ROXANNE QUALLS: The city of Cincinnati has been avoiding dealing with problems in its pension fund account for municipal workers for years. The Retirement System account is underfunded with a long-term shortfall estimated at $2 billion, caused mostly by soaring health care costs and a declining pool of active workers to pay into the fund. Workers want City Council to pay for a one-time cash infusion, while council wants workers to accept benefit reductions.
Qualls has proposed changing the Pension Board so two-thirds of its members would be independent and have no ties to City Hall, unlike now. She says the new structure would avoid current conflicts of interest and be better able to devise a fair solution. We agree.
CHRIST HOSPITAL: Christ recently settled a lawsuit alleging it improperly paid cardiologists incentives to funnel patients to the hospital for treatment. Although it didn’t admit wrongdoing, Christ paid $108 million to the U.S.
Justice Department but refused to sign a “Corporate Integrity Agreement” that would allow increased federal oversight to ensure such practices don’t continue. By doing so, Christ could be dropped from Medicare and Medicaid.
Although the hospital called the added oversight “burdensome and unnecessary,” we believe it’s needed to keep Christ operating in an honest and efficient manner. It’s because of situations like these that the United States needs meaningful health care reform.
CINTAS CORP.: In recent months, the Mason-based uniform supplier has tried to improve its tarnished public image by buying more hybrid-fuel vehicles, holding events where the public can shred confidential documents for free and donating $4,000 worth of medical scrub uniforms to a poor clinic in South Africa that specializes in treating HIV/AIDS patients.
Whether Cintas is doing the actions as part of a calculated public relations strategy to draw attention away from its abysmal employee safety record or because investors are pressing the firm to act more in the public interest ultimately doesn’t matter. The good deeds still help the public welfare and are a welcome change.
TOM LUKEN: Even when he was in his prime, the ex-mayor and ex-Congressman was prone to treating the public and his staff members rudely. (Tales about Luken’s past behavior are legend throughout Cincinnati.) Now that he’s elderly, his public behavior has gotten worse. Incidents like loudly shambling around the Convention Center looking for his misplaced jacket during a SORTA public hearing have become common.
The latest example occurred last week, when Luken forgot to attend a taping of Channel 12’s Newsmakers show. He was supposed to represent the anti-streetcar side of the current streetcar debate, but ended up giving City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan 20-plus minutes of free TV time to make her case for the project.
Mr. Luken, with all due respect, you’ve served the city well in the past. It’s time for a break.