MontClairVoyant: Things ‘to Be or Not to Be’ Thankful for in Montclair

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Today is Thanksgiving, so can you make this week’s column positive?

Sincerely,

The Cranberries

I can partly do that, but some negative things are roaring through town, too. As the band 10,000 Maniacs sang, “Can’t Ignore the Train.”


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Firstly, isn’t it positive that Montclair received a perfect 100 score for its LGBTQ-friendly policies and attitudes in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index?

Sincerely,

HRC Sees Us

Yes! Many people to thank, including Councilor-at-Large/Out Montclair founder-president Peter Yacobellis and OM vice presidents Madeline Gale and Reubena Spence. There’s also municipal equality when softball teams from Montclair and Little Falls play a tie game.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

But there’s sad news on a different equality front, as two Black firefighters in Montclair say the scoring in promotion exams was stacked against them for racial reasons. True?

Sincerely,

No Pride in Prejudice

An investigation is underway. But we do live in a country with LOTS of racism — and less-racist-than-most-places Montclair is not immune. That doesn’t change just because James Baldwin wrote “The Fire Next Time” rather than “Did the Fire Department Rig Things Big Time?”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Also, Montclair township attorney Ira Karasick has been accused of making a racially charged remark in September — allegedly calling Montclair NAACP official William Scott “three-fifths of a human” as Scott was entering an at-capacity elevator. If that was a “joke,” not funny, right?

Sincerely,

I.M. Cringing and U.R. Cringing

Right. The township reportedly hired an outside counsel to investigate this, but the reportedly completed findings have not been released. Release the findings! “I’ve Got a Secret” left TV years ago.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

What does the three-fifths thing refer to?

Sincerely,

Fraction Factions

The dehumanizing “compromise” between northern and southern states to count three-fifths of the slave population for deciding congressional representation. That was in 1787, long before “I’ve Got a…Racist Founding Father” aired.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

In other news, library director Peter Coyl announced his resignation, effective December 10. Was it partly because of the shabby way some Township Council members treated the library re its budget and autonomy?

Sincerely,

Gone Whirl

Coyl said no, or perhaps he’s just trying to exit without rancor. He’s done a very good job since starting in 2017 — the year of Gail Honeyman’s novel “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.” Which is more than one can say about how the library was treated.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Actually, things weren’t completely fine with Eleanor. In yet more news, what was originally billed as Montclair’s “Arts District” is opening downtown. New plaza, new businesses, new residential units. Thoughts?

Sincerely,

But No New Gnus

The plaza’s not bad looking, and will be the site of some arts-related events, but what do businesses like a rock-climbing place and a medical facility have to do with the arts? Will all the doctors have to change their names to Art? Even the female doctors?


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

I believe so. Also, apartment rents in that “District” were listed this week at a steep $2,353-$2,745 and $3,004-$3,260 a month for different one-bedroom units, and a steeper $3,955-$4,365 a month for two-bedroom units. Ugh?

Sincerely,

Two South Willow: Too Much

Ugh. So, Montclair’s economic diversity will sadly continue decreasing “thanks” to more catering to the affluent. But, hey, no extra charge for the apartments’ floors, walls, and ceilings.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Developer largesse warms the heart. Speaking of downtown, this weekend’s Shop Small Saturday will be one of many times when residents can buy great gifts without going online or to Willowbrook Mall. Sound positive?

Sincerely,

Rhea Taylor

It does. There’ll also be live music from Jazz House Kids as well as Johann Sebastian Bach and the Bachettes.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

There will NOT be live music from Johann Sebastian Bach and the Bachettes.

Sincerely,

Moe Zart

Darn! Are they really going to play Willowbrook instead?

 

 

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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6 COMMENTS

  1. The MPL Trustees and the MPL Foundation (MPLF) Executive Director have a minimal obligation to be transparent with the public. Our Council members have a full-on obligation…one they have clearly not met.

    The MPLF Executive Director published a timeline of events showing the Township green-lit the audit the first week of January. I’ll cut to the chase – this was kept from the public during the budgetary process? Nobody considered this a material fact to share with the dumb public? Us, the lemmings who are paying for this $32K audit? This Council – exactly 6 months into the job – ordered a first time ever audit of beloved institution, in the middle of a pandemic? And that the rest of the Council, several carry-overs, didn’t know the audit was happening?

    This is what passes for ethical? (This is rhetorical; I obviously know better)
    It is time to start asking some tough questions…all around. Or, skim over the means Montclair, just focus on the Ends….again.

  2. A point of emphasis: the Council asked for public support of an amended budget to give $100K more to an organization the very same Council was having investigated with a forensic audit?

    I am a dumb-dumb. They played me. It happens.
    But, they lost credibility. Where else in the budget are there material facts being kept from the public. Makes you wonder if this Council should get to pick and choose. Back to “Trust, but Verify”?

  3. Firstly, Frank, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

    Yes, the problematic audit of the library was pricey — and the Township Council can indeed be inconsistent and not transparent enough at times.

  4. Thank you. I counted my blessings and then had my count certified by an outside auditor…who, by rule, was vegan. Your T-Day?

  5. Ha, Frank! 😂 Great quip!

    My family and I had a very nice vegan Thanksgiving dinner at Montclair’s Veggie Heaven. 🙂