The City of New Bedford has a residency requirement for certain employees. This city ordinance has now been brought into focus by Councilor Linda Morad.

The residency requirement for certain employees has been on the books for about 40 years. The ordinance was the creation of the late, great Ralph Saulnier, who represented the South End of the city for many years. Ralph passed away a few years ago. He was a fighting Marine in the Korean War and a true champion for New Bedford. The ordinance was a way to keep the enormous payroll of the city in the city.

Over four decades, the ordinance has been undermined. State law forbids teachers from being held to a residency requirement. City contracts with public safety unions have exchanged the residency requirement for other job conditions.

And then there are the waivers.

The waivers are requested by the administration for certain individuals and then placed in front of the city council for a vote. The city council is placed in the position of voting for or against the waiver on an individual and extremely personal basis.

Council President Morad has had enough of the waiver process.

Kiernan Dunlop reports in the Standard-Times that Morad is threatening a major change if she doesn't see some changes from Mayor Jon Mitchell soon.

Morad has threatened to bring forth a motion to abolish the residency requirement. She considers the waiver process to be unfair, both to the relevant individual employees and the members of the New Bedford City Council.

Of course, it's really up to the majority of the elected members of the city council, and the issue is going to be a battle.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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