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Mayor eyes new residency campaign



Published: Thu, June 11, 2009 @ 12:10 a.m.

By David Skolnick and Marc Kovac

Despite the ruling, the falling housing market could prevent city workers from shuffling to the suburbs.

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Supreme Court couldn’t have made a “worse ruling” than deciding that cities can’t require their employees to live within their corporate limits, said Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams.

“It is a terrible day in the state of Ohio,” Williams said. “I couldn’t disagree with this decision more.”

In a 5-2 ruling Wednesday, the justices found that a state law forbidding cities from imposing residency restrictions for workers overrides local ordinances and is not in violation of cities’ home-rule authority. The ruling also covers counties, townships and school districts.

In the Mahoning Valley, Youngstown and Warren required city employees to live in the city. Statewide, about 130 cities and villages have residency requirements for their workers as a condition of employment.

The cities of Lima and Akron filed suit after state lawmakers passed legislation that took effect May 1, 2006, stating that “no political subdivision shall require any of its employees, as a condition of employment, to reside in any specific area of the state.”

A Youngstown charter amendment approved by about 80 percent of voters has required employees hired by the city since 1986 to live in the city.

The state law and the court decision go against the will of the people who voted across Ohio to require public workers to live in the community in which they work, Williams said.

Williams said he hopes an organization forms to get a referendum on the ballot allowing Ohioans to amend the state constitution giving municipalities the ability to impose residency requirements. He added that he’d campaign in favor of such a proposal.

“So many other things have been on the ballot to amend the constitution,” Williams said, pointing to gambling initiatives and the Defense of Marriage Act. “Perhaps this is where this goes.”

Youngstown Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello said the court “made a bad decision.”

A study done for the city a year ago stated that more than 200 city workers would move out of Youngstown within a year if not bound by the residency rule. Of the city’s 850 employees, about 600 live in Youngstown. All of those who live outside Youngstown were hired before 1986.

But the declining housing and financial markets would “make it hard to leave the city,” Guglucello said.

When asked how many city employees he thought would move out of Youngstown, Williams said, “That remains to be seen. Only time will tell.”

Edward Colon, president of the 116-member police patrol officers union, is pleased with the ruling but doesn’t expect it to have a great impact.

“I do not perceive a mass exodus,” he said. “With the housing market, people aren’t going to leave the city. It will be just a small percentage of people who move. I don’t intend to leave, and I don’t think a lot of people will leave the city.”

Cicero Davis, president of the union that represents about 95 secretarial and clerical employees who work for the city, said he was “somewhat surprised” by the court’s decision because it went against “a vote of the people.”

The union was neutral on the city’s residency requirement, Davis said, with some for it and some against it.

Warren Mayor Michael J. O’Brien said a constitutional amendment should be considered.

“We should let the public decide,” he said. “City employees receive their paychecks from hard-working taxpayers. I’m disappointed by the decision.”

Warren City Council passed an ordinance in 1991 requiring those working for the city to live in the city.

Of the city’s 425 workers, 321 live in Warren.

In Wednesday’s majority decision, written by Justice Paul E. Pfeifer, the state’s high court ruled that the Ohio Constitution gives authority to the General Assembly to provide “for the comfort, health, safety and general welfare of all [employees], and no other provision of the constitution shall impair or limit this power.”

As such, “By allowing city employees more freedom of choice of residency, [the state law] provides for the employees’ comfort and general welfare. Requiring employees to live in a specific city ... conflicts with the prohibition [in Ohio Revised Code] against such residency restrictions.”

Justices Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Maureen O’Connor, Terrence O’Donnell and Robert R. Cupp concurred.

Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger dissented.

Justice Moyer noted, “Because [Wednesday’s] decision once again undercuts the system of dual sovereignty established in the Ohio Constitution and supported by earlier decisions of this court, I respectfully dissent from the decision and the opinion of the majority.”

“The majority has opened the door for the General Assembly to use this section — which trumps all other constitutional provisions — in a conceivably limitless variety of situations to eviscerate municipal home rule,” Justice Lanzinger wrote.


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Free to live where you want in the state of Ohio seems right to me. Go ahead and put it before the people. It will lose 2-1 and Mayor Jay knows it. With the price of houses so low in Youngstown, I doubt many city workers will move to the suburbs to enjoy the safety and excellent schools offered there.

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2Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Those who believe that forcing public employees to mix within a community will improve the community are delusional.

http://www.fop.net/programs/research/...

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3dd933(252 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Now that the Justices have destroyed the home rule concept can annexation be far behind?

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4NoBS(2012 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

How much more TAXPAYER MONEY is Williams going to spend on his personal vendetta against public employees and their freedom to live where they choose?

Forcing someone to live where they don't want to cannot produce a better employee. Dropping residency will make the jobs more desirable, resulting in a larger pool to select new hires from, thus the city should end up with the better candidate for the job (MV politics aside).

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5Ytownnative(1065 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I think if you work where you live there may be more efftort in your job. I'm betting the few nice neighborhoods left in the city are mostly occupied by city workers. im sure a cop isnt quite as worried about the neighborhood if he lives way out it the burbs.

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6dd933(252 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

This particular suit was brought by the cities of Lima and Akron. "Williams" didn't spend any of our "TAXPAYER MONEY." A good rule of thumb I use is to read the article before I post comments.

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7Tugboat(759 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Ytownnative wrote: "I think if you work where you live there may be more efftort in your job."

Only if you have total support from the administration, your supervisors, the politicians, the citizens, your own neighbors and the media. Doesn't happen around here.

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8teddybear6(35 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

It's not easy just to pick up and move these days. And what happens if you get laid off from that city job, then what??? I know, you look for another job- outside the city of Youngstown. Hmmmm.

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9Rokscout(310 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Living where you work doesn't cause any more or less effort on a public servants part. This is proven each and every day. Additionally, a police officer should be able to choose a neighborhood that is safe for his family also. Lastly, if a city requires an employee to pick up and move in to the city limits then there should be some sort of guarantee against a layoff. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't require anyone to take on a task as large and as risky as moving these days.

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10Perplexed(3 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

The fact that Jay, Iris and Justice Lanzinger all disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling tells me that the Court made the correct ruling.

How about a referendum that not only requires city residency, but also requires attendance and tithing at Jay's church AND requires the Law Director to actually believe the legal arguments that the Mayor's policies make her put in writing.

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11Ytownnative(1065 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I still say there is a BIG difference in where you work and where you live. Stopping the spread of crime (if possible) where you live and work would be alot more important then stopping it where you work.

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12blkpride(186 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Jay, the will of the people does not wat your JEDD but you still try to push that don't you. You can't have it both ways.

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13joebag09(267 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Does anyone remember this is America? Why do we need to force people to live anywhere? It's ridiculous and so is the mayor for wanting to waste city tax dollars, that he doesn't have, to fight his personal vendetta. If there were so many folks supporting his side, where are they on this blog??

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14Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

This is America right ?Yes it is and nothing is more democratic than the vote . The people VOTED for residency.But the safety workers PERSUADED the legislature and the Ohio supreme court to smash what was left of democracy. Is that American ? Educate yourself before you speak.

What if soldiers concluded they would take weekends off during war? Would you be safer ?They knew the rules before signing. Get the point? During this depression with millions of law abiding American's out of work through no fault of their own - I'm sure some of them would be willing to live in the city.

To the poster that raised the idea of the workers being guaranteed their job if they have to move back to the city . Do your homework.

Safety employees should live where they want ? Really They are Civil service employees -they receive PROTECTIONS other employees do not receive so more is expected of them. Wow imagine that employees expected to serve the American citizens that pay their salaries.

Residency was decided in the Supreme Court in 1976, It was right then and now. I would not want my parents to burn alive in a building in Youngstown because there weren't enough responders because someone didn't want to live near black people.

My dad was a safety worker in
Youngstown - he didn't try to screw the community he served . I don't want to see my mom raped and beaten because of the at best selfishness of others.

Now that he is retired dad can't afford to get out, being on a fixed income and being too old to take on a new mortgage . Screw those guys that fought so that you spoiled brats can make your cushy incomes.Is the air different in the burbs? Do you really think that we don't know that the majority of you here are safety workers?

You don't like the schools ? They are ok for others though. At $65, 000 you can afford to send your kids to the burbs, a charter school or a private school . Open enrollment is all the rage. Have you volunteered to help or attended meetings to make things better?

You want to criticize the mayor? New apartments and homes now sit where projects once stood . New schools have been built and new restaurants have been opened. So the spoiled safety employees also have bad- timing.

The mayor and city council have done more for the city than all the others combined in my lifetime and I'm 41. They are heroes . The people spoke against the mayor's plan to remove trees downtown to create parking but he recognized the will of the people -the trees stand.He lives in the city he SERVES. The safety employees could care less if the city crumbles.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court spoke in the Philadelphia case in 1976. Residency won. Chew on that.

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15Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

You mean the days any of good neighborhoods are over.
The elected city officials didn't create residency the voters did if you can read you would have known this.E -d-u-c-a-t-e yourself.

Youngstown is going to offer a subsidy to get the city workers back ? - Your out of your ever loving mind! With what the tax dollars the greedy safety workers want to take with them that would otherwise go to the cities that are already strapped?Silly idea to begin with.Planet earth to foxtrot-over.

Your are obviously a safety worker -nice try though.

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