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.