Mitchell Rejects City Council Residency Rule Changes [OPINION]
There's been a decades-long political controversy in New Bedford surrounding the residency rule for some city employees. The simmer is starting to boil again.
Councilor At-Large Linda Morad has been leading the charge to update the city's policy on where an employee should live when they are employed by the city in certain jobs. The policy goes back to the 1970s when the late city councilor Ralph Saulnier crafted the rule and the now-retired state Judge John "Jack" Markey was the mayor.
Lots of employees aren't covered by the city ordinance today. All teachers are exempt by state law. The police and firefighters unions have negotiated exemptions for members with various mayors over the years. And then there is the waiver process for individual employees.
The waiver is one of the most political aspects of the whole rule as it currently exists.
The mayor can submit or not submit a waiver of residency to the city council for approval. The city council can approve or reject the waiver request of the mayor.
Councilor Morad has repeatedly criticized the ordinance on the grounds of equity. Some employees get the freedom of mobility and others don't, and she doesn't think this is in the best interest of the taxpayers or the city employees.
Mayor Jon Mitchell has vetoed the changes to the residency requirement and now it will be up to the full council to override the veto or let the current policy stand.
This is just one of the political battles brewing in the city.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.