Saturday, January 07, 2006

Article: $3,432,000 bonus settlement to be paid by YOUR retirement system, STRS Ohio

From ORTA Quarterly, Winter 2006

Pension System Must Pay
STRS Board voted 7-4 on Thursday, December 8, 2005 to accept the terms of final settlement in the class-action lawsuit that has been in litigation since May of 2004. The suit, filed by 260 present and former associates of STRS, sought payment of Performance-Based Incentive Awards for the fiscal year 2002-03.
The total settlement amount is approximately $3,432,000 which includes the earned compensation, OPERS contributions, interest, attorney's fees, prompt pay claims, and lost investment opportunities.
In an official statement from the board, the trustees determined that accepting the terms of the settlement was a prudent and fiscally responsible business decision for the pension fund and in the best interests of the membership. By accepting the terms, they eliminate the possibility of incurring costs of any additional litigation, attorney's fees, and additional punitive damages.
In July of 2003, the board voted to end the program of incentives for non-investment associates.

Article: STRS vs Medco

From ORTA Quarterly, Winter 2006

The lawsuit involving STRS as the Plaintiff and Medco Health Solutions has reached its conclusion in Cincinnati. The suit alleged that Medco committed fraud, breach of contract and other state law violations by overcharging members $152 million. Charges included withholding rebates, charging excessive fees, and overpricing drugs from 1993 through 2003. STRS is suing for full repayment and punitive damages.

Lynn Hokanson, who headed the health care benefits for STRS before retiring in 2004, was the first witness and set the stage for how the suit came about. She said the system suspected that Medco was earning manufacturer’s rebates off the backs of retired teachers, but it wasn’t until 2001 that Medco admitted it. The system was earning rebates on member drug purchases, and at the same time Medco was earning rebates on overall volume. She said that she believed that each contract signed by Medco called for them to pass all rebates on to STRS, regardless of what names the company put on them.

On December 13, 2005, both sides rested their case and the verdict is in the hands of the jury. As of the date that this publication went to press, no decision was returned from the jury. Information on the final verdict can be learned by calling 1-800-926-7154. [Note from blogger: to see the latest posts on this subject, go to the search engine at the top left side of this page and type in "Medco." On the page that comes up, near the top/right, click on "Sort by date." KBB]

Hamilton Co. RTA President Pat Cordes and Vice President Diane Barth have monitored several of the court sessions, along with other ORTA members and staff.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Jeff Chapman: STRS Report, ORTA Winter 2006 Quarterly

STRS Report

By Jeff Chapman, Retired Teacher Member, STRS Board

Mr. Chapman was elected by the retired membership of STRS in May and was sworn in as an STRS Board Trustee on September 1, 2005. He is a 30 year elementary teacher, retiring from the Cleveland Heights School System. As one of two elected retired teacher members of the Board, Mr. Chapman will be writing the 'STRS Report' for the Quarterly twice a year, beginning with this issue.

Happy New Year to all!
Campaigning for, and winning, a seat on the STRS Ohio Board was certainly a high point for me in 2005, and I can't imagine a better start to 2006 than having this opportunity to write an article for the ORTA Quarterly. I wish to thank ORTA for extending the invitation. I'd also like to thank all the local RTAs and their members that welcomed the candidates so graciously during the campaign.
As a brief introduction, I taught for 30 years at Boulevard Elementary School in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools. My wife Laurie is still working as a Title I Math teacher and the Lead Mentor for that district. I was also very involved in our OFT local as a steward, officer, and negotiator. My son, Jake, is a senior at Ohio State, and my daughter, Carlie, does social work in the Cleveland area and is just recently married. I belong to two OFT-R locals, Cleveland Heights and Cleveland, as well as the Geauga and Lake Co. RTAs.
I would like to address three main topics in this issue:
    • the "new" Board,
    • the Member Education and Engagement Program, and
    • first steps to start reaching our goals

Please keep in mind that any opinions are mine and in no way represent the STRS Board or staff.

The current Board of STRS consists of members with FIVE YEARS OR LESS experience, eight of them came on in 2004 or later! One of the problems with this is the lack of “institutional memory.” With all the issues that a new Board member must become knowledgeable about, becoming educated about the actions of past Boards is one more important responsibility.

On the other hand, this “new” Board brings little of the culture and baggage of previous Boards. The members come from different perspectives and most issues give rise to spirited debate and LOTS of questions. Our appointed members provide a level of expertise that has been invaluable. I firmly believe that every member has the well-being of our actives and retirees foremost in their deliberations on any subject. It’s very interesting to observe the process of the Board developing its own unique personality.

It is also interesting to note that in the Member Research Report presented to the Board in November, members express a positive, and improving, attitude toward the STRS Board. One of the reasons cited is changes in the leadership of the Board and management.

Hopefully, some of you were able to attend one of the Member Education and Engagement presentations held around the state in the last few months. Developed and presented by STRS staff and the Health Care Advocates, the presentations sought to educate members, especially active educators, about the present health care outlook and gauge support for a legislative increase in contributions from employers and employees. If we can gain support for a 5% graduated increase, 2.5% for actives and 2.5% for employers, we can create a dedicated revenue stream for our health care fund and create a brighter future for active teachers and retirees. I’ve heard it said so many times – retirement without affordable health care is no retirement at all. You may still see the presentation and complete a survey on the STRS website (

January is a good time to look back and look ahead – a time to decide if we are going to let past events continue to dictate our future actions. If we are going to successfully lobby the legislature and deal with other problems that face all of us, every stakeholder group needs to come together to seek solutions that will guarantee adequate pension and health benefits for current and future retirees. I believe we send the wrong message to the legislature, the taxpayers, and our members when we display division amongst ourselves instead of presenting a united front. Every group and individual must be heard in an arena that is devoid of rancor and disrespect.

If you have questions regarding this article, or suggestions for the next one, please email me at Once again, Happy New Year, stay warm, and get involved!

OSU Lantern: Jim Petro: Bible pimp

The Lantern, January 4, 2006

By Dan Magestro

"What does God expect of us?" Jim Petro, Republican candidate for Ohio governor, asks at the beginning of a disturbing television ad that has been running since early December. As the commercial progresses, it's not clear whether Ohio's current attorney general is running for governor or for pope. Either way, bring on the black smoke: we're in an election year, and it promises to be quite a crusade.

Following an embarrassing year for the sitting governor and coin collectors alike, 2006 couldn't have come soon enough. But while I'm as ecstatic as the next Ohioan about cleansing the state's highest elected office, I didn't imagine it might be cleansed with holy water.

Let me walk you through Petro's commercial, entitled "From the Heart" and also streaming on his website at The ad opens with a pensive Petro posing the theological question I mentioned. Petro answers on behalf of God, "To do justice, to love kindness." We're not taught exactly what it means to "love kindness," but we get the point.

The camera floats above a certificate of Christian baptism as Petro talks about his pro-life stance and 33-year marriage. "We believe that we have to do all that we can to advocate the protection of all life," he says. The camera then hovers gracefully over a Bible (yes, a Bible) resting on a table next to a wedding ring, while Petro discusses the sacred bond of marriage between a man and a woman.

Petro closes with this shocker: "Our worship and our faith gives me the opportunity to make decisions that are more effective for people." Side-stepping his subject-verb mismatch, is the state's chief law officer and legal counsel stressing how he brings his faith into his job? When faced with a legal course of action, does Petro refer to the Bible rather than the law? It seems so, and in fact both Petro's apparent faith-based approach to legal matters and the ad itself might be unconstitutional.

In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court established three criteria for determining whether a government action violates the First Amendment's separation of church and state: the action must have a non-religious purpose, its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion and there must be no excessive entanglement with religion. Petro's ad fails the test on every count, and his self-described approach to decision making violates the third step.

Of course, a campaign ad is not the sort of government action that our nation's highest court had in mind. But the specific way that Petro apparently uses his religious beliefs in his current elected position is. The fact that Ohio publicly finances political parties (via the check box on our state income tax forms and through tax deductions for campaign contributions) only exacerbates the crime.

Please believe it when I say this isn't about Petro's being a Christian. When the OSU quarterback humbly praises God for his athletic talents, I respect and admire his personal faith. When the attorney general of our state calls on his Christian faith for making decisions on behalf of all Ohioans, I'm appalled.

I'm not ignorant of the strong role that religion plays in the lives of many Ohioans, and I'm aware of the influence of one's religious values on one's vote. I also admit that Petro's religion is relevant for establishing the character and credibility he seeks. But anyone willing to pimp his sacred scriptures in a campaign commercial deserves nothing less than a boot-kicking from elected office. Jim Petro for governor? Given his overt exploitation of his religion and his potentially unconstitutional behavior as attorney general, I sure hope not.

Dan Magestro is a postdoctoral research associate in the physics department. He can be reached at

Article from Suddenly Senior: Stay-at-home healthcare

Friday, January 06, 2006
Subject: [RxNews] An Idea Your State Could Adapt - from Suddenly Senior

A push for stay-at-home healthcare

Vermont's senior citizens have more choices under a first-in-the-nation Medicaid option. By Sara Miller Llana Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BURLINGTON, VT. - Kathy Bessette has lived in the same modest home her husband remodeled 34 years ago, building memories as she watched nine children grow.

So when the widow began to require long-term care, she was determined not to let Medicaid push her into a nursing home. With the help of home care providers, an adult day program, and an emergency-response device fastened around her wrist, she stayed put.

"To know that I can make choices in my own home - that's the best part of my day," says Ms. Bessette, watching birds peck at a feeder and admiring her miniature pig collection from her chair. The second best part? Slipping into her favorite flannel sheets each night.

Now, all of Vermont's eligible seniors are entitled to the same decision, with a first-in-the-nation waiver under Medicaid that gives them greater flexibility in choosing nursing homes, residential care facilities, or their own homes.

Before, even though nursing homes are often more expensive, Medicaid guaranteed seniors space there, while only allotting a limited number, like Bessette, the option to receive home care.

The program comes as states struggle to rein in costs of Medicaid, the nation's medical assistance program for the poor and handicapped, especially as aging baby boomers put tremendous strain on entitlement programs. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Medicaid costs have soared in the past 10 years, comprising 17 percent of state budgets in 2005.

A large part of the cost is long-term care: Medicaid payments for nursing homes in 2003 amounted to $40.6 billion, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Many states are looking to Vermont for an example, as their budget constraints converge with a sense of personal independence that today's seniors increasingly desire.

"This is really taking us back a century, to when seniors always aged in the home," says Churchill Hindes, president of the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties. "We had gotten away from that for most of the 20th century, but we are going back to the idea of growing old at home."

Some say home care would cost Vermont just half of what institutional care does.The state's goal is to use savings accrued as seniors shift to home-based care to serve more people, including those who don't qualify for Medicaid's long-term services.

Called Choice for Care, the new waiver program, which went into effect Oct. 1, sends 12 nurses across the state to assess the needs of Vermont's elders. Those who prefer care at home or in residential care facilities receive support for their daily maintenance, such as help with bathing or grooming. They can also enroll in adult day care and emergency-response programs.

Vermont previously allowed only 1,200 seniors the option to receive community-based care.

"Before, many would go to nursing homes, because otherwise they would have nothing," says Susan Reinhard, co-director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy in New Jersey. Some seniors may need little more than a wheelchair ramp or help coordinating doctor's visits. "What Vermont got away from is yes or no, all or nothing."

Joan Senecal, deputy commissioner for the Vermont Department on Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living, says the state has always had an ethos of personal choice. "Vermont is such a small state," she says. "We can do it statewide and be a laboratory without it being too overwhelming."

Many across the state hailed the program, and are watching it as it unfolds. Dolly Fleming, of the Community of Vermont Elders in Montpelier, says her organization is working with long-term care providers to make sure that adequate support is provided to those choosing the waiver.

Kirby Dunn, of HomeShare Vermont, which pairs seniors with those looking for affordable housing, says that home care could actually cost more for some patients.

Under the new program, Vermont will spend the same amount of money for five years that it did under the former rules. Ms. Dunn, who supports the program, questions whether there will be sufficient caregivers to serve all seniors or if logistics, like travel time between seniors' homes, will create hidden costs.

"The scary part for the state is that they are only going to get a set amount of money, and a lot more people could come in the door and need care," says Dunn.

The waiver program is often paired with other services, such as long-term medical homecare, often paid for by Medicare. Some might hire a family member to facilitate care, while others might have a rotating staff.

Bessette, for example, works with a variety of caregivers, and also attends adult day care five times a week, but she spends the night by herself. "I wouldn't want to be any place but here," she says.

Despite the varied options that seniors might choose, one thing is steady: a familiar setting.

"The constant for me is your own bed," says Dr. Hindes. "Throughout all of this, you eat supper at your own kitchen table, surrounded by the things that are important to you.... For seniors, that's very important."

Molly Janczyk: Wait and see before we jump

From Molly Janczyk; Jan. 6, 2006

I hope we can have open minds and realize Dave Travis is gone as well as others responsible for old deeds. We need recognize current efforts and at least see if we can reach common ground on issues. Many in ORTA membership wish for collaboration and we shouldn't let a couple of stubborn older thinking board members stand in the way. Maybe we can wait and see before jumping all over them.

A historical moment in the making: ORTA coming to the CORE meeting; might there be an olive branch?

From Molly Janczyk, Jan. 6, 2006

Good news, Ann. We'll look forward to it.

From: Ann Hanning
Subject: CORE meeting
Date: Fri, 06 Jan 2006

Molly & Tom, Blin Scatterday, 2006 ORTA President, and I are planning to attend the January 19, 2006 CORE meeting during the STRS Board meeting lunch break (approximately 12:00-1:00 pm). We'll join the group in the 2nd floor Sublett Room. Blin will be driving in from Akron that morning, so we're hoping for good weather.

Ann Hanning

Candidates for 2006 STRS Board election

Nine running for STRS Board:

2005–2006 Retirement Board Election
Requests for Petitions

Thomas E. Hall
Miami University

Joseph V. Kocian
Shaker Heights City Schools

Gwendolyn Bryant
Akron City Schools

Jeff Geist
Lakewood Local Schools

David Moore
Former Employer: Akron City Schools

Mark Fredrick
Cleveland Municipal Schools

Constance (Conni) K. Ramser
Jackson Local Schools

Mark H. Meuser
Gahanna-Jefferson City Schools

John K. Brackett
University of Cincinnati
Dept. of African and African-American Studies

Dennis Leone to Damon Asbury: Please distribute to STRS Board and administrative staff

From: Dennis Leone
To: Damon Asbury
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006
Subject: Fw: IL- STRS sues some of its own for breaching their fiduciary duties - Does this Sound familiar, Ohio STRSers?

Damon, I received the article below, courtesy of eagle eye retiree John Curry. I would appreciate it if you could make sure the STRS Board and STRS administrative staff receive a copy.
Thank you.
Dennis Leone
----- Original Message -----
From: John Curry
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006
Subject: IL- STRS sues some of its own for breaching their fiduciary duties - Does this Sound familiar, Ohio STRSers?

Pension fund sues 3 in alleged scheme

Chicago Sun Times, January 6, 2006


A pension fund for 330,000 Illinois educators on Thursday sued three individuals and a prominent law firm to recover damages from an alleged insider-dealing scheme that led to federal corruption indictments last year.

Former state Teachers' Retirement System board member Stuart Levine; former TRS lawyer Steven Loren; his ex-law firm, Gardner, Carton & Douglas; and former investment company executive Joseph Cari all were sued in Cook County Circuit Court, accused of breaching their fiduciary duties.

"We want to recover all amounts TRS and our members are rightfully due as a result of this venal, criminal scheme," TRS Executive Director Jon Bauman said in a statement announcing the lawsuit, which does not specify an amount that the fund lost.

Loren and Cari already have pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Levine is fighting them.

The scandal has been widely watched because Cari, in his guilty plea in September, alleged that Levine told him Gov. Blagojevich and top fund-raisers Christopher Kelly and Antoin "Tony" Rezko schemed to steer state pension deals to investment firms and consultants who agreed to donate to Blagojevich's campaign.

The governor adamantly has denied that accusation, calling it "triple hearsay." Neither he, Kelly nor Rezko has been accused of criminal wrongdoing.

Levine -- first appointed to the TRS board by former Gov. Ryan and reappointed by Blagojevich in May 2004 -- was accused of steering a $50 million pension fund investment to one firm after a consultant to that firm agreed to share most of a $375,000 "finder's fee" with a Levine associate even though that person played no role in the deal.

The feds also have accused Levine, employing Loren and Cari's help, of trying to extort $850,000 in fees from a Virginia firm that was seeking TRS business. Those fees ultimately were not paid, however.

'This is grandstanding'

A spokesman for Cari, a well-known national Democratic political fund-raiser, denied that he had done anything to hurt the pension system financially. Cari, a lawyer, was a partner and managing director of HealthPoint LLC, which landed $35 million in TRS investments in 2003.

"As it relates to Joe Cari, this is a grandstanding public relations ploy," said his spokesman, Ken Jakubowski. "It is a matter of record that Joe Cari's actions have not resulted in the loss of any revenue of any kind for the Illinois teachers. As a matter of fact, through Joe Cari's stewardship of the HealthPoint investment, the Illinois teachers stand to realize a substantial profit."

A top official with the Gardner, Carton & Douglas law firm, which has offices in Chicago and employed Loren, denied wrongdoing.

"No one presently at GCD was involved in any impropriety in connection with GCD's representation of TRS, and there have been no allegations related to the fine work that other members of the firm did for TRS," Gardner's chairman, Harold Kaplan, wrote in a memo to the firm's staff. "We have every intention of defending that work and fighting for the good name of the firm."

Lawyers for Levine and Loren could not be reached late Thursday.

An STRS New Year's Resolution? Solving mail-in Rx 'errors'

May I suggest a resolution for a guaranteed "Happier Year" by possibly copying the attachment and maybe placing it on your fridge? I have had several retirees in this past year who thanked me for distributing this as they used it to solve a mail-in Rx mistake(?) that they encountered with Caremark. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Happy New Year.

John, a Proud CORE member




Some retirees have been told their Rx said 30 pills when the Rx was 90


CHECK ON PRICES, YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED-especially if you are Medicare eligible and require diabetic testing supplies- ask if the pharmacy "accepts Medicare assignment"-if they do, you may very well walk out paying absolutely nothing! This does happen, ask the pharmacist about it.





1-877-827-7320 (toll-free)
Hours: Weekdays,
7 a.m.–10 p.m.

7 a.m.–9 p.m.
7 a.m.–5:30 p.m.


1-888-227-7877 (toll-free)
Hours: Monday–Thursday,
8:00 a.m.–6 p.m.

Friday, 8:00 a.m.–5 p.m.

John Curry on Medicare ripoffs

From: John Curry
Sent: Saturday, December 31, 2005
Subject: Medicare rip-offs- right from the horse's mouth, but the horse doesn't practice what he preaches!

A fellow retiree questioned a previous email about whether Medicare Part D drugs should be "put up for bid" like the Veteran's Administration does. In 2006, the Medicare part D has been "privatized" by the current administration with the "blessings" of the current majority in Congress. Maybe they didn't read their own government's Government Accounting Office's 1995 memo that addresses the issue of pricing vs. bidding for medical supplies. Also, please read the fine print at the bottom of this U.S. Government document that should open a few eyes. Things are getting pretty bad when our own government gives a warning and it is not heeded. The attachment is from the 1995 GAO (Government Accounting Office) memo.
John, A Proud CORE member

Article: 'Reality Sets In' from Suddenly Senior

December 29, 2005 Medicare Consumer Advocacy Update
Last week, the Bush administration gathered reporters for an Alice in Wonderland experience. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt heralded the new Medicare drug program enrollment data as evidence of a resounding success.
But the enrollment numbers are hardly cause for celebration. Only one million people, less than 5 percent of people with Medicare eligible to enroll voluntarily, had signed up for one of the new Medicare drug plans.
Secretary Leavitt tried to avoid talk of the enrollment data. Instead, he spoke of the more than 21 million people with Medicare who would have some drug coverage in 2006. In took some sharp pencils and some sharp reporters to figure out that 20 million of those 21 million people already had drug coverage before Secretary Leavitt and his team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) got started on the new drug program.
Facing reality, not disguising it, would better serve a Secretary wanting to serve the American people. Once drug coverage starts January 1, expect more hype, more self-congratulations and more scripted applause both from the administration and its allies in the insurance and drug industries. How will we find out what's really happening?
That's where you come in. The reality of this new program will be felt by people, not tabulated as statistics. If people enjoy great benefit from the program, we should celebrate what works. But if they suffer in silence from breakdowns in the program, there's no chance for the truth to come out.
Many older and disabled Americans, desperate for decent drug coverage, have been waiting to find out from the Social Security Administration if they are eligible for the Extra Help program or will face unaffordable copayments for their drugs. Will they receive the coverage they were promised? The poorest Americans who now rely on Medicaid for drug coverage are being randomly placed in drug plans. Did they actually get into a plan and does the plan cover the drugs they need? Companies are threatening to cut off health benefits to their former employees who enroll in a Part D plan, making no distinction for people with Medicaid who were automatically enrolled by the CMS. Will these people and their spouses lose the health coverage they earned through a lifetime of employment? People with Medicare face many problems that stem from the drug benefit's fundamental flaw--it is delivered by profit-seeking insurance companies and not by the Medicare program. Plans have financial incentives to restrict access to certain drugs, and people with Medicare will be denied the medicines they need.
Plans may deny coverage for certain drugs because they are expensive, or the people who use them have other, high-cost medical needs.
Plans may fail to inform enrollees about how to appeal for coverage or how to get a temporary supply if a drug they need is uncovered.
Plans may make it hard to get prior approval for a drug instead of using these procedures to ensure that the drug is only prescribed to patients who need it.
The Medicare Rights Center (MRC) needs to hear about all these problems, whether they happen to you or someone in your community. With that information, we will be armed with the needed evidence to push for a decent Medicare drug benefit. And we will intervene to help people with Medicare get the medicines they need under the existing benefit structure.

Marilyn Eckhart, Tom Curtis: Test Strips & Lancets

Looks like from the Ohio River to the shores of Lake Erie that STRS diabetic Medicare eligible retirees are saving on testing supplies by "doing their own shopping" rather than sending in a co-pay to Caremark and never seeing their "Medicare assignment" reimbursement. Maybe, one of these days, STRS will inform their retirees that this will save them money- maybe. I doubt it, they (STRS) likes to receive the reimbursement (or at least the table scraps from the reimbursement that Caremark will allow them to have.) !!! John
From: "Thomas Curtis"
Sent: Saturday, December 31, 2005
Subject: 123105 Curtis To Curry, Test Strips & Lancets
I thought I would pass this along to you. I am sure many ask this question. Tom
From: "Marilyn Eckhart" > To: "Thomas Curtis"
Sent: Friday, December 30, 2005
Subject: Re: Fw: Well, this certainly beats the STRS mail-in price for STRSMedicare eligible test strips, doesn't it?????

I found out the same thing. I go to Glenbyrne Parmacy in Toledo, get my test strips and lancets, and pay nothing. When I got them from Caremark, they cost $30 for strips and $30 for lancets. The regular price for lancets is $6.99 at this pharmacy, and Caremark is charging $30! Who gets all that extra money? Marilyn Eckhart

June Hughes: Diabetic supplies

Thanks, June. I believe that deductible is around $110 this year.It will go up slightly in 2006. And yes, it is a 513 area code. John
From: June Hughes
Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2005
Subject: Diabetic Supplies

I found out the company my Dr recommended for the supplies and did find that a deductible is to be met each year. The name of the company is MED Supplies and their phone No. is (I assume it's 513) 965-0999 I hope this helps someone who needs it.


Article: U.S. Monitor to Oversee Largest Health Care School in Nation

Trustees at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey today appointed a federal monitor to oversee its troubled financial management to avoid federal prosecution for Medicaid fraud that would have shut it down.

University officials agreed to the federal monitor last week after a threat from United States Attorney Christopher J. Christie that he would prosecute the school criminally for intentionally overbilling the Medicaid program by millions of dollars if the board did not allow federal oversight.

Trustees voted, 5-0, to appoint as its monitor Herbert J. Stern, a former judge and federal prosecutor, who won convictions against a former Newark mayor and two mayors from Jersey City in the 1970's.

"Today we're putting an end to this chapter and a beginning to real reform," acting Gov. Richard J. Codey, who attended the trustees' meeting, said in a statement. "We need to do this for the university's sake, for the state's sake and for the taxpayers' sake."

He said he fully supported the agreement with Mr. Christie to have a federal monitor oversee the medical system's finances, primarily because it would avoid an indictment.

"My staff and I have worked closely with U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and we fully support the agreement that has been approved today," Mr. Codey said. "First and foremost, it will prevent UMDNJ from facing indictment.

"And ultimately, it will help the university get back to focusing on its real mission - providing vital health care and educating our future doctors and nurses."

UMDNJ effectively becomes the first public university in the nation to be placed under federal oversight, according to a Justice Department spokesman in Washington. With its five regional campuses, more than 4,500 students and a $1.6 billion annual budget, UMDNJ is the nation's largest health care university.

If criminal charges had been brought, the university would be disqualified from receiving the federal aid that makes up much of its budget.

For nearly a year, federal agents have been investigating accusations that administrators at the university doled out patronage jobs and tens of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to their political allies, sometimes for work that was not performed.

Last week, Mr. Christie met with the trustees in a closed-door meeting to tell them of his ultimatum. In his 90-minute presentation, he called the university's financial practices "a public embarrassment and a public disgrace," according to two people at the meeting. Mr. Christie also told the trustees that he intended to charge an unspecified number of university employees with Medicaid fraud, saying they overcharged the federal health care program for the poor by $10 million since 2000.

Mr. Christie also said that he was troubled by the mysterious disappearance of some paper and computer records that his investigators had sought with a subpoena, but it was unclear if he had enough evidence to charge anyone with obstruction of justice.

Last week, three of the university's trustees resigned because they work for companies that do business with the school, a practice that was forbidden by an executive order signed by Governor Codey. The week before, the school's chief financial officer quit, after refusing to sign an affidavit vouching for the accuracy of the university's Medicaid bills. Also, Christy Davis Jackson, the vice president for governmental affairs, resigned from her job last week.

The New York Times reported accusations in April that the university might have double-billed Medicaid for millions of dollars. According to university records, its lawyers were warned in 2001 that the university's clinics had overcharged Medicaid by more than $1 million in the previous year, and that its billing practices since the mid-1990's had probably been illegal. Under those practices, the university billed Medicaid for its doctors' services to patients while the doctors were billing Medicaid for the same services.

Article: Ron O'Brien seeks state GOP's nod; Prosecutor intends to battle Tim Grendell in attorney general race

Looks like the guy (Ron O'Brien) who wouldn't even reply to Sondra Stratton's official STRS formal complaint letter to his office now wants Sondra's (and our) votes! He was also a co-prosecutor involved in the plea bargaining circus for Bobby Taft's ethics violations. Petro has been grooming this guy for months for the AG position. STRS retirees certainly deserve better! John, a Proud CORE member
Posted on Sat, Dec. 31, 2005
Associated Press
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said Friday that he's seeking the Republican nomination as Ohio attorney general, setting up a primary challenge against state Sen. Tim Grendell.

O'Brien said he hasn't been making many speeches about his candidacy but is seeking county party endorsements next week. On Dec. 21, he converted his county campaign fund to one for statewide races, which has more restrictions on contribution levels.

Attorney General Jim Petro is seeking the GOP governor's nomination.

Democrats seeking to replace him are state Sen. Marc Dann, of Youngstown, and Subodh Chandra, the former top prosecutor for the city of Cleveland.

O'Brien was part of the task force of prosecutors who investigated Gov. Bob Taft -- who can't run again because of term limits -- for failing to report gifts on annual financial disclosure forms. Taft was convicted in August of four misdemeanor ethics violations.

O'Brien also prosecuted the case in the spring against Charles McCoy Jr., the mentally ill man who admitted shooting at cars and buildings near Columbus-area freeways. McCoy pleaded guilty months after jurors in his first trial deadlocked over whether he was legally insane.

Grendell, a Geauga County resident, is a private practice lawyer who specializes in property rights law. He is a first-term senator after serving four years in the House. His bill putting a moratorium on government seizure of property for private developers passed unanimously and was enacted this year in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing such seizures.

Article: How Bedrock Promises Of Security Have Fractured Across America


Companies are discarding traditional pensions -- or making government foot the bill. Delphi workers struggle with the changing landscape.

By Peter G. Gosselin Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

December 30, 2005

For more than two decades, Lowell Seibert made a living driving piles and erecting machinery across the industrial Midwest.

But with mortgage payments, college tuitions and the prospect of retirement looming, Seibert traded in his outdoor job 14 years ago and went to work for the Packard Electric division of auto parts giant Delphi Corp. He was offered $19 an hour (now $30), good benefits and, perhaps most important, the promise of a solid pension and old-age health insurance.

"Heavy construction is a rush," he said of his old position, "but Packard was a sure thing."

Or so it seemed until Oct. 8.

That's when Delphi Chief Executive Robert S. "Steve" Miller, citing global competition and crippling "legacy costs," ushered the $28.6 billion-a-year company into one of the largest industrial bankruptcies in U.S. history. In short order, Miller called for slashing workers' compensation by almost two-thirds, threatened to void the company's union contracts, and hinted broadly that he would follow the playbook he had used elsewhere of pushing responsibility for paying the firm's pensions to the federal government and dumping its retiree health benefits altogether.

Although Delphi has since backed off a bit — it says it's willing to negotiate with its unions and its former parent and largest customer, General Motors Corp. — the parts firm has left little doubt that its ultimate aim remains steep reductions in wages, benefits and retiree costs.

Delphi is at the cutting edge of a crisis that's engulfing the U.S. auto industry, much as it did steel and airlines. Its actions are adding to a gathering trend, a shift of economic risks once largely borne by business and government to the backs of working families.

Before the trouble is over, some believe, a corporate icon such as Ford Motor Co. or GM could be swept from the American landscape. So too could much of what remains of the already frayed relationship between millions of working people and their employers.

"When the history of this period is written, Delphi will be viewed as the tipping point where the auto industry either got its act together or failed," said David E. Cole, the son of a former GM president and head of the Center for Automotive Research, based in Ann Arbor, Mich. "The spillover to the rest of the economy is going to be tremendous."

For Seibert, 56, the spillover was immediate. That's because in addition to his pension, he had been socking away money in a company-administered savings account similar to a 401(k). Unfortunately, he had directed almost all of its $84,000 balance into Delphi stock. When the company declared bankruptcy, its shares plunged from a 12-month high of $9 to 33 cents, all but wiping out his account.

The result: "I'm not going to be retiring anytime soon."

Guaranteed benefits

Pensions such as those still offered by Delphi are designed to provide their recipients with a guaranteed income in old age almost no matter what.

Because employers promise to make fixed payments to retirees, they are known as "defined benefit" plans. Because the payments for current workers are so far in the future, grow with employees' tenure and must continue until retirees die, employers are expected to save and invest funds to ensure they can meet their obligations. But whether or not they do, the responsibility for paying, and the risk of investing, are entirely the employer's, not the employee's.

Should an employer fail to make good on its promise, the government steps in. After a series of spectacular corporate failures in the 1960s and early '70s, the White House and Congress created the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. to collect premiums from companies and act as a pension insurer.

The combination of a company-provided, government-guaranteed pension and Washington's two big defined benefit programs, Social Security and Medicare, makes for a powerful bulwark against destitution in old age.

By contrast, 401(k)s involve no similar promise of income, as Seibert painfully discovered. Instead, what these accounts offer is a tax break in return for saving out of pay. Employers may contribute, which is why 401(k)s are called "defined contribution" plans. But that's the limit of their obligation. The risks and responsibilities are all on the employee.

Risk or not, however, 401(k)s and similar accounts are sweeping the field. Since 1980, the fraction of the full-time private sector workforce covered by pensions has fallen from 35% to under 20%, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which is sponsored by big business.

One in every six to 10 companies that still offer pensions have frozen their plans by limiting or eliminating employees' right to accrue additional benefits or no longer covering new hires, according to studies by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and Chicago-based Aon Consulting. Among those that will freeze at the beginning of 2006 is Tribune Corp., which owns the Los Angeles Times.

The trends for 401(k)s and similar accounts are the mirror opposite. In a nutshell, America is quickly converting from a defined benefit society to a defined contribution one.

Explanations for why such a deep-running change is occurring vary widely. In Delphi's case, Miller has said the answer is simple: The firm's competitors don't provide generous pensions or retiree health benefits, so it can't either. But many business and political leaders trace the move from defined benefit to defined contribution to fundamental shifts in the economy and work.

"The nation used to have big units of production like the car companies that needed very predictable workforces," said Alicia H. Munnell, a retirement expert at Boston College and former Clinton administration economist. "Pensions helped firms to retain people by raising employees' benefits the longer they stayed, and to signal them when it was time to go.

"But the economy is much more competitive today," Munnell said. "For companies, that means fewer long-term promises like pensions. For workers, it means having to be agile, entrepreneurial. They have to be ready to switch jobs and employers at the drop of a hat and manage their retirement money all on their own."

Amid all of the switching and decision-making, many Americans wonder whether they will be able to lead tolerably stable lives while they work and financially secure ones when they retire. That's a special concern for Lowell Seibert, who in some sense has operated on both sides of the dividing line and has experienced some of the drawbacks of the coming economy.

Planning retirement

Seibert is the son of a unionized millwright, a job that involves setting up industrial equipment. After finishing high school in the late 1960s, he followed his father into Carpenters and Millwrights Local 171 in Youngstown, Ohio, and into the itinerant life of heavy construction.

Roaming from western Pennsylvania across Ohio to eastern Indiana, he hired on to help build steel mills, power generators, assembly plants, even college campuses. He never stayed in one place more than a year. At least at first, that suited him fine because it meant new people and new problems to solve with each new job.

In 1971, he married hospital nurse Christine Ferranti, and six years later, the couple had the first of their two daughters. He began devoting nights and weekends to building the family a new house. The project provided him the first of several glimpses into how easily his family's fate could slip beyond his control.

He purchased a lot and began work on the house in the mid-1970s, but he ran out of money after installing the driveway and basement. When he got back to the project in 1980, he had to take out an $85,000 "wrap-around" loan that included the new house and the couple's existing home. With inflation driving mortgages through the ceiling, he found himself saddled with a double-digit interest rate. Shortly after finishing the two-story Dutch Colonial in late 1981, the steel industry crashed, the Midwest skidded into recession and the Seiberts couldn't find a buyer for their old place.

Then just after the birth of his second daughter, he was thrown out of work for a year.

"We had enough to make one more house payment, then the bank was going to take both places," he said.

The family survived the close call and, with steel and the region staging a short-lived comeback, mended its finances — only to face another round of reversals.

In 1991, Seibert landed a general foreman's job installing a continuous caster at WCI Steel Inc. in Warren. The machine, 10 stories high and about 500 feet long, is fed liquid steel from a giant ladle and casts the steel into huge flat slabs. Even today, he talks with pride about orchestrating the assembly of the device to within a few thousandths of an inch, or about the thickness of a fingernail, so that it operated smoothly on its maiden run.

But in the midst of the project, he fell 30 feet from scaffolding, and was stopped from falling much farther only by landing belly-first on a cross bar. A few months later, his father died at age 68 from what the son describes as the wear and tear of a life in construction. By the end of the year, Seibert was at Delphi.

At first, working indoors with the same people on pretty much the same problems did not sit well with him. "I was going to quit," he said. "I'd been there 13 months, and I realized I'd never held a job that long."

But gradually, he discovered the appeal of steady employment. He got home every night for dinner and was able to coach his daughters' softball team. He managed to pay for college educations for both of his children without a serious cash crunch.

And he devised what he thought was a foolproof financial plan for the couple's old age — earning his current monthly income by drawing the equivalent of one week's pay from each of his Millwright's union pension, his Delphi pension, his Delphi stock and some outside savings.

The goal was to retire at 62, he said. "I thought we were pretty much set."

The 1984 deal

The switch from traditional pensions to 401(k)s is the most clear-cut example of the risk shift underway in America from business and government to working families. But it hardly is the only one.

Across the country, safety nets that working people once depended on to shield them from economic dislocation — for example, unemployment compensation, disability insurance, job training and healthcare coverage — have been scaled back or eliminated. At Delphi, the battle lines have formed not just over retirement, but also wages, benefits, job security, indeed the company's very survival.

For Delphi executives, the fundamental issue is how to fix two flaws at the heart of the firm. Spun off from GM in 1999, Delphi is saddled with what Miller describes as the high compensation of its former parent in what has quickly converted into a low-compensation, and largely offshore, auto parts business. In addition, though technically separate, the company still depends on GM for about half its revenue at a time when the auto giant is losing market share and hemorrhaging money.

Despite the dimensions of GM's problems, GM executives have thus far taken comparatively incremental steps, winning some healthcare concessions from its unions, closing a few plants and reducing white-collar staff. By contrast, Miller has launched what appeared — at least until recently — to be a full frontal attack.

Since arriving at Delphi in July, the former Chrysler executive, who has led other troubled companies such as Federal-Mogul and Bethlehem Steel into bankruptcy, has made a series of incendiary remarks seemingly calculated to push the company's unions to within a hair's breadth of a strike.

"Paying $65 an hour for someone mowing the lawn at one of our plants is just not going to cut it in industrial America," he said at one news conference, a reference to the average combined wages, benefits and pensions of an hourly Delphi worker. Miller refused through a company spokesman to be interviewed for this article.

For the Packard Electric workers, what's at stake is a 20-year-old deal that they say guaranteed them lifetime employment in return for concessions that enabled the company to take on low-wage foreign competitors.

"They made the commitment no one would lose their job due to a business decision, and we cooperated on all sorts of changes to make them more competitive," said Harold E. Nichols, the chief union bargainer behind the 1984 deal. Among the changes: instituting a two- and later three-tier wage structure and agreeing to let work once performed in Warren be moved to Mexico and elsewhere.

Nichols is with the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America, which represents the Packard workers. Many of Delphi's 34,000 U.S. employees are represented by the United Auto Workers. The two unions' agreements with the company differ somewhat.

Packard workers are not alone in viewing the 1984 deal as crucial. Company executives, too, have said it represented a sharp break with the confrontational labor-management relations of the past and have sought to maintain key provisions of the bargain in all subsequent union contracts.

"This agreement really makes the union a part of management," Packard chief negotiator Larry L. Haid said at the time of the deal.

Indeed, what most galls Packard workers about the current situation is not just that cutbacks are coming; virtually everyone interviewed earlier this month seemed to accept them as inevitable. It's that after so many years of buying into the ideas of cooperation and teamwork at the heart of the 1984 deal, Miller would haul out the old stereotype of union members as overpaid, under-worked and sliding toward early retirement and wield it as a club.

"Miller makes it sound like everybody around here is getting paid $65 an hour, which nobody is," said Christine Grzelewski, a 37-year-old Delphi worker and mother of two who earns $26 an hour. "We kept our end of the bargain," she said. "Now, he's trying to throw it out."

Grzelewski and her husband Eric, 39, also a Delphi employee, have lived almost their entire work lives under the 1984 deal, carefully plotting their futures around its terms. With the rules about to change on them, the couple fear they are overextended and are scrambling to protect what they can.

Christine was hired in 1988 under a provision of the deal that allowed the company to start new workers at 55% of regular wages or, in her case, $7.59 an hour. It took her 10 years to reach full pay and benefits. Eric was hired under an even more stringent provision that prevented him from getting any raise for several years.

When their son was born, the couple started working alternate shifts so one could always be home with the boy and the family could save on child care. They waited until their daughter was born and both parents were close to reaching full pay before taking out a $137,000 mortgage for a split-level ranch house in a prosperous community near Warren and buying the Silverado pickup truck that Eric had always wanted.

Since Delphi's bankruptcy filing, the couple has turned down the thermostat, reduced the weekly contributions to their Christmas Club, and looked into how much they can save by canceling their cable service and cellphones. Eric may go for a commercial trucker's license so he has something to fall back on in case of layoffs.

"The hardest part of all this is there was no warning," he said recently. "If we could have had a couple years' warning, we could adjust our lifestyle.

"But we've become dependent on our salaries."

Government obligations

For older workers like Seibert, a couple years' warning would not have done much good. That's because with so much of their work lives behind them, they have less time left to adjust. And the problem is compounded for those like Robert Montgomery, 67, who retired from Delphi in April 2004 after 31 years.

These people have to hope that, bankruptcy or not, the company will make good on its pension and retiree health promises or, if it doesn't, that Washington will step in to cover at least the pensions. (There is no government insurance program for retiree health benefits.)

Until the last few years, they could have rested easy that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. would ensure that they got paid. But that was before many of the nation's steel companies and some of its biggest airlines declared bankruptcy and dumped their pension obligations on the government. Among them: Miller-managed Bethlehem Steel, whose retirement promises will cost the pension agency $3.7 billion.

Suddenly, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s $9.7-billion surplus in 2000 became a $22.8-billion deficit, and some analysts suggest that this was just the beginning of the trouble.

Seizing on the agency's estimate of a $450-billion mismatch between the assets and liabilities of all of the nation's private pension plans, these analysts say that a financial crisis of the magnitude of the savings-and-loan fiasco of the 1980s is in the offing. Others say that a second, similar-sized crisis is on the way for state and local government pensions, which the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. does not insure, but which carry a kind of implicit public guarantee.

Coming atop President Bush's concerns about the solvency of Social Security, the new warnings seem to suggest that America has over-promised; that even if current and near retirees like Montgomery and Seibert get their pensions, younger workers won't get — or even be offered — anything similar; that the era of defined benefit protection is coming to a crashing close.

So what sort of shape is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. really in?

Asked last week, Executive Director Bradley D. Belt said, "Clearly, the agency is facing the largest set of challenges in its 31-year history." But Belt said that some of the most negative assessments were overstated.

The $450-billion figure, for example, represents what the agency — or the taxpayers — would have to pick up if every private pension plan in the nation failed simultaneously. "It's a Chicken Little number," said Mark Ugoretz, president of a Washington-based group that lobbies on benefit issues for the nation's top 200 corporations.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. estimates that its exposure to troubled companies, which are the most likely to dump their retirement obligations, is closer to $108 billion than $450 billion. And if the agency's recent history is any guide, about one-third of that amount, or $35 billion, will end up on its books — a substantial amount, but manageable.

The big problem is that almost no one in Washington can agree on precisely how to manage it.

The House and Senate have each approved bills that would require companies to contribute more to their pension plans and raise premiums for Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. insurance. But the two bodies have yet to agree on how to reconcile the measures.

The administration has advanced its own overhaul proposal. The president recently promoted it as requiring firms to contribute more than the congressional plans and on a tighter schedule. But critics warn the requirements are so stringent they would have the effect of driving more companies out of defined benefits, and may even have been designed to do so.

"The administration would like to have employers get out of defined benefit plans and put people into individual accounts," said Alan Reuther, the nephew of labor legend Walter Reuther and the UAW's legislative director.

"The president tried to push [individual] accounts with his Social Security privatization. He tried to push them with his health savings accounts, and now he's trying to push them with pensions," Reuther said.

Administration officials deny they intend to uproot traditional pensions.

Even if Washington resolved the traditional system's immediate financial problems, there remains the question: In the new global economy, can companies — or the government — afford to promise the kind of long-term protection that pensions provide?

To all appearances, Delphi's Miller thinks the answer is "No," and Lowell Seibert isn't waiting to find out for sure.

He has put away the golf clubs he bought recently. He and his wife have put off plans to replace the family room furniture. And he has given up ordering an extra-wide Lay-Z-Boy recliner so his 28-month-old grandson Anthony can sit beside him when he reads bedtime stories.

The way Seibert now figures it, Anthony will be closing in on his teenage years by the time he can afford to retire.

Molly Janczyk: Petitions must be signed on originals only; no copies

From Molly Janczyk, Jan. 6, 2006
ALL PETITIONS MUST BE ORIGINALS ONLY! Email joyce Baldwin for more if you need.
Follow directions specifically for return. Include your address to Joyce for addt'l petitions.
WHEN YOU HAVE COMPLETED YOUR PETITIONS: PLEASE SEND ME YOUR TOTALS SO WE CAN KEEP TRACK. Include your county, number of signatures, etc. Remember ONLY ACTIVES AND INACTIVES AND QUALIFIED DISABILITY RECIPIENTS CAN SIGN. NO RETIREES FOR THIS ELECTION. STRS will go over the signatures and determine eligibility and some will be discounted if not qualified. So, we always need more than 500 signatures.
Fri, 6 Jan 2006 11:11:06 EST
I received petitions in the mail for the candidates in the next election. I thought I might send two to friends who are still teaching. My question is, Can they be xeroxed or must they use the originals? I'll see if I can get at least 24 signatures.
Lynne Bracy

Molly Janczyk: STRS 2006

From: Molly Janczyk
Sent: Monday, January 02, 2006
PM Subject: Change: STRS
I'd like to add that if I can't change with current tides and attempting to put a finger on the pulse of events now shaping then, I can't expect anyone else to do so. When I am wrong, then I need to rethink and adjust my attitude (my best friend's term: 'Attitude Adjustment' when we were off base-it can't be everyone else wrong and us right; if it presents that way, then WE need to adjust if our personal ethics are not involved).
I just never want to become what we accused some in STRS, OEA and ORTA of being: locked in the past and unable to change for the common good. If we expect them to move forward and by them I mean those few still lurking in past behaviors, we must act in kind with open minds accepting what is done right and as said before ever mindful of any attempt to NOT act in the memberships' best interests. When attacked, I certainly will respond as always. I am on constant alert.
From: Dennis Leone
Subject: Re: STRS Date: Mon, 2 Jan 2006 15:11:16 -0500
Very well written, Molly.
Dennis Leone

From: Molly Janczyk
Sent: Monday, January 02, 2006 1:47 PM Subject: 2006: STRS
FYI: My lack of response on many issues lately is for the following reasons:
My total focus is on the future at this point with 2 goals in mind:
1. Passing the legislation for increased contributions for employees and employers which STRS indicated it will begin writing. My thinking is to keep the high positive response rate from actives FOR this proposal gathered by STRS and HCA.
IS it late in coming? Absolutely! Does that change the fACT WE need IT TO SURVIVE? No! Without it, we will most likely be on catastrophic only coverage and be paying more out of our pockets.
Does this mean I agree with or wish to forget the past? NO! It means I am unwilling to do anything to detract from this goal and at this point putting out info we already have been made aware to some degree or generally know from past articles and research MAY harm this goal by influencing ACTIVES NOT to approve this proposal and begin writing legislators to vote it down. We KNOW OEA is rich. WE KNOW IT IS WRONG! WE KNOW BILLIRAKIS IS 'MILKING THE SYSTEM'.
But IF they help at this point to bring RETIREES RELIEF, I am willing to wait to hammer on it again until AFTER the proposal passes. I don't want to bite the hand that 'could' feed me at this time. We are well aware of the wrongs. I am interested in WHAT THEY DO TO MAKE RETIREES' LIVES BETTER NOW THAT THEY HAVE IGNORED US FOR DECADES!
I WILL NOT FORGET NOR FORGIVE BUT I ALSO AM NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING TO DETER FROM THIS LEGISLATION PASSING EVEN IF IT IS A SMALL LIKLIHOOD! I am EVER mindful and diligent about watching their every move and do not trust CENTRAL OEA to do anything not in their best interest. THIS IS IN THEIR BEST INTEREST!
I truly do not mean this towards any individual and know my perspective is not everyone's. Just mine any my reasons for being lower key at this time. There comes a time we all must act according to our beliefs and I feel this is in retirees' best interest. I FEEL-doesn't translate to anyone else and how they feel.
I feel the same with the 2 or 3 remaining DOWNTOWN ORTA officials. I am waiting to see if those who have advised me that they are close to moving in a collaborative manner are right. I have been told that our continuing onslaught deters that by some I believe know what is happening with these folks better than I. When any of us get our backs up and someone keeps at you, you are less likely to find a way to save face and make a move. DOES THAT MAKE IT RIGHT ON THESE 2 or 3 HOLDING THINGS UP? NO!
"Do I just want to forget and all get along?" I will NEVER forget nor forgive some of those who have exercised bad judgement and hope they are gone soon from this Board or Exec. Comm. BUT, do I want to do something that will prevent this effort to work together when the VAST majority wishes it on both sides? NO! CAN I PUT ASIDE SOME CHILDISH AND SELF SERVING ACTS for the bigger goal of getting things done for all retirees. I hope so. I tend to ignore those who overtly set out to get me AFTER I respond. But, that doesn't mean I should lay blame to all membership in such organizations-many or most of whom want what we want-BETTER HC! Again, I have been told by multiple sources inside ORTA that most of the top officials wishes to make a move of collaboration and many are actively working towards this. Should they ALL have done this loong ago? ABSOLUTELY! Will our daily hammering encourage this to occur? NO! It will probably dissuade it since it has been our method for 3 years. Sometimes we have to change tactics to get things done. Outcome is my goal. We can accomplish more with more numbers. Simple math.

We are not in the business of making news for its own end or serving our own needs. I have been guilty of airing my thoughts often and am doing so now. BUT, We are in the business of making things easier for retirees-all of them! Current and future.
2. Election 2006: That is my other goal: It is going to be difficult and we decide if we run one or 2 candidates on 1/19/06. It is a daunting task to get info to as many school districts as possible. I have begun that for Prof. Hall. I spend hours of many days on this and am going to be focused on it during early 2006. My personal goal was to help get Lazares and Leone on the board. Then I would walk away. But, it is always another issue and so it continues for many.
Many meet the daily needs of CORE with some going to Damon/CORE meetings, attending STRS CORE/BOARD Meetings, emailing, current info, or filling in wherever something needs done as with the Angelettis. In 2006, I personally wish for :
-legislation to be presented for increased contributions and accepted
-Prof. Hall and another informed and savvy membership oriented board member to be elected to the STRS board.
Maybe then, we can sit back a bit, NEVER again to be uniformed or less diligent in STRS policies and procedures but to have in place those who truly follow ORC:3307.15 with increased contributions as a dedicated stream for HC: In other words, to bring back some semblence of retirement for retirees. Of course, we will ALWAYS be there for support and to address any issue needed. We're all a bit tired from 3 constant years of addressing this and have no intent of not accomplishing goals attainable. The brass rings: Election 2006 and increased contributions are what I feel I have reserve for at this time.
Molly J.

Elfrieda Ramseyer's letter to Lara Baker

From: Elfrieda Ramseyer
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2006
Subject: Hazel Sidaway, past STRS board member

Ms. Baker: (Chief Legal Counsel)

I am a retired nursing education associate professor and member of STRS who is very much interested in what happens to the case of Hazel Sidaway, a past board member for STRS. I am hopeful that you will prosecute her to the fullest. Ms. Sidaway was one of our 'big spenders' when she was on the board. She went on many 'business' trips to conferences and experienced expensive fun activities while there which included her famous trip when she and her spouse (and others) were entertained on OUR money for over $500.00/ticket for a Broadway show. When she retired from the board, she was given a party which cost us over $4000. I would like to find any teacher or professor who ever was given a party costing this much money?? (I remember bringing snacks from home for parties of this kind, not purchased by the school but by me personally!)

When adding up the monies spent on just one board member for just one period of time, I wonder what we would find if we added up the total for Ms. Sidaway's decade of time spent on STRS Board, perks and all! I am definitely very interested because this happens to be MY money that the STRS Board spends. As a member of STRS, I deserve the right to know just where, what and how my money was and is being spent. When I was on a faculty, anytime I was sent to a conference representing the university, I had to give a presentation upon my return as to how that specific conference assisted me in being a better professor. Where or when did Ms. Sidaway give an account of time spent when she was gone on these trips, representing all of us who belong to STRS? Ms. Baker, it is time for 'big spenders' to be prosecuted to the fullest. In your position you represent all of us who belong to STRS and we are counting on you. Thank you.

Elfrieda Landes Ramseyer
STRS Member

CORE Member
ACRTA Member

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Flashback one year ago today: Dennis Leone becomes an official retiree

From Molly Janczyk to Dennis Leone, 01/05/05

In all the election goings-on, I have been remiss:

I am sure it feels little like retirement with all the state traveling but at least there is more time to do so.


Lara Baker on Hazel Sidaway charges

From:Molly Janczyk
January 05, 2006
Subject: RE: Hazel Sidaway

Thank you. We do understand and merely are mentioning the attitude of this entire board. She voted 100% of the time to approve this behavior and these decisions. Referring to bar bills, hotel rooms, trips, dinners DO reflect Ms. Sidaway's approval and indulgent behavior for herself disregarding ORC;3307.15: TO ACT SOLELY ON BEHALF OF MEMBERSHIP. That is why we hope more charges than what are on the table are considered for additional prosecution.
Molly Janczyk

From:Lara Baker
Subject: Hazel Sidaway
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I appreciate all of your comments regarding the charges currently pending against former STRS Board Member Hazel Sidaway. Once again, I understand both your interest and concerns in this matter and I will keep those concerns in mind in prosecuting this case. However, many of your correspondences have made references to manner in which the STRS Board as a whole has exercised its fiduciary responsibilities both in making investments on the funds' behalf as well as in Board expenditures such as the retirement party thrown for Ms Sidaway. I can certainly appreciate your concerns relative to the Board's exercise of its fiduciary obligations, but please keep in mind that Ms Sidaway is not criminally liable for those decisions and has only been accused of ethics violations pertaining to the accepting of gifts and failing to report gifts received from outside vendors. As such, while her actions may or may not be a reflection of Board behavior as a whole, her criminal culpability rests solely upon her individual actions and not on the investment/spending decisions of the Board. As such, alleged breaches of the fiduciary responsibilities on the part of the STRS Board as a whole will not play a role in either the resolution of her case or in her sentence, should she be found guilty. I hope that this clarifies the nature of the pending criminal action.
Lara Baker
Chief Legal Counsel, Criminal Division
Columbus City Attorney's Office

Molly Janczyk: Letter to Lara Baker

Sent: January 4, 2006
Subject: FW: 010406 Baker Resp, Re Curtis To Baker, Re Hazel Sideway
Ms. Baker,
Retirees appreciate your attention to this case. We hope that your office will delve deeply into Ms. Sidaway's actions as determined by the OEC. Paying bar bills with retiree earnings who need RX and treatments is unconscionable by anyone's standards. Enjoying the best rooms, dinners and trips with money skimmed from STRS funds meant for retirees is equally without regard for her position.
If your broker used your earnings for his owm pleasure, I believe you would be beyond enraged, especially if you needed those funds to maintain your health care.
Please put yourself in our place as much as possible and push for a stiffer penalty than a few hundred dollars in fines -- a laughable consequence to the arrogant and demeaning attitude this board gave us when questioned. "It is OUR money to spend as we wish" was their mantra.
We are grateful for your prosecution on this matter but sorely disappointed in the findings. Perhaps greater detail will result in stiffer penalties.
Thank you.
Molly Janczyk
STRS Retiree
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