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Monday, January 01, 2007

Purple Stain

I hope you've all recovered (or are recovering) from the festivities of NYE and from whatever holiday you celebrated immediately previously. We had a very nice week celebrating Christmas at our vacation home in central Oregon with family and our daughter's new in-laws. Lots of snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and, for the younger folks, downhill skiing. We spent a relatively quiet New Year's eve dining with a few friends. Between my wife's contacts and mine, we have a diverse group of friends who cross paths with most of the "connected" folks around the state, particularly in the Portland area. This means that we are treated to some occasionally delicious gossip that sometimes shows up here. Last night the gossip included something I found rather disturbing, as it gets to the passionate-over-the-top vindictiveness of this whole PERS fiasco. I learned - and I consider my sources to be pretty darned reliable - that during the peak of testimony at the Legislature during 2003, Jim Voytko, then Executive Director of PERS, started receiving a series of death threats being sent to him at his HOME, as well as to his office at PERS. I find this so utterly reprehensible and morally repugnant that I nearly spilled a glass of wine. Fortunately, I only created a small purple stain. I cannot understand how potential retirees, actual retirees, or active members ever expect to "win over" public opinion by threatening the life of a public official charged with doing a job. We may not have liked what Mr. Voytko had to say, but in my opinion, there is NO excuse that justifies death threats against him and his family. Mr. Voytko is no longer at PERS and is rumored to be very successfully consulting for public employee retirement plans in 20 states from his base in Portland. But, this leads me to wonder whether the current PERS Board and PERS Staff is just as exposed. Folks, I know that everything that has gone on is very distressing, but it isn't worth the risk of being charged with and convicted of a felony. I can guarantee you that making a death threat against a public official is taken very seriously, and that you stand to lose far more than just a pension if you're caught. I realize that probably no one who reads this blog is guilty, but I'd hazard a guess that more than one person has had such thoughts. Do us all a favor. If you have such thoughts, keep them to yourself. You do yourself and the "cause" no good by articulating them.

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