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April  27

Parking at Funeral Creates Controversy

Monday night, a Montclair police officer asked mourners attending a funeral at Bright Hope Baptist Church to move their cars. This sparked a public protest from David Herron, president of Montclair NAACP, calling the order "disrespectful" and "insensitive". Herron, 4th Ward Councilor Sandra Lang,  Montclair Chief of Police David Sabagh, and Town Manager Joe Hartnett are all trying to settle what Hartnett calls "an unfortunate incident"  From The Star Ledger:

The sequence of events spelled out by Herron prompted heated remarks from Councilor Sandra Lang, whose 4th Ward includes Mission Street. "It was just flat-out bad judgment," she said at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Tuesday night, Herron -- saying there were some 200 people at the funeral -- insisted that police permission was granted in advance for parking on both sides of Mission Street, a narrow one-way stretch that empties on to busy Bloomfield Avenue.

Yet Sabagh said that was not the case. "They would never receive permission to park illegally," said Sabagh, noting that the main concern is public safety and the ability of emergency vehicles to navigate the street. "To have that road obstructed is not acceptable."

April 27, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (31)

daily dish

April  26

Actually ... In a School You Get People Even More Juvenile Than Us

It's official. The Montclair elementary school being planned on the site of the old "colored Y" on Washington Street now has a name: the Charles H. Bullock Sr. School. Bullock was director of the Y from 1916 to 1935. Mr. Read of the Star Ledger reports today:

The name Charles H. Bullock Sr. School was the unanimous choice of a commemoration committee, Assistant School Superintendent Jeanne Pryor told Mont clair's board of education Monday night.

In recent months, the commit tee, students and staff have been studying ways to acknowledge the Washington Street Y -- as it be came known after its integration in 1959 -- in the new elementary school.

Among the recommendations are incorporating the 1926 cornerstone, a bust or portrait of Bullock and even the mosaic pool tiles into the school to recognize the Y's contributions to the African-American community.

Sure, fine. The Barista thinks it's admirable to honor the African-American community and everything. But the name Bullock, for a school? Isn't that the British word for ....

A little trip to Urban Dictionary straighened us out:

1. bullocks 19 up, 3 down

A term Americans mistakenly use when they really mean to say bollocks.

"Bullocks"? Bollocks, mate, say it right!

Ohhhhh. That was it. Bollocks! Or as Wikipedia explains:

"Bollocks" is a swear word meaning testicles in British English. The word is often used figuratively, most commonly as a noun to mean "nonsense" or as an expletive following a minor accident or misfortune, but also in a number of other ways; as an adjective to mean "poor quality" or "useless", and in various compound expressions (see below). Due to its versatility, bollocks has been called the Swiss Army Knife of andrological profanities.

So sure, great guy, not even the same word. But in a school? We're sure the name with provide hours of titillation -- as well as an opportunity for some great cross-cultural learning -- for the bad little boys of Montclair for decades to come. The question the administration might start to think about now: would use of the term "bullocks" "bollocks" be enough to land a kid in the principal's office?

April 26, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (27)

daily dish

March  20

Who's Buying the Movie Rights?

Yeah, a lot of Phil Read's profile of Steve Plofker in today's Star Ledger is standard retread. He doesn't have the allure of his "cosmetics diva" wife. He's buds with Montclair mega-developer John Cali. His name is on philanthropic rolls all over the state. His detractors call the town that rises on the ashes of the Marlboro Inn "Plofkerville."

But we're thinking there might be a Hollywood remake of a movie like "The Hustler," inspired by this little nugget about a cue-to-cue matchup between Plofker and that other great Baristavillain.

"He's an avid pool player. He's just not good at it," said Richard "Dick" Grabowsky, who made a real estate splash when he bought the block-long Hinck building, whose location at Montclair's landmark "six corners" makes it perhaps the town's premier commercial site.

To Grabowsky, Plofker is just a regular guy. "He is not a snob in any respect. I bumped into him ... with his wife and kids at a Rolling Stones concert," Grabowsky said.

He, too, points to Plofker's many charitable contributions. "The guy's got a good heart," he said. And he uses a word uttered by more than a few when asked about Plofker's attributes: "smart."

"Yes, I taught him not to play pool with Dick Grabowsky, but there's not much else I can teach him. He's a very bright guy," he said.

The Plofkers' tax bill, by the way, is $55,257. Ok, you nattering nabobs of negativity. Read started it. This morning only, it's open season on the Plofkers.

March 20, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (21)

daily dish

March  19

Back By Popular Demand: Paterson

Paterson_by_philip_readIf you want to know everything about Paterson, NJ's storied past in the silk trade, then you want to read Phil Read's "Images of America" book on the subject. Only problem, the first printing of just 1,500 was snapped up and the book's been out of print for about a year. Good news: it's going into a second printing, and will be in stores again soon.

Pre-order here and while you wait for it to ship, think about taking a trip to those amazing falls over there in Paterson. We've met too many people lately who've never been. It's not some dumb little waterfall at the end of a trail. According to Wikipedia it's the second-highest large-volume falls on the east coast.

March 19, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (15)

daily dish

March  17

Montclair Private Schools On Restriction

It's an all too familiar story for the Montclair Co-Op, who abandoned plans to relocate to a Llewellyn Street estate after residents came out in force against the move. On the heels of this protest, the town's Planning Board revisisted the related ordinances. As of Tuesday, the town decided on an official clamp down policy which will affect all of the town's private schools.  The new restrictions affect the schools'  ability to expand or relocate within residential neighborhoods, tightening requirements for parking and playgrounds, reports the Star Ledger and the Montclair Times. 

Mayor Ed Remsen called the measure “imperfect” but said there was a need to deal with “a lot more cars, a lot more drivers, a lot more congestion” in the largely residential community.

“This now closes a critical gap in Montclair’s zoning ordinance.” said Llewellyn Street resident Jody Adams.

March 17, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (56)

daily dish

March   6

North by Northwest

North_by_northwest_2 Run for the hills.

It's not maniacal cropdusters you have to worry about. It's Montclair's sky-high taxes. And, Star Ledger reporter Phil Read has found you the perfect refuge, a little north by northwest of Baristaville: Little Falls.

For a number of Montclairions, Little Falls offers two big things: lower property taxes and a chance to downsize without losing proximity to Montclair stores and restaurants.

"The reason people are going to Little Falls is taxes: capital T, capital A, capital X, capital E, capital S. That explains it," said Carol Rhodes of Rhodes, Van Note Realtors in Montclair.

In 2004 (the last data available), the average house in Montclair sold for nearly $480,000, while Little Falls prices averaged $326,500. The average property tax bill in Little Falls in 2004 was $5,671. In Montclair, it was $12,356. That $557-a-month savings could put a new luxury SUV in the driveway.

Extra bonus for those with red-state leanings, Little Falls is more Republican-friendly than Montclair, the story says. But no worries for Montclair refugees who want to have their sushi and eat it too. Raw fish is now on the menu in Little Falls.

Of course, it's Little Falls that always floods after a big rain. So be sure to spend some of that tax savings on a catamaran and some basement waterproofing.

March 6, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (61)

daily dish

February  28

What Do You Call That Thing Where More than One Person Competes for Public Office? Oh Yeah, an Election

Who knows why Suzanne O'Connor, unanimously chosen by the Glen Ridge Board of Ed to fill a vacancy last summer, was snubbed by the CCC? For reasons that seem as mysterious to us as a papal nomination, the town's unofficial official nominating committee -- which generally puts up a slate of candidates for an uncontested election -- didn't tap O'Connor for the school board election on April 18.

Well, she plans to run anyway. Another untapped candidate, Karen McGinn, will also seek a seat.

More on this uncharacteristically interesting race in today's Ledger.

February 28, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (23)

daily dish

February  26

Montclair's Least Wanted

Phil Read has a story in today's Ledger about the Bloomfield Ave. businesses that, let us just say, don't draw crowds from Ridgewood. Businesses like McDonough Tire and Jinx Proof Tattoo and Body Piercing.

According to Read, Montclair has put some businesses a blacklist -- although it's not clear from the story how official the blacklist is:

In the past decade, Montclair's "not wanted" list has grown from such operations as used-car dealers, check-cashing outfits, pawn shops and adult entertainment to this month's newest add-ons: new-car showrooms, such as Montclair Jaguar; drive-through banks, such as the newest and apparently final one at Commerce Bank; and rental-car outfits, of which there are none.

For those in place, being "grandfathered" means they can keep operating but have little hope of expanding or selling to an expansion-minded buyer.

Well, man cannot live on sushi alone. Every once in a while you do have to get your car fixed or draw some money out of an ATM machine.

February 26, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (113)

daily dish

February  22

Fun With Taxes

We'll dispense quickly with the boring part: Montclair has picked Appraisal Systems of Mendham to do its property revaluation, due next January.

Now the fun part. Watch the screaming, recriminations and legal threats when many homeowners discover that their already stratospheric tax bills are going to go up. From today's Ledger:

The outcome will be something to watch: The 2004 analysis -- gleaned from records for 2000 to 2003 -- found that 79 percent of Montclair homeowners could see their tax bills change $500 or more in either direction, with some swings in the extreme as high as 30 percent.

Montclair, bracing for the revaluation, formed the Fair Valuation Task Force to be on the forefront of communicating with the public [emphasis ours] about what's ahead.

(We pause to snicker.)

An investigative report by the Star-Ledger in the summer of 2004 found that "three-quarters of black homeowners -- but only 1 in 5 white homeowners -- lived in neighborhoods where assessments were too high." And you know what that means. It's the latte-swiggin', SUV-drivin', granite countertop installin' folks who are going to see their property values (and taxes) go up. Social justice be damned. It ain't going to pretty.

Add this to the fun. The whole process goes transparent with Zillow.

February 22, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (50)

daily dish

February   8

Except for a Murder and a Couple of Rapes, Things are Looking Good

Overall crime in Glen Ridge fell 6.7 percent last year, according to a story in today's Ledger, except for -- oops -- a couple of biggies.

In a high-profile case, a woman was found slain in her Astor Place garage, marking the first killing in Glen Ridge in a decade.

The Dec. 7 killing overshadows a new report showing crime overall declined in the tiny borough last year. "It's in the front of my mind every day," Mayor Carl Bergmanson said yesterday of the killing of Joan Galligan, 58. "We're very hopeful that the case will reach the next step very soon."

More bad news:

There were two rapes, versus none the previous year, and 11 aggravated assaults, one more than in 2004 and the highest number of incidents in at least six years.

And, tucked into the penultimate paragraph, the annoying news that the Essex County Prosecutors Office is "still awaiting final toxicology and autopsy results on Galligan." Sheesh.

February 8, 2006 in Scooped by Phil Read, Again | Permalink | Comments (2)

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