The statements keep coming.
Montclair Township attorney Ira Karasick sent this response Friday to a statement made by attorney Charles Gormally for Montclair Property Owners Association, after news that the Township would have to hand over a contact list of Montclair residents:
“As I advised you previously, we did not intend to release any personal information without receiving permission from the person involved. Since the timeframe of the court’s order precluded obtaining consent, it became incumbent on the Township to notify those persons affected that this information is being disclosed, and that it was ordered by the court over our strenuous objection and for purposes of persuading voters to sign a referendum petition. I am surprised that you think that this truth “poisons the well.” I am also both disturbed and astonished by your intemperate comments and threats, which appear to arise out of a fundamental misunderstanding of the rights of our citizens and the duties, responsibilities and ethical obligations of those of us who work in local government. The Township in no way seeks to discourage participation in the initiative and referendum process – quite the contrary. As you nastily put it, the Township does have a self-serving agenda – self-serving, if that means serving everyone who lives, works, and has property or a business in Montclair – and that agenda is to protect and further the public interest and to promote the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Reluctantly, I am not going to respond to the rest of your invective and whining. It would, at least for now, be unheeded, particularly if you can’t see that the forced disclosure to a third party of the personal information of an individual who provided it for other purposes in order to contact that person for a political campaign is an invasion of privacy, however legal.
Also, if you intend to file a notice of claim, there is a required form available from the Clerk’s office.”
Then there was this, in response to the Township sending out an email to residents, from MPOA’s Ron Simoncini:
“As a result of today’s unprecedented attempt to squelch the voice of the Citizens, we have received the attached correspondence indicating yet another layer of how far the Montclair government will go to prevent a dialogue around rent control.
In addition there, was a previous clear attempt to circumvent the Judge’s order by encouraging residents to opt out of the notification program in order to avoid getting email about the Referendum.
And finally, just today the Montclair government used this same system, which is intended for emergency notifications and was only made available to the Petitioners to protect the right of Referendum, to send a politically-oriented message.
Hypocrisy and a lack of ethics. What must be at stake for the elected officials in Montclair?”
The Tenants Organization of Montclair and Montclair Citizens for Rent Control, also weighed in with a statement Friday, saying they stand with Montclair town officials in their unwavering support of the Rent Control Ordinance:
“Concerning the release of residents’ personal emails and phone numbers to a property owners’ group seeking to overturn rent control we are unmoved in our efforts to continue fighting for rent control implementation.
With the aid of a high-powered real estate attorney, and a judge willing to make “new law” during a pandemic, the MPOA has managed to shuck many – but not enough.
“This small group of property owners will be stopped with our greater numbers of supporters. Now the MPOA has demonstrated that it not only disrespects tenants’ rights, but every resident’s right to privacy concerning their personal information.” said Ahava Felicidad, President and Toni Martin 1st Vice President.
TOOM worked tirelessly, and in public, for a year before the pandemic occurred to persuade the township Mayor and Council that the need for rent stabilization and enforcement of tenants’ legal rights was an urgent matter. This has been an issue in Montclair for nearly 40 years. The town’s first rent control ordinance was passed in April 2020. The MPOA was formed two weeks before the ordinance was adopted – and it has thrown every roadblock possible in the way since.
Why? The MPOA was formed by an anti-rent-control public relations professional who is paid by developers and real estate people to oppose tenants’ rights. Ron Simoncini, the PR pro, is the executive director of the MPOA. He resides in Ridgefield, and what we know of him is that he runs the same game in towns all over New Jersey – and employs the same attorney, by the way, to bring the hammer down wherever possible on progress.
TOOM has recently been joined by the growing Montclair Citizens for Rent Control coalition. It embraces many homeowners, property owners, community leaders, the NAACP and a diverse group of Clergy who believe that rent control is the only way to stabilize our diverse community. Even though the MPOA has now been supplied the means to harass the community with its propagandistic anti-tenant statements, our coalition and our goal remains the same.
We are available to answer any questions about the fight to get our ordinance implemented.”