Over the last week we’ve seen a few ads for a website that’s dedicated to criticizing Sean Spiller, our town council member and NJEA Secretary-Treasurer. We’ve occasionally criticized Spiller ourselves, questioning what we see as a conflict of interest in his service on the Board of Estimate, and his efforts to block the AssessmentGate probe.
The site, if you haven’t also seen the ads (they seem to be running pretty regularly, for us at least), is at http://www.shadyseanspiller.com.
The site is a pretty classic political attack site, and we guess it’s probably put together by his opponents at the state level given his active lobbying there and that sort of thing. Certainly, he’s enjoyed a pretty meteoric rise, apparently having been considered as a running mate for Barbara Buono last year.
The site has the usual dark imagery, bad pictures (although his picture on it really isn’t all that unflattering, we don’t think?) and all of that from political sites and attack ads. It actually cites some of our own material we’ve posted that’s critical of the issues we mentioned (the conflict of interest and AssessmentGate), as well as criticisms lobbed by other folks.
We mention it because they’ve done some interesting research into campaign finance here in Montclair, looking at how much money was raised by the Montclair 2012 slate that Spiller was on. It’s quite a bit of money that the NJEA spent to get Spiller into elected office – over $10,000.
They’ve also done some research that we thought was interesting into the contract Spiller negotiated for his local teacher union in Wayne that included an exemption for him from actually teaching, apparently because of problems with him being too busy with union work and not showing up for class. We hadn’t thought much about this stuff but it’s pretty interesting, and we’re going to look into it more, including what the story is on similar provisions here in Montclair.
To us, the site speaks to Spiller’s broader political profile, and – like with other professional activists active in the schools debate here in Montclair – the wider agenda and issues that he (and other folks like Bob Russo) are engaged around. As Russo said, they are all “fighting a national battle” around education politics. And that means it’s not about our kids or our schools.