Acting Philadelphia Sheriff Barbara Deeley may be giving out deputy sheriff's badges, but John Kromer, who wants to be the city's next elected sheriff, thinks he has a better idea.
He wants to hand out "Last Sheriff" badges, a symbol of his pledge to help eliminate the office that he hopes to run.
"John may want to abolish a bloated bureaucracy now operating under the yoke of several investigations and allegations, but no one should be deprived of a colorful badge to pin on their chest," Kromer campaign manager David Zega wrote in a tongue-in-cheek news release Friday.
As Heard in the Hall reported last week, Deeley distributed the badges, which are powerless, to friends, sort of like the honorary awarding to famous people of college degrees. Among the recipients of the Deeley badges were former City Controller Jonathan Saidel; U.S. Rep. Bob Brady's political consultant Ken Smukler; and Ryan Boyer, business manager of the Laborers' District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
Kromer hasn't said to whom he will award his badges. But bank on his desire to be the last sheriff standing. - Marcia Gelbart
What could unseat four City Council members and, perhaps, make Darrell Clarke the new Council president?
A successful lawsuit arguing that those members enrolled in the pension plan known as DROP are not eligible to run.
Kevin Greenberg and Abbe F. Fletman, co-chairs of the Government Relations practice at Flaster/Greenberg P.C., told political candidates and others at a recent seminar that they expect such a ballot challenge to be filed.
"We have heard of people contemplating a challenge on DROP, and it's the kind of complicated unsettled question of law that one might expect to be litigated," Greenberg said.
Former Supreme Court justice Russell M. Nigro said he was contemplating such a suit, though he won't say who his lawyer is.
A challenge would arrive after candidate petitions are due in early March. It would have to be settled before the May primaries.
DROP stands for Deferred Retirement Option Program. When city employees enroll in DROP, their future pension benefit is frozen. But in return, the city starts putting their pension payments aside for them. When they retire, employees in DROP get the amount in that account and start collecting their pensions.
The program has been immensely controversial, especially after Mayor Nutter commissioned a report from Boston College that said DROP had cost the city $258 million since 1999.
Decisions by some on Council to run for reelection, retire for a day, collect their DROP payments, and then return to work at full salary have fueled public ire.
Councilwoman Joan Krajewski did just that, collecting $274,587 in 2008 and then returning to work. She is not running for reelection. Jack Kelly (due $405,438 through DROP) is not expected to run. Donna Reed Miller ($195,782) has said she is retiring.
Council President Anna Verna, who, because of her nearly 60 years of city service, is in line for a DROP payment of nearly $585,000, is expected Monday to announce plans to retire.
But Marian B. Tasco (due $478,057 through DROP), Frank Rizzo ($194,518), and Frank DiCicco ($424,646) all are running, and Tasco is a strong candidate to replace Verna. If Tasco could not run, the leadership spot could go to Clarke.
DiCicco has said he will not take a salary after collecting his DROP payment.
Council members enrolled in DROP who have decided to run again defend themselves by pointing to opinions from two city solicitors allowing the practice. - Miriam Hill
Andy Toy, one of a number of candidates seeking Democratic nomination for City Council's seven at-large seats, promises on his website to be creative in helping attract business to the city. Toy, who holds a master's degree in public and urban policy from Penn, has shown one bit of creativity on his website - a tool that translates his site into eight languages.