The bulk of Mayor Francis Slay’s firefighter pension reform bill stalled today in the St. Louis Board of Alderman’s Public Safety Committee.
The committee passed a provision barring trustees of the Firemen’s Retirement System from suing the city over the design or benefits of the pension plan. But the committee postponed voting on major reforms that would make firefighters to pay more into the system and prevent retirement until age 55.
Alderman Larry Arnowitz says he’s certain if reform passes, firefighters will fight the changes in court.
Larry Arnowitz knew his campaign against Fred Heitert was a long-shot at best. After all, Heitert had served the 12th Ward on the city’s southwest side since 1979, winning eight elections as a Republican without the benefit of a Republican voting base. (He lost that in the 1981 redistricting, when the other Republican poached it.
But during his years as a city employee, Arnowitz got to meet Albert "Red" Villa, the longest-serving alderman in St. Louis history. He also served as a deputy sheriff at the pleasure of Red's son Tom, when Tom was the Board president. (The two will serve together on the board for the next two years. Tom is filling the seat of his nephew Matt, who resigned to focus on expanding Villa Lighting, the family business.)