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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Nobody Told Me

That I'd still be writing about PERS since 2002. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would offering commentary, sarcasm, and trenchant observations about the Oregon Public Employees retirement system 5 years after I retired. Most of the time it remains fun; other times it is a real drag. I've set myself up for this. I spent the better part of two years prior to my retirement getting to know as much as I could about PERS, the retirement options, and the issues that confronted the agency going forward. I was prescient about the car-swallowing potholes that would arise from the City of Eugene case, and the Legislature's attempt at "fixing" those problems. I started warning my PSU colleagues in 2002, when things started to blow up. They forwarded my emails to friends and pretty soon I had a mailing list with 1750 people on it. PSU generously upped my email quota as will as my file storage capability. There are many people responsible for the success of my blog. Some of them must remain anonymous for obvious reasons. I do thank all the attorneys representing PERS retirees and actives - Greg Hartman, Aruna Masih, Mike Morris, Scott Jonnson, Jim Coon, Gene Mechanic. I thank the many working reporters in the MSM - Jim Mayer and Steve Law, in particular, for their willingness to share information, and I thank Jim Voytko, Tim Knopp, Greg MacPherson, and Tony Corcoran for their willingness to hear me out during the 2003 deliberations. Ultimately, I had a small, but significant, impact on the outcome of one bill (HB 2004) that ultimately benefited a small number of PERS retirees. I've been relentless in my pursuit of fairness in the Break-in-Service legislation, having helped convinced the various entities that the originally passed format would prove to be unworkable. Indeed, that was prophetic, and the 2007 Legislature altered the bill at PERS' request.

Why the history and why the expressions of gratitude and thanks? To reduce the suspense, the answer is NOT that I'm cashing in and stopping my service. On the contrary, I'm more determined than ever to keep at this until all the litigation is formally and completely resolved. I'm expecting another five years.

I have received literally thousands of emails thanking me for what I'm doing. It is gratifying to know that people trust me and follow my writings avidly. I've also had various offers for dinner, offers to take payment for help, and other things I have politely declined. I've shared lunch with a number of grateful readers. I've shared a beer or two with other grateful readers. From here on out, I would ask that instead of you making these generous, but unnecessary, offers, you instead help me with a hobby of mine. I collect shot glasses - the more bizarre the better. I have them from all over the world. If you are travelling - to anywhere - and you want to thank me, pick up a shot-glass or two. I'm more than happy to reimburse for the shotglass and the cost of mailing, but I won't object if you choose that for yourself. If this is something you'd like to do, just do it. When you're ready, you can email me and I'll provide my home address.

I do all this work as a labor of 'love' (I use the word in a very loose sense). I do this because *I* have skin in the game and have lost lots of money just like most of my readers. My family puts up with this because they know it is important. I plan to follow through on my plan to help place nails, one at a time, into the PERB coffin. I will not shed a single tear if any of these folks resign, are fired, or die. They've done more harm to all of us than any group of 5 people I've ever encountered. The Legislature gave PERB carte blanche, and PERB took their offer with reckless abandon. Retirees aren't people to them; they are numbers on an Excel spreadhseet. It is far easier to stomp on a number than a person. Yet the PERB is completely oblivious to people. It doesn't matter one bit to them whether 500 or 5 people show up at a Board meeting. And for me - as a people person afflicted with a numbers mentality - I'm deeply offended. My writing converts that offense into umbrage and I plan to keep after these bozos until we win.

Thanks again for all your positive comments, your thanks, and your readership. Tell your friends and family about this blog. Increase its reach and its readership. While it has a great audience, many more people reading and acting out will be far more effective. I figure that between here and OPDG, less than 5% of all retirees are being reached. Help me reach another 5 - 10%. Our strength lies in numbers of people aware that there is a problem. So far, I'm convinced that not enough of the affected members are aware of the problem, much less speak out about it. Let's get some movement here. Let's double the daily readership here and double the membership over at OPDG (it is free). Power lies in numbers. We've already got great attorneys, but having more people interested and active can only help our cause. Tell the PERB you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any more. A faint voice in the wind doesn't have much effect, but a Category 5 hurricane of objections will not go unnoticed. Let's seize control here folks. Get active.

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