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Abstract: In the late 1984, when the owners of trailer parks housing 2,000 residents of Peabody, Massachusetts, threatened to evict their tenants and redevelop the land for other uses because they cannot get satisfactory rent increases under the city's rent control statute, Mayor Peter Torigian is faced with a serious crisis. He has no official role to play, but the prospect of having so many of his constituents turned out of their homes and suffer severe financial losses makes him intervene. Carefully acting as an informal mediator between the owners and their tenants, Torigian helps work out arrangements that save a number of the trailer parks. By early 1987, though, several trailer parks are still in jeopardy. This case study explores how an effective elected official uses mediation techniques to defuse--at least partially--a serious crisis confronting his community.
Learning Objective: Students can discuss both the characteristics of the strategic situation in Peabody--the interests and power of the parties on contention as well as the stakes and potential influence of the mayor--and the specific tactics that Torigian employed to deal with the situation.