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Friday, December 09, 2011

One of Us Cannot Be Wrong

OPB is going for a second helping from the PERS trough on Tuesday December 13, 2011.  It is a follow on show to the December 5 episode featuring Dennis Thompson of the Salem-Statesman Journal.  Paul Cleary, Executive Director of PERS, yours truly, and one other former PERS member will be "guests".  Cleary will be in the studio, while the two of us commentors will be in the peanut gallery from the phone lines.  I won't have to call in.  They will call me and give me my 15 seconds of fame (or not).  Paul will, no doubt, be talking about the facts of PERS; hopefully those illuminated by the semi-annual publication called "PERS By The Numbers", which the Statesman Journal editor, Dick Hughes, seems to have just discovered although this publication has appeared twice annually since 2005.  It is really worrisome when the MSM cannot discover a document that would have answered virtually ALL questions since it first came into existence.  No wonder most of us have little or no respect for the MSM.

This follow on show on OPB and "Think Out Loud" is the result, I'd like to think, of the loud protests evident on the OPB web site about having Thompson on before any facts were presented about the PERS system.  While I am optimistic that Cleary and I can present facts that will allow the public to understand better how benefits come into existence in the PERS system, I am pessimistic because my experience has shown that most people who have an ax to grind with the PERS system don't understand a whit about it and are, to steal words from my wife, "invincibly ignorant".

My counterpart on the show will be someone who can't understand why his friends or neighbors, teachers, can possibly get or deserve their $72,000 annual benefit.  I make considerably more as the nosy among you have probably figured out, but my benefit can be explained away easily.  My "opponent" on the show is wrong and I hope to be able to show him why.  Of course, "history is obdurate" so I may not be successful in convincing him or anyone else who simply refuses to know.  A friend from a past life used to say "people would rather believe than know".  I think truer words have not been spoken.

Tune in for yourself on OPB radio to Think Out Loud Tuesday December 13, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.  The PERS segment is scheduled to be at the top of the hour.




Unknown said...

Best of luck to you, Marc. I'm delighted that you will (hopefully) get to share some sanity in this discussion.

Unknown said...

There are more than a few good points here. As a public employee for the LO Public School District at the time I remember this "negotiation" well. My wage as a classified worker lagged up to 15% behind private sector employees doing the same job before the bargaining even began and it never did catch up while I worked for LOPS. I may be skewing facts a bit because it was 1979 after all, my wage was quite low by today's standard, and percentage sounds more impressive than the absolute difference of less than $1 per hour, but it was noticeably below the private sector pay scale. Many of us chose the lower pay because the additional benefits offered by the school district were more important to us.

We accepted the pay freeze because Oregon simply didn't have the revenue to support even COLA's. Just as importantly and despite our regard for benefits, in that and later negotiations we also accepted benefit reductions including caps that resulted in some of my co-workers paying out of pocket to maintain medical and dental coverage for their families.

It was a negotiation to the extent an offer was offered and accepted, but one in which there was virtually no room for a counter offer as the circumstance was fixed by revenue reality. It, never-the-less, was a negotiation that had an immediate and unhappy impact on all classified employees at LO Public Schools and made palatable only with the hope of recovering some of what we gave up later in retirement.