Hi! This is a DM (Direct Message) from New Jersey’s DM (Democratic Machine) and Montclair’s DM (Developer Moguls). Stop the DM (Damn Mocking) of Montclair’s election and the effort to kill rent regulation. Okay?

The Powers That Be

Sure! I’ll focus this week on cute puppies. Those corgis next door are…wait, who am I kidding? I’m going to again criticize Montclair’s problematic election and the problematic effort to kill rent regulation. But first some crooning from DM (Dean Martin): “Everybody loves somebody sometime…”

Oh, shut up. Mayoral candidate Renee Baskerville challenged Montclair’s very close mayoral election because many votes weren’t counted. Yet the case might not be heard in Superior Court until September 11, even as Sean Spiller became mayor on July 1. Why the huge delay?

The Late Show

Seems fishy. Let me watch a “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” rerun and get back to you.

Adding to the fishiness was Gov. Murphy visiting Montclair July 1 to swear in Spiller, who he called “a dear friend.” New Jersey’s democratic establishment is all in on Spiller, no?

Pals Cabin

To paraphrase George Carlin, it’s a club and you ain’t in it. Even driving down Club Road won’t help, though Yantacaw Park is kind of nice.

So it seems unlikely that Gov. Murphy would issue an executive order to count all Montclair ballots postmarked in time but not delivered in time and count Montclair ballots denied for alleged signature mismatches?

Do the Right Thing

Maybe when pigs fly. Currently, they’re reluctant to board crowded planes.

Moving to the campaign to kill the needed rent regulation passed by the Township Council in April, one Montclair Property Owners Association tactic is gathering signatures to force a referendum. Do you have a problem with that?

Go Away, MPOA

I have a problem with the kill-rent-regulation campaign’s misleading texts that are turning smartphones into dumbphones.

One text said, “We almost have enough signatures to get Rent Control on the Ballot in Montclair” — implying that it’s an effort to START rent control rather than KILL it. An attempt to fool residents not in the know on this issue?

Spin-Spin Situation

More fishiness. Which reminds me that “Flipper lives in a world full of wonder, flying there under, under the sea!”

Enough 1960s TV references! How about mentioning a more current series, like “Outlander” or “Outer Banks”?

Your Show of Shows

The latter is about long lines outside some Chase branches earlier in the pandemic.

Speaking of outside, the three in-person Montclair High graduation celebrations scheduled for today, July 9, were sadly postponed because there may have been COVID-19 exposure at recent commencement parties. Will the celebrations ever happen?

Field of (Dashed) Dreams

Let’s double things: the Class of 4040 can gather for six events.

Okay — on my calendar. Speaking of the pandemic, Covid cases are rising somewhat again in Montclair. Reaction?

Rhea Lentless

I’m struggling for a ’60s TV theme song to put this distressing news into perspective. A “Gilligan’s Island” lyric did note that “it’s an uphill climb.”

Many Montclair restaurants are struggling during this time. Could our local leaders do more for those eateries, such as closing down some streets to create additional space for outdoor dining?

Meal Street Blues

Yes. Meanwhile, I’ve done some takeout and curbside pickup — even remembering to pick up the food I ordered rather than pick up the curbs themselves, which are heavy and hard on the teeth.

Mountainside and Nishuane pools are scheduled to open this Monday, July 13, with pandemic protocols in place. Thoughts?

Swim Sum

I’m pretty sure there’ll be water in the pools.

You don’t say! Let’s end this column with another election: New Jersey’s July 7 primary that mostly involved mail ballots. Were there final vote totals as of your Wednesday-afternoon deadline?

Few Votes From Goats

No. A future column will be where that primary is Discussed More (DM). 

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.



14 replies on “MontClairVoyant: Many Hot Topics Despite Montclair Not Being in the Tropics”

  1. Baskerville’s “make every vote count” and 1100 uncounted ballots mantra sounds great for Share Montclair. And it will carry on for four years that this election was somehow stolen — especially with no real clear mandate provided to Sean Spiller. However, the judge can count votes and Councilor Baskerville still just didn’t have the goods.

    Let’s do math. Only 60 votes were postmarked before May 12th but received after the 14th. 60. Yes, those two days were too short of a window for mailing given virus impacted postal issues — but it’s still only 60 votes. And based on the election statistics, she would likely still only get half of those votes. There was a 10 thousand plus voting sample. Basically it’s 50-50. That’s just 30 votes more for each if they are counted. Not all are going for her.

    Then, let’s look at 200 or so ballots here thrown out for signatures and other misl. issues. A normal amount of mailing ballot trouble. Maybe even less. But again, even if allowed back in — likely only half of those would go to her based on statistical probability from a large voter election return. Still no clear victory party.

    Regardless, no way any judge is letting in ballots postmarked after election day. Or with a missing date stamp. Why have an election then? The ones without a stamp received late could have fraud, especially if done at the last minute likely after the first unofficial results were reported. And the ones post-marked after the election day are persona non-gratta.

    Shoulda..woulda… but didn’t get to the church on time. Yes, some reports that one post office was closed early…another it was open late. It’s just not going to fly. Forget about the Governor. It’s the judge reviewing. You need facts and proof.

    There was a wide enough window here for voting. Nothing abnormal went on in mass except some scuttlebutt of some late ballots all coming in the same day from larger rental buildings and some talk of voter “assistance” to elderly residents there. That hasn’t made the headlines yet. Just rumors. But that’s not a good place to go for Baskerville should this start to get played with.

    The clear takeaway is that the judge didn’t allow an injunction and instead put it on a normal litigation schedule because the seeming likelihood Councilor Baskerville will NOT prevail. Plain and simple. If the facts and situation showed a strong chance of her winning and turning it around — likely an injunction would have been granted. So he just kept her on life support — and gave her a shot regardless since she did not come in with an attorney really and did not have full legal briefs ready from the start.

    Can she deliver something real in her legal papers now that are due at the end of this month? Let’s see? Big hurdles here for issues of fact and reality…despite a very close election.

  2. Thank you for the detailed comment, therealworld.

    I mentioned in a previous column that Sean Spiller would probably still be mayor if all the votes were counted. But this still seems like a case that should have been heard before July 1 to ensure that the mayoral election is looked at as fair.

    Spiller and Dr. Baskerville were separated by just 195 votes. If all the postmarked-by-May 12 (but not received by May 14) ballots were counted, and if everyone with alleged signature issues was contacted and given a chance to fix things, those added votes might very well shake out roughly 50-50 and not change the results. But it is theoretically possible for a 195-vote gap to be made up when more than 1,000 ballots weren’t counted for various reasons — including some that were reportedly mailed by May 12 but not postmarked, which is not the fault of voters.

    Heck, there are even precedents in the U.S. for having a do-over election. (In Montclair’s case, just for mayor, not for other Township Council seats that were mostly won by large margins.)

  3. therealworld, the way I see things from my perch, your words ‘Why have an election then?’ are the key ones. We’re headed in that direction, if not already there in NJ, nationally & many localities. That’s why I’m such a pain in the tuchas.

    Dave Astor, which Montclair mayoral election had a do-over? I missed that in history class. Thanks!

  4. Thank you for the comment, Maureen.

    I never said any past “Montclair mayoral election had a do-over.” Rather, I wrote in my previous comment that “there are even precedents in the U.S. for having a do-over election” — such as the North Carolina do-over election mentioned in the link below, after a Republican candidate funded an illegal vote-harvesting scheme.

    As for your Michael Bloomberg link, you’re preaching to the choir. I am NOT a fan of that billionaire current Democrat — for reasons such as his racist “stop and frisk” policy while NYC mayor, his history of blatant sexism, his general arrogance, etc.

  5. Maureen, the line that ended my 10:06 am comment — “In Montclair’s case, just for mayor, not for other Township Council seats that were mostly won by large margins” — was about a theoretical future do-over of Montclair’s 2020 mayoral election, not about any Montclair election do-over that actually happened in the past. I could have made that more clear.

  6. The NJ Superior Court is in a very ‘delicate’ position because of they probably want to socially distance themselves from NJ’s recount procedure….because that will make it really messy.

  7. Dave Astor – you are still missing the main point. Votes mailed after the 12th and postmarked after that day are not and should not be allowed.

    Votes with no postmark — which could be run through a stamp machine or something equivalent — are not going to be allowed. Potential for fraud. Mailed after election day.

    Again, there was plenty of time to mail your ballot from home or take it to a post office during normal hours — even if one waited till the last day.

    Not every discombobulated or screwed up action by citizens needs to be coddled and accommodated. So sure…count the 60 votes which were mailed on time and not received due to the the postal issues….and if warranted….try to get the 200 plus fixed with signatures. Again, that’s not many for a 10 thousand plus return.

    The others just ain’t happening…and shouldn’t.

    The Baskerville slogan should switch to “make every legal vote count”.

  8. “Superior Court is in a very ‘delicate’ position because they probably want to socially distance themselves from NJ’s recount procedure…” — drolly said, Frank. Social-distancing is both a physical action and a metaphor. 🙂

  9. I hear you, therealworld, but I read that one of Montclair’s post offices closed several hours early on May 12 — meaning some voters may have mailed ballots that day (on time) that ended up not being postmarked that day.

    The more I think about it, the more I think there should be a do-over of the Montclair mayoral election (not the 2020 at-large and ward races) using the state rules that were instituted after May 12 — i.e., seven days for ballots postmarked in time to be delivered, and the chance for voters to “cure” signature issues that in most cases are trivial/unintended.

    As for mail-voting fraud, various studies have indicated that there isn’t much of it in the U.S.

    Lastly, I agree with what I think you alluded to — voters shouldn’t wait until anywhere near the last day to send in ballots. I certainly didn’t. But procrastination is a major human trait, and some people are crazy-busy.

  10. As I understand it, the County receives the completed paper ballots directly from their polling stations or the USPS. Now, if the completed ballots are received on-time and determined to be proper & valid, including the infamous & notorious signature match process, then it should not make any difference if the ballots were not cancelled by the USPS.

    Bottom line is the County and Township had a substantial voter registration problem before the fact and then threw out 10% of the paper ballots after the fact.

    The County said it was a good election and certified the results. The court will say it was a mostly good election and will certify the results.

    I have no doubt the 1,000+ rejected votes followed the statistical distribution of Montclair’s 4 Wards, 35 Districts and 96 miles of streets. If not, then this would indicate grounds for a bias. How to fix it for the national election?

  11. Thank you for the additional comment, Frank.

    When I saw your line “The county said it was a good election and certified the results,” it occurred to me that, given the issue of many votes not being counted, maybe the county should have held off on the Montclair-mayoral-race certification. But it didn’t. It’s anyone’s guess if the more “establishment”/politically connected mayoral candidate being in the lead had something to do with that.

    As for the national election, I think there would be fewer problems with mail voting than with voting machines manufactured by companies owned by Republicans — and of course GOP officials are known for actions such as eliminating many in-person polling places in areas more likely to vote Democratic (including areas with many people of color).

  12. I’m curious as to how the national election plays out…but, I fully prepared for another 4 years of Republican dominance. The only thing I don’t get is why women vote for Republican, and our representatives that straddle the line, in such disproportionate numbers. It is beyond my comprehension. It really goes to purpose and why any one person is here on earth.

  13. Dave, this is per your 1:14 comment.

    It is guaranteed there will be less problems with the November mail in-ballots. They will simply have a lesser standard for November. I would think this is obvious to most people. The County can’t throw out 10% of the votes for a real election. If nothing else, we are very practical in Essex County. Of course, most people don’t vote so it’s like debating that tree falling in the forest. Pointless, but something to do.

  14. Frank, I hope you’re wrong about another four years of Republican dominance. I think the Dems could win the White House, possibly win the Senate, and keep the House if the election is conducted in a relatively fair way (admittedly a big “if” given voter suppression and other GOP shenanigans). And I also don’t get why so many (white) women vote Republican.

    Yes, Essex County must do a better job in November for that election than it did in May for the Montclair election and other area races. And I think they’ll be a decent turnout in November.

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