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Sunday, January 11, 2009


For those of you who don't follow Oregon politics closely, here is something to be worried about. Although the Democrats have control of both bodies of the Legislature (House and Senate), and the Governor's Office, the GOP is pushing very hard to make a comeback, and to influence public policy in Oregon. To this end, they elected a public employee's worst nightmare as the head of the Oregon GOP. The winner of this office - Bob Tiernan - is nearly universally regarded by those cognescenti of PERS as the man behind the curtain in much of the PERS reform. No, Tiernan didn't author any of the legislation passed in 2003 (at least not to my knowledge), but he did help author Ballot Measure 8 on the 1994 ballot, that set the stage for an earlier battle over PERS benefits (the "8% guarantee"), and the evolution of Tier 2. He has palled around with Bill Sizemore, another public employee favorite. While I have no idea what the GOP agenda will be in the coming year, I am confident that they will be pushing for smaller government and further reductions in PERS benefits. Tiernan has been floating around on some blogging sites in the past year and seemed to be positioning himself for some sort of comeback. I guess we now know what he had in mind.

If nothing else interests you in the Oregon political scene, this development should keep you on your toes. Tiernan's election as the head of the Oregon GOP is absolutely not good news.


thomas said...

All depends upon how you look on things. I am not a Bob Tiernam fan but I am also not a fan of big government and that is all we have seen with the Democrats. This next budget period we are looking at a state budget increase of ONE Billion Dollars and proposals for millions in New Taxes. Whats wrong with smaller government and lower taxes.

mrfearless47 said...

Well, I do agree with your statement that it all depend on how you look at things. Smaller government means fewer public employees and, in Bob Tiernan's world, far less spent on employee benefits. If you don't much care for public employment or public employee benefits and salary, then smaller government would fit right in with Tiernan's modus operandi. Looking at a budget in isolation is a fool's errand. Population increases, increased fuel costs, and higher human services budgets in a bad economy often drive budget increases. You cannot extract that information from a statement about the actual budget. It requires a close examination of the budget line by line to see where the increases are going.

I don't believe in blindly increasing the budget everytime someone asks, but I've managed in a large agency and I know what it takes just to remain in the same place. Costs go up, even in a down economy. There are few bargains available, unless you happen to be looking for a house and don't need a loan.

I'd want to see the budget in all its detail before passing blanket judgements about it.

thomas said...

I do care for public employment having been on the public payroll for 30 years but I do not believe having realistic budgets and potentially fewer public employees is a bad thing. The State of Oregon never starts with a zero based budget so they continue to build on excess. I can cite hundreds of instances of budget abuses with the State. In a tough economy like we have now we need to take the time to review every budget to insure education dollars go for education, etc and not just say service needs are up and we are short of dollars. I mentioned I was not a Bob Tiernam fan or certainly Tim Knope who led the PERS legislation and then did not run again while applauding the mess he created. But it was our own Governor Kulongoski who played both sides and could have averted many of the problems. I get concerned just because a candidate has an R or is for lower budgets and taxes they are suddenly bad.

mrfearless47 said...

I was relentless in my attempts to get others to vote AGAINST Kulo in the past election primaries, and I think my blog helped explain why Greg Macpherson should *not* be Attorney General. Both were Democrats. I'm not ranting against Tiernan because he's a Republican; it is just that the office to which he was elected happens to be the head of the Oregon GOP. If he had been elected head of the Oregon Dems I would have written the same thing. Tiernan is anti-public employee and anti-PERS. His election is NOT GOOD for public employees. How much clearer can I make it.

I've seen plenty of waste in my 35 years as a public employee. And I've called attention to it WHILE still working. That doesn't make me anti-public employee, anti PERS, or anti-union. Most of the waste is in an excess layer of administration that exists merely to make work for other public employees, not themselves. That's all I'll say on the subject right now.

MollyNCharlie said...

Marc, I've been thinking that these could be the toughest times I have ever seen for public employees, both those still working and those retired. Between the budget challenges we face at all levels of government and rising unemployment it will be hard to keep even some of public employees' hard won benefits. Tiernam's election is yet another indicator that we are facing tough times. Thanks for pointing it out to the few remaining folks trying hard to keep their heads in the sand.


Holly said...

How can you determine what your pay check from Pers will be if you left $ in the variable account? It would be nice to plan somewhat for the coming disappointment. Holly

mrfearless47 said...


I expect that the people in variable will see a negative 48% applied to their variable benefit. It is a huge hit, but that's the risk inherent in the variable account. Peg could probably be more precise since she knows the variable better than I do. I don't have a variable account in retirement.

Rivrdog said...

Tiernan's "ascension" to the chair of the OGOP merely shows how low that political party has sunk. If the best leader they can find is one who couldn't get an honest job as a lawyer, or even a dishonest one, then they are hurtin' for certain.

Tiernan, bankrolled by his father-in-law, had his 15 minutes of fame back in the 90's. His rise to the top of the GOP shows that said party has totally come apart, and is in even worse shape than their small numbers in the Legislature would have you believe.

Jason Atkinson is the darling of the religious right, and his not getting the position can only mean that the religious right is lukewarm (at best) on their own party.

In Oregon, of course, the religious right IS the GOP. If the religious right has thrown in the towel and allowed Tiernan to claim leadership, I don't fear much damage from him. Lots of screaming, insults and the usual vintage Tiernan, but no damage.

MollyNCharlie said...

Hi Holly,

Marc's information left out the 8% (or 5.5% for older retirees) 'guarantee' that will also be subtracted from the variable component in your retirement benefit. According to an article posted on the PERS website Jan 14th the reduction will be 52.69% for retirees participating in the variable after retirement and who retired on or after June 1, 1992. If you retired between January 1, 1977 and May 31, 1992 the reduction will be 49.69%.

I was able to call PERS and find out how many dollars of my monthly benefit come from variable. From there I could calculate the reduction that will show up in my February check. I hope this helps clarify the situation for you, and good luck!