Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rent control wars flare again with new appeal on overturned election

The battle in Hoboken over rent control took another turn with an appeal by rent control advocate Cheryl Fallick last week.  MSV heard from both sides.

The Hoboken Fair Housing Association announces:

HFHA Supports Appeal Filed to Reinstate Wrongly Overturned Election Result

Hoboken, New Jersey, March 15, 2013.  With the full support of Hoboken Fair Housing Association (HFHA), Ms. Cheryl Fallick has filed an appeal of New Jersey Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington’s ruling to overturn the results of last November’s vote on Hoboken Public Question # 2 (HPQ2).

Ms. Fallick was the campaign manager for HFHA’s successful effort to defeat HPQ2, a ballot initiative sponsored by a small well-funded group of landlords, developers and realtors, the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA), that asked voters to approve the elimination of Hoboken Rent Control protections for all new tenants.  The judge’s ruling revokes the certified results and orders a re-vote to be held on either November 5, 2013 or in an earlier special election.

This outrageous ruling not only undermines the democratic will of the majority who voted to continue rent control protections, it also disenfranchises all of the 16,444 citizens that voted on HPQ2.

When the results were in on election night, the "NO" vote prevailed on the machines by 560 votes.  After the Vote-by-Mail ballots were counted, the lead dropped, but HPQ2 was defeated by 52 votes.  The final tally was 8,248 to 8,196. In December, fifteen supporters of MSTA filed an election contest to overturn the result.

Ms. Fallick originally filed a motion pro se (without an attorney) to intervene in this case because HFHA lacked funds to afford legal representation.  Ms. Fallick’s position was that she had a separate and substantial interest in the outcome of the election contest, and that neither her own interests nor those of HFHA and the 8,248 residents that voted to maintain existing rent control protections were being adequately represented by defendants specified by the MSTA lawsuit.  These defendants, the City of Hoboken, Hudson County, and the State of New Jersey, stated that they had no interest in the election outcome but only a fair election result.

By denying Ms. Fallick the right to intervene, Judge Farrington denied the voters of Hoboken the right to have representation that would have demanded an evidentiary hearing and questioned Hoboken’s vote-by-mail tally.  Unfortunately, neither the defendants nor the Judge challenged the flawed arguments or lack of legitimate evidence that the MSTA plaintiffs presented to the Court to support their motion to overturn the election.

It is HFHA’s position that Judge Farrington’s ruling to overturn the election result is egregious and is based on the false assertion that 114 voters who voted provisionally outside of Hoboken were denied their right to vote on HPQ2.  Neither the Judge nor the defendants questioned the plaintiffs’ false claim that these voters had the right to vote outside of Hoboken on a Hoboken issue.

Hoboken Fair Housing Association believes that the originally certified election results defeating HPQ2 represents the true will of the citizens of Hoboken; we call upon the State of New Jersey, the County of Hudson and the City of Hoboken to immediately join Ms. Fallick in appealing Judge Farrington's inappropriate ruling and demonstrate that they truly are interested, as they have claimed, in a fair election result.


The Mile Square Taxpayers Association in response wrote:

Voters were found to be disenfranchised to the point that the election
results were invalidated.  That is a rare thing indeed and I am sure that
the judge, as we do, respected the intentions of the Lt Governor, who was
trying to be accommodating and not exclusionary.  However, the effect
remains, and begs the question, what would the intervention of any group
have done to advance the interests of the voters?  The issue of sustaining the
election result was adequately represented by the State and the County.  Ms.
Fallick and Mr. Tumpson are not interested in the general fairness of the
election, only in an outcome that rewards their constituents.  That is an
endemic problem whose sense of entitlement is 40 years in the making, and it
has to be reversed before irrevocable harm is done to the property owners in
Hoboken.