The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, January 19, 2018, WEEKEND EDITION, Page 4A, Image 4

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

Founded in 1873
Circulation Manager
Business Manager
Production Manager
Systems Manager
Governor’s PERS solutions are modest at best
he message to Oregon legislators
from Gov. Kate Brown’s staff
last week was that PERS has an
immediate problem.
Yet the solutions proposed by the
governor are modest at best.
The problem is the Oregon Public
Employees Retirement System has too
little money to pay its projected pension
benefits. That gap, the size of which
ranges from $15 billion to more than
$20 billion depending on what assump-
tions are made, is PERS’ unfunded
actuarial liability. And to fill that gap,
schools, cities, counties and the state are
spending increasingly larger shares of
their budgets on PERS.
Each PERS employer, of which there
are about 915, has its own unfunded lia-
bility. School districts generally are in
the worst shape, with their unfunded
liability averaging 176 percent of their
Brown will ask the 2018 Legislature,
which convenes Feb. 5, to pull money
from other sources and put it into an
account to help school districts pay for
PERS. She suggested that money could
come from Oregonians’ unclaimed
property, increased collections of debts
owed to the state, lawsuit settlements, a
potential tax amnesty program, higher-
than-usual capital gains and estate taxes,
and other sources. Revenue from new
Oregon Lottery games also could help
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Thousands of unionized state workers rally at the Capitol in Salem in 2011 to protest
proposed retirement benefit cuts. The Oregon Supreme Court later ruled that some of
the 2013 cuts to public-employee retirement benefits were unconstitutional.
Instead of shying from productive reforms, the
governor and legislators should embrace them with
the knowledge that they dare not count on the PERS
savings until the subsequent litigation is settled.
schools, along with community colleges
and universities, pay for PERS.
The governor’s proposed legislation
also would create — but not pay for —
a matching fund to encourage employ-
ers to act faster, instead of letting their
current budget needs overwhelm their
eventual PERS obligations. For exam-
ple, the state might match 25 cents for
every dollar paid by a PERS employer.
It would be up to the 2019 Legislature
to fund that matching program.
Those are good ideas. Still, it’s dis-
appointing that this is all Brown could
come up with from last year’s blue-rib-
bon task force on the PERS unfunded
liability. And it’s even more discourag-
ing that she won’t take up PERS ben-
efits reforms. Not in this year’s leg-
islative session — maybe not in next
year’s, either.
Brown says she doesn’t want to try
approaches that will be thrown out by
the Oregon Supreme Court. Instead,
she and the Legislature must recognize
their Catch-22: The only way to know
whether further reforms will pass legal
muster is to enact them and have them
tested in court.
Instead of shying from productive
reforms, the governor and legislators
should embrace them with the knowl-
edge that they dare not count on the
PERS savings until the subsequent liti-
gation is settled.
That would be a more courageous
approach than Brown’s modest
PERS proposals for the 2018
Make your voice heard
on offshore drilling
commend The Daily Astorian’s strong
stance opposing the Trump administra-
tion’s move to allow oil and gas drilling
off our nation’s shores: “Offshore drilling
here? Absolutely not” (Jan. 9), and “Drill
here but not there? Heck no” (Jan. 12). This
reckless move goes against the will of the
majority of Americans, who want to pro-
tect the ocean from this kind of dangerous
To make things worse, this decision comes
soon after the Trump administration weak-
ened regulations designed to help prevent
oil spills, keep workers safe, and protect the
environment. These rules were enacted to
prevent another catastrophe like the horren-
dous Deepwater Horizon spill, which for-
ever changed the Gulf of Mexico. History
shows that where we drill, we spill. We can’t
afford that risk in the Pacific Ocean, which
is already facing acidifying waters, harmful
algal blooms and other consequences of cli-
mate change.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Man-
agement will hold a public hearing on the
proposal from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Red
Lion Hotel, 3301 Market Street NE, Salem. I
hope that Oregonians will make their voices
heard on this matter.
Additionally, the administration’s deci-
sion to exempt the state of Florida from off-
shore drilling for what appear to be political
reasons is appalling. Our national energy pol-
icy shouldn’t be based on the president’s pre-
ferred gubernatorial candidate or the location
of a Trump golf course.
Risking the health of our oceans for the
financial gain of private companies defies
common sense and is reckless, wrong, and
unnecessary. In Congress, I’ll continue to
advocate for investing in clean energy tech-
nologies, and I’ll fight against Trump’s drill-
at-all-costs agenda.
We need voters’ pamphlets
n Sunday’s showing of “Selma” at the Lib-
erty Theatre, and the candlelight march and
discussion at the Blue Scorcher that followed,
we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s com-
mitment to voting rights as the lynchpin of
citizenship for African Americans.
The Clatsop County Commission has
recently debated including funding in the
county budget for a voters’ pamphlet at every
election. This discussion amplifies Dr. King’s
message for all Americans.
First, an informed electorate is foun-
dational to a well-functioning democracy.
Someone else said it first, but it still rings
Second, we have a limited local media
market, especially among young people, so
the voters’ pamphlet is often the only source
of information on issues and candidates.
Third, one of the reasons that candidates
are hesitant to run for local offices is the bur-
den of raising funds for campaign literature.
The voters’ pamphlet provides very necessary
information to the electorate which reduces
the funds necessary for campaigns.
Fourth, it is one of only a few places
where both sides are presented on issues and
Fifth, lack of a voters’ pamphlet signals
that the election is of lesser importance than
others. All elections are important.
Why can’t we cope
with everyday life?
was thinking about some of the things we
spend money, or time, on in this country,
and what a waste much of it is. In fact, some
of these things are very morally wrong and
harmful to our minds and bodies.
Think about how much booze is consumed
in our country alone. How many marriages
have fallen apart from it, or kids left with just
one parent? How many drunk drivers have
ended others’ lives?
Then, how much has smoking affected our
lives? Our lungs were not made for smoke,
but fresh clean air. Tobacco raises our heart
rate, makes everything smell terrible, costs
around $800 to $1,000 a year, and takes an
average eight years off your life.
What about drugs? Wow, how sad many
are addicted to these substances, illegal or
prescription medicines. How many lives have
been ruined by them? Millions, I’m sure.
Why do so many turn to such things?
Why can’t we seem to cope with everyday
life? Remember when we didn’t have a frac-
tion of these problems? Now it’s an epidemic,
God help us. A country is only as strong as its
people; every empire has fallen from within
before it comes crashing down. Look at his-
tory, folks.
We really need a miracle to turn the tide,
to wake us up, to change our very nature. We
need Jesus Christ to forgive our sins and give
us a new life. Ask him for help.
What president is doing
does not represent us
want to express my horror and outrage at
the despicable words and attitudes spouted
over the past weeks by the man who may
have been falsely elected president of our
To hear the blasphemy coming from his
mouth often, and in the ugliest of ways, is
sickening and enraging me.
I want us all to remember that we must
stand firm in our convictions and commitment
to equality, compassion, and justice. We are
true Americans, whether we are immigrants
or native born, people of color or white, dis-
Letters should be exclusive to The
Daily Astorian.
Letters should be fewer than 250
words and must include the writer’s
name, address and phone number. You
will be contacted to confirm authorship.
All letters are subject to editing for
space, grammar, and, on occasion, fac-
tual accuracy. Only two letters per writer
are allowed each month.
Letters written in response to other
letter writers should address the issue
at hand and, rather than mentioning the
abled or able. We represent the true Amer-
ica. The man and his cronies who are trying
to change our democracy to a tyrannical and
heartless kleptocracy do not represent the ide-
als and mission of the U.S.
We must resist, in the name and memory
of those many individuals who have lived and
died for freedom for all of us, in civil rights
battles, in courtrooms, in jail houses, in sim-
ple acts of rebellion against evil.
I ask all of us to double down on our acts
of kindness, of resistance, of commitment to
our ideals and the promises of a multicultural,
pluralistic nation, the Unite States of Amer-
ica, a nation which respects and honors diver-
sity, exercises its strengths and works on its
We are Americans. What our so-called
president is doing does not represent us. He
is an American only by birth, not by attitude
or behavior or heart. We are Americans, and
we have a duty not to blindly obey a false and
evil leader. We are Americans and we will
resist evil.
Fight for what you think is right
ur country is based on freedoms. A
basic freedom is the right to have and
practice our beliefs as long as our beliefs
writer by name, should refer to the head-
line and date the letter was published.
Discourse should be civil and people
should be referred to in a respectful
manner. Letters in poor taste will not be
Send via email to editor@dailyas-, online at dailyastorian.
com/submit_letters, in person at 949
Exchange St. in Astoria or 1555 North
Roosevelt in Seaside, or mail to Letters
to the Editor, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR
do not hurt others. At times, this can be
Beliefs are a cherished freedom. This is
what our democracy is about. Two recent let-
ters to the editor in The Daily Astorian are
clear examples of different beliefs. Both let-
ters use the Robin Hood theme. One com-
pares Prince John to President Donald Trump
(“Robin Hood,” Dec. 1). The other compares
Prince John to President Barack Obama (“We
are heading in the right direction as a nation,”
Dec. 13).
Here are some of my beliefs: Everyone has
what I call a belief system. Beliefs are devel-
oped from childhood forward. This is what
shapes decisions. Strong belief systems may
never change — but can. This usually occurs
through evolution of time or by traumatic
events. Minor examples of traumatic events
are not believing in flu shots until you get the
flu, or not believing in seat belts until you
have a fender-bender.
By evolution of time, I mean a gradual
process of objectively thinking about what
you believe, examining your reasoning which
is based on fact, and then deciding on possi-
ble change. To me, the challenge is to look at
your beliefs, examine them and fight for what
you think is right. We have this privilege in a
free country.