To the Editor:
On April 5, the Herald ran an article online with the headline “Tarver explains rent control position shift.” It referred to Illinois Rep. Curtis Tarver’s “no” vote last month on HB255–which would lift the statewide rent control ban–despite his explicit campaign pledge, made at a candidate forum in January 2018 and reiterated on his campaign’s social media, that he would repeal this ban if elected.
The thing about the Herald’s headline is that Tarver didn’t actually explain his shift. He only recognized that he had, indeed, flip-flopped. “If I said I was in favor of rent control, then I said it,” he remarked, but did not seem to grasp the gravity of his reversal on this issue. There was no acknowledgement that it is untrustworthy behavior for an elected official to publicly say one thing while campaigning and then do the exact opposite all of three months into his tenure, and that it is now his obligation to rebuild our trust.
The article also failed to include statements from any activists or constituents, so I’ll offer that viewpoint. The rent control ban was pushed into place in 1997 by the real estate lobby and the right-wing organization ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), which also writes model text for laws that weaken unions, dismantle environmental regulations and defend gun rights. The ban prohibits any municipality in Illinois from enacting rent control measures. HB255 would simply lift this ban and restore that power to cities.
In my view, it’s unacceptable for Tarver, a Democrat, to vote with Republicans to keep a harmful piece of ALEC-sponsored legislation in place. His vote is especially troubling given that in each precinct in his district where lifting the ban was a ballot referendum question last year, all voted in favor–another point that the article excluded. Was Tarver feeling pressure from the real estate lobby? From MAC Properties? He had the chance to right a wrong by voting to overturn this ban–why didn’t he? He had the chance to take a stand against ALEC and the big money that shapes our public policy–why didn’t he?
Our elected officials must be held accountable. Tarver must make good on his publicly-stated support for lifting the ban.