MontClairVoyant: Meeting Attendees Waited for the Council Instead of Godot

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

At its July 26 meeting, the Township Council went into a long executive session before hearing public comment from attendees — a number of whom left in disgust. Any positives to the Council’s action?

Sincerely,

Long and Winding Mode

That blatant rudeness might increase voter turnout in 2024 as residents storm the polls to try ousting several incumbent councilors. Imagine movie footage of a buffalo stampede, only with humans.

DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Adding insult to injury is the current Council’s policy of forbidding remote public comments, meaning residents wanting to speak on the 26th couldn’t wait out the executive session at home. Is there a solution?

Sincerely,

Claremont Avenue Blues

Two, in fact. Either allow remote comments, or allow Montclair’s 39,000 residents to move into the Council Chambers. Might require a few bunk beds.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Residents certainly have plenty to comment/complain about: inadequate administration of senior services, a firefighting deal that favors Glen Ridge too much, the closed Essex and Nishuane pools, the delay in opening the Midtown parking deck, etc. Who’s to blame?

Sincerely,

Culling the Culprits

Partly the Council, of course, which at minimum should communicate better and be more transparent. But also to blame is the township manager, who holds lots of power and thus could be nicknamed “PSE&G.”


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Yes, more power than elected officials under Montclair’s governmental system. Where does the township manager’s unpopularity presently rank?

Sincerely,

Mired in Not Being Admired

In the neighborhood of high gas prices, tax audits, Donald Trump’s voice, 2 a.m. phone calls, 3 a.m. phone calls, 4 a.m. phone calls…


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

We get the point. Speaking of the Council, why does it want to possibly allow taller buildings on Bloomfield Avenue when the Master Plan calls for — and so many residents desire — a maximum of four stories?

Sincerely,

Soaring Not Alluring

Just a guess that this stance might partly relate to the building heights we could see in the Lackawanna Plaza redo. I’m not saying we’re going to get the world’s tallest supermarket, but watch for 1,000-foot-high celery stalks.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Those stalks plus a giant vat of peanut butter and thousands of raisins would make for an “ants on a log” snack to remember.

Sincerely,

Snacks R Us

Eek! A mistake for you to read Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.”


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

Meanwhile, four people have reportedly submitted petitions to run for three Board of Education seats this November as our town’s BOE continues to transition from appointed to elected. Comment?

Sincerely,

From Here to Modernity

Understandable that there weren’t many candidates for those grueling but important unpaid positions, but I hope for more in the future. Perhaps we can incentivize people to run by offering George Inness Annex visors.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

In other news, the Northeast Earth Coalition announced that Montclair has been named an official Monarch City for being a good home for butterflies. Reaction?

Sincerely,

Frequent Flyers

Only the second town in New Jersey to get that welcome designation! The first is Long Branch, which makes sense given that more butterflies can alight on a long branch than on a short branch.


DEAR MONTCLAIRVOYANT,

What’s more infuriating — your lame wordplay or the contempt the Council again showed for the public on July 26?

Sincerely,

Final Jeopardy Question

The answer is clear — in 2022, and hopefully in 2024.
 

 

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. Dave & On The Other Hand,

    I am intrigued (in a 24H/Le Mans crash-sense) with the sporadic interest in the Mayor/Manager form of governance. As I understand it, the Mayor is the quasi-Executive Branch and the Council is like Congress. And as we all know, Congress can’t bring itself to fire the Chief Executive.

    We, the voters would also elect the Mayor/Manager and we can either not renew his contract 4 yrs later or we can start a recall to fire him.
    And we would have to vote again. Lot’s of voting being asked of me.

    As I understand it, the group I elect now every 4 yrs, acting as my agent, can fire the Township CEO anytime they want. We don’t have to vote…and they have to find a replacement.

    If the voters fire (vote to recall) the Chief Executive, we have to interview the replacements & a majority of us have to agree (vote) on a replacement. And now every time we hold a vote, we have to close the schools. Which as we all know means a parent will have to spend the day at home with the Adorable Rays of Sunshine. I like the system now. I vote once every four years an complain the rest of the time, my schedule permitting.

  2. I can’t believe there is so much complaining about Montclair. We have banned Chick-fil-A, broken off relations with our Russian sister city, locked down schools and businesses, wear masks, drive Teslas, fill our lawns with signs, have a Gay Pride Parade, official Monarch City, and on and on and on. We are not just Social Justice Warriors, we are 4 star generals. That’s not enough? We need swimming pools, responsible development, and a council that will listen to our whining? Get a grip comrades and get your priorities straight.

  3. Thank you for the comment, Frank. I’m okay with Montclair’s system of government when it has a very competent, transparent, responsive-to-the-public township manager. The current TM? Um…

    Funny last line by you. šŸ™‚

  4. Thank you for the comment, flipside. Drolly stated. šŸ™‚ I like much of the “social justice” stuff Montclair is known for, even if some of it is not-super-substantive “virtue signaling” on the part of certain officials. But some Montclair leaders are inconsistent in their “social justice” approach; for instance, not fighting harder for additional affordable housing. And, yes, some definite fails in the basic tasks of governing.

  5. I agree flipside. Frankly, I would pick the Fire Department as one of our biggest priorities. Their 4 Union contracts expire in 2027, halfway through our new contract with Glen Ridge. We need a new pumper and an additional ladder truck. Inflation in general, but also healthcare costs are unpredictable in a bad direction. We, like many of the towns around us are staffed to only fight one fire at a time, wherever that may be. Yes, Glen Ridge knows this and yes, their website on fire service response times was never factually accurate anyway.

    The fire department is one of our biggest cost centers. It will be our biggest cost driver measured by % increase over the mid-term. Iā€™m not clear how we will fund this. Iā€™d make it a priority

  6. And to switch subjects – somewhat…
    I didn’t know our Wanaque Reservoir had unacceptably high levels of PFOS (ya’now, the Forever Chemicals) and Perchlorates. I missed it it in the 2021 Annual Water Quality Report that goes to Montclair & Glen Ridge.
    The Council didn’t mention it.
    Did the Glen Ridge Council mention it?
    Every once in awhile I hear it mentioned as part of land use applications or see monitoring wells on surveys.

    But, I had to hear this from Representative Sherrill?
    Are we going to get bottled water?
    I know we have an old water delivery system and a minority of houses still have lead & failing service lines that should be replaced. Is $2MM enough to rectify this and the Forever Chemicals water supply?

    Scary, right?