MontClairVoyant: Remember the Drain! (Of Taxpayer Money)


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Ira Karasick, who left the township attorney job in disgrace this month after making a racially charged remark, will reportedly receive about $75,000 from Montclair through mid-2022. Reaction?

Sincerely,

That Dinero Isn’t Zero

Appalling that more of our taxes will go to a man who spoke so hurtfully. The Direct Deposit Fan Club dissolved at the pay-continuation news.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Wouldn’t it be a nice gesture of penance for Karasick to decline the money? After all, he was paid a high township salary for many years and doesn’t need the compensation.

Sincerely,

Cash and Don’t Carry

Dream on. Meanwhile, The Direct Deposit Fan Club reorganized as The Never Existed Fan Club Appreciation Society.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Given that the racially charged remark was made in September, why did it take until December for Karasick to leave?

Sincerely,

Douglas Fir

Seems pretty obvious that the Township Council dragged its feet until the recipient of, and witnesses to, the remark came forward publicly. The soles of several councilors’ shoes must be worn down.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Speaking of local officials, some have treated our town’s library shabbily — including authorizing that pricey, not-needed, problematic audit and trying to wrest too much control over the library. Comment?

Sincerely,

Should’ve Been Shelved

Those actions seemed to imply that library director Peter Coyl wasn’t doing a good job, yet he was recently hired by a much bigger library system in Sacramento, Calif. Hmm…hmmm…hmmmm. Okay, enough “m’s” for now.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Another governing entity, the Zoning Board, denied a couple’s plea to demolish an asbestos-riddled Union Street house those owners poured tons of money into in a futile effort to make it safe. Thoughts?

Sincerely,

Fraught Fibers

I’m usually against razing lovely old homes, but not when a cancer-causing substance is so strongly involved. The board should’ve voted differently on December 8 — the birthday of rock star Jim Morrison, whose Doors were presumably asbestos-free.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Five days later, at the December 13 Planning Board meeting, an “expert” claimed a proposed five-story, 22-unit office/housing project on Elm Street near Bloomfield Avenue wouldn’t generate much more traffic in that busy area. Laughable testimony?

Sincerely,

Spin-Spin Situation

Yes, laughable. Perhaps that “expert” should star in a movie remake of a fantasy novel. “The Lord of the Rings” could use another human amid the hobbits, wizards, dwarves, elves, and orcs.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Getting back to the Township Council, is it time to stop calling its members “The Magnificent Seven” even though no one ever started calling them that?

Sincerely,

Nom de Gloom

Well, some councilors are better than others. One can’t generalize, can one? But one can simonize — giving one’s car a polished sheen. A lustrous, luminous sheen. A glossy, glowing, gleaming, glistening sheen. An incandescent…

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Enough with the synonyms!

Sincerely,

Ann Alogous

I’d like to note that 75,000 dollars is 66,273 euros or 56,508 pounds or 5,509,117 rubles or 1,566,390 pesos or 577,331 quetzals…

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

What can $75,000 buy?

Sincerely,

The Price Is Rite

A fancy car or a vacation cabin or a candy bar (in the last case, getting back $74,999 or so in change). But it can’t buy a restored reputation.

 

 

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.

 

 

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Dave,
    You probably thought my first post would be on one of your other topics. Sorry.

    I worry the Planning Board’s hearing so far, and the expert testimony provided, on the proposed10 Elm St development has not reflected a full appreciation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    The ADA is a civil rights law. The Act provides protections to a class of citizens just like the Civil Rights Act did prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, sex, etc. Building designs, construction codes and our ordinances flow from the equality premise of this Act.

    I worry the applicant and the PB have a more tactical approach; that the ADA accessibility standards are to be accommodated rather than approached with a perspective that fully embraces the ADA’s equality values. I worry because I found the accessible parking arrangement deficient. I asked they be rectified. It was essentially one parking space out of 44. The applicant declined to make any changes.

    The proposed building density and massing is relying on the letter of our ordinances for approval…along with the all too likely granted parking waivers and variances to accommodate its density and massing. I think not, but maybe the accessible parking design is technically compliant. I don’t know all the ADA specification’s ins and outs. I’m sure there is gray language offering unique interpretations of the requirements that form the basis of this design solution.

    The applicant will clear the site and build anew on a basic shaped lot. He is not retro-fitting an existing design. Any design constraints are self-imposed. They are a choice.

    PS: It will have four Affordable Housing Units. It’s entirely possible one of the low income tenants will have a disability and they can have have the unique challenge of this undesirable parking space design.

  2. Your further upbraiding of Mr Karasick in now challenging his payout is disappointing.

    First, I think his apology and terminating his professional relationship with the community was an appropriate resolution. But, in no way something to be forgotten.

    Second, to call for stripping him of earned compensation, legally due him under our most basic employee protections is wrong. Calling on him to voluntarily and literally pay for his offensive words is also wrong. More money in our municipal coffers is not going to change anything.

    Third, I am distressed our community, in consecutive years, has been embroiled in what the appropriate level of sanctions should be, for what many feel, is a zero-tolerance public policy on offensive speech.

    A member of the NAACP last week unfortunately compared the community’s treatment of the NAACP’s Mr Harris’ anti-Semitic remarks during a 2019 4th Ward holiday meeting to Mr Karasick’s 3/5ths insult. Mr Harris was also a member of Montclair’s Civil Rights Commission.

    Mr Harris apologized and was suspended for six months from his Education Committee chair. Mr Harris was recently elevated by the Montclair NAACP’s membership to 1st Vice President. Clearly, I missed her point of her comparison.

    All of us are fundamentally flawed. Some of our mistakes, as in Mr Karasick’s case, can’t be overcome, and for good reason. They are our life’s mistakes. Maybe now is the time to call for how we can be a kinder, more respectful, more enlightened community.

  3. Thank you for the detailed comment, Frank.

    From what you describe, it sounds like yet another example of a developer trying to avoid doing all it can do or should do, in order to have less work revising something and/or more profit.

  4. Dave,
    Per your 5:44 comment…I should probably hire you to edit all my posts to shorter, more readable versions.

  5. Frank, just saw your 5:36 pm comment about the situation with the former township attorney; sorry for the delayed reply.

    Yes, he did publicly apologize, which I praised him for in a recent column. But the mea culpa was more than two months after the remark. It would have been better if the public apology came right after the remark was made in September. If the remark hadn’t become widely publicized many weeks later, would the public apology — and resignation — have happened? Maybe, maybe not.

    Anyway, I wasn’t planning on commenting more on the situation until I learned of the continuing payments to him. I realize people’s work arrangements often don’t have a “morals clause” (for lack of a better term) that removes at least some compensation after something bad happens, but it felt uncomfortable knowing how much more compensation he’ll be receiving. A lot more $$ than thousands of Montclair residents make in a year, and it will be from their tax money.

    “All of us are…flawed” — absolutely true. But few of us would make that kind of 3/5-of-a-person “quip,” even accidentally. There’s humor that “punches up” (against the powerful) and there’s “humor” that “punches down” (against historically marginalized people, for instance). I don’t think the ex-township attorney had malign intent — it was basically a very ill-advised, seemingly spur-of-the-moment “quip” — but…

  6. Noted all your points. If you want to blame someone, blame the Council and their legal advisors.

    Going after Mr Karasik’s earned income now is discriminatory and shows we will trade our moral high ground for the financial gain of about $5 a household. Of course, we will have to return that $5, plus postage, when the Township is sued & loses for such a stunt.

  7. Yes, Frank, the Township Council and whatever legal advisor(s) it might have used between the September remark and the December “denouement” didn’t acquit themselves well in this situation. No transparency, and no public announcement of anything until forced to.

    I realize the ex-township attorney’s large continuing payout until mid-2022 is small when divided among Montclair’s taxpayers. It’s more the principle of the thing that bothers me. But, yes, the township might have been sued if it didn’t fork over the money.

  8. As I said, it is your prerogative to blame the Council. I will only add that, sometimes, things in Montclair aren’t what they seem. E.g. The Montclair Public Library & MPL Foundation

    You are 100% right to focus on Time. It’s your roadmap.

  9. Council’s continued silence in the face of public outcry (come on, it’s been almost 3 months now) makes one wonder… Perhaps our elected officials are indeed cynical, tone-deaf, unconcerned about racist attitudes in high-ranking admin positions, and unwilling to take any action. Even if they eventually come out with a token apology of their own, it will be because they are forced to do so by people and organizations that got hurt by the racist attitudes of some higher-ups in the town administration. Genuine regret and contrition produce timely, spontaneous apology. Calculated apologies take 3 months.

  10. Frank, given your extensive knowledge of Montclair goings-on, which boards or other entities (governmental and otherwise) do you feel do the best job?

  11. Thank you for the comment, Wilhelm Keith!

    I totally agree that the Township Council could have been and should have been faster, more transparent, more vocal, and more apologetic about this.

  12. Montclair is truly fortunate in the amazing diversity of talent serving on its many boards, commissions and committees. That they are volunteers just makes it more impressive. Regrettably, most of them don’t have the visibility of their land use boards or school board counterparts. They serve the community in relative obscurity.

    One of my many takeaways from the COVID world of Webex, Zoom, Teams, etc is that the Township very badly needs to do better delivering content, and transparency to its constituents. We are better than before, but we are fall short of where we should be. Not surprisingly, the Board of Education is backsliding.
    Our perennial institutionally bankrupt group.

    Montclair should have an online menu of live and archived meetings – everything from Parks & Recreation to the Environmental Commission. There is no justification I can think of not to have a robust initiative of education and transparency. Two of Montclair’s biggest & ongoing civic problems are ignorance and opaqueness.

    Personally, I would take the money from the library and fund this initiative. And yes, the MPL Trustees and its MPL Foundation are my lowest ranked – for both their integrity and fiduciary performance. If you are offering a Most Improved Category for 2022, the MPL Trustees/Foundation could have a shot if a bunch of them step away.

  13. Thank you, Frank, for your thoughts about various Montclair entities and volunteers. There are indeed many doing great work — in some cases under the radar, as you note.

    We have different views on the people involved with the library; I feel they’ve done well. But we’ve discussed that before. 🙂

  14. Yes we have. Councilors Hurlock & Cummings have bit their tongues…to the point their cheeks are so inflamed they look like chipmunks. Not good looks for either.

  15. Not sure what the status of that is at this point, Frank. I opted out my MHS daughter when I read a negative report about the testing company. But I fill out a COVID form every school-day morning on Genesis.

  16. OK, at least the Biden Administration admitted didn’t see the variants coming. They didn’t invest smartly in ubiquitous testing capacity. So this Winter will be worse than it needed to be. Rinse, repeat.

  17. Frank, I agree that the Biden administration, while it has done some things well re COVID, shares the blame for not investing enough in widespread testing capacity. A number of other industrialized countries are doing better with testing availability — and at lower or no cost. The winter is indeed looking kinda scary.

    I have a bit of recent experience with testing frustration, having spent about six hours a few days ago as an urgent care center walk-in to get my younger daughter tested after a friend of hers got COVID. Plus they tried to charge $180. (Fortunately, no symptoms and the results were negative.)

  18. I’m sorry for not knowing, but are our public schools still open this week? Seriously? Please say they are not.

  19. Re: the Montclair town attorney issue:

    Well this is awkward. I know racism is now the number one crime in American society short of murder, even if the “racism” is just a hurtful, ignorant and regrettable remark. Crawl inside the head of pretty much every Montclair citizen and you will see an embarrassing rummage pile of offensive, hidden, currently intolerable reactions to life around us. Most of us have been fortunate to not have those thoughts slip their bonds and be heard out loud, especially by this Salem-inspired lot of preening moralists.

    Just a thought: I was inspired years ago by the words of a preacher and social activist from Chicago who said of a scandal scarred contemporary of his: “Hate the sin, Love the Sinner.”

    The preacher? Of course, Jesse Jackson, and you all remember Bill Clinton, I believe.

    I don’t know the cause of our horrific loss of civility today (show of hands: how many of you have already decided…of course it’s Trump?) but once upon a time Jesse Jackson was a hero to many for his forgiving nature. Hate the sin, love the sinner anyone?
    I didn’t think so.

  20. You know who originally coined that cliche “Hate the sin, love the sinner” and personified it?

    Adam & Eve.

  21. Frank, schools are definitely open this week, with winter break starting Friday. At this point, I’d hate to see things go online again after so many months of that in 2020 and earlier in 2021. But of course we have to see just how widespread the Omicron variant might become. Fortunately, most vaccinated people who get that variant don’t seem to get dangerously sick.

  22. Thank you for your comment, brigattista. You make good, humane points.

    I did feel some misgivings about again criticizing the ex-township attorney, who seemingly made the racially charged remark as an ill-considered quip rather than with malicious intent. What decided it for me was: 1) The continuation of pay — it’s a lot of money, and it’s “our” (taxpayers) money. 2) The apology and resignation came many weeks after the September transgression, leading one to believe it might have been kept secret if the recipient of and witnesses to the remark hadn’t gone public. If the ex-township attorney had apologized immediately in September and maybe gave at least part of his “retirement” (resignation) payout to the Montclair NAACP, I’d probably feel somewhat differently. But most of my sympathy goes to William Scott, to whom the remark was directed. The remark was very hurtful.

  23. Frank, my 3:02 pm comment was of course written before the later announcement that Montclair High classes will be virtual tomorrow (the 22nd) and Thursday (the 23rd).

  24. Dave,

    If my life depended on it I couldn’t tell you the difference among axioms, corollaries, postulates & theorems. But, further to my caution, posted at the top (7:38am on the 18th), things aren’t always what they seem, you should question the personal agenda of various authors who offer their title/status as impeccable credentials. The Montclair Locals recent Letters To The Editors offer a new dimension when you consider letters on why now? Its that coinky-dink of their timing. Fascinating. Manipulative? Maybe.
    What is being leveraged. Too bad ML doesn’t do deep.

  25. Well, Frank, as you know, letters to the editor almost by definition try to influence things — with some written “organically” by individuals and others written more “strategically” in an agenda-driven way.

  26. Thank you. A too kind response to my bloviating.

    I was trying to figure out that letter asking voters to change our form of municipal governance… to provide working electrical outlets for the public to plug in their music amps.

    I am trying to figure out if the letter was written organically or strategically. I have been accused of misplaced priorities by some over historic preservation issues. And now local electrical outlets is the latest priority superseding local preservation. I’ll said it then to that challenge and I’ll say it now to this one – they can both me met.

    I just ask the outlets are solar powered so we can strut to the music.

Comments are closed.