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Friday, December 11, 2009

Radio Nowhere

I have been in lengthy back channel discussions with a very bright and analytical future PERS retiree about the Option 0 benefit. I confess to having been taken aback by the fact that the algorithm for Option 0 is poorly described and documented. I am unable to duplicate PERS' calculations of it and my correspondent has spent much time with PERS people and they too have been unable to replicate their own calculations. This is very scary for if PERS cannot replicate its own calculations in its own estimates, how then is a member expected to have any confidence in choosing Option 0. It is true that few members select Option 0 as a retirement option, but it is there, in statute, as an option and there is absolutely no excuse for PERS' inability to replicate the calculations they provide in their estimates. Whether Mercer - the PERS actuaries - is immaterial. If the agency can't duplicate its own results, then how can any of us be confident that in selecting Option 0, we are safe from the potential of an "error" along with a "bill" coming down the road when PERS finally sorts all this out. Advice to PERS - you better get this figured out real soon now or you'll be expecting a phone call from your friendly neighborhood PERS advocate or coalition member.

On an unrelated topic, is anyone else besides me a bit concerned about having Mark Nelson and his PAC Counsel office representing OPRI as their lobbyist, while also representing the folks opposed to Ballot Measures 66 and 67? Since the failure of 66 and 67 will affect PERS members and, perhaps, retirees, the conflict of interest is obvious to me. I find that all the groups Nelson represents - the tobacco groups, the business groups, and a host of others - to be among the more repugnant aspects of our society. I can't for the life of me figure out why OPRI has to team up with this ugly lobbying group, which would sell its own mother to make a buck. They don't seem to think there is anything wrong with a conflict of interest so long as the dollars keep rolling in. The answer, no doubt, will be that Nelson's group "gets the job done", but surely there are lobbyists who aren't quite as two-faced as Nelson. I make no secret of my opposition to Measure 66, but I am strongly in favor of Measure 67. In opposing Measure 66, I am not throwing my hat into the ring with Nelson's group. Their opposition is the typical opposition to liberal "tax and spend", whereas my personal opposition in on the principle of how the Legislature chose to implement the Measure. But I am deeply concerned that OPRI and Nelson are joined at the hip, while Nelson's firm has the job of defeating tax measures that would benefit PERS active members and future retirees. This simply makes no sense. If you are concerned about this, you should express your displeasure to OPRI. I've certainly rethought my donation to OPRI's lobbying efforts. I don't want a dime of my money to end up in Nelson's pocket.


MollyNCharlie said...

I'm with you in deciding to *not* make my usual political contribution to OPRI for both 2009 and 2010 -- because of their choice of lobbyist.


Rivrdog said...

PERS can't establish their own formulae?

What you have stumbled on, Professor, is simply another case of "gouvernment a la mode", business as usual.

Put another way, that is "science in the Public Interest", heh.