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Saturday, October 28, 2006
Not Ready To Make Nice
As for Ms. Hammond's source of angst, I'm flattered that she thinks my blog is so influential that it inspired all those not nice emails and phone calls. To be honest, I don't know when Ms. Hammond's article appeared in the Oregonian as I refuse to read its coverage of PERS issues any more. I learned about it on Wednesday and saw an emailed copy of it the same day. I started getting copies of other people's emails to Ms. Hammond long before I wrote my blog entry so it is hard for me to connect the two. Nevertheless, I'll take it as a compliment that Ms. Hammond is perturbed by my blog. The purpose of my blog is to inform and to piss people off. One of my agendas is to call out the media every time I think they distort issues. And I think the Oregonian is the worst offender of all the papers, followed closely by the Salem Statesman Journal. The Oregonian has had a particular chip on its shoulder about this small group of PERS retirees for a long time. I've lost count of the number of times this one fact has been inserted into a story about PERS. The Oregonian has repeated it so many times that it has become a catechism for the electorate and a flash point for me. Let me say this one more time: approximately 9% of ALL PERS retirees between 2000 and November 2004 retired with 30 or more years of public service. The average member of that particular cohort does, in fact, earn a pension greater than their salary. But the fact omitted is that 91% of all PERS retirees between 2000 and November 2004 retired with less than 30 years of service and earn a pension significantly less than their salary. The fact that the Oregonian continues to report is quite irrelevant in the larger scheme of things - it didn't drive the PERS crisis, which, by the way, has long passed.
If Betsy Hammond is upset with my pointing out that the Oregonian has no clothes, tough beans. If she repeats this fact again without properly contextualizing it, the next blog post will be far less temperate than "One Track Mind" was.
P.S. The Associated Press report that was fed to other papers around the state doesn't bother to include the canard in Hammond's article. Since it was irrelevant to the content of the article, they obviously and correctly omitted it.
P.P.S. I'm also aware that Ms. Hammond has actually confounded two different elements of the PERS report to write what she wrote. In fact, the number of 30+ year retirees is less than the number of retirees earning more than 100% of FAS. Ms. Hammond has equated 100%+ with 30+ year retirees. This just makes an even greater mess than reporting the data correctly. But I don't even want to bother going there. I'm willing to accept Ms. Hammond's "fact" as correct even though, as reported, it isn't technically true.