Who controlled Will Guzzardi’s rent?

The Guzzardi family benefited from NYC’s rent control, but did they need it?

As reported by DNAinfo, it appears as though members of the so-called Progressive Caucus are trying to socio-economically engineer their Chicago neighborhoods again, this time through some ill-advised form of rent-control:

State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Logan Square) has introduced a bill in Springfield that would repeal a 1997 law passed under Republican Gov. Jim Edgar.

The repeal of the ’97 law would not create rent control in Chicago or other cities, but would allow the City Council to determine if wanted to put a cap on rent increases in the city or take other action to stabilize rents.

Guzzardi said…it’s time to add the possibility of rent control or stabilization to the tools available to lawmakers trying to deal with quickly rising rents in neighborhoods like Logan Square or Pilsen.

While it’s a noble, albeit foolish, idea to artificially keep rents low for those who need it, the trick is in identifying those who qualify. Is it the elderly person on a fixed income? Sure. A large immigrant family with only one working parent? Why not. How about a Vice President of a New York publishing house who owns a summer home? Abso…wait, what was that?!

Based on this profile in Chicago Mag, we learn a bit State Rep.Will Guzzardi’s path getting to Chicago:

…who grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the son of New York transplants and big names in the book publishing industry. (His father a revered editor and his mother a former publishing executive-turned-social worker).

Those “big names” would be Isabel Geffner and Peter Guzzardi. Now, it’s no secret that the Democratic Party of Illinois’ favorite carpetbagger is from North Carolina. But while living in New York City, it appears the Guzzardi family were the beneficiaries of rent control of their own.  The following is an excerpt from the LA Times back in 2004 about Will’s parents making a mid-life career change:

In 1995, Isabel Geffner and her husband, Peter Guzzardi, were entrenched in New York’s media elite. She’d been a publishing executive for 20 years; he was an editor of novels and nonfiction whose list of authors included Martin Amis, Stephen Hawking and Deepak Chopra. They lived in a rambling, high-ceilinged, rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper East Side with their two preteen sons. From Monday to Thursday, the boys sat down to dinner with the woman who looked after them while their parents were at work. The family spent time together only on weekends…

So they decided to make a change that would improve the quality of all their lives. Guzzardi accepted a job as editorial director of Duke University Press, they sublet their apartment, sold their weekend house on Shelter Island and moved to Chapel Hill, N.C.

What’s this?! A rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper East Side for our “big names in the book publishing industry”? Interesting how a seemingly well-off, two-income family entrenched with the “media elite” require any assistance with rent. Furthermore, how does one qualify for any sort of rental assistance when one also owns a weekend retreat near the Hamptons?!

Mind you, there are differences between rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments. But there is only a finite number of below market rate units in New York. According to the Furman Center, in 2011, only 31% of all NYC housing units qualified as rent-stabilized. That means for every Guzzardi abusing the system, there is some needy college grad, working family, or elderly person that goes without. While I doubt there is anything illegal here, it’s just another example of how the elite manipulate the system and free-markets for their own benefit.

I won’t even go into how economists time and time again confirm that a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing. I’ve found that it’s a fruitless exercise to insert logic into a Progressive’s idea when their idea is paid for with Other People’s Money. In the meantime, perhaps some of the family’s struggling with rent in Logan Square and Pilsen can live on an island on the weekends. It certainly worked for Will Guzzardi’s family.

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