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L.A. can't call itself a progressive city until it gets rid of DROP

L.A. can't call itself a progressive city until it gets rid of DROP
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, and Police Chief Michel Moore on July 21. (Damian Dovarganes / AP)

To the editor: Los Angeles leaders proclaim that their city is one of the most progressive metropolises in the United States. Often we hear the rhetoric of social justice emanating from the halls of 200 N. Spring St.

Actions speak louder than words. The fact that the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, for police officers and firefighters hasn’t been “dropped,” or at least better scrutinized, suggests that our leaders are bold when it is easy to be bold and quiet when being bold comes with political risks — in this case, losing the support of police and fire unions.

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The city’s most vulnerable residents depend on our leaders spending every dollar carefully and mindfully. A commitment to social justice means ensuring that government is operating as effectively as possible, regardless of the risk of upsetting a powerful political ally.

Ashley Hall, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The “cloud” under which columnist Steve Lopez says Michel Moore has started his tenure as Los Angeles Police Department chief is nothing more than the creation of the Los Angeles Times.

Whether one likes or dislikes DROP, an incentive program for veteran officers and firefighters to delay retirement for five years by paying them their salary and pension, Moore did nothing wrong. There appears to have been abuse of DROP, as reported by The Times, but the apparent abuse has been by officers and firefighters who allegedly have fraudulently gamed the system. Make that a separate article.

If Lopez thinks DROP is too expensive or unnecessary, he should focus on that. But calling out the new chief was unnecessary and makes Lopez’s comment about a cloud nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mark S. Greenfield, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Congratulations to Moore for milking DROP.

I was a veterinarian for 14 years and paid into Social Security like everyone else. I also held jobs throughout high school and college that required me to pay into Social Security.

Sixteen years ago, I decided to switch careers and become a teacher. As such, I don’t pay into Social Security but instead the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS. My employer, the Los Angeles Unified School District, also pays into this fund, as does the state of California.

Here’s the interesting part: In 1983, Congress passed the Windfall Elimination Provision. My Social Security benefits, which I earned honestly until the age of 40, will be reduced by up to 50% because I now have a teacher’s retirement plan. This prevents “double dipping.”

Crazy.

John Reid, San Pedro

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