Last week, you started your column with a Q&A about the unconscionable delay in firing the township manager accused of hostile workplace behavior by four women. This week, will you again wonder why he’s not gone yet?


He Got Sued, Says Sue

Yup. Is the manager threatening litigation? Trying to slow down the process in other ways? After he was suspended from his high-paid job last October, it’s telling that no Montclair kid wore a township manager costume for Halloween.


During the public comment portion of the Township Council meeting this past Monday, March 27, residents asked about the manager’s status — only to receive no information from the interim township attorney. Why?


Mum’s the Absurd

The usual confidentiality excuse — even though silence only helps the manager and those who may have known about his alleged misdeeds, and even though the public has paid the manager’s salary. As 18th-century firebrand James Otis said, “Taxation without communication is Tierney’s.”


Pretty sure Otis didn’t say that. To add insult to injury, the Council on the 27th voted (with some dissent) to award a new lucrative contract to a law firm for tax appeal services even though that firm is reportedly involved in representing the township manager in the welcome lawsuit against him by Montclair CFO Padmaja Rao. Are you shocked?


Injury Plus Insult Equals…

No, my apartment’s electrical wiring seems safe.


Also at its March 27 meeting, the Council voted to introduce the proposed new municipal budget. Even that had issues because…


Problematic Is Automatic

…members were asked to vote despite at least some of them not seeing the proposed budget until late Friday, March 24 — giving them little time to absorb tons of numbers. Only Ticketmaster could ruin a weekend more.


My teen daughter did want to attend a Taylor Swift concert. As the budget is discussed and possibly modified before a final vote in May, what’s among the things that will initially stand out?


Not a Love Story

The fire department wants a big increase in funding even though it shouldn’t get one. Why shouldn’t it get one? Um…pardon me while I consult Anne Tyler’s novel “Ladder of Years.”


I assume the reasons include 1) allegations of nepotism and racism related to the department’s fire promotion exam and 2) some Montclair officials saying or implying, as they pushed for the fire deal renewal that would see our town fleeced by Glen Ridge, that Montclair could aid Glen Ridge without increasing the fire department budget.


No Fan of the Fire Chief

It turns out that Ms. Tyler’s ladder is not a fire truck ladder, despite there having been a real fire truck in the now-defunct Paramus children’s museum.


Also at the March 27 meeting, many audience members again urged a complete local ban on horribly loud and polluting gas-powered leaf blowers, and there were indications the Council might consider that. Your two-word response?


Emerson, Rake & Palmer

Great…gasp…great…choke…great…ouch, my poor ears…great…turn off…great…those damn leaf blowers…GREAT…ugh, ugh, ugh…NEWS!


On March 26, the day before the Council meeting, the new skatepark had its very well-attended grand opening. Also great news?


It’s the Wheel Thing

Indeed! The skatepark is in North Fullerton Avenue’s Rand Park, which is not named for conservative writer Ayn Rand. I thought Atlas would be annoyed when hearing that, but Atlas Shrugged.


Then, this Saturday, April 1, there’s the Transgender Day of Visibility event hosted by Out Montclair at Union Congregational Church on Cooper Avenue. An important event?


James Fenimore Cooper

Very important, especially at a time when right-wing bigots are not “April fooling” as they viciously try to deny transgender people their human rights.



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.



8 replies on “MontClairVoyant: Township Manager Not Budged (From His Job) on a Budget Night”

  1. Dave,

    I read in our local paper that the Council’s outside investigative attorney from O’Toole Scrivo recommended Mr Stafford get anger management help.

    Does this mean the women in this workplace misread his excessive or inappropriate anger as hostile?

    Maybe the women didn’t take into account cultural differences when coming to the conclusion his boorish behavior rose above just full-on anger?

    Of course, if Mr Stafford had listened to the CFO, we could be paying this $1.2MM settlement offer out of Glen Ridge’s wallet and still have more than we are getting from GR now.

    Oh well. What should we talk about next?

  2. Thank you for the comment, Frank. Not sure if your words were 100% serious or part tongue-in-cheek, but to me “excessive or inappropriate anger” in the workplace is almost synonymous with hostility in the workplace when it’s directed at others in the workplace.

    Re your mention of Montclair’s awful fire deal with Glen Ridge, it’s good not to lose sight of the fact that — even putting hostile behavior aside — the township manager’s job performance often left something to be desired.

    The manager’s outrageous reported demand of $1.2 million in return for stepping aside will be part of my next column tomorrow.

  3. My questions/phrasing were tongue in cheek. I was suggesting, in jest, that the women could be the problem. I’ll go out on a limb and speculate all the advice & negotiations involve male attorneys.

    This is all following a predictable & typical course. However, the report’s “anger mgmt” recommendation will probably make other men pause before hiring O-S for workplace dust-ups. 🙂

    The CFO’s new attorney was quoted as “speechless”, so we’ll have to wait until she recovers to hear her thoughts.

  4. Yes, the Glen Ridge fire contract that the Council ratified at the September 29, 2022 meeting that will pay us the discounted price of $850,000 this year.
    Well, to train and outfit our firefighters to service us and GR, the Dept of Homeland Security’s grant is charging us a co-pay of $30,796.92. So, we will only net $819,203.08. Oh, and the DHS billed us on Sept 2, 2022. And the Council hasn’t accepted their offer yet.

  5. In United States labor law, a hostile work environment exists when “one’s behavior within a workplace creates an environment that is difficult or uncomfortable for another person to work in, due to illegal discrimination.”

  6. Thank you for the follow-up comments, Frank.

    Yup, some problematic males are involved in the township manager-related negotiations, attorneys and otherwise. And ha — 🙂 — your quip re Nancy Erika Smith’s “speechless” reaction. She’s an excellent attorney; I’m glad she’s involved in helping with CFO Padmaja Rao’s lawsuit against the manager.

    As for the fire deal, affluent Glen Ridge isn’t associated with the word “discounted” too often. 🙂

  7. Thank you, silverleaf! From everything that’s been reported, it certainly seems like the suspended township attorney may have created the hostile work environment cited in the U.S. labor law you mentioned.

  8. silverleaf,

    Your generic, wikipedia-like description of hostile workplace law is lacking. The issue here is what did Township government know, or should have known, and what were their actions or lack of actions for it to meet the legal definition of a hostile workplace action.

    Fortunately, our Council has been generous in leaving the proverbial trail of breadcrumbs for the plaintiff’s attorneys to follow for discovery & trial. And a surprising amount of what happens in Executive Sessions is subject to discovery. Montclair may make new law here, too. But, my runner-up favorite was the hastily prepared indemnification ordinance. I’m not clear from my reading wether it covers our Township attorneys. And then there is the Council resolution to extend our Township attorney that was amended in Exec. Session. to just 60 days from the original end of 2023. Then there is the OMG rush to finally hire a HR Director. And Culturupt and grievance procedures. And renewing our liability insurance provider for another 3 years even though a competitive bid was less expensive. And why can’t Councilors remember if our newly hired outside representation stayed for the entire Exec Session?

    My favorite? Councilor Russo manic declarations that our form of government is not working and we need a new one. We might want to ponder all that might be driving that.

    The above is my opinion as a layperson. For the record.

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