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Wednesday, May 21, 2008
All Along the Watchtower
Another rumor that has been running around in various forms for about a month now is beginning to gain some traction as I hear it from more and more disconnected sources. This rumor has Judge Kantor effectively delaying issuing his rulings in the Arken and Robinson cases until after he's at least heard the White Case, also scheduled with Judge Kantor for August 4-5, 2008. While this remains in the rumor state, the sources are becoming more and more credible with each repeating. The central element of all three cases is the "settlement agreement" between PERS and the employers. This agreement, signed in early 2004, preceded the Court's Strunk opinion, and effectively applied a "nuclear option" to permit PERS to more-or-less ignore whatever the Supreme Court ruled. And PERS has indeed pretty much ignored the Supreme Court. Arken gets to the question of the COLA freeze on which the Strunk ruled on 3/8/05, while Robinson gets to the section 14b "exclusively remedy" for the Lipscomb (City of Eugene Case) mooted by the Supreme Court in late 2005 and vacated in 2006. The key to all these cases is the "settlement", which the White Case attacks directly. Current thinking is that all roads lead through White and that it would be best to have all three cases end up before the Supreme Court simultaneously. If Kantor delays his Arken/Robinson ruling until after he's ready to issue a ruling in White, he may be able to take care of all three cases together. My own opinion is that if he rules in favor of the PERS Coalition in White, Arken is moot, and the issue settled law; Robinson is somewhat of an anomaly; nevertheless its effect is directly tied to the settlement agreement and it is my non-legal intepretation that a favorable ruling in White, puts Robinson back in play and the defendants on the hook to explain why they didn't apply the legislature's prescribed remedy to deal with the issues arising for retirees as a result of the legislation. I don't envy the wait for anyone, but these cases are moving into their 5 year; I can't get worked up by the possibility of another few month delay.
What do you think of these rumors? True? False? Implausible? Why? Why not?