DROP allegation a stretch

Al Schmidt, who is battling incumbent Joe Duda for the Republican slot in the city commissioners’ office, has done two separate mailings trying to tie Duda to the hated DROP program, which provides lump-sum payouts to city employees who sign up and retire within four years.  It’s quite a stretch, considering Duda has never signed up for DROP and says he never will, even if re-elected.

Schmidt claims his mailers are legit, because Duda is eligible for DROP and hasn’t signed a waiver with the pension board, disclaiming future interest.  But any city employee with 10 years' experience is eligible for DROP, once he reaches age 55 or 60.   And under the city pension code, anybody who waives benefits has a legal right to change his mind, pension officials say.  So Duda’s vow not to sign up is worth more than the paper Schmidt wants him to sign.