Iorio's Leadership by Nelson Horne

Iorio's leadership

Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio's column concerning state Sen. JD Alexander's abuse of political power in his apparent vindictive move against the University of South Florida is very astute and, I believe, accurate ("Alexander's abuse indicative of bigger issue," Feb. 17). Iorio's stance is commendable but unfortunately not altogether representative of her own use of power while she was mayor.

One example would be her collusion in the manipulation of the fire and police pension fund without regard to the fund's health or the impact on taxpayers. This was done, some believe, in order to provide active employees a contractual benefit while not having to use actual city funds and to solidify her power base with the powerful fire and police unions that had not supported her in her run for mayor.

The sad truth is that increased benefits must be paid for in some fashion. Iorio promised state legislators, in a session I attended, that she was on top of the situation and that all expenses would be paid with investment return. The economy has since taken a serious downturn, meaning no investment returns. This has resulted in a jump of active members' contributions from 1.8 percent to more than 14 percent of their income. The city's contribution runs at least one-third more than the employees. Also $210 million has been transferred from the cost-of-living fund to the general fund in order to implement the increased benefit. This money will never be returned to its rightful place. This action has increased benefits for some but has placed a serious financial burden on employees and city taxpayers.

What was it that Iorio stated in her article? Oh, yes "Our state will only get better when the quality of our leadership gets better."

Nelson Horne

Note: This is a reprint from 2/22/12

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