If you were out shopping or busy cooking or at the movies on Christmas Eve, you may have missed Ted Mattox getting the Phil Read treatment. From the Star Ledger, here are the highlights…

Last week, the confrontation was ratcheted up when in a counterclaim, his colleagues assert that Mattox is “unfit to fulfill his oath of office.” In the legal papers, Mattox is accused of offering to pay off his slate’s old $13,000 campaign debt if Remsen would get “on board” with Mattox’s idea to increase councilor’s salaries from $5,000 to $20,000. The counterclaim likens it to a bribe.
Mattox has denied ever making such an offer. In an interview last week, he said his proposal was only to double the salaries to $10,000 and that he never offered anyone money to support the plan.
In July, the exchanges got particularly heated.
Gerald Tobin, the deputy mayor, demanded an apology from Mattox for publicly accusing his colleagues of a “cycle of corruption.” Mattox refused. A debate about the definition of corruption ensued.
“Not doing things by the letter of the law,” Mattox said. “Corruption means the erosion of protocol.”
Tobin, an attorney, shot back: “You have your own definitions. It means taking money illegally.”

Here’s the definition of corruption if it will help. Meanwhile Mattox has kept his sense of humor, says Read. Remsen? Not so much…

Once, limping into the elevator on his way to a public meeting, Mattox offered up an comical explanation for his injury, fictional but on point about how strained his relationship with Remsen has become.
“Ed pulled a Tanya Harding on me,” said a smiling Mattox, a reference to the champion skater implicated in a scheme to have her opponent’s knee whacked.
Amid all this, Remsen — other than an obvious rolling of the eyes at Mattox’s barbs — said he simply tries to plow ahead with the council’s agenda, including an “inclusionary zoning” ordinance that funnels money into affordable housing and a re-zoning intended to discourage teardowns.
Yet, the frustration is evident.
“Who is he to preach to us?” said Remsen, who has more than six years of council experience behind him. “I’ve never seen it get this personal. I’ve never seen it get this nasty .. the personal attacks, calling people crooks. I’ve never seen a level of righteousness, that he’s the hall monitor, that he is right and everybody else is wrong.”

Meanwhile, in this Star Ledger piece (not written by Read), Remsen explains why we never heard about the alleged “bribe” that’s part of the countersuit.

The mayor said he and his allies never referred the alleged bribe at tempt to law enforcement authorities because they were hoping Mattox would be a team player and they did not want a distraction from township business.
“We sort of chalked it up to a rookie mistake,” he said. “If we hadn’t been sued, we probably never would have brought this up.”

Wow — so was it a rookie mistake or a bribe? What other mistakes can folks make and be kept hush-hush? Montclairions would like to know.

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local. liz@montclairlocal.news

43 replies on “Those Wacky Montclair Council Folk”

  1. “If we hadn’t been sued, we probably never would have brought this up.”
    OOPS is there a typo- and it really should have said
    If we hadn’t been sued, we probably never would have MADE this up.

  2. Oops, has Barista created a Leap Day in December?
    Isn’t today Saturday December 30th not the 31st?
    What’s the rush to end the year?
    Happy New Year to All ~

  3. In the Star Ledger piece
    “Remsen said. “You’ve got to do the homework. .. I think we’ll react to it depending on what you’re cutting. We’d like to see a very, very low budget.” ”
    Dear Remsen,
    Put OUR money where your mouth is- stop approving all sorts of wacky projects.

  4. “We’d like to see a very, very low budget.”
    Mayor Remsen it would be great to see that as one of your and the Town Council’s New Years Resolutions but I’m afraid that you would have to change your entire way of managing things.
    The hiring of the new CFO and allowing him to possibly take a 2nd job at the expense of the Montclair taxpayers does not bode well for us.
    The last (current) CFO has been allowed to work for Mountainside on Montclair’s time.
    Sounds like the same situation again.

  5. “I’ve never seen it get this personal. I’ve never seen it get this nasty .. the personal attacks,
    Come on Remsen you only play personal games. Your entire staff is mad of personal friends or campaign associates. Tell us Plofker’s deals aren’t personal or maybe they’re just business as usual.

  6. Ed,
    In the past you came to Baristanet and attempted to bully certain posters. We saw what you are made of during these exchanges.
    It has been reported that you have attempted to bully reporters from both the Montclair Times and Star Ledger and have demanded that you get to approve any articles that they are going to publish.
    I have heard that you also bully people who have volunteered for Montclair’s committees, telling them to shut up or you’ll have them removed etc.
    Maybe you’ve never seen someone fight back against YOUR personal attacks. Maybe you’ve never really heard someone truly disagree with you. Maybe you don’t listen.
    You certainly haven’t been listening to what Montclair residents have been saying – that’s personal to us.
    When you approve wild expenditures- that’s personal to us.
    When Montclair employees are allowed to drive undecaled town vehicles for personal use and fill up at Montclair pumps- that’s personal to us.
    When we don’t get good value for the taxes that we pay- that’s personal to us
    When Mr. Hartnett is allowed to not return e-mails and calls from town residents whose complaints fall on your deaf ears – that’s personal to us
    When empires such as the Sewer authority, home alarm authority, parking authority are created and they benefit only outside concerns and cost us more for less services- that’s personal to us
    And finally, when I vote for Mayor and Town Council in 2008, with my personal vote, I will remember what you have done or not done for Montclair- PERSONALLY.
    It’s been personal all along, but then again, you may not have noticed.

  7. Since I have always regarded Mayor Remsen (and he is not my actual mayor) as a person of some class who actually “speaks” to his constituents here and in return endures amazing verbal abuse for little good reason, I just want to note this of the shabbily anonymous soul above: sir/madame, were it truly “personal” between you and your Mayor, then you’d also have the genital wherewithal to back up your nastiness with a real name, or anyway an email address to which Mr. Remsen might respond.
    Patriotism supposedly used to be the last refuge of a scoundrel. Now it’s just the cloak of a fake email address. Even false bravado is in rapid, unerring decline.

  8. Oh Cathy, disappear again for a while, please.
    Name and address withheld for no other reason then it pisses you off.

  9. Dear Cathar/Richard,
    I prefer that Ed respond to me here- no I don’t want him to be able to turn down my request for a variance because of PERSONAL issues.
    Ed announced here that he was going to vomit- now that certainly takes some class
    “I think I’ll puke.
    Posted by: Ed Remsen | July 30, 2006 11:09 PM ”
    and has also stated how he feels about talking to his constituents
    “I reserve the right to be as cranky, selectively antagonistic and occasionally inconsistent as the rest of you.
    Posted by: Ed Remsen | October 19, 2005 7:28 PM ”

  10. Nicely done, Liz. None of them are looking very good in all this. What was Mattox’s rookie mistake–low balling his offer?

  11. Easy! Michaelson offered to fund the campaign if Ed appointed her Deputy Mayor.
    Fast forward, Joyce and Ed are not real chummy, not as chummy as Tobin and Ed…and by the way, who do you think Ed will be backing as Mayor in the next election (as he won’t be running)? If you guessed Tobin, congrats!
    Ed has made it a habit of using appointments such as this to reward and punish as he sees fit. Look at all of the appointments he’s taken away from Mattox. The joke is that Ed’s next appointment will be Tobin replacing Mattox as councilor at large (because Tobin didn’t get a chance to do that yet!)

  12. I understand Ed recently tossed Robin out as the liaison between the council and the Montclair Environmental Commission. He made himself the new liaison.

  13. “Ed announced here that he was going to vomit- now that certainly takes some class.”
    Well, at least he made a formal announcement here instead of holding a closed-door meeting announcing his intentions to puke. I mean, c’mon, give the guy some credit where credit is due.

  14. I see the “brave ones” are out again in semi-force. Scurrying from Mayor Remsen. From my comments, sure, I expect that. But really, what a group of cringing slugs, who can’t even address the Mayor of Montclair (I’m still not sure he’s “their” Mayor) politely, directly and with real names or email addresses to back up their apparently “Dutch” version of political courage. You guys truly deserve someone like laserboy as mayor, would that he could run.

  15. I address him at every council meeting Richard where I give my name and address for the record. Stop trying to change the posting rules or start your own forum.

  16. Google Richard and you’ll notice that being annoying on one forum is just not enough…he’s busy posting inane comments on many, many forums.

  17. maybe he cathar/richard wants people to contact him directly. That’s fine
    Maybe I do not want people to contact me directly. According to cather/richard that’s not fine.
    cathar/richard leave me alone please do not write to me.

  18. this may be really naive of me but why do we need a cfo in montclair – i thought that was supposed to be one of the responsibilities.perhaps we should be looking at the whole picture in an effort to get a grip on expenditures?

  19. re: the need for a cfo???
    i meant to say i thought the responsibiltiy of the town manager would include being a cfo – years ago before we had a manager system, i think this was supposed to be one of the manager’s responsibilites – the logic was that a qualified experienced manager would understand governmment finances & be able to run the town more efficiently!

  20. When you continue to spend money you don’t have, it requires a CFO to better understand the ‘neagative’ numbers.

  21. With a budget of over $200MM, and debt approaching, if not over, that number, Montclair needs sophisticated financial management.
    You might as well say, “Gee, I didn’t know you needed a pilot on this plane. It seems so small!”
    What we don’t need is some lackey doing what he is told. We need an independent, tough minded, experienced financial guy (or gal). Someone who calls the shots as they see it. Who isn’t afraid to speak the truth. Someone who is imaginative, and creative. Someone who will help the town get a handle on spending and borrowing. Someone who can deal with the debt markets.
    And above all, someone who can do all this without having to call in a flock of consultants.

  22. Bean Counter:
    Sounds like you are talking about someone who should be working directly for the Town Council, not for the Town Manager.

  23. Interesting example — Hevesi. That public official lost his job and may yet be indicted for, what? personal use of a state vehicle.
    Hmmm…. haven’t we heard something similar here in Montclair regarding personal use of township vehicles?

  24. I think that the town manager also being the cfo would be a total conflict of interest.
    One wants to spend- the job of the other is to reign in spending

  25. How come in Montclair we say the guy is doing a good job when cars are allowed for personal use and in NY they get indicted?

  26. How come? I don’t hear that Hartnett is doing a good job. I hear he’s an arrogant sob who won’t return e-mails or phonew calls.
    Where do you hear that he’s doing a good job except out of his own mouth?

  27. “And above all, someone who can do all this without having to call in a flock of consultants.
    Posted by: Bean_Counter | December 30, 2006 7:41 PM ”
    NO NO- a group of consultants is not called a flock it’s called a cravasse.
    A Cravasse of Consultants, an Exultation of Larks, a Murder of Crows….

  28. “How come in Montclair we say the guy is doing a good job ”
    Because you are one of the Mayor’s sycophants

  29. Tobin, an attorney, shot back: “You have your own definitions. It means taking money illegally.”
    I suppose if you don’t know the definition you can’t be held responsible.
    How about integrity does Tobin know what that means.

  30. Ignorance is not a defence for breaking the law. Who cares what Tobin knows, lest give him the heave ho

  31. So many brave “hiders” above, so much obvious need for remedial English grammar courses and spelling lessons.

  32. cathar not all of us went to Columbia, what’s your excuse?

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