Thursday, September 12, 2013

BREAKING: Appellate Court rules new election for rent control question

Last November's razor thin outcome on the rent control question, garnering over 16,000 votes is ordered back on the ballot this November by the NJ Appellate Court.

The ruling comes after a contentious appeal surrounding 114 voters out of town who filed they were not given an opportunity to vote on Ballot Question #2 on rent control changes.  Hoboken voters had the option of voting out of Hoboken provisionally but only email voters could vote on the ballot questions due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

The difference in the election was 52 votes in favor of the rent control advocates.  They contend that an examination of the actual 114 provisional ballots and the voters proves they won the election but the court has not allowed that evidence according to one rent control advocate.

Hoboken's rent control election
is probably more intriguing then the movie.
The same ballot question is ordered back this November.

The ruling if not overturned on appeal by the NJ Supreme Court would mean that Hoboken voters will once again vote on the same rent control question this November.


Mile Square Taxpayers Association has issued a statement.  It's printed in its entirety and MSV anticipates one from their opponents who fought against the ballot question last November.

MSTA announces:

In a scathing indictment of the integrity of a cycle of litigation brought by Hoboken Fair Housing Association, today the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed a Superior Court order to place a public question on rent control on the November election ballot.

Summarizing a four-page decision that deconstructs every contention made by HFHA and its named petitioner, Cheryl Fallick, the Court wrote, "We find Fallick's appellate contentions without merit and, except as addressed herein, they do not warrant discussion.”  The Court soundly rejected Fallick’s claim that there was no legally competent evidence that 114 voters from Hoboken actually cast provisional ballots outside of Hoboken.  “The evidence on that point was undisputed.  In fact, the 114 number was conceded by the Attorney General, who vigorously defended the election results.”
  “Since The Hoboken Housing Improvement Initiative first collected signatures to put rent control reform on the ballot in June 2012, HFHA has brought 7 separate legal actions in an attempt to prevent voters from voting to enact necessary reforms to rent control,” says Ron Simoncini, executive director of Mile Square Taxpayers Association, which was represented in the matter by Charles Gormally of Brach Eichler in Roseland.  “They have aligned themselves with a public interest law firm, an attorney specializing in exploiting the misadministration of the rent control law by the Hoboken rent leveling office to squeeze settlements and judgments from landlords, and the City of Hoboken’s legal department and special counsels. 
“And this in the face of a judicial decision that found Hoboken’s rent control ordinance was unconstitutional as applied and a general acknowledgement by public officials and residents that rent control in Hoboken is broken.  Hoboken Fair Housing Association will stop at nothing to protect its political relevance, misrepresenting even court orders, when in fact not one existing resident in Hoboken will be affected by the Amendment that will appear on the ballot.   
“HFHA’s cynical program included timing an appeal so that it postponed a vote on the matter until the November 5th election and could have deprived the voters of the right to vote entirely.   The support of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who named a self-avowed rent control advocate to the Rent Leveling Board early in her administration and has been turning a blind eye to the abuses inherent in such an arrangement ever since, is especially troubling.  In the previous rent control election 8196 voters supported the Referendum to reform rent control and in the election before that more than 68% of the voters supported a Council-adopted ordinance to prevent legal abuses against property owners.  Rather than attempt to resolve problems with the rent control ordinance, the Administration blindly supports HFHA initiatives, ignoring libelous statements on its website and permitting erroneous application of its rent control laws.  HFHA has sued Hoboken on several occasions and still finds support in the Administration.”

Why Hoboken Will Revote on Vacancy Decontrol?
In an attempt to accommodate voters who were displaced by Hurricane Sandy, the State announced it would allow voters to vote at any polling place and assured them that they would be able to vote on all of their local elections.  However, Hoboken ballots were only available in Hoboken, so voters who cast ballots outside of Hoboken were not able to vote on the local elections, despite being told they could. The Vacancy Decontrol public question was decided by just 52 votes, and because as many as 200 voters cast ballots that did not offer the question, Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington determined that voters were disenfranchised of a constitutional right and she ordered a new election.