Residency talk out of the blue just a shot at Unions?….timing seems to support that argument.

Today’s SUN has a story about City workers and where they live. WHY SHOULD ANYONE CARE? Does it really matter if they are doing their job?

The timing of it, a week before the Elections is either designed to try to limit the impact of “endorsements” that Unions such as the firefighters or teachers may be about to release or it is to try and anger the electorate about “greedy” unions and how many members who work here don’t live here at a time when many including the Teacher’s and Firefighter’s Union contracts are up for negotiations.

In MY humble Opinion….Today’s Sun story appears to be nothing more than a thinly disguised UNION HIT PIECE!

Notice there isn’t any talk about the City Administration and where they live? Murphy and his 3rd Asst. McGovern are living in Lowell but Kevin Coughlin his other high profile hire isn’t. Our CFO appointed by Murphy didn’t live in Lowell when first told he does now…I don’t know nor care where the Treasurer or Fire chief are living, I’m just pointing out what ISN’T in the story.

If you want to suggest a residency requirement why not look at ALL of the City instead of focusing just on those departments that conveniently have expired contracts? The SUN prefaces the information by stating “where employee’s of Major City Departments Live”. Isn’t the Administration the TOP MAJOR Department?

I find the timing to be the key, did they report it before the election to give candidates a chance to talk about it? or try to bolster the incumbents who play along and support such nonsense? or was it really done to stir up anti union sentiments at a time the City is facing contract negotiations with their Unions from “Major Departments”?

Up until today have you heard any candidate or elected official talk about a residency clause? Has the paper ran stories supporting one before now? Is is just a coincidence that the CITY Administration and present Council who have had a huge amount of support from the paper are facing contract negotiations with at least 2 of the 3 “major departments” featured in the story?

If there it is such a concern about where the city workers live, why hasn’t Councilor Mercier or the Mayor who in the article seem to support a residency requirement brought up a motion in the past two years to draft one? I don’t recall any motion in the previous two years either. So why are the two top vote getters pandering to the SUN? If they want a residency requirement, bring one forward and see how it flies.

Notice former TEACHER Dave Conway in today’s story supports Public Safety personal being required to live in Lowell but didn’t include teachers. WHY? Also why if you feel that way did you not make it a campaign issue or include it in any of your literature? Just following the lead and pandering to the SUN in an attempt to gain an endorsement?

On the SUN website with 254 people voting as of 10:45 am today 59% voted NO to this question: Should municipal workers be required to live in the community in which they are employed?

Tomorrow or in the next few days we will probably read about how many of those union members city workers who live in Lowell actually are registered voters or actually vote. Again in my view, just an attempt to diminish the value and worth of not only these individuals but more importantly these unions.

Is the information valuable? I don’t see how, if a person does their job why does it matter where they live? In a global economy of today, where we have instant access to people and events, what difference does it make if a Police Officer , Firefighter or Teacher lives in Dracut, Pelham or Rye Beach?

The information is somewhat interesting I suppose but really serves no value except to try and create an anti-union sentiment. They want our money but look, many don’t live here. Why all of a sudden is residency an issue? Because Contracts are up that’s why!

Here’s the Information published in today’s SUN:

The following charts reflect where employees of major city of Lowell departments live.
Police Department (244 employees)
Lowell: 114 employees, 46.7 percent Dracut: 44 employees, 18 percent New Hampshire: 14 employees, 5.7 percent Chelmsford: 14 employees, 5.7 percent Tyngsboro: 14 employees, 5.7 percent Other Massachusetts towns: 44 employees, 18.1 percent

Fire Department (190 employees)
Lowell: 100 employees, 52.6 percent Dracut: 28 employees, 14.7 percent Tyngsboro: 13 employees, 6.8 percent New Hampshire: 9 employees, 4.7 percent Other Massachusetts towns: 40 employees, 21.1 percent

Teachers (1,073 employees)
Lowell: 392 employees, 36.4 percent New Hampshire: 139 employees, 12.9 percent Dracut: 98 employees, 9.1 percent Chelmsford: 74 employees, 6.9 percent Westford: 38 employees, 3.5 percent Other Massachusetts towns: 332 employees, 30.8 percent

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I don’t think in the 2015 we need to have a residency requirement nor should we be wasting time talking about one. There is no evidence that people are abandoning Lowell or that there is a need for one.

In fact one of the gentleman who helped draft the Boston residency requirement wrote an op-ed piece in the Boston Globe this past January saying it was time for Boston to “JUNK IT”!

Boston’s residency requirement no longer makes sense

IN 1976, I was working as special assistant and speechwriter to Boston Mayor Kevin White when we adopted a change to the municipal code to require every employee of the city to be a resident. At the time, Boston had been hemorrhaging people at an alarming rate, down by 200,000 over 20 years. Our thinking was that if we could keep city employees within Boston’s borders, it would maintain population and slow neighborhood deterioration. It would also recycle the wages paid to employees back into Boston’s own economy.

The thriving Boston of 2015 is an entirely different animal. Our population is growing, not declining; neighborhoods once in free fall are enviable places to live; housing prices are in the stratosphere and still climbing; we enjoy a reputation as one of the world centers of innovation. In such a city, a residency requirement makes no sense. In fact, it represents a self-inflicted wound in our necessary efforts to attract the best possible talent to city government.

In his final few lines of the story he sums things up…..Mayor Walsh was right to seek an overhaul of the residency requirement. But what we really should do is recognize it for the relic that it is. Junk it.

1 thought on “Residency talk out of the blue just a shot at Unions?….timing seems to support that argument.

  1. Gerry
    I like the idea of folks who provide government services in Lowell living in Lowell. It increases their sense of City issues, if the are intuitive.

    On the other hand, with our high occupancy rate it means higher costs and that means folks wanting more pay. It also means homelessness costs more. If an apartment can be occupied by Joe Bag-o-Donuts, Professor at MIT, making six figures, why do I want it to be occupied by someone with less disposable income. It doesn’t make sense.

    Gerry, when you are right, you are right.

    Regards — Cliff

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