Just when it appeared that Councillor Giovanni Recupero might finally get a version of his long-sought-after residency ordinance passed on Monday, the votes quickly disappeared – causing him to have to pull the measure before the vote and send it to a Committee on Conference.
“Why are these councillors so opposed to it?” he asked. “Everett has it. Boston has it. Revere has it. Everyone has it, but we don’t because some councilors say we’re wasting our energy and wasting our money. In the end, the people want this. Everett is 2.4 sq. miles and they have it. That’s only a little bigger than we are. If it’s good enough for me to live here, it should be good enough for the police…It’s good enough for these councilors to ask for the people’s vote and say they will represent the people, but then they do this and don’t represent the people right. I speak to my constituents all the time. This is what the constituents want.”
Recupero had ordered two weeks ago that the City Solicitor’s Office draft a residency ordinance that would go into effect on April 1 and would be for only new hires of the Police and Fire Departments. Any new hire would have to live in Chelsea for five years after being hired. Currently, any new police officer or firefighter gets preference in hiring if they’ve lived in Chelsea one year before applying.
There is, however, no residency requirement.
Recupero has been pushing some form of a residency requirement for about four or five years. On Monday, he seemed to be at the brink of getting something passed.
With only eight councilors in attendance, the votes seemed like they might line up. However, as discussion went on, he lost some key votes and was going to only end up with three or four in the affirmative.
That’s when he decided to pull his request for a roll call and send the matter to a Committee on Conference.
Part of the problem was that many were confused by what the new ordinance would cost – as it would require the City Manager to collective bargain the new provision with the Police and Fire Unions. That would mean to get the new work condition – meaning the residency requirement for new hires – exisiting police and fire would have to be paid more money contractually.
“I think the situation deserves a little more attention and discussion,” said Councillor Luis Tejada, who has supported the idea in the past.
Councillor Calvin Brown, who filled in as Council president on Monday due to President Damali Vidot being ill, spoke on the matter and said he couldn’t support it.
“I don’t think I’m ready to vote on this or have enough information from the unions,” he said.
Councillor Judith Garcia said she believed that focusing energy and money on residency was a waste of time.
“If our main focus is to have some of our own in the Police Department and Fire Department, the we should focus our attention on recruitment,” she said.
The matter was sent to a Committee on Conference.