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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Might Die Trying

The Whoregonian's piece on Sunday about PERS managed to antagonize quite a few people - some good, some bad. My personal internets are buzzing with various shards of information about how we might see a variety of groups try to take on the local rag with a concerted information campaign to show how wrong-headed the Oregonian is. While they just "report" the news, they do far more than report. Every article is an editorial, whether they agree or not with that assertion. The headlines are editorials and much of the article's structure may be put together in such a way to lead a reader to the ineluctable conclusion that PERS is a failed enterprise that must go, or be significantly changed. Needless to say, everytime the Oregonian takes a strong stand on PERS, the Legislature inevitably gets into the action. This is why I predict -- this doesn't take a seer or genius to do -- that PERS reform will, yet again, be part of the 2011 Legislature.

In any case, the word I'm hearing is that the unions, the various other organizations that represent PERS members and retirees, PERS itself, might be moving towards a more concerted effort to counter the Oregonian's campaign of dis- and mis-information. I have no idea how, when, or if this will all come together, but if it does, expect it soon because the Oregon's effect is NOW. Unfortunately, the damage is already done, and I hope that efforts to change public opinion don't cause people to die trying. The general populace isn't very smart when it comes to PERS, and the Oregonian dumbs it down so that it is understandable. Unfortunately, that understanding comes at the price of substantial accuracy and versimilitude.

It does my heart good to read that the Oregonian's subscriber base has fallen to its lowest level since before it merged with the Oregon Journal. May this bastion of SI Newhouse finally bite the dust, or be turned over to some people who know not to bite the hands that feed them.

In the meantime, good luck to all those who may be trying to set the record straight. I give you props for trying, but I have low expectations of your chances to succeed in the court of public opinion.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Hate Yer Ugly Face

Strong words, but that's how I feel about the Sunday Whoregonian setting out on its agenda to derail PERS again. I can only hope that PERS offers some sort of rebuttal to this slash and burn job by our local bird shit cage liner. The paper has the local loonies enraged and they are frothing at the mouth over at Oregonlive.com, where you can get angrier and angrier as these Lars, Rush, Bill O', and Sarah Palin wannabes ply the bit bucket with small are large piles of bit shit to be dumped on all the lazy, overpaid public employees. I wish I could encourage you to engage these morons, but I have found that doing so only enrages them more. It is all heat, fire, but neither warmth nor light.

Make sure your fight is done with facts; just remember that facts are boring to people who don't want to bother with them. The anti-PERS rhetoric is brought to you largely by people for whom numbers are alien concepts brought to us by illegal immigrants.

The article I'm referring to lies on the front page (above the fold) in Sunday October 25, 2009 Oregonian. Read it, but for heavens sake do not buy this paper. The fewer people who buy the paper, the sooner its extinction will come. The only favor we can do ourselves is to hasten its demise, before they hasten ours.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Got The News

This is only the second or third post that doesn't really involve PERS, except tangentially. It really doesn't involve anything except to let people know I'm still alive and writing. I receive a daily investment update and today's update seems to be related almost entirely to public employment retirement systems. I'll just share the headlines: "MacFarlane quits as CalPERS real estate manager"; "New York State delays $1 billion pension contribution"; "North Carolina puts placement agent rules in place"; "Oregon treasurer undergoes treatment for cancer".

I find all this news on the same day a bit creepy. Ben Westlund's recurrence of lung cancer is worrisome. He heads the Treasury and the OIC. I don't know the internal structure of Treasury well and I don't know how things could play out if Westlund is unable to return to work. I'd hate to give our lamebrain Governor the right to choose Westlund's replacement; god knows what we'd get. Just the though scares me.

Fortunately it is neither Friday the 13th nor Hallowe'en, so perhaps these aren't omens of the future. They seem too close together for comfort.

Back to my cave.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Farewell My Lovelies

PERS, like other state agencies, is planning furlough days for its employees over the next two years. Just to keep everyone up to date, please be advised that the PERS offices in Salem and Tigard will be closed on Friday October 16, 2009, Monday Feb 15, 2010, Marcn 19, 2010, April 16, 2009, June 18, 2010, August 20, 2010, September 17, 2010, February 17,2011, March 18, 2011, and May 20, 2011. All of those dates are Fridays and were selected to minimize the impact on as many stakeholders as possible. According to sources, these closures will save the state about $2 million per closure day.

This notice brought to you by the lovelies at PERS.