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Getting rent control on the November ballot

At Tuesday’s Montclair Council meeting a freeze on rent increases was adopted from May 1 to Aug. 1, which is unenforceable and unconstitutional because it is retroactive, despite that the Montclair Property Owners Association pledged to not raise rents during the pandemic 50 days ago, on April 7.

This act once again demonstrates the willingness of the council to expose the entirety of Montclair to unknown, unexamined consequences in order to curry political favor with a special interest group of tenants. The Montclair Property Owners Association refused to participate in the charade of speaking at the inaccessible, unreliable and poorly managed virtual council meeting to debate this issue. Instead, we have committed the Montclair Property Owners Association to support the Committee of Petitioners, which is pursuing citizen government through referendum, a right provided by state law. The township has sought to frustrate the committee’s efforts by refusing to share voter contact information at a time when the committee is prevented from going door to door to collect signatures, which is an absolute and profound perversion of the obligation of government.

Registered voters in Montclair are invited to visit www.montclairpropoa.com, where they can inform themselves about the rent-control ordinance and the context in which it was adopted, and electronically sign a petition that will place rent control on the November ballot. Residents of Montclair can register to vote online at http://www.essexclerk.com/Services/5 and will then be qualified to sign the petition.

Any petition signed previously cannot be used and will not be accepted by the town. Residents who want the issue to be voted on must fill out the online petition that appears on the website.


The author is executive director of the Montclair Property Owners Association.



To senior HS athletes, from ‘Coach Wash’

I want to start off by saying how incredibly sorry I am that you did not get the closed chapter you deserve. Trying to move forward in your life without the book being closed is hard; it’s downright painful.

But I wanted to remind you how special you all are. You all have changed my life as much as I’ve tried my best to impact yours. I know and believe you will go out and accomplish wonderful things.

The pain won’t subside for a while, but understand that myself as well as the entire athletic department are with you and love you so incredibly much. Right now you all are learning incredible life lessons. However, giving up when things are tough shouldn’t be one of them. That being said, I want to leave you with a few things to remember:

  • Grapes must be crushed to make wine.
  • Diamonds form under pressure.
  • Fire refines gold.
  • Olives are pressed to release oil.
  • Seeds grow in darkness.

So whenever you feel crushed, under pressure/fire, pressed or in darkness, just remember you are in a powerful place of transformation.

Now this is not to say your feelings and emotions aren’t valid, because they are, and one day you will look back and see all that this has taught you: that sometimes you don’t get closure, you don’t always get the period at the end of the sentence, and that is okay. Because you get an opportunity to create more and more sentences that will write beautiful stories.

To the class of 2020: The world we are living in today is not the world any of us could have envisioned. But it is a world that, more than ever, needs each of you to step up, learn, grow, and attempt the impossible. Faith over fear.

I just want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of your sentences. Trust the process, never settle, and, most importantly, always bleed blue.


The author is head coach of the Montclair High School track and field teams.



Release vulnerable prisoners, save lives

According to ACLU NJ, New Jersey has the highest rate of prison deaths in the country, more than New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts combined. In total, 544 prisoners, 600 correctional officers tested positive, and 42 prisoners died. There are only five states (Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina) that are massively testing the correctional employees and prisoners, and those states are finding out that they have a dangerously high number of infected people in prisons and jails.

An NJ.com article on May 13 states “if prisoners died before they were tested for coronavirus, it was up to state and county medical examiners to decide whether to test them.” Several families whose incarcerated family member died are still waiting for an official cause of death, according to this article. The UN and WHO recommended to decarcerate to avoid the spread of the virus in prisons, where no social distancing is possible. Gov. Murphy has ordered the release of prisoners as well.

According to a statistical report from Prison Policy Initiative from May 1, many counties around the country have been reducing the prison population in their county jails drastically. Bergen County Jail made it to the list, having released only 170 prisoners of its 573 prior to the coronavirus crisis. No action means that we are imposing a death sentence on  thousands of people who are held in our jails and immigration detention centers for low-level crimes or no crimes, like the migrants.  COVID-19 has arrived at N.J. prisons, and the spread can only be stopped or minimized by releasing prisoners.

Gov. Murphy has the power to provide pardons to prisoners who are at the end of their sentence, for non-violent crimes, the elderly, or the pregnant women. Forty-two prisoners have died already, but Gov. Murphy has not talked about their lives during his daily COVID-19 briefings.




A poem: ‘You know the drill’

In an effort to bring attention to the importance of getting tested before dental treatment, I’ve written this poem. Please contact your governor, senators, and congressional representatives to make them aware of this critical situation. There’s strength in numbers!

Hey dentists, the risks to you skyrocket high!
Why couldn’t the gov get a proper supply
Of testing for patients or even good masks
When open-mouthed drilling’s your primary task?
So what’s then to happen when toothaches appear?
Seems that social distancing can’t help much here!
With no prior testing to patients you meet
How many will pass COVID on that you treat?
With mouths open wide, you’ve no place to hide,
As aerosols spread through the office inside.
And what of the staff and next patient appointments
Will everyone then need their last rites anointments?
So why aren’t officials now calling to wait
For testing, then treatment before it’s too late!
The next time I’m scheduled (in hopes to survive)
First test me, then treat me, so we both stay alive!




Keep Memorial Day in your thoughts

Memorial Day is a sacred day of the year. We must remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and our unique democratic processes. Both of my uncles served in World War II and volunteered their service. Fortunately, they returned with injuries but alive. I worked in VA hospitals, monthly over a six-year period, working with veterans, mostly those who survived the Vietnam War. They told me how many of their friends were not so lucky.

My grandfather's older brother was killed in the Spanish American War. During my second year of teaching, one of my students, who I taught my first year as a teacher, died in Vietnam one year out of high school.

My experience is not unique. I am sure every member of the Montclair community has a family member or friend lost in the numerous conflicts.

I ask that you take some time over this long weekend to pause and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and also thank living veterans and those currently in harm's way.

This is especially important this year, since most of the Memorial Day events are canceled.

The author is the interim superintendent of the Montclair school district.