Saturday, March 11, 2006

Brace yourself for this one!

Note from John Curry: This was taken from Jim McGreevy's site. I will give credit where credit is due and I thank Jim for calling this to our attention. What you see when you read the text below the chart is another example of what CORE member Judi Peaspanen called the "death spiral" of health insurance. [Note: I put the text first, then the chart. KBB] Looks like what some have said (that some at STRS wanted out of the health care business) might very well come true AND SOON! These potential increases are unconscionable. John

Friday, March 10, 2006

STRS Board Meeting: Preliminary Health Care Premium Estimates Hold Bad News

The Member Benefits Department presented their report on Health Care to the STRS Board on Friday, March 10, and the outlook for 2007 health care premiums was not good for benefit recipients. As shown in the chart above, premium increases may run as high as 32% over 2006 rates for non-Medicare spouses of members receiving benefits. The big jump results from the Board’s removal of the cap that was placed on 2006 rates to soften the transition to the higher rates that everyone knew were coming in 2006. Increases that year were held to 3% over 2005 rates. When that cap was adopted last year it was determined that it could only be a one-time event, a kind of “special subsidy” for health care for 2006.

It should be noted that these rate increases are preliminary estimates based on the claims data from 2004. The actual rates will be based on 2005 claims data, but no one expects the picture to be much brighter. Final rate schedules will be presented to the Board in August.

It is fair to say that the entire Board was suffering from “sticker shock” when this report was presented. Board members Mary Ann Flannagan, Stephen Buser, and Dennis Leone expressed distress at the size of the increases as did Vice Chair Conni Ramser who said “…we all understood in principle what would happen in 2007 when the 3% cap was removed, but the size of the increase is shocking.” Board member Judith Fisher pointed out that, although painful, the Board had no choice but to impose these rate changes if the Health Care Stabilization Fund (HCSF) was to be made more secure.

After considerable discussion the Board voted to authorize the STRS staff to proceed with preparations of a new premium schedule for 2007 based on actual 2005 claims data and no artificial cap on premium increases.

The financial hardship these increases will impose on many benefit recipients is their most obvious and disturbing aspect. However, if the higher premiums also cause “adverse selection” by STRS members (the practice of younger, healthier retirees finding cheaper insurance outside STRS leaving only older, less healthy members filing claims) then the financial health of the HCSF is further undermined, causing additional upward pressure on premiums. As this cycle is perpetuated, a health care benefit becomes more difficult to sustain. STRS health care coverage could ultimately price itself out of the market leaving benefit recipients to fend for themselves. In the long run this could prove to be an even greater burden for retirees than the increase in premiums that appears to be coming next year.

Article by Jim McGreevy

Ralph Lloyd explains Defined Benefit Pensions and how they work; some scary implications for retirees

From Ralph Lloyd, March 11, 2006
Recently there has been a big shift in Industry and Manufacturing away from Defined Benefit Pensions. Defined Benefit Pensions work this way: You pay in some money, the company matches your sum and pays in some money and after X number of years you retire with an amount based on your years of service and a average of your final 3-7 years of salary. Why is this pertinent to teachers? Hang on and I will explain.
The reason Industry and Manufacturing are shifting away from DBP is because the number of retirees still living has exceeded the number of workers paying in, and this is cutting into the Companies' Profits. Most of these Pensions have Healthcare provisions in them also. Does this sound familiar?
Jacob Hacker, a Yale University Scientist has written a book, "the Great Risk Shift: The New Economics Insecurity- And What Can Be Done About It" Wow a long title!
Our Teachers Retirement System is a DBP, we pay in an amount, the school pays in an amount, in X years we retire with a pension based on an average of our last three years of salary and how many years of service we have.
If we do not get Legislation passed that will increase the teachers' contribution and employers' contribution by 2.5% just for Healthcare we will be in the same position, but because we are Contributing to a State fund and the contribution is by a fixed financial entity, the only way the deficit can be made up is to decrease the pension. In other words if Healthcare goes up, Pensions come down. Simple Mathematics.
We need to also Stress to the STRS Board that they need to be extremely frugal with OUR Money and the TAXPAYERS' Money, and that the money they use is OUR and the TAXPAYERS' Money and NOT theirs to spend as they see fit.
Ralph L Lloyd


From: Paul Boyer
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006
Subject: Fw: Apparently, some folks just don't like CORE literature!!!

Paul L. Boyer
Retired since 1985
Life member OEA/OEA-R,
Proud to be named “Core” of CORE

Stark County ORTA trustee physically assaults CORE member distributing campaign flyers

From Tom Curtis, March 10, 2006 (Letter to ORTA leadership)
ORTA Leadership,
On March 10th, 2006, at approximately 1:45-2:00 pm I was physically and verbally assaulted by ORTA Trustee Wes Hisey of Stark County, as people were leaving the meeting place of the SCRTA.
As a life member of ORTA and SCRTA, I do not take this matter lightly. I am calling for the immediate suspension of Wes Hisey from his position and membership in both ORTA and the Stark County RTA until this matter is settled. He should be told he is not permitted to attend any Stark County RTA meeting until this has been sorted out. This is not the first time this man has assaulted me, but it will be the last. When I attend the next SCRTA meeting, if he is present, I will make this situation public to the entire group.
I would like copy of any section of the language in the ORTA constitution, by-laws and governance's, or any other documentation ORTA is governed by that pertains to this issue. I would like to know what steps are mandated for handling such a situation. I also would like to know if ORTA would provide or assist in legal representation for me, if needed.
Further, if this method of filing a complaint does not meet the guidelines of ORTA, then please explain what steps are necessary for me to file a formal complaint against Wes Hisey. I will fax a signed copy of this complaint to ORTA and I will mail a copy of such to the SCRTA president, Barbara Bartchy.
After the SCRTA meeting had concluded and people were leaving the meeting place, I was standing inside a set of exit doors asking the members leaving, if they would like some information about two of the five active candidates running for the STRS board this April.
Wes Hisey walked up to me, placed his left hand on my right chest near my shoulder and applied enough pressure on me to push me backwards. As he did this he put his face in front of mine and asked me, if I was explaining to these people that they could not vote for these people and asked me why I was passing these (candidate flyers) out. I asked him to take his hand off of my chest, which he failed to do. Since he was pushing me backwards, I put my hand on his shoulder to hold him back. He immediately objected to me touching him. I responded that he needed to stop pushing me backwards. He then removed his hand, but continued to verbally abuse me for more then 10 minutes.
During this time, those members leaving by that door were experiencing this upheaval. One person came to my defense and told him he was wanted back in the meeting room. But he ignored them. No other person offered any assistance to me. John Shearer (past ORTA Trustee) and his wife had traveled to the meeting with Wes and his wife. For the end portion of this escapade, these three people experienced this situation, as well, but said nothing.
I continually asked him to leave me alone and he asked me what I was going to do about it. He told me he was not afraid of me and was attempting to start a fight.
I have recently had both hips replaced and I had no intention of falling or getting into a fight with this man. I walked away from him two different times and he came back each time and continued his harassment until nearly everyone had left by another exit, due to this very loud disturbance.
This is disgusting and will undoubtedly have many repercussions for all of our organizations. I will gladly attend any hearing by the ORTA board and will bring legal counsel with me, if not provided by ORTA on my behalf.
In summary, I am asking for immediate action on this matter and desire contact by the ORTA leadership at start of this coming week.
Saturday morning I filed a report of this incident with the Stark Co. Sheriff's Office. I provided them with a written statement and copies of the two candidate flyers I was passing out.
Thomas Curtis

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Editorial: Doing the OEA Dance

OEA's Bill Leibensperger was approached by a retiree (an OEA life member) at the March 9 STRS Board meeting and asked WHICH STRS BOARD MEMBERS want to do away with SB 190, as reported in the OEA Executive Committee's February 2006 report. As we all know, this is an extremely serious accusation, and OEA should not take it lightly if, indeed, they are spreading lies and rumors to defame their perceived adversaries in order to achieve whatever ends they are trying to achieve. If OEA wishes collaboration to achieve mutual goals, this certainly is NOT the way to go about it.
Did Mr. Leibensperger answer the question? Of course not. In typical OEA fashion, he did the OEA Dance, where they like to do a cute little 'dance' around the questions/issues, depending on whom they are talking to, instead of addressing and clearing up any questions (their favorite tactic is to change the subject). Not cool, in my estimation; and certainly not professional, considering the positions and salaries of OEA executives such as Mr. Leibensperger.
I would like to say something on behalf of the OEA-endorsed candidates for STRS Board, however. THEY answer their e-mails; and I know one of them does not avoid answering questions directly. THEY have my respect for that much, particularly Mark Meuser, who is an excellent communicator. Keep up the good work, Mark. Maybe there's hope for OEA yet.
Kathie Bracy

RH Jones’ speech before the STRS Board, March 9, 2006

Good afternoon. My name is Robert Hudson Jones, a professional teacher, who happens to be retired. Currently, I represent CORE and serve on the legislative committee of the SummitCRTA. I have over 33 years of service, having retired in 1986. Over those 20 years of retirement, I thank STRS for having my checks on time, and for the precedent-setting Bill 190 that raised my base, albeit not as much as the more recent retirees’. And many thanks for the excellent return the investment staff, directed by Dr. Asbury, gained for us this last quarter.

However, as you all know, I serve not as a “rubber stamp” retiree representative; but rather, one who represents honestly the real thinking of retired members; one who helps make positive changes that improve and maintain benefits for retirees. Keeping matters from getting worse is a positive thing to do – fighting bad policies can be the most constructive thing to do. Board members and STRS employees, for us retired professionals, you have to do the right thing, and have to do the thing right. Surely, reasonable thinking persons would agree.

In a related matter, Dr. Asbury, sir, three weeks ago I drafted a letter to you of extreme importance for some retired members. It had a carbon copy to my State Representative, Bob Otterman, who happens to be a retired STRS member, as well. With that issue, I do not wish to go public at this time. I trust in you, that in good faith, and with moral trepidation, you will come through for us retired members who were slighted and may have just been overlooked.

To conclude, as I stood before this board years ago, I quoted General MacArthur. Today, I quote him in part: Old soldiers never die. Dr. Asbury, sir, this soldier will not: just fade away. Rather, he awaits a positive correction of the oversight mentioned in my letter.

Thank you for allotting me this time to address you all.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert Hudson Jones

Dr. K. Wesley Fluke’s speech to the STRS Board March 9, 2006

Freeze the Defined Contribution Plan

Alternative retirement plans for K-12 employees legislation

STRS Ohio has been notified that a member of the Ohio House of Representatives has been asked to sponsor a bill that would extend alternative retirement plans to K-12 employees. This same concept was one of the driving forces behind our move to the Defined Contribution Plan in 2000. Obviously, such an option would pose a serious threat to the membership base of STRS Ohio and would potentially draw revenues away from our pension fund. The representative has asked for our concerns and we will share these issues.

.......--STRS Minutes December 2005


The Defined Contribution Plan should be revisited, since it apparently does not help those in a Defined Benefit Plan which represents over 80% of STRS members/beneficiaries. In fact, it may be a negative. Some areas in question: Why should STRS investors spend more of their valuable time and hours by serving as brokers for individuals in the Defined Contribution Plan? Also, it is interesting to note that the Defined Contribution Plan had its introduction in 2000, the time of the greatest STRS investment losses. Question: Have participants realized any gains?

Those in the Defined Contribution Plan do not receive a health benefit at retirement. Why should those in this Plan accept an increase beyond 10% to help provide a steady stream of health care? They are not part of the team.

We need more, not fewer STRS contributors participating in the number for bargaining with various health care providers.

Tell those Ohio legislators that promote “corporate” views for pensions that we want to “freeze” those now in the Defined Contribution Plan. Further, it is recommended they investigate West Virginia Teachers’ Retirement System which recently returned to a Defined Benefit Plan (2005), after a period from 1990 – 2005 with a Defined Contribution Plan. It wasn't working very well! Let us focus on the Defined Benefit Plan only.

K. Wesley Fluke, Ph.D.

Legislative Chair, Summit County Retired Teachers Association (SCRTA)

Akron, Ohio

Jim N. Reed’s speech to the STRS Board, March 9, 2006

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Board Members, Mr. Director and Staff,

My name is Jim N. Reed and for the past half century I have been a prospective, active, retired, and rehired teacher-coach in the Liberty Union-Thurston Schools in Fairfield County.

Today I appear before you to make a few remarks that represent my relationship with my profession’s retirement system.

I currently describe myself as a “Recovering Retiree.” I grew up in education dependent…dependent on the trust, truth, confidence, pride, security and hope I believed my retirement system offered me.

After teaching and coaching 33 years I accepted the information, the guidelines and recommendations offered through STRS counseling and made the life-altering decision to retire in 1998.

My first official response from STRS after completing the retirement forms was that my FAS had been determined unacceptable. I was accused of artificially “padding” my salary when my board of education elevated a 17-year coaching assignment, along with several others, to a new tier. (An appeal reversed the refusal but some damage was done.)

And then within a few months it became obvious my retirement timing had been atrocious. I discovered plans were in the works for a significant benefit formula change of which I had no knowledge. It was condescendingly explained to me that I had “fallen through the cracks” of the transition and should be grateful for the benefits I was to receive.

So I tried to be grateful. It was true that I was to pay less than $500 annually for my wife’s medical insurance. I and the other 5000 retirees in the class of ’98 would at least have the affordable healthcare we were promised. You know the rest of that story.

And as a history teacher it was not a memorable date when the 13th check became history.

2003 brought more revelations about my retirement caretakers. The news was not good.

My trust, truth, confidence, pride, security and hope took another hit. I felt disappointed, disillusioned, disenfranchised, and disgusted. I became angry at and ashamed of my own retirement system. It seemed our profession’s caretakers had become our undertakers.

In an attempt to find redress I began a search for some answers. “Pass the buck” became the most common response I encountered, and when I did receive a semblance of an answer I was given the distinct impression I was the “Lone Ranger.” I was an isolated malcontent.

But remember, I earlier described myself as a “Recovering Retiree.” First of all, I was one of the fortunate ones who, as part of my retirement decision, contracted with my employer to continue teaching on a part-time basis.

Then I became aware that there were many other retirees who shared many of my concerns. They were willing to stand up and be counted, willing to sacrifice time and expense and risk much, including long-established reputations of passivity, compliance, inactivity, and apathy by questioning those who seemed above questioning.

Today I feel my recovery is strengthening due to the renaissance ORC 3307.15 is experiencing. I believe there are Board members who are desirous of returning STRS to its former esteem with the restoration of trust, truth, confidence, security, pride and hope. There are recent fiscal signs that match the rhetoric of reform.

There is much yet to do but encouraging is that the charter foundation principles are being championed again. Lincoln admonished, “A country with no regard for its past will have little worth remembering in the future.” STRS is not exempt from that notion.

Thank you for your audience and thank you for assisting in my recovery. I would ask you to stay with me and hundreds of thousands of other retirees and actives who need your understanding and careful management of our livelihoods. I would like to say more but am reminded of the time constraints and the example of Clemens who once pronounced, when tempted to give someone a piece of his mind, that in his old age he had to be most frugal with what he had left.

Jim N. Reed

Hey, guess what, folks? Hazel's trial is moved again!

Wonder if she has a hair appointment or something that day? But never mind. Hey, Hazel, we'll still be there for ya, no matter what. We're flexible. CORE
March 9, 2006
This just in from John Curry:
The Hazel Sidaway trial has been changed (again) from March 20 to April 11, 2006! Below is what the court docket advised. John
Date: 04/11/2006 Time: 1:30 pm

OFT: Union sounds warning bell to schools

Change or lose out to charters, official says
Tom Mooney, OFT President

Thursday, March 09, 2006
Catherine Candisky
The head of one of Ohio’s largest teachers unions said yesterday that public schools must adopt "bold reforms" if they are to survive against burgeoning charter schools.
Tom Mooney, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said the tax-funded, privately operated schools are crippling the public-school system by siphoning away students and state aid, and academic performance is lagging.
Still, a growing number of parents and students are signing up, and Mooney said that complaining about what he sees as the shortfalls and abuses of charter schools is not enough to save the public ones.
"We must make bold reforms in public education if we want to survive," he said yesterday.
It’s a message he will deliver to union members this morning at their annual convention in Cincinnati.
"We must listen to parents and students when they tell us why they choose charters despite their academic failures," Mooney said.
A record 71,000 students are attending 294 charter schools across Ohio this year. Most are from Columbus and other large urban districts.
Mooney said he believes parents are concerned about safety and discipline and are put off by impersonal bureaucracy, particularly in larger districts.
A poll last year conducted for, a Columbusbased group that studies children’s issues, showed that 42 percent of parents who moved their children to charter schools did so because of concerns about discipline, safety and dress. The same number indicated that they left their public school because of a lack of individual attention.
In response, some districts, including Columbus, plan to open their own charter schools.
Mooney said another option is to create less centralized school districts to give building administrators and teachers the ability to be more responsive.
"We should demolish most of the bureaucracy, give schools much more operational autonomy, vested in school-site councils that include parents and community stakeholders, as well as teachers and other employees."
While Mooney pushes his new initiative, he said he will still keep a close eye on charter schools.
This week, he released a lengthy report on Akron businessman David L. Brennan and his White Hat Management Co., which oversees 34 charter schools in Ohio, including three in Columbus.
The report notes that most of Brennan’s schools are failing in terms of student performance and many are not administering state-required proficiency tests to most of their pupils.
The profit that Brennan acknowledges he is making on his schools is another concern of Mooney’s.
A recent state audit on one of Brennan’s charter schools, Life Skills Center of Northeast Ohio, showed that White Hat received $4.6 million in management fees from the school for the 2004-05 school year. It reported expenses of $3.4 million, for a profit of $1.2 million.
Mooney said he was stunned by the amount and questioned whether companies should profit from tax dollars.
Asked about the profit yesterday, Brennan said, "I’d ask the other question: Why do we keep giving money to (public) schools that can’t turn a profit? Why do we keep giving money to schools that are running at a loss? Why don’t we fund more schools that are operating at a profit?"
White Hat receives 97 percent of the state aid a school receives for its management fee. State law does not require charter schools or their management companies to report profits or losses even though they operate with tax dollars.
However, a recently passed law requires management companies earning more than 20 percent of what a school receives in state aid to provide a detailed account to the state auditor. The Life Skills audit was one of the first completed by state Auditor Betty D. Montgomery under the new law

CORE and STRS Board meeting schedules

CORE meeting: Thursday, March 9, 11:45 a.m., Sublett Room, Second floor, STRS
March 1, 2006


The State Teachers Retirement Board and Committee meetings currently scheduled at the STRS Ohio offices, 275 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, are as follows:

Wednesday, March 8, 2006
8:30 a.m. Disability Committee and Retirement Board Disability Adjudication Hearings (Executive Session)

Thursday, March 9, 2006
9:00 a.m. Resumption of the Retirement Board Meeting* followed by the Investment Committee Meeting
Friday, March 10, 2006
8:30 a.m. Audit Committee Meeting
9:00 a.m. Resumption of the Retirement Board Meeting *
* The Retirement Board is expected to receive reports from the Member Benefits Department (pension benefits), Investment Department and Human Resource Services Department on Thursday. The public participation portion of the Board's agenda is expected to follow the Executive Director's Report which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday. An Investment Committee meeting is expected Thursday afternoon. An Audit Committee meeting is expected at 8:30 before the Retirement Board meeting resumes at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 10. On Friday, the Retirement Board will receive reports from the Member Benefits Department (health care) and Internal Audit Department before addressing routine matters.

Danielle J. Bell Administrative
Assistant Executive Department
275 E. Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
888.227.7877 toll free

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Molly to Bill Leibensperger: Please name names of those who would gut benefits; we want to know, too

This blog will gladly post Mr. Leibensperger's response (but don't get your hopes up; some OEA people tend to respond very "selectively")
From:Molly Janczyk
Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Subject: RE: Latest lies/innuendoes from OEA
Bill, We are waiting for a reply on the names of persons to support this innuendo of 'members who want to gut benefits'? This seems another political tactic of throwing a veiled threat out hoping some will believe you with no substantiation. This did not work in the past 2 elections and only makes OEA look bad, Bill. There are many actives who wish to collaborate but you continue to hurt this process with these untrue statements.
- Members of what?
- Names?
- Proof?
We know of NO ONE who wishes to eliminate or roll back enhanced benefits for retirees or actives.
Molly J.
CORE Independent
OEA-R Lifetime
ORTA Lifetime

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Latest lies/innuendoes from OEA

"The enhanced benefit is currently safe; however, there are members who would like to eliminate it. There are members who want to gut the benefits that are currently available. Members are encouraged to secure votes for recommended candidates to secure our retirement boards."

(OEA Executive Committee report, February 18, 2006)

OEA: Please tell your members WHOM you are referring to and WHAT EVIDENCE is there to prove your slanderous allegations? You lie again to your OWN membership!

Kathie Bracy

Monday, March 06, 2006

Flashback: The uproar at STRS; how it all started

.....and another year goes by without an IG investigation requested by a bi-partisan group of legislators
Another history lesson for newbies
From John Curry, March 5, 2006
As long as Bob Taft is Governor, more years will go by without an Inspector General's investigation of STRS. With a change in leadership of Ohio's Executive Branch, a renewed interest in the below bi-partisan request may not fall on deaf ears as it currently does. With the current corruption ridden pay-to-play mentality in Columbus, this issue has been put on the back burner with the heat turned off. No, I won't forget and neither will tens of thousands of STRS retirees. If the investigation comes up clean- Great! If the investigation doesn't come up clean, then justice will be served. Remember, it was also our Governor who discredited the initial investigative reports of the Toledo Blade's reporter Jim Drew when he blew the cover on the Noe/BWC scandal. John Curry (2006)

From: John Curry
Sent: Saturday, March 05, 2005
Subject: renewed interest for the State IG to investigate STRS

Below is a clip from the AAUP U. of C. chapter of Aug. 2003 which addresses Taft's veto of a bill that would have had the State Inspector General inspect the five state retirement systems. Would it be possible that members of CORE could contact these lawmakers and their bretheren requesting a reintroduction of this bill in light of the continuing disregard of ORC 3307.15? I know that many reading this are on a familiar basis with some of these Senators as well as other State Senators and Representatives. With renewed requests, in light of what has transpired over the past, we might just be able to see this badly needed investigation accomplished. John
"State Senator Teresa Fedor (D Toledo), with bipartisan co-sponsorship from Senators Schuring, Herington, Roberts, Fingerhut, Hagan, Carey, Dann, and Robert Gardner, introduced Senate Bill 104 which would give the State Inspector General independent power to investigate and issue findings against the five public retirement systems and the Ohio Retirement Study Council."
The entire text of the above article can be seen below. John
A publication of the
University of Cincinnati Chapter, AAUP
Volume 10, Issue 22, August, 2003
Since the recent announcement of changes in the health care provisions of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), there have been a number of developments related to the operation of STRS. While the retirement system appears to remain viable and sound, recent criticisms have questioned STRS operations and spending practices at a time when it has been forced to cut back on health benefits and to abandon its practice of issuing a 13th check each year to retirees.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer broke the story, reporting on bonuses paid to STRS staff while investment value was declining, on significant increases in hiring since 1998, on policies allowing STRS employees to cash in unused vacation annually, on subsidy of a day care center for employees’ children, on significant travel expenses incurred by STRS Board members, and on lavish spending on art for the renovated STRS building in Columbus. The Plain Dealer cited a report from Dennis Leone, superintendent of the Chillicothe school district, who submitted the report to the STRS Board on May 16 after making inquiries because he had heard rumors of the extravagant spending. Among other things, Leone reported that STRS spent $20 million on employee bonuses and payments for unused sick and vacation leave over a three-year period. He also reported spending of $869,235 for the office artwork and $530,284 for Board travel over a three-year period, including trips to Hawaii and Alaska. Meanwhile, from August 2000 to March 30, 2003, the value of STRS assets fell from $58.7 billion to $42.4 billion, a drop of 28%.

In response to the uproar, STRS began to take some corrective actions. Bonuses and incentive pay to staff were frozen and the Board began to review policy. The Board President chastised STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer for statements that he made to reporters and to a legislative committee regarding the criticism of STRS practices.

In late June, more than 100 state legislators signed a statement calling for Dyer to resign. Also, the Legislature included, in the state budget bill, a line that would have allowed the State Inspector General to investigate quasi-state agencies (such as STRS) when there were allegations of wrong-doing. Governor Taft then exercised his line item veto authority to remove that line from the bill. In response to Governor Taft’s veto, several things happened. In addition to a bipartisan effort to try to override the Governor’s veto, two new bills were introduced. State Senator Teresa Fedor (D Toledo), with bipartisan co-sponsorship from Senators Schuring, Herington, Roberts, Fingerhut, Hagan, Carey, Dann, and Robert Gardner, introduced Senate Bill 104 which would give the State Inspector General independent power to investigate and issue findings against the five public retirement systems and the Ohio Retirement Study Council. State Senator Kirk Schuring (R Canton) introduced Senate Bill 105 which would require Board members and employees of the five pension systems to file annual financial disclosure statements with the Ohio Ethics Commission. Also, State Attorney General Betty Montgomery, Senator Schuring and Representative Michelle Schneider (Cincinnati) announced that they would seek legislation requiring independent and regular performance reviews of the five public pension systems.

To keep the pressure for reform on STRS, and to voice dissatisfaction with what has happened, an effort is being made to get a good public (educator) turnout for the next STRS Board meeting which is scheduled for Friday, August 15th. A large group will be walking from the Statehouse in Columbus to the open STRS Board meeting which begins at 10:00 am in the STRS building. Educators from around the state are invited and encouraged to attend this rally.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Visit CORE's website!

Click here:

What you need to know about this blog

Many people have caught on to how blogs work, and how to find posts on particular topics or by particular people. But for those who may be new to it, I would like to explain a little about it, in order to make navigation a little easier.
There is only so much room on a page for posts, after which they get crowded off the page and automatically deposited into that week's archives. You will find links to all the archives in the sidebar on the right. In order to keep certain posts (announcements, etc.) at the top for a while, I have to postdate them, which is why you see dates there that haven't occurred yet. Otherwise, posts move down the page as new posts are added. It works differently from a regular website in that I cannot control where items are placed, other than manipulating the dates as I sometimes do.
Other than finding an article in the archives, or by scrolling down the page if it was posted fairly recently, there is one more way to look for it. In the top left corner of the page is a little white box, a search engine for this blog (also for other people's blogs, depending on what you click on). When I use this feature, I try to use key words that are likely to appear in the article(s) I'm looking for, but not a whole lot of others, in order to limit the number of responses it pulls up.
Thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome comments and suggestions, as well as your editorial contributions. Have fun exploring!
Kathie Bracy

Betty Montgomery to speak to CORE May 18; will ask for support in her rerun for attorney general

Come armed with your questions!
From Tom Curtis, March 1, 2006

Betty Montgomery, 2006 candidate for State Attorney General plans to speak to CORE at it's May 18th meeting at the STRS. She plans to speak from 11:45 am to 12:15 pm and ask for our support for her election.
[You will recall Ms. Montgomery was a member of the STRS Board during the years when all the wild spending was going on. KBB]

We did it before, we will do it again - FLASHBACK TO AN UPSET!

A history lesson for newbies: What OEA doesn't want you to know
Note from John Curry - Considering the upcoming STRS election, I want to relive some history in which CORE members were instrumental in a previous STRS election victory. For some of you new CORE members and/or readers of Kathie Bracy's blog, this article may come as a surprise to you. The retired members of CORE (yes, actives can and are encouraged to join CORE) "pounded the bricks" and caused an upset in this 2004 STRS election for an "active" teacher member of STRS even though retirees COULDN'T VOTE FOR THE VICTORIOUS CANDIDATE, JOHN LAZARES. You are now seeing the results of that upset at STRS in the form of REFORM on the CURRENT STRS BOARD as John has teamed with Dennis Leone.
Sent: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 8:33 AM
Subject: Eugene didn't call back, Gary sideskirts issue
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Teachers remove pension panel chief
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Stephen Ohlemacher,
Plain Dealer Bureau
Columbus - Ohio teachers have voted to oust the chairman of the State Teachers Retirement System board in the latest fall-out from last year's scandal over lavish spending at the pension fund.

Chairman Eugene Norris was defeated by John Lazares, superintendent of the Warren County Educational Service Center, 22,625 to 22,351. The vote among teachers, professors and other members of the retirement system was done by mail. Lazares will begin a four-year term in September.

The vote was a big victory for disgruntled retirees, who supported Lazares, even though they could not vote in the election.

It was a big loss for the state teachers unions, which supported Norris. Endorsements by the Ohio Education Association, the state's largest teacher union, usually mean victory for STRS board candidates.

"It kind of shocked me," said Lazares, who also serves as superintendent of the Warren County mental retardation/developmental disability board, and the Warren County alternative school for at-risk students just northeast of Cincinnati.

"I've got to give the retired teachers a lot of credit," he said.

Norris, a teacher in South-Western City Schools in suburban Columbus, has served on the board since 1996. He took over as chairman in September. Norris did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment.

The pension fund, which serves more than 400,000 active and retired teachers, was wracked by scandal last year after The Plain Dealer published a story about generous employee bonuses, frequent board member travel and expensive artwork at the pension fund's headquarters.

The revelations came as many retirees learned that their health insurance premiums would soon double, in part because of the fund's investment losses.

Since then, Herb Dyer was forced to resign as executive director - with a $550,000 buyout. Also, the board enacted new travel, ethics and employee bonus policies, and the Ohio House and Senate approved competing bills to increase oversight. Lawmakers are working on a compromise.

Lazares, 54, worked with Chillicothe schools Superintendent Dennis Leone to expose much of the questionable spending. That generated a lot of support among retirees, who waged an aggressive Internet campaign on Lazares' behalf.

"I think this was a statement of sorts by the voting membership," Leone said. "And clearly the retirees had a huge impact in making this happen."

OEA President Gary Allen has publicly supported the STRS board, which includes several OEA members, throughout the scandal. Allen said he thought some teachers voted to change leadership because they are concerned about increasing health care costs.

"But replacing Eugene Norris is not going to change the fact that there is still a national health care crisis," Allen said.

The STRS board has nine members: five teachers elected by other contributing members; one retiree elected by other retirees; and designees appointed by the state auditor, state attorney general and state superintendent of public instruction.

Lazares qualified to run as a teacher because, as a superintendent, he is a contributing member of the retirement system.

Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
web page counter
Vermont Teddy Bear Company