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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shine On

Saturday's Salem Statesman Journal had another Steve Law piece about PERS. This one was about Friday's PERS Board meeting and the Board decision to provide COLA for those window retirees who haven't yet been "touched" by the Strunk/Eugene remediation. I wasn't at the Board meeting for personal reasons, but my friend PEG attended the entire meeting and took good notes. Mr. Law's article appears to leave out some important details about what went on at the meeting, and proves how important primary sourcing is. First off, PEG reports that Mr. Law didn't arrive until just AS the discussion of the COLA was beginning. She noted that before settling in, he was fiddling with his PDA, checking for emails etc. As a result, he failed to note two important facts: 1) the PERS Board was NOT asked for its approval to restart the COLA. In fact, the PERS staff merely was informing them as a matter of courtesy as they had the legal authority to do this without the Board's approval. And second of all, the staff wanted it made clear that this did NOT constitute a *restart* or *restoration* of the COLA for window retirees. Instead, it appears to be a one-time event until they get clarification and direction from Judge Kantor about the meaning and scope of the Arken and Robinson decisions. This important fact changes the complexion of what was done. We're happy to have the money, but not satisfied that this isn't the start of the whole restoration project. 2) PEG also reported a stunning monologue from PERB Chairman Michael Pittman chastizing PERS staff, and in particular Steve Delaney, for the number of legislative bills that were passed during the 2007 Legislature relating to PERS. Mr. Pittman chided Mr. Delaney (he's the Legislative Liason for PERS) for failing to better "manage" the Legislative process. Apparently Mr. Pittman doesn't read updates from Mr. Delaney, doesn't pay attention at Board meetings, and seems completely unaware of how the Legislature works. Perhaps he ought to take a civics lesson in "how a bill becomes law". Perhaps he might look at all those PERS bills and see who proposed them. They didn't all come at the behest of PERS. I'm always amused when these private sector types act confused and dismayed that they don't get their way in the Legislative process. This wasn't reported at all.

What the SJ reported was not inaccurate; just very incomplete and the slant somewhat misleading. This is one of the reasons why attending the PERS meetings and watching and listening to the exchanges may alter your opinions about what is really going on. I'm really sorry I didn't get the opportunity to attend, but 3 emergencies in one week just was more than my quota and something had to give.

Note: minor corrections made 7/23

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