MontClairVoyant: News Far and Near in This Column’s Sphere


Vladimir Putin’s appalling invasion of Ukraine has meant death and destruction for that country and dismayed people everywhere, including in Montclair. How has our town responded?


Rhea Action

One response was a moving February 24 peace vigil at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building. Those at UUC were thinking of UUC (Ukraine Under Coercion).


Another local response?


Quoth the Maven, ‘Furthermore’

Councilman Peter Yacobellis organized a fundraiser that quickly brought in over $10,000 for mobile medical units to help Ukrainian refugees. If those units are flown in, rest assured they won’t be on the Russian airline Aeroflot.


Many generous Montclair donors. Is there an equivalent this century to what Russia did? Perhaps the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq?


President’s Precedent

Some similarities. That Iraq debacle of course started in 2003 — the 500th anniversary of Cedar Grove invading Montclair to try to drag our town’s three CVS stores up and over the Bradford Avenue hill.


Never happened. Something that did happen was Montclair ending its indoor mask mandate for public spaces on February 28 rather than continuing it until the end of March. Thoughts?



I guess it was inevitable with the Omicron variant ebbing, but I’ll continue to “mask up” in the supermarket and elsewhere. I will also “flask up” if anyone knocks over that particular container of liquid.


Did our school district end its mask mandate, too?


Ask Up

Yes, wearing one will be optional as of March 7 — the day in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone. He immediately posted a celebratory video on TikTok.


Your thoughts on our school district’s decision?


Task Up

If Montclair students read “The Cask of Amontillado” upside down, I recommend they “cask up.”


Edgar Allan Poe wrote that story but did NOT write “The Fall of the House of Montclair’s Appointed BOE,” even as residents will vote this Tuesday, March 8, for two elected Board of Education members. Comment?


The Tell-Tale Vote

I discussed that very important election and my two preferred candidates in last week’s column, so I won’t repeat things here. Just hoping for a big turnout, worried it won’t be big, not worried that I never saw the movie “Big.”


What would be your turnout guess?


Prognostication Hallucination

I’ll go out on a limb and say between 0 percent and 100 percent. Over 110 percent would be ideal, but I might be confusing that with the turnout math scholars predict for their conferences.


The word “scholars” brings to mind Montclair’s library system, which has a new interim director: Janet Torsney. Good choice?


Seeks-Opinion Minion

Great choice; she has a strong library background and lots of history in Montclair. I hope those Township Council members who are meddlesome give her and the library enough autonomy — which I like to think means “not my auto.”


Speaking of cars, have you noticed there are MANY Teslas in our town?


Musk Up

I’m wondering if Montclair has the third most Teslas per capita in the U.S. — behind only Teslaville and Tesla Junction. I’ll fact-check that in Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel “Tesla of the d’Urbervilles.”


Last but not least, the Montclair Property Owners Association has gone to court AGAIN — this time to try to end Montclair’s COVID-related rent freeze. Just how litigious is the well-funded MPOA?


Tort and Spark

Grateful lawyers purchased so many Valentine cards for the MPOA last month that Hallmark briefly became a bigger company than Apple. The most popular card sentiment: “Roses are red/violets are blue/sugar is sweet/we love how you sue.”


If the MPOA hadn’t infuriatingly stymied the Township Council’s modest rent-control legislation for nearly two years, might the Council have ended the separate rent freeze by now?


A Question of Balance

Probably, but reasonable compromise is not in the MPOA playbook. Actually, Hallmark didn’t get larger than Apple, some roses aren’t red, and the resisting Ukraine has become a thorn in Russia’s side.



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. “the 500th anniversary of Cedar Grove invading Montclair…”

    More accurately it was 91 years ago that a large group of Cedar Grove residents petitioned to allow Montclair to annex a large chunk of Cedar Grove. The serious effort failed when the CG residents compared our higher property tax rate & services with what they have – and said, “Never mind”.

    And for giggles, I was highly amused by the Council’s discussion of funding an education program to inform residents about the benefit of an opt-out program.
    An opt-out program is a relic from the internet past where people were automatically enrolled in something without permission, by an organization that had over over them. So, we all got enrolled in one and now we need to spend tax dollars to explain why this was good

  2. PS: I forgot to point out the program already has an educational outreach built in, at energy user’s cost. This additional Montclair outreach, at taxpayer’s funding, is just us for us. It seems Montclair utility customers are making a concerted effort to opt-out of the unassailable public good of this program.

    But, the absolute bestest part of the program is the authorities have added an opt-in choice (using still more educational outreach resources) for those commit to go above and beyond morally. All those that don’t want to go above and beyond….well, you are relegated to the existing opt-out default status.

    I think that is fair. Moral exceptionalism should be recognized.

  3. And, in the meanwhile, the Township’s municipal version of the program saved 13% in 2021 with just a renewable component (25%) a couple of points above PSE&G’s. The existing consumer aggression program offers 4% savings for 40% renewable. The same renewable percentage as when we started this program 3 years aog.

    Of course, I’m only saw 2.7% on my electric generation costs in 2021. FYI, they are 64% of my total gas & electric monthly bill.

    Of course, for 4 months (Dec’20-Mar’21) there was no electric aggregation program while we found a new vendor – which dropped my saving down to 2.6%.

    And the Council is baffled why 50% of customers are taking the time & effort to opt out…but, they want to educate us!

  4. Thank you for the comments, Frank.

    I’m glad Montclair didn’t annex part of Cedar Grove. The excellent Montclair Stationery might have had more competition from the Staples on Pompton Avenue. 🙂

    In general, I prefer to have the choice to opt-in rather than to opt-out of anything. A person doesn’t always remember to opt-out or even necessarily know they have the option.

  5. I guess COVID is over. The Township announced that last Saturday was the last day for their reporting on COVID cases & deaths.

    Clearly, the Township feels we are back to normal and time to move on. It would have been nice if the Council had made an announcement. Of course, that does complicate the justification of ongoing rent freezes.

    I’m just going to ignore this from The Gothamist today:

    “Data from the New York State health department shows that BA.2 is quickly moving to dominate its viral kin. BA.2 is doubling in proportion statewide every two weeks and represents about one in 10 sequenced cases. This trend is backed up by similar data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the New York and New Jersey region.”

  6. Yes, Frank, COVID is not 100% over in Montclair and elsewhere — and may never go away entirely; it could eventually become something like the “common” flu. I understand the desire to loosen or do away with restrictions, but, as I said in the column, I will continue to wear a mask in indoor public places for the time being.

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