Today’s topics include too much upscale development and the Montclair Republican Club’s depressing plan to possibly commission a pro-gun mural. Care to proceed alphabetically by discussing “development” before “mural”?

Order in the Column Court

Actually, “mural” precedes “OVERdevelopment.” So I’ll first discuss “The Battle of Murals,” which is like “The Battle of Hogwarts” in the final Harry Potter book except for being unlike “The Battle of Hogwarts” in the final Harry Potter book.

Last week, you praised the new “Never Again” anti-gun-violence mural — a powerful grassroots creation by Montclair High students under the Chestnut Street overpass. Your reaction to the local GOP wish to counter with a pro-gun mural at the same locale?

A. Palled

I’m appalled, too. The GOP effort is not grassroots, and it would make people wonder if Montclair Republicans respect students’ legitimate fears of being massacred in any U.S. school. Some issues don’t have two equally valid sides — unlike “pork roll” vs. “Taylor ham.”

Most Americans, including millions of NRA members, want stronger gun-safety laws. So why are Montclair Republicans going all Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell on us?

Worst of the Worst

Xyiwhpvlsyoekkgcauqpmptz! Oops, my cat saw your mentions of the Oval Office ogre and “Moscow Mitch” and ran screaming over my laptop keyboard. Don’t scare the poor kitty!

Now for some upscale overdevelopment thoughts: With the upscale MC hotel just opened and the upscale “arts district” and mostly upscale Lackawanna Plaza redo coming, your take on the upscale-ness of it all?

Up, Upscale, and Away

If this was being done in, say, upscale Short Hills, it would make some sense. But Montclair has a history of economic diversity, so upscale developers like Pinnacle ARE CHANGING THE CHARACTER OF OUR TOWN — and many resent it. I also resent having to use the word “upscale” so much.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education has a new member. Your opinion of Sergio Gonzalez?

Seventh’s Sojourn

Pros: He seems smart and skilled, and has young kids. Cons: he’s apparently too new to town and is a corporate sales exec rather than, say, an educator. I need to reread Agatha Christie’s “Mystery of the BOE Pick.”

Was there another new-member possibility?

The Unchosen One

Garfield the comic-strip cat was in the mix until seen at a BOE meeting snoozing atop the speaker sign-up sheet.

Getting back to the Montclair Republican Club’s desired pro-gun mural, what might it look like if created?

The Art of the Heel

I envision a cute AR-15 assault rifle boasting, “I’m a higher number than the age some students shot with my bullets will reach.”


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.




26 replies on “MontClairVoyant: Despite the Carnage, Montclair GOP Wants to ‘Mural-ize’ for Guns”

  1. Unfortunately, the MRC has a strong case here. It could be the ACLU. The group doesn’t matter. NJT should never have allowed the mural.

    I recently received an email from Rep. Sherrill asking for my feedback on which gun control measures (from a list of 6-8) were important to me. I just laugh every time I think of that email. I laugh because Rep Sherrill is a mirror. I laugh everyday I hear “most” Americans “want” gun control.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank!

    I respectfully disagree — I’m glad NJT allowed the Montclair High students’ mural. I don’t think the mural is political or biased. It says “Never Again” — students don’t want to be massacred anymore. That shouldn’t be a controversial message. The fact that not wanting to die sounds like a liberal message rather than just a human message shows how disturbing things have become in our gun-soaked country in which somehow 40% or so of the population supports the vile Trump.

    Actually, many polls show most Americans — even millions of NRA members — want some sort of better gun-safety laws.

    I often share your eye-rolling reaction to politicians seeking constituent feedback. The feedback is often sought in conjunction with asking for money, is often ignored, and is often not taken as seriously as the opinions of big donors. Plus, on certain issues at least, politicians should make up their own damn minds and “do the right thing.” But too many of them are too scared of not being re-elected.

  3. Frank,
    Will you take a minute to complete the short survey below and sign up for my periodic emails updating you on the work my team and I are doing on behalf of all of us? – Congresswoman Sherrill, August 21st

    Which type of gun safety legislation do you support?
    __ Universal Background Checks
    __ Closing the Boyfriend Loophole for domestic abusers
    __ Expand Waiting Periods for Gun Purchases
    __ Assault Weapons Ban
    __ Increased funding for the CDC to study gun violence
    __ Extreme Risk Protection Orders (Red Flag Laws)
    __ High Capacity Magazine Limits

    I could use you help with the choice our new Representative has given us. I realize the choice(s) with he most votes get dispatched the quickest. I have 2 problems.

    First, I thought all these choices were part of any meaningful gun reform? Is our Representative sending a signal that meaningful reform is (SURPRISE!) not possible if she wants to stay in office? Second, would you recommend I pick the 5th item, Increased funding for the CDC to study gun violence to ensure that option is dispatched by the Republicans without delay?

  4. Ha, Frank!

    I assume there was also one more set of choices: donate a certain sum of $$ or a bigger sum of $$ or an even bigger sum of $$…

    Yes, all or at least several of those gun-safety laws would need to be passed to have meaningful reform, though I suppose one or two would be better than none. But if the U.S. Senate and White House don’t flip Democratic next year, I don’t see anything other than token gun reform (possibly) enacted before then.

  5. No $ solicitation attached. The would be gauche!

    I think which party controls the Senate is a short-term thing. Didn’t we have an assault rifle ban before?

  6. “No $ solicitation attached”? Unusual for most politicians not to be gauche in that respect! 🙂

    Yes, there was an assault-weapons ban passed in 1994 during the Clinton administration that was unfortunately allowed to lapse in 2004 during the Bush administration. The U.S. Senate can of course always change hands, but such a ban for even a finite period beats the alternative.

  7. Not to be competitive, but the Baby Boomers actually had an assault rifle ban for 10 years while the AOC generation talks or paints about it.

  8. I hear you, Frank, but Democrats had the White House and, until the 1994 elections, controlled Congress, too. The vast majority of millennials would enthusiastically support an assault-rifle ban, and a number of them have actively pushed for one in recent years — only to be stymied by NRA-beholden Republicans. Sort of like President Obama and other Democrats pushing hard for more gun control after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of little kids, but the GOP ghoulishly said no.

  9. So, Millennials are mostly of a Republican mindset. Makes sense. Not for evolution, of course.

  10. Nope, much of what millennials want has been blocked by the Republican mindset. Many millennials are liberal on guns, race, gay rights, immigration, etc. — hardly GOP-like attitudes.

  11. More complicated than that. Democrats (some boomers, some older) got the assault-weapons ban enacted in 1994 — good! Republicans (some boomers, some older) let the assault-weapons ban lapse in 2004 — bad!

    When millennials control the U.S. government someday, and if many of them retain their liberal views, there probably will be better gun control.

  12. Many positive and/or interesting things associated with the baby-boom generation! The original Woodstock (1969) certainly did better than the canceled 50th-anniversary Woodstock (2019). 🙂

    My wife was in the Peace Corps, in Africa, before I met her.

  13. True, Frank, although Trump and Pence are also baby boomers. 🙁 🙁

    As is Montclair’s most prominent downtown (over)developer. 🙁

  14. I wasn’t saying generations moved the needle. As you pointed out, for every member like your wife, there is a Trump & a Pence.

    I don’t think he is old enough to be a boomer. Let’s stick him in Gen X to spread out the developers.

  15. Yes, Frank, lots of variations in a generation so large!

    Ha! That developer does look younger than his age, but a Google search shows him reportedly born in 1955 — smack in the middle of the 1946-1964 baby-boomer range. Maybe even the “Pinnacle” of that range. 🙂

  16. Dave, People with positive attitudes tend to be productive and stay young looking and vibrant. Providing jobs, renovating dilapidating buildings, giving people places to work and play, donating to charity, are all positive contributions to the community. It appears the side effects of those endeavors is looking youthful and having a couple bucks in your pocket. Not a bad path to take.

  17. Thank you for the comment, flipside. Well said, as always.

    I agree — a positive attitude, doing good, making lots of money, and perhaps some hair dye ( 🙂 ) can keep many people looking young. But, obviously, things like genetics, exercise, a healthy diet, and a handy-dandy copy of Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” also play a part. 🙂

    Predictably ( 🙂 ), I would argue that the upscale (over)developer we’re talking about has had a very mixed impact on Montclair. Yes, he and his company create jobs, and places for (mostly affluent) people to visit and use. But also created are too much traffic, visual crowding of the “streetscape,” scenarios where lower-income people are mostly not in the equation, mistrust in local government (because residents see rich builders listened to more than the average citizen and given more breaks than the average citizen gets), etc.

    As for charitable donations by wealthy people, I see it as “green-washing” in many cases. Making tons of money in a way that at least partly harms communities and then giving away a tiny percentage to try to look good. Of course, some wealthy people give away a serious chunk of their fortunes. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling* is one — and, unlike certain developers, her impact on society is 100% positive.

    *As you might remember, Rowling visited and spoke in Montclair in 1999!

  18. The affluent need places to visit and use too. The affluent tend to spend money and tip more. The more the merrier. Too much traffic? Maybe at times but isn’t also an indication of a town that is desirable to visit? Thank you for pointing out that you believe even charitable giving can be negative. That is quite an outlook…whew…Yes, some people donate for the publicity or perhaps getting something in return but it is better than nothing. JK Rowling did visit and speak in Montclair! So did Madonna. Much to the enjoyment of the affluent students at MKA.
    Check out Chuck Feeny. It will make your day.

  19. EXCELLENT point about Rowling, flipside! One of her few lapses. I wish she had instead visited a public school in Montclair. In general, I’m not a fan of private schools.

    But no apologies for my feelings about “green-washing.” It’s definitely a “thing.” Sure, the recipients are happy to get needed money — usually an ultra-tiny amount of the donor’s wealth — but what’s the good-or-bad-for-society ratio of the harm the donor did in amassing the money vs. the often-token amount donated? (BTW, relative to my modest income, I donate a LOT of money.)

    I just looked up Chuck Feeney — impressive and commendable! Wealthy people giving away much of their money in secret is highly unusual. They do indeed usually want the publicity, to improve their poor reputations, get their names on buildings… Glad there are some exceptions.

    “The affluent need places to visit and use, too” — sure, but they already have a ton of such places. I’d like to see a few bones thrown to the non-affluent when it comes to new development. Would seem like the “fair and balanced” thing to do.

  20. flipside, I just looked up “green-washing,” and it seems to have a specific environment-related definition. I’m not sure what the term is (or if there is a term) for rich people and big corporations donating money to try to improve general reputations that are negative.

    Ideally, cultural institutions and other deserving entities in the U.S. would get more government money (such as grants) so they could rely less on private donors who might have made their fortunes in not-so-community-friendly ways. A number of developed countries are better at that than our country is. Certainly little hope for more funding of cultural institutions, etc., from Republican-controlled governments. Where would more federal money for cultural institutions, etc., come from? Just a little less military overspending would do the trick.

  21. “Sort of like President Obama and other Democrats pushing hard for more gun control after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of little kids, but the GOP ghoulishly said no.”

    Pushed hard? Haha. Obama was awful on gun control, it took Sandy Hook for him to even bring it up. He was silent following Fort Hood and practically silent following Aurora, CO which is also consistent with his silence during the 2012 presidential campaign. Many Democrats, especially in swing states are unfortunately silent.

  22. Thank you for the comment, stayhyphy! You’re not wrong. President Obama was kind of late to the game, and could have pushed harder for gun control, especially before Sandy Hook in 2012. Too many other Democrats have also been weak, as you note. But, overall, a number of Democrats have at least been somewhat strong on this issue compared to the spineless-on-gun-violence Republican Party, which is truly in the pocket of the NRA. All most national GOP politicians say (if they say anything) after yet another horrific shooting massacre is some variant of “thoughts and prayers.” Or they distract with claims that mental illness, video games, etc., are mostly to blame when other developed countries have mental illness, video games, etc., yet have much, much less gun violence. Because those countries have much, much fewer guns, and make it harder for people to legal purchase them. Many of the (white males) doing the massacring in the U.S. purchased their guns “legally.”

  23. Edit of my last two sentences, which I added just before the five-minute editing clock ran down 🙂 :

    Because those countries have MANY, MANY fewer guns, and make it harder for people to legalLY purchase them. Many of the (white) men doing the massacring in the U.S. purchased their guns “legally.”

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