Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Curtis to Lloyd: STRS statistics based on carefully crafted questions -- the whole picture or propaganda?

From Tom Curtis, 2/14/06; Subject: Latest STRS Ohio Newsletter
Hello Ralph,
You and many others have writing me about the front-page story in the most recent STRS Newsletter. It is about the very favorable feedback the STRS has obtained from a phone calling survey to the membership.
This is exactly the same type of propaganda the STRS has put out for years. This is exactly why so many others and I have remained involved in attempting to educate the STRS membership about what is truly going on at the STRS with the management staff.
In my opinion, they often waste our funds to validate their performance. Those of us that are now paying 100% of the health care cost for our non-teaching spouse and/or dependent children do not need to read a survey that cost the STRS thousands of dollars. The proof that they have not been doing their jobs is in the loss of benefits to the membership. They failed to properly fund benefits they verbally promised us. They revoked benefits from those who had already received such. That is the telling story!
The only function of the STRS management and staff since its inception in since 1920 is to take the huge dedicated flow of contributions sent to the STRS each year and invest it in a manner according to ORC 3307.15. For me, the questions still remains, did they successfully do this? Proof of such still is the $64,000,000 dollar question.
Maybe one day, most of the STRS membership will begin to realize that the STRS management has and continues to live very well by managing our funds. This appears to be something they fail to provide for their stakeholders, as they continue to ignore following 3307.15. I guess there is not enough money for all of our employees to live well and the stakeholders too. Somebody has to pay for the employees' outstanding pay and benefits, and that would be the STRS membership. They make mistakes and we have to pay the bill. Just what is wrong with this picture?
Obviously the management felt a strong entitlement when they went so far as to purchase automobiles for themselves, which were totally expensed to the STRS. This practice, (once again thanks to Dennis Leone) was stopped and all of the personal use vehicles were sold in 2003-2004. This is just one example of their extravagance.
As for the STRS phone survey, the sample is from only 601 members of the 430,000 total. That is a very small sampling in my opinion, but the STRS received the results they desired, so that is all that is needed I would assume.
It is my understanding that 70% of all retirees did not have a substantial increase in health care coverage costs starting in 2004. Only about 30% were highly affected, so maybe that is why the phone survey was so positive. Who really knows? The STRS can manipulate those numbers in a variety of ways. All I know is that the cost of operating the STRS seems to be very excessive compared to the other four public pension systems in Ohio. That is a fact and most of the STRS membership continues to be ignorant of this!
Take care,
Tom Curtis
CORE Advisory Committee Member
From Ralph Lloyd, 2/14/06; Subject: Latest STRS Ohio Newsletter
Tom, My STRS Ohio News just arrived yesterday and I found something of interest for you. This was the result of a phone survey of 300 active teachers and 301 retired teachers during the dates Sept. 22 - Oct.1 and Oct 5 - 8. The results follow: Earned members' trust and confidence 77% actives and 83% retires agree Manage Investments prudently 69% actives 75% retirees agree Serves members in fair even-handed manner 88% actives and 86% retirees agree Manage operating expenses prudently 58% actives and 71% retirees agree Delivers what it promises? 81% actives and 87% retirees agree Will be strong and stable well into the future 74% active and 80% retirees agree One of the best programs? 74% actives and 73% retirees agree
The question marks are on the last two because the first question mark asks: What was promised? The second question mark asks: Compared to what other program?
Ralph L Lloyd
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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