On Springfield

The Never-ending Residency Fight

Will the City Council ever pass a new employee-residency ordinance?

It’s not looking good, at least after the most recent drama over the plan. Last week, Council President Jimmy Ferrera tried to link the proposal to the city budget, calling for the salaries of employees who live outside the city, in violation of the existing rules, to be eliminated from the spending plan—despite a warning from City Solicitor Ed Pikula that such a move would be illegal and would land the city in court. While Ferrera wasn’t persuaded by Pikula’s warning, the majority of councilors were, and they voted down the plan.

Not long before, an effort to finally pass a new residency ordinance failed when Ward 1 Councilor Zaida Luna employed a procedural rule to block a vote. Here, in a blistering analysis of that meeting, Western Mass Politics and Insight’s Matt Szafranski accuses Ferrera of trying to use the residency ordinance to burnish his image in advance of the November elections.

Residency, of course, has been the baby of Ferrera’s Council rival, Ward 2’s Mike Fenton, as well as Ward 7’s Tim Allen. But if Ferrera is trying to take over that issue, he seems to be having some success; here, in a report by the Reminder’s Mike Dobbs, the focus is on Ferrera, with no mention of Fenton, who chairs the Council’s residency committee.

Dobbs also makes the case for residency in his recent Reminder column, arguing the need for keeping middle-class workers in the city. “We have to start rebuilding someplace,” he writes. “Telling salaried employees they must live in the city of Springfield is a first step in trying to add some stability to our neighborhoods.”

© 2014 The Valley Advocate