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Judge settles dispute over 1-2-3 wording

By Reuven M. Lerner

Proposition 1-2-3 will appear on the Cambridge ballot with compromise wording next month, according the Cambridge Chronicle. State Supreme Judicial Court Justice John M. Greaney ruled Tuesday that the referendum would "effectuate a change in the existing rent control law in Cambridge" if it were passed, and ordered that wording to that effect appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The ruling was the result of a suit filed by Frederick Meyer, a local realtor and the author of Proposition 1-2-3, against the Cambridge Election Commission last week. Meyer wanted the proposition to be placed on the general election ballot, and asked that the commission delay the election if they could not decide on suitable wording.

The proposition was originally written by Meyer as part of the petition signed by thousands of Cambridge residents. In response to concerns raised by opponents of the measure, the Cambridge Election Commission decided to add three phrases to mention that the proposition would "change rent control," something which Meyer adamantly denied.

On Aug. 10, Election Commissioner Artis Spears decided to vote against the proposition, and moved to revise the wording a second time. Donna Scheir, one of the commission's two Democratic members, was away on vacation at the time, and the motion passed by a margin of 2-1. Since that vote, the commission has been unable to agree on a revised wording.

If it were passed, Proposition 1-2-3 would remove some of the conditions that now stop people from buying rent-controlled apartments. Currently, if someone wants to buy a rent-controlled apartment, they must obtain a "removal permit" which allows them to do so. The proposition would eliminate the need for this permit, thus allowing anyone who has lived in a rent-controlled apartment for more than two years to buy it.

Opponents of the referendum feel that low-cost housing could suffer if people were allowed to buy their apartments. Among the 38 organizations that have voiced their opposition the measure are Local 26 of the Hotel and Restaurant Institutional Employees and Bartenders Union and the Central American Solidarity Association, according to The Cambridge Tab. Meyer said that the proposition could only help people, since it would only offer them "more options" than they currently have.