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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Will DROP Program Live to Double-Dip Again?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 10:45 AM


Update: 2:50 p.m.: Ross Mirkarimi's proposal to extend DROP by one year fails, 10-1. DROP will not be extended.

Update, 10:55 a.m. Police Union head Gary Delagnes predicts Ross Mirkarimi will push renewing DROP for one year.

Not long ago, SF Weekly wrote a story about the city's Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP). The program allows older police officers to simultaneously earn pensions and salaries -- a tough scenario to justify in these lean times of ours. 

No fiscal analysis of DROP was undertaken between its adoption in 2007 and April 15 of this year. Here's your Tax Day surprise: A program sold as a cost-neutral method of encouraging police to work longer turned out to be a drain that actually led to earlier retirement ages.

You'd think that'd settle the argument on whether to extend the program, which the supes will decide on today. But financial numbers aren't the only figures our elected officials kick around. SF Weekly has learned that the talk in the corridors of City Hall is that progressive stalwart Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi will champion an extension of a program the city controller estimated could add upwards of $50 million to the city's retirement costs.

Mirkarimi hasn't returned our messages. But, politically, this would not be a total shocker. At last week's Budget and Finance Committee, helamented the paucity of data as yet accumulated regarding the program. That committee took no position on whether to extend DROP.

The District 5 supe is, notably, running for sheriff. He has Sheriff Mike Hennessey's support -- but only two members of the department's 400-strong union voting body have opined they support Mirkarimi's run. Championing the Police Officers Association's favorite project couldn't hurt.

SF Weekly has heard that, rather than extend the program for the full three years allowable under law, Mirkarimi may push for a single year.

Again, the supervisor hasn't gotten back to us yet. And all will be revealed at today's meeting. The fiscal ramifications of DROP, however -- that'll take a lot longer to crunch.

Update, 10:55 a.m.: "Politics makes strange bedfellows. I think Ross is going to make a pitch to extend it for one year," says Police Officers Association president Gary Delagnes.

As he did in our April cover story, Delagnes told SF Weekly that sunsetting DROP will lead to a cavalcade of officers retiring. Essentially, the program must be preserved in order to prevent it from being used.

The union head is preparing notes for today's meeting that he hopes to go over with an elected official -- "Let's just say we have more than one supporter on this issue. The vote will be very interesting."  

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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