Monday, May 19, 2008 | After receiving my umpteenth political mailer extolling the evils of the infamous Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), I finally snapped and had to write a letter to the editor. Here are some facts that never seem to make it to the surface of the murky retirement system quagmire:

First, and allow me to state this unambiguously, the DROP saves the city of San Diego money. Estimates are as much as $20 million a year in reduced city contributions to the retirement system!

Second, the DROP program makes money for the retirement system by maintaining access to money that would normally not be available for investment. I know this is counterintuitive to most people. If you think this is some public employee union goon propaganda, ask the people waving the red flags to produce one report with red ink.

Third, less than 15 percent of the retirement funds paid out come from taxpayer dollars. The remaining 85 percent comes from employee contributions and investment income. If 15 percent of my retirement is too much of a burden, maybe I should reconsider running into those burning buildings.

City employees have never failed to contribute our required portion of retirement savings. However, the city has a long and illustrious history of finding excuses for skipping payments. This behavior was displayed most egregiously by former Mayor Pete Wilson. Anyone that cares to check into it will find that the much vaunted conservative icon chose to defer the city’s contribution into the retirement system. In order to rationalize this mental gymnastics, Wilson relied on questionable reasoning of designating investment gains in the retirement system as the city’s contribution. Oh, and to make this sound all the more astonishing, Wilson did this when the retirement system’s unfunded liability was higher than it has ever been in the last seven years of this purported retirement system “crisis.”

For some people to get elected, they have to create villains and then claim they can protect you from them. The fact is the same group of people who declare they have the magic cure for what ails us, are the very ones who created the situation and tolerated worse when it was to their political advantage.

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