Sunday, September 09, 2001

New ordinance

A solution in search of problem

        I had been told to expect a nice young man.

        And Chris Monzel appears to be exactly that.

        Coughing wetly into a tissue, he apologized for his cold and said he hoped he wouldn't pass along his germs. Which he got the usual way. His kids, he explained.

        Cincinnati's most junior council member is a dad who baby-sat his daughter while his wife attended to her career. He's a Harvard graduate who volunteered his time in New York's inner city. He keeps pictures of his kids in his small office on the third floor of City Hall.


        And young, for sure. Only 33 and probably least well-known of the council members, Chris Monzel was appointed in February by the Republican Party to complete the term of Charlie Winburn. He had run for council in 1999 and finished 17th out of 20 candidates, with 2 percent of the vote.

The abortion issue

        “I love this job,” he said. So, as the election approaches, he probably could use a lot more votes and an issue. Name recognition.

        Mr. Monzel's earlier issue — to demand extensive background checks and fingerprinting of ice cream truck drivers — just didn't capture the public imagination.

        He has pronounced himself in favor of spending money on overtime for police. But that makes him only one more bobbing head in a sea of politicians who have taken the bold position that too many citizens have been shot.

        November is approaching.

        How about abortion?

        Right now, elective abortions are considered a covered medical procedure for city employees, but on Aug. 28, Mr. Monzel asked the city solicitor to draft an ordinance that would disallow them.

        Perhaps he has found the city to be so overwhelmed with demand for abortions by its female workers that it is not only repugnant to him, but a burden on the taxpaying public.

        So, how many women have taken advantage of this benefit?

        He doesn't know.

        Maybe none.

        He doesn't want to pry into employees' records, he said. “That's their private decision. They can still have an abortion if they choose.”

        So, he has no plan to stop abortions. Just to make them more expensive to workers.

Citizen complaint

        What happened, he said, was that one (1) call flooded in. “It was a citizen of the city of Cincinnati who heard that the city was funding abortions.” And it didn't “sit well” with the citizen, according to Mr. Monzel.

        Besides, “I don't believe in it personally.”

        Some people, he said, have suggested his motivations might be political rather than moral. Some people have questioned the timing. Others have wondered if his sudden interest in employees' medical benefits is simply a ploy to force a vote regarding abortion in council.

        “And I feel horrible about that,” he said.

        Well, I don't blame him. Right now, this city has a lot of explosive and crucial matters to solve. We are disheartened and worried. And bringing up this divisive issue simply to grab headlines or for political gain would be irresponsible. Duplicitous. Cheap.

        And certainly not something you'd expect from a nice young man.

        E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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