PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Three candidates for public office in Philadelphia can stay on the ballot, even though they’re, technically, retiring in order to collect a pension payment under the controversial DROP program.

 A common pleas judge issued the ruling, Tuesday evening, four days after hearing arguments in a lawsuit seeking to disqualify the candidates.

Republican ward leader Matthew Wolfe filed the suit, charging that council members Frank Rizzo and Marion Tasco, and city commissioner Marge Tartaglione, made an irrevocable commitment to retire when they enrolled in the DROP program. But Judge James Lynn ruled there was no such commitment.

“We’re going to consider our options, including appeal to commonweatlh court, which is likely,” said a disappointed Wolfe. “It’s an important issue, it’s something that we need some certainty with from them.”

An appeal would have to be filed within ten days because the pending election.

“All along I knew the guidance I received from two city solicitors and the pension board that there were no obstacles for me participating in the DROP and seeking re-election,” said Councilman Frank Rizzo, who says he feels vindicated.

Mayor Nutter and others have called for an end to the DROP program because it allows city officials to collect large pension pay-outs while still collecting salaries, costing the city millions.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio

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