Thursday, November 02, 2006

Shirley Zerkel: Concerns of a CORE and OEA-R member

From Shirley Zerkel, November 02, 2006
Subject: Concerns of a CORE and OEA-R member
Mr. xxx (identity withheld out of deference to correspondent's wishes. KBB 11/02/06):
I have been following the email barrage and would like to add my observations on the situation. You have made comments in one of these emails that we should not be conducting a withering email barrage aimed at Conni Ramser and Steve Puckett. You would rather see us "direct our energy to getting the legislative support for the 5% additional funding for health care and let elections take care of the Board's makeup." You have said a mouthful there! What you really want is for us to be sidetracked by your comments so that we will let up on members of the Board. These emails of yours are a diversion tactic and that is why you use the word withering. Yes, the health care is very important but so is the makeup of the Board. We can not have Board members who are rubber stamps for the STRS staff. They are not independent thinkers; they jump when Damon says jump.
I just received my Ohio Schools mag. and guess what I see on page 3-an article about SERS and their freezing premiums for 2007. I do not believe that OEA is keeping a 'hands off' policy here. I will quote just the last paragraph from the article. "The OEA believes that the SERS Board needs to continually manage the health care program so that current and future retirees have the opportunity to access affordable health care in the future. The Board's decision not to make relatively minor changes to the premium structure shortens the life of the health care fund, and runs count to the interests of both active employees and those retirees who currectly rely on the SERS health care program." Now let me quote from one of your emails "That we expected STRS Board members to live up to their fiduciary duties and that it was completely inappropriate for OEA to try to influence their votes." You also stated that it was OEA's role over the years "to screen candidates, help them get elected, then keep hands off."
OEA does not keep their hands off of the workings of the STRS Board and this article shows that they even involve themselves in opinions concerning the decisions of another Board of the state retirement systems. When these comments openly appear in a mag aimed at teachers, I see an effort to influence readers. What influences does OEA exert that we do not see!
You also stated that "Similarly, OEA was loyal-perhaps to a fault- in their support of our previously endorsed candidates, some of which may not have deserved it." I think 'was' is a key word in your quote. You should not have used 'was' for that is past tense and OEA is STILL loyal to a fault to their endorsed members of the Board. Bill L. openly praised Mr. Billirakis profusely at the October Board meeting and told the crowd that Mike was a man to be emulated. I don't think so in the light of what I know about this past Board member.
I for one will not be swayed by your comments to leave Conni Ramser and Steve Puckett alone. I also will put some energy into getting legislative support for the health care 5%.
Shirlee Zerkel
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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