Heck, you can’t blame Frank Rizzo for trying. Maybe he figured he’d be re-elected to City Council yet again because of the enduring clout of his daddy’s name in this city. Or maybe he figured the voters regarded him as an indispensable can-do guy.
Frank Rizzo figured wrong. As most know by now, he lost his bid in last week’s primary to be a Republican at-large candidate in November’s general election, and it’s refreshing to know that a nagging issue called DROP had plenty to do with Rizzo’s fall from grace.
That, of course, is the acronym for Deferred Retirement Option Plan. It’s the much-maligned program that was conceived for city employees a decade ago but somehow became a money geyser for elected officials.
It’s fine that a campaigning Rizzo had said he wanted to return the roughly $195,000 he stood to receive from DROP. But he also felt the public heat that started to rise with the possibility that he’d be re-elected in November, reject DROP’s mandated retirement, keep his six-figure booty and start his new Council term.
He could have done that. You might recall that election commission chairwoman Marge Tartaglione and City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski established the precedent for all elected officials by relying on a city solicitor’s lame opinion to circumvent DROP’s required retirement — the duo “retired” for one day, collected their huge payouts in lump sums, and were “rehired” to return to the payroll.
Tartaglione, by the way, will be packing along with Rizzo. She lost her Democratic race to a challenger who raised holy hell about DROP.
It’s understandable why Councilman Bill Green has been thwarted in his commendable mission to end these shenanigans. With a third of Council enrolled in DROP, his futile efforts were akin to convincing an alcoholic that he has to give up his job in a liquor store.
In November, City Council will change significantly. Here’s hoping they have the moral fiber to straighten out DROP once and for all. ••