Tag Archives: Montclair

‘Splainin’ Part Deux. Mayor Jackson is a repeat offender

I don’t know how Robert D. Jackson considers himself a mayor.

Sure, he was elected (I didn’t vote for him), but an election alone does not a mayor make.

I would think – and correct me if I’m wrong – that a mayor earns the title when he (or she) is of service to the community which elected him.

So you’ll forgive my taking issue with this so-called mayor, when he fails to attend a public hearing, not once but twice.

For a project he supports.

That’s going to cost Montclair taxpayers $2.6 million.

And remove precious green space from public use.

How this dude sleeps at night is beyond me.

Maybe he wraps himself in a cozy blanket of ignorance, blissfully unaware that his neighbors are gathering with torches and pitchforks at his doorstep.

If only that were true.

You see Jackson was told about the massive turnout Wednesday night for the public comment phase of the Green Acres diversion request.

Renee Baskerville told him directly.

She also told Jackson and the rest of his council cronies that they should attend last night’s DEP hearing.

Hear for themselves the concerns of the community.

The residents of Montclair who this project will affect.

Did Jackson or his cronies show?

I’ll give you two guesses.

No. And no.

Once again, we were talking to hired guns.

Who, once again, took the brunt of the community’s ire.

Only this time, the room was less full.

The anger had tapered off.

And few in the room were competent to address the environmental impact assessments document in the report prepared by Jackson’s consultants.

No one was surprised by the light turnout.

That’s what happens when you put two meetings on the same topic on back to back evenings.

And if the so-called Mayor doesn’t deem it fit to attend, why should lowly residents.

Moreover, if you think (as many outwardly expressed) that the whole thing is a charade, a rubber stamping process, then why waste your time?

That’s clearly what Jackson and his cronies are hoping thinking.

Oh it’s just the 4th Ward.

They may take issue, but it just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Let them have their meetings and we’ll just push it through.

Right, Jackson?


You’re blatant disregard of us shall be your undoing.

Maybe that’s how things went down when you were mayor in 1987.

Or maybe this is how you run Lorterdan Properties.

But shit done changed!

Just watch and see what happens.

You’re probably unaware that there are no less than four attorneys on High Street.

And cats well versed in the NJDEP approval process.

Motivated to watch you and your cronies kick rocks.

You will not get that Green Acres diversion.

And you can quote me on that.

Oh, by the way.

You’re going to see us Tuesday at the next Council meeting.

You can’t avoid us forever.

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Filed under advocacy

Mayor Robert D. Jackson, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do! (aka NIMBY)

Really Montclair? Is this how you notify residents that a public meeting is being held?

Really Mayor Jackson? Is this how you notify residents that a public meeting is being held?

I was originally going to post this as an open letter to Robert D. Jackson, the mayor of Montclair.

I was trying to come up with a clever way to express my sheer and utter disappointment with his handling of the planned development of a water pumping station down the block from my house.

But as I started writing, I realized that I didn’t just want to blast on dude in absentia.

I’ll wait for tonight’s meeting to blast him in person.

You see, last night, I attended the Nishuane Well Project Hearing, from which Mayor Jackson (and the rest of the Township Council) was conspicuously absent.

Despite the fact that he’s my neighbor (he lives around the corner from me) and he supports the project, last night he was nowhere to be found.

And while he wasn’t there, a roomful of angry residents of the 4th Ward were.

Maybe he didn’t attend because he wasn’t aware that the meeting was taking place.

That massive industrial billboard with the fine print at the bend of High Street is really hard to see when you’re driving.

So I’d understand if he missed it – being all big and all.

Oh, wait, maybe he thought that billboard was for the meeting tomorrow, not today.

No. He’s part of the governing body of Montclair, and should know when meetings are.

So why wasn’t Mayor Jackson (and the rest of the Township Council) there?

Perhaps it was because the consultants he hired to present his plan had it covered.

Why should he attend when these guys were paid (how much?) to study the issue and present a proposal for bringing the 30 year old defunct well into use.

But since they were just hired guns whipping boys outside consultants, they really were out of their depth.

They simply didn’t have the capacity to answer some of the more nagging questions those in attendance had to ask.

They were there to present the plan, not defend Mayor Jackson’s absolute failure to get community input on the project.

So why wasn’t Mayor Jackson (and the rest of the Township Council) there?

Was it because our Councilor, Renée Baskerville should have been keeping us abreast of what was happing in our Township?

Well, no, it couldn’t be that, because she was as in the dark about Mayor Jackson’s intentions as were the rest of us.

She only saw the report issued by the consultants the day before the meeting.

Shouldn’t she and the rest of the board have received it when it was completed in October?

Probably, but she didn’t.

Unlike Mayor Jackson, last night was the first time that most of us saw any report about this project.

So why wasn’t Mayor Jackson (and the rest of the Township Council) there?

The fact of the matter is Mayor Jackson (and the rest of the Township Council) think that this project, like so many before it in the 4th Ward, is a done deal.

The public comment period is just that: a public comment period.

They’ve decided that they want to construct this pumping station at the top of a beautiful hill in (what some think is a marginal) section of town, where nobody cares.

So they’re just going to do it.

End of story.

But Mayor Jackson, that’s not the end of the story.

I’d suggest you recount your eggs.

And show up tonight to explain to me (and the rest of the residents of the 4th Ward) to my satisfaction:

  • Why we need a pumping station in the first place. We don’t.
  • Why non-construction alternatives have not been explored. They weren’t.
  • Why the township is about to borrow $2.6 million (which the taxpayers are going to have to pay back) to finance a project to produce water for residents outside of Montclair.  They shouldn’t.
  • Why we’re finding out about a project that is going to ruin the natural beauty of a bucolic hill, down the block from a community pool, elementary school and a park, all routinely trafficked by small children, at the 11th hour.  How else to get over but through subterfuge and deceit.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There are residents angrier that I, who want to holla atcha.

But don’t take my word for it.

Pick up a copy of today’s Montclair Times.

Perhaps go online to Montclair Patch.

Or even Baristanet.

Reporters from those publications were in attendance last night, and caught an earful.

So Mayor Jackson, I’d suggest you show up tonight.

Before you find us on your doorstep.

Or your name in the defendant’s column of a lawsuit.

Yeah. It’s like that.

You’re not just going to put a pumping station on my block without a fight.

Not in my backyard.


Filed under opinion

Black-and-whites. Blacks versus Whites.

A few months ago, I was pulled over by Montclair’s finest. At the time, I thought the unmarked car with its flashing lights was trying to get by me, in pursuit of a real criminal.

Don't you hate when you pull over, and it's you they're pulling over?

So I, like the other cars behind me, moved to the right to allow him to pass.

Unfortunately, he didn’t continue on his way, but stopped directly behind me. Great.

“License, registration and insurance.” I comply.

He walks away and sits in his car for ten minutes. Ten minutes? Really dude?

Returns with my credentials and some parting gifts in hand.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” Driving while Black?

“You were talking on your cell phone.” Actually, I was listening to a message.

“You’ve got to be to court on the 19th.” I’ve ‘got to be to court’ huh?

“Please drive carefully sir.” But occifer if I did, you couldn’t continue to profile me and issue frivolous tickets.

Anyway, I recount that story because yesterday my neighbor and I talked about how he was stopped the day before, also by Montclair’s finest, allegedly for talking on the phone.

In addition, he was alleged to have made a wide left turn, and followed too closely behind a fire truck.

I thought we were about to commiserate about how the MPD fills the municipality’s coffers by issuing frivolous tickets to it’s residents, instead of dealing with the real crime in this high priced town.

Instead, he told me how he proceeded to ARGUE with the officer challenging the basis for being pulled over.

And don’t you know that at the end of this tirade, the officer let him go, with no ticket.

No ticket? WTF?!

Now you must know, I am Black, my neighbor is white.

I’d seen crazy white folks do this on COPS, but I didn’t think that regular white folks did too!

The fact of the matter is that there is a blatant double standard that exists when it comes to the way officers treat Black and White citizens in Montclair (and the rest of the world).

How you're treated depends on how you look.

I told him if I had engaged in the same behavior, and tried to argue that I wasn’t talking at the time, or that I had used my phone only while stopped at the light or offered any kind of pushback, I probably would have been pulled out of my Jeep, tazed, handcuffed and promptly placed under arrest. He laughed. I didn’t.

He acknowledge, however, that, unfortunately, we do not live in a color-blind society, and behavior that members of the ‘majority’ engage in, would result in dramatically different treatment for members of the ‘minority’ engaging in similar behavior.

I didn’t feel like getting into a deep discussion about racial inequity (I left my soap box upstairs), but I let him know that he couldn’t fathom what it was like being Black, and he should count himself fortunate he wasn’t Black when he mouthed off to the officer because it could have ended up waaaayyyy different than it did.

He agreed, and we parted, soberly, each a little more enlightened by how the other half lives.


Filed under Smack talking

It’s Friday night and I should be partying like a rock star. But I’m blogging.

I got all dandified for my night out in NY last night.

But it’s 12:56 a.m. Saturday, and I’m sitting on this computer.

Something is not right here.

Let’s run it back, shall we?

I threw on my new Gap corduroy blazer I got on sale for $34.99, with a vest (fast becoming my signature) and Brooks Brothers silk chocolate tie, atop a white French cuff shirt. I completed my look with a pair of Levis and a pair of brown suede Kenneth Cole loafers.

Note: My brother strongly recommends Levis for their cut, comfort and timeless fashion. He was so enamored with them he gave me the very pair I’m wearing.

Stephen is stylin'! Ain't I!

Accessorized with silver cuff links from Harlem Thread, a distressed silver buckle black leather belt and my Movado, I was quite the dandy.

Tight. Aren't they.

I wore my hair up, to complete the look of a curiously handsome, and well dressed cosmopolitan man about town.

Ladies, simmer down now.

Plans were to liaise with friends on the lower East side, attend a Magazine launch in Chelsea, and link with some Hollywood types from LA to wind out the evening.

I put in QT with the kids, and felt I had earned my hall pass. That’s right! I said it! I EARNED my night out.

With a preggo in the house, I can’t just be stepping out, I’ve got to put in my time, to wit:

I got up at 7:00 am, got the kids dressed. Asha and Chima generally dress themselves, so I really only had to get Banana (that’s Duran) dressed. But I’ll take credit for all three. Someone had to tell them to get dressed. Hello?

7:00 – 7:20 made breakfast and packed lunches

7:20-7:35 fed breakfast and took out garbage

7:35-7:45 got dressed and retrieved Banana from having hair done

7:45-7:55 got kids in car

7:55-8:35 drop offs and D&D run for preggo’s daily decaf-caffeine fix

8:35-9:00 shower and shave, call William Sonoma in the Short Hills mall to confirm that Zoku is in stock (it’s not)

9:00-9:30 Google and call various WS within 25 mile radius to find Zoku-stocked store (locate one in Paramus)

9:30-9:50 drive preggo with shopping list (where’d she get a shopping list?) in tow to Garden State Mall (exit 161 Garden State Parkway) in which aforementioned WS in located

9:50-12:00 acquire Zoku, Coach 2010 planner refill, Hello Kitty pen, Green Tea Frappuccino, and filet-0-fish meal

12:00-12:20 return to Montclair

12:20-1:25 click click clack on my MacBook, make a few calls and Skype chat

1:25-1:35 retrieve kids from bus stop (half day, ordinarily they would have been home at 3:00)

1:35-2:20 set the kids up with snacks, Kumon and homework

2:20-2:35 pick up Banana from Montclair Pre-K and bring her home

2:35-3:15 review assignments and get kids ready for weekly Kumon lesson

3:15-3:30 pile kids in car from 5 minute ride to Kumon

3:30-4:35 Kumon with the kids (Banana and I sit in car. Me click click clack. Her making Jim Henson with her bunnies)

4:35-5:45 Detour to Wendy’s for impromptu surprise dinner (Kumon instructor’s report was full of praise)

5:45-6:15 Back home, switch kids into pjs, lay out sleeping bags laid in living-room-converted-to-indoor-campground and set plasma to On-Demand Hotel for Dogs.

6:15-6:55 order Chinese for preggo, dressed and wait…and wait…and wait (Me: Helllo. Where is my food? Them: Very busy. Coming. He be there soon)

6:55-7:10 feed preggo, check on kids

As I said, I EARNED my night out.

7:10-8:30 drive to NY (ordinarily takes 20 minutes)

When I finally broke on through to the other side of the Hudson, I had missed my first rendezvous. The friends on the Lower East Side? Also running late.

Make more phone calls in the lobby of their apartment building…and wait…and wait…

He arrives. It’s 9:12. We shoot the breeze. Jay Z and Frank Sinatra at MSG are in hi-def on a 42″ LCD on Fuse. Next thing I know, it’s 11:44. Concert was banging (Jay Z is quite the showman), but I’ve totally forgotten about the launch party.

I call my man, and of course, it goes straight to voicemail (because he’s in the function, you see, and probably can’t hear his phone). Did I say that the function went from 9:00-1:00? When he finally calls back, it’s 12:11.

The launch party is clearly not in my future, and I convince myself I’m not really trying to hang out. Gracefully bow out from the Hollywood types, and head back home.

Hit a little traffic on 280 coming back to Jersey, and here I sit.

It’s now 2:45. I’ve been writing and editing.

I’m having an ephipany.

Love the kids. Taking care of them is a pleasure. It’s still work, but fun work.

Probably accomplished more NOT liaising with folks tonight than if I had.

Answered emails. Sent texts. Made calls. Worked on site with my developer. Closed a deal. Scheduled a few meetings.

Got a lot done today.

I like working from home.

It’s 3:23. Just had to tell someone.


Filed under Uncategorized