Monday, April 21, 2014
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Dueling DROP Letters Pass Between Rizzo & Lazin

Malcolm Lazin, a Republican candidate for City Council at-large, didn't have to wait long today for a response from Councilman Frank Rizzo about the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, the controversial program known in City Hall as DROP.

Dueling DROP Letters Pass Between Rizzo & Lazin

City Councilman Frank Rizzo
City Councilman Frank Rizzo

Malcolm Lazin, a Republican candidate for City Council at-large, didn't have to wait long today for a response from Councilman Frank Rizzo about the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, the controversial program known in City Hall as DROP.

Lazin invited reporters to watch him drop off a letter this morning at Rizzo's City Hall office, demanding that the councilman release publicly his application for DROP.  Rizzo was in Council's chambers at the time for a budget hearing.  Lazin once again criticized Rizzo for participating in DROP while the city faces a budget deficit and the city's pension plan is underfunded.

Lazin also cited what he called "two major indicators" of Rizzo's trouble in his bid for a fifth term: The Republican City Committee and the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police have denied him their endorsements for the first time.

Rizzo responded with his own letter this afternoon.  Here's what he had to say:

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"As you undoubtedly know, what you have requested has always been available from the Board of Pensions and Retirement. Please let me know if you have any difficulty getting what you’re seeking from the board. It’s campaign season and political theater is entertaining. However there are serious issues. Access to the Board of Pension and Retirement's records is not one of them."

Lazin said he made a public records request Friday to the Board of Pensions and Retirement for Rizzo's DROP records and has been told it is being reviewed by a city attorney.

Rizzo is set to receive $194,517 on Dec. 30 from DROP, which allows city employees to pick a retirement date up to four years in advance and then start collecting pension payments in an interest-bearing account while still on the city payroll. 

Two city solicitors have ruled that elected officials can retire for one day, collect their DROP money and then return to the city payroll if they win re-election.  A Common Pleas Court judge last week rejected an effort to have Rizzo removed from the May 17 primary election ballot due to his participation in DROP.  That ruling has been appealed to the state Commonwealth Court.

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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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