letter to the editor

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The following is a Letter to the Editor sent by Jon Bonesteel, a Montclair father of three public school students:

We shall fall behind
Our fellows in the world
If, when we should advance,
We make no move at all.
– Emperor Meiji

This past Friday Montclair Kids First (MKF) filed a formal complaint with the Essex County Superior Court asking the Court to remove Councilman Sean Spiller from the Board of School Estimates (BSE), as his service on the BSE represents both an actual conflict, and the appearance of a conflict, of interest. This filing required a statement by a member of MKF to assure the Court that MKF is a viable party and that the member, to the best of his or her knowledge, supports the assertions made in the filing. As the information is public, I can confirm that I am the member of MKF who has signed this statement.

The details of the case are public record, and you are welcome to review them and form your own opinion. The presiding judge is expected to rule this week.

I’d like to clarify how we got to this point, and why I have joined MKF.

Our family has lived in Montclair for nearly 18 years. In that time, our three daughters have grown up in the town and all have attended the Montclair Public School system. Two are still students at Montclair High. As with most parents with kids in the system, we have been very active in our daughters’ education process, and as a stay-at-home dad, I have had the opportunity to participate and volunteer in many ways. As the former President of the Board of the Adult School of Montclair, I managed the transition of ASM from the Board of Education to the Montclair Public Library where it is now a department of that organization. In addition, I am the owner of the Montclair Watercooler and have been actively working with HackNCraftNJ to create a Makerspace in town (with some wonderful other volunteers, I might add, in both cases). I’ve also enjoyed teaching technology classes at ASM, the Watchung afterschool program, and at the Montclair Cooperative School.

But as they say, “Enough about me.”

Why have I joined MKF, and why did I sign the statement accompanying the Spiller complaint?

In short, I support the four core principles more fully described on MKF’s website:

  • Excellence in our Public Schools
  • Transparency
  • Open and Respectful Dialogue
  • Efficiency in the Delivery of Educational Services
    We believe that by focusing on these core principles we can all help deliver an exceptional education to our kids and young adults here in Montclair. Montclair Kids First is not just our name, it’s what we passionately believe in for the future of our education system. Understandably, the first public actions by MKF (the lawsuit and the OPRA requests Mr. Jeffries has filed) were provocative and have raised eyebrows. On the surface, this may appear inconsistent with MKF’s principles.

    But for an open and respectful dialogue to take place, we must first – in my opinion – “level the playing field.” In the past year and a half or so, we have watched as a vocal minority has ridiculed, derided, and criticized the Superintendent and those who were simply working towards implementing the District’s Strategic Plan approved by the Board of Education on June 7, 2013. Those who supported the Strategic Plan or challenged the early criticism have been intimidated or, at a minimum, made to feel uncomfortable for even showing up at a Board of Education meeting. For this reason, I agree with the MKF policy of providing anonymity for those who wish to join. MKF’s membership has grown from an initial 20 members to more than 100 now, with new members joining every day.

    One may see this well-funded and supported group attack anyone who questions it. Letters to the Editor of the Montclair Times and the Montclair Cares About Schools (MCAS) media outlets were quick to attack both the attorney hired by MKF and the organization, itself, without knowing much about us. Those who champion these attacks claim they desire dialogue and debate, yet their actions show no room for either. I can only imagine their attacks on me after my name is linked to this case. For parents who wish to engage in debate about our schools, it is not unreasonable for them to be concerned about how these attacks may then be turned against them.

    Let me be clear. I do not see MKF as a vehicle to attack the MEA. We are in this to improve our schools together, while further division in our community will neither help solve our problems nor improve the services to our kids. It is also inherently unfair to generalize about all union members. We will not do so. That said, for all who share the goal of productive engagement on the issues we face (and we believe this is most of Montclair), it is only reasonable to identify and shine a light on the destructive and divisive elements described above.

    I believe Mr. Spiller to be an excellent and well-intentioned public servant. I was very appreciative of his involvement with the transition of the Adult School of Montclair and I like him personally. However, I agree with MKF (and the complaint) that his position as Secretary-Treasurer of the NJEA is in direct conflict with his role on the Board of School Estimate and his responsibilities to review and approve Montclair’s annual school operating and capital budgets. I also believe that the Mayor should not have initially appointed Mr. Spiller to this position given the information contained in the case. As an aside, many parents have, in the past year, quietly mentioned this issue to the Mayor. This was done appropriately in “one-on-one” settings with the Mayor, not in public Board Meetings, but with no response. So, this is not a new concern. We may not prevail in court, but even if the judge rules against MKF, we believe it is unfair to the taxpayers of Montclair for the review and approval of the next school budget to be conducted when even the appearance of such a conflict exists. We feel Montclair deserves better and that he should step aside for another Council member who does not have such a conflict of interest.

    In regard to the OPRA requests filed by Mr. Jeffries, we believe that the community deserves a more complete and detailed understanding of the events of the last 18 months. The complaints posted online after the requests were made public, of course, fail to note that in the last year or so, a litany of OPRA requests have been made of BoE members, staff, and their communications. We view our requests as no different, and hope to be able to provide a transparent review of the actions that have taken place.

    In addition to the current budget process, there is, of course, an ongoing discussion of the Strategic Plan for our District. The plan which has been approved, and which is in the process of being implemented, includes the adoption of the state mandated Common Core curriculum. We agree with this vision, and even though it is not perfect for Montclair, we see it as a baseline to build upon. Those who market and promote the “opt-out” option provided by the BoE do not offer an alternative plan other than a return to policies of the prior administration. We do not see the mismanagement and expanding achievement gap metrics documented then as progress and we believe our kids deserve better. We are happy to seek creative ways with all parties to implement the Common Core in such a way as to meet the unique requirements of our community, but we want to move forward, not back.

    In conclusion, Montclair Kids First welcomes all Montclair residents (you need not have a child in school to participate), so we all can work towards progress and excellence in our Public Schools. MKF already has some great ideas and we look forward to working with each other to help deliver on them. Let’s advance.


    Comments have been closed on this post due to commenters engaging in personal attacks. Please read comment policy.

    53 replies on “Letter to the Editor: Jon Bonesteel – Montclair Kids First”

    1. Now we see who the shill is. And with Bonesteels own friend purporting to just “stumble across” this group online on the watercooler – it’s more obvious than ever how conniving this entire group of people are.

      The fact that Jeffries said the rich ladies funding this group are “afraid of retribution FOR THEIR CHILDREN” and that’s why they’re anonymous is probably – no, DEFINITELY – the most ridiculous tripe I have ever come across.

      This is clearly – and it’s obvious to everyone Jon – that this is a politically motivated group (ie anti Spiller et al) and that’s the beginning, middle and end of it.

    2. Looks like they have appointed Jon as their PR man, while they conceal their identities and pay their lawyer exorbitant rates to go after community activists. Their latest act, which Jon doesn’t explain in his narrative, is filing a FOIA request to obtain the work emails of Michelle Fine, the Montclair activist who is also a highly respected professor at CCNY. They assume anonymity, doubtlessly to conceal their wealth and connections, while they utter their tired little tirade about how scared they are of the opposition.

    3. A few thoughts:

      – This is so poorly written, I had to re-read parts for clarity. I note this because I would like to believe folks concerned with education would be able to make clear points, offer examples, apply them and move on– exactly what these “tests” purport to teach.

      – Still, while I disagree with much here, the point about Spiller is well taken, and why I have ALWAYS supported an ELECTED BOARD OF EDUCATION. In an election, a challenger could have brought this up, it could have been debated (Mr. Spiller may have a good reply), but with an appointed Board, I’m left with what appears to be an unreconcilable conflict. One that should not exist.

      – But as a parent who chose to “opt-out” I am not, nor did I succumb to those “who market and promote the opt-out option.” For our family, we didn’t find the test appropriate, it didn’t matter regarding our child’s grades, so why force the kid to sit for a test that had no consequence?

      Finally, I go back to the writing. I just read it again. Still have a hard time finding meaning. But my take-a-way is that hiding behind “we want what’s best for our kids” are folks who ONLY want things THEIR way.

      (Mr. Bonesteel’s blog is unfortunate and dumb. But who cares? I cannot imagine anyone pays any attention to it other than friends humoring him….. And the dumb pix- is that him?- forgive me, suggests someone with WAY too much time.)

    4. Say what you will about Jon, he does have a real knack for filmmaking. That video on his personal website with the ominous music, making fun of teachers and parents who come up to the podium at Board of Ed meetings is hilarious!

    5. Most unfortunately, there is an endless amount of impassioned drivel that has filibustered BOE meetings for the last year+.

    6. I agree with Prof. Williams; I had to read this a few times to make sense of Mr. Bonesteel’s letter to the editor. I have been reading some of Mr. Bonesteel’s rants for the same reason drivers like to slow down to look at a car wreck. His vitriol against teachers, parents, and students (yes-he complains about the high school students and their views) are a bit disturbing. Are Mr. Bonesteel’s angry and disturbing attacks open and respectful dialogue? Are the cheesy videos an olive branch or a truncheon?

      I also agree with Prof. Williams:

      “For our family, we didn’t find the test appropriate, it didn’t matter regarding our child’s grades, so why force the kid to sit for a test that had no consequence?”

      Does this automatically mean that a person with Prof. Willam’s views has an agenda? I do know MKF has an agenda, but why should I care that you are joining them or that you hate MCAS, etc. Do you have anything helpful and intelligent to say? Is attacking others your only contribution to the debate? Do you think the MKF attorney would mind doing something about our impossibly high taxes, our bloated school budget, and our numerous potholes? Do you think you will ever be able to put Montclair’s Kids First and not your ego?

    7. ” In an election, a challenger could have brought this up, it could have been debated (Mr. Spiller may have a good reply), but with an appointed Board, I’m left with what appears to be an unreconcilable conflict.”

      Would you clarify as I don’t understand your point here? First, under an appointed Board, Mr Spiller is appointed as a municipal representative on the BoSE by the Council after the municipal election. The BoE has no say in the municipal members. Second, if we had an elected board, the BoSE would not exist.

    8. Mr. Spiller was appointed to the Board.

      That job, along with the Board of Education, should be elected.

      Here’s a story from 2009 regarding the issue: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/01/nyregion/01montclair.html

      So while Mr. Spiller was elected, our Board of Education and the Board of School Estimate is appointed. THAT is my problem.

      Both Boards should be elected.

      I’d love to serve, BUT my options are only to perhaps give $$ to the Mayor, befriend the Mayor, or what? Buy him coffee? I’d rather explain to the voters of Montclair that I would make a smart choice because I bring a experience, education and compassion to the job.

      And when I fail, I’m accountable to the voters NOT the guy I gave $$ to.

    9. a321 “Most unfortunately, there is an endless amount of impassioned drivel that has filibustered BOE meetings for the last year+.”

      Yes, impassioned drivel! Reminds me of how a certain faction of this town reacted after the assessments were accidentally “leaked.” For example:

      a321 This is CHEATING!! Either a student or teacher has engaged in immoral and/or criminal acts to make the same old point over and over again. Blah, blah, too many tests are bad and scary – whaaaaaa.
      Let the students take the exams already and let’s see how it plays out.
      A prediction….the students who have poor teachers will not do as well as the students with better teachers. The poor teachers will have to work harder and improve themselves. Who is so afraid of seeing this result that they will resort to CHEATING and STEALING?

    10. There are a surplus of attacks on Bonesteel here at the expense of any rebuttal to the facts. A big criticism of MKF was the anonymity – which I thought was a distraction from the valid point they made about Sean Spiller’s conflicts of interest – now Jon is coming forward with an explanation of why he is a part of the organization and what they aim to accomplish. For those who are critical I would like to see their explanation of why Spiller should remain on the board instead of personal attacks on Jon.

    11. I still cannot understand what all the fuss is about. Oh I see. It’s about “ETHICS,” so i’m told. But where was Bonesteel and other concerned residents who claim to be concerned about ethics, when a complaint was filed with the state of NJ, against BOE Larson, accusing her of violating ethics laws? Larson, as a BOE member repeatedly voted to spend money with an organization that her husband was in charge of. Repeatedly spent BOE funds in this manner, all has been well documented and appeared in the local press. Yet there was no public outcry, no “She must resign.” It was business as usual. So I get it. Ethics, only applies to some people. Depends on who you are, who your friends are, and how much money you have. We should all want to avoid selective prosecution. Until then talk to me when ethics applies to everyone. I’m beginning to see which factors play into whose actions are monitored, and why.

    12. I agree strongly with those here who agree with me.

      I disagree violently with those here who disagree with me.

      so there you go!

      …but for the love of all that is holy, please please please let the perfesser run for political office! please!

    13. The salient point for me is the failure of the anti-PARCC, anti-administration bloc to provide ideas for moving forward. The status quo of achievement gaps and ignoring state mandates isn’t a plausible alternative. It is easy to say no and unimaginative pull your children out of class when you don’t like a certain policy. I appreciate that Montclair Kids First is coming on strong for the district and putting Sean Spiller in the spotlight for having overlapping roles when he needs to choose one camp or the other.

    14. Duke, the anonymity remains. Just because Jon is appointing himself- or being appointed?- to serve as their spokesman does not erase the concern about how who founded and is funding this organization and what their affiliations and connections are. Because, make no mistake, this is connected to a much larger group of extremely wealthy people who are funding the “reform” movement and who benefit financially from it. The same people who funded their current lawyer’s ill-fated Newark mayoral race.

      Please do not accept their protestations that they are afraid, similar to Matthew Frankel, Penny MacC’s assistant, when he spent all his time saying he was afraid of public opinion, instead of responding to the actual issues. They are hiding because they are well-connected, extremely well-funded, and have the agenda of assuring that the “reform” movement continues to control the Montclair public schools. Look up the list of wealthier-than-wealthy people who fund the charter and “reform” movement, and you will see that this is a high-stakes venture indeed.

    15. “Both Boards should be elected.”
      Uggh. Again, if the Montclair had a Type 2 district where the Board of Education is elected, then there is no Board of School Estimate. If you want both an elected BoE and an elected BoSE (instead of having the voters approve the budget), then you have to change the laws.

      Back to the conflict of interest, the Board of Education is part of the State government, not our Municipal government. As an officer of the NJEA, a state level organization, Mr Spiller would unlikely be able to hold a State government position in education. Further, I think the intent of a Type 1 district Board of Estimate having a majority in the municipal level members is to be a check on State government. This precludes the State from having majority control over certifying a local tax levy.

    16. Agree drcolson – The status quo of achievement gaps and ignoring state mandates isn’t a plausible alternative – I guess that makes me a sock puppet too.

    17. I’m not a sock-puppet – I’m just reading these letters and posts like the rest of you, but I don’t think those who have posted negative responses above could have actually read the piece. I don’t find it difficult to understand, nor is it poorly written (despite what appears to be an editing error).
      Nevertheless, one line jumps out: “I can only imagine their attacks on me after my name is linked to this case.”

    18. Latebloomer, whoever comes forward as part of MKF knows they will face a storm of critique and be accused of running a “front group.” Jon took on that role anyway and while I don’t feel he is scared since he’s long had his name out there in the community, he can be legitimately concerned for how this will play out in the longer term. I will also echo the sentiment that Sean Spiller is doing his best for the district and for the union. He is a good person I have not a doubt, and he absolutely should not hold positions at the BoSE and NJEA concurrently.

    19. How can anyone dispute Mr. Spiller’s conflict of interest? He is obliged to gain favorable terms for the union at the same time he is overseeing funds which pay their salaries. That is a quandary, plain and simple. There may be some combination of vote abstentions and procedural gymnastics to avoid problems but realistically he should step away from one job or the other. Jon, don’t let the attacks wear you down, you are doing a good thing standing up for kids in the district and for the parents to don’t want to submit themselves to the attacks we’re seeing right now.

    20. Maybe after everyone is done personally attacking Mr. Bonsteel, we could actually address the the issue of Mr. Spiller’s conflict of interest.

    21. Peter that’s the heart of the matter. The comments are bisected along lines of either disparaging the writer or addressing the substance of his letter. I don’t follow his blog or particularly care about his politics. As a parent and mature adult who cares about Montclair and the future of education I can debate ideas without being petty or childish. So can all of us! I welcome those who want to talk about the budget, the consequences of opting out of the PARCC, or what Sean Spiller should do next. Everyone else making attacks is wasting their breath.

    22. C’mon. If Mr. Bonsteel (or his supporters) are so weak that they can’t handle a few questions– it’s not a personal attack to question anonymity- then they should stay behind the rock.

      Because reading this, you see folks questioning Bonsteel AND Spiller’s conflict.

      Though, is there a connection between the 10 million hole in the budget and Mr. Spiller? Or are we wasting time on a non-issue?

      @ Frank- Sorry if my ignorance upsets you— the NY Times articles states: “Montclair’s school board has seven members, appointed by the mayor to unpaid three-year terms. There is no public vote on the budget. It is approved, instead, by a Board of School Estimate, which consists of the mayor and two members each from the school board and the elected Township Council.”

      I failed to look up the “Type” designations, but the point is obvious, huh? Regardless of whether we’d have a Board of Esteems IF we had an elected BOE or not is not much of an issue- the issue is that some boards/committees/groups should have elected, not appointed members.

      The Montclair Board of Education should be elected.

      Finally, @ jcunningham, If I ran, I’d hope you’d give me a fair hearing. If you did, I’m sure I’d earn your vote.

    23. I find it hilarious that anyone would say that those of us who oppose testing never present alternatives. I have posted many times links to the N Performance Standards Consortium https://performanceassessment.org. These are a group of high performing, NY High Schools who received waivers from standardized testing and instead use performance assessments. I have posted a multitude of articles demonstrating other ways to assess, progressive approaches to curriculum, etc and each time I hear crickets after my postings. People who accuse us of wanting to maintain the status quo believe if they repeat that tired refrain enough it will be true. The data from Washigton, DC clearly shows these reforms are widening the achievement gap. We have been under test based mandates for years. That is the status quo. I would welcome a change for truly progressive curriculums and assessments.

      Interesting Jon Bomesteel’s group hired an attorney well connected to Charter schools and who has strong ties to Newark when we are repeatedly told they aren’t interested in bringing charters to Montclair and we aren’t Newark.

      And because parents dare speak up at Board meetings they are named in FOIA requests? intimidating? Seems to me see tactics are aimed at intimidation.

    24. Why should anyone talk about the validity of these claims?

      Random wealthy people who have interests in Montclair (though who are they, who knows, maybe Jon Bonesteel will tell us who’s been paying his way?) have filed an expensive lawsuit, have engaged a charter school advocate and advocated (even after her resignation!) for our former Superintendent for political purposes.

      If it was not political, this would:

      1) have been filed before Spiller was appointed if they wanted to prevent the appointment not just try to BENEFIT from it

      2) have not been anonymous (under the guise of being scared which is literally laughable and anyone who does NOT subscribe to their platform would agree)

      3) would not be currently being pushed by former Karen Turner running mates and Jon Bonesteel who holds their same politics and

      4) have let this play out in the court – since that is the venue they are officially pursuing it – rather than having their shills with (whom the principles funding this little venture are likely discussing the matter directly) go on online platforms to covertly, and now overtly, support their agenda.

      No one should be expected to debate the merits of a false and obviously political attack. Because this is ENTIRELY. POLITICAL.

    25. As an elected member of the Council, he can not run for the BoE. So either way, Mr Spiller should not be a direct participant in the process.

    26. Amazing that no one, including Mr Bonesteel and Helen M, who consistently talk about transparency, refuse to address what Mr Herron mentioned and the conflict of interest that has existed on this BOE for years. Hypocrisy much?

    27. If we go by the strict definition politics is just the process of making policy, going all caps isn’t necessary. The suit’s objective is to remove Sean Spiller from the BoSE or to encourage him to step back from his role at the NJEA, that’s all. The folks behind the lawsuit want to remain anonymous and that’s their prerogative. Sean should resign, it’s not right that he can move money around on the Board when he’s supposed to hustle for the union.

    28. mtclrsown,

      I didn’t address it because 1) there was an outcry over Ms Larson’s vote, and 2) Mr Herron also chose to go the State legal route after a lack of action from the BoE. Clearly, portions of Mr Herron’s complaint raised valid points as it was referred from the State Education Ethics Commission to the Department of Administrative Law for a hearing…at least that was my recollection. So, how is this a different or a new tactic?

    29. Tonyrod, what is your opinion about this organization filing a FOIA request for all emails between Michelle Fine, community activist, and other activists, the BOE, the Mayor, the Council, etc. etc. Their first two acts as a group both involved litigation, the second going after someone’s job and privacy.

    30. Very heartening to see you some of you defending the attacks on Bonesteel here but why the concern only for him, Frankel, etc when for weeks now he’s been posting personal attacks on some of us who have been vocal, or fancy ladies as he calls us? My first name was up on his blog with a screenshot taken from what was supposed to be a closed FB group. Then he removed it and made a point about having taken it down because some of us don’t have a sense of humor. If there was anything funny about one thing he wrote then please, show me. He calls himself the Montclair idiot but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to be subject to having our conversations recounted on his website. Stop defending someone who until this morning has used his position as owner of a Yahoo and FB group to stop conversations when they didn’t go the direction he liked. I see the format has suddenly changed on his blog but maybe I can look forward to being mocked later on today, hope all of you defending the “attacks” on him will also come to the defense of the rest of us!

    31. nycmontclair, that CSMonitor story really shows a great example of what has come to be called “authentic” assessment, and it’s the kind of model that teaches and assesss the dynamic skills that are really important to being truly “college and career ready”.

    32. Defending the attacks is as much about putting the focus on the right issues as it is protecting the individual. Jon is a grownup and can stand up for himself just fine, but when everyone is lasered in on him instead of the argument he’s making (Spiller shouldn’t work for the NJEA and BoSE) the whole point of the letter and lawsuit go by the wayside. It’s not “don’t shoot the messenger,” it’s “don’t miss the message because you aiming at the messenger.” Bethala: if Jon or anyone else mocks you today I’ll go after them. My two cents on the lawsuit is Spiller needs to come up with something better than trust me, I’ll do the right thing, if he wants to stay on the Board.

    33. Is it not incredibly obvious that Mr. Spiller is just a pawn in this silly game. Just look at the timing of all this. Penny MacCormack suddenly exits after a tumultuous and divisive two-year reign. And just weeks later, on the eve of three very important decisions(approving a school budget, appointing two new members to the BOE, and hiring a new superintendent), the folks who were in MacCormack’s camp are now attempting to intimidate Mayor Jackson by filing FOIL requests against anyone and everyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with their “reform” agenda. Do they really think they can succeed in bullying the Mayor? And why do they suddenly decide to go after Spiller for “conflict of interest” now?

    34. Because White’s Bishop took Black’s Queen, Black is using their Rook to take the undefended Pawn and is methodically going after the other exposed Pawns.

    35. I have a question for Jon Bonesteel. if MKF is sointerested in transparency and whats good for the kids, why have they opra”ed all of the text messages personal and professional emails of 3 principals (Chiles, Putrino and Weller) and
      the board members who have been working for transparency – Cummings, de Koninch and Mernin?

    36. Jon talks about conflict of interest hmmm? How about this MKF Opraing of certain people? I find it to be a conflict of interest that Jon’s neighbor and good pal is our BOE President David Deutsch.

      Funny that the very ugly blog containing MontclairIdiot posts and demeaning comments about many wonderful woman in our town are now gone. It’s ashame…everyone didn’t have the opportunity to read the horrific things this man wrote. Whomever above said he has too much time on his hands it’s exactly what the people in my house have been saying for WEEKS.

    37. I guess it would be a good time to ask if MKF, like MSW, is monitoring the IP addresses of people going to their website?

      Considering all the shady stuff happening I have no comfort level with anything remotely related to the people running the MKF website.

    38. What a BUM!!!! Taking down the site after raising such a fuss?

      C’mon Jon, put it back up. I saw it earlier today, it was embarrassing!!

      So while I’m sure you and your pals will consider this an attack, do folks a favor and put your blog back up so everyone can see the guy you are.

      C’mon Jon……….

      Mr. “I am the owner of the Watercolor.”

      Mr. “Open and respectful dialogue.”

      Mr. “We are in this to improve our schools together.”

      Mr. “Further division in our community will neither help solve our problems nor improve the services to our kids.”

      Put your blog back up. By closing the “BLOG” section of your webpage, it looks like you have something to hide— and for that, I cannot believe your faux honest reasoning behind you actions.

    39. State Street Pete you shouldn’t sweat it if blogs like MSW want to know where their visitors are coming from. I also use Wordpress, mostly to write about mundane Mom stuff: https://amontclairmomsmusings.wordpress.com/

      There are all kinds of neat tools to see where your traffic is coming from and it is fun to dig in. If you want to get more specific than the continent you need an IP address. I use this widget: https://wordpress.org/plugins/ip-address-widget-ii/

    40. Thanks, tidegirl.

      I am a bit confused as to the sudden furor over Mr. Spiller’s day job, and maybe I’m not understanding “conflict of interest” well enough. When Leslie Larson okayed having school district money go to her husband’s company, she had the possibility of direct financial gain, which to me is a possible conflict. But although Mr. Spiller works for the NJEA, no matter the school budget, he does not stand to make any more or less money. No portion of the Montclair budget has any chance of finding its way into his pocket. None. Union dues are fixed, not a percentage, so no matter the contract approved with the MEA, the NJEA will accrue the same dues. Mr. Spiller gets no portion of these monies. None. Additionally, no matter the MEA salary increases, Mr. Spiller will make no additional money.

      Is the conflict in that he actually knows something about education? I would think that would be an asset. Unless, of course, I believed in corporate reform of ed, in which case his knowledge would be a real political inconvenience.

    41. Mr. Spiller may have an easier job proving that no conflict of interest exist. He, as a member of the BOSE does not have responsibility for voting on MEA contracts. He plays no role of hashing out contracts with the unions. Since the BO does not have line item control of the budget, they can reject or approve the entire budget. In addition, they may request that the BOE increase or decrease the final budget. Where those cuts or increases would appear, is the sole responsibility of the BOE.
      For Mr. Spiller, he need only point to selective prosecution, show that the BOE, and several of its members have conflicts, and those conflicts were never abated or addressed by the BOE, the town, or any of its many civic minded residents. MKF, by going after only certain BOE members, and certain school principals reeks of selective prosecution. That is not a place MKF should want to be.
      By Proxy, anyone who lives in town, is a taxpayer, or has children in the school system, would have a conflict of interest, according to MKF filings, and therefore would be disqualified from serving on the BOSE. Get real.

    42. Thanks, dherron!

      What’s the dea with these FOIA requests against some principals and board members? It most certainly does seem both “selective” and convenient, as if MKF is more interested in targeting certain individuals than taking on real educational issues.

    43. How can it be that Mr. Bonesteel is here on Baristanet after having taken over the Watercooler? Is there a possible end to his attempt to take over social media in Montclair? Frustrating.

    44. Dherron, Thank you. That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking! Anyone who serves on the BOE or the BOSE who have kids in the schools or pays taxes in this town, would have a conflict of interest! Sheesh.

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