SALEM — Now that the turkey leftovers no one will ever touch are safely in the freezer and the Ducks have stuck their big wet webfoot on the neck of the Beavers in the Civil War game, we can turn to “The Holiday Season,” the time of year when both the state and its residents ask “can we afford that?” and “what’s the limit on that credit card?”

The 30-foot tall noble fir that serves as the state’s “Grand Tree” has been wrestled into place in the Capitol rotunda. The Senate and House chambers have been decked with holiday garlands, even though neither will be used for official business until February. Let’s get out the shiny red wrapping paper and wrap up a few odds and ends here in Salem.

Persisting on PERS

Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, will re-introduce legislation to curtail one type of pension spiking by public employees. A similar bill died without a hearing during the 2017 session, but Whisnant is going to give it the old college try.

The poster child on this one is Mike Bellotti, the former University of Oregon football coach and athletic director, who pulls in $45,000 per month in PERS retirement benefits. His pension is based on his final salary of $1.3 million a year. But $1 million of that came from outside sources (Nike, Oregon TV deals, etc.). However, since it was “approved” by the school, it was lumped in with his $299,000 salary for determining his state-paid benefit. Whisnant’s bill would ban anything but state pay from being factored into PERS benefits.

Replacement redux

He’s now officially Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles. The new lawmaker was sworn in Tuesday to replace John Huffman, who resigned to take a job in the Trump administration. Two candidates for the appointment who didn’t get the nod — former Deschutes County Republican chairman Bob Perry and Mike Shirtcliff, the CEO of Advantage Dental — will have another shot soon, if they are so inclined. Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, will resign from office at the end of the year. Ferrioli’s Senate district includes all of Bonham’s House district. The key question is whether Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, who represents the parts of the district that are not in Bonham’s House district, opts to seek the Senate seat. In the end, it is up to voters. The House seats and the Senate seat will be up for grabs in the 2018 election.

Help wanted: Judge (Robes and gavel provided)

Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Alta Brady has informed Gov. Kate Brown that she plans to retire at the end of the year. Officially, picking her replacement is an open process based on merit with applicants sending their bona fides to Misha Isaak, General Counsel, Office of the Governor, 900 Court Street NE #254, Salem, OR 97301-4047. Forms must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Minimum job requirements are U.S. citizenship, Oregon residency, and membership in the Oregon Bar Association. Contact Shevaun Gutridge at 503-378-6246 or with any questions.


Speaking of Ducks and Beavers, those “house divided” banners showing that a household has alumni from Oregon AND Oregon State are a bit ironic, given that Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 speech continued “… against itself cannot stand.” Are these people inviting divorce?

Term of the week: ‘Nested’

Two state House districts are “nested” within each state Senate district in Oregon. House districts cannot be in more than one Senate district. A Senate district can have no fewer and no more than two House districts. So, House District 1 and 2 are in Senate District 1, House District 3 and 4 are in Senate District 2, and so forth. In the Bend area, House Districts 53 and 54 are in Senate District 27. They are represented by three Republicans: Gene Whisnant, Knute Buehler and Tim Knopp.

Bearing witnesses?

Anthony Behrens, a state circuit court candidate from Marion County, has requested that he be listed on the ballot as Anthony (the Bear) Behrens. So far, that is how he is listed on the Secretary of State’s site. “Judge Bear” would be quite a moniker. Don’t know about his judicial temperament, but it might be better to take your chances with Judge Jim Fun, a circuit court judge in Washington County running for a new term.

Tree times

The state’s “Grand Tree” will be on display in the Capitol until late next month. Musical performances will take place Monday through Saturday in the Capitol rotunda from Tuesday to Dec. 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

— Reporter: 541-525-5280,