Here is the question on your ballot that you are asked to vote Yes or No:
QUESTION: SHALL SYSTEM BE CHANGED TO REQUIRE INDEPENDENT, QUALIFIED EXPERTS TO DECIDE DISABILITY CLAIMS AND LIMIT ADDITIONAL UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY?
On its face, this sounds like something that you might want to vote YES on. However, if you will look in the Voters' Pamphlet Candidates Volume 2 on page M-36 under the City of Portland Measure No. 26-86 in the last paragraph you will find:
"Changing the retirement system for new public safety officers is expected to increase the existing property tax levy rate in the short term and decrease the rate in the long term".
Since when is "short term" considered to be 26 YEARS? And that is what a yes vote will do, is increase your property taxes or your rental rate (since landlords pass those costs on to their tenants) for the next 26 years in an INCREASING amount for each year of the next 26 years. And what do we get in return? We get to pay in taxes to provide not only a generous and unaccountable existing pension plan to current public safety officers, but also to provide the new public safety officers a generous 9% funding for their individual 457 pension plan in addition to moving them into the PERS pension which we will also pay for in state taxes. How many pensions will you be getting when you reach your senior years? Probably not that many, if any.
It is what Measure 26-86 does NOT say that warrants a NO vote. Let's hold the Mayor and his commissioners accountable for providing us with a measure in a future election that we can both understand in financial costs and benefits and is both transparent and accountable. The vague and deceptive wording, both on the election ballot and in the explanatory statement, calls for a NO vote.
Neither will this measure make the board more independent as promised. It reduces the current 11 members to 5. Of those 5, one will be the Mayor and 2 will be the Mayor's appointed cronies. The remaining 2 will come from the Fire and Police bureaus. That is not my idea of "independent".
The City says the current system is too expensive, yet the City has not held the current administrator accountable for approving bogus claims, denying valid ones when the employee is "out of favor". nor for recovering money earned by "disabled" officers while working at other jobs and still drawing disability checks, as the current City Charter allows the administrator to currently collect, without any changes needed.
Measure 26-86 is too vague, too deceptive, and does not go far enough in holding the current system accountable nor in making the new board independent. Don't be fooled. vote No.