Sunday, January 25, 2015

City Solicitor Says DROP Loophole is Legal

City Solicitor Shelley Smith today told a government watchdog group that she agrees with a 2006 opinion from former Mayor John Street's city solicitor that elected officials enrolled in the controversial DROP program can run for re-election, retire for one day, collect the pension payment and return to work.

City Solicitor Says DROP Loophole is Legal

City Solicitor Shelley Smith today told a government watchdog group that she agrees with a 2006 opinion from former Mayor John Street's city solicitor that elected officials enrolled in the controversial DROP program can run for re-election, retire for one day, collect the pension payment and return to work.

"The DROP ordinance, as enacted by City Council, does not distinguish between elected officials and other City officials; does not prohibit retirement between the time of the general election and the time of retaking office on the basis of that election; does not prescribe any particular length of retirement for an official, subsequent to participation in the DROP; and does not bar any City official from returning to City office post-retirement," reads the letter from Smith to Committee of Seventy President Zack Stalberg.

The Committee of Seventy last month asked Smith to revise the legal opinion submitted by former solicitor Romulo Diaz in June 2006 that said that it was legal for Council members in the Deferred Retirement Option Program to resign for a day, collect the payment, and then return to elected office. Councilwoman Joan Krajewski did just that in 2007, winning an eighth term, retiring for one day and collecting $288,136.

Six Councilmembers are currently enrolled in DROP: Frank Rizzo, Marion Tasco, Anna Verna, Frank DiCicco, Donna Reed Miller and Jack Kelly. Rizzo and DiCicco have said they plan to run again (although DiCicco says he'll forgo a salary if re-elected), while the others have been coy about their plans.

To read the full letter click here.

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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