to be withheld.

  14. Frank, I’d be shocked if anywhere near 30% of Montclair teachers didn’t get vaccinated. Most are too smart and clear-thinking to embrace the anti-vaxxer mentality, and teachers of course have concern not only for their own health but for the health of their students and students’ families — not wanting to potentially infect them with COVID.

  15. The anti-vaxxer believers are only part of the 30% nat avg. Your phrasing implies the people declining vaccination are not smart or clear-thinking.

    1) People forget all vaccinations still only have Emergency Use Authorizations. EUAs are limited – like the FAA approving the 737Max for use based on Boeing’s representation of quality.

    2) The doctors did not trust the trial results. The Chinese mapped the virus and published to the WHO. The Chinese vaccine is a serious under-performer and various State recipients knew, but didn’t want to say it wasn’t performing.

    The 2 vaxs using the existing mRNA technology were unproven with this application & scale. The trial results were unbelievably, never before attained level of good.

    3) The messaging itself is riddled with scientific hesitancy…and leaders are surprised there is hesitancy by the general public?

    These are substantial observations across the pubic spectrum. Take these same observations made by minority populations with bad experiences, experiences with similar characteristics, and general lack of trust of authorities like the WHO, CDC, FDA.

    Where was the WHO on the Chinese vax efficacy? Absolutely and unforgivably nowhere. Silent. Just how in this world does that happen? And remember, un-contained outbreaks elsewhere will come to the USA.

    People did to take a calculated, reason choice. Yes, I vote for vaccination. But, if people are making the choices for them, not being transparent, not acknowledging what they don’t know or downplay, then there will be a sizable minority that will resist. Treating them as stupid will not change anything.

    Now, if you want to call them crazy…well, that is another conversation.

  16. Frank, I realize the COVID vaccines were developed more quickly than the usual vaccines — a speed that might worry some people — but I think the advantages of getting the shots still far outweigh the risks. I do understand your point that some Americans, including quite a few people of color, have legitimate reasons to distrust the U.S. health-care system.

  17. Note with thanks. And to jump back around to:

    “ALSO on April 12, the often-rolls-over Planning Board met…’

    I am having a hard time ascertaining the status of the applicant’s requirement to install a solar panel array on top of the Orange Road parking deck. I’m worried the PB relieved the applicant of providing this Earthly benefit. After all, the PB approved 2 encroachments into the Public Realm, a waiver for more height than allowed to build a system they are ripping out, a design deviation – to accommodate the system they are ripping out – to allow a Valet & Bloom-quality front facade, elimination of any Orange Road ingress (also to accommodate the system they are ripping out)…to name a few. The Council leased out 35 of our 78 municipal spaces for $0.50 cents on the subsidized permit dollars – in perpetuity. And why is it in this neighborhood there is not ready offering of subsidized overnight permit parking for residents? All permit parking is subsidized, but I added for emphasis. I guess there is no need. That’s nice. And the Council can’t intercede In any way (e.g. a Lackawanna-type resolution) because they set themselves up to be the Zoning Authority for this project. And that would be a bigger conflict of interest than that Lackawanna folly. Fun, fun, fun.

  18. Frank, your mention of solar panels reminds me that developers who have some “green” aspects to their structures — and the Montclair officials who might suggest/require those “green” aspects — reduce their eco “cred” by building/allowing structures that are too big, don’t have enough open space, increase car traffic, etc. So they’re not exactly environmentalists.

    And thank you for the other information and thoughts.

  19. At least the Planning Board will show the good sense to approve this carbon-rich application after Earth Day.

  20. Ha, Frank! πŸ˜‚ Yet not so funny, of course. Yes, decent of the not-as-eco-friendly-as-it-thinks Planning Board to wait… πŸ™„

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