Begins on Friday June 5 at 9:00 a.m. in the Multnomah County Courthouse. Judge Henry (the slow) Kantor will be holding taking oral arguments (or something like that) in the case captioned "White." This case has been hanging around since mid 2004 and is the last remaining case in a long string of cases emanating from the City of Eugene litigation. White challenges the legal authority of the PERS Board to enter into a "settlement" of the City of Eugene case without notifying, involving, or engaging the PERS Coalition, which was a party in the City of Eugene litigation.
White argues that the PERS Board ignored their fiduciary responsibility to PERS members and retirees by entering into an agreement to settle the City of Eugene case on terms unfavorable to members and retirees. In particular, the Board agreed to the revised mechanism for calculating the employer variable match for Tier 1 retirees, it agreed to the recovery mechanisms that became known as the Strunk/Eugene method, and it agreed to a variety of other measures that were designed to thwart any ruling against the Legislature and PERS in the not-yet-decided Strunk et al cases stemming from the 2003 Legislative reform.
Judge Kantor has resisted any efforts to move this case along, deciding instead to rule on Arken and Robinson before deciding White. The former two cases are now before the Oregon Court of Appeals. White has the potential to undermine both the rulings in Arken and Robinson, especially in the unlikely even that Judge Kantor rules in favor of the White plaintiffs.
While I am not encouraged by Judge Kantor's speed in deciding any case, I am hopeful that we will finally see some movement in White at week's end. There is no way that any decision will be rendered in Court on Friday, but we should be able to judge from the questions and answers whether Kantor is in any way disposed towards the White group. It is yet another chance for us to see the PERS Coalition attorneys, led by Greg Hartman, go up against a very overpaid (by us) California "wideboy", and probably another highly overpaid Stoel, Rives local "wideboy."
I strongly recommend that retirees and actives in the Portland and Salem area plan to be here to see the carnival up close and personal. There is nothing quite like seeing the actors all playing their roles on the stage rather than waiting for someone else to summarize the play through an admittedly biased lens.
The activities begin at 9 a.m. in Room 560 (Kantor's Courtroom) at the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early as security in the Courthouse resembles airport security stations. There are a variety of parking options on Fourth Avenue (the Courthouse entrance side) including Smart Parks where you ought to be able to park for under $5 for a half day. You can also take public transportation into downtown Portland and be less than two blocks from the Courthouse. Please try to make it. The more actual members and retirees present, the harder it is for the Judge to claim disinterest or to suggest that there is no impact on retirees or actives. When you show interest by attending, you send a very powerful message. Let's do that.