Republicans may be in the minority, but they ran rings around the Democrats at the city oversight board's March 17 meeting.
The oversight board -- formally the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority -- is the five-man club assigned by the state to fix the city's financial mess. The two Republicans, Jim Roddey and Bill Lieberman, came to the meeting armed with proposals to hire consultants to study the city's workers' compensation program, pensions, benefits and its Urban Redevelopment Authority. Their proposals were approved unanimously. Democrats Jim Smith, David O'Loughlin and John Murray had no consultants to offer.
Meanwhile, Chairman Smith's earnest efforts at leadership went awry. His suggestion to reserve a room in the Regional Enterprise Tower for the board's future meetings was hijacked by Lieberman, who convinced the board to save $200 a week by using the Port Authority board room for free. Smith's first nominee to the board's advisory committee -- Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent John Thompson -- was also nixed by Lieberman, who suggested there might be a conflict of interest in having the schools chief advising on city finances. O'Loughlin and Murray did nothing to back up their fellow Dem.
The board pledged to vote on a preliminary report on the city's financial mess on April 9. Roddey volunteered to start outlining it now, even as the board continues to collect data and hear testimony. "Start off with how expenses can be cut," Roddey suggested. If City Hall's reigning Democrats aren't quivering, they should be.