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.

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:

"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.