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Monday, June 16, 2014

Postcards From Paraguay

School is out and everyone seems to be on vacation (though looking outside, I keep wondering if summer will actually show up on schedule).  This means that for PERS retirees and near retirees, nothing much is happening, which is why this site has been so quiet for two months.  The only emails I’m getting these days are from candidates for the November elections.  Honestly, I don’t know why these people waste the time and energy sending this stuff out now; nobody cares until after Labor Day, the official start of the political “silly season”.  

As far as PERS is concerned, the action will be in the Fall when the Oregon Supreme Court takes the oral arguments on the lawsuits over SB 822 and SB 861, the two bills that alter the retiree COLA, and encompass the income tax subsidies (SB 656 and HB 3349) for out-of-state retirees.  As I’ve learned from experience attending these oral arguments, they are rarely helpful in reading what the outcome will be.  The attorney presentations are brief, interrupted often by Justices’ questions, and never reveal anything about what outcome the Supremes will render.  With the oral arguments scheduled in early Fall, it is likely that the final verdict will be rendered sometime in the early part of 2015, possibly before the Legislature convenes in February.  I’d be surprised if a verdict arose in this calendar year, but stranger things have happened.

Regardless of the court’s final decision, the Fall elections will have a definite impact on PERS issues.  The D’s have announced that they are “done with PERS, regardless of the Court outcome”, while the Rs have said nothing.  Nonetheless, the default R candidate for Governor, Dennis Richardson, has served in the Legislature long enough to have sponsored, cosponsored, or shilled for nearly every anti-PERS member/retiree bill since 2003.  He is considered the strongest opponent of PERS members/retirees, but oddly as Governor his power would be limited to encourage and bully for certain legislation.

I am again confronted by the prospect of not voting in two races this fall - I cannot gather the energy or trust needed to vote for our current Governor, who stuck the knife in about as deeply as possible to all his backers in the last general election.  That makes me absolutely insecure about his claim “to be done with PERS, no matter the court outcome”.  I just don’t believe him and, therefore, have great difficulty supporting his re-election.  On the other hand, Dennis Richardson is so slimy (to me anyway), that I can’t vote for him either.  Thus, my current dilemma.  The other race that I find myself incapable of becoming enthusiastic about is Richard Devlin’s race for re-election to the Oregon Senate.  He’s my Senator and I know him pretty well.  His behavior during the 2013 sessions was nothing short of reprehensible.  When questioned about his advocacy of cuts to retiree COLAs and to the income tax subsidy, he was downright rude and nasty to questioners who challenged his loyalty to his supporters.  At one point during one of these meetings I thought he was certain to have a heart attack or a stroke because he was beet red with anger at the opposition citizens (including me).  I don’t even know if he has an opponent, that’s how disinterested I am in his race.  Chalk up another “no vote”.  So far me, the only reason to vote this Fall are for local issues, especially the ones that want to tax me more for my PERS benefit.  My former employer (PSU) is using its newly acquired autonomy to cut budgets because of “PERS costs”.  Fortunately, they aren’t asking me for money, but my colleagues get to suffer because we retirees are again their convenient “whipping boys/girls”.

I’m going to travel around this summer, mostly outside of Oregon because I need a serious break from the constant pounding of the drums against PERS retirees.  I plan to spend my hard-earned dollars almost anywhere but in Oregon.  My loyalties and affections for the state where I’ve lived for 44 years are diminishing rapidly.  I will send postcards in the form of new posts whenever something interesting or of note occurs.  But for now, I want to stop hearing the noise.  I don’t feel like supporting Oregon’s endeavors.  I don’t expect it to be better elsewhere, but at least somewhere else the locals will be happy to see me and happy to take my money.  This is the start of my own “Boycott Oregon” campaign.  Feel free to join or feel free to start your own “Support Oregon” or “I Heart Oregon” campaign.  For me, this state needs a swift kick in the butt in the form of retirees stopping supporting Oregon for awhile.  I know that people will accuse me of “cutting off my nose, etc”.  If the budget falls, blah, blah, blah.  Trust me, budget falls, budget increases matter not a whit when it comes to PERS.  They simply want our money and will take it however they can get it.  So, I will be supporting WA, CA, NV, UT, AZ as well as places abroad for awhile.  


Unknown said...

While I have no summer plans to travel out of state, I am voting with my dollars with my refusal to make *any* donations of time or money to candidates as well as through my union. I am still staggering from the knife in the back dealt by so many Dems (with KitzenRobber in the lead). And I do not trust my union to do anything more than hand over more money and volunteer time to the very politicians who harmed us so much in the last legislative session. Thanks for telling it like it is, Marc. Like you always do.

Beholdacandle said...

I think that the more we can push the image of the legislature as a band of thieves robbing a little old lady and with the Governor in the lead, the more it will help our political chances. Anyway, it's something to do between now and the fall.
I don't blame you for taking a break elsewhere. Most PERS folks are licking their wounds so to speak. We have been injured by those we trusted.

Susan Gilmont said...

Sorry, but you folks remind me of the Nader voters claiming that there was no difference between the two parties. It makes me sick to think of what was thrown away and what we got instead. I really don't want to see the "Rs" in control.

lledzepp10 said...

Thank you Marc, I share your sentiments about the state. Six or so years ago state government started the employee pay freeze/furlough program. They took back COLA's. Handed out step increases, then took them back. In lieu of furloughs, I lobbied for a modest hiring freeze to maintain x% vacancy rate that could be adjusted up or down as needed and could have saved equally. They went for picking employees pockets instead, more politically dramatic and barbaric - throwing employees under the bus. Unions were silent. I often said Oregon was the Alabama of the Northwest. I don't spend in Oregon anymore, took my retirement to Nevada with zero income tax, and glad I did.

lledzepp10 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mrfearless47 said...

Susan Gilmont. No where did I suggest that I wanted the Rs in control. I merely stated that I wasn't interested in the current race for Governor, and I wasn't interested in the race for the Senate seat in my district. As for no differences between the parties, I hardly think that anyone here believes that to be true. It is the case that the parties have moved so far apart that there seems to be no room anymore for the moderate or progressive voter in elections. I get assailed by extreme left-wing people (of which I am not one), while the extreme right wingers don't ever bother to come here or leave a comment. The parties are SO different today that they seem to be ruling different planets. I don't know how you can compare this to the Naderites.

mpguy said...

I rarely receive something in the mail that leads to my rolling on the floor laughing, but today I did. It was a fundraising letter from good old Governor Kitz. The next to last paragraph states, "Will you pitch in $100, $250, or even $1000 to help us get the truth out.?"

Ha ha ha ha ha ... etc.

My reply: No, Governor, I won't. Not one red cent to your campaign, you lying, dissembling #$*&@. Not after what you did to us. Just consider the reduction in my pension your contribution.

Like Marc, I won't be voting in that race. Richardson is a shortsighted fool and as slimy as a wet frog (with due apologies to all amphibians). Nor will I be voting for our state rep. When I met with her, she admitted that she knew absolutely nothing about how the PERS system works or the system's financial condition. But she voted to cut PERS benefits anyway--because the House leadership told her to.

What a fun campaign this is going to be.

Kolbs said...

I'm not happy with Kitz either but I'll be darned if I'll do anything that would help Dennis Richardson get elected. There is a difference between bad and worse. I'm going to take a deep breath and vote for Kitz. Anything else is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

mrfearless47 said...

Randy. I understand your thinking and have spent a great deal of time pondering my own actions before publishing them. Kitz is counting on this. I don't think Richardson has a ghost's chance of winning this race regardless of how PERS retirees and PERS members decide to vote. Ditto for Richard Devlin. Neithers' opponents have any name familiarity and so the more common names will win by a large margin. My thinking is that by depriving both of them of my vote, I hope to keep them from having an overwhelming mandate and a sense of invulnerability. Kitz will be a lame duck the moment he takes the oath of office, so he can do whatever he wants because he won't give a shit. Devlin is getting up there in years and I can't see him surviving to complete his term, so he won't care either. I cannot bring myself to add a vote to either one's tally because I don't think it will contribute to their victory, but I don't want it to contribute to their sense of invincibility.

I certainly don't want to preach to others about how they should vote. Frankly, I'm more interested in sending a message to each of them that I am not voting for either because of their efforts and success at lowering my benefit by substantial amounts of money - enough so that we had to increase our draw from my wife's retirement to make up the difference.

There is NOTHING you can do to help Richardson. Outside of Southern Oregon no one knows who he is. So vote for whomever you please. Me, I'll pass on two races and concentrate on the races I really care about. BTW, my representative is a right wing tea bagger from West Linn. I can't stand her, but so far I haven't seen a credible opponent to vote for. So, I will be sitting out the three races for state representation, and I will focus on Congressional races and local ballot measures, initiatives, and bonds.


Kolbs said...

I understand. Lucky for us that the R's couldn't get a decent candidate. I think Dudley or Gordon Smith would knock off Kitz this time around. The Cover Oregon debacle would have made the difference in a race like that.