One Way To Make Our Community Better

Mayor Jerry Fried praises civility and true dialogue in a town where most people are ethical, generous and thoughtful.

I have been asked to blog on Montclair Patch.

The first thing I would like to say is that the main reason I love this town is because of how interesting, generous, ethical, thoughtful, and tolerant Montclairians are.

By my estimate, I have had the privilege of meeting over 3,000 residents. Community heroes, neighbors, long-time residents, volunteers, students and teachers. Also, many people who just moved to town. And newlyweds ... I've performed over 150 weddings and civil unions in three years.

I meet dozens of new people every week ... some visit during my open office hours at 205 Claremont on Wednesdays. People stop me on Church Street or Valley Road. Others call or email. It is always interesting because ideas are shared and feelings are expressed. I find that just about everyone loves this town for the same reasons I do. We can agree, or disagree, but everyone is civil. No one weaves conspiracy theories, makes unsubstantiated accusations, or puts words into other people's mouths. 

Sadly, you would never know how great Montclair people are by reading the overwhelming majority of anonymous postings on Patch or Baristanet.

A small handful of people create the illusion that our streets are full of intolerant, snide, angry people.

Is this the town you live in?

I understand that a few who run all the Patch sites have considered doing away with the toxic policy of anonymous postings. I hope that they do this and that other local news sites do the same.

Until then, I ask Montclair residents to abstain from posting anonymously and to renounce those who do. Nothing is gained by this practice. It hurts our town, and it creates the illusion that we are a nasty, cranky place, which we most definitely are not. Most of the stories and all of the profiles I read on Montclair Patch give a real sense of the real Montclair.

Let me leave you with an inspirational quote that I think says it all:

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." — George Bernard Shaw

My "official" Facebook page is 


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nick Charles May 05, 2011 at 06:45 PM
People who attend/watch council meetings know the mayor's not too good with non-anonymous criticism, either. If there's a regular speaker who is known to be a critic, he finds every opportunity to interrupt them, keep them from speaking, etc. Hrant Yousoufian isn't even allowed to speak twice when there is literally no one else who wants to speak. Why? Because the mayor doesn't like it. And who can forget the mayor's thermonuclear meltdown when Montclair Times quoted him ragging on his political opponents. He must have spent days posting differing versions of his comments, and they were all essentially the same: the people who don't like me are angry and don't know why. I, for one, would like to suggest, as I did earlier, that the mayor get a job. If I spent all day focusing on Patch and Baristanet comments, I'd go batty, too. Luckily I have a life that keeps me from doing so except for a few minutes a day. Jerry, you should try it! It'll do wonders for your sanity.
Wayne May 05, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Cary, I've read your posts before elsewhere, but I have to say for this one, you've lost my respect. That fact that you would bother to comment on a message board with that type of rebuttle Geez, why are you not down at town hall working on those financial reports and information that no one can ever seem to access. For me, that would be time well spent instead of calling out the mayor on a message board. That said, the mayor is dillusional.
Cary Africk May 05, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Actually, Wayne, I was in a big battle several years ago about a similar situation involving a "no editing ordinance." The Mayor was demanding the right to edit tapes of BOE and Council meetings, to make sure content was appropriate. I was resisting posting this morning, until I was asked to post. I thought the EFF stuff was an easy way to respond. Today, my "cause of the day" is tax exempt properties. Are we keeping good track of them? Are we keeping track at all? Among other issues, of course! Your friend, Cary
Stu's Wife May 05, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Oh Cary, just give it up. Keeping track of things will never work around here. People might have to create a spreadsheet or something like that. It can't be done. Don't you get that we're different here? What will be tomorrow's cause for banging your head into a wall?
Nick Charles May 05, 2011 at 08:12 PM
I have a deal for the mayor: keep Kathryn Weller-Demming from knitting as she works, and I'll stop posting anonymously.
ipso facto May 05, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Jon Bonesteel, my post was directed at Cary. Nothing was directed or even implied about WC moderator mgmt. Sorry you inferred otherwise. FYI, doesn't meet the definition of "conspiracy", but interesting word choice. I found the "if/then" wording of the last sentence even more illuminating. Cary, Are you fed up yet with Montclair politics? I hope not. This story has legs and I think fodder for some media outside Baristaville. Can't wait for RB to jump into the fray on the non-cyber side.
jajabooty May 05, 2011 at 10:23 PM
The tradition and importance of anonymous criticism dates back well before The Founding Fathers and included a long line of great thinkers before and after. The basis of our Constitution is The Federalist Papers which were published anonymously. To suggest this method of communication is cowardice or inappropriate strikes me as the opposite of what this progressive Mayor and Council have stood for and Un-American. We should have known with the failure of the Mayor’s support for an elected School Board that he didn’t understand the new realities. Anyone who thinks this town and Mayor aren’t looking to vilify those who think different can start by reading the Council’s minutes on the way Pegi Adam was treated by the Mayor when she spearheaded the Elect the Board movement. Now he is trying to back his way into another 6 months. I will not be anonymous when the Council votes on that. We can’t take another day of this. Maybe its time for the Mayor to feel the real heat of the National Press when Drudge AND The Huffington Post both get a hold of this and are equally incensed. Properties may take a short term hit, but maybe that will be the catalyst to RECALL MAYOR FRIED OF MONTCLAIR NEW JERSEY. jajabooty
cantmakethisstuffup May 05, 2011 at 11:28 PM
This was like a Montclair version of Sermon on the Mount...maybe Jerry thinks he's Jesus Christ's brother "Jerry Christ"
help me understand May 06, 2011 at 02:21 AM
Chapter two of the liberal handbook is to censor critics. Ban Fox News too! Mayor, get a grip and a job because after the next election you will need one. And hey why don’t you renounce any councilmen who take the health care plan that tax payer’s pay for like yourself.
Pat Gilleran May 06, 2011 at 03:08 AM
Hey Ipso, Lots of us post both here and on the Watercooler. Some folks who post on the Watercooler post anonymously here. I don't, preferring to use my name on my posts. No heresy in that, or in posting here or baristanet. Pat Gilleran Montclair Watercooler Moderator
susan monaghan May 06, 2011 at 11:11 AM
Hi, When are your Wednesday office open house hours? morning, afternoon and/or evening? Thanks
Mara Novak May 06, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Pat and Jon, would you comment on the thinking behind the Watercooler policies on real names, comment guidelines and comment moderation? Why is the Watercooler structured this way? Thanks, Mara
Pat Gilleran May 06, 2011 at 01:24 PM
I wasn't around at the time, but have been told that back in 2001 or so the Watercooler had been taken over by trolls and was experiencing flame wars. The concept of having a moderated list with guidelines was suggested. The guidelines are not set in stone and have been revised periodically based on suggestions by the membership. We have found that if you have to introduce yourself and it is known who you are that people think twice about flaming their friends and neighbors. That doesn't mean that you have to log on as yourself, you can have an addy (I am badd_patti) but that members can search and find your intro and know who you are. There is also another list Montclair UnModerated where the description of the list is: This is a group where Montclair NJ residents and those interested in the town can feel free to discuss all issues, without censorship. Think of this as Radio Free Montclair [RFM]. Or Montclair Unplugged.
ipso facto May 06, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Pat, I'm sure you are serving your members well, but who moderates the moderators? When a moderator says here that the Mayor's proposal is a noble one, can we assume a little moderator bias back on the WC? I accept the "you are free to go elsewhere..." comments as a civil way of ending discourse, but you should think about how this can be read as elitist. While WC has its order & civility, I wonder by which era's mores. The problem I have with the WC moderators is this... The better you do your job - the job your members ask of you - the less diversified your membership becomes. Bnet & Patch have a somewhat opposite problem, but their model has more potential. Clearly, if WC members are cross-posting, that may indicate a need WC is not meeting.
Peter Simon May 06, 2011 at 04:06 PM
That's a page from the human-nature playbook, HMU. There's nothing "liberal" or "conservative" about it.
hrhppg May 06, 2011 at 06:32 PM
Per the 2010 census Montclair has 37,669 residents. So the mayor has met less then 10 % of the community. I've met more then that handing out candy at my moms house on Halloween's prior (in one night)
Pat Gilleran May 06, 2011 at 07:15 PM
princess, I don't understand your point. I'm not an aplogist for the Mayor. ipso, In fact, the moderators are also moderated. We have to abide by the same guidelines and our posts are dealt with with no special standing. Some moderators rarely if ever post and some of us are more vocal, but we were also more vocal before we became moderators. If you don't like the civility and being known on the Watercooler that's fine. There are plenty other places to post ie: baristanet, patch, unMod. I post in all of these places and always have. The difference for me is that posts on the Watercooler and UnMod are submitted by the membership and threads here on the patch and on baristanet are created by the mioderators (editors) here and there and the rules are unwritten and unilaterally applied (no protesting that your post has been removed unlike the Watercooler where a backchannel dialog with the moderators is always acceptable) Make no mistake about it, there is moderation both here and on baristanet.
Peter Simon May 06, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Robyn, Extending this logic, the CCM petition currently shows 999 "signatures". If you screen out the anonymous signers and the repeats (there are a few dozen people who signed two or three times) you get somewhere in the range of 850 people. So, the CCM has so far won the support of between 2.25% and 2.65% of the community. You've met *way* more people than that "handing out candy...etc...."
Right of Center May 06, 2011 at 07:30 PM
My experience on the watercooler was if the moderators liked what you were saying or liked you there was lots of "latitude" as to what's allowed or not. And if they didn't like you or what you had to say, you had little chance of it being posted no matter how civil the post was. I found their judgements to be capricious and biased. You are also not allowed to criticize (not matter how civilly phrased) the moderation policy or its implementation. They will allow you to criticize the actions of the township council but not the actions of the moderators. (rather like China!). It's always thus with cliques and the empowerment of petty fiefdoms.
althea May 06, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Peter, I suggest you look up the number of voters for the 2008 Municpal Election. It is a little silly to use a census number for your equation, don't you think. The 37,669 number you did your math from is the total number of people living in Montclair. I happen to think 999 signatures is a pretty good number. And why would you not include anonymous signatures? They are backed up with valid email addresses. I know this because I have a friend who worked on the SOS petition and I just called her.
hrhppg May 06, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Pat you never seem to understand my point. I don't think you are an apologist for the Mayor. Feel free to skip over my comments which is much more civil then constantly making assumptions. I was responding to what is above in the 3rd and 4th paragraph.
Stuart Weissman May 06, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Premier Fried only received 2,801 votes in the 2008 municipal election. 1000 or signatures on a petition that very few even know about is pretty impressive compared to getting 2,801 votes at an election that nearly everyone knows about.
ipso facto May 06, 2011 at 08:07 PM
I just find the whole thing backward on WC. Is there is a parallel society thing going on. When you think about, the original WC selling point the user had to reveal their real identity which supposedly allowed the non-cyber social constraints to moderate the online dialogue in vastly productive ways. Yet, it doesn't work without 24/7 moderators to do what using society was suppose to do. So bottom line, WC is like a country club. The fact that you also play golf at public courses is irrelevant. I stick to the public "links".
ipso facto May 06, 2011 at 08:09 PM
ok, horrible thought fragments, grammar, punctuation, etc.
Peter Simon May 06, 2011 at 08:14 PM
Why yes, I do think it's "a little silly" to use the census number. That was part of my point in responding to Robyn's post the way that I did. But I guess that was too subtle by half. Oh, and thanks for your not-at-all condescending "suggest[ion]" that I look up those 2008 numbers. I went ahead and did so, even though your tone left a lot to be desired. So, let's see: according to this, 28.6% of Montclair's (at the time) 24,951 registered voters showed up to vote for the 2008 election. That comes to 7,136 voters. So, the current number of CCM signers (depending on whether you take my estimate (850) or the CCM site's un-audited number (999)) is somewhere between 3.5% to 4% of all Montclair's registered voters, or 12% to 14% of the number of people who voted in 2008. By contrast, the mayor's estimate of 3,000 Montclair residents whom he has met amounts to 12% of registered voters or 42% of the number of people who voted in 2008. You know what? You're right----this whole line of commentary is just silly.
Pat Gilleran May 06, 2011 at 08:18 PM
no princess, I will continue to comment here when I feel like - to your posts and to others. The Mayor has lived here a long time. If he meets dozens of new people every week he has far surpassed your candy community. ipso, No one makes a person join the Watercooler and no one has a gun to their head and is made to post here or on baristanet. Vive la difference!
Nick Charles May 06, 2011 at 08:48 PM
hrhppg - Don't bother to fight with Pat. It's not worth it. Pat, do you even live in Montclair?
Pat Gilleran May 06, 2011 at 09:19 PM
I don't and neither does the princess and yet we both have family who live in Montclair.
help me understand May 08, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Peter, do you agree with censorship? I believe it is the human right to express your opinions weather you use your name or not! You have the right not to read the post.
Peter Simon May 10, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Non sequitor much? Nice weather we're having.


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