Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

DROP Legal Fight Not Over Yet

Though a Common Pleas judge this week rejected an effort to get elected officials enrolled in the DROP program kicked off the primary ballot, the legal fight seems far from over.

DROP Legal Fight Not Over Yet

Though a Common Pleas judge this week rejected an effort to get elected officials enrolled in the DROP program kicked off the primary ballot, the legal fight seems far from over.

As expected, attorney Matthew Wolfe, who filed the challenge against Councilman Frank Rizzo, yesterday filed an appeal in Commonwealth Court. Wolfe had argued that the elected officials made an "irrevocable commitment" to retire when they entered DROP, so they are now ineligible to run for re-election.

This week Common Pleas Judge Jimmy Lynn rejected the argument. Lynn's order said that the voters who filed the challenges in the last two weeks were asking him to rewrite city law. He added that their argument could prevent a Council member from retiring in the retirement program and then running for mayor.

Rizzo's attorney Christopher Warren said he was confident that the appeal would not go anywhere.

“An appeal doesn’t transform a baseless claim into one with merit. It’s absolutely frivolous it really is,” Warren said.

Attorney Joseph Doherty, who filed challenges to Councilwoman Marian Tasco and City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione, said he expected to also file an appeal in the Tasco case. He said he has until April 4 to do so.

Tasco and Rizzo have DROP retirement dates set for Dec. 30 and if they win re-election this year, they could "retire" for a day to collect their payments and then get re-hired in time to be sworn in for another term. Two city solicitors - one for former Mayor Street and the other for Mayor Nutter - have issued opinions saying that that practice is legal.

Tasco will collect $478,057 from DROP; Rizzo is due to receive $194,517.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@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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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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