MontClairVoyant: From the BOE Fray to Rent Control in May?


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

The Board of Education election in March and a possible rent-control referendum in May both had/have antagonistic aspects. Comment?

Sincerely,

Big Ballot Battles

April is the filling in what I call a “Controversial Months Sandwich.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Before you talk about rent control, anything to add relating to the March 8 BOE election you discussed extensively in last week’s column?

Sincerely,

Not Bored of the Board

I’d like to see a pool of public campaign money divided equally among all candidates in all Montclair elections so every hopeful has an equal chance. A utopian fantasy, I know, but there are six U.S. towns named Utopia. Why not Utopia (07042) and Upper Utopia (07043)?

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Love it! Imagine a BOE race where all seven independent candidates had the same advantages (not just money) as the two winning candidates endorsed by Vote Montclair. Also, imagine our town’s 2020 mayoral race with one of the two contestants not hugely outspent!

Sincerely,

Wishful-Think Link

The results might have been different in both elections. It’s like Ray Bradbury’s alternate-timeline story “A Sound of Thunder” – minus Bradbury, thunder, and dryer lint.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Whatever. Speaking of Vote Montclair, its founder wrote a March 14 piece for the NJ Education Report website that included views that could be construed as anti-teacher union, ageist and gloating. Your three-letter reaction?

Sincerely,

Avoid Four-Letter Words

“Ugh” — as in not nice at all. This might be a good time to note that “saying the quiet part out loud” is defined as “publicly expressing a sentiment one is expected to keep to one’s self.” I like online dictionaries more than appalling op-eds.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

The March 14 piece resulted in Vote Montclair’s two winning candidates publicly denouncing the VM founder’s words and VM’s co-chair reportedly stepping down. Thoughts?

Sincerely,

Tangled Web on the Web

That op-ed certainly won’t win the Nobel Peace Prize.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Anyway, on to rent control. That contentious issue might go to referendum in May after a two-year “Odyssey” worthy of the Greek writer Home Run — nicknamed Homer. Shall we recap first?

Sincerely,

Home Run Simpson

In April 2020, the Township Council approved a flawed rent control measure that didn’t include newer buildings or buildings with fewer than four rental units, but it was something. Albeit not the song “Something” by The Beatles’ George Harrison, who didn’t live on Montclair’s Harrison Avenue but should have.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

No tangents, please.

Sincerely,

Sidetracks of My Tears

Anyway, the well-funded Montclair Property Owners Association (cue the soundtrack of “Money”) has stymied the modest measure since 2020 in ways too numerous to mention “Here, There, and Everywhere.”

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Yes, the MPOA has sued, spent heavily on misleading marketing, resisted fair compromise during negotiations, and shown it cares little about Montclair’s decreasing economic diversity getting even worse without rent control. But what about the MPOA’s claims that landlords are hurting financially?

Sincerely,

The Haves Have Angst

Some might be struggling, but not as much as many tenants — and the Council measure DOES allow reasonable yearly rent hikes. Also, among MPOA’s leaders is a NOT-hurting-financially developer who’s part of one of Montclair’s richest couples — and his name ain’t Fred Couples, the golfer.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

There’s a hole in that reference; in fact, there are 18 holes in that reference. Anyway, given that there’s no rent control unless it’s approved by referendum or a compromise is reached before that, the Council on March 15 narrowly approved an extension of Montclair’s COVID-time rent freeze until May 31. Good move?

Sincerely,

The Decree Was 4-3

Yes. And if the MPOA doesn’t like it, they can change their acronym to MOAN.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Might rent control pass in a referendum?

Sincerely,

Prediction Benediction

The MPOA would undoubtedly pour tons of money into trying to get people to vote “no,” but Montclair has many renters — and many homeowners who sympathize with them. I think rent control might pass, after which…HD!


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

HD? You mean news reports about the referendum results would be on High Definition television?

Sincerely,

Screen New Deal

I mean Happy Dance.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Speaking of the Township Council, it has reportedly decided to grant $500,000 more than is statutorily required for this year’s Montclair Public Library budget after treating the MPL rather shabbily in recent months. Reaction?

Sincerely,

The Art of Change-of-Heart

Not quite as much as the MPL needs, but nice that the Council came to its senses two years after the Census. Our great library system is the sandwich filling between one slice of bread called “love it” and another slice called “need it.”


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

That’s a rather tortured metaphor or something. I suggest you borrow a library book on language to help “up” your writing game.

Sincerely,

Simile Iacocca

Will do! Heck, the leaders of Vote Montclair and the Montclair Property Owners Association might benefit from reading more great novels. Even my calendar says it’s “Middlemarch.”

 

 

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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