O’Neill challenger tries to make DROP an issue

    Philadelphia voters came down hard on City Council members enrolled in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Program in the primary election last week.

    Democratic Council candidate Bill Rubin hopes to use the issue against Republican incumbent Brian O’Neill in the general election even though O’Neill has never taken a nickel from the program.

    O’Neill, who has represented the far Northeast for more than 30 years, is one of only three incumbent Republicans in Council. While he isn’t enrolled in DROP, he’s eligible to sign up in the future and get a payout of more than a half million dollars upon retirement.

    Democratic challenger Rubin, a former vice president of the city pension fund, sent reporters a copy of a form he’s says O’Neill should sign.

    “Basically, what I’m saying to the councilman is, we have a form that’s available for you to waive any future benefit you would be entitled to under that program,” Rubin said. “And we’d like you to make a pledge to the voters that you will not seek any monies that will be due to you under this program.”

    “I’m not enrolled in DROP,” O’Neill said. “I never plan on taking DROP, end of story.”

    O’Neill said he isn’t interested in Rubin’s form. “I don’t need to respond to my opponent’s request,” he said, adding that he’s busy helping the Philadelphia schools deal with a huge budget deficit.

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