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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pull My Strings

The notice PERS sends out with its recalculation letter contains some fascinating revisionist legal obfuscation. My favorite sentence in the whole letter reads: "At this time, there is a lawsuit pending in Multnomah County Circuit Court addressing the issue of whether PERS can collect this overpayment amount from you." This is the most blatant bit of blarney I've read in a very long time. How wrong is this sentence? Let me count the ways. First, there is not one lawsuit pending, but three (Arken, Robinson, and White). Both Arken and Robinson address questions related to whether PERS can collect the overpayment. White addresses the question of whether the PERS Board breached its fiduciary duty to members and retirees by entering into the so-called settlement agreement with employers. Second, not only is the issue of collecting overpayments at issue, there is also the question of whether PERS can reduce your benefit, particularly if you are a window retiree (Arken). Finally, there is the whole question of whether the Legislature even intended for retirees to be dunned if the City of Eugene case (now both mooted and vacated) was ruled in favor of the employers. There is this section of the 2003 legislation that deals with how PERS is supposed to treat retirees in the event the Lipscomb decision were upheld. The Robinson litigation argues that PERS has no right to collect from retirees using section 238.715; instead, they must use either a COLA freeze (ruled a breach of contract by the Supreme Court), or charge the expenses off to administrative costs from future earnings. Judge Kantor has already ruled that PERS is bound by section 14b of the 2003 legislation.

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.

1 comment:

Richard said...