Forgive me father, for they have sinned. Every last one of them.
In 2003, freelancer Ralph Cipriano penned a cover story for Howard Altman and I about how the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (or, DROP) was bleeding the city fiscally dry day by expensive day. Here's an excerpt:
City officials, in response to a Freedom of Information request from City Paper, have released a 73-page list of 3,484 city employees currently enrolled in the DROP. If all those employees stay enrolled in the DROP for the maximum time allowed -- four years -- they will leave their jobs over the next four years with cash payments that average, according to the records, more than $132,000 each, or a total of $461 million.
To put that figure into perspective, in fiscal year 2002, the city spent $455 million on the entire police department.
The DROP payments to city employees range from as low as $24,000 for city crossing guards who earn $49 a day, to a high of $550,733 for Fire Commissioner Harold B. Hairston, who earns $129,500 a year. (For the past three weeks, Hairston has steadfastly refused comment on his top-rated jackpot.)
Well, now it seems, about six years later, and as capitalism is feeding solely on its cud, the issue has resurfaced as the controversial matter it's been for at least a half-dozen years! On Thursday, the Daily News ran a cover of its own delineating how large of a six-figure payout certain council members will walk away with. (And that kind of pissed council off since they think they're entitled to the loot. For doing what? Besides buying their way into office, your guess is as good as mine.)
But today, it got even better, onaccounta Councilwoman/Rasp Queen Joan "Boom Boom" Krajewski who chimed in to the Inquirer after Council President Anna Verna maintained that none of her constituents are mad that she'll strut out the door with a cool half-mil.
Verna and Tasco have said that DROP is an issue created by the media, the Committee of Seventy, and opportunistic politicians, even though it was a recurring theme at recent budget workshops.
"Many of my colleagues are telling me they have not received one phone call from a constituent complaining about it," Verna said.
Krajewski said she had even talked to a priest about her actions, and was reassured that it was her money. But she doesn't like the way she and others are being portrayed.
"It's like we're part of the AIG gang," she said. "And once you join that, you can't get out."
(Psst, hey Joan: When you're a greedy, money-hungry schlub out to line your pockets on the taxpayers' backs, well, allow me to say that you meet the fair-game qualifications.)