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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Here we are on January 1 in the year of our lord, 2008. We stand at the threshhold of the 40th anniversary of one of the most significant years in American History - 1968. Think about it. Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Johnson's decision not to run for re-election, the Chicago 7 and the Democratic National Convention, the Tet Offensive and the list goes on. It was one of the most difficult years of my life and in many ways formed the person who I am today. Well, enough ruminating. If you enjoy this history, I suggest reading Tom Brokaw's latest book "Boom" for a trip down memory lane. My wife bought it for me at Christmas and I've been dashing through it since. It is an amazing way to turn the spigot of time backwards - not always pleasant, but astonishing in retrospect.

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.


mrfearless47 said...

I don't mean to imply in my post that the talent lost prior to 2003 wasn't a waste. I suspect that the moment PERS started discussing the changes to the actuarial tables, in early 2000, a fair number of public employees began to sense change afoot. The City of Eugene litigation also made lots of people nervous. But my point remains that in terms of sheer numbers of retirees, nothing touches 2003 and most of 2004. But I'm perfectly willing to include the talent lost between about 4/1/2000 (right after the contested 1999 earnings were posted) and late 2004 constituted the largest aggregate wave of lost institutional memory in history. Again, thank you Judge Lipscomb, thank you Legislature, thank you old PERS Board, new PERS Board (you malicious bastards), and our previous and current Governor.

BHerbert said...

I don't understand why these cases take as long to go through the courts as they do. I can see an issue taking a year, maybe two if it has to go all the way to the Oregon Supreme Court. But for the life of me I can't fathom why these things should take so long.

"Justice delayed is justice denied," as the old saying goes. I've seen the Oregon courts move much faster when they've had to. Given the amount of money and the number of people involved, it seems that those in charge of setting the courts' calendars are being derelict in their duties.

mrfearless47 said...

The sword cuts both ways, I suppose. The court isn't pushing the envelope for speed, but our lawyers aren't pressing very hard for decisions. I suspect that the lack of pressure accounts for the lack of speed. I wish it weren't true, but I don't have any other explanation.


I must have missed or can't find your post that you said was titled "Last of the True Believers".
Give me a break! The post regarding “the wipe-out of PERS institutional memory” has so many untruths. Where do you get your facts? Long-time former PERS Deputy Director David Bailey was fired from PERS because he had no ambition and a bad attitude. Bailey was dead weight and refused acknowledge or address necessary change. Craig Stroud was a short-term 1-year PERS administrator who left to work for the City of Portland. Steve Delaney worked for PERS in many non-descript postions. He was nice and courteous although his strong point WAS congeniality, NOT brains. Delaney left to get some management experience so he can come back to Oregon as the next PERS Director. (good luck California) Short-term Director Jim Voytko, now the president of R.V Kuhns, a consulting group in Portland that provides strategic investment consulting services to institutional investors, NOT a company that caters to former PERS members investments. Coming to Oregon from back East, Voytko was only interested in the investment division of the Oregon Treasury who manage PERS money. Voytko merely used PERS as a stepping stone, to get where he wanted to live, at the taxpayers expense. Oregon taxpayers spend LOTS of money on Voytko’s housing expenses and spendy move to Oregon. (Ultra-smart man, Voytko) Marsha Bacon, was a 2-3 year PERS employee and then worked very briefly for Voytko / R.V. Kuhns before her permanent retirement. Where are these dozens of PERS former customer services and second tier analysts that you mentioned are now working in the private sector? Oh yeh? Bull. Just exactly Where they are working? Bad Mark, bad.

mrfearless47 said...


You are right on top of the news aren't you. Commenting on a a blog entry from almost 5 months ago. Well, c'est la vie. You have your opinion about the intellectual firepower of PERS; I have mine. I never said Voytko was working for "former PERS members" and I don't know how you could have inferred that from what I wrote. I *know* where Votyko works and what he does. I won't argue with you about David Bailey, but the others you'd get an argument with me on. As for the other staffers, if I had wanted to name names, I would have done so, but many of these people would just as soon be left alone and forget their time at PERS. Others provided me with useful information for my blog before they left PERS' employ. Many still do via inside sources. Others went to work for other state agencies.

We obviously have a difference of opinion about the intellectual acumen of the PERS officials who left, with the exception of Jim Voytko.

So what is your real point?


Sorry, didn't know there was a time limit on comments on an old post.
The intellectual acumen of PERS officials is not in question. Your facts are sometimes wrong. A one time post said that Reep, Elledge, and Bailey retired; that Crosley was close to retirement age, Rodeman is staying until “he’s picked off” and that Stroud had moved to DAS. All incorrect. Where does this come from?

It appears that your idea of "long-term" employees have actually been at PERS 1-2 or possibly 3 years. How can such short-term employees considered to have PERS history?

PERS Board is the best ever and PERS staff serve members to the best of their ability, as allowed by legislative guidelines.

I'd like to read some positive or helpful information from a reliable source.

mrfearless47 said...

The news of Elledge, Bailey, and Reep all came from internal PERS memos to staff that had been forwarded to me. Further information about Elledge and Bailey (working outside the system) came from former insiders working elsewhere. I've never had any additional news about Reep. As for Stroud, he was a short-term "loan" from DAS. His time was up and he went back to DAS. I haven't followed his career since he left PERS. My information about Voytko came directly from Voytko.

As for presenting "good news" about PERS, they have the media working for them and the employers. All we've got is this blog and OPDG and the unions. Guess who wins each time. I'm too busy correcting the errors of PERS' way to be bothered looking for the occasional nuggest of good news from there (did they sponsor a feel good contest or something and help buy a habitat for humanity house? If so, I missed it.) The PERB isn't a nice bunch of people; they don't represent workers; and they can all go to hell as far as I'm concerned (Tom Grimsley excepted).