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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bellotti's pension could be worth $6.5 million

We're still reeling from the news that former U of O football coach Mike Bellotti's pension from the Oregon public employee system is $41,341.67 a month. That's $496,100 a year, and as we understand it, it could continue for life. Even if it didn't go up for inflation, the present value of a life annuity in that amount, for a 61-year-old person like Bellotti, discounted at 4% a year, is $6,499,605.

Recall that the guy also got a questionable $2.3 million severance when he left the U of O to go to work for ESPN. At that time, he reportedly wanted $7 million from the university.

Whatever he did in 20 years on the university payroll -- he made $1.9 million in his last year as football coach -- Bellotti isn't worth half of what he's gotten, and is still getting, after his departure. It's further confirmation of what we've known for a while now: There is something very wrong in Eugene. (It gets worse: The current football coach is making $2.8 million.)

And it also shows how disgusting it is that the state employee unions put out a fatwa against the political career of Greg Macpherson, the former state legislator who spearheaded pension reform. Bellotti and the other face cards on the top 10 PERS beneficiary list are exactly whom Macpherson was talking about.

Most telling is Bellotti's snotty comment to a reporter who asked him about the size of his pension: "Put in all the taxes I've paid to the state of Oregon." This is an example of why we loathe the U of O football team. We've got but two words for Mikey, and they ain't "Go Ducks."

UPDATE, 10:52 a.m.: The O has posted the top 837 pension-getters -- those receiving more than $100,000 a year annually -- here.

Comments (51)

Those employees earned those pensions by giving up a 3 percent wage increase that one time back in the 1990s.

OBSCENE ! On so many levels

From a prior thread: "You didn't note this from the article: the "mean monthly allowance: $2,363.25""

PERS is playing games with that number - I used the Oregonian's database to look up a personally loathed state retiree (who makes a pension of about 70K a year), and I've already run across a couple of people who have PERS pensions of $400 a year - obviously people who worked for the state for a short time. The average for long-term employees is obviously higher.

Second, the key thing about PERS pensions is that you can take them in your mid to late 50's - there is a big, big difference between having a 28K a year pension at 56, and a 28K pension at 65.

I think it was actually back in the mid 1970's that state employees asked for those PERS contributions in lieu of pay raises when the economy was struggling.
Apparently no one ran the long term impact numbers.

I don't blame Bellotti. If that compensation package was offered to me, I'd take it too. And I wouldn't feel bad about it.

I'd pay Mikey's taxes for him--gladly--if he'd give me his pension. What an a$$. Another example of rampant greed at the top levels.

For some reason, I'd always assumed PERS had a max--sort of like Social Security--it was just meant to maintain your average state worker through retirement. Man, was I wrong.

I'll bet there are many PERS recipients who are fried about this news, too. They'd better not suffer because of the high level games they've been hiding from the public.

Any idea how much Mike contributed over the years to achieve this payout ?

It gets worse: The current football coach is making $2.8 million.

While I don't disagree with PERS reform, I don't even blink at that salary. That's the new normal for the upper end of PAC 12 coaches. Tedford at Cal is at 2.8mil this year. I'm sure the Excel spreadsheet on what ROI the Visor has brought in is MUCH more favorable than Tedford's Cal deal.

You can bet Stanford threw a $3mil+ deal at Harbaugh before the 49ers blew that out of the water for more than twice as much.

Check out this list of NCAA coaches back in 2010:


Eventually the Visor will leave UofO and end up at one of the $3mil-$5mil behemoths. As a Ducks fan, I'm fine with that. Mike Riley looks like a tempting bargain now, and there's nothing wrong with taking shot on a talented up and comer.

Anyhow, my point is that if you want to play in big time college football, paying a top flight coach to get the bowl wins, TV money and better recruits can be totally worth the coin and then some. Chipper at 2.8mil on that list doesn't phase me.

Whether or not you think colleges should take part in that big sh*tstorm of dirty money and corruption is a good question.

The bottom line in my book is that you shouldn't be able to draw a PERS pension if you are currently employed somewhere for more than the annual value of your pension. The whole POINT of pensions is to provide for people in their retirement, so that they don't have to live like paupers once they are done working. That is commendable, and I wish more people had pensions. However, if your "retirement" simply means that you leave your job and start working elsewhere (in Mike's case, ESPN), then you shouldn't draw a pension, as you are still employed, and still earning a healthy salary.

Not too bad, looking at the O's list - We have about 830 people making more than $100K/year off PERS (=$83M/year). Let's not forget, if they move to WA, no OR income tax is due.

BTW - I thought most of Bellotti's salary was paid by off-campus clubs.

""You didn't note this from the article: the "mean monthly allowance: $2,363.25""

You're right, a MEDIAN would be a better indicator.

More importantly, what is the median number? The mean is the wrong figure to use when considering salaries because it is skewed by the high ones.

Average union members defending multi-million dollar salaries and pensions of other union members reminds of the redneck in his trailer, drinking beer and eating gubmint cheese, defending low taxes on zillionaires because "dangnabit I'm just like them!"

The marketing / propaganda / jedi-mind-tricks have been honed to perfection! Boy do they work!

When the UO has to fire Chip Kelly because of the recruiting scandal, will he be eligible for PERS?

I did a recalc (slow day) and out of the top 837 people:

All 837 top earners:
Total/Month - $8,548,450.07
Total/Yr - $102,581,411.00
PV (20 yrs @ 4%) = $1,410,681,115.65

Avg of the 837 top earners:
Average/Mon - $10,213.20
Average/Yr - $122,558.44
Avg FV (20yrs @ 4%) = $1,685,401.57

Perhaps the coach's salary should be paid directly by donors rather than laundered through the state payroll system.

Must feel nice to be a Duck hater. But like all haters you seem to only tell one side of the story. How much money does the football program bring into the state? What is the value of the intangibles? Like people around the nation knowing that something else goes on in Oregon besides Portlandia style hipters wierdos and bad coffee? And what would Eugene be without the Ducks...Corvallis with better food. Bellotti earned his money. He did not create the pension system. Blame Salem if you need someone to blame. But this state is better off with a nationally ranked football team then without one.

My brother in law worked for the state and his pension is 28K a year. Not exactly living the high life.

"What is the value of the intangibles? Like people around the nation knowing that something else goes on in Oregon besides Portlandia style hipters wierdos and bad coffee?"

Yawn. What a terrible excuse for spending tax dollars.

"And what would Eugene be without the Ducks...Corvallis with better food."

Somehow I recall that Eugene was still Eugene, even when they had a bad football team.

My brother in law worked for the state and his pension is 28K a year. Not exactly living the high life.

These are not the pensioners you're looking for...

Intangibles? Are you serious? Can't you think of anything better to spend tax dollars on? Real education funding, for example?

If you want a pro football team, move somewhere else and get season tickets. It's not our duty to finance how yours and Phil Knight's egos play on ESPN.

One way to look at big-time football coaches is to compare them to TV stars. In fact, anybody that you recognize from being on TV should be getting paid accordingly and that includes the NBA refs. I'm not saying by whom, but the money isn't out of line compared to other TV personalities.
Chip Kelly was one of the leads, and program directors for one of the biggest television shows in America this year: The BCS Championship game. Once you're in that category you should get paid TV money.
So what happens if the team isn't that good? As long as you're intriguing enough as a TV personality to draw ratings....someone like Steve Spurrier for example...you should be getting paid some serious cash.
Going after salaries or benefits is tricky. If we just eliminate the illegal Wall Street stuff and put up some regulatory firewalls
we could self-correct quicker.

I'm not saying by whom, but the money isn't out of line compared to other TV personalities.

The devil's in the details, but this is a detail that is so huge that I actually laugh when I see it left out.

Who pays when someone "should" be getting x amount? Why the people who choose to pay of course.

'Cept I don't get to choose, I get to pay what the good people of Oregon "negotiated" well before I moved here.

And I get to pay for... a TV personality! Who knew that that was part of the social contract, the foundation of our society, one of those sacrifices for the general welfare that all good citizens make in a civilized society?


Listen. The system was created by looters, gamed by looters, and is now being drained by looters. "Oh look over there, it's Wall Street!" is as dumb as "Oh look over there, it's Republicans!", etc. etc. etc. The gravy train of our rigged 'economy' - finance, ed, law, real estate, on and on with the commonality that they don't actually produce anything and rely on the 'transaction' to extract their wealth - is were the smart folks have been moving for a while now. The bill is now coming due. Hope yer ready to pay!

Letting the looting continue!

"The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return."
(Gore Vidal)

Former coach Rich Brooks also on this list, drawing $133K/year.

Also excited to see that Chris Dudley and Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) are drawing big pensions. What, they are not that Dudley or Dylan? Oh. Good.

Retirees could choose to get a lump-sum payout, with payments staggered over five years. I have been curious how many retirees from 2002 and 2003 got payoffs in excess of a million dollars. The public records request would be incomplete, in my opinion, without demanding such lump-sum payoff amounts.

What is the value of the intangibles?

Clearly, you have never had to justify the costs of anything to someone who is responsible for a real budget. If you bring "soft costs" as your justification, you get laughed out of the room every time.

I keep reading that U of O boosters paid Belotti's salary...Did they contribute any portion of his PERS benefit?

Any PERS recipient receiving more than $250,000/year should be ashamed. Maybe a 38% state income tax on high earners is in order. That'll show 'em.

College Football is the only business I've seen where the talent is unpaid, and everybody else makes money.

You write, "And I get to pay for... a TV personality! Who knew that that was part of the social contract, the foundation of our society, one of those sacrifices for the general welfare that all good citizens make in a civilized society? LMFAO!"

You actually pay for the cost of TV personalities everyday. That money for Kim Kardashian didn't come out of thin air. It came from you through the prices you pay for consumer goods. Do you watch TV? Do you shop? Lindsay Lohan stories sell. That's why she's on TV. It's unfortunate but that's how it is.

This year has been a great chance to see how the system really works, but you have to look. There is an abusive relationship between Wall Street and America. My slogan is, "It's the derivatives, stupid." Not directed at you. At all of us.

How much Chip Kelly makes doesn't matter at all compared to the global destruction of the world economy that is unfolding by the hour. If paying football coaches had led to a 600 trillion dollar bubble, I would say let's address them more. They didn't. Derivatives did that.

And the truly maddening thing is that it was all driven by people trying to get bigger bonuses for the year. They saddled us with catastrophe for a miniscule fraction of what it's going to cost the world.

The latest financial wrinkle is that investors are wondering if their money is safe in these accounts. Apparently, MF Global spooked them and rightfully so. If investors feel like they're accounts can be looted from within, it's a major problem.

The crimes of Wall Street are at the heart of what's wrong. Football is not. Calling it "dumb" to examine what happened just makes you seem out of it.

That's what they want you to think.

I love his whine that he's entitled to a pension because he's paid taxes in Oregon over the years.

I pay income taxes. Where is my pension?

The top drawers of PERS retirements are not union members. Rather, it's longtime agency heads, judges, political sinecure holders, and the like, with some ballooners like Bellotti.


You are right on most accounts. However, it serves to address the local problems (in this case, "abuse" or simply poor thinking or a failure to consider the costs) because those ARE things that we can change locally. Derivatives, Wall Street's shady deals, etc. will take more than a bunch of complaints from the small northwest corner of the country.

Mike, (the other one)
I'm all for addressing local problems, but there's a deliberate move afoot in the corporate media to steer the anger that we are feeling into directions that protect the people that really caused the economic downturn.

Has there ever been any headlines in the Oregonian about derivatives? I'd be surprised. The biggest financial fraud in history and we're being taught not to think about it.

Instead, focus on how much somebody else is making.

Have you ever bought a lottery ticket? Anybody who's bought a lottery ticket is morally okay with trying to score millions. I don't feel like going after Belotti. I feel like going after the people who hurt us, and if everyone in America focused on the real story, this thing would be settled in a few weeks.

Now, if you want to arrest the coach of USC for something, I'm down with that.

Belotti is a symptom of the larger problem you speak so eloquently about, Bill.
The PERS problem is one of long standing mismanagement by all parties involved. Belotti and the others at the top of the PERS pension pile are simply examples and we can get our heads around the sums of money they represent.
Derivitives are too arcane, the amounts of money too huge and squishy for most of us to comprehend.
And of course "the powers that be" do not want anyone let alone millions of ripped off citizens to understand what has happened to us all.

I understand the numbers are ridiculous, so let me cite just one little piece of this:

Bank of America recently transferred their derivatives to a part of the corporation that is insured by the taxpayers. So in that sense it is a local problem. As local as your wallet.

Remember, the only reason they did this is because these things could fail, and they have little faith in them.

So are you ready for the new number you're responsible for in this one tiny part of the derivatives scam? Are you ready for the additional amount we will owe if these toxic assets go under?

75 trillion. That's right: 75 trillion dollars. One bank...75 trillion dollars.

I just can't sweat someone getting 40 grand a month right now. It's not going to be what breaks us. There is a much greater probability that those 40,000 dollars will be worthless soon.

Michael G. Thorne $13.314 $159,778

AKA Mike Thorne

70 Years Old

From January 2002 to October 2004, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Washington State Ferry System located in Seattle, Washington.
From 1991 to 2001, Mr. Thorne was Executive Director of the Port of Portland
From 1973 to 1991, Mr. Thorne served in the Oregon Legislature.

He gave away the Portland shipyards and drydocks.
Blew $50 million on a airport hanger fiasco.
Gave away 120 acres of airport land for Cascade Staiton and airport MAX.
Is in the top 10 Oregon recipients of farm subsidies.

May 16th, 2001 NIGEL JAQUISS | News
Payoff for the Port Boss

"A questionable pay hike gives Port head Mike Thorne an extra $350,000 in pension benefits."

"Buried in the news of Mike Thorne's retirement last week was the revelation that the Port of Portland recently boosted his salary to $244,000. According to documents obtained by WW, it appears that the $47,000 annual pay hike to the agency's executive director violates the port's bylaws."

Much More RED MEAT http://wweek.com/portland/print-article-37-print.html

My old high school principal is getting $8,649.26 a month and raking in $103,791 a year in PERS retirement benefits.

Past Portland Mayor Frank Ivancie isn't doing quite as well, getting a mere $6,560.25 a month and $78,723 a year in benefits.

Search PERS beneficiaries:

Next year I'll be a PERS retiree, raking in the huge sum of about $1900/month, after 20 years of service. Part of my benefit, probably about $200 a month, is due to having not used many hours of sick leave over the years.

Among the many reasons I'm retiring is the concern that PERS will make changes to the system that will adversely affect me - not the folks pulling in more in a month than I'll see in an entire year, but the working stiffs. Perhaps there ought to be a cap on the total amount of PERS retirement one can make. Helps the PERS system, and it moves along public employees who are hanging out/on just for the big pension. Also stops behavior like the Port (and some school systems, as I recall as well) from making those retirement parachute payments.

The Fireman has two pensions. Wonder what he'll be pulling down for his years of dedicated "service".

Anyone know the AVERAGE PERS annual pension and its net present value?



Others have said it better here. One of my poorly made points was that gov, finance, etc. are so intertwined (look at the cast of characters that swaps jobs between the them!) that blaming one or the other most of the time turns the discussion away from true systemic stuff to outlier fluff that makes no difference. (Besides trying to write witty banter. Fail.)

I like your posts, so this isn't a slag on you. Must be honest in that I don't share your view that derivatives are what will bring about the Zombie Apocalypse, mostly because they didn't four years ago. (Naive? Could easily be!) That's alright tho, because I like to listen and know I don't know shitte about lots. Interesting take here about the BofA derivatives.

College Football is the only business I've seen where the talent is unpaid, and everybody else makes money.

The talent get scholarships. I wouldn't exactly call that "unpaid."

I don't quite get the mock outrage. The U of O program, if not for one poorly played game last week, would likely be in the national championship game for a second year in a row. Ir Oregon wants big time college football--and I see little indication among U of O alumni, students, or fans in this state that they don't--then it costs some serious money for the coach. To say Belotti "isn't worth it" is kind of silly given where the program was when he arrived (basically a Pac 10 doormat) and where it was when he left after hiring Chip Kelly (a perennial top 10 program), [he had a fantastic run.

If you don't like big time college football, that's fine. But there's nothing "very wrong in Eugene" that is not wrong in 100 other college towns in this country.

What PERS has to do with this, I just don't know. The highest paid employee in the state makes the highest pension ... what a surprise! What else would you expect?

Let's take the number in context--when he left, he was making 1.9 million. So his pension totals about 25% of his final salary.

I don;t get the outrage. I thought we were outraged at pensioners who retired early and are pulling down more than 100% of their last salary. Here you have a guy who put in his 20 and is pulling down 25% of his final pay.

If this was a schmuck making 80 grand and pulling down a 20k PERS payout, no one would care.

I read the link twice, and I still don't see how this isn't a huge problem. First, letting the FDIC fail would cause the end of trust in banks, so even though it is funded by banks, it is, in the real world, backed by the taxpayers.
Second, I never thought it was a bailout. We're just on the hook. This makes it sound like there was no real reason behind the bank putting these derivatives in the FDIC-protected area, and I'm sure there was one.
Finally, I always thought if derivatives failed they would trigger payments around the system. This isolates the problem to B of A and acts like the 75 trillion number is meaningless. It's the first take I ever saw like that. These are insurance policies so when the assets fail, the insurance has to be paid out.

The real clue for me that this article is off base, is the part about Washington Mutual. All the articles I've seen describe that as a monumental plundering - some "too big to fail" types feasting on a smaller bank and destroying it. This article portrays it like it's the system working, and I don't get that.

The other clue is that we immediately threw trillions at this, and we're still in big trouble. Doesn't that say that derivatives are every bit the problem we thought they were?

You know...the thing Warren Buffett calls "financial weapons of mass destruction." This article makes them sound like no big deal.

"To say Belotti "isn't worth it" is kind of silly given where the program was when he arrived"

You forget Brooks had them in a pretty good bowl and then split to run the Rams when Bellotti took over.

I'd be all for taking the football program private and then having them pay "appropriate" rent to the state.

"Here you have a guy who put in his 20 and is pulling down 25% of his final pay."

Don't forget, we also gave him like $2M as go-away money WITHOUT any written agreement.

THe outrage is how much this is secret and without any documentation until we get to the "too late" stage.

"If this was a schmuck making 80 grand and pulling down a 20k PERS payout, no one would care."

MINNIS, JOHN M $4,857.99 $58,296

Not quite the same, but I care. IN addition, I don't think anyone is begrudging the $20K/yr recipient, unless I missed something.

"The Fireman has two pensions. Wonder what he'll be pulling down for his years of dedicated "service"."

He's already getting about $4K/month and insurance from PFDR.

Of course, he'll move to WA and avoid paying any OR income tax on that or PERS.

Minnis is the only other guy in OR who gets both PERS and PFDR.

"All 837 top earners:
Total/Month - $8,548,450.07
Total/Yr - $102,581,411.00
PV (20 yrs @ 4%) = $1,410,681,115.65"

Final note - According to the O, these 837 are only 3.5% of the total PERS retirees.

That $1.1B they took out of budget last year for additional employe benefits is just the beginning.

Seems like the biggest cadre of earners are OHSU Docs and undergrad/graduate profs at U of O. With all the talk about cops at the trough, who knew teaching at a public university would put you in the 1%.

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