Rent Control Organizers Battle With City Council

In a raucous City Council meeting last night Cambridge City Councillors and members of the Cambridge Rent Control Referendum Campaign exchanged bitter charges concerning the problem of rent control and other questions facing the city.

"Every member of this City Council is a servant of the rich," said Robert Schwartz, a member of the Referendum Campaign, "and if the poor workers of the city want rent control they will have to roll over the City Council. We're going to roll over you guys. You have done nothing to stop the Universities. Harvard students will stop Harvard even if we have to tear it apart like Columbia and San Francisco State."

The statement and others like it came after the Council unanimously passed a motion permitting the Referendum Campaign to set up tables on the sidewalks of Cambridge in order to collect signatures on a rent control petition. The Council had tabled the request last week when it was revealed that the campaign was backed by the Peace and Freedom Party. At that meeting Councillors Bernard Goldberg, Thomas H. D. Mahoney, and Daniel J. Hayes voted to table the motion because of the "inflammatory literature" the Party had passed out on previous occasions.

"Last week's political attack on the Peace and Freedom Party was a 'red herring' designed to destroy the rent control drive in Cambridge," said Ronald W. Stoia '68, a spokesman for the group. "I'd like to find out just what the councillors meant by their innuendoes last week," he said. His statement set off a bitter exchange with Goldberg.

Reasons for Delay


"Our delaying of the petition last week was to give us time to answer three questions," Goldberg said. "These questions were: why the Peace and Freedom Party is backing the drive, and legal questions involved, and the literature which has been distributed recently by the Peace and Freedom Party which a reasonable person could consider inflammatory."

As Schwartz and Stoia leveled charges of inaction at the Council, they were backed by Councillor Alfred E. Vellucci. But the "servants of the rich" charge by Schwartz brought the pride of East Cambridge storming to his feet. "Do you know me so well that you can make a charge like that?" Vellucci roared. "I walked in picket lines long before you, and don't you dare tag Al Vellucci with being a servant of the rich, I don't know who your father is, but my father was a poor immigrant, and I have eight children to support. And where were you years ago when we were fighting for rent control and against the Inner Belt?"

After two hours of increasingly virulent debate Mayor Walter J. Sullivan was forced to close the meeting with Schwartz and Councillor Thomas J. Danehey nose to nose, roaring thinly veiled charges of graft and irresponsibility.

"That's the be-all and end-all." Goldberg commented after the meeting. "It shows them up for what they are. You have to wait until the very last moment to find out the underlying reasons behind their motives.