Before the mayoral elections, a big issue in both debates and on the campaign trail was Chicago's residency requirement for city employees.
For 92 years, the city has required teachers, firefighters, cops and city workers to live in Chicago. Mayor Daley has long defended the policy, saying without the rule Chicago could lose its middle class. Firefighter and police unions, however, have been vocal opponents of the policy, and many of them endorsed Gery Chico in the mayor's race because he seemed willing to scrap the rule.
Rahm Emanuel never defended the rule during debates, and said he would be open to discussing its merits. But, even before being sworn in as mayor, it looks like he changed his mind.
"They are more than police and fire. They are anchors in a neighborhood," Emanuel said Tuesday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "They're the Little League coaches, the hockey coaches, the volunteers at the place of worship. They are anchors -- not just in their block, but in their community. That's an investment I'm not ready to turn my back on."
The author of the popular Chicago Police blog, Second City Cop, did not seem thrilled about Emanuel's decision:
Residency Considered...and any changes rejected out of hand. Before being sworn in, even before sitting down with the elected representatives of the Police and Fire Departments. Thank goodness we're ruled by an emperor.
Nine thousand cops and two thousand firefighters in a city of 2.8 million - a mere 0.4% - are holding the whole thing together. Someone write that down for the next contract negotiations
Retiring FOP President Mark Donahue told the Sun-Times he was not surprised by Emanuel's decision to maintain the policy, adding that he and the FOP just wanted to be able to discuss the matter. But, apparently, Emanuel had heard enough.
"I've heard what they have to say [about wanting to be free to live outside the city, but] I have to represent the whole city and its interests," Emanuel said Tuesday. "My perspective is how important the individual members -- and the group as a total -- play in the city's neighborhoods and anchoring the ... middle-class."