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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

With A Little Help From My Friends

One of the more interesting political races this year pits Incumbent Dennis Richardson (R, 4th District) against retired Community College President Richard (Rick) Levine (D). This district encompasses a portion of Jackson County in Southern Oregon. Since both candidates are running unopposed in May 18th's primary, they will face each other in November's election.

This race is important for PERS members and retirees because it pits a consistent anti-PERS legislator (Richardson) against a PERS retiree. While Levine wouldn't be expected always to be favorable to PERS, its members, or its retirees, it is highly likely that we would get a fairer hearing than Richardson would ever give us. Richardson first appeared as troublesome for PERS members in the 2003 Legislature when he introduced the bill known as HB 2020 which, in his form, would have created the new Tier 3 as a total 401-K plan with no employer match whatsoever. Richardson has since gone on to wail and gnash his teeth publicly over PERS' current financials and claiming that PERS would bankrupt Oregon. Richardson has consistently and repeatedly cried doom and gloom over PERS and has become the most outspoken current legislator to propose the "nuclear option" of terminating PERS.

Regardless of your political party, it would be helpful if some of us could send a few spare dollars towards Rick Levine's campaign. It makes no sense to send this money now. It would be better to wait until after the primary so Levine has some ready cash to help him campaign against Richardson.

I have no opinion on most of the other races, including the Governor's race, right now, but the 4th District presents one of the clearest choices we've seen since Greg MacPherson went down to defeat against John Kroger in 2008. The less unfavorable treatment and disrespect we get in the Legislature, the more we can begin to relax against the latest reign of terror against PERS members and retirees. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired of the constant doom and gloom perpetrated by ignorant legislators and bored media types.

Rick Levine can use our help. Everyone like him should get a little help from his friends.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Are We There Yet?

The Oregon Supreme Court announced this morning that the cases known as Arken and Robinson were so stupid that victory should be awarded to the plaintiffs in both cases. Speaking for the Court, Chief Justice Paul de Muniz remarked that he had never before seen such a gross miscarriage of justice and that unless he got everything coming to him in his retirement benefits, he would hold PERS and the PERS Board personally responsible for the disruptions in his life if his check didn't arrive on time, wasn't computed properly, and was off by more than one cent over his own personal estimates. The PERS offices and PERB are reeling from this judgement. They are planning to go to the legislative Emergency Board to discuss additional funding and additional personnel to assure Chief Justice de Muniz that his benefit is computed exactly correctly. Justice de Muniz grumbled that he didn't care how many new employees were required, that his benefit better damn-well be computed right.

This offers a brief glimmer of hope that others might soon start getting correct estimates.

In other news, the City of Eugene is again planning to sue the PERB, this time over any preferential treatment it may give Chief Justice de Muniz. It wants the court to order that PERS continue screwing up like is has always done.