Saturday, November 19, 2005

Duke Snider to Damon: Why does Dr. Brown still get paid at OSU for Board time?

From: Duke Snider
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 10:00 PM
Subject: DAMON: Duke Snider to the STRS board; Bob Brown


> Dr. Brown: Damon:
> I thought that Dr. Brown nodded yes to being paid for his time off from
> OSU in order to be the STRS Board President.
>
> What kind of time off can you take from OSU which is paid?
>
>
> Please clarify?

Tom Curtis, Steve Buser re: No Tolerance policy

Subject: 11/19/05 Curtis Resp To Buser Resp; Re Col Dispatch; Gifts From Drug Companies

Hello Steve,
I agree with what you have said and I am thankful that you would look at any decision in this manner. My only thought concerning this issue is that if an employee, or board member knows there is a "no tolerance" policy, concerning the acceptance of any kind of a gift from a vendor, one would think there would be little thought they would risk their employment and their good record by accepting such. I cannot fathom that vendors would ever stop offering gifts in order to gain business. What would be there incentive in doing so, loss of business? I don't think that would be enough to make it stop. Putting the employee or board member on notice of immediate termination would seem a far greater incentive. Does this make more sense?
Take care, Tom Curtis
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 5:40 PM Subject: Re: 111805 Curtis Resp To Buser Resp; Re Col Dispatch; Gifts From Drug Companies

Dear Tom:
I did indeed misunderstand your original question. With respect to staff and board members, my reaction is of the same general form but the results might differ in so far as the facts might well differ.
My duty is first and last to serve the best financial interests of members. So my vote on any proposed action or policy would have to meet that test. As a fiduciary, I am required to weigh the pluses and minus before I vote. Hence, as much as I would like to give you a clear yes or no, I will have to wait until I hear all of the pluses and minus.
So what does that mean? As I noted at the outset, my presumption pending additional information, is that members might be less at risk with respect to the potential loss of a board member or a staff member than they would to the loss of a key vendor. If that presumption turns out to be valid in a given case, then I would likely vote in favor of the corresponding sanction.
But just to be clear, if there is a downside for members, I want to know about that downside and weigh it carefully prior to voting.
Steve

John Curry: Where are they now?

I find it interesting that the "speaking en mass" presentations of OEA rhetoric to the STRS Board re. the "affordable" health care that STRS currently offers (or so they believe) has been missing in action at the last two STRS Board meetings. Has this one shot public relations attempt by OEA died a deserved death OR have members of its flock finally realized what is really happening to their futures? In case you're wondering, no one helped me with the "logistics" of this letter.
John, a Proud CORE member
For up-to-date STRS info go to:
http://coremail.blogspot.com/
ORC 3307.15 - not just a wish,
IT'S THE LAW!

Duke Snider: Disciplinary Council

From Duke Snider
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 2:25 PM
Subject: meeting

John,
I know you didn't have the opportunity to attend the CORE meeting yesterday. Jane and I arrived at the latter part of the meeting. I made a few comments, one which pertained to Danny Bubp who was supposed to speak at 1:00. Danny was unable to be present at 1:00 due to him conducting his duties as a state representative.
I told all the CORE members that I had run across a disciplinary complaint form which I've had for several years. The heading on the complaint form is as follows: Disciplinary Counsel The Supreme Court of Ohio J. Warren Bettis Office of Disciplinary Counsel (address), and the remainder of the two pages consists of Your Name, address etc. It then says to circle Attorney or Judge, address, and asks questions pertaining to court action taken, and explain the facts of your complaint in chronological order.
I had four copies made, passed them to members, and stated to hold on these complaint forms until I talked with Danny. I told the members I would give you the information as soon as I could, and you could put it out on your list. As I previously said, Danny arrived late, and I explained the complaint form (which he is familiar with due to the fact he is an attorney). He told me this was "heavy stuff" for the judge and the proper procedure would be to appeal. I told him, it was my understanding that STRS was not going to appeal. I concluded by saying I thought it should be decided by the individual as to whether or not to file a complaint to which he did not disagree.
The STRS board did make special arrangements for Danny to speak. He commented about the "fabulous building". Danny told the board he would help anyway he could. He is one of a few representatives who have spoken to the board, and he wants to learn as much possible about our teachers pension system.
Have a great day,
Duke--You know one of those southern Ohio malcontents

Molly Janczyk & Tom Mooney: Election 2006

"We will certainly reach out for support of CORE and other interested groups." Tom Mooney
Isn't it nice to hear words like the above words? OEA needs to go a long way to match this sentiment. John
----- Original Message ----- From: "molly janczyk"
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 1:39 PM Subject: Tom Mooney on Election 2006

Thank you, Tom. Your openness is much appreciated! Molly

From: "Tom Mooney" To: "molly janczyk"Subject: Re: Tom Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 13:13:58 -0500
Molly,
We are open to supporting a non-OFT member. I made the same pts. to our screening committee that you are making here. We have to build and sustain coalitions. If Don Lakes decides he's interested, and has the support of his local, we will certainly look at him. We are looking at Tom Hall via resume at this point and then the committee will decide whether they want to interview. We will certainly reach out for support of CORE and other interested groups. I appreciate all your comments, Molly.
All the best,
Tom
November 17, 2005 6:04 PM Subject: Tom

Dear Tom, I met Don Lakes today as he came with Bob Buerkle to the STRS meeting. We spoke of his candidacy and it seems he felt it was too late to begin the process for this year. I told him of your gracious delay until Dec. 3 for a final decision and that you were willing to interview those seeking OFT endorsement, Lakes looked at Bob and said he'd like to talk with you. Bob indicated he would get in touch both having your email and phone number.

I think you will find Don extremely markatable for a candidacy and very qualified being both a classroom educator AND having expertise to hit the ground running with his background in health care. As you know, he is also OFT. Please do speak with him for your consideration.
Re: Prof: Tom Hall:
Several pts:
1. Is there anyway he can be affiliated even loosely with AFT-OFT?
2. If not, I know you will speak with him, but please consider endorsing a candidate outside of OFT for the common good as you will have a least one OFT candidate, for sure in the election process.
3. I think you will find such support among STRS membership from all groups in general and build a larger political base of voters though all not officially OFT. -Many members already are speaking highly of Jeff Chapman. They don't know Mary Ann as well. Jeff came to speak and meet with us and approaches membership very cordially and always seems engaged and interested in hearing what all have to say. I was so impressed that he made sure to connect that he had passed on election names to you and made sure we were all informed when your interviewing was only the next day or two. -Some members want to know your candidates to see if we can back them as they trust OFT so far from what they have seen. I added that you have been on the side of membership since day one. -Some STRS membership wonder if we can't get behind the same candidates even if one is not OFT; STRS members help you and you help members not officially OFT.
4. We are not after a person to answer to any special group: we just want a highly qualified educator whose wish is to work for membership per ORC:3307.15 to the best of their ability and conscience. We don't care who they are and will support the best candidates.
Personally, I feel we need a higher level of expertise in this time of crisis. It is difficult for a classroom educator to come in and play catch up which seems to be the case for Conni Ramser. We are in a time of crisis and need educators who understand finances, market trends, investments, health care issues and procedures AND stand for membership as well.
We are in desparate circumstances and we need the best we can find who can understand immediately the inner workings and be part of the solution ASAP vs. having to spend time on training and learning difficult language, trends, elaborate and detailed briefs, etc.
We need board members who present the best qualifications regardless of affiliations so all of us gain. To endorse such candidates only makes all of us look better to concerned members.
I know you will consider all aspects and for that, I am grateful. I also know you will find that CORE is NOT as you may have heard but a group of very hardworking members who are open and willing to change and with many fading into the background yet always with a watchful eye and willingness to step forward as needed, if we feel membership is truly being represented by the best board members. Of course, some will be most open to >>involvement on committees to attend and keep others apprised of board actions and seek input >>from RTA and active membership around the state. Malcontents! Yes! With a system that to use your words: 'burdened retirees unfairly.' Yes. Hard and difficult? No! We have had to fight ALONE for a long time and do what it took to make changes. We had no one but ourselves and some organizations didn't like what we accomplished around them and in spite of them. THAT does not mean we think we did it all....................but it does mean we know we had a positive part in bringing many changes. Most are gentle souls who only want to go back to their retirements though they will never fall asleep at the switch again.
Sincerely, Molly J

Molly Janczyk's take on increased basis points (investment staff)

11/18/05

Insert of my own understanding of the debate re: increased basis pts. that the investment staff must meet: in the investment paragraph below:

Lazares and Leone voted no on this issue: Though they approve the increased basis pts, they question debated issues such as: -need for addt'l staff Damon and some board members felt was in order for STRS to reach its goals with increased basis points -sharper staff (translates to more money needed to pay a 'sharper' staff) to take on the riskier investing in order for STRS to reach its goals with a higher basis point in order to make more money for us. With 26 fewer investment staff than in 2002, STRS has earned higher returns than other like pension systems and Leone felt it needed more substantiation that more staff translating to more costly staff was indeed needed. -since this vote was open to change after reading the upcoming compensation study report STRS paid for, Lazares and Leone questioned WHY vote on 11/17 when the topic was going to be discussed in Dec. anyway.
((ISN'T THIS WHY THEY WANTED THE COMPENSATION STUDY IN THE FIRST PLACE? m.j.))


Additionally, John Lazares commented during the investment portion of 11/17 board meeting:
"I can't believe, we got to this point at STRS and that we have to hire additional investors," expressing his shock upon hearing this statement .
He also wants retirees to know that they will get their pensions (some have asked) even if something catastrophic would occur (it won't) as our pensions have already been set aside for current retirees.

Tom Curtis to Steve Buser re: Article: Gifts from drug companies

From: "Thomas Curtis" To: "stephen buser" Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 12:48 PM Subject: 111805 Curtis Resp To Buser Resp; Re Col Dispatch; Gifts From Drug Companies

Hello Steve,
Thank you kindly for your immediate response to this question. I hope you will respond to the others in my email as well.
My desire for a zero tolerance motion is in regards to the STRS employee or board member, not the supplier of goods and services. I believe John's motion dealt only with STRS suppliers of goods and services. So I would see our two motions as being very different.
I am looking for a zero tolerance from our employees and board members. There as been no oversight in this area, so these abuses easily went unnoticed. Because of this, putting a zero tolerance in writing for all employees and board members would solve this problem. You break the rules; you are terminated, period. Due to the political situation in this State, we have been unable to raise much support for punishing the individuals who raped our system. A zero tolerance statement would make this issue very clear. Further, the time and money involved to enforce the rules as they stand has been enormous due to the cost of legal counsel and state organizations completing investigations. Let's nip this situation in the bud and take the problem straight to the greedy person(s)desiring such gratuities, the STRS employee or board member.
Take care, Tom Curtis

----- Original Message ----- From: "stephen buser" To: "Thomas Curtis" Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 7:33 AM Subject: Re: 111405 Col Dispatch; Gifts From Drug Companies

Dear Tom:
You make a strong case, and I think your position is very close, and perhaps identical, to that of John Lazarus. I would be willing to consider such a policy. However, as in all such issues, my first and last thought will be what is in the best interest of members.
Thus, while I can imagine a situation in which STRS has many possible vendors and members would not suffer from the mandated reduction in our choices. I can also see where the group of best possible vendors is too small to commit to tossing out any and all who violate the rule without weighing the type and nature of the offense against the type and nature of potential harm to members.
Steve

At 01:04 AM 11/18/2005, you wrote: My correspondence to you follows the article below. GIFTS FROM DRUG COMPANIES Doctors deny that 'freebies' influence them Monday, November 14, 2005 Suzanne Hoholik THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH []
BETH SKABAR DISPATCH Drug companies affix their product names to all sorts of giveaways.
The pen you sign in with at the doctor's office might have Lipitor, Nexium or Zoloft on it. The mug the receptionist drinks coffee from might say Zocor on the side.
Notepads, tissue boxes, wall clocks, clipboards that hold medical charts - everything is an advertisement.
It all comes from drug-company salespeople who regularly visit offices hoping that these marketing tools will translate into more prescriptions for the medications they're pushing.
Doctors say they're not influenced by hand sanitizers, wall calendars or pockets full of pens. But what about free medical textbooks, blood-pressure cuffs, stethoscopes and pizza lunches for the entire office staff?
"The calendar on my wall says Premarin (a hormone). When I look at that, do I prescribe that for a patient? Abso- lutely not," said Dr. David Stockwell, a Columbus obstetrician. "It's a nice thing. They provide that so I don't have to go to Staples and buy it for my office.
"Anybody who has any ethics at all would not be persuaded by these things."
Busy doctors don't like taking time to talk to four to six drug representatives a week, but some do it solely to collect the free samples they bring.
Dr. Kathleen Lutter, a Columbus gynecologist, relies on free medication samples for her patients who can't afford costly drugs. She said pitches from drug reps don't influence her.
"If you have any brains as a physician, you can get past the marketing ploys," she said. "As every year passes, I get more and more critical of letting drug reps in."
But the freebies do influence physicians, said Dr. Harrison Weed, an infectious-disease and internal-medicine specialist at Ohio State University Medical Center. He doesn't meet with drug salespeople, and when he finds any freebies around his office or clinic, he throws them away.
He cites national studies that have found that, when people are given something free - no matter how small - they can't help but feel obligated to reciprocate. And that includes doctors.
"When you meet with them and talk to them," Weed said of drug salespeople, "and you're the teacher, you want them to succeed, and their drugs to succeed. You have to acknowledge that influence."
The practice has been around for decades.
In the 1970s, the drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. sent every medical-school graduate in the country a leather doctor's bag loaded with all the tools of the trade, said Bill Fassett, professor of pharmacy law and ethics at Washington State University. "No one thought much of it until some students refused to take them. One school had a bonfire.
"The companies were just mystified by that. The older physicians said, 'If these guys are going to be corrupted by a medical bag, they shouldn't be in medicine.' "
But over the years, the practice grew worse, to the point that it became common for drug companies to take doctors to sporting events and concerts or pick up the tab for seminars at Caribbean resorts.
In 1992, the American Medical Association created ethical guidelines on physicians accepting gifts. They boil down to three things: A gift should benefit patients - drug samples, for example. It should be worth less than $100. And it should have an educational benefit.
"No gift should be accepted if there are strings attached, if they expect something in return," said Dr. Cecil Wilson, a member of the AMA board of trustees.
He acknowledged that drug companies are quick to disseminate research about their drugs but said salespeople shouldn't be the sole source of information for doctors.
"At the heart of this, physicians have an ethical obligation to help patients make a choice," Wilson said. "In a market-driven entity such as the drug industry, they have certain goals that don't overlap with a physician's need for information."
The drug industry's trade association - Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA - also has guidelines for giving gifts to doctors, including a $100 limit. There's no limit on handing out drug samples, pens or notepads. The occasional stethoscope is OK; but sporting events, golf outings and trips are not.
"If you're sitting on the thirdbase line in Wrigley Field in Chicago, you're not focused on the business at hand," said Jeff Trewhitt, PhRMA spokesman. "Watching Barry Bonds hit a home run has nothing to do with the study of a new medicine."
The solution, said Fassett of Washington State, is public disclosure, with drug companies documenting how much money they spend marketing to each doctor.
"The responsibility of each physician, each nurse, each dentist is to remember that they took an oath to put the patient's well-being first," he said. "They say they are not influenced, but research shows that they are influenced."
shoholik@dispatch.com ORC 3307.15 - not just a wish, IT'S THE LAW!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hello Dr. Buser,
The kind of scenario written about in the newspaper article above is becoming abused far too often now. Abuse of this nature should not be tolerated by our employees or board members concerning any type of products or services used by the STRS. Hopefully, this is part of the ethics training each employee and board member will receive. I would think that if anyone is found to have accepted any type of gift from people the STRS does business with that should be automatic grounds for termination. We need a zero tolerance policy. Would you support a motion for that change? If not, please explain why.
I realize the policy has changed at the STRS, but the reason it got abused in the first place is because the STRS leadership sanctioned the abuse themselves, by doing such. No one took the responsibility to oversee what was going on and since that is the case, a zero tolerance should be called for. Each of you board members has to be aware that many things have been overlooked at the STRS for many years. That will not be corrected over night, but we are paying for the "Cadillac" of employees and we are not getting that in return. As I have said before in board presentations, I want value for my dollar and I will except nothing less.
The STRS fiduciaries has taken a portion of my HC benefit promised to me at retirement and revoked it. At the very same time, those same people were just starting to pay for their HC and still have family plans and free dental and vision. This is not right! I would think many of our board members would be well qualified in recognizing where abuses have and still are taking place and would act on such.
My biggest concern about the board is that there is so much to be done and so little time at the STRS to do it in. The enormity of issues needing attention leaves me wondering just how long it will take to return our retirement system to a well run, efficient operation as called for in 3307.15.
In my opinion, we have been getting little help from the executive director to bring this about. Damon has shown virtually no leadership in resolving issues that have been brought to his attention by the membership for the past 3 years. He does not take the memberships' concerns to heart and has offered little in the way of convincing us differently. I hope our board will soon begin to address the issue of replacing Damon when his contract expires February 18th, 2007. Has anything been brought to the attention of the board concerning such to date? Do you support a national search for his replacement?
No board member gets paid one dime by the STRS for his/her involvement and I do not agree with that. Board members should receive a stipend, unless an educational institution or union is paying for their time. We have been paying executives millions of dollars to operate the STRS efficiently, but that is simply not what we have been getting. Now, all of the problems fall in the laps of the board members to try to identify and correct, while the STRS executives continue to hold their jobs and receive substantial pay increases each year. Just what is wrong with this picture? Would you support a motion for board members not receiving income from an educational institution or union where they are currently employed for being there to receive a stipend for their time? If not, why?
We are told that each year's budget is the lowest in the past 5 years. But, we have only seen minor reductions in operating costs, when they rose at a rate as high as 16% during the same time the STRS portfolio was loosing billions of dollars. Why have they not been cut by a greater rate? Our overhead is not providing us with value for our dollar. I am growing weary of the do little comments I receive concerning the issues we have been asking about for 3 years. Dennis Leone prepared a paper outlining what needs to be done, yet the STRS executive staff is still dragging their feet in accomplishing such. Do you support a review of Dr. Leone's research presented to the board in 2003? If not, why?
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions above. If you do not receive this by email, I will also ask Eileen Boles to make sure each board member receives a copy of this letter in your box. Please kindly find the time to respond to my questions. I have been told by Damon Asbury and the past two board chairpersons that I would receive answers from board members to questions, if put them in writing. That has not been the case for a number of you and I have a hard time accepting such. Would you?
Take care, Tom Curtis

Mary Ellen Angeletti: Minutes for 11/17/05 CORE meeting

The CORE Advisory Board met at STRS on Thursday, November 17th, 2005 at
11:45. In attendance were Kathie Bracy, Dave Parshall, Chuck Chapman, Nancy Boomhower, Chuck Angeletti, and Mary Ellen Angeletti. Mary Ellen served as scribe. Our turnout of CORE folks was low today probably due to conflicts with the upcoming holiday and the cold weather. No votes were called for at today’s meeting.
Dave Parshall reported on the balance of the CORE financial fund which has increased a few hundred dollars since last month. A new member joined at today’s meeting.
Kathie Bracy shared information about her new website opportunity for CORE. She has established a blog of her own which sure did impress all of us. She has gone one step further by also starting a blog called “CORE Mail and More” which she is encouraging us to use. This CORE blog can be reached by going to www.coremail.blogspot.com. Kathie has developed this new way to present CORE emails so to avoid the hassle of an overloaded email box. If you should decide to use this as your CORE email of choice, please do. You can then remove yourself from other CORE emails if you so choose. Kathie has done a great job of compiling up-to-date information regarding retiree concerns and anything and everything that has to do with CORE. Many thanks to Kathie for providing us this great service. Dave Parshall has also promised to include a link to Kathie’s blog at our CORE website. This should be available in a few weeks. We hope that you will visit this new blogsite. Anything posted before 11/15/05 may be found on Kathie’s original blog at www.kathiebracy.blogspot.com
It was announced that the next Damon/CORE small meeting will occur on a date to be determined in mid-January, 2006. In preparation for this meeting, Dave Parshall has requested that questions to be submitted to Damon & the STRS staff should be sent to Dave at dpohlep@columbus.rr.com by December 15th. Dave reminded us to please NOT send the questions to Damon at STRS but instead send them to Dave. When the date of this meeting is established, we will send out an email and hope that we can encourage more folks to attend these informative meetings.
The first topic of discussion at today’s meeting was the 2006 STRS upcoming Elections. Professor Tom Hall, a possible candidate for the STRS Board, was discussed. Molly Janczyk brought us up-to-date on his credentials, and he looks to be a good prospect. Tom Mooney of OFT may interview him as a possible candidate but he is NOT a member of OFT so we are uncertain about this endorsement. Our own Tom Curtis is backing Prof. Hall’s candidacy. Bob Buerkle introduced Don Lakes who is employed by Tri Health. His extensive background in the health care field makes him a viable candidate for the STRS Board. He spoke to our group today, and he also seemed to be a good prospect. Bob Buerkle is strongly backing Don Lakes. On December 3rd, OFT will choose their endorsed candidates for the STRS Board election of 2006. So on that date, we will know their slate of candidates. CORE folks suggested that we hold debates during the election period.
The next topic of discussion was the lawsuit brought by the non-investment staff of STRS which was heard by Judge Guy Reese who ruled in favor of the lawsuit paying STRS employees three million dollars. Judge Reese ruled in favor of awarding $660,000. for the employees’ attorneys’ fees. CORE feels that this ruling by Judge Reese should have been appealed rather than partially settled. (A ruling on additional punitive damages is pending.) CORE has written many letters and emails to Judge Reese protesting his ruling. We encourage all to send letters to help with this effort. His address is: Judge Guy Reese II Franklin County Courts of Common Pleas General Division
369 South High Street Columbus, OH 43215 7A
His email address is: guy_reece_II@fccourts.org Duke Snider shared that Representative Dan Dudp of Adams, Brown, & Clermont Counties would be attending the STRS meeting in the afternoon. He is interested in visiting to learn more about STRS and the lawsuit awarded by Judge Reese. Duke shared a document which Rep. Dudp had given him which could be used to collect signatures to demand that the courts check out Judge Reese and this ruling. Once the courts receive this request, they are obligated to follow through. Duke passed out four copies of this document but promised to make the document available to us all via email. No decision was made on the use of this document today but this may be something which we will want to use in the future. (Rep. Dudp did attend the Public Speaks portion of the afternoon STRS Board meeting. He was officially introduced to the Board.)
Chuck Angeletti reported on the STRS Investment Committee discussion. The STRS Board approved an investment plan that increased the basis points from 33 to 40 which means that in order to reach STRS investment goals, the Investment Department at STRS is going to have to be a little sharper and luckier. In order to accomplish this goal, STRS Investment Dept. may have to add more qualified employees. There was a debate on this issue but with the increased risk involved, it was tabled until a compensation study could be completed in December of 2005. Even though this was done, the investment plan was passed by a vote of 9 to 2. (Leone and Lazares voted against the plan.) An addendum was added to this plan that the STRS Board could change this investment plan depending upon the compensation study which is coming next month. None of this will occur until January 1st, 2006.
The next topic of discussion was the possible utilization of space within the STRS building and parking lot and surrounding properties in regards to renting and leasing. But first of all, we have to find out if what Damon told us earlier still applies. He told us that since a pension fund is non-profit, it is a big problem regarding the IRS if STRS makes a profit. Due to the fact that Herm Fisher brought to our atttention that the Ohio Highway Patrol Pension Fund was doing this very thing in Columbus, it would behoove Mr. Fisher to write up his question and submit it to Dave Parshall for the CORE/Damon meeting in January. The deadline for these questions is Dec. 15th, 2005. Mr. Fisher is invited to attend this meeting and explain his ideas as well.
Bev McCoy then reported on the Lima Health Care meetings sponsored by STRS and the Health Care Advocates. She mentioned that our own Paul Boyer asked a question which turned out to be a speech as Paul insisted on using the podium and refused to give up the microphone until he was finished. Way to go, Paul!!!!
Due to the Christmas holiday, the next STRS Board meeting & CORE meeting will be scheduled a week earlier than usual, December 8th and 9th. The CORE meeting will be on Thursday, Dec. 8th at 11:45 a.m. in the cafeteria room behind the Sublett Rm. at STRS.

Bev McCoy's letter to Judge Reece

11/18/05
Judge Guy L. Reece, II

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, General Division

369 S. High Street

Columbus, Ohio 43215-7A

Dear Honorable Judge Reece,

You must help me with this. How do you justify awarding a settlement to a group of people who never had a contract to perform the work? How can some vague “understanding” be a part of law?

When I was teaching, I worked under a contract. If something went wrong, we went back to the contract. What do these people have to go back to? You must explain that to me.

When CORE [Concerned Ohio Retired Educators] first started looking into some infractions at the State Teacher’s Retirement system, we were shocked to hear that payments were going out on “word of mouth.” We felt that was wrong then and I still feel it was wrong. Then along comes your settlement, saying that’s OK. Not OK with me. I think your decision needs to be reconsidered.

Beverly Owens McCoy

Retired Ohio Teacher, Lima Ohio, 2000

Past President of Allen County Retired Teachers

Member: STRS

Member: CORE

Member: ORTA

Member: NEA-Retired Life

Member OEA- Retired-Life

Beverly

Article: Tougher rules for charter schools?

Tougher rules for charter schools?

Conference aims to improve their academic performance

By Scott Elliott

Dayton Daily News

COLUMBUS It's been seven years since Ohio unfurled the sails and released the anchor for charter schools, and the question now is whether they remain on course and how much the ropes need to be tightened down.

The charter school promise of freedom — a release from oppressive rules and a mandate to try new ideas — is delicately balanced against the need to ensure schools teach students effectively, Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted, R-Kettering, said Thursday.

And mixed charter test performance is forcing a tilt toward tougher rules.

"Autonomy has begun to vanish," Husted said, calling academic performance the No. 1 issue facing charter schools. "In the name of accountability, we are beginning to regulate, regulate, regulate in a way so that they are losing much of their autonomy."

Husted was among several high profile figures in the charter school movement, both from Ohio and nationally, who gathered in Columbus for a conference exploring what it will take to make charter school performance improve.

The conference was sponsored by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton

Family Foundation.

Gov. Bob Taft also spoke, reaffirming his support for charters but also saying, as he did in October, that low performers should be closed.

"The best way to assure the charter school option remains strong and viable is a rigorous quality control program, timely intervention and support," Taft said.

Ohio's 279 charter schools serve about 70,000 kids, or about 3 percent of the state's schoolchildren. Charters are free public schools, that are tax-funded, but independently run and released from many state rules in return for the promise of better performance.

But so far, that performance has lagged overall.

Fordham, a national advocate for charters, reports 60 percent of Ohio charter schools are rated in "academic emergency," the lowest of five state rankings. Some charter critics say that number is even higher.

Dayton is the nation's top charter school market, with 22 percent of all schoolchildren attending 33 charter schools, all of which have opened since 1998.

Moderating a session on how districts can use charters to improve performance, Dayton school board President Gail Littlejohn said she was concerned about three aspects of charters — big business, finance and politics.

Littlejohn said she was worried that corporate-run charter school chains were turning education into too much of a business. She said competition forces financial choices, such as the need for schools to spend money on advertising and marketing.

Littlejohn also said politics is an issue, pointing to the defeat last week of her school board ally Doniece Gatliff.

"You can't always count on voters to do what you need them to do," she said. "We had double digit test score gains. You'd have thought we'd all win without any problem."

Another session, moderated by longtime Dayton educator and consultant T.J, Wallace, focused on schools that specialize in dropouts.

Ann Higdon, superintendent of the ISUS Trade and Tech Prep High School, said it always find ways to meet student needs. This year, ISUS has started up health care and manufacturing programs.

"We're continually changing what we do to get a better result every year," she said.

Contact Scott Elliott at 225-2485.

ORC 3307.15 - not just a wish,
IT'S THE LAW!

Article: Gifts from Drug Companies

From: Tom Curtis
Cc: Mike Billirakis
Sent: Friday, November 18, 2005 12:59 AM
Subject: 111405 Col Dispatch; Gifts From Drug Companies

GIFTS FROM DRUG COMPANIES
Doctors deny that ‘freebies’ influence them
Monday, November 14, 2005
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The pen you sign in with at the doctor’s office might have Lipitor, Nexium or Zoloft on it. The mug the receptionist drinks coffee from might say Zocor on the side.

Notepads, tissue boxes, wall clocks, clipboards that hold medical charts — everything is an advertisement.

It all comes from drug-company salespeople who regularly visit offices hoping that these marketing tools will translate into more prescriptions for the medications they’re pushing.

Doctors say they’re not influenced by hand sanitizers, wall calendars or pockets full of pens. But what about free medical textbooks, blood-pressure cuffs, stethoscopes and pizza lunches for the entire office staff?

"The calendar on my wall says Premarin (a hormone). When I look at that, do I prescribe that for a patient? Abso- lutely not," said Dr. David Stockwell, a Columbus obstetrician. "It’s a nice thing. They provide that so I don’t have to go to Staples and buy it for my office.

"Anybody who has any ethics at all would not be persuaded by these things."

Busy doctors don’t like taking time to talk to four to six drug representatives a week, but some do it solely to collect the free samples they bring.

Dr. Kathleen Lutter, a Columbus gynecologist, relies on free medication samples for her patients who can’t afford costly drugs. She said pitches from drug reps don’t influence her.

"If you have any brains as a physician, you can get past the marketing ploys," she said. "As every year passes, I get more and more critical of letting drug reps in."

But the freebies do influence physicians, said Dr. Harrison Weed, an infectious-disease and internal-medicine specialist at Ohio State University Medical Center. He doesn’t meet with drug salespeople, and when he finds any freebies around his office or clinic, he throws them away.

He cites national studies that have found that, when people are given something free — no matter how small — they can’t help but feel obligated to reciprocate. And that includes doctors.

"When you meet with them and talk to them," Weed said of drug salespeople, "and you’re the teacher, you want them to succeed, and their drugs to succeed. You have to acknowledge that influence."

The practice has been around for decades.

In the 1970s, the drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. sent every medical-school graduate in the country a leather doctor’s bag loaded with all the tools of the trade, said Bill Fassett, professor of pharmacy law and ethics at Washington State University. "No one thought much of it until some students refused to take them. One school had a bonfire.

"The companies were just mystified by that. The older physicians said, ‘If these guys are going to be corrupted by a medical bag, they shouldn’t be in medicine.’ "

But over the years, the practice grew worse, to the point that it became common for drug companies to take doctors to sporting events and concerts or pick up the tab for seminars at Caribbean resorts.

In 1992, the American Medical Association created ethical guidelines on physicians accepting gifts. They boil down to three things: A gift should benefit patients — drug samples, for example. It should be worth less than $100. And it should have an educational benefit.

"No gift should be accepted if there are strings attached, if they expect something in return," said Dr. Cecil Wilson, a member of the AMA board of trustees.

He acknowledged that drug companies are quick to disseminate research about their drugs but said salespeople shouldn’t be the sole source of information for doctors.

"At the heart of this, physicians have an ethical obligation to help patients make a choice," Wilson said. "In a market-driven entity such as the drug industry, they have certain goals that don’t overlap with a physician’s need for information."

The drug industry’s trade association — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA — also has guidelines for giving gifts to doctors, including a $100 limit. There’s no limit on handing out drug samples, pens or notepads. The occasional stethoscope is OK; but sporting events, golf outings and trips are not.

"If you’re sitting on the thirdbase line in Wrigley Field in Chicago, you’re not focused on the business at hand," said Jeff Trewhitt, PhRMA spokesman. "Watching Barry Bonds hit a home run has nothing to do with the study of a new medicine."

The solution, said Fassett of Washington State, is public disclosure, with drug companies documenting how much money they spend marketing to each doctor.

"The responsibility of each physician, each nurse, each dentist is to remember that they took an oath to put the patient’s well-being first," he said. "They say they are not influenced, but research shows that they are influenced."

shoholik@dispatch.com

Judi: Back online

From: Judi
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 10:02 PM
Subject: I'm up and running again

It has been a very sad time for me as my brother passed away from cancer about 3 weeks ago and because of my immune system and chemical sensitivity, I was unable to be with him. The hospital makes me ill(due to the chemicals used there) and because of my immune system the doctors advised me not to go as he was in isolation with staph infection(resistant to antibiotics). I was unable to visit him in the summer as each time I was well and able to go, the city sprayed for West Nile Virus which makes me very ill. It did however make me feel good when he cracked a joke on the phone when I called him in his final days. I know he was saying he understood that I could not be with him.
It is very difficult for me that I have been unable to be with my family during these difficult times. I sincerely believe that if STRS had granted me disability when I first became ill, I would have been able to have the necessary treatment that would have helped me recover and allowed me to be with my family.
Then about 2 weeks ago my computer fried. Incidently the computer was not on. Please be aware if you do not have a surge protector rated with 1000 joules or more, this could happen to you. Most are not!
I have my new computer up and running and I plan to set up a new e-mail to send to you as my present site is getting bogged down. I will use it only for CORE and STRS info.
Judi

Announcement: December Board meeting

From Molly
Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2005 8:27
PM Subject: STRS BOARD MEETING FOR DEC:

The next STRS Board meeting will be Dec. 8 and Dec. 9
CORE: 11:45-12:50 in 2nd flr rear Sublett Rm. adjacent to cafeteria. Those wishing lunch can go to cafeteria 11:30ish and bring lunch into the Sublett Rm.

Molly Janczyk: Notes on STRS Board meeting 11/17/05


From Molly
Nov.17, 2005
PUblic Speakers:
1-3: impressed with STRS; HCA; efforts and good job.
3. Mike M.?: Rehire: his funds have been reduced as rehire; went on to say new teachers are asking why they should approve more deductions for increased contributions. He stated he contributed for 31 yrs towards older educators ; now it is there turn; that is how it is done.
(We are always paying ahead and the next generation will do the same and so on if there is a steady stream of revenue generated by increased contributions. This is the closest thing educators can come to guaranteeing their future HC in retirement.m.j.)
4. Bob Buerkle(ly): Listed the 8 STRS Guiding Principals for Benefits Design: They include: offering a range of retirement benefits meeting member needs while providing equal and equitable access; maintain high level of member trust and satisfaction; proactively provide members with benefit education to enhance respons. for their retirement planning; propose future benefit improvements failrly and equitably balanced bet/ active and retired members and consider employee/employee contributions while ensuring financial stability of fund; be viewed as leader in providing retirement benefits and services; uniform pension benefit options for recipients and survivors similiarly situated as to length of service.
Then Bob presented a list of what he calculated to be inequities for pension beneficiaries who are rehires and D.C. Plan participants:
ARP, Defined Contrib. and Money Purchase plans collect 14% of payroll from employer and retains 3.5% for the benefit of others to reduce unfinded liability.
Reemployed Retired Teachers : A defined contrib. plan: STRS collects 14% of payroll from employer and as of 7/05 retains 9% for benefit of others to reduce unfunded liability of system.
This grp saves STRS over $6 Million on HC where none of the other grps save STRS anything. So, it seems $6Million is not enough and now STRS wants to nearly triple amount from the reemployed retirees as from any other grp.
There was a data sheet:
3166 rehires make $30,000 or more so full-time or nearly full time. Of 3166:
1508 use STRS HC; 1658 do not use STRS HC: receive a $430 HC subsidy if non medicare retiree. STRS saves: $8,555,280 on these 1658 rehires.
226 non full time rehires save STRS $1,166,160 in HC costs.
total payroll earnings = $11,800,000.
14% of 11.8million is $25.2million
At 4% STRS kept $7.2 million
now at rehirees' 9% STRS keeps $16.2 million
Take the $8,555,280 saved by 1658 rehires not using STRS HC plus the $16.2million STRS now keeing to = $24.75million rehires saving system.
3 Pension Plan comparisons of unequtible, unfair and dissimilar outcomes:
1. 1st time to Ohio teacher begins at age 60 and selects the DB (defined benefit) plan; earns $50,000 for 5 yrs and contributes $25,000 in employee contrib. Pension at 65: 11% of FAS of %50,000 or $5500 per yr.
2. 1st time to Ohio teacher begins teaching at 60 yrs old and selects DC
(defined contrib.) plan; earns $50,000 for 5 yrs. Pension: at 65 = $5500 per yr based on $26,000 of employee contrib., $26,250 of eligible employer match contrib. and a total account of : $62,525 by earning an average and continuing return of 8.8%.
3. Re-employed retired Ohio teacher begins at 60 as rehire earning $50,000 per yr for 5 yrs under DC plan. Makes the same $25,000contributions as 1. and 2. but only receives a match of $12,500 and will earn 5% on account for a total of $42,188 at age 65 : over $20,000 less in than case 2. and earns $3713 per yr at 8.8%. $20,337 less inheritance.
5. Ralph Roshand?. retiree who spoke of fight by school boards against inc. employer contributions. he opposes increases by school boards as well. thought 14% was great
((even tho has not been increased for 20 yrs.m.j.)) He also opposed SB190 and thinks will ruin system; told STRS not to make permanent changes; use temporary modes; Thought the discussion by board members best he ever heard on investments though. Told STRS to go back and revisit SB1990; don't like going back; but need to.
6. dianna Ball: elected OEA Central reflections after talking with educators: active are supportive of STRS and HCA and their efforts-collaboration benficial to members; need greatest benefit for greatest number; NOT tolerate of reductions in benefits; Rumor that future actives to get less than current. ((Assuming she is talking about SB190 and the 35 yr enhance 88% plan. m.j.))
7. Duke Snider: 'one of the malcontents' if can't hear-raise hand as seems some not listening; only supporters of retirees are Lazares and Leone. others-are you up there for status or to help? if you obj. to my calling you by name-raise hand. none did. Dr. Brown: I asked you twice previously what you would do if something was wrong at STRS and you danced around the ans. when you were campaigning. Leone wanted interactipn and you slappe him onl wrist. Does OSU pay you? brown nods yes. Isn't that a conflict of interest and if so, resign. Dr. Brown: did you inform the board that there was a BUCK report already before overpaying for another one? Have your read it/
WHY are you letting non investment staff run show? They showed you their loyalty by suing you. terminate them.
Dr. Asbury: Will you change your mind and take the bonus for non investment employees?
Mitchell: why Fannie Mae?
Rest: keep checks and balances in place according to ORC:3307.15

Damon Asbury Exec. Direc. Report:
1. HC member educ. campaign kicks off
2. benefit recipients encouraged to sign up for direct deposit: electronic and in view of natural disasters , use this direct deposit; mailings went out to 8.860 and in first 2 wks 335 signed up.
3. medicare part D subsidy approved by medicare.
4. DB and DC members receive statements
5. HC program open enrollement began 10/10
6. compounded COLAS would cost addt'l 3.6% contribution to actives to fund. Buser challenged that figure and wanted real dollar amounts as this percent is = to 10% of funds. Says that is way too high to make sense. Damon said it will be reviewed.
7. KPMG audit near completion
8. SB 9 does not speak to divestitude for retirement systems; will go back to Senate for some type of certification by those doing business with the state that they are not connected to nor are terrorists.
9. retirement system legislation on committee schedule: HB 272 to change language to OPERS statues re: medical accounts and rehire HC. STRS will likely be included. HB320: relative to SERS administration; HB340 for estab. of HC savings accounts for highway Patrol.
10. Election process begins.
11. STRS recognized by Public Pension Coordinating Council : qualified for Councill's Standards Awards for 2005: met professional standards for plan design and admin.
Rep. Dan Dubp: 88th district spoke for a min.; reps Brown Co. area; I love this awesome structure; building. just introducing myself as one who reprsents many retirees.
HC Member Benefits: HCA Proposal: seems most approving of proposal with numbers like 62% approve and 29% oppose in active phone surveys; 71% vs. 17% for retirees polled by phone;
Favor: online 68%, postcard 73% and meeting numbers 84% Oppose: in same order; 27%,20%, 10%
Leone complimented presentation and presenters. Concerned when school boards mount anti campaign if numbers hold.
meetings: hearing same 3 things:
1. frustration that legislators doing nothing in Wash. glad STRS part of nat'l movement
2. doubts that employers will agree or be able; Some actives saying just take entire 5% from us-employee for future HC
3. will it guarantee HC for us; nothing is a guarantee; but closest can come;
BUSER: can we set aside a portion just for actives? divide into popts: one for retirees; one for future retirees (actives) and one for needed area.
HCA meetings are providing for visibilty that STRS and HCA are working tog for solution.
#1 concern: value for product.
Medicare Part B:
Buser moved and Leone seconded that this area only increase 3% as with HC premiums for non medicare recipients. This is revisited every year. motion passed with a single NO by Myers.
All present by Fisher today.
Mary Ellen Angeletti will address investment issues which extened into CORE meeting time. Chuck stayed back for us to hear the discussion re: upping benchmarks for investment staff.

Report: Some charter schools surrender state money to IRSAssociated Press

Posted on Thu, Nov. 17, 2005

Report: Some charter schools surrender state money to IRSAssociated Press

AKRON, Ohio - Some state funding intended to help privately run charter schools in Ohio ends up going to the IRS instead.

Despite urging from the state that charter schools become designated as nonprofit corporations to avoid federal taxes imposed on for-profit enterprises, most but not all comply, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Lawmakers created charter schools in 1998 as an alternative to traditional public school districts, arguing that competition would help improve education for all children. The schools are publicly funded but privately run and free of many regulations that traditional districts must follow.

Charter schools have grown from 15 schools in Ohio to 250 schools this year, serving 65,000 children. The state estimates it will pay $441 million to charter schools this year, still a fraction of the state's annual $7 billion education budget but a figure growing each year.

To qualify as nonprofit, charter schools must complete required paperwork, although some still choose not to do so. Operators of at least 12 charter schools paid the IRS about $311,000 out of state aid over a recent three-year period, according to an Akron Beacon Journal review of audits of charter schools. The most recent complete audit was for the 2003-04 school year.

Of the 12, Akron-based White Hat Management operates seven schools it calls learning centers. The Leona Group, a school-management company in East Lansing, Mich., operates the others.

A message requesting comment was left Thursday with White Hat Management.

Kelly Updike, spokeswoman for the Leona Group, said that because Ohio doesn't require federal nonprofit status, the company did not apply. It since has begun the application process, she said.

Ohio's auditor has notified at least four other schools about possible violations of federal tax law.

Jennifer Detwiler, spokeswoman for Auditor Betty Montgomery, said the auditor has no enforcement power in the matter.

Another 23 schools have not received their nonprofit status from the federal government, although they either intend to apply or are waiting on word from the IRS regarding their applications, the Akron newspaper reported.

The Columbus-based Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the state's largest charter school with more than 7,000 students, has been in operation for six years and has yet to receive its nonprofit status, although spokesman Nick Wilson said the school recently applied because the status is needed for federal grants. He said the IRS has simplified the process.

"If a charter school has the opportunity to not be taxed, it seems silly to not take advantage of that situation," Detwiler said.

Department of Education spokesman J.C. Benton said that the department tells charter school operators they should apply for federal nonprofit status.

In 2002, Rep. Jon Husted, a Republican from suburban Dayton who is now the House speaker, sponsored a charter school bill that did not require the nonprofit status, although it explained that no state funds for the schools should be used to pay federal or other taxes.

http://coremail.blogspot.com/

ORC 3307.15 - not just a wish, IT'S THE LAW!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Al Rhonemus' letter to Judge Reece


November 14, 2005

Dear Judge Reece:

I am appalled and disappointed in your decision to pay bonuses to the noninvestment staff at the State Teachers Retirement System.

First: Their positions do not carry as much responsibility as many of us who taught in overcrowded classrooms for our entire lifetime in poorer school districts.

Second: These bonuses coupled with free health care, much reduced priced or free child care, outstanding work environment and other perks puts that staff way ahead of other employees even in the Columbus area.

Third: In this day of equality for all – those of us who chose teaching as a career (and I am proud to have been a teacher) paid for many teaching materials out of our own pockets because the districts did not have the funds available. Yet we survived on low income – retired with a promise from STRS counselors of lifetime health care and income. Now those counselors who made these promises receive the benefits of bonuses (which I understand was not in a written contract) while we older retirees are struggling to stay alive.

My question to you, "Is this equality?" I think not.

I believe you must reconsider your decisions – they are unethical, unfair and most of all just plain unreasonable.

Sincerely,

Al Rhonemus
Aberdeen, OH

- Retired teacher after 31+ years.
- World War II Veteran
- A proud American believing in EQUALITY for all

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tom Curtis' letter to Judge Reece

November 14, 2005

Hello Judge Reece,

This may not be appropriate to ask of you, but would you kindly tell me what would be involved in requesting a legal interpretation of the ORC 3307.15 as it reads below?

It seems that the STRS fiduciaries and the STRS membership have a very different interpretation and understanding of this section of the ORC.

As a retiree who has had health care benefits promised at retirement revoked, I do not understand how the STRS fiduciaries are permitted to arbitrarily provide bonuses to non-investment staff at the STRS. These bonuses were not contractual to my understanding and were not based upon written goals, but subjective ones and were for little more then doing their jobs. Please explain how this can be permitted?

§ 3307.15. Investment and fiduciary duties of board.


(A) The members of the state teachers retirement board shall be the trustees of the funds created by section 3307.14 of the Revised Code. The board shall have full power to invest the funds. The board and other fiduciaries shall discharge their duties with respect to the funds solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries; for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries and defraying reasonable expenses of administering the system; with care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with these matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims; and by diversifying the investments of the system so as to minimize the risk of large losses, unless under the circumstances it is clearly prudent not to do so.


I await your response to my two questions above at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Thomas Curtis
STRS Life Member
ORTA Life Member
Stark Co. RTA Life Member
CORE Life Member
AARP Life Member

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Robert Hudson Jones: An open request for legislative support for an increase in the employee/employer contribution to STRS OH

"In addition to the great salaries and benefits, the employees and elected members enjoy the many "perks" generously offered by themselves. As an additional note, the STRS Bd dominated by OEA Bd members unanimously voted to move the 8% employer contribution down to 1% to pay for an increased base that favored actives and unexpectedly changed the 30 yr unfunded liability. This move cost the retirees' HC/Rx a downward spiral."

November 10, 2005

My two siblings and I are retired career educators with over 30 yrs public service each. All three of us having taught in tough urban inner city schools. Of course, our health suffered. We have all been hospitalized many times. Health Care and Prescription Insurance (HC/Rx) were promised to us by our employer and the STRS but the promise was not legislatively guaranteed. Today, we, and all retired educators, are suffering because of it. Without a legislated increase for HC/RX, upon retirement, active educators will suffer in their future retirement too.

The Guarantee:

As you probably know, the pension is guaranteed in writing by the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) that is as secure as the State of Ohio and the US dollar. The current STRS legislative request for an increase in the contribution, if passed, will make for an HC/Rx guarantee, as well.


An Additional Need:

In the past, we retirees were also told that we had a yearly Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). Gratefully, not too long ago it was raised to 3%. Most folks think that is great, not realizing that the 3% is a simple COLA, not a compounded COLA. A simple COLA is based on the educator's final average salary and will not change from year to year. Also, gratefully, the inflation fighting, and fair to all legislation of the "13th check," Ad Hoc increases, and base increases have somewhat kept retirees out of the poorhouse. However, note that those retiring since 1990 have experienced no Ad Hoc increases.

To stay up with inflation, and to keep from having to frequently go back to the legislature to try to do so, a Compounded COLA (CCOLA) would be a better solution. It permanently accumulates compounding on the base each year as bank savings accounts are compounded, as you know.

While a STRS OH pension is better than a much lower Social Security Pension, Social Security (SS) does compound every 6 months. However, due to the federal offset law passed under Ronald Reagan the thirteen or so states that have a STRS -- their members cannot draw their total earned SS benefits that they paid into -- Congressmen and Senators do not suffer the same offset.

Without a CCOLA, present and futures retirees, if they live long enough, are finding, and will find out, that their purchasing power will diminish in half about every 12 yrs. into retirement.

As most active educators enjoy dental and eye care, we retirees do not.

The Blame:

First, we retired and active educators have us to blame. We were, and are, not aggressive enough in demanding and securing salaries and benefits high enough to put us on the level of other college graduates with 5 yrs of education and beyond -- we educators paid the expensive tuition, not our employer. We are, did not, and are not, demanding that our professional organizations monitor our STRS and the OH Legislative misadventures.

While our STRS and our active and retiree unions were working in collusion (playing with our pension and dues monies) many employees in these groups are earning in the high six figure salaries, with full paid benefits, these STRS employees, meanwhile, paying into their retirement through the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS). Because of our apathy, we did, and are letting them get away with it. In addition to the great salaries and benefits, the employees and elected members enjoy the many "perks" generously offered by themselves. As an additional note, the STRS Bd dominated by OEA Bd members unanimously voted to move the 8% employer contribution down to 1% to pay for an increased base that favored actives and unexpectedly changed the 30 yr unfunded liability. This move cost the retirees' HC/Rx a downward spiral.

Secondly, at STRS, in meetings closed to us and to the public, many important decisions are made without written minutes. For instance, in a closed board meeting in, 2004 a "business decision" led them to take away our legislated 13th check. Some informed retirees claim this money was used by the STRS BD to put in escrow to pay for the lawsuit award that the court levied against our STRS by non investment employees. As you can see, retirees paid dearly to award these nonessential, and easily replaced employees. This is a clear violation of the spirit of the ORC 3307.15 that states that STRS OH is to serve: "for the sole benefit of the members." We are the STRS, so therefore we are responsible; we vote and elect the members to the STRS BD.

Thirdly,

The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) and its leadership has tried to run the very numerous public school districts "on the cheap." This has hurt children as well as their educators. Consolidating districts would save much taxpayer money but for the OSBA this would mean fewer dues paying members. Also, they have done very little to stop the drain of public funds into the hands of profit minded businessmen of the private Charter Schools. And, like our educators' unions, Ohio's far too many Public School Districts BD members and their "leaders" have been more interested in the personal perks of travel, meals and parties rather than the serious business of providing a proper education as recommended by the constitution for Ohio's children. As a consequence, the OSBA and the teacher unions hired no lawyers to file charges in the unlawful use of STRS funds by some Bd and employees of our system. They failed the dues paying memberships.

Threats to STRS retirees coming from the OSBA is unacceptable. We are used to it. Like police and fire personnel, we educators have been exposed to disease, verbal and physical threats and have been wounded and killed in the line of duty; one killed and one wounded just last week. Therefore, here in Ohio, it is unconscionable to leave college trained educators of our children without adequately paid HC/Rx, Dental/Eye insurance and a CCOLA. Other public servants have it. Why not Ohio's teachers?

Fourth,

Mostly, the American culture is to blame. The voting public, and those citizens who are eligible but do not vote, place little value on public education; children, and their educators, therefore suffer low priority of the American GNP. Our culture spends too much of its GNP on control of lawlessness, AIDS, illegal drugs, pornography and even pets, to have much left to pay for the future: our children.

Further, recent cultural change to a majority of one parent families, and the consequent child that are more expensive to educate, leave our nation's future political and economic leadership doubt. Hedonism takes priority. An undisciplined and undereducated society will be dominated by others who are.

Having spent a year in Asia, and having been back 7 times since then, this retired teacher that studied schools there, can reveal that Asian culture puts more emphasis on education -- preschool all the way through college and post high school technical schools; consequently, an undereducated traditional American society, and people, are at risk of being "trumped" in the whole spectrum of civilized conduct. And as our American natural resources fade, our national defense will still to depend on our brain power developed in public schools.

Conclusion:

Now is the time to support an increase in the employee's and the employer's contribution. Presently, we have the new protective legislation of SB 133 already on the books; and, if we are forever vigilant, there will no longer be a chance for lawbreaking graft in the STRS system. Not to worry, the people's money is now well protected! After 74 yrs of life, my learned resolve, concerning a need for a solution to this matter of an increase in employer/employee rates, is that everyone needs to correct a wrong, do the right thing, and get the legislation passed.

Respectfully submitted, this carefully crafted original message was done at the expense of the writer:

Robert Hudson Jones,
Retired STRS Member, a Concerned Ohio Retired Educator (CORE) Legal CMTE Mem., Summit CRTA Legislative CMTE Mem., Life member of ORTA, AEA, NEOTA-R, OEA/OFT, OEA-R, NEA, and NEA-R.

Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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