By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

A simple message for the people of 'O'

All WhatchamaColumns

Long ago, the people of “O” built a bank to protect those who provide services that the people cannot do for themselves. It was decided that each “server” would have a special account, and each account would be filled with deposits from the servers and from all the people.

Each server, after 30 years of work, would receive one-half of an average top salary for the remainder of his/her lifetime — 60 percent for police and firefighters. And for a time, the servers were pleased.

Rules were created. The people hired administrators to oversee the work … lawmakers and other officials to create and enforce the regulations … and judges to decide any disputes that arose.

All of them were given their own accounts in the special bank. The people were willing to pay into all the accounts, often including the share previously paid by the servers. They were confident that the Land of O would benefit from such a progressive system of caring for the valued servers.

However, the servers hired agents to seek additional benefits. Those agents — working among the administrators and lawmakers and officials and judges — found ways to produce spectacular increases in payments from the special accounts.

At first, the people didn’t understand what was happening. They stood by as the agents persuaded regulators to make unsustainable commitments. Lifetime payments escalated to 60 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent of salary and even much higher for some servers, plus disproportionate annual increases.

The people limited future payments for new servers, creating inequities, but that wasn’t enough. So the people began eliminating jobs and reducing services.

The agents sponsored campaigns to increase taxes. They agreed to a few inadequate changes and called upon the people to pay more to subsidize the special accounts.

“No,” said a small band of lawmakers — lawmakers like McLane and Conger and Richardson in the House, and Ferrioli, George and Boquist in the Senate, among others.

Some people pilloried those lawmakers, accusing them of abandoning the children. Take more money from businesses and higher-income citizens, they said; keep feeding the special accounts.

The lawmakers for reform are outnumbered. They wonder when the people of “O” will rise behind them to demand real change to a system that threatens financial stability throughout the land. They speak to the people of “O” in a unified voice, saying simply:


Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news or 503-687-1223.


troy prouty

What's interesting to me is that for example in Washington State the teachers union brought a law suit against Tim Eymans initiative about a 2/3 vote approval to increase taxes. It was determined by not having simple majority rule it prohibited the State to get adequate funding needed for schools.

Here we have a case I believe that part of the problem was the Union itself taking money away that could go to the budget towards education in Pers Retirement pay outs.

Interesting is the fact that when you speak of the highest pay outs you are referring to past coaches, past atheletic directors, past Doctors/Teachers at OHSU... All in some way entangled within Education themselves.


Don Dix


The highest payouts might be to coaches, doctors, and the like, but what about the city/county/ state worker who has been awarded a retirement salary that is larger than his/her pay while actually working? The number of those instances has been the norm lately.

As stated earlier, I wonder what will happen when the state cannot afford to pay such lavish retirement salaries? -- close the schools?


Just in case someone hasn't read this,

There are 28,901 PERS recipients receiving over $40,000 in PERS benefits. Over half (14,549) of these recipients are receiving more than 100 percent of their final salary. The real kicker is that 2/3 of these recipients were employed less than 30 years.

There are 880 different PERS recipients receiving more than $100,000 per year from PERS. And, out of the 880 recipients, 288 did not work more than 30 years of PERS service. And, of the 880 recipients, 716 of them are receiving over 100 percent of their final salary.

troy prouty

To me I don't understand who made this decision to pass this the way it is.

It seems to be almost criminal in nature. I often feel when companies are sold and they steal the pension plans from those that have them. That is criminal. This isn't any better.


Don Dix


When all the decision-makers are in line for the excesses, there is no alternative. The public unions have sheltered their investment by keeping the same attitude (and sometimes the same people) among those they support (state reps. and senators). Your tax money ends up being a 'bribe' to keep the status quo of public pensions. Pretty slick, wouldn't you say?

troy prouty

Not a lot of decisions of Board Members and Execs doing the same thing to employees. I think both would meet the "Selfish" criteria. Certainly I think integrity seems to be little among many of these people.



When the rainy day fund was compromised when the markets were flourishing, That to me was the beginning of the end for PERS. Do you think if it weren't for that, the system may have held up? Who ever decided to line individuals accounts should be held accountable.

Woops, long week...

Don Dix


The 'whoever' that lined the the individual accounts are thus: The public employee unions that throw campaign cash @ legislative Demos; then those Demos sponsor and pass bills favorable to the unions (and themselves, for they are also recipients of PERS); the judges that decide to uphold legislation (or deny challenges to the system), also PERS recipients.

When House Speaker Tina Kotek announced she was not agreeable to any more PERS reform, it was clear she was speaking as a PERS puppet. The election is over, so voters be damned. Ms. Kotek is more concerned about her next 'donation' than doing what is right for the state and it's citizens.

The public unions have been living in the pants of various elected officials for 30 years, and the PERS fiasco is the result. Nothing will change until the influence of money is taken out of politics.

We always hear slogans and explanations about 'the greater good'. In this case, it seems we are paying for ' the greater greed"!

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