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Philadelphia City Council’s Final ’11 Meeting Marks End of Verna Era

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(Philadelphia City Council president Anna Verna, center, is applauded by Council after announcing her retirement earlier this year.   Credit:  Mike Dunn)

(Philadelphia City Council president Anna Verna, center, is applauded by Council after announcing her retirement earlier this year. Credit: Mike Dunn)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today brings the final meeting of Philadelphia City Council for 2011, and it marks the final session for six retiring members — among them City Council president Anna Verna, who has served on Council since 1975.

Verna, who became president of Council in 1999, holds several distinctions: she is the longest-serving city employee in any department, having worked for the district attorney’s office prior to becoming a councilmember; she is the longest-serving councilmember in Philadelphia history; and she is the first female president of Council.

Verna takes it all in stride:

“People are saying, ‘Why are you leaving?’  Well, if not now, when?”

Verna was first elected to represent the 2nd District on City Council in 1975 after the death of her father, William Cibotti, and she says it was not easy for women in politics at that time.

“Many thought women should be in the kitchen,” Verna recalls.  “And I worked extremely, extremely hard.  I don’t think I was home a night, going to meetings.  Because I wanted to prove that they were absolutely, totally wrong.”

And leaving Council after all these years will be difficult, she admits.

“Its almost to the point that I don’t want to get teary-eyed.”

Verna insists her decision to retire had nothing to do with her enrollment in the controversial DROP pension program (see related story), and she does not regret Council’s approval of DROP.

“No, I don’t regret that at all,” Verna tells KYW Newsradio.  “I think that if people really looked at it…  I think many people were misinformed or misguided by that.”

Verna will receive just under $567,000 in a DROP payment (see below).  She will be succeeded as 2nd District councilmember on January 2nd by State Representative Kenyatta Johnson.  The district encompasses much of South Philadelphia.

Fifth District councilman Darrell Clarke is expected to succeed Verna as president.

Verna admits her plans after retirement (see related story) are unclear.

“I’ll probably sit home and ask myself, ‘What am I going to do now?’  I’ll probably be bored to death.”

This is also the final City Council meeting for five other lawmakers:  Democrats Joan Krajewski, Donna Miller, and Frank DiCicco, and Republicans Jack Kelly and Frank Rizzo, all of whom are also in the controversial DROP pension program.

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The following is a list of DROP payouts to all elected officials enrolled in the program.  It was provided by the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement.

A.  Council members who will receive DROP payments and are not returning to Council.

Frank DiCicco                    $421,122.63
John Kelly                           $384,827.57
Donna Reed Miller          $185,870.65
Frank Rizzo                    $195,052.11
Anna Verna                    $566,906.90

B.  Council members and other elected officials who will receive DROP, were re-elected, and will return to office.

Register of wills Ronald Donatucci         $366,797.78
Councilwoman Marian Tasco                  $478,057.30

C.  Council members or other elected officials who received DROP in 2008, were reelected in 2008, and are now leaving office.

City commissioner Marge Tartaglione       $288,136.48
Councilwoman Joan Krajewski           $274,587.13

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