Shame on holdover Montclair Township Council members Sean Spiller (now mayor), Bill Hurlock, Robin Schlager and Bob Russo from the last administration. They were late to the table to act on needed rent controls to start with here, given how rife the market was with speculation.

Then, they rushed through a flawed bill that didn’t cover everyone, passed really just to pacify tenant advocates right before the last 2020 council elections.

Next, they allowed administration top staff to act like anti-democratic autocrats, no different than right-wing state governments — letting the township clerk apply hanging-chad signature reviews to stop a legal, democratic petition process, to win on false technical grounds rather than the merits of the position.

New Jersey's appellate court has just kicked their butts and exposed another wasted political "legal show" by our township attorney. Even forgetting the possible $300,000 in litigant legal costs we may have to cover.

That’s because we will now negotiate the very same revised terms that could have put been in place last year to provide reasonable protections. However, it will be drafted from a much weaker place with landlords — given the coming "must-do" referendum now in the wings, should there be no deal.

Martin Schwartz

Editor's notes: A court this week ruled Montclair's township clerk was wrong to reject electronic signatures that didn't match handwritten ones from voter rolls when she reviewed a petition regarding Montclair's 2020 rent control ordinance. The ruling makes way for a referendum on the ordinance, unless the Township Council repeals the ordinance. Landlords who organized the petition say they hope instead the council will negotiate a replacement with them.

In the time since this letter was submitted, Ira Karasick has resigned from the position of Montclair township attorney.


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