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. Thank you.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
With that explanation behind us, I can state confidently that PERS is NOT collecting or even documenting the actuarial reduction amount based on the "overpayment". They have been enjoined from doing that by Judge Kantor in the Arken/Robinson cases. The repayment amount has NO bearing on the amount of reductions Police and Fire members have been seeing on their recent invoices. The reduction of benefits being reported is ONLY the benefit reduction resulting from PERS continuing to adjust benefits (and account balances) to reflect the 11.33% crediting for 1999. Unfortunately, some Police and Fire members just happen to be in a situation where they were nowhere near the "cross over point" and were still being overpaid their benefits.
Apropos of those adjustments to benefits, PERS believes -- and so stated to Judge Kantor during the Status Conference on August 16, 2007 -- that Judge Kantor's injunction did not apply to those adjustments. Judge Kantor, in his (slightly incredulous) reply, let PERS attorneys know in no uncertain terms that he would clarify his final order so that PERS would know and understand exactly what he meant in his injunction. We are still waiting for Judge Kantor to issue that and, hopefully, stop PERS dead in its tracks and force them to reverse any adverse actions taken so far. Moreover, we hope that he will require PERS to follow the Supreme Court's ruling in the Strunk case that would restore COLA to the "fixed benefit" (the one you were receiving before you were invoiced). The Supreme Court was, in my opinion, quite clear on that order, but PERS disagrees and refuses to implement that. The Arken case raises that very issue and Judge Kantor is going to have to confront the Supreme Court's ruling directly in his final order. Whether PERS finds a way to parse the order to its advantage remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however. PERS will appeal Judge Kantor's ruling. So hold on to your hats, glasses, pens, computers, and iPods. It's gonna be a bumpy ride for the next couple of years.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
As soon as I get copies of the ARM tables for P & F members, I will begin to adjust my program so that P & F members can get a closer estimate of their adjusted benefits than they can now. Hopefully, Judge Kantor's injunction will hold upon review. At least this way the payback amount won't play into P & F benefits (or any one else's for that matter) until Arken and Robinson run their course through the courts.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This sorry story is another sad example of how bad PERS has become. The suspicions have been there for a very long time. Bad customer service, lack of notification, unexpected unpleasant and costly surprises await many retirees or near-retirees around every corner. And PERS has the gall to put out customer service surveys. Why bother? The more things change, the worse it gets. And the truly sad thing is that members and retirees effectively pay for all this non-service. No wonder that PERS is truly one of the most hated agencies right now. And I can't say that I blame anyone for the antipathy. Cases like Linda's make one want to become Howard Beale screaming "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take this anymore".
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I cannot stress too strongly how important these two positions are. If it were to happen that "window retirees" or later were to be appointed to these two positions, recent retirees would control the OPRI Board. At that point it would be possible to get rid of some archaic by laws and implement some changes that would result in OPRI becoming more relevant to us "young folks". Right now, OPRI doesn't really represent our interests very well. It was once a feared organization with a reputation for getting retirees what they needed. Now, they're mostly ignored. It is time to restore the fear; it is time for OPRI to become relevant and to represent a whole new generation of retirees whose needs and interests differ in critical ways from the original founders of the organization. It is fine to honor our predecessors, but the time has come when we must cut the cords that bind the organization to outdated rules and attitudes.
Please, please, please. If you come from one of the relevant organizations and have a sincere desire to make OPRI relevant and feared, as it once was, please consider placing your name in nomination for one of the two vacancies. It is important now more than ever.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
So, I write all this in an email to Representative Macpherson. I explain that I can't support his candidacy for Oregon Attorney General and that I plan to work personally and through my blog to support his opponent (not then announced), John Kroger - a Lewis and Clark criminal law professor and former Federal Prosecutor. Macpherson writes me this "personal" response that more or less says: look, you don't understand how complicated this is. We (the legislature) tried to write legislation that wouldn't go back into retirees' accounts (true enough as far as it goes), but we didn't expect all this litigation.
HELLO!!!!!!! You want to be Attorney General? You want to give advice to the Legislature about the legality of proposed legislation and you can't even read a simple and straightforward letter. You can't grasp what I'm saying. I am blaming the original legislation for this entire mess, and you're telling me that your heart was in the right place. Bullshit!! You don't want to accept responsibility for failing to take proper legal advice. You don't want to accept the blame for the current fiasco. You can't think of any way to bring all this to a close in a way that will remove most of the basis for litigation.
Welcome John Kroger. I'll be posting more about him in a future post. In the maintain, let's watch Representative Macpherson try to plan his great escape from both the Legislature and the AG's office as PERS retirees and members thoroughly thrash his chances to succeed the quiet, soft-spoken, but incredibly prescient Hardy Myers. Greg, you aren't any Hardy. You aren't even Ed Meese. You're arrogant and you deserve to go. Bye, bye, bye.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
September 1 brought a new surprise from PERS - a completely unexpected, unexplained, and peculiar increase in net benefits for many retirees. So far, the only explanation PERS has offered is that during the year from January through August, they were overwithholding State Income tax for retirees. Somehow they found this mistake and in the September 1 check nearly everyone's net amount increase by one of four amounts (rounded here for convenience) - $11, $22, $14, or $28 (about 200 tracking points now). I have had only one example each of the first two numbers and only have a theory about why they exist. Since I have too few data points to confirm, I'll wait to see IF PERS offers up any other explanation for these odd amounts. The other two amounts - $14 and $28 - consistently and without fail have gone to either people claiming SINGLE ($14) or MARRIED ($28). No other variable (such as number of exemptions or deductions claimed on the Federal W-4) seems to matter. Now it happens that Oregon's per exemption rate for 2007 is $165 annually. Broken up into monthly chunks it turns out that $14 (rounded down) is the per exemption per month rate (Single = 1 Automatic Exemption; Married = 2 Automatic Exemptions). That would explain the $14 and $28 increases. However, currently unexplained are the first two numbers I've seen. If you have any other amount besides this one, please let me know. I'm dying to find out what is really going on here. To determine what your increase is take your August 1, 2007 take home and subtract it from your September 1, 2007 take home benefit. That's your net increase in benefits.
To dispel an opt-repeated canard, this is NOT a benefit increase associated with the COLA or any other piece of litigation. This is simply a computer programming error that PERS just discovered. There are plenty of conspiracy theories floating around about the timing of all this, but I'd just prefer to wait to see what PERS does to explain these changes more fully.
Note added 9/5: There are NO retirees reporting an $11 increase. That retiree recalculated take home and discovered a math error. That one is also single and $14. That leaves but one example that is an outlier - the $22 report. I suspect that, too, is an error. In all likelihood, that change is actually $28 and the person is married.