Stu Bykofsky: A resignation party for the DROP six pack

Union bigs (left) Bill Gault, firefighters, and John McNesby, FOP, hear Nutter urge end to DROP.
Union bigs (left) Bill Gault, firefighters, and John McNesby, FOP, hear Nutter urge end to DROP.
Posted: August 06, 2010

HOW ABOUT a resignation party for the six City Council members who have enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan, aka Taxpayer-Provided Powerball?

The six-pack are President Anna Verna (she'll get $584,777 from DROP), Majority Leader Marian Tasco ($478,057), Frank DiCicco ($424,646), Donna Reed Miller ($195,782) and Republicans Jack Kelly ($405,438) and Frank Rizzo ($194,517).

They signed up for DROP and, since the Pension Code requires enrollees to "make an irrevocable commitment to separate from city service," they're leaving, right?

Well, they may need a friendly nudge because rules don't always apply to politically connected Philadelphians. Former Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson ($389,000 from DROP), was "rehired" by Mayor John Street after "retiring" for an instant, followed by Councilwoman Joan Krajewski ($288,136) and City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione ($308,625), who engineered sham "retirements" before resuming their jobs - and salaries. Also swiftly "rehired" were the Board of Ethics' general counsel, Evan Meyer ($183,000), and the Philadelphia Parking Authority's deputy executive director, Linda Miller ($250,768). Everyone was shaking the money tree. Have times changed?

When Mayor Nutter, gripping a grim economic analysis, said that DROP had cost taxpayers a quarter-billion dollars in a decade, that opened eyes and mouths. In a neat bit of gymnastics, DiCicco, who authored the original DROP bill, said it was time to drive a stake through the heart of this bloodsucker. Tasco said she would introduce a kill bill on the mayor's behalf.

A convert to fiscal sanity, DiCicco called for a special session of Council, spurned by Verna, to deal with DROP. If he runs again, DiCicco said he'll return the DROP pot o' gold to the city. Thanks, Frank, but what part of "irrevocable commitment" is news to you?

When the six-pack leaves, we can have a resignation party. If they don't, make it a tar-and-feather party.

Since DROP began, 6,638 employees have collected bonuses totaling $725 million. Another 2,107 employees are in the receiving line to collect perks of $338 million over the next four years.

Elvis has left the building on that. But we can demand that Council obey the rules.

If it doesn't, how could anyone vote for any of the six-pack again? Knowing the city is facing financial ruin, they not only would take the DROP payoff, but return to the trough to stuff their snouts some more?

The city solicitor said it's "legal," which is like my wife telling me, "Sure, honey, have a second slice of pie."

Legal, shmegal. It's wrong. It is actually - to use an out-of-favor concept - immoral.

Unions will fight to save DROP.

That's their job, to pressure Council to not kill the fatted calf. Council ignored earlier calls to end DROP, which has been harder to kill than BP's Deepwater Horizon. But the citizenry is now engaged and enraged.

To my union brothers and sisters: DROP is a bad deal for the city and you know it. You have healthy pensions even without it. With contracts yet to be negotiated, do you want to poison public opinion?

To Council: You have to do the right thing for the city and kill DROP. For those of you enrolled, taking your DROP parting gift and not leaving is theft.

Oh - the six-pack resignation party! Let's have it at Wanamaker's Crystal Tea Room. The six-pack will pick up the tab. They can afford it.

E-mail stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. This column usually appears Mondays and Thursdays. For recent columns:

http://go.philly.com/byko.

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