Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.



For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.







Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!






E-mail us here.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 13, 2011 7:40 AM. The previous post in this blog was Every day they have the blues. The next post in this blog is Deck chair rearrangement under discussion. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Archives

Links

Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
TaxVox
Tax.com
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Conglomerate
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
myCorporateResource.com
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
HinesSight
Onfocus
Jalpuna
Beerdrinker.org
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
Sansego
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
Mireio
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Althouse
GirlHacker
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Frytopia
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
StumptownBlogger
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and Drink.com
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion
LoveSalem

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Misterblue
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
Twisty
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
Pinktalk
Mellow-Drama
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Rosenblog
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Blort
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Maukie
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
KGW-TV
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
KOIN
Willamette Week
KATU
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB
Topix.net - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
KPTV
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

Music-Related
The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Seal
Sting
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cop and fire pension chickens coming home to roost

They're panicking in a city in Rhode Island, because the fund that the city has put aside for police and firefighter retirement is about to run dry. This kind of story amuses us to no end, because all that does is put the Rhode Island municipality in the same position as Portland, Oregon, which has zero set aside for its police and fire pension system. That's right, zero, at least for officers who have been working more than a few years. Portland just pays the benefits out of current property taxes -- annual payments that are expected to double over the next 20 years.

Here's how they're describing the situation back east:

The city, just north of Providence, is small and poor, but over the years it has promised police officers and firefighters retirement benefits like those offered in big, rich states like California and New York. These uniformed workers can retire after just 20 years of service, receive free health care in retirement, and qualify for full disability pensions when only partly disabled.

Just over one square mile, Central Falls has a tightly packed population, filled mostly with immigrant families, that struggles on a median household income of less than $33,520 a year, according to the Census Bureau’s 2005-9 American Community Survey. The typical single-family house, after a recent revaluation, is worth about $130,000. It is hard to see how anyone thought such an impoverished tax base could come up with an additional $80 million for retirement benefits. If the city were contributing the recommended amount to the plan each year, it would take 57 percent of local property tax revenue.

In Portland, the percentage is lower, but the problem is the same: Too much money going out to the public safety officers of the past, with not nearly enough money left over for a livable present or future. Portland will soon be paying more -- much more -- to retired police and firefighters than it does to current police and firefighters.

In any event, the Rhode Island case is definitely a harbinger of things to come.

Comments (15)

Well, since we don't have one, our police and fire pension fund will never run out. That's something.

Thanks for your dilligent reporting on the financial cliff that our Dear Leaders are barreling towards.

Moving out of Portland's City Limits was our solution. I voted with my feet. You can be sure they will eventually punish those who are leaving with a real estate transfer tax. Sell while you still can: the higher the property tax, the more potential buyers will have to discount their offering price to qualify for a PITI mortgage.

I don't think the pols here even get the message. After the last legislative session, the O and legislature were patting themselves on the back mightily.

Yet they did nothing about PERS and Kitz thinks he can find enough savings in health care to fix anything (which is really amusing considered hwo much he underestimated his original plan costing.)

Keep kicking the can and let someone else deal with it.

If the "city" wants set aside money today to pay a bill due some 20 years later then it should be invested in something as boring and safe as ten year treasury notes, and be deducted from the employees pay checks in a sufficient amount to cover the whole expense. Each employee must have their liberty interest recognized by allowing them to opt out entirely, and to choose their own savings plan or no savings plan at all. The federal personal income tax code that offers special inducements for saving, and thereby reducing immediately recognized taxable income, are based on voluntary participation of the subject taxpayer.

The economy will not likely begin a healthy recovery, in my estimation, until the whole public employee pension mess (paying out more than what it takes in from employees) that has developed over the last thirty years is recognized as a sham to funnel money to overpaid Wall Street slimeballs. Proof: Your own private enterprise must be recognized as a qualified investment of your own "retirement" savings, but it is not. Ever ask why? And has it also decimated small business formation?

Public employee pension schemes strip the public employees of liberty to opt-out and funnel the money to Wall Street with brutal efficiency, and with minimal transaction costs.

The best advice from the perspective of the public is to end all public participation in any pension scheme, but accommodate any public employee's individually-expressed desire to have X dollars deducted from each paycheck and forwarded to a private investment guru of their own choosing. The employee can still take full advantage of the federal income tax code tweaks, without local government offering any retirement scheme at all. This would also comply with the constitutional command upon government to treat publicly employed and privately employed people the same.

Solution: Terminate the Portland pension scheme(s) entirely. Immediately.

pdxnag: 1) Why do you put quotes around the word "city?" At over 500,000 is there any doubts that Portland qualifies?

2) The problem with your solution is that the public employees agreed to get these benefits in lieu of additional salary compensation. Dissolving the pension fund is essentially theft, as such the city should take all reasonable steps to meet their obligations. I've got no problem with them trying to drop pensions for public employees going forward, though that might make it difficult for them to find new people unless they either raise starting salaries or lower their hiring standards.

I've got no problem with them trying to drop pensions for public employees going forward, though that might make it difficult for them to find new people unless they either raise starting salaries or lower their hiring standards.

It seems to me their "standards" are pretty darn low already.

I would imagine there might just be a few qualified but unemployed folks out there these days - you know, in the real world.

By lowering hiring standards do you mean eliminating cronyism/nepotism?

There is no question the pool is stronger now for police and fire work than in years past. 5 or 6 years ago you couldn't get most members of public to apply for police work. The pension and pay seemed pretty lame to most then. Not now, they are standing in line with college degrees and character refs in hand beggin for a full time job.

I do however think it is unfair to fail to pay up pensions owed. Especially to those who risked life and limb, fought armed felons, entered burning homes, trotted around meth labs without protective gear, and so on and so on...

Dissolving the pension fund is essentially theft,

Just one minor problem, there: there is no pension fund. The obligations are there; the money isn't. There are zero dollars set aside to meet the obligations.

"I do however think it is unfair to fail to pay up pensions owed"

I also think it's unfair when people get foreclosed upon, but if they don't have money, what do you want to do?

I mean we had the idiot son (Randy et al in the legislature) making all kinds of promises on behalf of daddy (the taxpayers.) So now we just sit here stuck?

You can't really blame individual police and fire retirees for this mess. Sure, some of them were in it just for the bennies and/or unfairly gamed the system (bogus disability claims, etc.). But most cared about their work and tried to do a good job, and the police in particular had to deal with the worst that human beings can do to each other day in and day out for 20 years. To break faith with them over the pensions that were promised to them would be unfair and a bit cruel. The city does need to try to honor its past obligations as best it can.

The villains here are the police and fire unions and the feckless politicians that manage the public safety bureaus. There's clearly not enough money to go around any more, but the unions sandbag or grieve any reasonable reform attempts. They protect their older members to the detriment of their younger members, who have to live with less-generous benefits and will be the first to be laid off when service is cut to make sure retirees are paid. For their part, the politicians either have no spine to say "no", or collude with the unions to offer more lavish benefits in exchange for votes and campaign cash. In both cases the politicians cravenly or cynically kick the can down the road, calculating that it will be their successors that will have to clean up the mess.

The obligation for work already completed does not vanish into thin air. The value of the obligation for past work is an entirely different question than future pay for future work where there is no more public pension scheme. It is a strawman's argument, against termination.

For non-governmental pensions a plan that is terminated is one where no future contributions can be made to the plan. The PBGC, for private plans, considers a plan terminated the instant that the guarantor (PBGC) makes any payment to a beneficiary. Future contributions are thereafter prohibited.

The analysis gets a bit jumbled up with government pensions, as compared to private investment trusts, particularly when participants (people) are distinguished between public and private rather than classifying income as just income. We would not tolerate different tax rates for income earned by public employees versus income for private people, nor should we have a separate set of rules for the savings of public employees versus non-public employees. Everybody gets guaranteed returns, for example, or nobody.

hey nobody... I have a few problems with your assertions... back when I started working for my current employer, we looked to hire a few other people doing my same job. The candidates from MultCo and CoP were making more than I was so I am not so sure govt pays so much worse than the private sector.

I'm not sure I agree that asking someone who is scheduled to receive $100,000 a year in salary and benefits in retirement to take $80,000 a year instead is "unfair" when the average person paying the bill makes half that in their entire household.

Police and fire fighters do not have particularly dangerous jobs. Garbage men have much more dangerous jobs, Police/fire don't even crack the top 10. Who speaks for the garbage man?

Occupational death rates:

1 Logging workers
2 Aircraft pilots
3 Fishers and fishing workers
4 Structural iron and steel workers
5 Refuse and recyclable material collectors
6 Farmers and ranchers
7 Roofers
8 Electrical power line installers/repairers
9 Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
10 Taxi drivers and chauffeurs


Sponsors


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

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
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
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
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

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
William Shakespeare - Othello
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
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
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
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
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
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
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: 109
At this date last year: 151
Total run 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


Clicky Web Analytics