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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Wrecking Randy's weekend, again

The Oregonian keeps rubbing Portland's nose in its outlandishly expensive police and fire disability and pension system. Today's angle on the story was to make it personal -- intensely so -- in the direction of City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who's been both an overseer and beneficiary of the system at the same time for many years.

Fireman Randy's many maneuvers in support of the cushy pension program over his long political career are laid out for all to see. It's not a pretty picture. "Awkward" is how I believe he describes his posture. That's putting it mildly. The gory details reviewed today include several instances in which his duties as an elected official and his own private interests appear to have been in hopeless conflict. The unspoken point of the piece, and it's a valid one, is that the good commish may be a fox in charge of henhouse security on this one.

Unfortunately, there are some eye-popping cheap shots thrown in along the way. For one thing, the article does little or nothing with the fact that another of our city fathers, the mayor himself, also has a huge snout in the police pension trough. If Leonard deserves some roughing up over his conflicts, you wonder why the mayor gets off without a mention.

Even nastier, the piece digs into some of Randy's past personal problems, including some fairly dramatic episodes with alcohol and allegations of domestic abuse. Ostensibly, it's relevant because the piece is partly about his own disability pay as a fireman. But from any objective standpoint, it's just piling on, in the tabloid tradition. It's literally as close to asking the guy, "When did you stop beating your wife?" as I have ever seen a newspaper come.

I guess this is the new hard-hitting Oregonian -- go over every last pickle on Don Mazziotti's expense accounts, see if they can catch Ernie Kent acting like a bachelor, dredge up the file on Leonard driving after drinking many years ago. Let's get the wives' names into the articles, too.

What heroic journalism. Imagine if they had been half that nasty with Neil Goldschmidt and Bob Packwood.

UPDATE, 5:35 p.m.: I should have known, Randy's got a response up on BlueOregon already.

Comments (11)

What does Fireman Randy tnink? Does not his personality go against tht grain of the "Portland Way?"

My company requires all disabled worker to come into work, unless verified by their medical requirments.

Lets look at G*** H***. Out for three years over some injury but having ball at the tax payer exspense. Until she was supposedly involded in questionable activities. G*** beat the city and now where is she and her disabily?

The question of Portland's disabled public servents and their compensation has been questioned before.

Expect nothing to change. This is the "Portland Way."

You make a good point about "piling it on". I think there are many potentially good candidates for local office that don't run simply out of their concern over being excoriated by the press. How many of us don't have things that happened twenty or thirty years ago that we'd rather not have dragged out into public view?

As far as the FPD&R is concerned, short term they need disability case management, long term they need to move it from an unfunded to a funded liability. As it is, it's like Steve McQueen's blob; eating more and more property tax and getting larger and larger.

Yes, Randy has a response over at Blue and the blue comfort zone is only too willing to provide bonus points from the "nasty" treatment to offset his long term poor conflicts of interest and poor judgement on the greater issue.

One aspect I find interesting on both the teachers and Randy stories of late is the apparent notion held by some that the details of the fiscal calamity should not be reported.
That the teacher retirement story was just a hit piece on teachers, and Randy is of equall victimhood. Never mind the drain on education, city services and the taxpayers.
Never mind that the years of nonreporting on PERS, teachers and the PPFDF contributed mightily to the problem's size today.
I wonder at what point supporters think the story should have been told? Later? Ever?
Seems to me they have grown a little to accustomed to the under reporting and omission by the O and others over many years.
The policies didn't pop out of thin air. They were crafted by politicians such as Randy without regard for growing costs and affordability.
Over many years with many red flags and opponents all along the way.
Accepting that the Oregonian and other papers haven't quite handled the recent reporting with enough sensitivity, are we to also believe again that there is no problem and nothing to report?

Seems that has been Randy's story for many years and he's sticking to it.

I read recently that TriMet has an emerging unfunded retirement fund.

Will the O soon report on that problem?

With sensitivity of course.

Richard, that's 265 words -- way over the 150-word limit.

Richard and Dave,

The funded-underfunded debate is the framing of the investment bankers.

The soundness-unsoundness debate would be the proper frame of inquiry for a DA or an accountant or the Tax Supervision and Conservation Commission.

There is no place in the books to properly place the costs associated with making bond payments in the future to cover for the expense obligations incurred, but not yet recognized, in prior years. The government accounting standards do not allow for going back in time and fixing up an incomplete budget, so they fudge. Either an expense is contemporaneously in a budget or it is not, period. Or that is the way it should be. We do not need a magic asterisk that scales our public services up or down with every twist and turn of the stock market.

Ron Ledbury is talking in lingo of "frames." Thunk. Cute link, Ron. :)

At any rate, you almost gotta wonder (or I do) if The Oregonian has been picking up on the radar of the last year or so, criticizing it for acting as nearly a house organ of the ruling party or class.

Sorry they had to get my favorite commish in the crossfire, but the issues are bigger than he is, and he is big enough to handle it.

Whole biz is long overdue in the city & state.

[To abide the new word limits, I'm going to experiment with making posts in limerick form.]

There once was a pol named Randy,

Local unions found him quite handy,

but he overreached too often
and the Daily built his coffin

Soon Labor will need a new dandy.

Jack, I hope you're happy that your new comment policy has spawned a gay limerick.

Gay limerick?

If "gay" = "happy" - thank you.

However if "gay" = "homosexual" - you may be projecting.

And finally if "gay" = "lame" - then (with apologies to B!x and Buggs): What a maroon.

Ah heck, it was obviously a yoke, son, off'n the word "dandy." Not to get in uproar. :)

I learned "maroon" in the way-back machine in cyberspace. People sez that was how you beat the censors on the polite sites.

Firefighting is well known as one of the most dangerous jobs on Earth and many of you are surprised, shocked even, that Mr. Leonard would actually use the lawful (yet flawed) disability system to mend his injuries sustained helping YOU (as a tax-paying member of our little society).

I'd love to see some of the blowhard bloggers, aka 101st Fighting Keyboardists go running into a burning building to save someone's life some day.

Yea, right.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Wrecking Randy's weekend, again:

» COMMENT TO: Randy's Rebuttal at BlueOregon: Just the Facts...Please! from PDXNAG.COM
The Oregonian plasters lots of words about the Portland fire and police pension system on their front page. Base_front_page_1122717803145610_xml_coll_7 (Note my potential fix for dead links from The Oregonian.) Then Randy Speaks: [Read More]

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