What we stood for at senior gun protest
About two weeks ago half of our retirement community here at Cathedral Village (of about 200 people) turned out to demonstrate against gun violence. I was asked to “say a few words” as we concluded our time together. Here is what I said:
When we leave this demonstration today I am sure some people, friends or family, will ask why you went to this demonstration or, even better, what did you think you accomplished. Here is a response you might consider:
I am not quite sure what I accomplished but this I do know…the opposite of good is not evil but indifference and for that reason:
Today I stood with Marian Anderson as she sang at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 in opposition to the racism of her time.
Today I stood with Rosa Parks who refused to sit in the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955.
Today I stood with Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Grey Panthers, who in the 1980s and 90s changed the way the nation looked at and treated older Americans.
None of these fine women could have ever imagined in their time what great good they were bringing to our nation.
So today we stood with the young people of our land who advocate for gun sanity. We felt a sense of high privilege in following their lead. We are so very grateful for their witness.
Reverend Richard Fernandez
McCalla column overlooked DROP legacy
Jay McCalla’s recent opinion column (“Dis is Philly”) was an informative analysis of the history of Democratic politics in Philadelphia over the past 60-plus years. One issue that he did not include in his piece was the introduction, by then-Mayor Rendell, in 1999, of the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) program.
Under DROP, city workers could set a retirement date up to 4 years in advance. At that point, their pension benefit becomes frozen, and they start accruing benefits in an interest-bearing account. When they retire, workers receive those benefits in a lump sum. This payment is in addition to their full city pension.
Some time after 1999, the program was extended to allow elected officials to participate. This was ever intended to be part of the original program. As of a few years ago, six City Council members had enrolled (The number might now be higher). Moreover, a loophole in the program allowed them to run for re election, then resign for one day to receive their payout, and return to office.
A study reported by WHYY in December 2017 concluded that the cost of DROP to the City is approximately $277 million since 1999. Just since 2010, it has cost Philadelphia $62 million. Only about 45 percent of the program is funded. The balance is an unfunded liability.
While in office, Mayor Nutter asked City Council to eliminate the program. Union officials pushed to keep it: Mayor Kenney has done nothing to address this issue. And surely, there is no incentive by City Council to do anything about it.
I would be interested to hear from any City Council members who are in favor of eliminating this boondoggle once and for all.
Sharon M. Reiss