Get out and Vote

People of Montclair, if you think this country is headed in the wrong direction and you find the policies and character of the current administration abhorrent there is something you can do about it.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, there are elections for U.S. Congress in the 10th and 11th Congressional Districts which serve Montclair. Get out and vote.

Now more than ever the differences between the parties and the candidates are clear to see. Incumbent Democratic candidate, Donald Payne Jr. in the 10th Congressional District has opposed most of the administration’s policies, including strongly supporting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and investments in education and job training. The Democratic candidate in the 11th Congressional District (Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen's seat until his recent retirement),  Mikie Sherrill supports a woman's right to chose her own health care options, Planned Parenthood, universal background checks for gun buyers and a federal ban on assault weapons.

Historically, the turnout of registered voters in these off year elections has been pretty meager. This means your vote is especially important and carries more clout. If you have been disenchanted, displeased and/or disgusted by the behavior and policies the current administration, take action. Make your voice heard in the most effective way possible.

Hope to see you at the polls.

Arthur Portnoy



We've Been Patient

Reading the article about Mr. Carrino's garden in the all but abandoned Lackawanna station mall juxtaposed with the letter from the Historic Board Center demanding more patience from residents was almost Kafkaesque.

When a business owner had to plant a garden to keep our neighborhood from becoming a magnet for graffiti and vandals and warns that it has a "bad perception", it shows how out of touch the historic board is as they continue to move the goalposts on the project as developers present more and more designs to bow to their demands.

It now seems they want a developer who will shoulder the cost of restoring the station to its former glory 50 years ago before it became a mall. A lofty goal, but one that will leave our working neighborhood without a grocery store. The mention of Whole Foods a few articles back was telling. Are they stalling until the only taker is an expensive specialty store that doesn't provide affordable staples? To solve the problem of the crowded Whole Foods and the abandoned Lackawanna space in one blow for further gentrification?

We've been patient for four years.

The lot is drawing vandals and even skateboarders avoid it, but residents have to exit the bus there late at night.

We all want a solution that doesn't ugly Bloomfield Avenue any further after the approval of towering hotels and cheaply built condos, but we've been patient. Four years is enough to graduate college, but not enough time to convince a developer to undo a previous tenant's damage. Perhaps the historic board should crowdfund the restoration to their exacting demands, and put up a for rent sign.

Thomas Pluck



Black educators come together

New Jersey Association of Black Educators (NJWBE) sponsored a community meeting on Saturday, July 28 at Bloomfield College on the topic “Let’s Talk About Our Children and Education.”

James E. Harris, president of the NJABE, gave brief comments about the importance of parents/caregivers and teachers communications, some educational concerns and issues. Harris also made some comments about the New Jersey Amistad Commission Law.

The meeting was planned by the NJABE Program and Activities Committee, which is chaired by Christopher Cottle, an administrator at Montclair State University. A panel of five which included teachers principals and parents/caregivers presented some ways to promote increased parents/caregivers and teachers communication.

Their presentations were followed by a question and answer period and also included a discussion of other education concerns and issues from the audience of parents/caregivers, educators and education advocates from various school districts in NJ.

The panel discussion was moderated by Kamari Ghafoor-Davis, a social worker and president of Optimistic Expectations and a college professor.

Panelists included Ms. Tasha Barge, parent and former PTA president of Charles H. Bullock Elementary School in Montclair; Ms/ Paula Bethea, parent and principal of Martin Luther King Jr. School in Trenton; Ms. Cambie Jones, teacher at East Orange Campus High School; Mr. Leon Miller, teacher at Paterson schools, and Ms. Sheila Graham Woodson, Social Studies and AVID teacher, Passaic, chairwoman of the Educational Advocacy Committee, NJABE.

NJABE is a statewide education advocacy civil rights organization. For more information about NJABE, email or call 973-518-2990.

James E. Harris