Oregon’s supreme pigs at the trough

by Dan Lucas

Oregon’s 1996 Supreme Court judges should have recused themselves from the 1996 PERS reform case

Oregon Catalyst regular contributor Larry Huss has been following the lonely crusade of Bend attorney Daniel Re and his David and Goliath struggle to give Oregon taxpayers and voters a voice in PERS decisions.

The current focus of Re’s efforts is the 1996 PERS ruling made by the Oregon Supreme Court, where the court overruled the 1994 PERS reform measure [Measure 8] passed by Oregon voters. As PERS members with an obvious and inherent conflict of interest, the court should have recused itself. The justices didn’t, and Oregon taxpayers have been paying ever since. But the Oregon Supreme Court judges who made the ruling have been doing quite nicely.

The recent decision to make PERS retiree information public lets us see exactly how nicely they’ve been doing.

Additional PERS data to be released in March 2012 may make analysis possible to determine an actual dollar amount that each of the 1996 Oregon Supreme Court justices personally benefited by their ruling on this case.


Control of PERS is in the exclusive hands of PERS members – taxpayers/voters are shut out

In his article yesterday, Larry Huss lays it out very well how all three branches of Oregon’s government have been co-opted by PERS:

  • “The terms and conditions of Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System are determined by the Oregon Legislature. All of the members of the legislature are eligible to be members of PERS and most are.”
  • “The administration of the PERS system falls to the executive branch (governor). The governor and all the members of his administration, including those who directly administer PERS, are beneficiaries of PERS.”
  • “The judiciary, all of whom are eligible to be members of PERS – and most of whom are – determine the constitutionality of attempts to reform PERS. Twice reforms have been adopted – once by initiative and once by the legislature in response to public disclosure of the crushing future liability created by PERS. Twice the Oregon Supreme Court invalidated those reforms.”

Daniel Re’s efforts are to be commended. Success would restore a voice for taxpayers and voters in PERS decisions, and would right a 15-year old wrong.


Additional Resources:

Larry Huss articles on Daniel Re’s crusade

A Lonely Fight to Reform PERS (Dec 2011)

No PERS Member Left Behind (Aug 2011)

PERS Reform Not Likely In A Corrupted System (Aug 2010)

Recent articles by Bend attorney Daniel Re

PERS And Judicial Independencepublished in the December 2011 issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin

Update 10: The Fight To Reinstate Ballot Measure 8 (Nov 2011)

My Problem With PERS (Aug 2011)

Dan Re says conflict of interest nullifies Supreme Court ruling on Measure 8published in the Bend Bulletin on May 30, 2011


Note: The data in the table for this article is the data that PERS provided to the Oregonian. A Dec 2012 article by the Oregonian’s Mike Francis revealed that the data provided by PERS to the Oregonian is not always correct. When I get the time to do the follow-up research and discussion with PERS, I will adjust the numbers in the table accordingly.