What Will the City Council Do About Residency Rule? [OPINION]
The granting of residency waivers to New Bedford city employees has a been contentious issue for years. Now the city council may be forced to address it.
City Council President Linda Morad is threatening legislative action that would abolish the four-decade-old ordinance that requires many of the city's employees to live in the city they collect a paycheck from. If the employee doesn't want to live in the city or needs time to transition, the administration can ask the city council to approve a residency waiver for one year.
President Morad doesn't like the way the process works for employees or councilors.
According to the Standard-Times, “We really have no ability to control what comes before us,” Morad said, “So there are other people within the city who work for the city, who’ve lived in the city a long time, who want to move but they can’t come before us for us to make that decision because if the administration says ‘No you can’t have the residency waiver,’ it never comes to this body.”
So what will the council members do if their long-serving president puts the matter in front of the body?
Linda Morad is the president of the council because she has the ability to earn and hold the votes of her fellow councilors. She is smart and experienced.
By removing the waiver process, she is saving her fellow councilors from ever having to vote for or against a waiver again. The waiver votes have been a huge headache for some councilors in the past.
She can argue she is interested in getting the best person for the job and for the taxpayers if it ever becomes an issue at the ballot box in 2021. Councilor Morad has strong credibility on financial matters with the residents that still vote in municipal elections.
But there is the possibility that some councilors will grab this issue and run with it in opposition to Morad. There are real arguments to preserve the residency requirement.
And there is the matter of who will be the next president of the city council, too.
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.