Friday, February 17, 2006

Minutes of CORE meeting February 16, 2006

The CORE Advisory Board met at STRS on Thursday, February 16th, 2006 at
11:45. In attendance were Kathie Bracy, Dave Parshall, Chuck Chapman, Tom Curtis, Chuck Angeletti, Ryan Holderman substituting for Nancy Hamant, and Mary Ellen Angeletti. Mary Ellen served as scribe.

Dave Parshall gave an accounting of the CORE financial fund since its inception and invited anyone present to help themselves to a copy. He and Chuck Angeletti whose name is also on the account had checked the accounting together. Dave gave the balance of the fund to date and stated that contributions were received this month. He was very concerned about one $5.00 membership sent in by a retiree who apologized for taking so long to join but it was the first time she felt she could go without a prescription refill in order to send in her membership. A discussion followed regarding changes which could be made to the CORE membership form to indicate a donation rather than a $5.00 fee to join. This will be changed the next time CORE orders more yellow pamphlets. Until then, it was suggested that we could change the form used on the website, the blog, and when sending out the form in emails.

Items needing to be changed on the CORE website were discussed. Dave Parshall will be in contact with the webmaster this week to request that he remove the 2005 Health Care Premiums (updating with the new 2006 Health Care Premiums), Thanks to Active Teachers (regarding the candidacy of John Lazares), and CORE Candidate Dennis Leone (regarding Leone's election to the STRS Board). In place of these last two articles, it was suggested that we post the two CORE endorsed candidate photos as well as their vitas and the reasons why they are running for the STRS Board.

It was also suggested that we add a sentence or two concerning information received in today's STRS Board meeting about increased costs of health care in 2007. We have had a cap on our current 2006 health care premiums but we need to remind retirees that premium costs will definitely go up in 2007. These changes were again discussed in today's meeting. Members need to anticipate that health care premium changes will be occurring in 2007. It was also suggested that we include a sentence or two about the need for CORE members to write legislators in support of increasing the employee and employer contributions which STRS is promoting.

It was announced that the next Damon/CORE meeting will occur on Monday, March 13th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 in the Sublett Room at STRS. All are encouraged to attend and should try to arrive by 10:30 to have time to review the questions submitted. Dave Parshall will be sending a lengthy list of questions and concerns to Dr. Asbury and his executive staff, and they will be providing answers to these questions at this meeting.

The Hazel Sidaway trial scheduled for February 14th was again delayed. Judge W. Dwayne Maynard recused himself from the case at 10:35 that very morning saying that he would make a statement as to why when the hearing and trial have been completed. However, the Court released his reason was due to the fact that his wife is a teacher. We guess he discovered this at 10:35 that day. The case will be assigned to another judge and the date of the next hearing/trial will be announced at a later date. This is the 6th delay for this case which is taxing the patience of retirees who are anxious for justice to be served for Sidaway's ethics violations & misdemeanors.

Letters received by CORE have been handed over to Leone and Lazares in order to get their advice on how to proceed with any follow-up. We await their suggestions at our March 9th CORE meeting.

CORE kudos go to Ryan and Rita Holderman who spent eons of their time reviewing our CORE data lists and getting them updated. We cannot thank them enough for this Herculean effort. We hope that we now have accurate information on everyone but this could not have been accomplished without the Holderman's dedicated effort. Inevitably changes will occur, and we encourage John Curry to print ANY returns of CORE Email Alerts so that we can attempt to get corrected email addresses. Our Email Alert system will be used in the next few months for campaigning for CORE endorsed candidates for the active teacher seat on the STRS Board.

The main part of the CORE meeting today was spent doing STRS Board Election planning. It was announced by STRS today that both Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick have qualified to appear on the STRS ballot thanks to all of CORE who worked hard to get petitions signed for them. It was decided that our campaigning strategies would be similar to last year's even though last year's was a retiree seat on the Board. We will be getting flyers for the candidates printed at the Ink Well or whoever gives us the best bid. We will aim to have these ready to hand out at the next CORE meeting.

We will again try to canvas the schools with these flyers and also send them out on our CORE Email Alert on a regular schedule of releases, and also post the flyer information on the CORE website and blog. CORE will also donate gasoline money to our candidates in order for them to travel to meetings to speak to active teacher groups. Tactics which have been successful in the past are: visit schools and personally hand the election flyers to the teachers, take flyers to the schools and stuff teachers' mailboxes in the office, get the word out through substitute teachers (many are retirees) who work in the schools, wait for teachers on the school parking lots and pass out the flyers as they leave, use a stamp to stamp the names of our candidates on our yellow CORE pamphlets, and send flyers to the schools asking that the teachers reproduce them for their buildings.

As you visit schools in your area, don't forget to hang the flyers in the teacher's lounges. The flyers will have dates the teachers will be receiving their ballots and the deadline date for when the ballots must be returned. We have already received complaints from some that they have been told they cannot stuff mailboxes or hand election flyers to teachers. This is the same old OEA tactic used in the past and should be ignored completely. Schools are public buildings, and we are the public.

Some of us prefer to visit the school office first just to sign in and perhaps get a visitor's badge. Others have no problem visiting with teachers in their rooms after school is dismissed or just going to the Teacher's Lounge to hang election information. Current flyer problem: We need a format that can be opened by everyone in an ordinary email since some folks do not have Microsoft Word or an email program that handles HTML documents. Can anyone out there HELP us with this problem? Contact Tom Curtis or Ryan Holderman.

Conni Ramser, a current STRS Board member and a candidate for re-election, accepted CORE's invitation to visit with us today and to permit us to interview her. Tom Curtis who conducted the candidate interviews last month for CORE asked Conni the same questions which he asked them. We found her answers to be candid and forthright and one CORE member encouraged her to be an independent thinker making decisions for the good of the retirees rather than for any group endorsing her candidacy (OEA). While CORE did not vote to endorse Conni's candidacy, we thank her for visiting with us and sharing her thinking and insights as a current Board member.

The next CORE meeting will be earlier than usual. Please note the change! It will be held on Thursday, March 9th, 2006 at 11:45 in the cafeteria room behind the Sublett Rm. at STRS. We hope this meeting will be very well attended as CORE finalizes ELECTION STRATEGY. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us. We need all counties represented in order to obtain campaign flyers.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
web page counter
Vermont Teddy Bear Company