Mayor Sean Spiller’s support of a referendum for a publicly elected Board of Education is an insult to the 1,800 people who signed a petition for rent control to appear on a ballot, only to be castigated by the mayor and some members of the council and thwarted administratively by the municipal attorney and clerk. 

Not only was the committee of petitioners for the rent control referendum forced to bear tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs to overcome what a judge ruled was an arbitrary and capricious review process by the clerk, we now are facing an appeal that has little hope of winning and is delaying our access to the ballot. 

Mayor Spiller stated: “Voters can and should be entrusted to decide for themselves what mechanism for naming members of the Board of Education will best serve students, residents and taxpayers.”

Why can voters in Montclair be trusted to choose the mechanism for school board membership, but they cannot be trusted to decide if they want rent control?

The mayor supports a referendum on electing Board of Education members, which has been defeated three times before, but on rent control, which has also been defeated three times before, he pushes the law through with virtually no public engagement and despite substantial outcry, subsequently denying the voters the right to the ballot? 

It is all so much hypocrisy and manipulation and is nothing short of a declaration that government in Montclair suffers from bipolar disorder. We recognize that the mayor is in untenable conflict of interest as a result of his leadership role in the New Jersey Education Association when it comes to school board issues, but certainly it should occur to all of us, including the mayor, that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, whether we are cooking in our own kitchen or in our neighbor’s.  We shouldn’t be faced with totalitarianism on one issue and egalitarianism on the next.

Ron Simoncini
Executive director, Montclair Property Owners Association


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