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Friday, June 05, 2009

Is That All There Is?

Then I'll keep on dancing. I spent a near wasted two hours this morning in Judge Kantor's courtroom listening to "arguments" in the White case. I heard overpriced Joe Malkin dismiss every single Coalition claim as fundamentally unsound, unsupported, and basically irrelevant. Bill Gary piled on for the employers. Greg Hartman distilled the case down to the central issue: what does "fiduciary duty" mean in the context of an agency like PERS. It seemed that Judge Kantor agreed with this summary and seemed to be uncomfortable with the concept of having to divine the meaning of ORS 238.601 where we first meet "fiduciary responsibility." Hartman argued that the Judge defer to the case PGE v B.O.L.I. for inspiration, while Judge Kantor seems to think that the Uniform Law of Trusts for Oregon.

In any case, much of the argument seems to have taken place in email back and forths between the Judge and the attorneys. I can honestly say that I learned nothing new from this hearing. I still don't understand why Judge Kantor decided he needed to have all parties in the room at the same time.

In any event, I don't sense any urgency in Judge Kantor. He did promise that he would issue a ruling (when?). He then adjourned and we all (about a half dozen PERS retirees also attended) scattered to the wind, puzzled.

One oddity did surface after the hearing. I learned that the lobbying firm working for OPRI now employs none other than the anti-public employee favorite, David Reinhard. Talk about politics making strange bedfellows.


Rivrdog said...

"I still don't understand why Judge Kantor decided he needed to have all parties in the room at the same time."

Two words, Professor: billable hours

MollyNCharlie said...

Good to see you there, Marc, sorry we didn't get more time to talk. It seemed to me that our attorney and the PERB attorneys were arguing in completely different fields. The only encouraging bit seemed to be that Judge Kantor seemed to think that Greg Hartman was standing in the more appropriate field. And, yes I understand that even if Kantor and Hartman agree on the field (which argument is truly important) it does not mean that Kantor will rule in our favor. Even then, I still find some hope in this.


TruthSeeker said...

No way Reinhart. Amazing. I remember him, Bill Lunch, and some crazy right wing fat lady from Milwaukie or Clackamas on a panel every Friday on OPB. Reinhart was a huge cheer leader for the "legislative reforms" to PERS then being considered in the legislature. He also happily predicted the death of PERS to be replaced by 401K's like everybody else.
What a loser.

mrfearless47 said...

Rivrdog: I fully appreciate the billable hours notion and have already commented elsewhere that this hearing today probably cost US about $10,000 in legal fees, not counting the court time and the time of the various PERS people who were there. I counted 6 attorneys who were in attendance for two hours plus any commuting time. At $750 per hour this works out to about $10K for a two hour wasted meeting. But Kantor doesn't care about enriching the lawyers so why would he be insisting on the meeting. From my vantage point, absolutely nothing was resolved today. Kantor didn't learn anything he didn't know beforehand and no one introduced anything that wasn't already known and public. So why did he really need the hearing that he postponed from last October. And why does the hearing go from 2 days to 1 day to 3 scheduled to slightly less than 2 hours total time. Those of us not in the legal community are curious. I mean, this is all our money being spent one way or the other. So what was accomplished? Zip.

I've decided that Chapter 238 of the ORS is the full employment act for lawyers in Oregon.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't there... I must work for a living still.

Has anybody else noticed that the Legislature has, over the years, morphed the original intent of fiduciary responsibility? Witness the total change in the makeup of the Board from representing the employees to just the employers and the public.

Too bad the question of whether the expectation of fiduciary responsibility as a portion of the PERS contract has NEVER even appeared in any of the pleadings I've read.

Oh well... in 100 years I'll be long dead and past caring anyway.

Anonymous said...

Not that this may not be the ACTUAL answer, of the WHOLE answer as to why Kantor wanted the hearing, but I have known people who continually seek opportunities to garner additional data (although they rarely actually do so) through studies, meetings, reports, and the like in order to AVOID ACTUALLY FACING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AND MAKING A DECISION.