Update: Real Progress Montclair Responds to Ad Controversy

Moms take out ad in support of mayoral candidate Karen Turner


A new full-page ad in The Montclair Times today proclaims "Montclair Moms For Real Progresss Montclair," an ad signed by 115 Montclair mothers.

In a press release explaining the ad, the slate headed by mayoral candidate Karen Turner—whose children attend private school—says that "Montclair mothers make influence felt in politics with an unprecedented level of grassroots support for Real Progress Montclair candidates."

It notes that: "major public endorsement highlights Karen Turner's exceptional appeal to committed volunteer moms."

Some Montclair residents have reported to Montclair Patch that they've spotted women around town wearing buttons that say "PTA Moms For Karen Turner" although the slate insists that no PTA has endorsed—or is endorsing—any candidate.

And some residents have criticized the ad for implying that all PTA moms are for Turner.

In response, Larry Kopp, campaign manager for Real Progress Montclair, issued the following statement:

"Mothers and Moms in Montclair are joining our campaign in unprecedented numbers because they are inspired by our commitment to reform Montclair government and protect our public schools. They are also inspired by Karen Turner's campaign to become the first woman elected Mayor in Montclair's 118 year history. The Moms for Real Progress Montclair campaign has grown to over 130 women in this community who are intimately involved in their schools and their communities. Our ads and literature have followed all the appropriate guidelines of community based organizations. Our opponents who are either incumbents or being run by incumbent political machines represent the status quo and have no such initiative."

Members of the slate have made clear that the full-page ad was paid for by supporters of Turner and the other candidates.

In addition to the ad, the slate also has sent out an email blast to residents throughout Montclair earlier this week explaining the slate's position and introducing its candidates.

In full, Real Progress Montclair's press release said the following below:

Seeking to make their voices heard, their interests known, and their collective influence felt, a broad coalition of Montclair mothers have joined together to help Karen Turner become the second woman mayor in Montclair's 118-year history. With a volunteer staff consisting overwhelmingly of women, Real Progress Montclair (RPM) is engaging, energizing and empowering Montclair’s female voters at unprecedented levels. In Thursday's Montclair Times, over 100 women, who identify themselves as Montclair Moms, have taken out a full-page ad in support of Karen Turner for Mayor and the RPM slate.

The women are united in their desire to maintain excellence in education, take the tax burden off the public school students and the professionals who serve them, and elect a more strategic and innovative Township Council. In their view, only the RPM slate has articulated a clear understanding of the issues, a fiscally sound approach, and a commitment to Montclair's public schools that will have these women out in force in the municipal election on May 8th.

“It is the power of women, the power of Montclair Moms, and people like Karen Turner and LeeAnn Carlson, running for Councilor-At-Large, that will change the short-sighted, dangerous course we have been on and steer us in the right direction,” said RPM Campaign co-chair Sue Schuchinski Weintraub. “It is the voice of smart, well-informed, hard-working, dedicated women in our town that will be heard on May 8th."

Motivated by a common desire to see educational excellence, fiscal responsibility and community engagement at the top of the town’s priorities, many of Montclair’s most active and involved women leaders have become campaign volunteers.

Campaign co-chair and Glenfield School PTA president Sue Schuchinski Weintraub was inspired to get involved after “hearing Hillary Clinton speak a couple of years ago about the power of women to change the course of our nation” and realizing that “it's the same for our Montclair.”

“My mother was a teacher and social worker in the Montclair public schools, my siblings and I are graduates of the Montclair public schools, my four children attend the Montclair public schools, and I have served on numerous public school boards and committees and raised significant amounts of money for the schools through my volunteerism with MFEE, so there is nothing more important to me than the success of our public school system,” said Schuchinski Weintraub.

“I could only ever support a candidate for Mayor whom I believe, with all my heart, has the best interests of our public school students in mind. Karen Turner is an extraordinary woman, but doesn't assume she knows it all or that she has all the answers,” added Schuchinski Weintraub. “Karen has done her research and reached out to women in town, like myself, whom she knows devote themselves to the Montclair public schools. She has asked me and many others what we care about, what we are concerned about, what makes our schools great and what needs attention. We did not have to chase her to be heard, to be listened to. She engaged us in conversation. She is the epitome of what one wants from a local government representative. She wants to represent her constituents, not simply tell them what's good for them.”

Landscape Designer and longtime Montclair public school volunteer Sarah Vogel, who ran the GrowLab program at Nishuane and designed the gardens at Fortunato Field and Glenfield Middle School, agrees and feels that “as the mother of two daughters, it's critical to elect women to political office on every level” and supports Karen Turner “because of her commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

For local realtor and active PTA mom Sidney Simon, it is “obvious that Karen Turner is passionate about education for all children.” “I am especially excited about the RPM slate because they are not career politicians,” added Simon. “They are concerned residents and parents who want to see Montclair in a better place, and they are invested in making sure that we don't continue making unwise financial decisions that will only increase our debt.”

As a Montclair BOE budget subcommittee member, MFEE board member, Montclair Schools Rock! founder, and mother of two MHS students, Carol Ewertsen knows firsthand that “so much of what happens in Montclair gets done because of volunteerism” and says that one of the most outstanding volunteers she has ever worked with is RPM mayoral candidate Karen Turner. “Karen is an incredible community servant and a terrific leader with an inclusive approach who will involve all residents and stakeholders."

Mary Curtin Creaser, the mother of students in three Montclair public schools spanning Montclair High, Glenfield Middle and Nishuane Elementary schools, believes that voters should spare no effort to “look at a candidate's volunteer commitments and history of support for groups like MFEE or other organizations dedicated to children and education.”

“After researching all three mayoral candidates and slates and evaluating their analytical, financial, problem-solving and team-building skills, I have the most confidence in Karen Turner and her running mates as the candidates who are best able to team with others in all our wards and manage Montclair's resources so that our public schools thrive long term. Since I'm going to be an active part of the Montclair public school family until Graduation Day 2023, this long view is important to me,” said Curtin Creaser.

Volunteering for public schools has been a full time job and passion for Montclair mom Diane Walpole, who has served as a PTA president and MFEE board member, and first met Karen Turner while working on a tutoring project involving Montclair middle school students who needed academic support preparing for state testing. “Fourteen years ago, Karen wanted to make a difference and have a positive impact in the lives of the children in our community, so she rolled up her sleeves and did it,” Walpole said. “Karen has been a tireless advocate for children in Montclair ever since. She is 100% supportive of our magnet school system, and as a highly intelligent woman, she is well aware that our strong public school system is the backbone of our town. Karen is no-nonsense and hands on, and I look forward to her tackling the long standing, complex problems we are facing in Montclair and putting this town on the road to fiscal recovery.”

“This growing support from Montclair moms and school volunteers who are working to run our entire campaign is the most important testimonial that I could ever hope to receive,” said RPM mayoral candidate Karen Turner. “If I have the tremendous honor to serve as Montclair’s second woman mayor, I will work hard to restore confidence in local government by making education a top priority, and in partnership with the BOE, will rally the entire community behind specific and necessary steps to keep our schools great.”

Stacey April 16, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Thank you, Andrew. And Walter...It seems like others want to claim that you are being targeted or attacked, and that is not the case. Just responding to your post with a difference of opinion.
A. Gideon April 16, 2012 at 09:54 PM
"It seems like others want to claim that you are being targeted or attacked, and that is not the case. " I second that. This isn't about Mr.Springer or any of the other candidates. They're all promoting their experiences with various groups w/in town (and elsewhere), and rightfully so. My complaint is only with those that would deny the same to citizens that happen not to be running, but still wish for whatever reason to explain their background or experiences or such. ...Andrew Member of two PTAs, ACM, AOPA, IEEE, PFC, WWWAC, ...
CMFAS55 April 17, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I don't normally post but this election is important and i see the Turner-private school issue differently. I have 2 kids in public school and soon will have a 3rd there. I love the schools and moved here, as opposed to Glen Ridge, specifically to have a diverse student population for my kids. But as a resident, I would rather we don't have a mayor with kids in the public school so that they can look at the schools through an independent lens and not feel limited in their decisionmaking. They can make decisions that if unpopular will not subject their own kids to worry about how others look at them when they go to school everyday. I believe that someone who has demonstrated for many years a dedication to the town like Turner has (she has worked in the public schools directly helping kids which is more than most) and who wants to make the town a better place to live doesn't have to automatically be seens as an evil figure to the BOE and school district but can be a fair one that represents all residents. Further, someone like Turner who pays $50,000 in property taxes without kids in a public school (which is absolutely nuts to me) means more money to the schools since that family takes no benefit for what amounts to $30,000 (60% of the tax) being paid for the benefit of the schools.
professorishor April 17, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Anyone who calls Ms. Turner "evil" is out-of-bounds. Her campaign mgr. has stepped over the line twice as head of Glenfield PTA, once for organizing student credit for distributing Turner campaign lit(principal stopped this) and again for using the PTA organizational marker to organize a bandwagon ad of "PTA moms" and other moms endorsing Turner(which PTA higher-ups stepped in to stop). These are over-the-line incidents all voters should ponder about Ms. Turner as a future mayor, not whether she has or doesn't have kids in pub schl. Ms. Turner's pvt schl choice for her own kids does not disqualify her or anyone else from running for Mayor--I said this earlier. What we need to know is what kind of public school policies will she endorse when she chooses the BOE? That is the issue we still have no clear answer on.
Shelley Emling (Editor) April 17, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Yes, please PLEASE no personal attacks... please stick with the issues...
Randall April 17, 2012 at 04:36 PM
CMFAS55 Very good point! Fact: Montclair Public Schools rank # 94 in the latest report; an unacceptable position for many of us who call Montclair "home" (see: http://njmonthly.com/articles/towns_and_schools/highschoolrankings/top-high-schools-2010.html). Hard choices will be necessary especially when you consider the out of control spending problem in our community. I don't envy any of our Town Officials who will have to tackle these issues. But change is necessary if we want to bring our public schools back to a respectable ranking. A "94th" ranking is not sufficient to maintain Montclair's reputation as a desirable community for families with children. The current situation is just plain bad for all of us: (i) for families with children, they pay sky-high taxes and get mediocre schools; (ii) for families that saw their children graduate, they can't afford to stay in town because of the sky-high taxes. So the challenge for the new administration is going to be to reduce taxes and improve the school system; a very difficult challenge! So who's best suited to address this dilemma? Something we should all be thinking about on May 8th. After 25 years in Montclair, I don't want to leave Montclair in 2016 when my youngest graduates; but that may be my only choice if our leaders don't start addressing our real problems.
montclairgurl April 17, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Randall, this may be difficult for some people to believe, but there are also many people with NO children in this town who realize the need for good schools but also look at the high price of living here and question the value of doing so. At least I do.
Randel McMurphy April 17, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Speaking of over the line - how many of you are getting spam e-mail from one of the slates? I am getting it on 2 separate e-mail accounts and I never signed up to receive info - I had to 'unsuscribe' even though I never suscribed in the first place!
Randall April 17, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Yep.....couldn't agree with you any more. I hope you're not forced out of Montclair either. Unless we elect officials with the ability to manage fiscal realities, our taxes will continue to grow out of control.
Randel McMurphy April 17, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I'll check my deleted file once I'm home & post who it was.
A. Gideon April 17, 2012 at 07:48 PM
"Speaking of over the line - how many of you are getting spam e-mail from one of the slates?" My company is receiving junk email ("spam") from Montclair 2012 sent to an internal distribution list - one that includes plenty of people that don't live in Montclair. These are sent through nationbuilder.com which sells junk email service. From http://nationbuilder.com/campaigns: "NationBuilder comes with access to high-quality voter data for your campaign, whether you're running for school board, Congress or state office. Use the voter file for email outreach..." ...Andrew
Randel McMurphy April 17, 2012 at 09:31 PM
It was Real Progress Montclair no idea where they got 2 e-mail addresses for me!
montclairgurl April 17, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I'm not familiar with this history. Who is the professor and where can I find more info?
Martin Golan April 18, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I've read through much of this and still haven't heard an explanation of how people could wear buttons that clearly IMPLY an endorsement by the PTA, and then deny right here that a PTA is endorsing anyone, since it's not allowed to. Seems pretty sneaky to me. Can anyone say with a straight face that "PTA MOMS FOR XXX" doesn't mean the PTA is backing a particular candidate?
Stuart Weissman April 18, 2012 at 05:15 PM
It's all posturing by individuals who feel their opinion will somehow sway others Martin. I can sum up these 262 posts in three sentences. Turner was scared of her mayoral prospects since she chooses to send her children to private school once the word got out. She conjured up the support of her friends (many of whom are active PTA members) to help support her stance that she supports public schools. Without the ad mentioning their PTA support, it wouldn't have helped her cause much. Everything else in this comments section is simply cheerleading. I would hope that people are smart enough to make up their own minds about whether or not she would support the public schools. I would offer my opinion on the matter, but then again, you shouldn't care about it.
Kevin April 18, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I haven't seen any buttons and the article states " Some Montclair residents have reported to Patch....". A little suspicious if you ask me.
dherron April 18, 2012 at 05:37 PM
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” So I think, who are they trying to convince, the voters or themselves. Perhaps both. Look folks, We get it, We understand, and We know what you did. Swenson, as reported in the Montclair Times said, “Karen and a few of us met with a few of the PTA moms, and they listened to us and we had a good exchange. How did Swenson and Turner know that these moms were,…..PTA moms. We looked at the email that generated the ad, and each and every one of the people who were solicited; each one who received the email were PTA presidents, officers or members-- Every single person who got the Email ! The email was sent from a PTA president to other PTA’ers, seeking an endorsement, and cold hard cash, for one slate. Even asked, if they wanted to use their titles. Most disturbing-the writer of the email, a (PTA) president and campaign co-chair, felt the need to write, “be careful about who you ask, and let’s keep this quiet, until after it appears in the MTC Times.” So, we can move on to other concerns, but please, please don’t tell us that, “no PTA endorsement of any slate has occurred.” Oh, We do get it.
Tell it Straight April 18, 2012 at 05:55 PM
FINALLY!!!!!! thank you I have been screaming on this thread and banging my head against the wall regarding the ethics of this slate. This slate has tried consistantly to bypass the rules of ''fair play.'' Recruiting middle schoolers to pass out their literature in turn for community service credit. They knew it wasn't kosher and they still attempted to do so. What makes it worse, is they did so with the help of queen PTA mom Sue Weintraub. Do you think she might have known better???? Now they are attempting damage control with this ''Montclair Mom's'' ad supporting Turner and her slate. How Transparant! who do you think paid for the ad? They took the grand stand approach and tried to allign themselves with the teachers aids in town when they announced, that they, like teachers aids, are part time and will forgo their benefits if elected. Good for the aid who responded with take your grand standing and stick it where the sun don't shine. If you want to use us, then at least understand that we don't consider ourselves ''part timers'' We work full time and want our benefits. I personally find this slate to have been devious and underhanded from start to finish in this campaign.
Susie April 18, 2012 at 09:21 PM
tell it straight, you are politics at its best. You don't need to bad mouth SW, shows exactly what kind of character you are. As for aids being full time, I have asked this before with no answer, how are they full time when they work a 35 1/2 week for 9 1/2 months. Unless I am missing something.
Susie April 18, 2012 at 09:25 PM
sorry 32 1/2 hr week
Tell it Straight April 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Don't concern yourself with my character, concern it with the people running on the afore mentioned slate. They are the ones vying for office. Sue Wintraub's email to Montclair's most powerful mom's and asking them to keep it ''hush hush'' was an embarrasement. Using middle school kids to distribute political messages in exchange for commununity service was an embarrasement. By the way, are teachers full time? Then, so are their aids!!!
A. Gideon April 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
"So, we can move on to other concerns, but please, please don’t tell us that, “no PTA endorsement of any slate has occurred.” Oh, We do get it." Even if everything you wrote were true, this would still not be a PTA endorsement of a slate or candidate. I'm not sure why this is so tough a concept to grasp, but I fear that it is related to poor US math test results when compared to many other nations. Actions of or on members of a set are independent of actions of or on the set. This is basic math. Frankly, it is so basic that I've doubts that failures to grasp this are anything but deliberate, serving some agenda which isn't being made clear. However, what you wrote is incorrect in other ways as well. I'm a member of two PTAs, and didn't see an email. My wife is a member of two PTAs and President of one. She didn't see an email. It happens that plenty of PTA people know one another. This should be no great surprise. Friends suggesting that other friends participate is part of what a campaign - any campaign - is about. Repeated attempts to frame this as anything other than what it is - a bunch of people active in our community making their positions known - do nothing but suggest that, to some, agendas are more important than either accuracy or credibility. Repeated attempts to assert that citizens are not free to describe their history or experiences, and that this is a privilege afforded only to candidates, are nothing short of bizarre. ...Andrew
Tell it Straight April 19, 2012 at 07:44 PM
My character should not be of your concern, but the character of the afore mentioned slate should be. I am not running for a seat on the council, just observing what has been going on these past few weeks. Using our middle schoolers to pass out campaign material for the promise of community service was wrong and embarrasing. Sue weintraub's email to the ''powerful mom's'' of Montclair and asking them to remain ''hush, hush'' was embarrasing at the very least. The slate puts out new damage control press releases every day defending their actions. Lastly, if teachers are full time employees, then the aids deserve the same benefits. Last time i looked they work the same 35 or so hours a week and the same 91/2 months per year. And, the aids don't need any patronizing support from this slate and they clearly told them so.
Susie April 19, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Tell it Straight, the character of the RPM slate is not one I am questioning, I totally agree with Andrew on this...I am part of the PTA, I didn't take offense to the letter in the times, I read it as a group of active women saying they support KT even though she has children in private school. I do recognize some of the names on the list and not all have nannies or live in million $$ homes as suggested. However, you sunk so low to start name calling, you have every right to voice your view, that is what this forum is all about but to name call, sorry your character came into play when I read that.
A. Gideon April 20, 2012 at 03:13 AM
"RPM update in today's Montclair Times....Wow!" Indeed. "Everyone running for office can mention their affiliations," according to R. Catherine Steele, but "Supporters can't get up and identify themselves as a PTA member." Note that important distinction: candidates can mention their affiliations; supporters can not. That's nonsense at multiple levels. I'd like very much to see the rule in the tax code which says that membership in a a 501(c)(3) can be cited by a candidate for office but not by a candidate's supporters. I'd even like to see some PTA-specific rule to that effect. ...Andrew
Tell it Straight April 20, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Susie, I'm glad that you didn't take offense to the ad in the montclair Times, but Catherine Steele did. [president of the Essex county PTA] Do you know who paid for the ad, let me answer that for you, RPM paid for it. Why didn't the mom's pay for an ad that they felt so strongly about? And, as far as Sue Weintraub goes, if you don't think an Email that states ''to the powerful and most high profile moms of Montclair'' and asks them to keep it ''hush hush'' reeks of elitism and is worthy of some severe criticism, than i am sorry for you. And, how about her role in recruiting 12 and 13 year old kids to pass out political material for her slate in exchange for community service? Do you think she knew better? Do you think anyone on this highly moral slate knew better? Do you think they cared? This slate has spent the last 3 days putting out more fires regarding their tactics. Every time I turn around, there is a new response from RPM redirecting criticism they are recieving. Incredible amount of sensitivity from a slate that stands on such high moral ground.
Susie April 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Tell it Straight, Again, it doesn't bother me what the slate did or tried to do or who paid for the Ad. What bothered me most about this thread was that you sank to the low levels of name calling. Nancy's letter in the MT says it all this town needs RPM to turn it around, and get its fiscal house in order!!
Susie April 20, 2012 at 03:52 PM
You have to believe in something, don't you think and I believe RPM has the best chance of seeking out and making changes....
Leslie Masuzzo April 20, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Susie, every organization has the authority to set their official work hours within the parameters of state law. Teachers and Special Education Aides are prescribed to work the same number of hours each week of the school year however the Teachers are considered full time and the SPED Aides are considered part time. With that said, no Teacher, or Aide for that matter, works their prescribed hours. Teachers come in early and stay late to prepare the classroom, plan and prepare for the day, week, unit of study, child study team meetings, etc., etc. SPED Aides may do the same to assist teachers and/or students they support. Work may continue at home and on the weekends. Summers are often used for more planning and preparation, professional development and classroom set-up. Most teachers and school staff also continue to work to bridge the gap between June and Sept. Some studies put actual hours worked for teachers at 60 hours/week. My son's teachers recently spent a Sat. scoping out a field trip site to ensure optimal learning, a SPED Aide friend takes home the math lessons each eve so she can assist her students appropriately and in line with the curriculum. As a SPED Aide myself, I recently raided my garage for materials for a student who needed help preparing a science fair project. I believe that these examples comprise the rule and not the exceptions.
Right of Center April 20, 2012 at 04:53 PM
"With that said, no Teacher, or Aide for that matter, works their prescribed hours." I don't know any professional who does. I also don't know any professional who gets family insurance coverage for half of one percent of their salary, either.


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