Count Again, Mr. Chairman

Mar 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm

After years of dithering and months of debate, Cincinnati City Council narrowly approved a plan Wednesday to make changes to the cash-strapped pension plan for municipal workers. But a local GOP leader is confused about who voted for what.—-

Council voted 5-4 to approve changes to lessen an estimated $1 billion shortfall in the pension system, mostly by reducing benefits and increasing the retirement age for current employees.

On his blog today, Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou praised the GOP members on council for voting to approve the plan. The trouble is, only two of them did so; the third Republican voted against the changes.

He wrote: Cincinnati City Council passed pension reform yesterday. Kudos to the members who had the courage to make the tough decision to fix this problem. Taking things away from people when you are an elected politician is quite a challenge. We need more courageous government action from elected officials in both parties if we are to fix the state and the country. I'm proud that the three Republicans on the City Council voted to reform city pensions and displayed the fiscal common sense needed to attack a tough problem.

But Councilman Charlie Winburn, a Republican, voted against the changes. Oops. In Triantafilou's defense, Winburn was a Democrat in the 1980s, and once worked in the administration of then-Gov. Richard Celeste.

Joining Winburn in opposition Tuesday were Democrats Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young, and Charterite Chris Bortz.

Supporting the changes were Democrats Roxanne Qualls and Laure Quinlivan; Republicans Leslie Ghiz and Amy Murray; and independent Jeff Berding.

The city's pension plan covers about 7,500 current and retired employees, and their beneficiaries.

Unless, of course, the chairman really is referring to the conservative, right-leaning Berding.