Why Can’t Portland’s Pension Problem Be Solved Voluntarily?

CascadeNewLogo e1342826659899 Why Can’t Portlands Pension Problem Be Solved Voluntarily?By Shane Young

In 2008, the Portland public safety fund realized it had been accidentally overpaying pension benefits to 980 police and firefighter retirees for the last 13 years. This cost the fund $2.89 million. In 2011, the fund tried to recoup this money by withholding the cost of living increases for the retirees until the amount they were overpaid was returned. Alternatively, the retirees were given the option to repay the amount they were overpaid directly back to the fund.

However, as a response to a class action lawsuit brought by five of the affected retirees, a Multnomah county judge has recently declared that the fund cannot recoup the overpaid money by withholding cost of living increases, as such an act would violate the wage claim statute. The fund is now forced to figure out new ways to recoup this money.

While the retirees are not to blame for the overpayments, it is sad that such great lengths have to be taken to recoup what was overpaid. Only 52 of the 980 beneficiaries have chosen voluntarily to pay back their portion of the overpayments.

As ex-public servants, these retirees should be doing all they can to figure out how to voluntarily repay taxpayer money that they did not earn. It shouldn’t be the taxpayers’ job to force them to do the right thing.

Shane Young is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

Learn more at cascadepolicy.org.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Public Employee Unions | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rupert in Springfield

    I love the way this mistake was made:

    The genesis is:

    “Gee, we want to run a scam where we tax federal employee pensions, but not state. We cant do that legally so, we will reimburse state employees on their taxes and circumvent the law that way”

    then – “uh oh, we need to have two calculations for how much to reimburse”. Obviously the simple expedient of looking at the retirees tax return and sending them a check for what they paid was too simple.

    and then – the cherry on the ice cream Sunday of corrupt idiocy that is state government – “Oh gee, you mean we were supposed to pick the greater of the two calculations, not combine them?”

    This is ridiculous. We have state employees mailing people $1M tax refunds, employees who think “pick on” means add em up.

    Will anyone be fired?

    Nope. Not in the romper room that is state employment. The average restaurant dishwasher has more responsibility.

    • 3H

      “…and then – the cherry on the ice cream Sunday of corrupt idiocy that is
      state government – “Oh gee, you mean we were supposed to pick the
      greater of the two calculations, not combine them?”

      The disability fund is managed by the city of Portland, not the state. It was the city that made that mistake.

      • ardbeg

        Hey!, Don’t screw up a good ‘Rupert Rant” with facts! I’ll wait for his usual “I never said that” reply. :)

        • Rupert in Springfield

          Hey – one thing nobody can ever accuse me of is not admitting when I am wrong.

          One thing nobody can ever accuse you of is doing the same.

          Liberals never, and I mean never, can admit when they are wrong in a straight up fashion.

          You won’t do so here for example.

          Do I know you guys like the back of my hand or what?

          • 3H

            “Hey – one thing nobody can ever accuse me of is not admitting when I am wrong

            Actually, that is not true. You repeated, twice, that Democrats have always received more donations from Wall Street. You finally realized your mistake after having it pointed out to you.. twice.. and settled on Obama receiving more donations from Wall Street than McCain, which is true – but evidently an anomaly as well. However, you never admitted your mistake.

            You claimed that LBJ was cynical in signing the Civil Right bill of 1963 for political gain – claiming that his statement that the Democrats had lost the South was proof of the cynicism. Actually, the statement proved the opposite, but you never admitted your mistake.

            You have made frequent errors of fact that you simply walk away from Ascribing words to people they never said, pretending that you haven’t said things that you have.

            Occasionally you will admit to a minor factual error. Such as the one above. However, I suspect that you only did so because Ardberg said you wouldn’t.

            So yes, I can accuse of not admitting when you’re wrong, because for the most part you don’t.

          • valley person

            Not our Rupert. He has been wrong 3 times in 6 years and admitted it each time.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Well – Considering you two boobs can never forthrightly admit when you are wrong, you probably shouldn’t be throwing stones.

            Where you two get really scary though is the fact that you can never admit when your leaders are wrong.

            The North Korean mindset you two maintain is truly frightening.

          • valley person

            Yes…North Korean. That’s it Rupert. Or maybe Cuban. Must be something.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Doesn’t matter. The point is you and 3H operate on the “if they say it, I must believe it” basis with your leaders. That’s unquestioning obedience is scary as hell.

          • 3H

            Congratulations, you managed to prove how breathtakingly ignorant and wrong you can be in a simple post. The only thing that remains unquestioned are your own assumptions. And I can’t help you with that.

          • valley person

            Who is “they”? I mean, if I’m going to sit here and wait for instructions on what to think, I need to know who “they” are.

          • 3H

            Sorry, I forgot to forward today’s list of acceptable thoughts and beliefs from Them. Stand by your wireless and have your decoder ring handy.

          • valley person

            Damn. I am lost without those instructions. I think I just sent a check to that guy Aiken in Missouri. Help me out here.

          • 3H

            Yeah, last time I didn’t get my instructions, I tried to help out a Nigerian Prince. That didn’t work out so well.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Actually, that is not true. You repeated, twice, that Democrats have always received more donations from Wall Street.

            Nope – I said Obama did in the 2008 election. Get your facts straight.

            >You claimed that LBJ was cynical in signing the Civil Right bill of 1963
            for political gain – claiming that his statement that the Democrats had
            lost the South was proof of the cynicism.

            Nope – I said Democrats view that they are the party of civil rights was cynical since they voted in a greater percentage than Republicans against the bill.

            >You have made frequent errors of fact that you simply walk away from
            Ascribing words to people they never said, pretending that you haven’t
            said things that you have.

            Actually thats your schtick buddy.

            >Occasionally you will admit to a minor factual error. Such as the one
            above. However, I suspect that you only did so because Ardberg said you
            wouldn’t.

            Nope – When I am wrong I admit it forthrightly. Something you might do and I think I demonstrated quite nicely a week or so ago with your nonsense in a reply.

            >So yes, I can accuse of not admitting when you’re wrong, because for the most part you don’t.

            Well – When you make up things I never said, then from your perspective I suppose this is correct.

            Hey – nice try here, but kind of lacking.

          • 3H


            After all, LBJ, the founder of Medicare, was hardly a nice guy. His first concern with the civil rights act was not “this is the right thing to do and we shall do so regardless of political expediency”. No, the quote he is remembered for is “we have lost the south for a generation” It was all about the vote calculus to him.

            Wanna guess who said that?

          • Rupert in Springfield

            So when a guy signs a bill that clearly is the right thing to do, and the first thing that pops into his head is how it is going to affect the vote tally, rather than trying to do the right thing you are trying to argue that is not cynical? Or you are trying to argue LBJ was a nice guy?

            Good luck with that one.

            Want to try backing up any of your other nonsense?

          • 3H

            I’m going to have to pass. Your powers of self-delusion are too entrenched, and it would be a waste of my time.

          • valley person

            So let me get this straight. You don’t admit to what you already admitted to?

          • ardbeg

            Wow! Way to take an admission of a (minor) mistake in fact and turn it into an all out attack. You obviously are very biased and angry toward anyone you consider “liberal” which means anyone who has a different opinion than you. The word Liberal gives you an outlet for your anger, your bias, your prejudices. I’m sure there is a clinical name for your psychosis. “You won’t do so here for example.” What exactly am I to admit to? “One thing nobody can ever accuse you of is doing the same”-Really? “Liberals never, and I mean never, can admit when they are wrong in a straight up fashion.” Again, your showing your prejudices. A real man would have simply said “oops, my bad”. You, on the other hand, took your admission of a mistake, into an opportunity to take out your uncontrolled anger towards others. Grow up, be a man, admit when your wrong, stop attacking.

          • ardbeg

            “Do I know you guys like the back of my hand or what?” I’m sure there is a name for this psychosis as well-you know, the one where one constantly protests to be superior to everyone else in the room. Your little snide remarks reveals much of your dysfunctional personality. Lighten up Dude.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Yep, you are right, it was the city not the state that made the mistake.

        However one does have to wonder how stupid you have to be to make a screw up like this.

        What one doesn’t have to wonder about is the obvious – nobody will be fired.

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