Philadelphia Republican Party leader Michael Meehan wants GOP ward leaders to get together next Tuesday, and the question is: Why? David Oh, a GOP City Council candidate and ward leader, said he believed the purpose would be to endorse all the party candidates who won the primary.
Vito Canuso, chairman of the Republican City Committee, said the party might consider endorsing all the candidates at the meeting, but "that is not one person's decision, unlike what you people like to report on." He said ward leaders traditionally met after elections.
If Oh is correct, Meehan and Canuso could be holding out a small olive branch to members of a party faction that has been unhappy with their leadership, including Al Schmidt, who is on the ballot as a city commissioner candidate.
It would also mean an endorsement for GOP candidate Dennis O'Brien, who is not aligned with either side in the party.
O'Brien did not immediately return requests for comment. Schmidt, who is also a ward leader, said he did not know what the meeting would be about.
- Miriam Hill
As promised, Council on Thursday introduced a bill that would preserve the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan for all city workers, including Council members.
In a news release, Council President Anna C. Verna said the compromise bill would eliminate DROP's cost while avoiding costly litigation that would be sure to follow if the prized benefit were denied to city workers. That bill would shift the guaranteed 4.5 percent interest rate on DROP funds to the U.S. Treasury rate, saving an estimated $1 million a year, and push back DROP eligibility to two years after workers reach retirement age.
"I know there has been immense pressure to eliminate the DROP because of its cost," which has been estimated to be at least $100 million since its inception in 1999, Verna said. "The bill introduced today preserves DROP as an option. It is designed to eliminate its cost for all employees in currently open pension plans who are not yet eligible to retire. My colleagues and I believe this is the better approach, but we look forward to exploring the alternatives at the scheduled hearing on the bill."
The hearing is scheduled for June 8.