Common Pleas Court Judge James M. Lynn has decided that Philadelphia City Council members Marian B. Tasco and Frank Rizzo and City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione can appear on the May primary ballot.
In an opinion issued Wednesday evening, the judge ruled that all three reasonably relied on the advice of the Philadelphia City Solicitor that their participation in the controversial DROP retirement program did not prevent their candidacy for re-election.
Attorney Matthew Wolfe, who filed the challenge to Rizzo’s candidacy, says an appeal to Commonwealth Court is likely.
“If the court were to follow the reasoning of the petitioners, which is that a DROP retiree cannot run for elected office, the Court would not only render an absurd result, but a ludicrously elitist one as well,” wrote the Lynn in his order.
“Potentially, thousands of former, longtime city employees who happen to have retired using the DROP would be disenfranchised from running for election in Philadelphia, the city they have known, loved and served,” he continued.
Lynn said neither the Philadelphia Public Employees Retirement Code nor the DROP ordinance prevents a retired elected official who has collected a DROP payment from returning to office.