February 20, 2013
In Part 1 I endeavored to show how Oregon government got into the retirement business and how Article 1, Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution was violated by Oregon’s Governor Earl Snell in 1945 in order to create the public retirement system which has amounted to nothing more than a Ponzi Scheme; however, far too often our elected officials may be dead and buried before problems arise as a result of their unconstitutional ideas and then it is left to a bunch of unethical elected officials who follow in their footsteps enjoying the fruits of the labors of their predecessors and looking forward to their fat retirement checks. To their credit, three Oregon legislators have declined to sign up for PERS but those that have been on PERS are required to stay. Is that like us required to have Obamacare?
OREGON’S MONEY MATCH
This little gimmick called Oregon’s Money Match is a pension formula that legislators adopted in the 1950s and one that remains an option for every public employee hired before August 2003. For employees who got in early and rode the stock market boom of the 1990s, it was the deal of a lifetime. Between 1980 and 2007, the stock market delivered an unprecedented boom. But Money Match didn’t stop there. As its name implies, the program doubles a member’s account balance upon retirement, then converts the balance into an annuity based on the retiree’s life expectancy.
The conversion formula generously assumes that as the account is drawn down, the remaining balance continues to earn 8 percent annually. Private sector annuities currently use an ongoing earnings assumption closer to 4.5 percent. To top it all off, if the accounts don’t earn 8 percent, the taxpayers have to pick up the difference. This information extracted from the local fish wrapper. I have no idea what they are talking about. That would be up to Fred Starkey to explain as he begins to get more and more public speaking engagements to expose these frauds.
A 3/12/2012 local newspaper article told the story about how a professor at Oregon State University’s College of Forestry spent 16 years with Forestry and when he departed in 1987 to take a job at the State University of New York, he left something important behind: his pension account. He has long since moved back to his native Austria. He started drawing his Oregon pension in 1999. In 2012, the article said, his benefit from Oregon will total $214,000. That’s nearly 350% of his $62,000 final salary in Oregon. Welcome to Oregon’s money match. I wonder how much he’s earning from New York?
“Matching” pensions are choking unconstitutional agency budgets. Generous plans can triple the last annual salary. These unconstitutional administrative agencies are created so that more and more government workers must be hired. As employees find out what a great job they have, nepotism comes into play similar to the welfare families. I have a 1927-1928 official Oregon Blue book and Official Directory when we had Constitutional Government not the U.N. Administrative governments we have today. The book was about ¼” thick and hardly any of these current agencies are listed. Today’s Administrative Government Blue book is one inch thicker with all the agencies listed. The Department of Human services, for example, which has interfered in Oregon families causing great pain takes a very big chuck out of the budgets. This snoopy agency was created in 1973 taking away from the elected county sheriff the responsibility of investigating child abuse cases, for example.
I wrote a letter to the editor recommending the monies in today’s fund be prorated and distributed to current employees plus those retired and have them manage their own money and eliminate PERS and the costs to administer it. Several retired public employees let me know we’d better not touch their retirement checks. These narcissistic folks could care less whether we have parks, libraries, or our infrastructure is falling apart, school buildings aren’t being maintained and public safety (police and firemen) is being jeopardized – many Constitutionally required.
They don’t care if bond measures have to be passed “in the best interest of the children” when it comes to education shortages because they are getting big retirement checks that far exceed those in the private sector so they can afford to help pay for the bonds. But today with the exception of government workers, many people are having to work way past retirement age of 65 in order to keep their heads above water and some of them may not even get paid vacations, sick leave or medical benefits because many businesses are offering part-time work to avoid those costs which means some people may have to work two part-time jobs.
There are many double dippers in government. We have principals who retire and then go back to work at their same salary. We have retired school officials run for and get elected to the legislature. We have a firefighter from Portland who takes off his firefighting equipment, gets appropriately dressed and runs to Salem to the legislature. He’ll have two PERS checks. Oregon’s President of the Senate, Peter Courtney, was first elected to the Salem city council in 1974, where he served until 1981- another retirement check from that entity? He began serving in the House of Representatives in 1981 and was elected to the Senate in 1998. He works at Western Oregon University since 1985 where he serves as assistant to the university president. He was born in June 18, 1943 which means this lickspittle has been around Oregon politics since God and Moses parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross over on dry land.
Then there was the former Oregon Travel “Experience CEO” that secretly retired on May 1, 2011 without telling the Department of Governing Council . She didn’t publicly announce her retirement until March 2, 2012. www.newswithviews.com/guest_opinion/guest152.htm She claims she saved the state money by doing it that way. It’s a long convoluted explanation but she was collecting her original salary of $84,000 a year plus $6,356.18 monthly PERS benefit. A 1/20/2013 article indicated the Oregon Investment Council wants the Oregon legislature to turn it into an independent public corporation, a status that would give them more autonomy and possibly more power. Two state workers were alleging in November 2012 that the Oregon Investment Council made imprudent investments of at least $1 billion in a private equity fund. The Attorney General says state workers cannot file a suit on behalf of the fund.
In May 2012 it was noted that retirees were facing larger overpayment errors so now 19,014 public retirees would be subject to a 2% reduction in their monthly benefit so they might pay back their individual share of $164 million in overpayments. This whole PERS must be exasperating to the employees . And then there was the study reported in October 2012 that the PERS shortfall was billions worse. The worst-case scenario for the state may hit $90 billion. The Board says it is $16 billion short. The researchers determined Oregon would need to raise about $3 billion more in taxes to fully pay off its PERS obligation, which include payments to retired employees, promised pensions to working employees and any payments it would expect to make to future employees. And Oregon is #3 in foreclosures so there goes some more revenue.
AND THEN THERE ARE THE OUTRIGHT CROOKS
Oregon had a food services administrator for the Oregon Department of Corrections earning $75,000 per year. He solicited and received bribes and kickbacks from food vendors to the tune of $1.2 million said one reporter on 2/18/2009. She said Oregon is likely to recover little on the dollars from him. He fled to Iran but the state is still obligated to pay his PERS retirement. She added, “this is a loophole you can drive a truck through.”
A most recent one is about a city manager who is facing two years in prison for theft but his Public Employees Retirement System benefits remain intact. It seems the Oregon legislative made sure there was no law on the books that allows the state to withhold any part of a pension. Moreover, a federal law prohibits tapping a pension, though other income may be subjected to garnishments or adjustments from legal complications. The guy was 46 when he joined PERS in November 1998 when he was hired by the city. He served nine years as the community development director before being named city manager December 1, 2007. That position drew a salary of more than $100,000 annually – and accrued retirement benefits consisted with the salary. His salary increased from $9,896.00 to $10,291.84 on December 1, 2010. That was the salary he was drawing when he resigned July 2, 2012. He was a “Tier Two” member which indicates that he was hired after 1996. Tier Two benefits generally are not as lucrative as Tier One.
The normal retirement age for Tier Two members is 60. He was required to pay $11,847.91 in restitution – the amount sought by the city of Dallas. In his apology letter, Wyatt said he had made the payment. A questionnaire in the local newspaper asked if he should be able to collect his pension benefits after pleading guilty to theft of taxpayer money. 13.9% said “yes” and 78.9% said “no.” And what were some of the things Wyatt spent the money on? Two bottles of wine: $702. Baseball bats: $559.65, a Macbook Air laptop computer: $2,408.85. These were among the items former Dallas city Manager Jerry Wyatt admitted to buying with taxpayer money as part of a guilty plea.
Oregon’s governor Kitzhaber “allegedly” is trying to reform PERS; however, as anticipated a 2/8/2013 newspaper article says some legal opinion casts doubt into the legality of PERS reform. Once again, it will end up before the judicial system who are all a part of PERS. The foxes are in charge of the chicken house.
OUR FOURTH BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT
I’m reading a speech that Ronald Reagan gave in January 1978 about the federal government. He indicated the traumatic experience of the (planned) Great Depression, the people began to look more and more to government for answers resulting in a fourth branch of government and that this vast federal bureaucracy is now being imitated in too many states and too many cities, a bureaucracy of enormous regulatory power headed by czars who determine policy to a greater extent than our own elected representatives. And it can’t be removed from office by our votes.
He said we’re so used to talking billions but does anyone realize how much a single billion is? A billion minutes ago Christ was walking on this earth. A billion hours ago our ancestors lived in caves and it is questionable as to whether they’d discovered the use of fire. A billion dollars ago was 19 hours in Washington, D.C. And still another billion in the next 19 hours…
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Reagan gave a humorous illustration of how the bureaucracy works in another country: England in 1803 created a new civil service position. It called for a man to stand on the cliffs of Dover with a spy glass and ring a bell if he saw Napoleon coming. They didn’t eliminate that job until 1945. In our own country, there are only about two government programs that have been abolished. The government stopped making rum on the Virgin Island, and we’ve topped breeding horses for the cavalry.
In Part 1 I noted that Oregon’s Governor Earl Snell’s grandson said there was not today’s cynicism back in 1945 because it was based on integrity. He said those folks back then were stand-up guys; the problem is, they aren’t standing now. They are six feet under and no one can be held accountable once again. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Translation: Oh what a mess we leave when we become deceased.
© 2013 Betty Freauf - All Rights Reserved