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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Camden residency part 2 - I stand corrected

From an article in today's CP:
Vega said qualified city residents should receive preference, but he called the current system "ineffective."

"Many of the new hires move out of the city after meeting the one-year requirement, so what is actually being accomplished?" he said.

Mitchell Sklar, executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, echoed his point. If officers are just going to move once they're hired, "why go through the whole charade?" he said.

Unlike uniformed officers, the residency requirement is permanent for other employees in the city. There are some exceptions such as municipal positions that require professional licenses.

I stand corrected. In an earlier post I ranted about residency requirements and how people who are employed by the city should live here. Apparently, they do. I don't know where they live or which neighborhoods are housing them, but we have middle class, employed people in Camden. Apparently the police and fire fighters leave after they fulfill their one year residency requirement (according to the story - 35% of FF live here and 19% of Police live here - the rest, move out).

So if everyone at City Hall is living in Camden - then there is a core resident group to work with. I know other professionals that live in the city, scattered about. This info about CH workers adds credence to my Helsinki proposition. That the residents of Camden have been held hostage so long to poor conditions and being treated so poorly, that they are now blind to any avenues for change. If someone opened the door and said, here is your escape route - people would say - what door? I don't see a door. They become so conditioned to Camden being as it is that change is ignored, not seen, and invisible.

I just read about the growing gardening program that Children's Garden is fostering as a means to teach residents to grow good food. That's fantastic! Two neighborhood plans (N. Camden and Fairview) just got recognized by the state of NJ as exemplary efforts for sustainable development! Wow! Restart opened its new Culinary Center building in N. Camden and there is a lot of fix up going on in the row houses in the area. The building is still going strong in Centerville and the new homes built there are a shining beacon of what Camden can be. So good things ARE happening, but not enough. I was back in Kansas City the last week and saw a city that is hopping with activity. KC wishes it were more cosmopolitan, but its neighborhoods and residents are active and hosting events, festivals, charity walks, parties, etc. Crime is high there too and the streets can be mean. But life goes on.

So, where is the micro-life in Camden? Federal street? Fairview? Downtown? River Road? State Street? Haddon Ave? Where is the farmer's market? When is the next festival? What are all these middle class folks doing about creating a vibrant life in Camden? I'll post events if people clue me in!!

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