A source emailed us over the weekend to inform us that several activists from the Montclair 250 will be meeting with Mayor Jackson this afternoon at 4:30. Apparently this is their second meeting with the mayor in less than a month. According the source the mayor appears to be planning monthly meetings with these activists, and they are discussing prospective school board appointments during the meetings.
While we weren’t able to independently verify the existence of the meeting itself, we were able to confirm several other details shared with us by the source, and based on that we feel confident in reporting this information.
One of the meeting participants is reportedly Robin Alvarado, a teacher at Edgemont who is reportedly organizing the lobbying effort.
We have some real concerns here on Jackson’s involvement, as some of the actions he’s taken are currently failing to inspire confidence in his interest or ability to provide leadership for the school board that’s willing to stand up to MCAS and the MEA.
Monthly meetings with MCAS? It’s not like they don’t have enough of a chance to be heard already. They already shout down/boo/harass everyone else at the school board meetings – they have plenty of chances to be heard. Largely, it’s the rest of the town that doesn’t. And unfortunately, we hear that Jackson is not equally available to other members of the community to talk about these important issues. Having met with this group once and heard them out seems like plenty. Meeting with them monthly in a coordinated way raises questions about who’s side Jackson is on – the town and the taxpayers, or the MEA? It’s an incredibly important question, given the budget debate we’re going through now, and the two board appointments he’ll be making soon.
In 2012, when Jackson started making school board appointments, he said he was looking for candidates who would have bold vision, be fiscally minded, and have “financial acuity”:
“”We’re going to be looking for people who are pro-educational system but are fiscally minded,” Jackson said. “We’ll be looking for some ‘bold vision’ people.”
The mayor said he would be looking for candidates with “financial acuity” and candidates who would be “advocates” of public education, “so that we have a nice balance.”
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case with his appointments thus far. The “financial acuity” of David Cummings, Anne Mernin, and Jessica De Koninck was most recently on display on Friday, while the board sorted out the budget. De Koninck didn’t even bother to show up, and Mernin and Cummings both voted against the budget – they wanted an even higher tax increase than 4%. It’s unsurprising, since their preferred form of community outreach seems to be partying with the MEA and MCAS (scroll down to see the pictures).
These private meetings with the same cabal that’s been attacking the district and administration, and doing everything they can to “gum up the works” reek of backroom dealing – we think Jackson has enough problems to deal with already, and a scandal about how he’s letting the MEA and the extremists at MCAS like Michelle Fine continue to guide his school board choices is the last thing he should want. He needs to put an end to these meetings.
If you’re concerned about this issue, here’s Mayor Jackson’s email and office phone number:
And here’s another phone number, just in case he can’t be reached there: