One of the joys of politics is that it attracts some really colorful people. One of those really burst into the national consciousness (at least for political junkies) in 2010, during the New York State governors race. I am talking, of course, about Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party.
This time it seems that the much mustachioed political activist and candidate is in danger of being evicted from his rent controlled apartment in the East Village in New York. The problem stems from the fact that McMillan gave an interview where he claimed that he lived in another apartment in Brooklyn, rent free in exchange for doing maintenance.
This is a problem since the rent control laws require that you actually occupy any apartment that does not rent for the market rate. It is not like McMillan’s rent is really that low (except in New York) he is paying $872 a month according the story in the Global Post.
Here is what McMillan himself had to say about the whole issue:
“It’s about what I caught all the landlords doing to people – raising rent for no reason [and] using their lawyers to intimidate them into leaving. But they can’t intimidate me. The burden of proof is on them. They have to prove that I don’t live there and they can’t do that. I’m here to make sure that the people understand their rights.
Now odd (is that too strong? Maybe it should be unique) facial hair or not you have to give it to McMillan. One of the first jobs of an activist is to be seen and heard. The facial hair and the mannerisms certainly make him interesting enough to watch.
But the real credit is the fact that he is using that to speak up for a hell of a lot of folks who really don’t have a voice. The maids, the street vendors, the waiters and waitresses, all the people that are there to cater to the wealthy of New York and yet are being impoverished by the extortionate rents in the Big Apple.
It is unclear to me if he has been successful, but is sure sounds like he is, at the very least, raising awareness of a real problem. Because while there is rent control, it only lasts until the current tenet vacates the property. Jimmy McMillan moved into his rent controlled apartment in the 1970’s. His rent there was $250 dollars a month.
As for the other apartment, well it is going to be interesting to see how it plays out. You see McMillan did say he lives there. He is now denying that, and says that it is the HQ of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. The registered address of the party does match the Brooklyn address and has since the party was founded.
It will all come down to what a judge thinks. Hopefully Jimmy will get an attorney to represent him. While he may be in the right on this issue, the other side will definitely have an attorney. Not to mention that judges, in general, don’t appreciate unique grooming habits or flamboyant public images.
It would be far better that McMillan win his case and strike a blow for renters all over Gotham, than to try to make the point by a public circus in a court room. In any case, here is hoping he wins. Go get ‘em Jimmy! The rent is, indeed, too high in New York.
What is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours!