To the Editors of The Crimson:
The City Council decision not to fund the legal appeal of the Polednak judgement is inconsistent with past city practice. City departments interpret city ordinances and orders and establish regulations and administrative procedures to carry them out and enforce them.
If these regulations and procedures are the subject of legal challenge, then they are examined by legal counsel. If they are found wanting, they are changed. If they are consistent with the letter and intent of City Council action then they are defended. The Rent Control Board regulations were defended in the Polednak case.
Judge Sherman ruled against the Rent Control Board. The Board decided to appeal that judgement. To deny funds for the appeal is to decide not to defend the Rent Board regulations. These rules were established to implement the City Council's will, as expressed in 1980 and again in 1981. The rule of law is being chipped away when penalties are not levied for violations, and regulations are not defended. Over the past year a pattern has emerged out of the City Council which represents a chipping away at the rule of law as it applies to rental housing in Cambridge. This threatens to create a situation in which neither landlord nor tenant will respect or abide by the law.
This case is of great concern to tenants in rent controlled apartments. The lack of an outpouring of opposition from tenants up to this point is a product of the excalating complexity of the areas of battle (as each side uses the legal system and dwells on technicalities). It is not a true measure of the dread fear that many low and moderate-income tenants feel when they hear about the potential loss of 1000 rent controlled units.
We urge the City Council to reconsider its decision not to fund the Polednak appeal. We urge city councilors to uphold the rule of law when it comes up on Feb. 22nd. We urge the Council to uphold its policy of protecting tenants from eviction for condominium conversion.
The Alliance of Cambridge Tenants
Cambridge Tenant Organization
Harvard Tenant Union
Ward Seven Association
Simplex Steering Committee