Friday, September 13, 2013

HFHA calls Appellate Court action 'election theft'

HFHA announces:

Court Affirms Developer/Real Estate Group Election Theft

Hoboken, NJ (September 13, 2013) – On Wednesday the Hoboken Fair Housing Association (HFHA) learned that the NJ Appellate Division denied justice by affirming the lower court’s decision to overturn the legitimate result of the 2012 election ballot question where the voters rejected proposed changes to the Rent Control Law which would have eliminated rent control protections for Hoboken tenants.  While the appeals court had previously affirmed that tenant leader Cheryl Fallick was legally allowed to intervene in this court battle, they nevertheless refused to allow her to introduce the crucial evidence which would have conclusively proven that the there was no legitimate basis for the lower court to overturn the election result.

The central question in this decision was whether 114 voters who voted by provisional ballot outside of Hoboken were “disenfranchised” because those ballots did not contain the Hoboken rent control question.  A list of these 114 voters was filed with the lower court as evidence of voter disenfranchisement by Charles X. Gormally, representing the big landlord/ developer group, Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA).  Gormally, and later the appeals court in their decision, repeatedly referred to these 114 voters as “Hoboken voters” entitled to vote on Hoboken Public Question #2 (HPQ2.)  Election law allows for an election result to be overturned if it can be demonstrated that enough legitimate voters were prevented from voting to change the result of the election.

HFHA has proof that, while these voters had a Hoboken address listed as their address on the registration records, most of them did not, in fact, live in Hoboken on the date of the election, and were therefore not entitled to vote on HPQ2.

Here are the facts:

1.  5 of the 114 names submitted to the lower court by Gormally were duplicates.  There were actually only 109 different names on the list.  Whether this was knowingly false or just careless, the lower court’s uncritical acceptance of this sloppy, inaccurate list casts doubt on the entire list of names that attorney Gormally submitted to the court on behalf of his client, the MSTA.

2.  Election law requires that an “affirmation statement” must be attached to each and every provisional ballot cast which specifies the voter’s name, address at which the voter was last registered to vote, address at which the voter lives at the time of the election, and the polling location at which the provisional ballot was cast.  According to the 82 affirmation statements that were supplied per Cheryl Fallick's OPRA request for all of the affirmation statements attached to the 114 provisional ballots submitted as evidence,  52 of the 109 voters did not live in Hoboken on the date of the election.  These people swore in a public document that they did not live in Hoboken.  They were not entitled to vote on HPQ2. 

3.  According to certifications obtained by HFHA members, 21 of the remaining 57 voters on the list either did not live in Hoboken, or were ineligible to vote in Hoboken, or specifically said they either would not have voted on the rent control question, or would have voted against it.

This shows that at most 36 of the 109 provisional voters submitted as evidence could have legitimately changed the election result;  even if all of those 36 voters had voted for the question, the outcome of the election – decided by 52 votes – could not have been changed.

The courts also changed the rules of the election almost a year after the election was held, wrongly ruling that every polling location in the New Jersey should have provided a provisional ballot containing the local questions and candidates for any municipality in the entire state to any voter in real time upon request.  This change to election rules gives wrong doers the means to challenge and overturn the legitmate results of any local election question or candidate.

It is a disgrace that the vast majority of the 109 people listed on the alleged displaced voters list did not live in Hoboken and did not claim to live in Hoboken but were used by powerful developer moneyed interests to steal an election in the courtroom.  The courts have stifled justice. The courts did not allow a legitimate intervenor to submit what can only be described as the DNA evidence of the case - the proof that the so-called evidence submitted to the court by MSTA was not credible. 

In a court battle over an election result, every stone should be turned to uncover the truth, before taking the drastic step of ordering a new election.  In this case the court made sure that every stone was kept carefully in place so that the truth would remain hidden.

This appellate court decision ordering a new election, overturning the legitimate democratic will of the voters, is a travesty.  

Back on the ballot... and the ballot!

Last year the rent control ballot question was one of several on a full voting sheet.  This year it will be alone and for those who don't recall, here is the wording:

Shall the City of Hoboken continue annual rental increase protections for current residents of rent controlled properties but allow property owners to negotiate rents for vacant apartments and exempt buildings with one-to-four units and condominium units from the rent leveling ordinance by adopting the proposed amendment to Chapter 155 of the Code of the City of Hoboken?

If approved, the changes would mean buildings under rent control of four units or less and condos would no longer subject to the regulation. Some are concerned smaller buildings would see tenants under pressure and forced out as state law doesn't provide protection against their removal.

Larger buildings would see de facto vacancy decontrol. There is anxiety among tenants about the enticement to push out tenants for higher rent at prevailing market rates.

City Clerk James Farina drew the lots yesterday on the candidate ballot positions.

Yesterday, candidate positions on the ballot were drawn.  According to the Jersey Journal, ballot positions will be:

Mayoral candidates: Tim Occhipinti 1J, Ruben Ramos 3J, Mayor Dawn Zimmer 5J (incumbent)

At-large City Council seats (bracketed): Laura Miani 1K, Eduardo Gonzalez 2K, and Joe Mindak 3K -- on "Vision for Hoboken" team with Ramos. Frank "Pupie" Raia, 5K Peter Biancamano, 6K and Britney Montgomery-Cook 7K -- on "One Hoboken" ticket with Occhipinti. Patricia Waiters 9K -- independent. David Mello (incumbent) 11K,  Ravi Bhalla 12K (incumbent) and James Doyle, 13K -- on ticket with Zimmer.

In addition, Hoboken school board candidates will be on the ballot.
Those positions are:
James Gilbarty, 1I, Brian Murray, 2I, Leon Gold 3I (incumbent), Natalie Rivera 4I, Irene Sobolov 5I (incumbent). Vanessa Falco, 6I, Patricia Waiters. 7I, and Jennifer Evans, 8I

Photo courtesy the Jersey Journal, by arrangement