Order on 10-mile Rule Strikes Out

The City Council ruled a controversial public safety measure out of order at Monday’s meeting prior to any discussion.

An order had been put in last week by several councillors to look into enforcing the 10-mile state law that requires all police, fire and EMS employees to live within 10 miles of their municipal employment. The order was born out of information uncovered during budget discussions, information that pointed to a number of personnel living beyond the 10-mile limit. With the recent Boston Marathon bombing and Chelsea’s history of major fires, the Council had expressed interest in discussing the implications of that. Enforcement of that state law used to be quite stringent, but in recent years has become rather lax statewide with the advent of better communications and better mutual aid agreements. ‘Call backs’ for emergencies among public safety personnel are also rather rare nowadays.

However, a strong majority of councillors felt they wanted to explore a return to the more stringent enforcement of that state law – with the order calling for all personnel living outside the 10-mile limit to move back in that zone within six months or face termination.

By Monday night, the mood of a majority of the Council had changed radically, and instead of moving the measure to committee, eight councillors voted to rule it out of order and not discuss it at all.

Three councillors, including Joe Perlatonda, Leo Robinson and Giovanni Recupero, voted to keep it on the table and put it in a Committee on Conference for further study.

The change of heart followed what many said was a strong behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign.


1 comment for “Order on 10-mile Rule Strikes Out

  1. Emmanuel
    June 11, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I find it odd that the Council changed its mind so quickly, especially with such a clear majority favoring to rule this out of order. This suggests to me that there was some behind the scenes politicking that may have violated the State’s Open Meeting Law. This should be explored further! Opacity of this kind is what breeds corruption.

    This requirement is not exactly a remnant of a time gone by. The public safety concerns are, in my opinion, not even the most important reason why this should be enforced: how about the city employees show they have ‘skin in the game” by actually living here? God knows if I could be paid to improve this town, I’d find a way to do so…

    I imagine the “change of heart” was brought about by union officials who are comfortable with the way things are. However, it’s unclear to me how this would actually play out, as I imagine voter turn out to remain dismal, union voters to be out in force, essentially protecting the interests of their jobs and fellow coworkers. Their prerogative, of course, but what of noncompliance with state law?!

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