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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Take away residency and bankrupt Trenton even more

It was kind of funny today – in a weird way - to see such an outspoken advocate of taking another look at how to economically develop Trenton attack such a good tool in the battle to do so.

Dan Dodson always seems to have the right ideas, especially when it comes to the budget, Trenton’s economics, and almost anything having to do what the fiscal and economic situation of New Jersey’s capital.

Keeping all that in mind, I think I will have to respectfully disagree with his letter to the editor in the April 3 Times of Trenton (“In or out, believe in the city) that disputed the value of the city's residency law.

Whether someone supports the idea of a residency law or not, it cannot be denied that the more middle and high-income wage earners living in Trenton, the better the city will be in economic terms.

There is a high degree of correlation between economic well-being and a reduction in social problems, so it follows that the more middle and high-income wage earners there are living in Trenton’s homes, the better the social situation will be here.

The flight of those same wage earners - following decades of economic decline and demographic change – was what precipitated the city’s current impoverished and economically depressed state.

There may have been various causes and influences on the departure of most of the people in that economic class - like the flight of industry, demographic change, and the development of the suburbs - but it is indisputable that with the departure of these people to outside of the city limits, Trenton was drained.

The residency law serves to work against this detrimental process. Sure, many towns do not have residency laws, and that’s because they do not need them. They can survive without keeping their high-paid city employees living in the city limits, because other people from economic groups choose freely to live within their borders.

Trenton does not have this luxury.

Additionally, residency laws are not only legal, but the state government and especially the legislature has shown support for these laws, and how they serve to shore up – however slightly – the poor economics of New Jersey’s urban areas.

Today’s letter to the editor gave the impression of city personnel officials hiring an employee, and then holding a gun to their head and informing them of their impending doom, having to reside in the worst place on Earth, the City of Trenton.

These people know the law, and by accepting a city-paid salary and employment here, they signal their willingness to become a part of this community.

As opposed to being some sort of “bankrupt” idea, without the residency law, Trenton would likely end up a vastly more bankrupt city.

3 comments:

Chrissy said...

Agreed.

There is often a fine line between a government job and a political one, though, not always. The thing about residency laws is that we SHOULDN'T need them, especially for the jobs that fall clearly in the political realm. It seems evident and logical that one would want to better his/her own community. We do not (and cannot) run for state senate in Delaware, because we live in New Jersey, and should care about our own business, first and foremost. This logic, I believe, applies to a municipal level too: we should be motivated to work to improve our own hometown. Yes, some jobs are just jobs, and some of those are government jobs, and residency isn't as critical. But higher ranking officials should be held to a higher standard, should be members of the community. It's just logical.

monica ola said...

I agree that maybe we are going to miss out on some opportunities for good leaders because they don't want to move to/live in Trenton. BUT shouldn't we want people in these positions who WANT to live in Trenton? If they actually care about the city then...

Greg Forester said...

Maybe one day, long after Doug Palmer is gone, we can repeal the residency ordinance, when it is no longer difficult to get people to stay within the city limits.

I chose to live here because I was always interested in this city, and now I love it, but others are not so adventurous, or willing to work on making their community a better place.

We need residency, for now at least.