Saturday, February 11, 2006
Curtis to Lloyd re: Sidaway trial
Tom Curtis to Jim & Janet Gibson: Coming to Clermont County RTA March 15
Tom Curtis to Ken Ruth: Who qualifies as 'inactive'
Your friend that left teaching, if she did not take all of her funds out of her STRS account, is classified as an inactive and will receive a ballot this April. Please make sure she has information about our two candidates, Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick, and ask for her support for them.
Editorial; John Brandt (OSBA): 'ENOUGH'
Editorial by John Brandt
Retired educators in
Their benefits are guaranteed by law and not subject to fluctuations in the stock market. They can apply for retire-rehire and keep their full pension while collecting an added salary. Oh yes, they get health-care benefits from the day they retire.
The State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) is struggling to pay the cost of health care and prescriptions for retired educators and their spouses and dependents. Most school districts and private businesses are in the same struggle over health-care costs.
There are two major points to be made about the STRS struggle. First, the system is not required by law to provide ANY health-care benefits to retirees, yet it has been doing so for decades. Second, as costs rise rapidly, STRS is considering asking the General Assembly to require school districts to increase their contributions to STRS to pay for the health care.
School districts are already required to pay 14% of the teacher and administrator payroll to STRS for pensions and health care. Teachers and administrators contribute an additional 10% of their salaries to STRS.
Thus, STRS has 24% of the entire educator payroll annually to work with. This is a huge figure and it grows each year. In addition, STRS has about $50 billion in reserve funds invested, and it earns substantial income from those investments.
With all of these resources, STRS has to learn that enough is enough! With 24% of the educator payroll and large investment earnings, STRS must establish benefit and eligibility rules that allow it to live within its means.
Any effort to prop up already generous pensions and benefits by requiring school districts to pay more is unconscionable. Many school districts are in financial crisis, laying off staff and cutting programs.
Taking money away from books, labs, computers, curriculum and school operations to pay for benefits for educators must be opposed. STRS estimates that its proposal to raise school district contributions to STRS to 16.5% of payroll over five years will cost schools more than $250 million per year when fully implemented.
Those dollars must be spent on students, not retirees. Enough is enough!
The views expressed in this editorial are those of the executive director and do not necessarily represent OSBA’s policies or positions.
RH Jones: OSBA Platform Opposing STRS Enhancements
First, I would like to personally congratulate you on your election to presidency of the OSBA and your Award of Achievement from them. What a great chance for you to do good for our pupils, and their active and retired teachers. I am proud to be a retired 6th grade teacher from the Akron City School System of which you are also honored to serve as a school board member. God Bless Your Service!
My reason for contacting you is that I am concerned that: the OBSA opposes -- according to OSBA Legislative Platform, Personnel Section -- any attempt to increase the employer's share to cover increase in cost. As you probably know, it has been 21-yrs. since there has been increase. Therefore, an enhancement of the present 14% employer rate is long overdue. The teaching profession, and its retirement system, needs an enhancement at this critical time in Ohio history. While businesses are leaving the state for lack of a pool of educated job seekers, the OBSA opposes future benefit enhancements unless accompanied with a reduction in the 14% only a reduction in the employers share.
As a consequence of this type of negative thinking, damage is being done to both the commercial businesses and the public education sectors. And, contrary to this outdated OBSA platform: #1. Our children need, and deserve, well paid career educators with the guarantee of a STRS offering a Compounded COLA pension & health care benefits. #2. And contrary to outdated OBSA statements, these enhanced STRS benefits will attract and keep the best educators serving Ohio's children, and and their communities. The attraction of businesses and keeping them here will thus be the outcome of a financially healthy public school system backed by a forward thinking OSBA that cares for outstanding public schools; for the last several years that has not been the case. Furthermore, backward ultraconservative OSBA attitude is hurting us all. Please help with a progressive change.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I await your response.
Robert Hudson Jones,
A concerned retired career Akron, Ohio teacher
Tom Curtis to Lew Bachtel re: Speaking to Ross County RTA May 17
CORE Advisory Committee Member
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Subject: Re: 012806 Curtis To All RTA's, Speaking To Your Association
Friday, February 10, 2006
Tom Curtis to Mark Fredrick: some background on CORE
Subject: Re: Info On 2 Candidates Endorsed By CORE
Tax info from Paul Boyer
An Open letter to all CORE members and other Retirees:
I have read a few letters from some of our retirees concerning the high cost of their health care each year. If you are not already doing it, taking advantage of this tax savings can save you some big bucks.
I have always done my own taxes, doing them by hand when they were much simpler than they are today. For many years now I have used the TaxCut Program.
In the early 90's I spent about four years in the Tax Aide for the elderly. This is a program run by AARP under contract with IRS. It is all volunteer with legitimate expenses paid. I was responsible for nine counties and had to take a few days' training each year.
I recruited and taught volunteers and set up various sites where seniors could come and receive free help. The program is still available here but vastly changed since I was in it. Anyone living in
A little reminder - a tax deduction is something you subtract from your income before taxes; A tax credit is something you deduct from your tax bill after it is all figured.
Here is a simple paragraph copied and pasted from the Ohio Tax book:
Line 49 — Retirement Income Credit
To qualify for the
• You received retirement benefits, annuities or distributions that were made from a pension, retirement or profit-sharing plan. However, qualifying social security benefits and railroad benefits that you have already deducted online 40 of
You received this income because you have retired.
• This income is included in your
The amount of the credit is as follows:
Amount of qualifying retirement Line 49 retirement
income received and included in income credit for
during the taxable year:
$500 or less………………………………….......................….0
More than$500, but not more than $1,500 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx$ 25
More than $1,500, but not more than $3,000 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx$ 50
More than $3,000, but not more than $5,000 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx$ 80
More than $5,000, but not more than $8,000 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx$130
More than $8,000 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx$200
The maximum credit per return is $200.
Please note the last statement. This means that if both spouses have retirement income , you need to file separately so that you can get the credit on both returns. If you are 65, there is also a $50.00 credit for each return. These are figured on the back of the 1040 return.
If you decide to do this, then Ohio requires you to use the Married filing separately return for Federal taxes also.
Now, here is where the nice part comes in. If one spouse has higher health care costs that the other, you will usually be able to claim higher health care deductions because they must be above .075% of your total income. When you file married, filing separately and you both have income, you must both itemize. On the federal returns, income and medical expenses for each person must be put on each person’s return. For all other deductions, you may use your own judgment as to which return you put them on. Sometimes you can save taxes by putting certain deductions on one return or the other.
IRS has for years tried to tell us that married filing separately always results in higher taxes but that is rarely true. Alice and I have saved thousands of dollars over the twenty years of our retirement by doing our taxes this way. If this is confusing to you, feel free to send me an email (email@example.com) or call me at 419-225-7027 and I will try to help you.
Paul L. Boyer
Shirlee Zerkel: Timely tax advice -- Ohio tax savings
Article: When your health plan won't pay
Sometimes you do everything right and your health insurer doesn't play by the rules.
|You know how it works and you followed all the steps, but your insurer has balked. Here are five ways you can prevent claims problems -- and how your employer can help.|
HMO members know the drill. Got a sore throat? See your primary care physician (PCP). Need an allergy specialist? Ask your PCP for a referral. Having a cyst surgically removed? You make sure you get your health insurer's prior approval. You understand that if you don't follow your health plan's rules, your claims won't be covered. But sometimes you do everything right and your health insurer still doesn't play by the rules.
For example, you get your plan's permission for surgery. Months after the operation, you get a bill in the mail and discover that your X-rays were read by a radiologist who doesn't participate in your health provider's network of doctors. X-ray claim denied.
Or, your benefits handbook says your insurer fully covers diabetic test strips. But when you go to pick them up, your pharmacist charges you the full price, saying your handbook -- the only one you've ever been given -- must be out of date. Claim denied.
5 ways to prevent claims problems
When you have a group health plan through work, you're not responsible for negotiating your own health-care contract. But you can educate yourself and ask your employer plenty of questions about your group health plan. Unfortunately, the responsibility for payment of a claim falls to the consumer unless the group health contract states otherwise. Here are five steps you can take to help minimize any "claims surprises" like those outlined above.
How employers purchase health care
The seeds of some of the most common claims problems are sown when employers purchase health care for their employees, according to Maria K. Todd, president and CEO of HealthPro Consulting Consortium, a private managed-care consulting firm in Aurora, Colo., and a national mediator for managed-care payer-provider disputes.
Todd says most employers use health insurance brokers to whom they give a list of desired benefits. The broker, in turn, identifies insurers that offer affordable plans with those benefits. Once the employer selects an insurer, the broker hands the employer a contract to review and sign.
"But the average human resources director really isn't aware he or she is being given a boilerplate contract that favors the health plan," Todd says.
Written in legalese, the contract generally focuses on which benefits are included and how much they'll cost. Although this is crucial information, what is omitted from the contract is just as important.
Issues for negotiation
There are some health-plan rules that may be negotiated, Todd says, particularly if the employer is large enough to command real bargaining power with the insurer. Yet few employers are aware of this. Some issues that may be open for negotiation include:
But some say that such detailed negotiations are unrealistic. Richard Coorsh, spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans (formerly the Health Insurance Association of America), says, "In such a competitive marketplace, insurers have to compete on many different levels, including economic," he says. "But insurers also have to retain customers and, in order to do that, they have to be as responsive as possible to their customers."
It's virtually impossible for insurers to negotiate every possible health plan operations scenario in their contracts with employers, Coorsh says, and these contracts may contain too many fine details that might very well impede the insurers from responding flexibly on a case-by-case basis. Besides, he adds, the insurers already have well-defined appeals procedures in place.
However, appeals procedures don't prevent problems from occurring in the first place. If neither your employer nor your insurer has defined who's to blame when your health plan doesn't work the way it should, ultimately, the responsibility falls on you to pay for your treatment.
Tom Curtis: Numerous STRS staff members to testify on Hazel's behalf; WE NEED TO BE THERE
From Tom Curtis, 2/10/06:
I spoke with David Freel of the OEC yesterday. He said he did not want to supercede prosecutor Lara Baker, but felt there was a strong chance that Hazel Sidaway's trial would be postponed again, due to a conflict with the Judge's schedule.
He did however recommend that STRS members should attend when this does go forward, as there will be numerous STRS staff members testifying on behalf of Hazel Sidaway. This should be very interesting. He said it still has not been decided if it will be a jury trial or not. Hazel and her lawyers may call for such, assuming they may have a better chance of showing a reasonable doubt. Anyway, that is what I know about it, so adjust your plans accordingly.
He also indicated that other indictments would be coming out soon, they are just so busy with the Thomas Noe case they all have their hands more then full.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Mark Meuser keeps lines of communication open with words of wisdom
From Mark Meuser to Molly Janczyk
Date: Wed, 08 Feb 2006
Thanks again Molly, this time for putting that vita, resume, and reasons for running out there for people to see. Please direct active teachers to find it and vote for me in April. I will keep toes to the fire and toast them if things get like stinky feet at STRS ever again.. I would welcome the challenge and dare some idiots to try to waste OUR MONEY!!! I will never forget that if elected, and want core to toast me if I ever get stinky. THANKS!!! Mark.
From Mark Meuser to Kathie Bracy
February 08, 2006
I appreciated your thoughtful and honest letter and hearing about your specific circumstances. I, too, have great sympathy for retirees who have experienced the large increase in premiums. These same premiums were part of the reason I never seriously considered retiring at 30 years. With two dependents at home, I could not afford it. That is why I support the 2.5% increase for active teachers and school boards. It's also why I think it's so important to do everything possible to maximize the annual interest rate of our investments.
I have learned so much about the workings of STRS in the last two or three months. I know I will have to learn a lot more. If I am elected to the Board, my main concern will be to act as a fiduciary for all members of the system, both active and retired. Although I know there is no way that I could please everyone all of the time, I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open. Thank you for helping me do that.
Dennis Leone: A request for a meeting with OEA President and Executive Committee
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Subject: Gary Allen: OEA EXEC COMM:Leone requests a meeting with OEA Pres. and Exec Comm.
To: Molly Janczyk
Subject: Re: OEA
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006
Subject: OEA Article Ohio Schools: 10/05
18 active and retired OEA members composed testimony that stressed the imp. of the compact bet/ STRS and public school educators for HC and retirement benefits.'............... 'They made a huge impact.'............
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Curtis, Speas, Janczyk, Mooney: Conversation on SB 190
I think we all understand SB190 better now and realize to a much more comprehensive degree how it helped retirees as well as actives with nearly = amounts spent for both groups for enhancements. I would not want anything taken from retirees and therefore it is dangerous ground to suggest anything be taken from actives.
This is impressive and a loud warning that messing with any of our 1999 increases could be doubly dangerous for those of the oldest years as they retired with so much less. Allowing the legislature to look at anything right now is a dangerous proposition, especially for these folks who benefited the most from the 1999 enhancements by increasing their buying power.
Ralph Lloyd to Conni Ramser: December meeting to plan retreat; some things done in secret?
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006
To: Ralph Lloyd
Subject: Re: STRS December Meeting
To: Connie Ramser
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2006
Subject: STRS December Meeting
LifeOEA-Retired, LifeNEA-retired, Life ORTA, STRS, NEOEA-R, CCOEA-R, OFCA-R(Ohio Fire Chiefs Association)
Tom Mooney, Molly Janczyk: Thoughts on STRS issues
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Subject: Re: Mooney on Issues: STRS BOARD:
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
A poem rewritten one year ago (with apologies)
Note from John Curry:
Dennis Leone's Ride
(With apologies to
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Listen my children and I shall intone
Of the midnight ride of Dennis Leone,
On the sixteenth of May, in two-oh-oh-three
And there’s still many a retiree
Who remembers that famous day and tone.
He said to his friends, "If the Board members march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the OEA tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every county’s village and farm,
For the retired folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the opposite shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
Like the Somerset, British man-of-war;
Like a phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
Like the huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his CORE friends through alley and street
Wander and watch, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around them they hear
The muster of men at the STRS door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then one climbed the tower of the OEA,
By the gilded stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roof of the Taj,
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Dennis Leone.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the OEA,
As it rose above the streets on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of retirees was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the city and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the STRS Old Guard had fired and fled, ---
How the retirees gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the recalcitrants down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Dennis Leone;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every county's village and farm, --
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The retirees will waken and list to the tone,
The retirees will waken and list to the tone,
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight ride of Dennis Leone.
And the midnight ride of Dennis Leone.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Molly: Issues for Damon and Board
2000 or 2001 that they'd never have to worry about HC when asked this specific question. I don't know exactly when warnings and proper info began but then all retirees who were close to retiring within a certain period of that should be included in the grandfathering for a % of spousal subsidy to be reinstated.
8. Raise the age for FULL retirement/30 yrs or more incrementally as Soc. Sec. did:
xxx• 5 yrs out: 54 yrs old to retire
xxx• 6 yrs out: 55 yrs old to retire
xxx• 7 yrs out: 56 yrs old to retire
xxx• 8 yrs out: 57 yrs old to retire
xxx• 9 yrs. out: 58 yrs old to retire
xxx• 10 yrs out: 59 yrs old to retire
xxx• 11 and more: 60 yrs old to retire
9. NO MORE CONSULTANTS FOR 5 years! We've paid enough consultants and hired enough companies to make decisions. Let's conserve! This is based on comments over the past few years and currently re: this management's style of hiring consultants.
Blogger discovers new trick
Maybe you've already figured this one out, but I never did till just now. I discovered if you double-click on a picture in this blog, you get a nice, enlarged version of it. I found I could drag it into e-mail, or right-click on it for other options, including saving it on my computer (which I don't need to do, since it's already there). Gee, you can even set it as background for your desktop. Wouldn't you love to see STRS artwork every time you turn on your computer? : ) KBB