Resident experts: On public employee residency laws and Milwaukee firefighters double-dipping via school vouchers | WisCommunity

Resident experts: On public employee residency laws and Milwaukee firefighters double-dipping via school vouchers

[img_assist|nid=43830|title=Little people|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=175|height=131]In the midst of Scott Walker's assault on the City of Milwaukee's residency requirement for municipal employees (while ignoring similar laws in smaller Wisconsin cities), below is some thoughtful commentary on the subject by a senior writer at Governing magazine. Walker maybe-oughta get a subscription and actually read the mag once in awhile.

Meanwhile comes an infuriating column in this morning's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in which the president of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association champions not only being released from the city residency requirement but also thanks Walker for widening the school voucher program so firefighters could afford sending their kids to city-subsidized private schools,  sucking even more money out of the city. Dave Seager says the vouchers would tend to keep firefighters in the city despite the extinction of the residency requirement but fails to note that many of the voucher schools in question are outside the city (see link to his column below). Think of it as another unfunded mandate on city taxpayers.

Closing words on residency requirements from the Governing magazine piece:

In the end, one has to wonder whether the anti-residency movement isn't part of something larger: a subtle reaction against the idea of old-fashioned geographical community. We keep hearing over and over again that in the years to come, a community will no be [sic] longer a collection of citizens who live together, or even necessarily see each other. Communities will be virtual--America will really just be one big chat room. In that case, what's the difference whether the cop on your neighborhood beat lives in your city, or in a suburb 20 miles away where his family can have a bigger yard?

A few years from now, that may well be the way most people feel. For now, however, I don't think it reflects the majority view in Detroit, or Pawtucket, or dozens of other communities where it has long seemed reasonable to ask government employees, in exchange for a paycheck, to live and pay taxes nearby. "Un-American" is a pretty strong word to use in describing it.


April 17, 2011 - 10:05am