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Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
I could maunder on all day about the distant past, but my post today is really a followup on a post a few weeks back entitled "Last of the True Believers". In that, I reported that Steve Delaney, who had been Associate Director of PERS, was leaving to become the Director of Orange County's Public Employee Retirement System. As we crossed over into the New Year I began to think about all of the past PERS luminaries who've left since the reform legislation, and the unfortunates left to carry out the task of being waterboys (and girls) for the current group of Gubernatorial lackeys (the PERS Board). I won't name all names, in part because I've lost track and in part because I don't want to reveal my own ignorance. But, it appears that the list of departures not only left a gigantic hole in the PERS institutional memory, it wiped out a gigantic swatch of intellectual firepower. We have David Bailey, who had been the Associate Director from the late 1990's to 2003, who is now the Director of the PERS System in San Mateo County (San Francisco and environs), Craig Stroud, who went back to his position with DAS, Steve Delaney who is the new Director in Orange County, Jim Voytko, who is now the president of a consulting group in Portland that helps Public Employee retirement systems in, at last count, 20 different states and hundreds of municipalities, and Marsha Bacon, former director of customer service at PERS, who was, at last sighting, working with Jim Voytko at his current employer. In addition, dozens of former customer services and second tier analysts have left PERS for other positions, or have retired and taken positions in the private sector.
So, I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate the Legislature and the Governor, and Greg Macpherson, for achieving a number of things. First, they managed to drive out the largest wave of talent in the public sector at any time in history between early 2003 and the end of 2004. While all the agencies and districts have limped on, anyone visiting a public agency today will see the consequence of this exodus. Way to go Leg and Gov. Second, they managed to piss off the largest wave of retirees in Oregon history. And the anger is only building as the courts continue to drag their feet and PERS, in its current incarnation, continues its reckless and willful disregard of the law. They say that the lord works in mysterious ways. I suspect that the mystery will be cleared up during 2008 as a large number of incumbents in the legislature get their walking papers. I also suspect that their will be a very unpleasant backlash if the PERS Coalition wins at the Circuit Court level and the PERB continues to press for "summary judgement." Retirees aren't going to take all of this quietly, kindly, or lying down. This one certainly won't. And finally, the Legislature and Governor managed to drive away the largest collection of talent and experience INSIDE PERS itself, leaving the only the hardened, the inexperienced, the talentless, and the immobile group that today acts so maliciously and ruthlessly towards retirees. One often wonders whether this group behaves the way it does because they *can't* retire and are stuck in deadend jobs, or whether they are too stupid to realize the damage they're doing. I guess time will tell.
Where have all the flowers gone? Laughing all the way to the bank. Welcome to 2008 - a year of hope, of opportunity, and most of all, of justice.