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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wait for Me

Tomorrow's the big day for the hearings in the Arken and Robinson cases. Both hearings will be held in Room 528 of the Multnomah County Courthouse. The Arken case hearings begin at 1:30; the Robinson case begins at 4:00 p.m. Security is tight in the Courthouse; allow ample time to clear security before getting to the courtroom.

I plan to be in attendance for Arken, and *possibly* for the Robinson hearings. I probably won't be able to put up my summary and first impressions until early next week unless a miracle intervenes. My daughter's wedding takes priority this weekend and the relatives start appearing about the time the Robinson case begins. I *will* get the summary/impressions up but they won't be as timely as usual. Wait for me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gnawin' on It

I've been getting quite a bit of email lately from readers concerned that I'm giving up the ghost on PERS issues. Au contraire my friends. There have been no posts because nothing terribly significant has occurred in quite some time. That's about to change next Thursday (September 28th), when Judge Henry Kantor of the Multnomah County Circuit Court hears oral arguments in two very significant lawsuits filed against PERS. (Lest you doubt the significance of these cases, PERS has delayed its implementation of the collection efforts until October - coincidence or concern?). The Court will hear arguments in the Arken case at 1:30 and the Robinson case at 4:00. These cases are defining for "window" retirees as each challenges PERS' attempt to implement recovery of alleged 1999 overcrediting. The cases take different positions and cover the most compelling grounds for preventing PERS from going forward. Of the two cases, my opinion is that the Arken case is stronger, but the Robinson case takes up an issue that has nagged most of us since 2003. Arken involves breach of contract issues and is based on the Supreme Court's own finding in the Strunk case. It also makes the "promissory estoppel" claim (PERS notice of entitlement and all documents and counselling never told any retiree in the window that the 1999 earnings crediting were under legal challenge and that their benefit might change depending on the outcome of the City of Eugene case). Robinson alleges that PERS has deliberately ignored a mandatory element of HB 2003 that, in effect, prevents PERS from using any of the collection techniques proposed. There is considerable ambiguity in the statute under litigation and the outcome of that case will, in all likelihood, depend on a detailed determination of "legislative intent". I've been pessimistic about both cases until quite recently when I had an opportunity to review the written briefs filed in each case. The briefs clearly lay out the basis for the argument and appear to make a much stronger case than I had initially expected.

I plan to attend the oral arguments on Arken, but I'm not yet certain I can stay around for Robinson (my daughter is getting married on the 30th and lots of relatives will start arriving on Thursday afternoon). I urge people to attend these hearings - pack the courtroom - so that Judge Kantor can SEE that PERS' unwillingness to follow the law as it was written has a significant impact on real people. I hope to see lots of people at the Multnomah County Courthouse on September 28, 2006. Please leave early and get to the courthouse early. Security is quite tight (leave all firearms and knives at home :-).

Watch for further information, including directions, in a post early next week.