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Daley Defends City Worker Residency Rule

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Mayor Richard M. Daley

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Without a residency requirement for city employees, Chicago would kiss its middle-class goodbye, Mayor Richard M. Daley warned Monday, arguing that other major cities lived to regret it.

“If you go to Cleveland, if you go to Detroit, if you go to New York, if you go to Philadelphia — talk to all those mayors. They’ll tell you they lost all their middle class,” Daley said.

“Everybody fled the cities — especially public employees,” Daley continued. “In Detroit, they live in Ohio [and work for] the police and fire departments. In San Francisco, they live in Arizona, some of them. They live all over. They don’t live in the city.”

Last month, mayoral candidates Gery Chico and Rahm Emanuel responded to a Fraternal Order of Police questionnaire by saying they were open to letting police officers live outside the city.

“I think we’re a different city than we were 30, 40, 50 years ago when this rule came on the books,” Chico said of the issue.

Chico said Chicago has outgrown the need for a residency requirement to prevent an exodus of the middle class.

“If I thought it was threatening to the middle class, I wouldn’t have put it on the table,” Chico said last week of dropping the residency rule.

But rivals Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel Del Valle both believe the residency requirement for city employees should continue.

“I understand why he’s saying this. He’s obviously pandering to the unions,” Del Valle said of Chico last week. “When I got those questionnaires from the union, I didn’t say that I would be in favor of that. I will not pander to get an endorsement.”

There was also talk last week about whether the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that declared Emanuel met the residency requirements to run for mayor could also be applied to police officers and firefighters who want to move out of the city.

Mark Donahue, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said last week he has tried for the past few years to get the law changed so Chicago Police could go to the bargaining table with the city and negotiate over whether police could live in the suburbs. Donahue says the FOP will make that legislative push again this session.

Donahue says he doesn’t know whether any legal connection can be made between yesterday’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling for Emanuel and the city’s employment rule.

Chicago Firefighter Union leader Tom Ryan says he’s had members who’ve lost their jobs because they didn’t live in the city of Chicago. He said he didn’t know whether the Emanuel ruling will have a bearing on those or any other cases.

The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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