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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

Those comics over at OPRI have made me laugh again. You know, the Oregon PERS Retirees Association. The group that begged us for money to fund the Sartain case to which many of us donated legal fees. Their legal defense fund, the OPLDF, received a fat check from PERS to settle up the PERS litigation. OPRI promised it would refund donations to the extent they were reimbursed. We now know that they were reimbursed at about 72 cents on the dollar and so they are offering refunds to donors at the rate of 72 cents on the dollar less a one dollar service charge. Fair enough. But the things that makes this whole thing distasteful are (a) I have to tell OPRI that I want a refund; otherwise they'll just keep my money and (b) I have to prove my donations to get a refund. Both of these are aggravating. Why should I have to tell OPRI I want a refund? Why can't they ask me if I want one? Second, why do I have to dig through *my* records, now some 3 to 5 years later, to prove how much I donated. Why can't OPRI dig through their records - they have to keep them by law? OPRI would be far more likely to win friends if they took the initiative here rather than expecting me to do their heavy lifting. Of course, it's my money and I want it back. You can be damn straight that I'll find the records. But I shouldn't have to be doing this. OPRI could make my workload a bit lighter. After all, that's what databases are for. There are some weird fishes down there in Salem (sorry to my Salem-resident friends. Not you, it's the folks who live at PO Box 12945, Salem, OR 97309).

5 comments:

Lance said...

Hi Marc,
I have detected a certain disdainfulnees in your attitude toward OPRI. I donate $25.00 per month to the OPRI legal defense fund to support ongoing litigation against PERS Board. Am I stuffing my money down the proverbial "rat Hole".

Lance

mrfearless47 said...

Lance:

My "disdain" is over the process, not the result. I donated quite a bit of money to OPRI during the Sartain litigation and I think we got good value for our money. But I also did it with the expectation that I was "loaning" OPRI money with no expectation of interest or even getting it all back if we won. I didn't expect to have to APPLY for my own money and PROVE I donated it. That's what grates on my nerves. They have all the records and they could easily tell me how much I donated and ask me if I wanted them to keep it. As it is, they may be hoping that we will leave our money with them instead of going to the effort of getting it back. For me, it is going to have the opposite effect. Had they asked me, I might have left "some" money with them and gotten a smaller amount back.

As for your question, I don't know what to advise you. Does OPRI use your donations wisely? I dunno. Were it not for a few loudmouths like Martha (now deceased), I'm not so sure they would be involved in the current litigation. I've yet to see any clear grasp of the issues of Window retirees and later. The only alternative for your money is AFSCME's retirement chapter. That's also a risk because AFSCME's main constituency is not retirees. OPRI still remains the only group wholly representative of PERS retirees. Whether they will ever fully grasp what we're going through remains an open question. I've advocated for a wholesale change in the Board, and revision of their bylaws. That hasn't happened. Their bylaws make it difficult to find qualified applicants. We've got lots of qualified people to fill Board positions. It just happens that their qualifications don't match the OPRI guidelines. I'm a life member of OPRI and so I feel I have a bit of right to criticize them now and again.

So, you'll have to decide for yourself whether your money is being well-spent. OPRI certainly leaves much to be desired, but they still remain the only game in town.

Paulette said...

I too have given some money to OPRI. I feel I already "spent" the money and got reasonable value for what I spent. I am glad that OPRI was able to get things started. Had they not started or encouraged litigation and got others involved and provided some initial seed money, we might not have gotten as far as we have.

I am willing to leave my money in the legal fund and let OPRI decide how it can best be used in the future to support other or ongoing legal challenges.

I know that many have had issues with the effectiveness of OPRI in the past several years. But my understanding is that there is turnover on the board. Maybe, that will bring some new leadership. Hopefully, new blood will bring some beneficial change. There has also been a recognition that, to create a whole new organization to replace OPRI is burndensome and is unlikely to occurr. I think it might be more effective to continue to work for constructive change in the board and the bylaws.

No windowite has filed for a contested case hearing that I know of. Perhaps OPRI could use some of the funds to sponsor one filing. I realize not eveyone's case is the same and that one case would not be a "class action". But it might give all of us some information about how contested cases are handled and the degree of preparation required. Just an idea for use of some of the funds.

Rollie

mrfearless47 said...

Rollie:

I don't disagree with you. I only wish OPRI would have asked me whether I wanted them to keep the donations rather than me having to opt-in to get the donation back. I have general problems with any approach that requires I take affirmative action to get something. The default should always be that I get it unless I specifically say, "OK, you can keep the money". OPRI's approach, in my opinion, is a trifle dishonest. I shouldn't have to do their bookkeeping for them. Again, they have the records. I wouldn't cost them $25 to notify all the specific contributors of how much they donated and ask whether they can keep some, all, or none of the money. I'm objecting to having to dig out my records or else involuntarily let OPRI keep it. It is a principle, not a beef with OPRI specifically.

mrfearless47 said...

I'm told that there is a reason for OPRI's insistence on opting-in to the refund of funds. While I accept the general explanation of documenting current addresses, which OPRI may not have, it seems to me that OPRI has solid records on the amounts *most* people donated. Why make everyone do the work needed from a few people. If those of us who donated with solid documentation want our money refunded, why can't a simple request be sufficient? Why do I have to go through storage containers, an off-site storage facility, and 3 years worth of tax records to find records of the donations. Moreover, since the bank doesn't return checks, I will have to pay a retrieval fee to document something that OPRI already has a record of.

So, I'll give OPRI credit for offering an explanation; I'm just not satisfied with the explanation. They still could make this easier. If they are hoping some of us will give up and leave the money on deposit, it isn't going to happen this way.