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police / legal oregon elections 2006

Potter's police pension "reform" a costly (to you) sham

official ballot-general election multnomah county, or november 7, 2006 measure 26-86 amends charter: changes fire and police disability and retirement system
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.
I Want to Vote No, but 24.Oct.2006 12:38

voter

Can we trust the Portland City Council to bring back a better "reform" if we vote no?

The police and fire unions are sitting on their hands in regards to this measure, so if I vote no, will they be happy?

A NO Vote 24.Oct.2006 14:00

Change of mind

Initially the police union supported this measure, then changed to a neutral stance. I think the question is not whether the union will be happy but whether the current proposal actually accomplishes what it pretends to do for a whole lot of money for many, many years. If you think about it, why not just "reform" the current plan, make it more accountable, and put appropriate measures on the ballot to change the current system? My objection is that none of this has been adequately explained to justify a Yes vote for the current measure.

hmph. 26.Oct.2006 13:55

unhappy voter

i just filled out my ballot measure votes....i voted yes on 26-86...then came on here to find out more about specific candidates.

then i read this!

now i need to find out how to change my vote from yes to no.

it would be great if some folks could outline these | between the lines | things that most voters will slip through.

Good for You 27.Oct.2006 10:34

Vote Change

Don't you just hate to be tricked by those to whom you pay their salaries to inform you accurately and are supposed to be able to trust? The supporters of Measure 26-86 are counting on hard working tax payers not having the time to read all of the thick voter pamphlets and to rely on the vague ballot question as an accurate representation of the "reform" measure. What I would like to know is how the officials who scrutinize the ballot questions allowed this misrepresented statement to be put forth on the ballot. We should cry "Foul" on that! And, to add to the above comments on whether or not the police union supports this measure, I see in the voter pamphlet that the police commanding officers wrote in support of it. That should give us cause to pause in itself. The overly generous 9% tax contribution to the new hires' private pension plan might even create a precedent for the existing officers to ask in future years that they also get this overly generous 9% in their benefits.

Thanks for the Information 07.Nov.2006 08:33

Uncle Bubba

I appreciate the perspective. It is a difficult measure to understand. I live in Troutdale, but my parents live in Portland and they rely on me to research some of this stuff so they can decide how to vote. All the other "opinions" I read made it sound like it is broken and so irresponsible not to fix it. I was just about to be sucked into the "A No Vote is a vote against Police and Firefighters." Blasting people with property tax increases over the next 20+ years sounds like more of the same from Mayor Potter. I am sure if someone really wants to take care of our Police and Fire Fighters, they can find a better was of doing it then the over-bloated Pers like approach. If you are worried about letting this go unfixed, don't be. It will be fixed, it has been broke for a while and it can wait for a better measure. Just remember, if you vote this in, you'll never get a chance to take it back. Once you get by the one they try to slip in, they know you are really paying attention and will work on something more reasonable.

Rubber stamped into law 10.Nov.2006 10:11

Dismayed

Unfortunately the sheep of Portland overwhelmingly rubber stamped this measure into being by a huge majority. Even hiz honor said he was very surprised that it passed by such a large percentage. Now, the current system will remain unfixed and the new system won't "prove" itself for over two decades. How many will be around to remember the promise, much less to hold anyone accountable? And, I have seen no explanation of what happens to the new tax money in the interim, other than to read that Potter was happy that the City now has more money to spend.