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Sunday, June 29, 2008
It would be nice to get something more than we're getting right now, but consider this just another letter home from those folks who run the garden of stone.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
The good news is that he is off the court in about one week. He will become a PERS retiree and then will go out and draw a private sector salary and will do a variety of other things to enrich his retirement life. I recently returned from a week in Sunriver. While there, I read about a complex lawsuit involving the Sunriver Home Owners Association (SROA) and a developer who wants to redo the Sunriver Mall provided the SROA gives him permission to build about 400 condominiums above all the retail stores in the Mall. This has reached a critical stage and Judge Lipscomb has come to the rescue as a mediator. I don't think the SROA has a chance in this. With friends like Judge Lipscomb, neither SROA nor PERS members/retirees need any enemies.
If you wish to leave Judge Lipscomb your best wishes in his retirement, please feel free to leave your comments here. I'll make sure they are forwarded his way.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
If you are even slightly interested, you can find the article here.
Remember that PERS has claimed all along that I (you too) was never entitled to the benefit paid me when I retired. This is because, as they claim, the 1999 earnings were not final when I retired. Thus, I was (and have been) recalculated to a new base benefit on the effective date of my retirement and all COLA adjustments applied to the revised base benefit. So, let me pose a rhetorical question. If PERS believed that my base benefit was calculated wrongly and that I was not entitled to that base benefit, and that PERS was entitled to recompute my base benefit to reflect an 11.33% credit for 1999 instead of 20%, just why do they have the right to use the WRONG (in their opinion), illegal, incorrect benefit as the base for computing (a) my July 1, 2004 COLA and (b) my share of attorney fees. PERS claims "In accordance with the Court's decision [in Strunk], PERS calculated the COLA amounts each recipient would have received July 1, 2004." Wait, wait, wait, wait. How can PERS do this? How can PERS speak out of both sides of its mouth at the same time. How can PERS claim it is following the Strunk court's order, when they spent the whole of the Arken case INTERPRETING the Strunk Court's order in a completely different way? Maybe I'm stupid, or maybe a little naive, but I'm not dumb. PERS cannot have it both ways. It cannot claim my COLA amount is one thing based on a benefit they claim I'm not entitled to, and then turn around and claim the benefit I'm not entitled to is the basis of their computing an amount I owe them to pay for their f**kup. I don't get it. Perhaps someone smarter than I am can explain this to me. Perhaps Greg Hartman, or Judge DeMuniz, or Judge Kantor, or Paul Cleary. How is it legally possible to remain on both sides of the street at the same time?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
In the meantime, another PERS-related case is scheduled for its first hearing in the Marion County Circuit Court. This is the case captioned "Kay Bell" in the Hartman archives. This lawsuit tests the proposition that PERS should be held accountable for its information as employees relied on PERS' representations to make retirement decisions. The case is scheduled for July 15th. While it would be nice to get a definitive ruling on this, it seems to me that both the Strunk hearings and the Arken hearings touched on this issue. Each time it gets brought up, some judge or Justices swat it down. I'd like to think that Kay Bell will get a fairer view, but I'm not encouraged by the previous rulings. What those rulings say to me is that if you depend on PERS, you do so at your own peril. PERS can lie to you either explicitly (Notice of Entitlement) or implicitly (by failing to tell you some crucial piece of information, such as that the earnings for one critical year in your retirement account may not be the same as what you've been led to believe). This has always seemed to me to be the Achilles heel of the PERS system, and the courts haven't been very sympathetic to retirees on this one. We exchange our jobs for a promised retirement benefit. Our jobs are filled and no longer available even if we wanted them back. Then PERS gets to turn around and say, "whoopsie. We boo booed and you get to suffer the consequences." This has never struck me as fair. The analogy is always drawn to a bank error, but the difference to me is that banks don't wait four or five years or more to tell you and then go to great lengths to recover the money. There, at least, ought to be some statute of limitations at play here. Six years is way too long in a retirement setting. The banks usually find the error in a matter of days, if not weeks. I know of no example where a bank has come back on an error years after it occurs.
What do you think about this? Fair or unfair?
Friday, June 06, 2008
Nothing else new to report. The week's still been weird and it is probably time for it to end. Maybe with some sunshine and not rain. As an Oregonian for 38 years now, I have to confess to being really, really, really tired of the rain this year. My backyard is a giant mud pit, which the Lab loves, but our yardcare person is growing to loathe. Big, deep footprints and lawnmower treads dig in everywhere in the back. I can see the repaired drainage plan coming soon.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
So, where were you on June 5, 1968? What do you remember about that time? I remember plenty, and there are many times I'd rather forget.
In other news, the PERS Oregon Discussion group now has crested the 200 member number. Remember, we're trying for 250 members by June 13th (Friday the 13th). If you haven't joined, and are interested in following more real-time discussion of PERS news, you can click the Yahoo! button on the left side of this blog. Joining is easy and free.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
The USA Today photographer stopped to shoot off 40 or 50 shots of yours truly. God knows which of the pictures and which of the quotes will show up in the article. The photographer was a very amiable young man whose day job is with the Salem Statesman Journal, but who does contract work with other papers. We talked cameras and lenses; he and I share the same passion for Canon products. I don't know when this PERS article and photographs will appear, but I promise to let you know when I do. I suspect this will be a more focused article about Oregon PERS than I originally thought. The reporter told me that he had talked to Paul Cleary and to Randall Edwards, State Treasurer, earlier. Today I found out that he also interviewed Randall Pozdena, former head of the Oregon Investment Council, who was concerned about the PERS funding situation back in 1999. This suggests an article that is more focused on PERS, or that covers the various "success" stories in public employee pensions than I originally suspected. Of course, one man's success usually means another's failure or loss. Voila, our loss! Liars all of them.
The dog got her stitches out yesterday and can run free again. That was a two-week ordeal that left us about $1000 poorer. Yellow labs are high maintenance. At least she's loveable and fun. All her injuries are self-inflicted and result from an unquenchable curiosity and uncontained enthusiasm. Not to mention, her ability to reduce anything breakable into microscopic particles in mere seconds.
I took a nasty spill on Sunday and have hematomas (doctor-speak for nasty bruises) on my arm and elbow, coupled with the most incredibly nasty and triangular bruise on my tailbone. It is practically the shape of my tailbone, which shockingly enough, is more-or-less triangular in shape. I'm OK, but my dignity is diminished, my personal trainer laughed at me, and I discovered that the pain medication I take for my hip and knee won't touch the pain from this kind of trauma. I think the pharmacy and I have finally reached some truce about refills about the pain medication. I was having to call them in 4 weeks in advance just to insure that I got them on time. I got pissed and started on a rampage through pharmacy supervisors, membership services, and anyone else in a position of power. What rattled me was that I could see electronically that my doctor had approved the refills weeks before the pharmacy filled them and none of us could figure out why it was taking so long. We still don't know, but the chief cook and bottle washer of pharmacy services assures me that things are now straightened out. I'll believe it when I see it, but for now, it provided a way to relieve some of the anger built up over Judge Kantor's decision late last week (or was it the week before?).
My daughter's belated birthday present was a set of concert tickets to a concert held last night at the Rose Garden. As promised, I escorted my daughter and her friend to the concert, dropped them off, and then went off to my PSU office to hang out until the concert was over. Around 11 pm, I booked over to the Rose Garden, parked the car illegally and waited, and waited, and waited. While waiting, I listened to the BBC news. Interesting to hear about US politics from a British perspective. In any case, about 11:45 I spot my daughter and her friend coming towards me and I go to start the car. Uh oh. No start. I just then discovered the peril of parking a car for a week at a time before getting it out to drive. Dead battery. Not enough driving time to charge the OEM battery on a 4 year old car. So, I called AAA. At midnight. The battery guy showed up at 1:15 a.m. He jump started my car, tested the battery, assured me the battery itself was OK, and so I drove it home to Lake Oswego. I finally got to sleep about 2:30 this morning. Fortunately, the car started fine this morning. I think it is getting time to think about replacing that battery. Don't think I can be inconvenienced at that time of night again in someplace like the Rose Quarter.
So you tell me. Is it just my imagination, or has my week been more bizarre than normal?
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
He's interviewing State Treasurer Randal Edwards today. Tomorrow, one of his Portland-based photographers will come by at 9:30 a.m. to take a picture of me. How so very exciting. I get 15 minutes more of fame, and a picture to boot. I have no idea when the story will come out. I'm sure that Google News will carry it when it does. All-in-all, not a bad start to a semi-interesting week.
Monday, June 02, 2008
I will report back here if the phone call comes in. I'm not holding my breath, but I was pleasantly surprised that someone gave him my name. Or maybe he just knows how to use Google effectively and found my name showing up with frequent criticisms of Oregon PERS. We'll see.