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Editorial | John Street's Pay Grab

Bar elected officials from DROP

Even on his way out the door, Mayor Street is serving as a poster child for further City Hall reforms - by virtue of his own double-barreled pay grab.

Street is cashing in on a city employee-retention program he once opposed as too expensive. As a participant in the city's Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), Street will exit City Hall with a lump-sum payout of more than $450,000.

Street's also claiming more than $111,000 in cost-of-living increases. The raises stem from a City Council-approved 2003 pay hike that he vetoed. Then he made a public-relations show by refusing to take the money.

Until now.

These moves come from a mayor who often came across as arrogant and entitled. Add hypocrite to the list. In fact, Street used his recent valedictory before Council to crow about his golden parachute.

The mayor might as well have made a word play on his favorite stump-speech greeting:

I'm having a great payday.

All told, Street will leave with a gross take-home package of more than $560,000. Not much by Wall Street standards. But for John F. Street, "public service" has been good.

Street's 11th-hour pay grab only increases taxpayers' cynicism about career politicians. There should be a provision in the law that prevents elected officials from collecting back pay raises.

Same goes for the DROP program. After opposing the program, Street's switcheroo illustrates why elected officials should be dropped from DROP.

Fortunately, Mayor-elect Michael Nutter favors barring elected officials from the program.

DROP was designed to retain veteran city workers, not elected officials like Street and others who signed up, including Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, City Commissioner Margaret Tartaglione, Sheriff John Green, and District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham. Council members share the blame, since it was their legislation - enacted under Mayor Edward G. Rendell - that allowed elected officials to join DROP.

The new Council should correct that mistake before voters decide to drop them from the payrolls for good.