Plus, proof that Portland is still a small town and the non-candidate raising the most campaign money in a city race.

The financial problems being caused by Oregon's lavish public employee retirement payments made the front page of Sunday's New York Times.

The April 15 story spotlighted the high pensions being paid to retired OHSU President Joe Robertson and UO football coach Mike Bellotti to help explain why local governments are laying off employees and cutting services to pay for the increasing cost of the Public Employee Retirement System.

The article says that Robertson is being paid $76,111 a month and Bellotti is receiving more than $46,000 a month from PERS.

"That is considerably more than the average Oregon family earns in a year," the story says of Robertson's payment.

The story is headlined, "Strange math leaves pensions in pinch of their own making." It cites numerous examples of local governments cutting programs to raise money for mandatory PERS contributions that are growing faster than the recovering economy. The story also says the increases are expected to continue until the current generation of retirees start dying.

Career employees with 30 years of service average $45,252 annually. Newer employees are enrolled in a different program that will eventually pay less. You can read the story at

How big is Portland?

Although city leaders keep saying Portland is growing up, sometimes it still seems like a very small town.

Speaking at the City Club last Friday, Mayor Ted Wheeler welcomed Portland native David Bangsberg back to town. An experienced public health administrator, Bangsberg is now the founding dean of the joint Oregon Health & Science University-Portland State University School of Public Health. Both men participated in the April 10 press conference announcing the homeless navigation center and shelter to be built in the Pearl District by the Oregon Harbor of Hope.

But, as Wheeler told the Friday Forum crowd, his relationship with Bangsberg goes back much further. They both went to Lincoln High School at the same time, where Wheeler beat Bangsberg in the race for senior class president.

Saltzman top fundraiser this year

The top City Council campaign fundraiser this year isn't running for office. He's Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who's so far raised over $188,500 to support Measure 26-197 on the May 15 primary election ballot. It would renew the Portland Children's Levy for five years.

Saltzman chose not to run for re-election this year. The levy, which he first sponsored in 2002, is one of his proudest accomplishments. It has been approved by city voters three times, providing more than $150 million to programs with track records of serving needy children in Portland.

The only council candidates to break the $100,000 fundraising mark so far this year are Commissioner Nick Fish, who is running for re-election, and Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who is running for Saltzman's seat.

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