Stu Bykofsky: Dear Franny, you know it's time to go

Posted: February 03, 2011

DEAR Councilman Frank Rizzo:

You're the son of a mayor and you're a son of a gun - known for both providing diligent constituent service and for treating your staff like the crew on the HMS Bounty.

Frank Rizzo, a/k/a Franny,

you've been in the Council posse since 1995, when you rode your father's name into office. Since that time, you've been a top GOP vote-getter, votes you've earned by your hard work. If anyone denies that, they're being unfair to you.

I've known you for a long time. Unlike some others, I haven't been unfair to you because of your party - or your family - affiliation.

Franny, it is time for you to go.

Follow the example of Anna Verna, Jack Kelly and Donna Reed Miller, who signed up for DROP and planned to return, but had second thoughts.

Do not follow the lead of Joan Krajewski and Marge Tartaglione, who invented the larceny of "retiring," collecting a pension pot o' gold, then returning to work.

The Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which has cost this cash-strapped city about a quarter-billion dollars since 1999, makes enrollees sign an "irrevocable commitment" to leave at a date they choose.

You chose the date, but now you plan to "return" to work (and your $126,000 salary) in Room 582 in City Hall after collecting the taxpayer-provided $194,517 Power Ball payout after a sham "retirement." Franny, you know that's wrong.

I wouldn't presume to speak for your father, but I think if he knew that you gave your word and then broke it, he'd be disappointed.

I know that's not how you see it. You've told me that two city solicitors have opined that "R & R" - retire then return - is "legal." Franny, it's "legal" for me to walk down Broad Street wearing a pink pinafore screaming obscenities like a demented cockatoo, but it's wrong. The DROP scam is wrong.

I know you don't see it that way. You told me yesterday that you always planned to take the DROP and return to work "based on the intelligent, informed decision" of the solicitors. But now, "[i]f there's a way to not take the money and go back to the way it was, that's a fair thing to do."

That's your position now. Unlike Frank DiCicco, your Democratic conspirator, who said that he will turn back his salary to the city, you earlier told me that you would deposit yours in a 401(k) for your destitute family.

Excuse the sarcasm.

Franny, no one has to pass the hat for you.

You live in Chestnut Hill with your wife, Deborah, and your mother, Carmella, in a home, bought by your dad, that I'd call a mansion. You own a home in the Oceania Condos, in Oranjestad, Aruba, which is nicer than Crescentville, but not as nice as Avalon, where you own a beautiful summer home.

If you retire like you promised, you will immediately get your pension of about 4G a month. You're also getting Social Security and a healthy pension from Peco, where you rose to the executive suite in a 32-year career before turning to the family business of public service. In your lifetime, you went from Peco lineman to Philly councilman.

Oh! Is there any "Rizzo to the Rescue" radio money left?

Franny, you have a proud record of service to Philadelphia. At 67, you still have a lot to give, but it shouldn't be on Council.

It is time for you to go.

There's another thing, Franny, called legacy.

With your Uncle Joe honorably retired from the Fire Department, and your father at rest, do you want the last entry in the Rizzo family ledger of service to be about a son who gave his word and broke it? People usually remember the last thing you did rather than the best thing you did.

If you run again, you may win, although there will be fierce opposition. The political gunslingers have you in their sights. The press is baying for blood. The public's anger is rising.

It could get ugly.

If you are re-elected, then what?

As a Republican you're in a small minority. By the cash-grab, you become an outcast. The DROP payout is toxic; it's like a rash driving most taxpayers crazy.

You made a promise, Franny. Retire with the money and your family's good name intact.

It is time for you to go.

E-mail stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. See Stu on Facebook. For recent columns:

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

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