Blog Archive » New Haven (4.1.11-4.13.13)
New Haven (4.1.11-4.13.13) -
Residency Requirements For Connecticut City And Town Workers (4.1.11)
Matthew 7,12: "Therefore all things that ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
Connecticut is facing a budget shortfall of two billion dollars and tax increases of about the same amount for next years fiscal budget, and that's assuming amazing concessions from state unionized workers. The days of legislative tinkering and winking at bloated state and local budgets and the days of ignoring the tale of two cities that is Connecticut politics, is likely coming to a generational end.
The days of "yes, yes, yes" and "spend, spend, spend" are ending.
Seventy years of big daddy government at every level, and yet our local politics seems less healthly than ever- filled with unfairness, pipe dreams, looking the other way, and careerism.
All the extra educational spending mandated by the state, all the creative ways cities and towns get more state and federal money, and all the outside experts and outside town managers (can a town manager really be non political?) brought in to run things cannot change the basic Tip O'Neill rule that "all politics is local."
I would paraphrase Speaker O'Neill's idea in this era of impending lack as "the best politics is local." Because local politics is closest to the people most vitally concerned and effected by it, and therefore the most able and willing to ensure some form of accountability as to bettering a city.
So when longtime New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and the New Haven Board of Aldermen recently cried out to the state legislature to pass residency requirements for city employees in Connecticut, I cheered. The mayor and the Board reminded us that sixty three percent of New Haven city workers leave the city after their workday.
It's only fair.
If you are blessed to have a full time job, courtesy of a Connecticut town or city, you should live there. Some workers would quit or retire rather than uprooting themselves. But then again the workers who leave could be replaced with local folks perhaps willing to work for more modest wages, more in line with the private sector, and would also be more likely to get involved, and stay involved, in the life of their city.
This would change Connecticut politics over night.
It would change the entire tired rich towns v. poor cities dynamic that is both real, and no longer plausibly deniable, or politically sustainable. Think of it tens of thousands of politically savvy, tax paying, house buying city employees, all across Connecticut, now involved twenty four seven, every day of the week in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, and your own town too. Our cities could become livable again.
The cities deserve this political change in fairness to the people who live there and because it is their best hope of ongoing financial and cultural vitality, a cultural vitality that too many of us in Connecticut have taken for granted and ignored for too long. Besides, there is no ignoring the active political clout of city dwellers when it came to electing our present governor.
This new found political clout coupled with this residency requirement would be a practical first step toward restoring the greatness of Connecticut's cities. It's simply time to do systematic change and restore politics in Connecticut back to its vital local core.
(Hey why do you talk politics as a preacher type? Well there's Ezekiel, Zechariah, Isaiah, John the Baptist, John the Revalator and of course Jesus- they all talked of political realities, such as "render unto government what is due government..." What is due our democratic representative government now- especially at the local level- is particpation and the preservation of our God given rights as a free people.)