Despite months of controversy, Council President Anna C. Verna - who at least bowed to political reality by scrapping her own reelection as she prepares to collect a $585,000 DROP check - put off grappling with the program until after the decisive May primary. During the campaign, unions representing police, firefighters, and other city workers demanded candidates pledge fealty to DROP, as most Council hopefuls did.Today's Philadelphia City Council: A body of contentedly corrupt politicians who don't even recognize their corruption. No DROP-enrolled politician in any competitive race stands a chance of winning. Just by making some noncompetitive races competitive, we can further get rid of this cancer on our city's finances.
Now that the dust has settled, with Democratic nominees confident of reelection, Council could do the responsible thing and scuttle the retirement program. Voters made clear their disgust by spurning reelection bids by two political stalwarts enrolled in DROP: Councilman Frank Rizzo and City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione.
DROP serves no legitimate management purpose. More important, a city facing one budget nightmare after another - with schools being the crisis du jour - simply cannot afford to sweeten the regular pensions due to retiring city employees. Finally, there is no scenario under which incumbent elected officials should be able to take advantage of such a perk.
Council members who really want to move the city forward need to face up to the fact that it's time for a clean break. Drop DROP.
Soon to be written: a discussion of what demographic shifts mean for Council districts and what each district will likely do to maximize incumbent strength.