Governor and PERS

    The Governor of Oregon is elected by all of the people to represent them as the State's  chief executive officer.  As a public official, the Governor holds a position of public trust and must put the interests of Oregon's citizens above his or her own personal interests.   

    Governor Kulongoski is a PERS member.  We made a public records request of the Governor's office to find out if the Governor's employee PERS contribution was being picked up.  His office responded with the following letter:
(give the letter a minute to download)

  
There are just a couple of things that do not not make sense about the letter from the Governor's office, or maybe they do.

    1.  ORS 192.502(12) is an exemption from disclosure of certain records maintained by PERS.  I was requesting records maintained by the Governor's Office, not records that were maintained by PERS.  ORS 192.502(12) does not apply to records maintained by the Governor's Office unless the Governor's Office is actually part of PERS.  Therefore, one of two things happened:
        a. the Governor's Office misinterpreted ORS 192.502(12); or,
        b. the Governor's Office is officially acknowledging that it is now part of  PERS and is no longer an independent State office. 

    2.  I requested whether the Governor's employee contribution to PERS was picked up. The letter states that the Governor's Office does not possess any documents that are responsive to my request.    The Governor, as required by law, submitted a recommended budget for the 2009 - 2011 biennium to the Legislature.  That recommended budget contained the following specific request for the Governor's Office:


While the Governor's recommended budget asks for $17,751,909,  his office is saying that it has no records of what that money will be spent for.  If it had such records, it would have been able to say that the Governor's employee PERS contribution was being picked up or that it was not being picked up.  Either answer would have been responsive to my request.  This presents at least three possibilities:
        a.  the Governor's Office was not forthright in it's response; 
        b.  the Governor's Office had the records showing what the requested $17,751,909 was to be spent for but has lost or misplaced them; or,
        c.  the Governor's Office really doesn't have any records showing what that money was for, which might go a long way to explaining the financial challenges facing Oregon today.

    This story of Governor Kulongoski and his steadfast refusal to tell the People of Oregon if they are paying his employee's PERS contribution is not over and, as Oliver North says in his television show "War Stories", it's a story that needs to be told.
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