Friday, May 22, 2015

Not enough votes on Council to end DROP

Councilman Rizzo (right) is enrolled in DROP Link: Nutter effort to limit DROP fails [Inky]

Not enough votes on Council to end DROP

Councilman Rizzo (right) is enrolled in DROP

Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, who as Democratic majority whip is responsible for corralling votes, does not see Council support. Clarke, who is not in DROP, said the issue had been mischaracterized as a money-grab when Council members are only collecting the pension they have contributed to and earned over their careers.

"At this time, there is no support for it," he said.

Nutter's insistence that Council members exclude themselves from DROP and give up their city-issued cars, which he coupled with his 2010 budget proposal, had the solitary effect of unifying nearly all of Council against him in budget negotiations.

"It's still an issue that the mayor cares a great deal about. But the only way it will be effectuated is if there are enough votes to pass it," Nutter spokesman Doug Oliver said. "Councilman Kenney . . . is in the best position to manage timing issues, but this is still an issue that should be dealt with as soon as possible."

Nutter first proposed barring elected officials from DROP when he was a member of Council in 2005.

Political differences over Council members' right to be in DROP have also sidetracked another DROP bill that is purely financial in nature and that would save the city money. Nutter wants to change the 4.5 percent interest rate to a number that would allow the pension board to lower the rate when the stock market is down, as it is now.

"We think it's a reasonable piece of legislation, but, again, we don't have the authority to pass legislation just because it makes sense," Oliver said.

Zack Stalberg, chief executive officer of the watchdog group Committee of Seventy and a vocal critic of elected officials' use of DROP, said there was little hope for that bill's success unless Nutter or the Mayor's Advisory Task Force on Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform pressed the issue. Even then, it would be an uphill climb. "Personally, I'm pessimistic about that," he said.

Councilman Bill Green, who introduced DROP legislation as his first act in office in 2008, spent most of last year repairing relationships with some of the senior Council members who were offended by his impudence.

He said it would have been more productive if Nutter had worked with him on his bill. "Instead, they chose to do their own and really just confused the issue," said Green, who doesn't foresee movement on his or Kenney's bill.

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