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Mayor Sarno Comments on Residency Court Case and Announces Appointments to Residency Compliance Commission

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno speaking on the residency court case emphasizes the fact that the court invalidated the Ordinance provisions mandating automatic termination. The residency case is a complex case, as evidenced by the lengthy time period that it has taken for the court to decide. Originally filed in 2016, the case did not come to trial until the fall of 2020, and the city of Springfield has been waiting for a decision since the trial ended more than a year ago.

Mayor Sarno continues to be a steadfast supporter of residency. He has demanded residency as part of union contracts as a means of efficiently dealing with the issue, and his success is shown in the establishment of residency requirements in compliance with the collective bargaining required by G.L. c. 150E.  The invalidation of the Ordinance shows that the Mayor’s collective bargaining effort was sound.

The complexity and difficulty in attempting to enforce the Residency Ordinance, at the same time as complying with the relevant collective bargaining agreements and civil service laws, and Constitutional principles of Due Process, has been an impediment to every Mayor for the decades since the Ordinance was enacted.  As the court found in its decision, “since January l, 1996, no one had been appointed to the Residency Compliance Commission; and that there was no evidence at any time of it having been operational”.   It is also important to note that most city employees had exemptions to the Ordinance until Mayor Sarno negotiated Residency Requirements into collective bargaining agreements.

Given the complexities and invalidity, the court decision rejected the Plaintiffs’ position that asked the court to mandate termination of Fire Department employees. The court decision declared those portions of the Residency Ordinance “invalid and unenforceable,” because they mandated the automatic termination of employees. In fact, the court sanctioned the plaintiffs for their “repetitive and unwarranted motions seeking the same relief has crossed a line into the arena of abusive pleading practice”.  The court awarded sanctions against the plaintiffs for costs and attorneys’ fees to be paid to the Defendants, the City of Springfield and both Unions.

Consistent with the Mayor’s support for residency, Mayor Sarno, under his authority to the Commission as he continues to strive to sort through this complex issue and enforce residency through all legal means, announced today that he has appointed members to the City of Springfield’s Residency Compliance Commission.  Per the ordinance, Mayor Sarno will appoint six members to the seven-member commission, with City Council President Marcus Williams appointing the seventh member.    

Those residents appointed by the Mayor to serve on Residency Compliance Commission are:

  • Attorney Talia Gee – Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
  • Gladys Oyola – City Clerk/Election Commissioner
  • Captain Drew Piemonte – Springfield Fire Department / Union Representative
  • Melanie Acobe – Budget/Grants Director
  • Lavar Click-Bruce – Mayoral Aide
  • Alex Sherman – Election Commissioner

These appointments continue Mayor Sarno’s commitment to supporting residency in the City of Springfield.  The Sarno administration has been able to successfully negotiate residency requirements as part of applicable union contracts per collective bargaining efforts between union leadership and Human Resources and Labor Relations Director Attorney William Mahoney. 

It is important to note that certain city employees, such as teachers, Police, Fire, etc., per their union collective bargaining agreements, state civil service laws, and due to past state legislation are exempt.

Mayor Sarno states, “I want to thank those individuals who have agreed to serve on our Residency Compliance Commission.  This has been a very complex and multifaceted process, as evident by the lengthy time period it has taken our courts to review this matter.  This diverse and well-qualified body will continue to enhance our HR efforts led by HR and Labor Relations Director Attorney Bill Mahoney, as we work together within all aspects of the law and in compliance with all relevant collective bargaining agreements including state civil service laws, and just as important the Constitutional principles of due process.”

Mayor Sarno has informed City Council President Marcus Williams that per the ordinance he will appoint the seventh member to the commission. 

Council President Williams thanked the Mayor for his steadfast support of the Residency Ordinance and has named Ward 2 City Councilor Attorney Michael Fenton to the Residency Compliance Commission.

“I want to thank Mayor Sarno for his support of the Residency Ordinance and naming the members to the Residency Compliance Commission,” Council President Williams said.  “The City Council has made valiant efforts to uphold the integrity of the Residency Ordinance.  Per my authority as City Council President, I have appointed City Councilor Attorney Michael Fenton to serve as the City Council designee on the Commission.  On behalf of myself, Councilor Fenton and the entire City Council, we look forward to working together with the administration and the Commission members for the betterment of our City and our residents.”

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Page last updated:  Thursday, September 2, 2021 10:30 am