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Monday, March 11, 2013

Zombie PERS

Here's an interesting bill currently bouncing around in Salem. It will retroactively vest in the pension system an unnamed police officer who died before being vested under the normal rules. The way the bill is worded, you can't tell who the cop was. But you can bet the sponsors, Reps. Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton) and Greg Smith (R-Heppner), can.

It's obvious that these two are playing up to their dead constituents, who as we all know are quite active in the Oregon vote-by-mail "system." That cremated demographic is important.

Comments (9)

Emergency? It's the Humpty Dumpty legislature:

When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master— that's all."

Jack, my guess is that this is a compassionately intended bill for the benefit of the family or lone widow the police officer left behind shortly before minimum vesting (and inadequate life insurance).

PERS has catastrophic problems in progress, for sure, but this isn't typical or part of the root cause. It's those that pad their last 3 years with high-salaried sinecures or undeserved promotions for which they are not qualified for or competent in that's worse.

Most of those fat-catting decisions occur under the Governors, in the Executive Branch.

Certainly, the Legislature is long overdue on saving PERS with serious amendments. Don't even see a spark of that in Salem though, do we?

The sad police officer's story may out soon, though.


I understand what this "emergency" bill is trying to do, but why single out one or two people and treat them differently.

Why not instead craft the language to apply to anyone in a bad situation. For example maybe they should automatically vest any police officer that dies within 6 months of their vesting date as long as they are in good standing and reasonably would have been expected to complete employment through the vesting period?

Then it would be taken care of for everyone for ever, and future widows wouldn't have to go through the same fight. Of course then what about the one that was 6 months and 1 day to being vested, where do you draw the line?

The intended beneficiaries are likely the family members of Buddy Ray Herron, age 42, a corrections officer who stopped to help a motorist in a one-car accident near Pendleton on November 29, 2011. The motorist stabbed him and stole his truck. Officer Herron had worked for the state for four years and was survived by his wife and four children.

Under ORS 238.005, which relates to PERS, corrections officers whose duties include the custody of inmates are included in the definition of "police officers."

On the farm all animals are equal. Some are more equal than others.

I don't want to be a heartless bastard but it's this type of stuff that is the big problem with Oregon government. Changing the rules for selected few, whether it's a dead officer or a large sneaker company. Worst yet, it's always for a very good reason, at least on the surface-- saving the environment, conserving farmland, preserving jobs, honoring a fallen hero, etc.

Thanks, Isaac. That's the fellow I had in mind, too. Much appreciated.

I remember this happening. I was living in the outskirts* of Hermiston at the time.

Greg Smith is a stand up dude. I've heard nothing but good things about his service to that area. He'd not fit Portland's tastes, but in that district the guy has been very loyal to his constituents.

*That was a joke. Hermiston is nothing but outskirt.

I think anybody who has worked hard and regularly should be vested, whether they are a government employee or not. There's no way that any sort of payroll deduction even begins to pay the smallest portion of what government employees get after they retire. Nobody else can look forward to that kind of largesse. I would go so far as to suggest that many government employees don't spend the amount of time the rest of us do putting money away for retirement because they've got it in the bag. A retiree interviewed in the Oregonian recently, receiving $45,000 a year in PERS retirement, complained that he needed it because it covered only a portion of his income needs. Many of us get by on considerably less. Sure, a promise is a promise but it's a promise a majority of Oregonians can only dream about.

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