Candor and its consequences
Four months after its appearance in the Metro section of the New York Times, Peter Applebome's article about diversity and Teaneck is making waves on the local scene. At the time of its appearance, I surmised that the very public airing of dirty laundry in Applebome's piece had the potential to "shake up the Teaneck landscape." Surprisingly, the inital fallout from the article, which depicted growing alarm and resentment towards Orthodox Jews, "the most conspicuous and fastest-growing group in town," seemed limited. Until now.
Among those residents who spoke on the record about views of the Orthodox community was Barbara Ley Toffler, a member of the Planning Board. "People worry that there's a group that wants this to become an Orthodox community like some of the ones in Rockland County," she told the Times. "This has always been an incredibly diverse community, and from my perspective, I don't want it to become any one thing."
While this statement may be open to some interpretation (the first part suggested that it was "people," and not necessarily Toffler herself, who held that view), it upset Councilman Kevie Feit enough that he joined a majority in blocking Toffler's reappointment to the Planning Board. In widely circulated correspondance, Feit outlines some of the reasons why he felt he could not support Toffler's reappointment. Feit characterizes Toffler's statements as "insensitive, at best, and highly offensive, at worst." "Either way," he continues, "[they are] inappropriate for a member of the Planning Board to state publicly."
By Feit's own admission, his rationale for opposing Toffler is that she has conducted herself in a manner not befitting a member of the Planning Board and called her impartiality into question rather than any qualm he had with her actual performance as a member of that body. It is the quotation itself, and apparently some subsequent follow up comments that were circulated over e-mail that were at issue here. So here we do indeed have some tangible fallout from the Applebome piece. What will be the next shoe to drop?