Case Study: Cambridge, MA, USA Rent Control killed by conning a key rent control supporter?
2. Standard type con of the Cambridge Machine.
3. The history of P.
In Cambridge, MA, it is now normal for large scale conning / dishonesty to be used to fool good people into destroying the causes for which they stand.
Cambridge, MA had Rent Control from the 60s to the 90s. It was supported by a majority of the city’s residents but killed in a 90s statewide referendum in which Cambridge voted to keep rent control and the rest of the state, by a very narrow margin, outvoted Cambridge and destroyed Rent Control.
I kept out of the statewide organizing group because I saw two Cambridge residents very visible in it who had long, destructive, records in tenant circles. I feared that they would be as destructive in the statewide organization as they were locally in Cambridge.
So I became a director in the Massachusetts Tenants Organization, a prime creator of the statewide effort against the referendum. I tried to neutralize the destructive two through outflanking them. I was not successful.
The report I got from a person who had been active in the statewide organization was that destructive behavior from the Cambridge ranks could have kept the organization from organizing at the level of effort which it could have achieved without the destructiveness of the Cambridge folks. My source was concerned that, because of the closeness of the vote, the destructive behavior in the statewide organization could have been enough to kill the tenant efforts.
For years, I have quietly blamed the destructive duo for the possible killing of rent control by preventing the statewide organization from functioning, a task comparable to their record and their behavior in Cambridge.
2. Standard type con of the Cambridge Machine.
A normal tactic of members of the Cambridge Machine is to talk well meaning folk into destroying their own cause through “minor” actions which are anything but minor. The “minor” actions commonly use misleading words which sound great but which, in reality, are exactly the opposite. This tactic is part of the usual lies through omission.
Rent Control was found legal by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the 1970s. It was found legal as a consumer protection measure intended to place both landlords and tenants on an equal footing, and to prevent landlords from unduly large profits based on the housing shortage of the time. Rent Control was a logical response to a group abusing a group monopoly.
The key finding of the Court in the 70s was that, as a consumer protection measure concerning a scarce resource with undue bargaining power on the landlords, rent control was legal. The Court clearly communicated that, the minute Rent Control could be proven to be a subsidy of tenants at the expense of landlords rather than a protection against a group monopoly, rent control would be illegal and would be thrown out by the Courts.
So naturally, the landlords ran around yelling “:subsidy.”
Sometime prior to the rent control referendum, a key person, P, got conned into adopting the landlords’ position that rent control was a subsidy taking money from landlords for the benefit of tenants.
3. The history of P.
P was a radical (euphemism for Communist, also applicable to group members in Communist influenced organizations). P was a radical in the 60s when P helped the passage of rent control. P probably continues to be a radical to this day.
While rent control was in effect P continued to work to continue rent control in place for the benefit of the needy.
Since the death of Rent Control, P has written and co-led two referenda to reinstate rent control as a subsidy for tenants. With those subsidy clauses in the petitions, the petitions were blatantly illegal, but if they had passed, that might not have been determined for five or ten years until the Court resolved the issue. Given the apparent lack of competence shown by city legal staff in the Monteiro case, that rent control case could, also have been fought beyond the limit of reason. And the efforts fighting for the lost cause could have worn out tenants.
I became aware of the illegal provision when it was included in the latter of the two reinstatement referenda. I strongly objected to the inclusion of this destructive position in the referenda. I pointed out to P and to others in the effort the illegality of the provision and thus of the entire referendum based on the 70s Supreme Judicial Court decision.
In recent years, P has commented to me that my position had been the same position taken by the two Cambridge activists whom I had feared as destructive in the anti 90s referendum effort.
It turns out that P, during the anti 90s referendum effort, had tried to get the anti 90s referendum people including those two to adopt the “subsidy” position of the landlords which had been condemned by the Supreme Judicial Court as illegal.
P, additionally, has a strong tendency to beat points to death in meetings and to force meetings to discuss and discuss and discuss his issue at the expense of doing constructive work.
And he admitted to pushing for adoption of the “subsidy” issue in the meetings of the anti 90s referendum people.
And my contact in the anti 90s referendum group was clearly distressed that destructive behavior in the Cambridge delegation during the anti 90s referendum organizing could have been sufficiently important to swing the extremely close vote on the statewide referendum to the other side. My contact was concerned that the Cambridge delegation had kept the core part of the organization from functioning.
P helped get rent control adopted in the 60s. P worked for rent control during its existence P tried to reinstate rent control in two referenda after the 90s vote.
P may have prevented the anti 90s referendum organization from functioning with his fight for the “subsidy” position in meetings of the anti 90s referendum group. My contact clearly was distressed that actions in the Cambridge delegation kept the group from functioning to the harm of the cause.
A week or so ago, in an email exchange, I pointed out to P that P had fought for the landlord position that rent control was a subsidy for tenants. P indignantly denied ever taking such a position.
A big difference between my comment and his fight was that I explicitly and accurately described P’s position as the landlord anti-tenant position. P never described his position as the landlord position in the anti-90s referendum group although P was aware that the other two did oppose P’s position for that reason, and that the two clearly opposed P’s position because it was destructive to Rent Control as a result of the 70s Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing Rent Control.
P just was fighting for a position P had called fair play. P had gotten conned into fighting for a position destructive to a cause P had fought for for 30 years. Destructive because of undisclosed fine print.
This sort of dirty tricks is now normal in Cambridge. P could have cost Cambridge Rent Control by beating to death statewide meetings and by forcing the landlord position into the discussions of the anti 90s referendum group in its key meetings, a position which he had been conned into taking.
Whoever did the con job on P simply walked away and let P run with P’s conned self destructive cause. P did all the work. The string puller was nowhere to be seen.
And the other two? Well, their years of destructive behavior created an odor in the tenant movement which should not have been there. Those two well deserve to be condemned for their part in the destruction of rent control, actions which came close to getting them thrown out of the tenant movement a few years before the 90s referendum. However, those two were on the correct side in fighting P’s initiative during the effort to defeat the 90s referendum.
That is the way things are done in Cambridge, MA, USA.
This business is business as usual in the rotten politics of the City of Cambridge, MA, USA, now. It dominates Cambridge politics. That outright domination of the political system did not exist in the 90s. Well meaning people are now regularly conned into fighting to hurt their own causes by the Cambridge Machine and its manipulations.