Dear Editor: The following is an open letter to the citizens of Hoboken.
Citizens of Hoboken:
On the November 5 ballot will be Hoboken Public Question No. 1 (“HPQ1”), which asks the voters to approve an ordinance which will decontrol all rental units on vacancy, allowing landlords to charge new tenants whatever they want, and in effect it could encourage them to evict current tenants. If the yes vote wins, many renters will be forced out of their homes.
This may seem familiar to you since the exact same Hoboken Public Question (“HPQ2”) was on the ballot in November, 2012. More votes (16,444) were cast on HPQ2 than on any local question or for any local candidate in the 35 years I’ve lived in Hoboken. The no vote won by 52 votes: a majority of Hoboken’s citizens voted to defend renters by keeping their rent control protections. So why is the same question on the November 5 ballot?
The answer is very disturbing: after losing the election, the developer/real estate interests who put HPQ2 on the ballot went to court to overturn the election result, based on their claim that 114 provisional voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy were prevented from voting on HPQ2. Despite the fact that there is hard evidence (including “Affirmation Statements” attached to all provisional ballots) that proves that at most 36 of the 114 voters were disenfranchised Hoboken voters (which is not enough to reverse the 52 vote election victory, as required by law to overturn an election result), the election officials charged with defending the election and the presiding judge failed to look at the evidence, and the court overturned the HPQ2 election result, requiring a revote this November. Tenant leader Cheryl Fallick was denied the right to intervene in the lawsuit, so that the winning no vote had no representation in the lawsuit. Only after the court overturned the election was Fallick able to obtain the Affirmation Statements which showed that the 114 voter list was false evidence. She appealed the court’s wrongful ruling, but was denied the right to supplement the court record with the proof that the 114 voter list was false evidence, and the appeals court affirmed the overturning of the election!
Bottom line: a valid election result, representing the will of 16,444 voters, was overturned based on false evidence, and those charged with defending the election failed to scrutinize the evidence or to consider proof that it was false. A precedent has been set which allows those who lose an election and who have the money to go to court to overturn a valid democratic election result based on false evidence. Democratic elections have been undermined!
We now have no choice but to vote again to send a message that we will not allow a democratic election to be overturned. The HPQ1 ordinance will destroy rent control protections and force many tenants out of their homes. But no matter what you think about rent control or how you voted last November, we must send the message that the Democratic will of the voters must be respected by voting no on HPQ1 on November 5!