Council President Anna Verna just confirmed via press release that she will not seek another term representing the 2nd Councilmanic District in South Philadelphia.
"This has been my life’s work, so it has been a most difficult decision that I have made," Verna said in the release.
Verna, 79, has served 9 terms and been president for eleven years. She spent months deliberating over whether to run again and reportedly was concerned about two issues: the political controversy surrounding her participation in the DROP retirement program and whether she could maintain her position as president.
Verna will collect $584,777 from the Deferred Retirement Option Plan before her term ends in January 2012. The program allows workers to set a retirement date in up to four years, amass pension payments in an interest-bearing account and collect them in a lump sum in addition to their pensions.
Some residents and government reform groups have criticized a loophole that allows elected officials to enroll in DROP, run for re-election and then “resign” for a day to take the payout before being re-hired for another term.
In addition to Verna’s concerns that DROP would overshadow her record, two other Council members have been quietly seeking the presidency. Councilwoman Marian Tasco and Councilman Darrell Clarke are both interested in the position, according to Council insiders.
Verna’s long record of public service and even-handed management style won praise from many of her Council colleagues today.
“I don’t know of any enemy she has, which I don’t think you can say of too many people in this business,” said Councilman Bill Greenlee. “The adjective of classy I’ve heard many times.”
Councilman Jim Kenney said: "She’s a major consensus builder. She asked everyone their opinons"