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The Other Residency Issue

 There's another residency issue being talked about this week by the candidates for Mayor of Chicago.

 Gery Chico said Tuesday that if elected, he was willing to "talk" about changing the residency requirement for Chicago public employees.

  The former School Board President had just received the endorsement of the Chicago Firefighter's Union, an organization not known for its embrace of diversity, and one of several public employee unions who want their members to have the right to live where they wish.

 But wait. 

 The next day Rahm Emanuel virtually echoed Chico.  The Northside's entry into the mayoral sweepstakes said he'd be "open" to a discussion of ending the rule that says if you collect a city, park district or public school district paycheck you must live in Chicago.

  The two millionaire candidates in the race for mayor apparently were not thinking of the hundreds of thousands of unemployed and underemployed people in the recession-ravaged city who think the idea of even discussing the idea sucks.

  Lets see:  Rahm and Gery are willing to discuss expanding the pool of potential city workers from the city's population (2.8 million) to include the entire metropolitan region (10 million).

  I'm no math wiz but if you change the residency rule it would seem that the chances of a Chicagoan to get a job in his or her own city would be reduced dramatically.  Chicago taxpayers in Englewood, Humboldt Park and Hegewisch would suddenly find themselves competing for the work their tax dollars support with suburbanites from Evergreen Park, Naperville, Waukegan, etc.

  And what happens to the effort to correct the racial imbalances on the Police and Fire Departments?  The racial make-up of Chicago's public safety workforce doesn't come close to reflecting the city's minority population (70%).   Add the majority white suburban population to the applicant pool and true diversity may never happen.

  Mayoral Candidate Miguel Del Valle--who supports the residency requirement--suspects Chico is "pandering" to selfish, already-on-the-payroll public employee union members who oppose the rule. 

 And a Carol Moseley Braun statement warned that allowing city workers to live in the suburbs would mean "a mass exodus of city employees and the rich diversity they contribute to the city."

 By Wednesday, Chico tried to tamp down the controversy he'd ignited the day before.

  "When we say talk about the idea, that doesn't mean do the idea. We said talk about it," Chico said.

  Chico and Emanuel also "talk" at great length about job creation in their campaign rhetoric.   An emerging question is...

  ...are you talking about jobs for voting Chicagoans...

  ...or suburbanites?


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