CHICAGO PAYS YOUR PAY­CHECK, SO LIVE IN THE CITY

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION -

Any city worker who has a home in the burbs— such as, let’s say, a nice house in Lin­colnshire— should be re­quired to pro­duce in­dis­putable proof they re­ally live in the city.

We’re think­ing here, of course, of Kevin W. Gra­ham, a can­di­date for pres­i­dent of the Chicago Po­lice of­fi­cers union, the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice. As re­vealed this week by re­porter Andy Grimm in the Sun- Times, Gra­ham and his wife own a four- bed­room house in Lin­colnshire. His name is on the wa­ter bill. But po­lice of­fi­cers, like al­most all city em­ploy­ees, are re­quired by city or­di­nance to live in town.

Gra­ham claims he ac­tu­ally rents and lives in his sis­ter’s Chicago condo while his wife lives in Lin­colnshire. If so, let’s see the proof that real rent is be­ing paid.

This is hardly the first time a city em­ployee has used the “split fam­ily” ex­pla­na­tion to jus­tify such a liv­ing ar­range­ment, and we don’t know where Gra­ham spends his off hours. But we do know it’s fair to ask whether he’s putting us on.

Chicago im­poses a res­i­dency re­quire­ment for good rea­son. Emer­gency work­ers, such as fire­fight­ers, can re­spond to a call faster. Em­ploy­ees who live in the city are more in­volved in their jobs and neigh­bor­hoods. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has re­ferred to city work­ers as neigh­bor­hood “an­chors,” say­ing they are crit­i­cal to the vi­brancy of the city. For­mer Mayor Richard M. Da­ley, speak­ing more prac­ti­cally, used to warn the city could lose a large share of its mid­dle class if the res­i­dency re­quire­ment were lifted.

Over the years, the true abodes of city work­ers have been ques­tioned re­peat­edly. Chicago In­spec­tor Gen­eral Joe Fer­gu­son has in­ves­ti­gated scores of city em­ploy­ees ac­cused of vi­o­lat­ing the rule, in­clud­ing one who turned up in his own of­fice. Sixty- three po­lice of­fi­cers have re­signed over res­i­dency is­sues since 1981, five have been fired, 23 have been sus­pended and four have been rep­ri­manded.

For hard- to- fill va­can­cies and for em­ploy­ees who can prove a move would cause un­due hard­ship, spe­cial waivers are granted.

For ev­ery­body else, as cops like to say, rules are rules.

We’re sure Of­fi­cer Gra­ham can un­der­stand.

KEVIN TANAKA/ FOR THE SUN- TIMES

Chicago Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Kevin Gra­ham’s house in Lin­colnshire.

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