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Former Mayor Russo Eager To Get His Slate's Message Out

Russo says he will cut his own salary and combine levels of government


Former Mayor Bob Russo, whose "Montclair 2012" slate is led by another former mayor, Robert Jackson, said he's eager to get his message out, just two months before May's local election.

Russo, who is running for one of two councilor-at-large positions, said it's hard to relay information to the public when so many candidates are running for office.

He explained that his message is simple.

"I will cut my own salary to set an example for savings ... it is symbolic ... I have said this from the beginning when I was considering running for mayor last year," he said. "I am for regionalization of services and connecting town governments to save money.

"We must have the courage to combine levels of government in inovative ways," Russo said. "I teach this in Public Administration classes at Montclair State University and Rutgers. I am a red tape and bureaucracy cutter from my days directing the Lemon Law and when I was mayor for one term.

"No one had as good a constituent response record on the council!," he added. "I am not a 'professional politician' but a student and professor of American, state, and local government who has challenged the party organizations in many elections, winning some and coming close in others, on my own with hundreds of volunteers and small contributors helping to upset the incumbents and political machines."

Russo, who has lived in Montclair for 24 years, said that those on his slate work well together and that, on the council, they will work hard to save taxpayers from the unfair burden of increasing property taxes and mounting debt.

"Robert Jackson and I, as well as our Montclair 2012 slate, have the experience to do the job from day one and we have some new faces to give us a fresh perspective, as well as the valuable knowledge of current and former council members to help us get the job done right," he said.

Russo noted that a complete turnover every four years, with all new council members, has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.

"We represent all wards and perspectives, with a diversity unmatched by any other slate," he said.

In a recent email to residents, the Montclair 2012 slate announced the launch of Montclair2012.com and its Campaign Kickoff. The slate's initial announcement was published on Montclair Patch late last month here.

The Montclair 2012 Team not only includes Jackson (running for mayor) and Russo, but also Richard McMahon III, Richard Murnick, Robin Schlager, and Sean Spiller.

Montclair 2012 was the third slate announced. "For Montclair" recently announced a slate that has Harvey Susswein running for mayor. In addition, another slate calling itself "Real Progress Montclair" has Karen Turner running for mayor.

Stuart Weissman March 12, 2012 at 06:21 PM
tryintosurvive March 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
So he will give back $7,000 and if he gets town health insurance it will probably cost the town more than that. Thanks a lot. Perhaps we can get him to give back all of the money that was taken from the taxpayers due to the exhorbitant tax increases while he was mayor. That would make a difference.
althea March 12, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Will the rest of Bob's slate also be giving up their salaries ? I am sure none of them would be willing to give up the Rolls Royce of health care benefits. I would venture to guess that that 1/2 the slate is self insured. I wonder if Bob is already going rogue on them. I also wonder how Bob is going to address the combining levels of government, he is himself a union member. I already know he is full of you know what, he said he is not a career politician, really??? Didn't Bob bore everyone in town to death in this winter with his maybe - I'll run for Mayor and maybe I won't nonesense. He even held a party at Tierney's to "announce" he wasn't running for Mayor... yawn!
Right of Center March 12, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Excuse me Mr. Russo, but what good is symbolism?
Crafty Spiker March 12, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Nothing to see here that we all haven't seen (and repudiated) before.
Meg Beattie Patrick March 12, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Montclair 2012 is comprised of a hardworking slate of seasoned candidates and new blood who know and understand the issues, the town and the people.
tryintosurvive March 12, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Russo knows the issues well, but his solution will probably be the same as last time, raise taxes exhorbitantly and do nothing to reduce expenses.
Right of Center March 12, 2012 at 11:38 PM
"Montclair 2012 is comprised of a hardworking slate of seasoned candidates and new blood who know and understand the issues, the town and the people." Who are, according to the above, offering symbolic actions.
Meg Beattie Patrick March 12, 2012 at 11:44 PM
It's noble.
Right of Center March 12, 2012 at 11:47 PM
... and useless.
Crafty Spiker March 12, 2012 at 11:48 PM
... and we do need to remember that several candidates have actual history governing Montclair. And none (as I recall) were ever reelected. I think that speaks for itself.
Stuart Weissman March 13, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Noble was the approval to sell the Wildwood tract. Noble, short-sighted and just plain stupid.
tryintosurvive March 13, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Its simple, if they were so good when they were in control previously, the town would not be mired in debt as it is now.
Belletones March 13, 2012 at 01:39 AM
When Bob was mayor, we called him the "do nothing" mayor. Though a quick check back and it looks like he had tax increases in the 5-7+% range every year he was mayor.
Belletones March 13, 2012 at 01:41 AM
which is actually funny, since we more recently referred to robin as the "do nothing" council person last term and murnick as the "do nothing" council person this term. Maybe the slate should be called Do nothing for Montclair 2012.
tryintosurvive March 13, 2012 at 01:44 AM
At that rate then taxes go up about 50% every 7 years. That certainly makes this town unaffordable for many people.
Right of Center March 13, 2012 at 04:21 AM
we'd be quite lucky if they did nothing.
Butterfly March 13, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Russo says: 'but a student and professor of American, state, and local government ' So how is that going to qualify him given the state of affairs ? He knows how to increase budgets and debt ?
Martin Golan March 13, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Can someone with actual knowledge of this confirm that council members get "free Rolls Royce" health insurance? One of the problems in this town -- and on sites like this and the Internet in general -- is that someone makes a statement that may or may not be true, and then everyone starts debating it, even though the entire premise may be bogus. A good example of this is that everyone seems to believe that teachers get "free" health insurance, when every teacher I know tells me they pay about the same, often more, as I do from my private employer.
Cary Africk March 13, 2012 at 02:11 PM
In addition to the munificent salary of $7,000 per year, Council members are also eligible for the same insurance that all other municipal employees get. It is good insurance, but no one I know today has "Rolls Royce" insurance, regardless of where they work. The value of the insurance is approximately $16,000, for a family of 4. Council members vary in the time they spend "on the job" each day. For some it's a 20 hour per week job. For others, twice that and more, including evenings and weekends.
althea March 13, 2012 at 03:03 PM
That is not true Cary - the Town had a Insurance broker look at changing from the state run policy to a private company, West Orange did this and saved money. The broker said no companies were interested because the insurance was too rich ( I believe that is a quote) and that there was an unusually high number of claims. You must remember that Cary. He made a presentation of his findings at a Town Council meeting a year or so ago. I would imagine that presentation is in TC minutes.
tryintosurvive March 13, 2012 at 04:22 PM
"every teacher I know tells me they pay about the same, often more, as I do from my private employer" I thought that the current Montclair teachers were opposed to raising their contribution to 1.5% of their salary. Is your contribution less than that?
frank rubacky March 13, 2012 at 04:49 PM
26.4% from 2001-2004...or 6.4% on avg.
Martin Golan March 13, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Again I wish people with actual knowledge would clarity this. I hate to just repeat heresay. Isn't health care for public workers a statewide thing? My information is mostly about other districts, and there teachers pay as much as $5,000 a year, plus copays, and get 80 pct back. A few are grandfathered in at better rates. I don't really know about Montclair, but I do know I strongly resent blaming teachers and other public workers for the state or the town's fiscal troubles, or the lack of decent universal healthcare in America, or the years of corruption and mismanagement and waste on both the state and local levels.
Stuart Weissman March 13, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I pay for 17% of my health care costs. Currently the teachers pay .5% Martin. I've also been told that they don't have copays (or at least they didn't up until a few years ago). Additionally, their coverage includes their spouse and the coverage for both is for life. Where do you work Martin. I'd like to drop off a resume.
tryintosurvive March 13, 2012 at 05:53 PM
"My information is mostly about other districts..." Since this thread is about Mayor Russo and his message, I would think that we should use Montclair examples. No-one is strongly resenting anyone, but this is where many of the major costs for the town are. It is not statewide nor is is equivalent on a town by town basis.
Cary Africk March 13, 2012 at 09:52 PM
althea, Thanks for the note. We are doing the budget NOW and I brought up this SPECIFIC question to the Town Manager. He told me that other than Dental, Vision, and Prescription the remainder goes through the state plan. I did not think this was true. He also said that Dental, Vision, and Prescription had been bid out.
bob russo March 14, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I will not accept any health coverage from Montclair Twp....and did not for all the years I served on the Council....have my own and wife's.....hopefully that will save the town a little money.
A. Gideon March 14, 2012 at 05:27 PM
"Noble was the approval to sell the Wildwood tract. Noble, short-sighted and just plain stupid." I share the idea that town politicians trying to be "noble" gets us into trouble. Most often it seems to be some fashion of being noble with taxpayers' dollars. I see people complaining about the "lack of compassion" when something is outsourced or taken off the budget to which it never really belonged. But what about the compassion for financially stressed property owners and renters in town that are the primary source of town revenue? Shouldn't our political leaders be more noble to them, showing them compassion by keeping their costs down? People complain about the lack of universal health care on these forums, for example. It's a fair complaint, but should we be "noble" and provide health care to all regardless of what it does to some of our fellow citizens? What's so ignoble about paying what it takes to get good people working for us, but w/o extra thrown in? Where is the "nobility" or "compassion" in pricing our residents out of town with taxes that continue to rise when many of us are dealing with years of unchanged salaries, salary reductions, or even lost jobs? ...Andrew
CGI Debate March 20, 2012 at 02:09 AM
The Montclair High School Civics and Government Institute will be hosting a community-wide mayoral debate. The debate will take place April 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the school's LGI room. The focus of the debate will be on education in Montclair. It will be moderated by two high school seniors, Chris Murphy and Gabriella Peterson. Residents can submit questions for the candidates via email at cgidebate@gmail.com or Twitter @CGIdebate.


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