"What's black and white and read all over?"

Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Posted 7:53 PM by

Having his cake and eating it too

Philly Mayor John Street will walk away with more than $500,000 from a deferred retirement program he once tried to kill.I just knew lame-duck Philly Mayor John Street would not go quietly into the night.

Sure enough, the clown who headed perhaps the sleaziest administration in Philadelphia history - itself quite a statement - is giving himself a $111,000 going away present at taxpayer expense.

Street put on a big public show back in 2003 while he was running for re-election by vetoing a pay-raise bill that would have increased his salary from $146,000 to $165,000.

City Council then overrode his veto and approved the raise anyway. Now, on his way out the door as his second term ends, Street is taking the raise retroactively - in a lump sum payment that will hike his pension.

Street is participating in the city's Deferred Retirement Option Program, which allows long-time employees to pick a retirement date four years down the road, then amass pension payments while still working and collecting salaries.

The idea was to encourage longtime employees to stay on the job past retirement age, allowing the city time to plan to replace them. That assumes of course that city hall was run ethically and hiring was solely based on ability, experience and education.

That's not the way Street - nor any mayor before him - ran Philly government. It's always been a "corrupt but contented" pay-to-play patronage fun house.

Candidate Street wanted to end the DROP program in 2003, saying the city could not afford it. After he won a second term, though, he applied for it.

Thankfully, "his honor" is barred by law from seeking a third term as mayor.

The payout from his "deferred" salary and postponed raises will let him walk away from office on Jan. 7 with a $563,000 lump sum, up from the $451,626 he was to have received under DROP, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

In addition, the former veteran city councilman will also get an annual pension from the city of $115,700.

Street plans to teach a course in urban politics and policy at Temple University next spring, for which he will also get $30,000 for the semester.

Presumably, he will teach future politicians how to have their cake and eat it too.

Hope he chokes on it.

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