Montclair 2012 Responds to RPM’S Statement on the “PTA Ad” Controversy

War of words erupts between opposing camps

Montclair 2012 today issued the following statement below in response to the recent controversy over an ad for the Real Progress Montclair slate that had more than 100 "moms" signing on as supporters.

Many of those moms described themselves as PTA members which led some in Montclair to criticize the ad. They charged that PTAs are not-for-profit groups barred from endorsing candidates or engaging in politics.

This week, the Real Progress Montclair slate issued a statement to The Montclair Times:

"Our Moms for Real Progress Montclair effort is growing rapidly. In fact, in the past week since our ad ran, more and more moms have joined our initiative. Many have joined because they are saddened to see our school volunteers suffer these political attacks. These Moms know that we did not violate any by-laws of any groups when we ran this ad.

"RPM is stunned that Ms. [Catherine] Steele [president of the Essex County PTA] and the Essex County political machine she represents are attacking our mom volunteers … We also know that the Jackson slate is being run by the Essex County political machine, so we can only presume that they are behind these attacks. Voters should be asking themselves why a town outsider like Steele who has never stepped foot in Montclair or helped any of children here is bullying our moms and injecting herself into our town. These moms care so much for our schools and spend so many countless hours working on behalf of our kids.

"The status quo incumbents from the Jackson/Russo/Murnick slate and the political machines that support them are desperate because they sense as we do that we are leading in this campaign. It's sad that in their desperation they are attacking our school volunteers along the way." 

In another press release explaining the ad, Glenfield Middle School PTA President Sue Weintraub said, RPM's mayoral candidate Karen Turner "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.”

As a result of the above from Real Progress Montclair, the Montclair 2012 slate led by mayoral candidate Robert Jackson released the following statement late Thursday:

The RPM release is simply the latest in a long line of Nixonian tactics and statements from the [Sue] Weintraub-led RPM slate. The win at all cost/blind ambition/bullying culture of its operatives is well known. The statement is such an amateurish effort to create a “bad guy” that it would normally be summarily dismissed.

What we do find intriguing and disturbing, however, is that whenever certain leaders like (and apparently only like) Robert Jackson and Catherine Steele disagree with Weintraub/RPM, they have to be “controlled” by someone as if they are incapable of independent, intellectual thought.

Mayoral candidate Jackson was more forthright: “I believe that this statement by RPM,” he said, “is a distasteful but inept attempt to inject race into the campaign. Ms. Steele and I are African-Americans. We have never met but somehow, perhaps telepathically over the super-secret Controlled African-American Hotline, we hatched a scheme to attack Weintraub and the powerful, prominent PTA moms. It’s preposterous! It’s offensive!

Jackson continued: “These kinds of tactics only strengthen my resolve to win this election with the Montclair 2012 team It’s clearer than ever to me that we are in a fight for the heart of this community. I for one will not surrender it without a fight to people who campaign and no doubt will govern in such a reprehensible manner.”

Meg Beattie Patrick April 19, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Here's the truth: Robert Jackson's slate, Montclair 2012, represents the population of the town really well. Turner's RPM slate all look exactly alike and certainly don't look like a cross-section of Montclair citizens.Turner is not mayor material. She has spent all her time running interference and strategizing damage control. If elected, this is what we can expect. Robert Jackson and his Montclair 2012 team will win by a landslide and will do well by Montclair's citizens.
montclairgurl April 19, 2012 at 11:33 PM
"Here's the truth: Robert Jackson's slate, Montclair 2012, represents the population of the town really well. Turner's RPM slate all look exactly alike and certainly don't look like a cross-section of Montclair citizens." Excuse me, I find this offensive. Talk about injecting race. I don't care what the candidates look like, I care about what they will do when they are elected.
Renter who can't afford Mtclr taxes April 19, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Seriously? "FACE-PALM!"
tryintosurvive April 20, 2012 at 01:21 AM
"Turner's RPM slate all look exactly alike and certainly don't look like a cross-section of Montclair citizens" Did you really just say that? Is that what you think people should be deciding their votes on. I was thinking that ideas and experience should count, but I guess to some people you have to look a certain way. Kind of sad.
Meg Beattie Patrick April 20, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Ideas and experience do count. Another reason why Robert Jackson and his Montclair 2012 slate are the only choice on May 8th. They've got the experience and won't waste time putting out fires muddling through what's legal and what's not, a la Turner's repeated missteps (Glenfield School fiasco, PTA debacle, sending self-interview press releases that are designed to look like legitimate interviews)....and yes, they're a cookie-cutter slate, that RPM Turner bunch, totally not representative of the township's population. It may offend you, but it's the truth. Robert Jackson for Mayor, Vote Line A all the way on May 8th and let the Montclair 2012 Team lead the town we all love.
tryintosurvive April 20, 2012 at 02:11 AM
If ideas and experience do count, then why do you have to look a certain way?
Meg Beattie Patrick April 20, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Well, if it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck, it's probably a duck. Not to offend ducks, I'll put it another way: if it looks like a one trick pony and acts like a one trick pony, chances are...it's a one trick pony. Not to offend ponies... Bottom line: Karen Turner is not mayor material and has proven that with her slate during the campaign with her repeated lousy judgment and disregard for processes and procedures. Nobody wants that in office.
D-Zone April 20, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Althea: "Dead Zone -Please keep posting, I'm out, this is way too toxic and sad. I would rather go sit outside, enjoy the beautful sky, listen to Levon Helm and be grateful that I live in such a beautiful town. Peace" RPM and your insinuation is dangerously toxic. While you were out listening to Levon; I chose to listen to Billie Holiday's 'God Bless the Child'. To Montclairgurl. Did you ever contact Karen Turner or Leeann Carlson, in reference to Town turned Township (posted on the RPM respond to ad...)?
tryintosurvive April 20, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Not sure what ducks and ponies have to do with anything, but I think I get your point. Karen Turner's slate does not look like the way you think a slate should look, therefore her ideas and qualifications are not relevant. You are going to vote for a slate that "looks the right way".
A. Gideon April 20, 2012 at 02:43 AM
"She has spent all her time running interference and strategizing damage control." Actually, she appears to have had some time to invest getting some parents who are involved in our schools interested in promoting her campaign. Especially given that she starts at a disadvantage - her kids attending elsewhere - I view that as a significant achievement. As for "damage control": As far as I know, nobody promoting that slate (or Mr. Susswein's) has referred to "appearances" as a qualifying criteria. ...Andrew
Meg Beattie Patrick April 20, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Andrew, I beg to differ. Turner's slate has issued inane statements about its hopes of "putting a woman in office as mayor" wtf kinda criteria is that? C'mon, now.
tryintosurvive April 20, 2012 at 03:44 AM
I thought that you made it clear, you are going to vote for a slate that "looks the right way".
A. Gideon April 20, 2012 at 03:49 AM
tf kinda criteria is that" I would imagine that this would appeal to those, such as yourself, looking for a visual reason to choose a candidate. But I admit I've not seen that statement, so I fear you'll have to provide a reference to where Ms. Turner suggested that as a reason for us to vote for her. ...Andrew
Belletones April 20, 2012 at 03:58 AM
I'd be embarrassed after reading this post to discover that I recognized the name of the poster.
Meg Beattie Patrick April 20, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Well, the statement was in Montclair Patch, Montclair Times, etc., but I'll give you this one from Bnet, Andrew, since you asked for proof: http://www.baristanet.com/2012/04/montclair-moms-support-karen-turner/
D-Zone April 20, 2012 at 05:21 AM
This is from: Why I am Running. TURNER: "Through extensive volunteer work with two organizations over the past two years, I realized the town has some serious financial and operational issues that can be addressed with the right elected officials in office. I hope to be elected with the other members of the Real Progress Montclair slate. We will embrace the responsibility to address Montclair’s most pressing issues. We are an open-minded, solutions-orientated group of leaders. We have the skill set, the mindset and the will to do this. We are passionate about Montclair’s character and diversity". I did expect RPM to release a statement apologizing for the mistake, which a caused a stir amongst us. Instead, RPM released disparaging remarks. Their goes your character and diversity! RPM crossed the line entirely too many times and should withdraw.
BlaBlaBla April 20, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Turner has demonstrated some serious operational and financial issues too! RPM has publicly humilated itself while clearly violating IRS tax code relating to nearly all of the organizations who enjoy tax exempt status while the officers and board members violate the premise for being tax exempt. Then humilate themself further by denying it. The most frightening aspect is that Turner claims she WAS a CPA - inept at best. Also, calling any black person who dare question the authority of the towns most pompous a racist is further proof of the obvious.
montclairgurl April 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Tell it Straight April 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM
RPM.... regarding Catherine steel's having never stepped foot in Montclair, who cares and how do you know? And, as far as i could tell, she wasn't attacking ''Montclair's Mom's'', she was attacking you and weintraub for knowingly crossing the line in trying to pass off this meeting of the minds as a groundswell of support from Montclair's PTA. I wonder if she also knew that you tried to recruit 12 and 13 year old middle school students to do your grunt work in exchange for jr honor society credits??? Lastly, just what and who is this powerful Essex County political machine? How do you get in? Other than steele and Jackson, who else is part of this powerful mechanisim that i or anyone else has never heard of?
Stuart Weissman April 20, 2012 at 01:45 PM
BlaBlaBla, Your arguments are underwhelming and your anonymity points to you being a shill. The only racist in this race is Jackson himself, who chose to pull out that card when it appeared his chips were down.
CMFAS55 April 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Blablabla if your guy wins this race we are f--cked. This is a sharpe James operative. If turner fails I could deal w Susswein but I cringe thinking about a town run by Jackson given how blablabla and meg Patrick battle act on these boards.
D-Zone April 20, 2012 at 02:37 PM
To Stuart. The first personal attack was against Walter S. The next via RPM in the Montclair Times, against Robert J and Catherine S. CMFAS55, chose to take a simple question I asked for now and turn it into a threat. This is very RPM. This is a local election! Once over, it will be business as usual.
CMFAS55 April 20, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Why would anyone think there will be a race riot? Who brought that up besides dead zone? Sounds like a threat to me. This is a democracy if your Person loses you don't riot. I don't think this is about race. It's about class and the middle, upper middle and wealthy. CAnt sustain these tax costs. The poor aren't affected but if Susswein or turner slates outsource town services they are fearful of losing their jobs and Pensions. That's the reality though because unless you look to the school system for more cutting you will have private sanitation and other services.
Stuart Weissman April 20, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Eh. You can try something new, or you can continue with the failed policies of the past which have left Montclair in its current financially precarious position. Two years ago, Montclair had the second most unfixed short-term debt of any town in NJ. These are the issues people should be focusing on. Whether or not the mayor has a child in the school system means little when the state takes over the hiring decisions for the school system due to the towns bankrupty. From Russo to Remsen to Fried, they all did their best to add to the capital debt. Now Montclair's services stink since over a fifth of what each person pays for these services goes to service it. It's going to get worse each year as the new school debt is on a sliding scale that increases exponentially over the next few years. Plus, I think the township has only fixed a third of it too. You can argue dirty campaign tactics and make character assassination attempts till you're blue in the face, but what this election is ultimately about is whether or not you feel the debt is a ticking-time bomb. The more Montclair controls it's debt, the better the services will become and eventually more funding will end up in the schools and the town rather than in some bond holders bank account. Many of us realize this. Others choose to put their collective heads in the sand and pull out race cards and terms like "smart" growth, which might as well mean we plan to ignore the debt like so many inept councils did before us.
BlaBlaBla April 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Interesting that any under-handed inuendo directed towards some sort of machine meant to insult poor minority people is brushed off so long as the actual words race, class or economic status are not made obvious. Once you understand that and add to it the immediate denial of any suggestion of minority or socioeconomic "status" (which relates to the obnoxious Montclair Power Mom ad which is a direct insult to 98% of the mothers who were not considered appropriate, who live in Monctlair) and the denial of a powerful (99.9% white mom machine who somehow never have more than one or two friends of color in this tolerant and diverse town). I find it short sighted on the part of many who wish to deny and dismiss the carefully crafted insults by RPM towards two couragous black people to divert attention from the public display of abuses and arrogance the first ad brought to light. Many refuse to acknowledge it because they don't want to. Not because it doesn't exsist.
tryintosurvive April 21, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Good points Stuart, getting the town's finances in order and addressing the debt problem are the most important issues in this election. I believe that most Montclair people are intelligent enough to understand that.
A. Gideon April 21, 2012 at 06:44 PM
"getting the town's finances in order and addressing the debt problem are the most important issues in this election." Agreed. And this is something about which I've been thinking...to no great effect, I fear. It is not unreasonable to presume that housing prices are likely to be flat or slow-growing - at best - over the next bunch of years. Yet the costs associated with the municipality and the school district - staff-heavy budgets with rising health-care costs - are going up. This translates to increasing taxes even if there is no additional spending beyond health-care cost increases. The town has been cutting staff in the aggregate, yet its costs are increasing. Outsourcing and regionalization will nibble at the edges of this, reducing costs by some constant amount. But the rate of growth in costs and the lack of growth in property values isn't likely to change. Therefore, while these changes might delay tax increases, they don't avoid or prevent them. Something needs to change so as to alter the imbalance between the revenue the town and school see and the costs they must pay. What that something might be, though, I cannot say. I'd love to hear something on this from the candidates. ...Andrew
A. Gideon April 21, 2012 at 06:49 PM
"RPM has publicly humilated itself while clearly violating IRS tax code" This is false. More, it is a falsehood that this login been repeating in the hope that it will somehow become true. That suggests the identity behind this sock puppet. ...Andrew
Marnie Brand April 21, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Marnie Brand Let me start by saying, I am proud to have put my name in the Montclair MOMs ad. I have lived in Montclair for more than 40 years and I love this town. I respect all the candidates; anyone willing to throw their hat in the public service ring deserves respect. I think it is safe to say most of the candidates are not running for the money, the glory, fame or as a big stepping stone to seek higher office. I am confident that are all doing it for the right reasons: to help Montclair. What I find so distasteful of late is the cowardice of residents who jump on Internet sites like Baristanet, and The Patch and hide behind screen names and bash each other and the candidates. Do we really have nothing better or productive to do? It’s very upsetting to read reckless insults about lifelong volunteers, outrageous and unfounded accusations and general nastiness, while the posters hide behind anonymous screen names. How about hitting the reset button? Instead of insults and commentary that will divide the community think about why you support the candidates you support and share it with others. If you are unsure whom to support, attend one of the many candidate forums and ask questions in a respectful manner.
Marnie Brand April 21, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Cont..... Here, I’ll start. I support RPM because our Town has piled up huge debt, property taxes are out of control, and we need to try to address our bloated budget to make sure the money is spent effectively so that the programs that make Montclair such a wonderful community will survive. The RPM team are best suited to manage our budget immediately and manage the challenges we face. They are completely up to speed with municipal budget solutions that are being used in towns and cities all over the country. Lets practice civility after all we are neighbors!!!


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