As I start this essay my goal is neither to make a case for or against residency requirements for municipal employees, it is to explain why I believe we feel so passionately about them. I know that there are valid reasons for arguing against them ranging from the city’s ability to select the best candidate for any position to the employee’s right to live a self defined life after punching out at the end of the day. The rational debate regarding residency requirements would be an interesting and undeniably nuanced one.
These people want our money but nothing else we have here is good enough for them. And that gets us angry. And our municipal employees and department heads are not alone, most of the region’s best and most prestigious jobs are here in the city, but how many CEO’s deign to live among us? How many doctors and nurses at Baystate and Mercy? The professors at our colleges? Does the symphony director live here? The head of the Springfield Museums? The leadership team of MGM? I can think of perhaps one chief of a non profit who lives in the city…albeit part time.
Hell, even former mayors of the city don’t live in the city…but they’ll promise to move back to the city if they win another election! Oh, how gracious of you, to live amongst us, the filthy lumpenproletariat!
Living in the city we get tired of this and the subtleties of the argument no longer matter. We’re tired of being looked down on. We’re tired of being told that nothing we have and nothing we do is good enough…especially when what we DO have pays your fucking salary. We can’t make Mike Mathis live here. Or Kevin Rhodes. Or any number of other people. But if we can make somebody who takes their living from us live here…