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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 11, 2005 2:39 AM. The previous post in this blog was Michigan to Portland to New York. The next post in this blog is One degree of separation from the Pulitzer. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Klingon interpreter needed

The Portland police and fire disability story just gets weirder and weirder. If you haven't been following this drama, you're missing a true tale that's stranger than science fiction.

The saga begins a few months back when Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who's up for re-election with a skinny portfolio to show, points out a few obvious and serious problems with the police and fire retirement and disability benefit plans. So the City Council puts together a blue-ribbon panel to study the problems and get back to us all after the holidays. O.k., great. Much needed attention to a troubled, and financially troubling, aspect of our city government.

But this creature won't go back to sleep. The Oregonian sends out Maximum Maxine to rake the muck surrounding the pension and disability pots. In the process, she and ex-firefighter union chief Randy Leonard, now a city commissioner of course, get into a hissy match about something, and next thing you know she's writing about Randy allegedly getting a little liquored up and allegedly roughing up his ex 20 years ago.

No sooner does that bizarre subplot die down than Commissioner Erik Sten, throwing haymakers as he struggles to get back up off the political ropes, comes up with a rush-rush mini-reform program for disability that he wants to slap onto the November ballot.

Within a day, the Sten plan is pronounced deader than Don Mazziotti's expense account, the story being that his colleagues on the Council think it's best to let the blue-ribbon panel do its work. Saltzman watchers note that the Stenmeister appears to be trying to steal some of Danny Big Pipe's thunder on the issue.

But just as Godzilla retreats, Mothra attacks! Are you ready for this? Unless I'm seeing things, Fireman Randy's got yet another proposal, and he's going to ask the council to put it up for a quick vote this November! Read all about it over at BlueOregon, where the Randster himself just blogged about it in the wee small hours.

Probably the wackiest part of the latest Leonardism is this gem:

[T]his may sound somewhat cynical so please forgive me, I have been a party to or an observer of countless task forces within the city for nearly 3 decades. Many of these task forces degenerate into conflict and, therefore, end up not producing any meaningful work products. In fact, the last two Fire and Police Disability and Pension task forces worked for months, made recommendations to reduce the cost of the fund and.... nothing happened.
Ooooo, that's going to ruffle some feathers. Big time.

I'm all for cleaning things up as quickly as possible, but if the good commish thinks that passing this modest package is going to make the larger issues (particularly pension) go away for the voters, I think he's making an uncharacteristic mistake.

Anyway, put on your 3-D glasses and enjoy the show.

Comments (8)

I think Mssrs Leonard and Potter are buying time with patches and hoping this whole thing blows over, so most of this is dilatory.

The rest of the gang is seeing if this will make good campaign fodder, even Sam Adams has some very insightful comments - "We need to modernize the system, and we need to put ourselves in a position to establish the policies and answer directly for them." Wow - the spell checker must have taken longer to analyze that than Sam did to write it.

Fascinating, lets see if they can keep the issue alive and maybe educate the idiots that reside outside City Hall.

Just delighted to see your reference to Mothra...

During this frenzy of trial balloons we really need to have some strategically placed wiretaps so that actions rather than campaign finance is transparent.

Steve, it is about bonds pension bonds and The Oregonian has been an advocate of borrowing money at 5.5 percent and throwing it at investment bankers upon the expert actuarial assumption that further speculative bubbling in equities will generate returns greater than 8 percent. (That should be recognized as the very definition of lunacy and the complete disregard for the public interest.)

What we have here are solutions in search of a problem. How can we get to a point where we can issue more bonds, bonds to cover liability (even if that liability should simply be voided), so that it becomes an asset in the hands of the Oregon Investment Council to then play with without any oversight or accountability whatsoever.

We need wiretaps, not better voter polling. Randy's new anti-worker program is so far out of whack, for a labor advocate, that it should serve as sufficient probable cause all by its lonesome.

We need a new Monty Python styled picture, complete with heads and outfits that properly bobble. Be sure to skewer the right heads.

Jack,

This hilarious and trenchant post is an example of why you won blog of the year. You might veer, you might post the irrelevant, you foolishly follow the Blazers and wish you won more at Poker...but when you are on target, ZIINGGG!

Thanks for making me smile this morning.

P.S. If we've gone from Mayberry to Mecha-Godzilla, whose playing the role of that annoying little twirp boy?

Here I was thinking this was going to have something to do with this old story.

Ron - At a more basic level, it is about financial mis-management in setting up these PERS and PERS-like funds. The pension bonds are already happening in Cali on their public employee funds.

This shifts the funding from tax revenue cash flow to long term debt. I am assuming you are not for making this ongoing short term debt into additional long term debt?

Steve,

I don't know what is worse . . . modern fortune tellers or a tag team of doctors and lawyers that can induce an hypnotic state simultaneously in both patient and the judiciary into believing that a healthy adult will never walk (I mean work) again, ever.

I think it has to do with the triumph of subjectivity over objectivity in both the legal profession and the medical profession, where the sum of the two is more powerful than either is on their own.

This is a job for Dr. Spock. But even he would lose because money is the root of all evil, or is it?

Let's just wait and see what Tim Hibbits says about the effect of the trial balloons in our local Animal Farm. He is the real reader of the Portland Pulse.

The notion of mere financial mismanagement is for the birds, hiding among the Hawthorn thorns.

I only comment since I actually agree with Mr Adams on FPDR for once:

http://www.commissionersam.com/sam_adams/files/fpdr_memo.pdf

He doesn't want a special election for Leonard's patch job. I have mixed emotions since this fund really needs some radical change, but what is being put up by Leonard is tweaks that don't even address the pension side of things.

Any comment on what each of these guys (City Council) is posturing for?

My SWAG:

Leonard/Potter - Engage in dilatory tactics to hope this blows over
Sten - Does what Potter's hand up his back tells him
Saltzmann - Whichever way the election breezes blow
Adams - This might be "the" issue that lets him fall off Vera's lap.




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