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May 7, 2014

Residency revival wrecked

Lawrence council effort to bring back requirement falls

LAWRENCE — The voice from the City Council sounded overpowering last night: bring back the residency requirement for city workers.

“If we are good enough to work with, we are good enough to live with,” Council President Council President Modesto said. Maldonado made the comment in advocating for a return of the residency requirement for city workers — excluding school teachers. He and four other councilors voted to revive the residency requirement which was repealed July 26, 2002.

But the effort to resurrect the residency requirement fell a vote short, leaving the measure in limbo for the time being as councilors consider other changes in the City Charter. Councilor Sandy Almonte was absent from last night’s meeting. Her vote would have been enough to give the residency requirement momentum.

Last night’s 5-3 vote marked the end of a marathon four and a half hour meeting that ended at 11:30 p.m.

Voting for the latest residency proposal were Maldonado and councilors Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez, Estela Reyes, Kendrys Vasquez, and Oneida Acquino.

Opposing the residency requirement were councilors Roger Twomey, Marc Laplante and Eileen O’Connor Bernal.

Maldonado and other councilors at the outset of the residency requirement said it was never the intention of the councilors to include the city’s teachers in the pro-residency proposal that was drafted.

In fact, the language of the proposal considered last night said “School teachers subject to tenure under the jurisdiction of the school committee shall not be required to establish a principal domicile.”

“Every person who is appointed to a city office, or who is employed by the city in any capacity, not a resident of the city at the time of appointment or employment, shall within six months following such appointment or employment shall establish such residence as principal domicile; or such appointment or employment shall be forfeited.”

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