The freshman! Vito Lopez retires — and returns!

The freshman! Vito Lopez retires — and returns!

Assemblyman Vito Lopez retires on Dec. 31 after 13 newsmaking years as “the” power broker of North Brooklyn.

Don’t worry, Brooklyn — Lopez will be back on the job on Jan. 1.

Don’t understand his eye-blink retirement? You would if you were an accountant — or a fellow senior citizen lawmaker.

Thanks to Albany rules — written by Albany hacks, remember — old legislators can “retire” for one day at the end of a given term and then be sworn in the next day to their new two-year stint. The one-day retirement allows said lawmakers to collect their retirement pensions — in Lopez’s case, that’s $88,000 on top of his $92,000 salary.

Many people call that “double-dipping.” We won’t go there, but there is one term that we will start using in 2011 — “freshman,” as in “Freshman Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick) is pushing a bill that would …”

So for now, we created this handy photo spread of how Lopez might have looked — for one day, at least. Enjoy.