Tuesday, June 29, 2038

NOTE: To find the most current posts, please scroll down to the two big red arrows. You can't miss them.

Friday, June 25, 2038

Angel of Grief

Thursday, June 24, 2038

Garrison Keillor

Friday, May 28, 2038

Items of interest in the Archives: The 2013 STRS Board Election

Many people have been very interested in reading about the irregularities of the 2013 STRS board election. There are many posts related to this topic, beginning the first week of April 2013, after the ballots were mailed to retirees from STRS. You can find them by going to the Archives for this blog, over in the right sidebar, and clicking on dates beginning with April 7, 2013. Dennis Leone announced his candidacy for a retired seat in November, 2012. There is a lot of information about him in the Archives, beginning with November 12, 2012 posts. 5/28/13

Wednesday, February 27, 2036

.....so what REALLY happened in 2003 that touched off a firestorm at STRS that is still smoldering today? Read it here, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (Hint: It ain't over yet!)

More here (Akron Beacon Journal, 2003)

Wednesday, April 11, 2035

Thursday, March 10, 2033

To find current, day-to-day posts -- pull your scroll bar down a ways, just below the big red arrows (you can't miss them). Thanks.

............................................................................................

Monday, September 15, 2031

Note from this blogger.....


In case you weren't aware, I am quite willing to post opposing views on this blog; in fact, I welcome such opportunities. If you disagree with anything you see posted on my blog, please feel free to submit your views and I will gladly post them.
Kathie Bracy 
kbb47@aol.com 9/15/10.........................................

Monday, February 24, 2031

Find your state representative and senator here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2029

Gettin' a little tired.....


Some communications to Mike Nehf and Tim Myers, dating back as far as 2009, continue to go unanswered. Looks like it will be a long wait, but we haven't forgotten. You can see them here and here.

Saturday, April 29, 2028

I know, it's weird.........

Many posts that appear "at the top" for a while are eventually moved down, where they can be found under their original posting dates. Also, if you are confused by the postdating, this is done to keep these posts up there; otherwise, they drift down when new posts are added. It's a "blog thing" which I have no other way to control. KB

Wednesday, February 24, 2027

Handy links: Contacts, information and more (short version)
This is an abbreviated version of the original 'Handy links' post.
 Click here to view a more complete list. (Some of it is old.)
STRS Board.....STRS website
Board calendar
E-mail contacts at STRS (old, but some may still work)
Map/directions to STRS, 275 E. Broad St. Columbus, OH 43215
Rich DeColibus' PowerPoint presentation STRS' PBI Program; Does it work?: click December 21, 2008 (blog Archive) and scroll down to December 23 posts.
Popular links; click, then scroll down: , , , ,

Tuesday, February 24, 2026

SPECIAL (must read):

Dennis Leone's INVESTIGATIVE REPORT on STRS: May 16, 2003...Who is Dennis Leone?........(PDF version)...More on Dennis Leone .......(PDF version)
Dennis Leone's STRS Report to ORTA, March 2007
Dennis Leone's Testimony at the Statehouse 9/5/12
The Plain Dealer article that started it all
Historic PBI vote, January 16, 2009

Sunday, February 23, 2020

CURRENT POSTS BELOW

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Bob Buerkle to STRS Board: Why do retirees continue to be denied a COLA?

Bob Buerkle's speech to STRS Board
August 15, 2019

5 STRS Board Actions that Continue to Hurt Retirees

STRS missed the payroll growth assumption.  The 3% figure they had the actuary use missed the actual 4% growth rate by 25%, making the liability of our pension system look larger than it really is.  

The low inflationary period we have been in will not last forever.  The average inflation rate for the past century is a compounded rate of just over 3%. STRS Retirees could suffer greatly in the future because of this action. 

Retirees have had their COLA reduced to 0% by STRS actions. The STRS COLA was never compounded.  ORC 3307.67 says that STRS “SHALL” pay a 2% “Simple” COLA annually. This change in Ohio Revised Code has cut another third from the original benefit that was promised during your career and up through the COLA change of 2013. Meanwhile, massive bonuses, one over $400,000, are still paid to STRS Employees.

STRS lowered the Earnings Assumption Rate to 7.45%, which is about 3% less than our actual returns of 10.25% since the change was implemented 3 years ago.  It is also over 3% less than the average STRS returns for the last 10 years.

Finally, STRS investment portfolio return results, could have been as much as 30% higher by simply investing more in the same equities, all because the STRS chose to reduce their “Stock Exposure” from 73% down to just 51%.  (73% – 30% = 51%)  Was this done to slow our recovery and justify STRS actions?                           

Even with these policy changes, STRS has just completed another Fiscal Year and the results show that the ten-year investment return average is now 10.61%.  That is 315 basis points more than Callan Associates, the STRS investment advisers, have projected they would earn on the total portfolio. 

The Question is, why do retirees continue to be denied a COLA?

Suzanne Laird to STRS Board: Can you spell "breach of contract"?

Suzanne Laird's speech to STRS Board
August 15, 2019

My name is Suzanne Laird. I retired in June, 2013, with 30 years experience and have been denied my full COLA for the past 5 years.

Good Morning, members of MY Board, and welcome to a new school year! I'm sorry to inform you, but you've been retained due to inadequate AYP scores. What's AYP? Anyone? (Please don't ask Betsy DeVos for the correct answer.)

In the interest of No Board Member Left Behind, I'll help you with the answer:  AYP stands for Adequate Yearly Progress. 

Grade yourselves on this one: how well did you do last year? Did you really listen when educators took the time to speak to you about the impact of the increased number of years needed before retirement or the loss of the COLA after retirement?

I learned a lot from my students over 30 years; all we ask, every month, is that you humble yourselves and listen. 

There's always one bright star in every class: last year, we witnessed a glimmer of hope as one of you chose to question the data, question the budget, question the manipulation of facts. Let us hope that Board member's brave example sets the tone for the upcoming year.

Did you do your required reading over the summer? The one titled, United States District Court Class Action Lawsuit? I hope you took notes, because there's a big test coming…….

Can anyone here spell "breach of contract"?

Dan MacDonald to STRS Board: Active and retired teachers deserve purchasing power protection

Dan MacDonald's speech to STRS Board
August 15, 2019

CalSTRS went from 109% funded to 63% was an article emailed by Chair Stein in early July. I am Dan MacDonald, an STRS retiree with 38 years with the CH-UH City Schools District. I am Executive Director of Local 279-R and am here representing over 1,000 279-R retirees. 
Stein commented: 
“A brief case study on why you want your pension system funded at least 100%. 
“Most novice critics of STRS Ohio’s funding policies ignore how shifts in the economy, natural maturation of the plan, and ‘optimistic’ risk management can endanger pensions at funding levels that may have been acceptable in the past. 
“Notice that even increasing state contributions were not enough to save CalSTRS from cyclical economic downturns and a lower ratio of active teachers to retirees (plan maturity). I estimate that CalSTRS went from a ~2% probability of a catastrophic funding event in 2000 to a 60% probability in 2017. Without the high funding going into 2001, CalSTRS risk of failure would have been near 100% after the 2008 downturn – base pensions would certainly have been reduced or possibly eliminated. CalSTRS educators also have no Social Security.” 
After reading the article I proceeded to Cal’s webpage and explored. In 2018-19 Cal had a 6.8% ROR. Looking at benefits, an active is vested in 5 years. The final pension benefit is determined by service credit times an age factor times a benefit percentage. An active can retire after 30 years but an age factor enters. Teaching to age 60 [and under a new formula 62], is set at 2% but will go up to 2.4 percent if one stays to age 65. A FA is determined by the best 36 months; our plan is 60 months. Added to their benefit is Inflation Protection. Your retirement benefit is protected against rising prices in two ways: 1 starting September 1 after the first anniversary of your retirement date, your benefit increases automatically each year by 2 percent of your initial benefit. 2 If inflation erodes the purchasing power of your retirement benefit to less than 85 percent of your initial monthly benefit, you’ll receive an additional quarterly payment, subject to the availability of funds set aside for purchasing power protection. After January 1, 2014 the California legislature guaranteed the COLA of 2%; those retiring before that date are not guaranteed a COLA but it has been paid for 43 consecutive years. 
My point? CalSTRS has a 2046 projection of being fully funded and is still functioning and taking care of its actives and retirees. 
Ohio actives deserve purchasing power protection, as do retirees. We want our COLA back and a better benefits determination for actives.

Susan Brannan to STRS Board: You should be cutting expenses!

Susan Brannan's speech to STRS Board
August 15, 2019
Board Members, Retirees, Active Teachers: 
My name is Susan Brannan. I retired in 1995 with 30 years of service. Receiving a COLA has had a positive impact on my financial well-being. The future is indeed bleak! 
So, what do we do when there has been no COLA for the 3rd straight year & no prospect of receiving one for the next 6 – 7 years? We CUT EXPENSES. This Board should CUT EXPENSES. 
Let's review STRS expenses as reported in the Fiscal 2018 Comprehensive Financial Report. 
The 3 categories are: Administrative Expenses of $65.7 million, Internal Investment Expenses of $42 million, & External Asset Management Fees totaling $218.3 million. (Schedules are attached) The Board patted themselves on the back in the July Newsletter for ranking 4th in a peer group of the 17 largest U.S. Public Pension Funds for having the 4th lowest investment costs. Perhaps these costs are too high in ALL Public Pension Funds. It was reported by STRS that this 4th place ranking was due to using internal investment managers for about 70% of the assets. Internal expenses are 1/5th of the External Fees of 218.3 million. Internal expenses include: Personnel salaries, Professional & Technical Services, printing & supplies, Staff Education, Memberships, etc. Looking specifically at the asset class Alternative Investments (only 15.5% of all assets) external management fees of $152.2 million were paid to 116 different companies. The external fee figure, $218.3 million is double the amount spent on all Administrative & all Internal Investment Expenses. 
Perhaps the following suggested changes can be implemented in order to pay a COLA & also meet future inflationary pressures: 
Cut all expenses by 5-10%. Decrease the 57 Stock Brokerage Companies now used, as well as the 116 Alternative Investment Groups. Negotiate lower external management fee schedules. Show “good faith” to retirees & actives by not increasing employee wages or paying bonuses. Review the operational costs of this facility. Does this building meet STRS needs going forward for the next 2-3 decades?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Tennessee pension fund investments in marijuana company generates smoke

Overheard.....
"Interesting! STRS investment department would never be this creative."
"Who knows."
"From the dismal track record, I seriously doubt it."

Thursday, July 25, 2019

NEA in trouble?

Excerpts from The Teachers Union Secession Crisis
By Keith J. Williams
Wall Street Journal
July 23, 2019
"The National Education Association, America's oldest and largest teachers union, faces a revolt from its member unions. In the past five years at least 11 local teachers unions have departed from the NEA and its state affiliates. In response, the NEA recently passed two bylaws to impose roadblocks and crushing penalties on locals seeking to leave the national body." 
"Most teachers I know value their local unions, but many are fed up with the bureaucratic, hyperpolitical and remote NEA."
The entire article can probably be viewed at your local library.
~    ~    ~    ~    ~
Comments:
"Wonder how many went over to the AFT?"
"If they knew what was going on they would (and should ) have crossed over long ago!"
"When we switched to the AFT OFT the NEA and OEA sued our union and its executive committee. Since that time, I’ve held the conviction that the NEA And OEA can go pound rocks. I will NEVER trust them... ever."
"OEA is complicit through their silence and lack of action regarding retirement age, years of service, and COLA. I’m calling them out on everything they post on social media and encourage others to do the same. I don’t care what they post, I always respond with “what are you doing about our retirement age and COLA?”
"Long overdue! Best news regarding the NEA, when I first joined the local teachers union it was required to belong to the OEA and the NEA!"
"Sad, considering what a great organization the NEA used to be."
"They just want our money. Never did anything for us as a union."
"Like all big advocacy groups in DC, they have lost their way and become pawns in the game. I feel the AFT is a far superior organization that still accomplishes things rather than collecting money to fatten the pockets of its executives."
"Whatever your feelings are about unions, all of this will do little if anything to help our cause. It certainly hasn't made any difference with the OEA-endorsed members on the STRS Board. I am not surprised."
"The NEA and state organizations have not been "on top" of teacher needs and concerns for years. It has all been talk and no real action. It is time to break up the union."
"I agree. We peasants have thought that for years! If these organizations can’t be 100% in support of those that pay their salary, I see no need to give them one red cent. OEA should be at every STRS meeting addressing this board and advocating on behalf of active and retirees."
"CFT, OFT, and AFT doing a great job for us!" 
"What does this have to do with our COLA?"
"There are some frustrations that the OEA-endorsed STRS Board members have not acted in our best interest and that OEA has silently sat in the sidelines as retirement benefits have been changed for active teachers and retirees."

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Overheard at the coffee bar.....

Damschroder column: Why I settled my lawsuit against OPERS
THENEWS-MESSENGER.COM
"This is OPERS, but still applicable to STRS." 
"This is an excellent article. The best and brightest set their own bonus levels and do very little to earn their base salary." 
"'Where there is secrecy, a large pension fund and few in control...a prescription for corruption. '... 'Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants... '- Justice Louis Brandeis" 
"JobsOhio, Mark Kvamme -- is the last and least transparent entity I would ever want getting even close to my retirement funds. But since they did (so easily get close to $66 billion)..., we are probably screwed." 
"There is no reason to believe that STRS is not as bad or even worse. The investment department are filling their pockets at our expense. Imagine using our money to contract with invest firms that operate in secrecy. Are you kidding me? We as retirees have every reason not to trust the STRS Board or staff. We are being betrayed by the very people who are supposed to be protecting our best interests. Don't let anybody ever tell you that Jessie James is dead!" 
"A bank robbery in progress, no doubt! I sincerely hope some folks are held accountable and jail time will result!"                                        

Monday, July 15, 2019

Overheard at the coffee bar.......

https://therealdeal.com/national/2019/07/14/massive-ohio-pension-fund-steps-up-investment-in-infrastructure/?fbclid=IwAR1_GtZ3aie_N-cXxXIbedG0NoZVWjJaXjg911zEnrYwRIVDJPtGCFvUO98 

"At current real estate values they are investing at the high end. Real estate investments are made when the market is down."

"Agree. STRS just invested in TEXAS REAL ESTATE AT HIGH WATER LEVEL."

"Duh...now I see it. It was in the first sentence of the article. Not my day."

"Several other mistakes, but I assume the base for article is correct."

"Not hard to understand how retirement systems get in trouble. Too much run and gun when they have available money. Instead of maintaining a rainy day fund as a go to, they find themselves in a vise and their immediate reaction is to cut retiree benefits. It all about poor leadership and poor management approved by Boards that have members whose personal finances are in a shamble it can't even balance a check book."

"Agree. Many on STRS Board do not have a clue regarding investment risk vs. returns. They are fed BS and believe without asking questions."

"I agree. Cutting our benefits is nothing but a knee-jerk reaction to the funding woes they create."  (Posted July 15, 2019)

Friday, June 21, 2019

Dean Dennis on STRS: The Slippery Slope Our Trustees are Traveling Down

Dean Dennis' speech to the STRS Board
June 20, 2019:
My name is Dean Dennis. I retired after 35 years service. I am the STRS Chair for Cincinnati's Local 1520-R, the Spokesperson for the Facebook, Ohio STRS Member Only Forum.
Let's look at some past history. In the 1990's, during the dot-com-bloom-era, many state pension funds were becoming flush to the point that an article appeared in Fortune Magazine (January 13, 1992) titled The Great Pension Robbery. Here's an excerpt, "In the past two years, more than a third of the states have cut or delayed contributions to their pension funds, seized money outright from pension accounts, or begun to debate similar measures."
During this era, STRS had a Director of Governmental Relations named Jim Miller, who shared with people I know in OFT, that he was concerned that our pension might be viewed as a source of money by Ohio's legislators. At this time, STRS had reached a funding ratio slightly over 90%. Apparently, he wasn't alone because in the year fiscal 2000, our STRS Trustees went to the Ohio Legislature and had the teacher benefit formula increased from 2.1% to 2.2%. Retirees' pensions were also increased to bring them up to a level of at least 85% of the purchase power of their original pension benefit. In the year 2000, our Trustees intentionally increased the amortization period for the unfunded liability from 16 years to 23 years because they wanted to make sure they maximized our benefits. They saw a danger in being fully funded.
Is there still a risk of being fully funded? STRS subscribes to the National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems. In May of 2019, an article was featured by Tom Sgouros titled, The Case For New Pension Accounting Standards; it was peer reviewed by 13 practitioners, Cheiron, our outside actuarial firm, being one. Here is an excerpt, "The risk of a fully funded, or overfunded pension plan, is not only the political risk, of increased benefits and reduced contributions, but also the risk that policy makers will perceive an opportunity to close the plan entirely." The author argues that, "Waste of a dollar on a pension, means a dollar not spent on education, roads, or public safety, not to mention the desires of the person who paid the dollar in tax. As with any other government expense, it is important to meet public obligations at the lowest feasible public cost."
Ohio intended for their tax dollars to go towards our pension. When you withhold and divert our COLA towards an unnecessary 100% funding goal, you negatively impact Ohio's economy. To date, Ohio's retirees could have contributed approximately another 2 billion dollars back into Ohio's economy, if we had received our COLA.
When you tell Ohioans you cannot provide retirees a COLA, you draw attention to your spending practices. Try explaining to the public how their tax dollars are able to pay quarter-million-dollar staff bonuses, but their tax dollars cannot pay an 80-year-old his, or her, modest $800 cost-of-living adjustment.
Since there has never been a public pension plan that has remained 100% funded, when you sought your 100% goal, did you consider the unintended consequence that you might be paving the way for the Legislature to eliminate the Defined Benefit Plan for our active teachers? Once you reach your 100% funded goal they could easily replace it with a Defined Contribution Plan. I encourage you to reconsider the road you're traveling.
Thank you.

Dan MacDonald to STRS Board: A wake-up call? Are you awake or like a teenager ignoring the evidence?

Dan MacDonald's speech to STRS Board
June 20, 2019
A wake-up call? Are you awake or like a teenager ignoring the evidence? Good morning, STRS Board. I am Dan MacDonald, an STRS retiree with 38 years of service, and Executive Director of Local 279-R NEO AFT retirees. 
First, I would like to recognize a passed CH-UH active, 54 years young, who died on May 20 with 32 years of Ohio teaching service. He didn't get to retirement. He would have retired at 30 years, but rules change. How many have our actuaries predicted will not make it to full retirement, 35 years? There is a number out there. How much money does STRS "save" by an active's death?
Moving on, a lawsuit has been filed for retirees and the recovery of the COLA. My organization sent a formal letter from our president and corresponding secretary to the Board regarding COLA, dated February 14, 2019, which has never been responded to by Board or staff. Rudeness or arrogance or one-voice silence? 
I have spoken monthly, as have others. Arguments about 85% and actuary oversight are not a response. Suddenly a lawsuit; is anyone really surprised? A wake-up call.
As long as this Board speaks in one voice and argues behind closed doors, the public is not going to trust the Board. As a matter of fact, the week of May 26, I was personally told by a retiree that Board members must pledge that each will vote publicly in union. I asked where this was heard, and did not receive a traceable answer; but I can tell you retirees are thinking and sharing this concept. 
It came up again at another meeting I attended last week. This time the source was alleged to be two former STRS Board members. Once again, Fiduciary Loyalty comes forth. I'd suggest each Board member respond to this allegation individually during the next meeting, or even this afternoon. 
Have you all succumbed to peer pressure? You now have a bigger problem at hand, an expensive problem, win or lose, than you would have if responses came during Board meetings.
A Pathway discussion should show the current thoughts of the Board as far as percentages funded. I've attended meetings where 125% or higher have been mentioned. What are the goals/outcomes for active and retirees once whatever percentage is reached? 
Addressing the 2020 Budget...shared pain or just plain STRS gluttony? Again the Board's silence in discussion is deafening; disemboweling actives and retirees is quite real.
Thank you.

Robin Rayfield to STRS Board: Overwhelmingly, ORTA members are concerned with the current lack of shared sacrifice on the part of STRS

Robin Rayfield's speech to STRS
June 20, 2019
Greetings, STRS Board of Trustees and Staff. My name is Robin Rayfield, and I represent the Ohio Retired Teachers Association. I am an STRS beneficiary, having retired in 2011 after 30+ years of service.
Greetings, STRS Board of Trustees and Meeting Attendees,
The action at the May 2019 STRS Board meeting to include language to the Funding Policy permitting plan changes at the 85% funding level is encouraging to the STRS beneficiaries. Although I recognize that reducing the funding level identified in the funding policy does not guarantee the restoration of COLA at the 85% funding level, this change in policy does indicate that the STRS Board recognizes the hardship placed upon retirees the loss of COLA has presented. I remain optimistic that this change in policy is at least one benchmark or road sign on a 'Pathway to COLA'. 
At this time ORTA would suggest that, while retirees wait for a return to promised benefit enhancements, the STRS Board begin the work of exploring ad hoc benefit enhancements for retirees. Although ad hoc benefit enhancements do not meet the level of what retirees were promised, such benefits could provide a lifeline to those retirees who are struggling the most.
ORTA's position continues to be that STRS can and should strengthen the overall financial position of the retirement system. ORTA is also convinced that this strengthening can be accomplished while providing some portion of what retirees were promised at the time of their retirement.
The most recent budget submitted by STRS staff for the operations at STRS includes both base pay raises and increases in incentive compensation. It must be stated that it is difficult for retirees to accept the notion that active contributors must pay more while receiving less, retirees are not receiving what they were promised, while the employees at STRS continually receive wage increases. Overwhelmingly, ORTA members are concerned with the current lack of shared sacrifice on the part of STRS. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Suzanne Laird to STRS Board: Perception is everything

Suzanne Laird's speech to STRS Board
June 20, 2019
Good morning Members of MY Board:
My name is Suzanne Laird. I retired in June, 2013 with 30 years experience and the promise of a Cost of Living Adjustment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Perception is everything.
Perception is everything.
I took the time to speak to this Board last month regarding the advice I was given by my STRS counselor to retire in 2013 in order to “save” my COLA.
Several others took the time (and courage) to speak as well.
20,000 have now signed the Restore our COLA petition.
Our perception was that we were not heard by this Board. Indeed, the budget being discussed today still includes excessive raises, exorbitant bonuses, and extravagant perks while our COLA remains frozen at zero.
The perception of the general public is that we teachers have been swindled by our own Board.
So now, we are all members of a lawsuit.
This lawsuit is not frivolous — quite the opposite! The facts are, this Board unlawfully and capriciously eliminated the COLA, while unjustly enriching various employees of STRS.
What will the perception be if STRS chooses to fight this lawsuit?
How much of our hard earned money will be squandered on a protracted trial?
A jury of our peers will be deciding this suit. I wonder what their perception will be when the facts are revealed in open court?
You have strayed far from your fiduciary duties: to prudently handle the assets in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
You now have the opportunity to right that wrong, expediently.
Freeze the budget.
Settle the lawsuit.
Restore the COLA.
Perception is everything.

Bob Buerkle to STRS Board: Offer STRS Retirees a new "Tax Free" Health Care Benefit

Bob Buerkle's speech to STRS 
June 20, 2019
The STRS HC Contingency Fund is now 178% funded, enough to take care of all retirees for the next 60-65 years. How could that be you ask, when less than a decade ago the fund was expected to run dry in 10-12 years? Well here's how! Members used to be able to retire after 30 years at any age, which was generally around 55 or so. This is no longer the case since HC obligations continue to shrink as we are getting closer and closer to the future requirement of an age 60 retirement. In the past STRS was on the hook for many more years of HC expenses before the average retiree reached Medicare age (about 50% more), when STRS begins to receive substantial government subsidies (between $9,000 and $10,000 per person).
Proof of this can be found in STRS documents such as the 2018 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. In the last few years, even without any Employer contributions, the HC fund has grown from $3.2 billion to $3.7 billion. This $500 million dollar increase cannot be redirected back into the pension fund to pay for benefits like our COLA, even though it originated as an Employer Deferred Compensation Pension Contribution! $3.7 billion is 25 times as much as a 2% COLA would cost for just one year.
There are ways that our Health Care funds could be better used for the benefit of our retirees. STRS could issue a HC Debit Card that could be used to pay for HC supplies, co-pays, medications, etc. Also, unlike the Medicare Part B supplement of $29.90 a month ($358.80/year) which is taxable, the amounts issued on HC Debit cards would be TAX FREE. A number of Medicare Advantage Plans available to the general public already offer this TAX FREE benefit with their plans, and to my knowledge, they have never received one penny of our employer payroll contributions. A $500 HC Debit card would cost about $75 million dollars a year, or only about 2% of our HC reserves. The STRS HC reserves have been growing by over twice that amount annually over the past few years!
Is this something that STRS Retirees deserve? In this "ERA of Broken STRS Pension Promises", I think it is! Here, look at this STRS document. In this document and in the 1974 Annual Report and under the direction of a great former STRS Executive director named James Sublett, I found the following words. "In January, 1974, the System began paying premiums for retired members under the then existing medical insurance program. Coverages were improved quite significantly by the addition of what amounts to a major medical plan, including prescription drug coverages, with no deductible. Effective July 1, 1974, this new plan was put into force for all retirants, with premiums paid by the system. Ohio teachers now have a medical insurance program that is paid up at retirement."
Of course, as we now know, STRS provided free HC to retirees for the next 18 years. Do the right thing and have a Health Care Debit card ready to go in time for the fall Health Care open enrollment period.

Click images to enlarge


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

From Suzanne Laird: 403wise newsletter posts Dispatch article on STRS lawsuit

Retired teachers file class action lawsuit over state benefits cut










By Ben Deeter
The Columbus Dispatch
Posted May 24, 2019 at 12:41 PM
Updated May 24, 2019 at 12:59 PM
Dean Dennis and Robert Buerkle spent much of their lives in the classroom. Between them, the two have more than 60 years of teaching experience in Cincinnati Public Schools.
After decades of instructing, grading and mentoring a generation of students, they expected to join many of their colleagues in relatively comfortable retirement. Dennis and Buerkle had paid into the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) throughout their careers.
STRS is one of the largest public pension funds in the United States, serving nearly 500,000 active, inactive and retired public educators in Ohio.
Now, however, the two men are plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against STRS.
In 2017, the STRS board effectively eliminated the cost-of-living adjustment for its beneficiaries indefinitely, lowering the increase rate from two percent to zero.
This means that pension payments for thousands of retired public educators in Ohio have been locked at the same level with no increase for nearly two years.
“Teachers generally don’t make much compared to others,” said Jeffrey S. Goldenberg, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “The pot at the end of the rainbow for them is their retirement.
“And now, they’re not getting the payments they were promised. Ultimately, if this continues into the future, it’s going to be a problem for them.”
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio alleges that the board violated Ohio law in lowering the rate. Dennis and Buerkle are suing for themselves and on behalf of a class of more than 145,000 other public educators who would have received the cost-of-living adjustment.
The General Assembly amended the law governing STRS in 2012 to mandate that the state teachers retirement board increase the amount of any allowance or benefit by two percent every year after July 2013.
But the change also gave the board the power to adjust the annual increase if it is “necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.” If the board deems such an adjustment necessary, the law requires that the conclusion be set forth in the annual actuarial valuation or other evaluations.
The complaint alleges that while the board has the power to adjust the increase, it did not say in any report that eliminating cost-of-living adjustments was necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of STRS.
“The board has chosen to try to bring stability to the fund on the backs of retired teachers,” Goldenberg said.
Dennis and Buerkle are seeking a ruling that would prevent the board from continuing to not pay the cost-of-living adjustment. They also seek damages equivalent to the benefits they have lost as a result of the increase’s elimination.
The teachers retirement system could not be reached for comment.
bdeeter@dispatch.com
@BenDeeter

Monday, June 03, 2019

Top 10 Reasons Why Stealing From State And Local Public Pensions Is The Perfect Crime

Nov 27, 2017
Top 10 Reasons Why Stealing From State And Local Public Pensions Is The Perfect Crime
Edward Siedle
Contributor
In my upcoming 2018 book, How To Steal A Lot of Money, I recommend that a successful
thief master the art of finding the perfect victim. Here’s my top 10 reasons for why our nation’s public pensions fit the bill.
1. With assets of over $4 trillion as of Q2 2017, these retirement systems have boatloads of money — a few million, or even billion, stolen won’t be missed.
2. Public pensions are overseen by boards of trustees comprised of laymen utterly lacking any knowledge or expertise in investment or fiduciary matters. Few state or local statutes require public pension board members to meet any minimal standards related to pensions. Time and again, even local hucksters successfully pull the wool over these boards’ eyes. When Wall Street comes-a-calling on public pensions, fuggetaboutit.
3. Public pensions are subject to politicization. The composition of boards and the decisions made by boards regarding pension investments are generally tainted by political considerations. Grease the right politician and you’re in like Flint.
4. While generally subject to state public records laws mandating transparency, these funds are so defensive about the decisions they make and skilled at thwarting public disclosure requirements that a scammer need not be concerned about being exposed.
5. Public pensions are not subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the federal law that establishes minimum standards for pension plans in private industry. ERISA was enacted to protect the interests of employee benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries by requiring the disclosure of financial and other information concerning the plan to beneficiaries; establishing standards of conduct for plan fiduciaries; and providing for appropriate remedies and access to the federal courts. Since ERISA doesn’t apply, a would-be thief need not be troubled by any of the preceding.
6. Public pensions are regulated by a thin patchwork quilt of state and local laws. Many of the most significant issues related to managing pensions are unanswered in these statutes. Anything that’s not clearly illegal under applicable law, can probably be gotten away with.
7. No federal or state regulator, or law enforcement agency, is policing these plans for criminal activity. No worries about the Department of Labor or FBI and even state Attorneys General are reluctant to get involved due to political concerns mentioned above.
8. Many public pensions are not audited annually by independent certified public accountants. State auditors lacking expertise in complex foreign investment schemes may not be up to the task of ferreting out wrongdoing.
9. Ever-growing percentages of public pension assets are being swept into offshore accounts and illiquid, hard-to-value assets. Nobody’s checking to see if the money is even really there.
10. As long as taxpayer rage continues to focus upon the amount of money flowing into public pension plans and the supposedly “rich” benefits they pay to state and local retirees, investment scamming related to the pension portfolios will not be a priority.
Trust me, whatever you steal won’t be missed for years to come.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

STRS employee to Denise Brewster: 'Our raises don’t cost what your raise would cost.'

Letter to STRS Board re: COLA & Health care concerns
April 9, 2019 
To the STRS Board Members: 
My name is Denise Brewster and this is my third year as a full retiree. Upon attending a recent Geauga County Retired Teachers’ Meeting, I heard a presentation from Mr. Nick Treneff, the STRS Communications Director. The information was well organized and presented an overall view of the financial status of STRS. However, I came away with the following concerns which Nick said he would relay to you. 
1. COLA still remains a concern with the current retirees sacrificing their “raise” in light of the excessive yearly raises for staff that range from 1% to six digit increases exceeding one’s salary of six digits. In a conversation I had with an STRS employee, she stated, “Our raises don’t cost what your raise would cost.” Regardless of what raises cost, we are the members who paid into a system that is denying ANY raise for retirees. Mr. Treneff said that any action would need to include all members.” On that point, I waited over 30 years for my retirement to access my benefits, which included a guaranteed COLA, by paying into the system. Members not yet ready for retirement will have to wait for their benefit when they put their required time in to qualify. The bottom line is the ethical issue of employees receiving raises while we cannot keep up with inflation due to the loss of COLA year after year. 100% funding is a moving target and has increased from the 75% operational funding of the past. You need to rethink these points in all fairness, and act in good consciousness for these retired educators. They deserve their benefits which includes COLA. 
2. We were told that Health Care Fund is fully funded. I asked, “At what percentage is it funded?” The response from Mr. Treneff was, “170%.” I almost fell off my chair when I heard that fact. He went on to say that we did not get an increase in our health care cost as a result. REALLY?! Our membership does not know this fact. As it is transparently clear that we are well over 100% funded, which is your goal for COLA to be reinstated, why in the world did you not consider a roll back of 3% of our health care cost to offset the loss of COLA? This fact is so disturbing that it begs the question of what will really happen if and when 100% is achieved in funding to allow a COLA to return. Will the target be moved to 170%? Please RE-EVALUATE your stance on this situation and COMPROMISE with an offset to make up for our COLA loss for retirees. You have a $3.7 billion balance in this fund. 
Thank you for hearing my concerns. I would appreciate an update on your discussion of the points above and what action(s) you plan to take to remedy the situation. 
Denise Brewster
Concord, OH 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Class Action Suit against Ohio State Teachers Retirement Board 05/23/19

Case: 1:19-cv-00386-SJD Doc #: 1 Filed: 05/23/19

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO, WESTERN DIVISION

DEAN DENNIS AND
ROBERT BUERKLE,
Individually and on behalf of all
other similarly situated persons,
Plaintiffs,

v.

OHIO STATE TEACHERS
RETIREMENT BOARD
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Defendant.
:
Case No. 1:19-cv-386

Judge

CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT AND
JURY DEMAND

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

All allegations made in this Complaint are based upon information and belief except those allegations that pertain to Plaintiffs, which are based on personal knowledge. Each allegation in this Complaint either has evidentiary support or, alternatively, pursuant to Rule 11(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, is likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.

INTRODUCTION

1. Plaintiffs Dean Dennis and Robert Buerkle bring this action against the Ohio State Teachers Retirement Board (the “Board” or “Defendant”) on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated retirees to challenge the Defendant’s unlawful elimination of vested retirement benefits, namely the annual allowance increases (also known as the annual cost of living adjustments or “COLAs”), for Plaintiffs and all other retirees beginning on July 1, 2017.
Specifically, Ohio Revised Code § 3307.67(A) provides in pertinent part that, after August 1, 2013, the Defendant shall annually increase retirees’ allowances by two percent (2%) except as provided by RC § 3307.67(E). Subsection (E) of that same statute provides that the STRS “may adjust the increase payable under this section if the board’s actuary, in its annual actuarial valuation required by section 3307.51 of the Revised Code or in other evaluations conducted under that section, determines that an adjustment does not materially impair the fiscal integrity of the retirement system or is necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.”
2. In April 2017, Defendant eliminated COLAs for STRS retirees receiving monthly pension allowances by voting to indefinitely eliminate COLAs for STRS retirees beginning on July 1, 2017. At no time prior to the Board’s vote did the Board’s actuary present an actuarial valuation or other report required by section 3307.51 to the Board determining that the indefinite elimination of COLAs was necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.

3. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendant’s indefinite elimination of the two-percent annual COLAs mandated by Ohio law without the presentation to the Board of an actuarial valuation or other report required by section 3307.51, as mandated by RC § 3307.67(E), violates the United States Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and state laws. Plaintiffs seek damages and declaratory and injunctive relief for themselves and all other similarly situated persons in the form of reinstatement of their COLA’s, restitution of foregone COLAs and reasonable attorney fees and costs.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

4. This Court has original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the
Plaintiffs’ federal claims arise under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

5. This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1337(a) because such claims are part of the same case or controversy under Article III of
the United States Constitution, and 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because they arise from the same nucleus of
operative facts as the federal claims.

6. Venue with this court is appropriate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because a
substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims occurred in this judicial district.

THE PARTIES

7. Plaintiff Dean Dennis is a United States citizen who resides in Hamilton County,
Ohio. Mr. Dennis was employed by the Cincinnati Public Schools and had thirty-five years of
STRS service when he retired on January 1, 2008. During his employment, Mr. Dennis and his
employer contributed to STRS. Upon his retirement, he was approved for a retirement allowance
and became vested under Ohio law in all amounts and other benefits to which STRS retirees are
entitled thereunder.

8. Plaintiff Robert Buerkle is a United States citizen who resides in Hamilton County,
Ohio. When Mr. Buerkle retired on July 1, 2003, he had over 35 years of STRS service credit,
most of which (twenty-six years) related to his employment with the Cincinnati Public Schools.
Mr. Buerkle also taught at Miami University, Butler County Vocational School, and Cincinnati
State. During his employment, Mr. Buerkle and his employers contributed to STRS. Upon his
retirement, he was approved for a retirement allowance and became vested under Ohio law in all
amounts and other benefits to which STRS retirees are entitled thereunder.

9. Defendant Board is a sui juris public entity established pursuant to RC § 3307.03
that oversees and administers approximately $80 billion on behalf of the 494,000 active, inactive
and retired Ohio public educators. Because Defendant’s assets total approximately $80 billion, it
is one of the largest public pension funds in the United States.

10. Defendant operates under the provisions of Chapter 3307 of the Ohio Revised
Code and Chapter 3307 of the Ohio Administrative Code. STRS official Board policy recognizes
that its board and its members are trustees of the STRS owing fiduciary duties to STRS
beneficiaries such as plaintiffs.1

11. As an entity created by state statute, the Board acts at all times under color of state
law. All actions by the Board complained of herein were undertaken under color of state law as
the official policy, practice and custom of Defendant.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

IN 2012 THE OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY CREATED A STATUTORY
ENTITLEMENT TO ANNUAL COST OF LIVING INCREASES FOR STRS
BENFICIARIES.

12. Plaintiffs and members of the Class were public employees required as a condition
of their employment to contribute a portion of their earnings to STRS. Upon retirement and the
payment of a monthly retirement benefit, Ohio law vests a right in such individuals, including
Plaintiffs and members of the Class, to receive such retirement benefits so long as they remain
beneficiaries of any of the funds established as part of the STRS. See R.C. Section 3307.42.

13. Ohio Revised Code Section 3307.67 was amended by the General Assembly in
2012 to provide in pertinent part as follows:

(A) Except as provided in divisions (D) and (E) of this section, the state teachers
retirement board shall annually increase each allowance or benefit payable under the
STRS defined benefit plan. Through July 31, 2013, the increase shall be three per cent.
On and after August 1, 2013, the increase shall be two per cent.

14. Subsection (E) of Section 3307.67 granted the STRS board limited authority to “adjust” the annual
increases provided for in subsection (A) if:

[T]he board’s actuary, in its annual actuarial valuation required by section 3307.51 of the
Revised Code or in other evaluations conducted under that section, determines that an
adjustment does not materially impair the fiscal integrity of the retirement system or is
necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.

1 See https://www.strsoh.org/_pdfs/board/board-policies.pdf p. 14, last visited May 13, 2019.

15. The Board’s authority to adjust annual increases under subsection (E) of 3307.67
is not discretionary. Of particular import to this case, the Board may only reduce the annual
increase payable under the STRS defined benefit plan if the Board’s actuary “determines” that
such a reduction is “necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system” and such determination
is set forth either in the actuary’s annual actuarial valuation or other evaluations conducted under
R.C. 3307.51.

16. In addition to the actuary’s annual actuarial valuation, R.C. 3307.51 provides for
four other reports that may be prepared by the actuary under the section’s purview:

a. An actuarial investigation of the mortality, service, and other experience of the
members, retirants, and beneficiaries of the system, and other system retirants as
defined in section 3307.35 of the Revised Code to update the actuarial
assumptions used in the actuarial valuation required by division (A). RC
3307.51(B).

b. Other studies or actuarial valuations to determine the adequacy of the normal
and deficiency rates of contribution provided by section 3307.28 of the Revised
Code. RC 3307.51(C).

c. An actuarial analysis of any introduced legislation expected to have a
measurable financial impact on the retirement system. RC 3307.51(D).

d. A report giving a full accounting of the revenues and costs relating to the
provision of benefits under section 3307.39 of the Revised Code. RC
3307.51(E).

17. Significantly, section 3307.51 expressly requires each of the reports it describes to
be publicly filed with specified public offices, councils and committees. For example, the annual
actuarial evaluation must be submitted to the Ohio retirement study council, the director of budget
and management, and the standing committees of the house of representatives and the senate with
primary responsibility for retirement legislation immediately, but no later than the first day of
January following the year for which the valuation was made. RC 3307.51(A). . Id.

18. The timely preparation and filing of the reports provided for in section 3307.51
serves a significant public interest in allowing concerned members of the public including, among
others, beneficiaries of the STRS to be informed of the performance of the system, and to provide
advance notice of any proposed or recommended changes or adjustments to the system. Indeed,
Defendant’s board meetings are public meetings at which beneficiaries are entitled to address the
Board on issues of concern.

19. On November 14, 2016, the STRS Board’s actuary submitted the annual actuarial
valuation required by RC 3307.51(A). The annual valuation reported, among other things, that the
STRS plan had experienced net gains during the year and maintained a steady funding percentage.
Significantly, there is no indication in the valuation report that a reduction or elimination of cost
of living allowances was recommended or necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.

20. On March 3, 2017, the Board’s actuary submitted the actuarial experience review
contemplated by RC 3307.51(B). The experience review recommended changes to several
actuarial assumptions utilized by Defendant. For example, the review recommended a reduction
in the rate of inflation from 2.75% to 2.5%, and a reduction in the assumed rate of return from
7.75% to 7.00%. The actuarial experience review projected that the effect of the proposed
assumption changes would be to reduce the plan’s funding percentage. However, there is no
mention in the actuarial experience review that a reduction or elimination of cost of living
allowances was recommended or necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.

21. On or about March 16, 2017, the Board voted to accept in large part the actuary’s
recommended assumption changes. Minutes of the meeting reflect that the Board anticipated
considering “plan design changes” at its next meeting in April 2017.

IN APRIL 2017, THE STRS BOARD ABRUPTLY, INDEFINITELY, AND
UNLAWFULLY ELIMINATED ALL COST OF LIVING INCREASES FOR
OHIO’S RETIRED TEACHERS.

22. On April 20, 2017, the Board attempted to exercise the limited authority granted to
it by RC 3307.67(E) to “adjust” annual cost of living increases by eliminating all such increases
indefinitely. However, as of that date, the requirements of RC 3307.67(E) had not been satisfied.
Specifically, no report prepared in compliance with RC 3307.51 reflected a determination by the
Board’s actuary that such an elimination of cost of living allowances was necessary to preserve
the fiscal integrity of the system.

23. Despite the fact that no report prepared in compliance with RC 3307.51 reflected a
determination by the Board’s actuary that the elimination of cost of living allowances was
necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system, the Board voted to reduce the cost of living
allowances granted on or after July 1, 2017 to 0%, effectively eliminating future increases.

24. As a direct result of the Board’s April 20, 2017 decision to eliminate the cost of
living allowance, no cost of living increases have since been issued to Plaintiffs and the Class they
seek to represent.

CLASS ALLEGATIONS

25. Plaintiffs seek to represent a class pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, defined as all STRS participants who would have received a 2% cost of living
adjustment on or after July 1, 2017 but for the Board’s April 20, 2017 vote eliminating those
increases (the “Class”).

26. Members of the Class are so numerous — more than one hundred forty-five
thousand — that joinder of individual claims is impracticable. Membership in the Class can be
objectively determined based on information found in Defendant’s records.

27. There are significant questions of fact and law common to the members of the Class
which predominate over questions affecting only individual members. The following questions of
law and fact, among others, are common to all members of the Class:

a. Whether the Board’s April 20, 2017 decision to reduce the cost of living
adjustment to 0% violated O.R.C. 3307.67;

b. Whether Plaintiffs and the Class have received annual cost of living
adjustments since July 1, 2017

c. Whether the Board’s April 20, 2017 decision to indefinitely eliminate the cost
of living adjustments was supported by a prior determination in a report
prepared in accordance with R.C. Section 3307.51 that the reduction was
necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the retirement system by the Board’s
actuary;

d. Whether the Board’s April 20, 2017 decision to indefinitely eliminate annual
cost of living adjustments without a prior determination by the Board’s actuary
in a report prepared in accordance with R.C. Section 3307.51 was a violation
of the Due Process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United
States Constitution;

e. Whether the Board’s April 20, 2017 decision to indefinitely eliminate annual
cost of living adjustments was a violation of Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio
Constitution;

f. Whether the Board’s decision to indefinitely eliminate annual cost of living
adjustments violated the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution;
g. Whether the Board’s decision to indefinitely eliminate annual cost of living
adjustments breached the Board’s fiduciary duties owed to Plaintiffs and the
Class; and

h. Whether Defendant has been unjustly enriched to the detriment of Plaintiffs and
the Class by indefinitely eliminating annual cost of living adjustments since
July 1, 2017.

28. Plaintiffs’ claims are typical of the claims of the Class because their claims arose
from the same events as those of the Class, including but not limited to the events of April 20,
2017, when the Board unlawfully eliminated the annual cost of living increases prescribed by Ohio
law.

29. Plaintiffs will fairly and adequately represent the Class because they have the Class
members’ best interests in mind, their claims are co-extensive with, and identical to, those of the
Class, and because they are represented by qualified counsel experienced in litigation of this
nature, including counsel that successfully represented (and continues to represent under a 30 year
consent decree) a class of current Cincinnati employees in the relatively recent employee benefits
litigation titled, Sunyak, et al v. City of Cincinnati, et al., Case No. 1:11-cv-00445-MRB.

30. A class action is superior to other available methods for fair and efficient
adjudication of these claims since individual joinder of all members of the Class (more than one
hundred forty thousand class members) is impracticable, and most members of the Class are
without the financial resources necessary to pursue this matter because most are now living on
their retirement benefits. Even if some members of the Class could afford to litigate their claims
separately, such a result would unduly burden the courts in which the individual cases would
proceed. Further, separate individual litigation will increase the time and expense of resolving this
common dispute – a dispute that flows from Defendant’s identical unlawful conduct described
above.

31. The Class may also be certified pursuant to Rule 23(b)(1) and (2) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure because the prosecution of separate actions by individual members of the
Class would create the risk of inconsistent adjudications that would establish incompatible
standards of conduct for Defendant. Further, adjudications with respect to individual class
members, as a practical matter, would be dispositive of the interests of the other members not
parties to the individual adjudications or would substantially impair or impede their ability to
protect their interest. Moreover, Defendant has acted on grounds that apply generally to the Class,
thereby making appropriate final injunctive or corresponding declaratory relief with respect to the
Class as a whole including, but not limited to, the payment of the 2% cost of living adjustment
going forward and providing to Plaintiff and the Class restitution for the prior unpaid cost of living
adjustments.

STATEMENT OF CLAIMS

COUNT 1: VIOLATION OF PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS

(42 U.S.C. § 1983)

32. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

33. By enacting R.C. Section 3307.67(A), the General Assembly created a right to
annual STRS benefit increases, subject to adjustment without legislative action only upon the
fulfillment of stated requirements as part of a public process in which affected beneficiaries have
an opportunity to be privy to the grounds for any such adjustment and to oppose the same.

34. Defendant failed to provide Plaintiffs and the Class the statutorily required notice
and opportunity to be heard regarding the indefinite elimination of cost of living allowances by
failing, among other things, to follow the process prescribed by Ohio law – namely, fulfilling the
mandatory condition precedent to any Board action to adjust cost of living allowances with a
determination by the Board’s actuary that such adjustment was necessary to preserve the fiscal
integrity of the system in a report provided for in R.C. Section 3307.51.

35. By circumventing and disregarding the mandatory statutory process for adjusting
cost of living allowances, the Board acted unlawfully and deprived Plaintiffs and the Class of their
substantial vested property interest in their retirement benefits (the annual 2% cost of living
adjustment benefit) without providing them notice of such finding, an adequate pre-deprivation
hearing or other meaningful opportunity to be heard, and thereby violated their rights under the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

36. The Board’s actions were not random or unpredictable such that predeprivation
notice and opportunity to be heard was not feasible. Indeed, an Ohio state statute expressly
provides for the public filing of the reports required as prerequisites to Board action to adjust cost
of living allowances.

37. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s unlawful deprivation of Plaintiffs’
and the Class’s vested property interest, Plaintiffs and the Class are entitled to damages and all
other appropriate relief.

COUNT 2: IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACT
(United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 10)

38. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

39. Defendant was contractually obligated to provide the 2% cost of living adjustment
to Plaintiffs and the Class.

40. Defendant substantially impaired that contract on and around April 20, 2017 when
the Board indefinitely eliminated the annual 2% cost of living adjustment increases, increases on
which Plaintiffs and the Class reasonably relied. This impairment violates the Contract Clause of
the United States Constitution.

41. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s impairment of contract, Plaintiffs
and the Class are entitled to damages and all other appropriate relief.

COUNT 3: VIOLATION OF SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS
(42 U.S.C. § 1983)

42. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

43. Defendant’s unlawful and arbitrary and capricious decision to indefinitely
eliminate the annual 2% cost of living adjustment benefit owed to Plaintiffs and the Class
unreasonably deprived them of their substantial vested property interest in those benefits in
violation of their right to substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United
States Constitution.

44. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s substantive due process violations
unreasonably depriving Plaintiffs and the Class of their substantial vested property interest,
Plaintiffs and the Class are entitled to damages and all other appropriate relief.

COUNT 4: UNCONSTITUIONAL TAKING
(42 U.S.C. § 1983, Article 1 Section 19 OH Constitution)

45. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

46. Defendant’s act of unlawfully depriving Plaintiffs and the Class of their substantial
vested property interest in their retirement benefits (the annual 2% cost of living adjustment
benefit), without providing just compensation in return, violated their rights under the Takings
Clause of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Ohio.

47. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s unconstitutional taking, Plaintiffs
and the Class are entitled to damages and all other appropriate relief.

COUNT 5: IMPAIRMENT OF CONTRACT
(Ohio Constitution, Article II, Section 28)

48. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

49. Defendant was contractually obligated to provide certain benefits to Plaintiffs and
the Class, namely the annual 2% cost of living adjustment benefit.

50. Defendant’s unlawful actions on and around April 20, 2017 indefinitely eliminated
the annual 2% cost of living adjustment increase and has substantially impaired that contract
because Defendant is no longer willing or able to honor the terms on which Plaintiffs and the Class
reasonably relied. This impairment violates the Contract Clause of the Ohio Constitution.

51. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s impairment of contract, Plaintiffs
and the Class are entitled to damages and all other appropriate relief.

COUNT 6: BREACH OF CONTRACT
(Ohio common law)

52. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

53. Upon the vesting of Plaintiffs’ and the Class’s rights in the STRS, Defendant had a
contractual obligation under Ohio law to honor the terms of the agreement. Defendant breached
this contract on and around April 20, 2017 when the Board unlawfully and indefinitely eliminated
the annual 2% cost of living adjustment increases, thereby considerably reducing the amount of
retirement benefits paid and owed to Plaintiffs and the Class.

54. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s breach, Plaintiffs and the Class are
entitled to damages and all other appropriate relief.

COUNT 7: BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY
(Ohio common law)

55. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

56. By developing, administering, and overseeing the STRS, Defendant accepted a
duty to act primarily for the benefit of Plaintiffs and the Class regarding the STRS and the payment
of benefits owed.

57. Defendant’s actions on and around April 20, 2017 and continuing thereafter, when
the Board unlawfully and indefinitely eliminated the annual 2% cost of living adjustment increases
without having proper legal authority to do so, breached this duty.

58. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s breach of fiduciary duty, Plaintiffs
and the Class are entitled to damages and all other appropriate relief.

COUNT 8: UNJUST ENRICHMENT
(Ohio common law)

59. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

60. Plaintiffs and the Class conferred a benefit upon Defendant by paying certain
amounts of their compensation into the STRS retirement system during their years of employment.

61. Defendant was aware of and knew of the benefit conferred by Plaintiffs and the
Class.

62. By taking the actions on and around April 20, 2017, when the Board indefinitely
eliminated the annual 2% cost of living adjustment increases, Defendant retained and continues to
retain these benefits under circumstances where it is unjust to do so without payment to Plaintiffs
and the Class.

63. Accordingly, Plaintiffs and the Class are entitled to restitution of the reasonable
value of the benefit conferred and unjustly retained by Defendant.

COUNT 9: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACT
(28 U.S.C. §2201, et seq.)

64. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference the prior paragraphs as if fully stated herein.

65. As described above, on April 20, 2017 the Board acted without lawful authority to
indefinitely deprive STRS retirees of annual cost of living adjustments.

66. Plaintiff’s and the Class have a tangible economic interest in ensuring that the
Board complies with Ohio law respecting the exercise of control over the STRS and have been
materially and negatively affected by the Board’s actions.

67. Absent a ruling of this Court, the Board’s actions are capable of future repetition
in the same or similar situations to the detriment of Plaintiffs and the Class.

68. Declaratory relief finding that the Board acted unlawfully is just and appropriate.

69. In addition, corresponding injunctive relief ordering the Board to make restitution
of all amounts wrongfully withheld from Plaintiffs and the Class and enjoining the Board from
taking such action in the future without fully complying with applicable law is just and
appropriate. In the absence of such relief, Plaintiffs and members of the Class will be irreparably
injured insofar as they are deprived of the current use of the retirement benefits that they earned
and to which they contributed during their working careers during vulnerable years of retirement
and, in many cases, advanced age.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs Dean Dennis and Robert Buerkle, on behalf of themselves and
all others similarly situated, hereby demand judgment against Defendant as follows:

a. For a declaration that Defendant’s actions as described throughout this Complaint,
to the extent it reduces or impairs vested retirement benefits of Plaintiffs and the Class, violates
the United States Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and federal and state laws;

b. For preliminary and permanent injunctive relief enjoining, prohibiting, and
preventing Defendant from continuing to ignore its obligation to pay the annual 2% cost of living
adjustment increase to the extent Defendant’s ongoing actions reduce or impair their vested
retirement benefits;

c. For an award of damages and/or restitution representing the amount of retirement
benefits lost by Plaintiffs and the Class as a result of Defendant’s unlawful acts;

d. For an award of interest according to law;

e. For an award of reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred by Plaintiffs and the
members of the Class in prosecuting this matter; and

f. For an award of such other relief in law and equity to which Plaintiffs and the
Class may be entitled.

JURY DEMAND

Plaintiffs and the Class demand a jury trial for all issues of fact in connection with this
Complaint.


/s/Jeffrey S. Goldenberg


Respectfully submitted,
/s/ Jeffrey S. Goldenberg
Jeffrey S. Goldenberg (0063771)
Todd B. Naylor (0068388)
GOLDENBERG SCHNEIDER, LPA
One West Fourth Street, 18th Floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513.345.8291
Fax: 513.345.8294
jgoldenberg@gs-legal.com
tnaylor@gs-legal.com

Stephen E. Imm (0040068)
Matthew S. Okiishi (0096706)
FINNEY LAW FIRM, LLC
4270 Ivy Pointe Blvd., Suite 225
Cincinnati, OH 45245
stephen@finneylawfirm.com
matt@finneylawfirm.com

Christian A. Jenkins (0070674)
MINNILLO & JENKINS, CO., L.P.A.
2712 Observatory Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45208
Phone: 513.723.1600
Fax: 513.723.1620
cjenkins@minnillojenkins.com

Attorneys for Plaintiffs and the Class

Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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