With four women suing the Township or making sworn statements against the manager for creating a hostile workplace, has there ever been municipal misogyny quite like this in Montclair?


Fiasco Minus Tabasco

Not that I recall during the 30 years since I moved here. Yes, I arrived in February 1993, when the only residents with smartphones were those who rubbed a Smarties candy on their land-line phones.


And it’s been three-plus months since a second investigation of the manager was authorized after a previous probe found his “leadership” was indeed toxic. So it’s great that the Township Council, at its February 7 meeting that bled into February 8, FINALLY started the process of firing the on-paid-leave manager.


More Hostile Than a Hostel

Thanks to Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis (with an assist from Councilor-at-Large Robert Russo) and intense pressure from an understandably angry public frustrated that the wheels of justice were moving more slowly than snails who don’t shop at Fleet Feet.


Yes, many residents called for the manager’s firing during the past few months, and many of the 120 or so residents who packed the Council Chambers on the 7th repeated those calls in public comments.


Bea Gonn

The delay in initiating the ouster of the manager certainly put a dent in Montclair’s progressive reputation. “I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do,” said James Baldwin, author of “Go Tell It on the North Mountain Avenue.”


Not sure you have that book title quite right. Yes, some elected and appointed local officials have seemingly protected the manager to an extent. What possible “dirt” does the manager have on those Montclair “leaders”?


Roger Mud

I watched the old “Ajax laundry detergent is stronger than dirt” TV commercial on YouTube several times in hopes of some enlightenment, and concluded that…the ad’s white knight on horseback creeps me out.


In addition to the workplace-hostility situation, the manager also has been criticized for how he performed his duties — with one of various examples the atrocious deal renewing the firefighting services Montclair provides Glen Ridge.


Hoses and Hosed

To underpay so much, Glen Ridge “played” Montclair like a Stradivarius violin — the first of which was made in 1666, when fire trucks kept stalling because the diesel engine wasn’t invented until 1892.


And wasn’t the manager in charge when there were strong allegations of nepotism and racism relating to the firefighter-promotion exam?


Eleanor Riggedbe

He was. Given that and the Glen Ridge deal, it would be a travesty for the Council to agree to the fire chief’s recent brazen request for a big budget increase. “Very Brazen” would be a great name for a rock band.


In addition to the admirable and spirited public comment (mostly from women) about the fire deal and the fire exam and the need to oust the township manager, what else did attendees talk about at Tuesday’s Council meeting?


Topics Topography

A number of residents called for a complete ban on the use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Montclair. I totally agree — those nasty machines are hugely noisy, extremely polluting, and threatening to my copy of O. Henry’s short story “The Last Leaf.”


Other February 7 attendees spoke about the proposed Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment, with some saying the images of the plan don’t come anywhere close to conveying just how massive the project will be. Comment?


Christopher Wren-Derings

Those images are so conveniently misleading that I’m surprised there wasn’t a Lackawanna diorama using the Monopoly board game’s tiny plastic buildings.


Plus all the additional traffic! Still other attendees said way too little of the municipal budget is geared toward Montclair’s many older residents. Heck, there’s been no director of senior services since the person who ably did that job became one of the women to leave after alleged bad treatment from the manager.


No Eldorado for Elders

And Edgemont Park’s modest clubhouse is just not enough as a makeshift senior center. Clearly, that building can’t be described as Edgemont Park’s egotistical clubhouse.


Moving elsewhere on the age spectrum, the Board of Education has passed a first reading of an amended policy that would free students from having to finish homework assignments on vacation breaks. Good move?


Tired of Being Tired

Yes, and a large measure of thanks go to the BOE’s two student representatives for proposing the change. Hard-working students need a breather on their breaks — which should be a time for fun, friends, family, flapjacks, ferrets, and ferromagnetism.


Overdoing the alliteration much? A concluding remark, please, and avoid words that start with “f.”


Fred Flintstone

As I furiously fulminate in February, I look forward to the fully finalized firing of the no-friend-to-females township manager.



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.



7 replies on “MontClairVoyant: Public Disapproval Forces Vote on Township Manager’s Removal”

  1. One of these days the registered voters braintrust will figure out it wasn’t the Manager who screwed us over on the Glen Ridge contract. I will give them a clue – it was a body with 7 members who can really take care of themselves as far as health benefits & union support.

    Seriously, the registered voters need to try a wee bit harder. I’m asking a lot. They are very busy with heir lives. We already asked them to vote more on more things. But, maybe give us Β½ of 1% of your attention span for one week for civic thought. OK, β…› of β…“% of your attention span for a single weekend.

    I prefer you not bring up the GR fire contract tif you are not going to make a serious effort to get facts straight. Just don’t bring it up. It makes you look silly.

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank. Sure, the Township Council was involved with the Glen Ridge fire deal, but the township manager was as well. Plenty of blame to go around. πŸ™‚ πŸ™

  3. OK, then I’m going to blame Eileen Birmingham, too.

    I distinctly recall her asking all of the Council, month in & month out, starting not long after she put down her LNY champagne glass if they “got this”, “was on top of” and “was out ahead of” any new contract for one, just one, singular expressed purpose – to get an equitable deal.

    I personally would have asked for more, but she clearly was concerned with overreaching. And here is where I blame her. She did not ask the Council’s direct report, the Township CEO, if he “got this”, “was on top of” and “was out ahead of” any new contract. She did not ask the Fire Chief who, apparently, the Council relied on for financial guidance. As a matter of fact, the Council didn’t rely on any Township employee with financial credentials to advise them.

    A mistake by her that has cost us many millions in lost revenue.

  4. Dave, you ask, “What possible ‘dirt’ does the manager have on those Montclair β€œleaders”?

    I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet more than just “A Handful of Dust”.

  5. Thank you for the comment, silverleaf! Great, clever reference to that Evelyn Waugh novel! Perhaps we can hope for a “Decline and Fall” of more than one Montclair “leader”? πŸ™‚

  6. Ha ha! πŸ™‚ “Love Among the Ruins” is also the name of a 10,000 Maniacs album more affordable than 70% of the housing units proposed for Lackawanna. πŸ™‚

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