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Jackie Pons to taxpayers: DROP dead, part 2

Jackie Pons is still the kind of public official who gave Florida’s Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) a very bad name.

To refresh our recollection on a pol best-forgotten, if he’d only go away, Pons lost his bid for re-election November as Leon County’s Superintendent of Schools.  As a DROP-enrollee since 2014, he was entitled a $6778 monthly pension check and a one-time payment of just under $200,000.

Most folks would call that a comfortable retirement. But behind Door No. 2 at the Florida Department of Welfare for the Rich was the promise of a $400,000 DROP payday if he remains at some public trough or other until 2019, plus a few hundred dollars more monthly walkin’ around money.

With a little help from his friends and a little saber-rattling from his lawyers, Pons is on track to suck every last nickel out of DROP. He’s already made some otherwise serious people look like buffoons. First, it was David Coburn, Chief of Staff to Florida State University President John Thrasher. who managed to keep a straight face while telling the Tallahassee Democrat that in Pons’ capacity as a $50,000 a year “business analyst” with FSU’s admissions office, Pons was “working on a project to recruit students from underserved areas of the Panhandle.

We don’t know how that project went, but we do know that Pons resigned from FSU just three weeks after he was hired.  Last week, Pons resurfaced at Florida A & M University’s Developmental Research School. As the K-12 school’s “development officer,” he will “provide information to meet (school) goals and objectives” and “develop a fundraising plan.”

As we’ve noted here before, it’s been 10 years since Lucy Morgan double-dipped her Pulitzer Prize-winning plumb line into the murky waters of DROP and its myriad opportunities for mischief. Her reporting resulted in reforms that closed off the dark alleys of the Florida Retirement System, where the most extreme examples of taxpayer abuse occurred.

For most state workers, the system operates to provide a modest return on investment in a lifetime of exemplary public service.

For people who don’t mind being simultaneously shameful and shameless, it’s a big pile of money for nothin.’

Written By

Florence Beth Snyder is a Tallahassee-based lawyer and consultant.

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