A campaign fundraiser for Mayor Sean Spiller was scheduled to be held last night, August 4. Why was that event troubling on several levels?


Pat the Money

Several levels? The “United in Labor” event was scheduled to be held on just one level: The MC hotel’s fancy rooftop.


Holding a mayoral fundraiser at a “boutique hotel” is among the troubling elements. I searched The MC’s website for August 4 room rates, and they ranged from $239 to $304 a night. Rather pricey, don’t you think?


It Ain’t Motel 6

Not very affordable for school staffers like paras and newer teachers, even as Spiller is the New Jersey Education Association union’s incoming president. It’s not bad optics, though; it’s ATROCIOUS optics.


And requested donations for the event are up to $2,600 for an individual and up to $8,200 for a PAC. If Spiller runs again for mayor in 2024, or for a higher office, will he outspend his opponent by even more than he outspent Renee Baskerville last year?


Cashed Potatoes

Gee, that sounds fair. Might make for a good lesson at Montclair High’s Center for Social Injustice.


It’s the Center for Social JUSTICE. I have to ask: You greatly admire public-school teachers and are a strong supporter of teacher unions, so why the criticism of Spiller?


Inquiring Minds Want to Foe

Look, Spiller is not a bad mayor and seems like a decent guy. But, again, the unfair amount of campaign money amassed and being amassed is bothersum…uh…bothersome.


Besides, what if former longtime 4th Ward Councilor Dr. Baskerville and/or current Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis want to run for mayor in 2024 and Spiller also runs? Is his “war chest” fair to them?


Dough and Behold

Especially given that Dr. Baskerville and Yacobellis have been off-the-charts impressive in working hard for Montclairites. And for Montclairians. And for Montclairianites.


Speaking of threes, aren’t there potentially almost three more potential years of potential Spiller fundraisers to potentially come?


Future Shock

Your question has potential.


Getting back to The MC being the fundraising event’s venue, a spokesperson for Spiller said the mayor is “proud” to support local businesses. But the hotel is part of a chain, is so tall that it blocks many Montclair residents’ views, was built by a controversial developer, and has staffers who might not be unionized. Comment?


Progressive It’s Not

“Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”


Gasp! What are you saying?


Sir Prise, Sir Prise

Nothing. This column is written, not oral.


In other event news, Montclair school district plans to hold an August 12 virtual town hall to discuss the reopening plan for September in this not-quite-post-COVID era. Good idea?


Stu Dentz

Yes, though I wish live questions were allowed instead of questions having to be submitted via email by August 9…1865. Oops, I still have Abraham Lincoln on my mind.


Did Honest Abe hold a fundraiser at The MC hotel soon after it opened in 2019?


Not a Gettysburg Address

You really need to stop the historical-anachronism shtick. And a certain mayor really needs to stop steamrolling actual and potential election opponents with fundraising overkill.



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.



17 replies on “MontClairVoyant: This Level of Money Isn’t Funny”

  1. The proposal is for a big November, who’s-who meet-up with politicians parading their Lamborghinis, Land Rovers, BMW & Jaguars around the proverbial club parking lot for Best In Show. There are Mercedes, Bentley, & Cadillac courtesy cars for the other “political actors”. A necessary optical element.

    Our alternative for the local, small-time candidates is to drive over to a MHS Football parking lot car wash in May. One line; no cutting. No waxing. No detailing. Just a wash. Of course, they can show up with the above-mentioned high-end cars. But, the optics are off-putting. Handing over a below-market $10 for a wash seems inconsistent. In fairness, the football team just wants to get paid the easy money They could miss a whole lot of spots and they still get their $10.

    I dunno know, but I’m leaning towards the November event. It is something new.

  2. An astounding majority of Montclair’s registered voters don’t bother to educate themselves politically.* They are representative in all of our socio-economic classes.

    So my next questions are to the few who do.

    Why should a local part-time, unpaid elected position have a PAC?
    And why do wee need to move electing them to November?

    Yes, to alleviate voter suppression! Ding, ding,….dong!

    *Note: You should take this seriously or not read on.

  3. There really good news is if you are too tired, or too busy, or too over it, you can just select every 4 years the political mutual fund choice that will invest, with that simple, one-time consent, all your civic thinking & participation. Of course, you will lose most all of your political self (except unlimited expression at cocktail parties & on social media), but the self-esteem returns are significant. And life will be more efficient…and simpler…to focus on more important pursuits. And yes, like me, Hallelujah!, no longer politically suppressed.

  4. So do donors get some original Sean Spiller art work? As always, follow the money. Now excuse me while I hop on my private jet. On my way to a big shindig on the Vineyard. The LaGrange of politics. RIP Dusty….

  5. Ha, Frank! πŸ˜‚ FCC: Fancy Car Carnival. πŸ™‚

    But, seriously, there is indeed way too much money that’s been raised and is being raised for an official (Sean Spiller) who is a local official — at least for now.

    I also wish more Montclair residents paid closer attention to our town’s mayoral and Council races, though I think there was closer attention in 2020 than in 2016. A shame some of the legitimate 2020 mailed-in votes weren’t counted; that kind of thing doesn’t inspire higher voter participation in the future.

  6. “So do donors get some original Sean Spiller art work?” I suppose raising lots of campaign money is an art of sorts, flipside.

    Enjoy your figurative trip to Martha’s Vineyard! Pathmark is gone in Montclair, but Chilmark lives on in MV.

    Dusty as in Dusty Hill of ZZ Top? He was a great musician, but it’s hard to be elected mayor with a beard like that…

  7. I did quietly smile when I first heard of this non-union constructed building – with its designated parking in the Magical Orange Road Parking Deck That You Can’t Access From Orange Road.

    I smiled because the Mayor & Council have yet to resolve the flawed parking space lease…yet, the fundraiser participants parked in these spaces we gave away for a pittance.

    I smiled because our Council sold the developer the municipal land the parking deck sits on in 2014.

    I smiled because the Council never changed its underlying zone district from a Public Zone to a C-1 Central Business District Zone. Oops.

    I smiled because the Planning Board didn’t do its basic homework in reviewing the many, many parking deck reviews that relied on their mistaken assumption to use C-1 Zoning requirements & standards. Double oops.
    (FYI: Where a Redevelopment Plan does not include zoning specifics, the underlying zoning requirements & standards must be used by the land use boards)

    As I’ve said a few times before, the Magical Orange Road Parking Deck That You Can’t Access From Orange Road never stops giving.
    Now we can add fundraising.

  8. I also smile because Mr Troutner and Planning Board have treated quality assurance expertise (QA) as irrelevant to local land use planning, processes, & policy. (I won’t go off on a tangent of a lack of QA in Montclair public education)
    This is what I love about professionals. They will go down in flames before they admit to challenges to their thinking or practices, much less independent oversight.

  9. The decisions of the Planning Board are QA (quite average) at best and QA (quite aggravating) at worst.

  10. Dave, the party was a blast! No masks and millions in taxpayer money used for security. Hey, why not? Nothing is too good for the man of the people.
    Why would a beard stop anyone from being elected? The star of Weekend at Bernies and the most unpopular woman who ever ran for president got elected. The Puppet Masters got rid of Trump and are now in complete control….but nothing is permanent. The spirit of William Wallace is still around and is starting to wake up.

  11. flipside, I’m also no fan of former President Obama’s huge 60th-birthday party. The only consolation for such tone-deaf, elitist, celebrity-studded* excess is that “60 is the new 60.” πŸ™‚

    (*It was reported that Montclair’s Stephen Colbert was among the notables there.)

  12. I should add, flipside, that the size of the party was apparently scaled back quite a bit in the face of criticism, so my above comment should have focused on the original plans for the party rather than the actual party itself.

  13. Frank, The MC hotel and the Orange Road parking deck are indeed problematic in several ways.

    “The Magical Orange Road Parking Deck” — ha! πŸ™‚ I can see that as the title of a children’s book… πŸ™‚

  14. That is a GREAT observation, Montclair Public. Even as some major Democratic figures aren’t practicing what they preach re COVID protocols, most major Republican figures are pretty much 100% ignoring the science. πŸ™

  15. …therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Maybe we should just follow Obama’s lead and party like it’s 1999.
    Dave, the estimate was about 400 at the party. Just think of the cost! Private jets, limos, catering, entertainment, secret service. Imagine the good that money could have done. For someone that gets upset with the cost of a room at the MC your blood must be boiling.

  16. flipside, as I wrote in my 8:57 am comment this morning, I was very much against the scale, elitist nature, etc., of the Obama party, so you’re preaching to the choir in this case. πŸ™‚ Even the somewhat-scaled-down version of the party wasn’t exactly small. Yes, the money that went toward that event could have been used for much-more-important things.

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