Please don't post your comments more than once. I moderate all comments and a delay between posting and appearing is part of the drill here. I get to all comments in due time. Please don't continually repost the same comment. Only one will be posted. Also, due to the volume of email I'm getting right now, I am unable to guarantee that I will respond to all personal emails sent to my email address. I am being buried alive under an avalanche of email. Please go to the PERS Oregon Discussion (POD) Group, linked below (left) under LINKS to post your question and get a variety of answers. Thank you.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Whatever Judge Kantor does I want him, the PERS Coalition, the Governor, and all retirees to know that it my humble opinion that what PERS is currently doing is blatantly criminal. It rises above the crap floating around about what Ted K knew about Neil's peccadillos (or is that pecker dildoes - sorry if I offended, I'm in a really foul mood today). It rises above Bernie Guisto's sleaze. What PERS and PERB are doing is just plain wrong and criminal. They deserve jail, not merely a trip into a court to have their hands and faces slapped. They deserve a visit from the Bodysnatchers and the Dementors. Please feel free to add your own opinions here. I know PERS is reading....
Saturday, October 27, 2007
To entertain myself in this period of lull, I'm upgrading my entire home network to Apple's new operating system "Leopard". Leopard is Apple's answer to Windows Vista, except done correctly IMO. It took me nearly two weeks to upgrade a single computer to Windows Vista from Windows XP. Microsoft had so many different versions of Vista that I kept getting the wrong one to match what version of XP I had before. Apple, on the other hand, has a single version of Leopard that includes the same features for all users. They even sell a family pack that allows installation on up to 5 computers. How convenient: my home Apple network has exactly 5 Apple computers. And I don't think Apple counts all that closely. The first computer took just slightly more than an hour to upgrade. As far as I can tell, it was flawless. I found a couple of programs that require upgrades before they will run properly under "Leopard", but none are critical. Most programs just run as is. My second computer upgrade was on my primary network server. This was a leap of faith but I had three backups of the system in case something disastrous happened. I can't say the upgrade went flawlessly, but it only took me one perusal of the Apple newsgroups to figure out how to fix a problem created during the upgrade. It took a little bit longer to download all the needed upgrades to various pieces of the network software and all the utilities I normally use to make life easier. I've been using the updated system for about 6 hours now and I've only run into one piece of software that just plain doesn't run. This piece is important to me, but there are a dozen alternatives I can use in the meantime. While I'm writing this, system number 3 is "doing its thing". I expect no problems there either.
So, if you're bored, have a recent model Apple computer, and want a way to live out the string on a Saturday afternoon, pick up a copy of Apple's Leopard and install it. Your life will be much improved
Monday, October 22, 2007
A constant theme in the OPDG discussion group is "where is OPRI?". The current OPRI Board is governed by an archaic set of bylaws that make it nearly impossible for newcomers to penetrate the inner circle. Board members are selected by Board members; bylaw changes are voted on by Board members. Who guards the guards? Once OPRI takes your money, you have no further voice in the operation of the organization. As an old commercial once asked: "Is this any way to run an airline?" A number of OPRI members worked out a proposal to amend the bylaws to make them more democratic. They were presented to the OPRI Board about a year ago. Not all Board members were present; there were enough for a quorum, which rejected the bylaw changes.
This month, two Board seat terms expire. OPRI put out a call for volunteers for these two seats. Kathleen Beaufait, current Board Chair of OPRI, announced some time ago that she intended to run again for her seat. The other seat, held by a public school administrative or certificated retiree, was being vacated by the incumbent and would be open. The current Board consists of 6 non-recent retirees (pre-2000) and 3 "window" retirees. The two vacancies were from pre-2000 retirees. Informed sources tell me that the 3 "window" retirees have little voice on the Board. Many people, including me, put out an appeal for qualified applicants to put their name up to OPRI for these Board positions. No one responded. Ms. Beaufait was reappointed; OPRI is still looking for the public school administrative or certificated retiree.
Although some may think that OPRI's day may have come and gone, I'm not yet persuaded. If we can gain one more seat on the Board, the pre-2000 retirees will hold a slim majority of 5-4, not unlike our Supreme Court. If the right person goes up for the Board and is selected, perhaps he or she might convince the Board of the wisdom of reaching out to this large group of retirees (numbers exceeding 40,000 if PERS' reports are accurate) and enfranchising them. This is not a class struggle, but the reluctance of the current Board to make the kind of changes needed to persuade new leaders to come forward is maddening and frustrating. The proposals introduced last year were fair, were necessary, and would have energized the organization. Moreover, they would have energized members, many of whom are questioning what they are getting for their dues (however small they might be). Of course, life would be much easier for recent retirees if they had a majority on the OPRI Board.
Since I've never been bashful before, I'm not going to be bashful now. It really is time for some of the current OPRI Board to step aside and let some new blood energize the organization. Let some of the recent retirees make the kind of changes needed to democratize OPRI. Let members have a vote in bylaw changes and in Board membership. OPRI is no longer the club it used to be. Public employment is no longer as civilized as it used to be in the 1960's and 1970's. Public employment no longer works at all like it did 30 or 40 years ago. It is a nasty world out there and there are some mean people out to trample public employees into the dust. There are people out to destroy public employee collective bargaining. There are people out there who want to take more pension benefits away from active employees as well as current retirees. We need a strong OPRI to fight off these changes. The current OPRI is limp, resting on its past victories, and completely ineffective in dealing with all the SOB's of the world. It is time for a change.
(P.S. For those current Board apologists who will argue that no recent retirees apply for their open positions, see the discussion of the archaic bylaws. There are plenty of people who would be interested in getting involved with an energized OPRI but are restricted by the bylaws which limit voting to members of the Board.)
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Here we had a golden opportunity to have a significant influence on the direction that OPRI takes. Yet, only pure apathy can describe this lack of movement. It can't be ignorance because this blog and OPDG had countless announcements of the vacancies.
I'm getting very discouraged by things like this. While I appreciate all the individual kudos I get for writing this blog, and I appreciate the individuals who have contributed to the development of a high-class database of all PERS-related documents, it is the lack of effort on the part of most readers of this blog, most lurkers on OPDG, and the rest of the 38,000+ affected retirees that puts us in a sorry predicament. We have NO (none, zero, nada, zip) organization that exclusively represents the interests of recent PERS retirees. Right now, we have a couple of lawsuits out there that might change our collective fates, but legal representation costs megabucks and those megabucks are coming largely from the unions representing active workers, not retirees. How much longer do you think the unions are going to spend the kind of money required to litigate every injustice done to retirees, especially with the abject apathy evident. If people really cared, they'd be scrambling to overtake OPRI with current retirees; they'd be scrambling to be at PERS Board meetings where the action is; they'd show up at every court hearing on any of these cases. In fact, retiree inaction is so pitiful that we've let PERS walk right over the top of us. Do you think if we had a strong and highly visible presence, we'd have been stomped so hard? Either people have been lulled into a false sense of security that the litigation will eventually play out in their favor, or more likely they've chosen to bury their heads in the sand. Worse still, perhaps they don't care. Perhaps in the ultimate act of masochism towards oneself and sadism towards fellow retirees, they are into self-flagellation. I've seen this from a few - "We don't deserve the size retirement benefits we got. The current actions are fair." When I hear that, my blood pressure goes through the roof. Talk about blaming the victim. I sure as hell don't think my pension is too high. I chose to retire when I did on the expectation of getting my fixed pension plus COLA each year. I retired before any of this Lipscomb shit came down. Why the hell should I be screwed for the stupidity of the PERS Board. Their only fault was abject stupidity. They did nothing illegal and my pension does not contain any errors except for the COLA that PERS has been withholding since 2003.
I hate to say this but recent PERS retirees, in the main, have walked right into this buzzsaw and seem not to care. The apathy is PERS' strongest weapon. Recent retirees are walking on thin ice and are about to fall in and drown. Inactivity is our own worst enemy. I'm afraid that the longer I see this, the less motivation I have to keep spending the time and energy researching all these topics. If I can't motivate people to become more informed, more proactive, more reactive, and more energized to participate in all the various opportunities we have had to effect some change in our fates, then it may be time to retire in peace. I *know* my fate. I *know* how to fight and I will fight, but on my behalf. If 38,000+ people don't care enough to help themselves, why should I care so much? It is a question I find myself asking more and more each day. I'm gonna need a lot of convincing to stay at this.
P.S. Added at 9 p.m. I've learned that there might have been one applicant for the State Employee position but I don't know whether this was Kathleen Beaufait, incumbent in the position, or her and one other person. The fact is that Kathleen was reappointed. The other position, for a public school system retiree, remains open for anyone to apply for. The incumbent in that position chose not to "re-up".
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
So, if you read PERS' letter, do not be misled into thinking that there is only one case with legal bearing on PERS and you, and do not believe that those cases before Multnomah County Circuit Court only address the limited question of whether PERS can collect overpayments from you. There is much more at stake than that. PERS is simply pulling your strings and watching you dance. Not me.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
This latest trick is an injustice to all of those people who don't have regular access to a computer, but also to all those people who can find something easily by using a Table of Contents and an Index - something that appeared in the Member Handbook. The best WE can do is to collect as many documents, as many page impressions, and as much support we have to build the library of documents described above (Livin' in the Future) and below (Power To the People). If you want to thwart PERS' effort to make less information available, please help us in our effort to invert that and make as MUCH information public and accessible as possible. Support the database project. Complain to PERS about discontinuing the Member Handbook. That cold wind you feel is coming from PERS slowly sucking as much available printed information as possible into the electronic bit bucket.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
This library is now open, although the intelligent search functions are not yet ready, and is devoted to our collective belief that "knowledge is power". Information is knowledge in this day and age and we believe in power to the people. Please visit http://oregonpers.info and see for yourself the vast array of documents assembled. Please make sure you send comments, opinions, documents, criticisms, and suggestions to the link at the site. I will have a link on the left for this new site in a day or two. (Puppy calls).