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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 20, 2008 3:12 AM. The previous post in this blog was ORslogs. The next post in this blog is This week's bozos. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, November 20, 2008

If we're going bankrupt, let's get there as soon as possible

Last week, the City of Portland revealed that its estimate of its unfunded pension and disability liability for police and firefighters had been underestimated by as much as $400 million -- bringing the current total to nearly $2.5 billion. Billion, with a B. And growing every year at an astounding clip.

Suffice it to say, debts of this magnitude are not sustainable, and it would be patently illegal for a private company to let that kind of retiree liability hang around without anything put aside to pay it off. Somewhere down the line, either essential municipal services are going to be severely cut, or else those expensive pension promises aren't going to be honored. You can't have it both ways.

At a time like this, you would think that the city fathers would be looking for ways to tighten up on pension and disability benefits, rather than expanding them. But you'd be forgetting that Mayor Grampy and the city's street toilet commissioner, Fireman Randy, both feed with great gusto at the police and fire pension trough themselves, and so such thoughts will never, ever enter their heads. Indeed, the entire City Council is scared to death of the police and firefighters' unions, and the commissioners know that if they cross the bureaucrat labor bosses, they'll wind up with a lot of free time to drink coffee with Greg Macpherson down at Papaccino's in the near future.

And so what do we read in the news this week? They're planning to change the disability rules so that any firefighter who gets cancer while employed by the city will automatically get to retire on job-related disability benefits. The employees won't have to prove that the cancer had anything to do with their job -- they could be exposing themselves to all manner of carcinogens in their personal habits and hobbies, and it wouldn't matter. Cigs, chew, nitrites, paint fumes -- irrelevant. They'd still get to collect, automatically.

Now that's overstating it, but only a little. The proposed change would presume conclusively that a long list of cancers (but not all) were job-related. As reported the other day by Maximum Maxine in the O:

Under the latest proposal, the following 12 forms of cancer would be assumed to be job-related when diagnosed in a firefighter: brain, colon, stomach, testicular, prostate, mouth, throat, breast, rectal, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukemia.

Oregon firefighters now have to prove such cancers are job-related to get workers' compensation or Portland disability benefits. The city's public safety disability fund considers occupational diseases to include heart disease, certain hernias, AIDS or AIDS-related diseases, tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and pneumonia.

Linda Jefferson, director of the Portland Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund, and Yvonne Deckard, chairwoman of the fund's board, say the fund's costs could increase significantly if the 12 cancers are added, noting that the city's firefighting force is the largest in the state. They counter that medical studies found firefighting was a "probable" cause in only three of the cancers -- myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate.

Given that the police and fire pension fund is itself a kind of cancer -- on the city's financial future, that is -- I suppose that this change is deliciously appropriate. But the three commissioners who are all gung-ho about this -- Fireman Randy, Sam the Tram, and Nick "Sardine" Fish -- ought to have their heads examined. On the City Council, the main occupational disease seems to be financial irresponsibility.

Comments (15)

I agree that now in particular is the absolute worst time imaginable for them to be making the benefits trough bigger than it already is. You would think that politicians would know better, but then again maybe they think we're all stupid and won't remember by the time the next election rolls around. We need to do right by our firefighters, but this one just doesn't pass the smell test in my opinion.

DOn't forget also that to get a disability claim, a claimant only has to have his doctor say so. PFDR can't have another doctor look at the case for an opinion.

Maybe people will see Randy for the self-serving type he is when he created PFDR.

The unions bought and paid for all our city commissioners, with the possible exception of Tom Potter (union member). They have every right to except a return on their investment.

I saw the AFSMCE boss walking out of City Hall with two big briefcases yesterday: I wish I had the guts to ask him if they were stuffed full of cash.

"then again maybe they think we're all stupid"

How do you think they keep getting re-elected?

But none of that is real spending, because it's in the FUTURE, see?

SUV Salesman: "Ok, heres how your lease breaks down... this is your down payment, then here's your monthly, annnnnnnnnd there's your weekly."

Homer Simpson: "And that's it, right?"

SUV Salesman: "Yup... oh, then after your final monthly payment there's the routine CBP, or (mutters almost inaudibly) Crippling Balloon Payment."

Homer: "But that's not for a while, right?"

Salesman: "Right!"

Homer - "Sweet!"

Yeah, those Firemen are always “blowing smoke.”

During the course of their work, firefighters are exposed to harmful substances the fire scene as well as at the firehouse. At the fire scene, firefighters are potentially exposed to various mixtures of particulates, gases, mists, fumes of an organic and/or inorganic nature, and the resultant pyrolysis products. Specific potential exposures include metals such as lead, antimony, cadmium, uranium, chemical substances, including acrolein, benzene, methylene chloride, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, perchlorethylene, toluene, richloroethylene, trichlorophenol, xylene, formaldehydes, minerals such as asbestos, crystalline, and noncrystalline silica, silicates, and various gases that may have acute, toxic effects.

Here is one of many studies,

I hope the same fervor and distaste for these jokers shows up the next time they run for office. It is amusing, but also disappointing, how much we on this site bitch about Sam Adams and his gang, yet they keep getting our votes.

If getting Obama in office to get rid of one extreme (Bush), why can't we do the same in Portland to get rid of the other extreme (take your pick)?

yet they keep getting our votes.

Speak for yourself, please.

Why are not Leonard and Potter called on the absolute "conflict of interest" issue when discussions and votes are held on police and fire disability? There are state laws that prohibit this collusion.

I guess I'm confused. I thought Portland was so serious about sustainability. Guess that didn't apply to the actual operation of the city budget which isn't sustainable!

I've worked with a few folks like Sam, we call them useful idiots in the consulting world. They are useful since they are nice cash cows but they are idiots since, well, they aren't too bright. Always dreaming about shiny streetcars and green jobs and such but they can't deal with boring tasks such as balancing a budget or filling in potholes.

Andy, boring tasks like filling in potholes get put off because Oregon's flat gas tax hasn't increased in years to match super-inflated costs of maintenance.

I haven't voted for an incumbent for City / County / Metro since moving to Portland (Randy, Big Pipe, Tram, and the other guy all fall into that category). It doesn't take rocket science to prove I must be in the minority around here, yet you wouldn't know it from all the flak they get on this site and others.

During the course of their work, firefighters are exposed to harmful substances the fire scene as well as at the firehouse.

No doubt. And I think most reasonable people would agree that firefighters should get disability benefits for job-related illnesses, including cancer. But this is way beyond that. It's an effort to get disability benefits for any cancer, regardless of whether it was job-related or not. So if a firefighter smokes his entire life and gets lung cancer, he should get taxpayer-financed disability benefits? Come on.

If the evidence exists linking firefighting to certain cancers, why not just rely on that instead of trying to grab a huge new benefit at taxpayer expense?

Just to be clear. This is a proposed change to workers' comp statutes by the legislature that is being made applicable to the FPDR in the bill. It applies to all professional firefighters in the state.

Mr. Ngo,

True, the gasoline tax is based on volume, not price, but that doesn't seem to slow down the onslaught of trams, esplanades, bike bridges, light rail, trolleys, etc.

The tram and trolley (in particular) require generous operating subisidies paid by the City of Portland.

So we have French solar parking meters throughout downtown, next to potholed streets that lead to bridges that are poorly maintained and highway interchanges that are outdated and dangerous.

Remember, when Sam wanted to raise our taxes without the public's approval (on the water bill, no less) it was ALL ABOUT SAVING LIVES. Then oil spiked to $145/bbl and we couldn't afford to do ANY IMPROVEMENTS with rising cost of asphalt.

Now oil is back below $50/bbl and many construction related input prices(steel/cement/copper) have fallen even more dramatically. But not a peep out of "Peak Oil" Adams.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
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Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
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Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
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The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
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Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
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Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
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Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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