Saturday, April 08, 2006

Paul Boyer's letter published in the Lima News

April 8, 2006
Teachers need to protect future

The month of April is an important time for all active and retired teachers in the public schools of Ohio. Over the weekend, ballots were mailed to all contributing members, formerly called active teachers, to elect two persons to sit on the State Teachers Retirement Board and must be returned by May 1. As a member of Concerned Ohio Retired Educators, I am urging all teachers to vote for Tom Hall and Mark Frederick. CORE members believe they will be the most diligent in taking care of the retirees’ needs.

Hall is a professor of economics at Miami University. He was outraged a few years ago when he heard of the stock market losses by STRS and the rampant, illegal spending of our money on board members and employees. Frederick has taught in the Cleveland schools for 26 years He has continued to provide leadership for his students and colleagues, a continued working, growing and learning throughout his career.

I would also like to remind you that, in the primary balloting in May, two of the candidates will be the auditor and attorney general, both of whom were on the STRS board and refused to curb the spending.

Ryan Holderman's letter to the editor, published in several newspapers

(Received here April 7, 2006)
In May of 2003 Dr. Dennis Leone called attention to irregularities in the way the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio was handling teachers' retirement funds. His report was the catalyst for a strong reform movement which resulted in the passage of Senate Bill 133 and the re-structuring of the STRS Board. All of this has resulted in greater fiscal responsibility and security in the management of pension funds for Ohio's teachers.
This week ballots will be sent to all active, inactive, and disability constituents of the STRS. They will be voting to select two "active" teacher representatives for seats on the STRS Board of Directors. Two gentlemen, Dr. Tom Hall of Miami University and Mr. Mark Fredrick who teaches in the Cleveland Public schools are seeking board seats. They both understand the challenges facing the STRS. They understand the need for continued reform, open dialogue, and due diligence on the part of those who are elected as STRS Board members.
Additional background information, including a history of the reform movement that has led to significant changes in the STRS can be found at
Please note that this is a .org address.
I urge all teachers who are concerned about the future of their pension system to vote for Dr. Tom Hall and Mr. Mark Fredrick.
Ryan Holderman
Lebanon, OH

Brad Walton: Spreading the word in Knox County

From Brad Walton, April 6, 2006; Subject: STRS Candidate endorsement
Being sent to each Knox County schools active teacher. I had to cut back to get under 300 words for the Peoples Forum. Feel free to use it in any way you can to spread the word.
To the Peoples Forum (290 words)
Dear Active Teachers and Educators:
While the State Teachers Retirement System (S.T.R.S.) was losing millions of dollars a few years ago, board members spent exorbitant amounts of money on cars, plane tickets, lodging, entertainment, and employee perks including bonuses that doubled some base salary.
The Ohio Retired Teachers Association (O.R.T.A.) and the Concerned Ohio Retired Educators (C.O.R.E.) have been working on behalf of all active and retired educators to correct these problems to prevent future misspending. They have been influential in replacing the Executive Director and the guilty board Members.
After appointing a new Executive Director and the election of new board members, things have turned around. Your retirement benefits are safer now than they were before, but we still have a long way to go. It is imperative that we continue to elect S.T.R.S. Board Members, who will be vigilant watchdogs of our retirement benefits.
After interviewing all of the candidates running for seats on the S.T.R.S. Board, C.O.R.E. has endorsed Mark Fredrick and Thomas Hall in the upcoming election. Please give both of these candidates consideration, and vote before May 1. Brad Walton, President Knox County Retired Teachers Association
Mark Fredrick
Mark Fredrick, a 25-year teacher with the Cleveland Municipal Schools, has an extensive background in economics and accounting to enable him to assist the Board in budget planning and contract review. As an English teacher, he will easily handle the heavy reading load that challenges new Board members.
Thomas Hall
Thomas Hall, a professor at Miami University, holds a doctorate in economics and has experience with the U.S. Department Bureau of Economics and Business Affairs. His extensive background in the areas of investments, market funds, and economics will bring valuable skills and knowledge to the S.T.R.S. Board.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Text of memo from Gary Allen to local OEA presidents March 17, 2006


TO: Local Presidents

FROM Gary Allen

DATE: March 17, 2006

RE: STRS Campaigning on School Property


As you know, the STRS election is fast approaching. You should have received a campaign toolkit and information about OEA’s two endorsed candidates: Mark Meuser and Conni Ramser. I hope you are finding these materials useful.

Recently, we have learned that individuals opposing these candidates may attempt to distribute literature about the election and candidates to you and your members at school, possibly during the school day. This is a reminder about campaigning on school property. If you have questions, please refer them to your Labor Relations Consultant.

· Under Ohio law, school boards have broad authority to control and manage school buildings and school property in their districts.

· Most school boards have rules and/or policies which address the access rights of non-employee individuals to school buildings and grounds.

· The administration of the school district in which you work will address the question as to whether or not individuals will have access to your building and when such access will be granted.

· Should you encounter an individual or group that is in violation of the board policy in your district, notify the principal or person in charge of your building.

· You do not have to speak with outside individuals during your instructional time or work day. If someone attempts to interrupt a class, planning or lunch time, you may direct them to the principal’s office or request that they leave your classroom or work area.

· As the exclusive representative for our members, OEA has the right to communicate with our members about union matters and issues, including endorsed candidates. Outside entities do not enjoy the same right to access to our members.

· If you are using Association funds for voting parties or similar election events, do not advocate for or against specific candidates at those events. Be sure that you have shared information about the candidates prior to your voting parties.

As a further reminder, STRS ballots will be mailed on April 5, 2006 and must be received by May 1, 2006. Please help to get out the vote!

Paul Boyer's Letter to the Editor, published in the Lima News 04/07/06

April 3, 2006

The month of April is a very important time for all active and retired teachers in the public schools of Ohio. Over the weekend, ballots were mailed to all contributing members, formerly called active teachers, to elect two persons to sit on the State Teachers Retirement Board (STRS) and must be returned by May 1. As a member of CORE, Concerned Ohio Retired Educators, I am strongly urging all teachers to vote for TOM HALL and MARK FREDRICK. CORE members voted to endorse these two men whom we feel will be the most diligent in taking care of the retirees’ needs in the coming years.

In the past three years we have been most successful in changes, beginning with the resignation of the Executive Director and passage of SB 133, a retirement reform bill, that have eliminated most of the waste that was occurring up until that time. Retired teachers can not vote in this election because it is only for contributing members. We are earnestly asking for your help in electing these two good men.

Tom Hall is a professor of Economics at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. He was outraged a few years ago when he heard of the stock market losses by STRS and the rampant, illegal spending of our money on board members and employees. .He has pledged the following:

1. Focus on holding down costs of operating STRS.

2. Intelligently oversee the management of the investment portfolio

3. Strictly adhere to Ohio Revised Code 3307.15 which states that board members must act solely on the behalf of STRS members and their beneficiaries.

4. Work to find avenues which will continue health care.

5. Communicate and be responsive to members and 6. Support and lobby for legislation that benefits STRS members.

Mark Fredrick has taught in the Cleveland schools for 26 years. He has continued to provide leadership for his students and colleagues, a continued working, growing and learning throughout his career.

Guaranteed, secure pension funds and affordable health care are the two main issues of my campaign. Remember, this is the pension system which will pay your way after retirement. Please write these two names on your calendar now: TOM HALL and MARK FREDRICK.

I would also like to remind you that in the Primary balloting in May, two of the candidates will be the Auditor and Attorney General, both of whom were on the STRS board and refused to curb the spending.

Paul L. Boyer

Paul Boyer to John Grumblis: Vote for Hall and Fredrick

This is a copy of a letter from the husband of a local retiree and CORE member and my reply to him.


From: Paul Boyer To: John Grumblis Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006
Subject: Re: RE:Active teachers voting

Thanks for your inquiry, John. WE DO NOT WANT THESE TWO ELECTED. Both are dyed-in-the-wool OEA members and OEA is doing everything they can to get them elected.

Connie Ramser was appointed a couple of years ago to fill the vacancy of a member who retired and had to resign the seat. SHE HAS DONE NOTHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO AMOUNT TO ANYTHING AND REFUSES TO READ EITHER OF DENNIS LEONE'S REPORTS FROM THREE YEARS AGO.

Mark Meuser was one of those who met with CORE and it was clear that he would stand for everything OEA wants. OEA has done absolutely nothing to effect the changes that have been made at STRS yet likes to take credit for some of it.

Try to impress this person and others that is they want retirement and a health program when they retire they should vote for Hall and Fredrick.


From: John Grumblis To: Paul Boyer Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006
Subject: RE:Active teachers voting


I sent your letter to the editor to one of my active teaching friends, and underlined the two names you had in your article. She sent me a reply saying that they were encouraged to vote for Connie Ramser and Mark Meuser who are both active teachers. Do you know anything about these two folks?


Tom Mooney, President of OFT, on access to teacher mailboxes

From Tom Mooney, April 3, 2006
OFT does not control access to school buildings. Administrators do. We have not instructed members to try to impede or restrict anyone's access to school buildings. If asked, I will urge them not to try to impede anyone's access, not that we have that right anyway.
I think this issue about access to buildings and mail boxes has gotten confused. No union has any right to determine who can come into school buildings. Where a teacher union has been recognized as the exclusive representative of teachers in that district for collective bargaining purposes, the union will usually try to negotiate the exclusive right to use teacher mailboxes. But what does exclusive mean? Obviously other school related organizations put info. in teacher mailboxes. The exclusivity clause is vis a vis rival organizations. These provisions date to a time when OFT and OEA were competing for representation rights in many districts. So the exclusive right is not an absolute right, in my opinion. It only restricts access by a rival organization. I don't see CORE as a rival organization because CORE is not seeking to represent teachers in collective bargaining. However, contract language on "exclusivity," if they have any, varies from district to district, and others may interpret their contracts differently. This is just my opinion on the overall issue.
Tom Mooney

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Steve Bilikam: An active teacher, enlightened by retiree and CORE member George Justice, urges his fellow teachers to elect TOM HALL and MARK FREDRICK

April 5, 2006

Fellow Old Timers: (Or, if you don't like the sound of yourself a "mature" teacher.) I have a longtime friend named George Justice who is a retired teacher from the Westerville Schools. He has been very active in retirement attending STRS meetings and trying to keep the STRS leadership in check after many financial problems were discovered in our retirement system. He called me and discussed a couple of the candidates for the STRS board who he and his committee supports, candidates who will watch STRS investments and expenditures closely. As we begin nearing retirement, (in the next nine months for me), I think that we should all pay close attention to what's happening downtown in our retirement system. I trust George's judgment, and I'm including his message to me with the candidates names below.

Steve Bilikam
Physical Education
Olentangy Local Schools
Scioto Ridge Elementary School

George's message to Steve

Steve --

As usual I enjoyed talking and laughing with you last night while reminiscing about our careers. After meeting and interviewing five of the candidates for the two "active" seats on the STRS board, our committee agreed that the two best candidates were definitely Mark Fredrick and Tom Hall. The other candidates were all good people but we felt these two had a better understanding of the financial predicament and health care concerns which the STRS is facing. We feel they can provide the leadership to help restore the solidarity of our retirement system. Please encourage any of your colleagues to vote for MARK FREDRICK and TOM HALL for the STRS board. If you or your colleagues know teachers in other districts, please notify them also. We're trying to network throughout the state. Thanks for your help.

George Justice

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

John Curry: OEA now using the *R* word??

April 3, 2006
It has come to my attention that the OEA is now using the words "accountability" and "reform" in order to urge active teachers to vote for the OEA endorsed candidates in the upcoming STRS Board election. Had their OEA dominated STRS Board representatives been accountable during their majority control over the STRS Boards before 2005 (when SB 133 ended this dominance) we would not be in this mess that we are now in.
Reform? The OEA is now using the "R word." Reform of what? If they mean reform of the past two decades of OEA STRS Board domination, then they better look into the mirror! If they want reform, then they are talking about reform of their own leadership by a former OEA dominated STRS Board that turned its head the other way when misspending, mismanagement, and an entitlement philosophy existed at STRS until Dr. Leone (A CORE member) exposed these abuses.
The OEA use of the word "accountability" should have been used several years ago when an OEA majority STRS Board voted to hire former deposed STRS Executive Director Herbert Dyer who left his position at STRS under pressure from Ohio legislators and who was subsequently found guilty of ethical misconduct in a Franklin County courtroom. That same court has a former OEA Executive Council member awaiting her (Hazel Sidaway) trial as she is being charged with 7 violations of Ohio Ethics laws while acting as an STRS Board member.
OEA President Gary Allen was sent the letter below (almost two years ago) in reference to reform and accountability - I still am awaiting his answer. John - A Proud CORE member
Dear Mr. Allen,
Your most recent edition of "Ohio Schools" contains an article critical of S.B. 133 that doesn't put into proper perspective how your organization (OEA) failed over 100,000 retiree members of Ohio STRS.
The current OEA dominated(not for long) and affiliated STRS board lacked the foresight to ensure that current and future retirees do and will have quality and affordable health care. I realize that health care benefits are not guaranteed by any state retirement system, but how can you justify the PERS premium of $80 per month for a retiree and spouse vs. the STRS premium of $562 per month for employees who also spent 30 years in public service? The influential and progressive(?) thinking OEA didn't put pressure on our legislature to increase the current 1% contribution rate by STRS into health care funding. The next lowest state retirement system health care contribution rate is more than double this 1%. OEA couldn't muster up the courage to press for this increase years ago when it was known that 1% was not enough, didn't want to ruffle feathers!
The Ohio Schools article seems to villify the passage of S.B. 133 as a bad omen for teachers. Both of us know that the passage of S.B. 133 eliminates your organization's future ability to maintain control over a current blind and "out of tune with reality" STRS board that has floundered with your organization's blessings and endorsements. This same board also enjoyed misspending millions of dollars on a 90 plus million dollar building, globetrotting, Kings Island tickets, alcohol, and the list goes on and on without consideration of the Ohio Revised Code and its requirement of fiduciary responsibilities to ONLY its retirees.
I know that your OEA agenda demands an OEA majority on the STRS board - sorry, Gary, it's not in the cards now. You can use your OEA magazine to strike fear into the lives of active teachers' minds as to how your organization's teachers have been ill served by the passage of S.B. 133. You fail, however, to inform your membership of the above mentioned spending of millions of dollars by this OEA dominated board who for years never saw a board motion that they didn't like. It WAS an age of rubber-stamping at its golden best.
Gary, no longer are you and your organization able to spoon-feed active teachers on how to think and act. With the advent of the electronic media, Dr. Dennis Leone (STRS whistle blower), John Lazares (newest "reform" STRS board electee), the Canton Repository, and the Plain Dealer- your organization's iron grip on active teachers' minds is finally being realized for what it currently is- a gradually loosening grip.
If it hadn't been for the lack of insight by your organization, S.B. 133 and its competing house bill wouldn't have been necessary. The OEA's generous "pac" donations to politicians on both sides of the aisle didn't bail you out this time. These politicians respect for ethics and/or fear of not being reelected took a priority over your campaign contributions. STRS retirees have found that, "with friends like the OEA, who needs enemies?"
Both the STRS and your organization need to reexamine your concerns for the retired teachers of Ohio. STRS has an O.R.C. mandate- your organization should have a mandate of care and concern for your former dues paying members.
For the OEA, forking out over $150,000 for your salary, $50,000 to $60,000 for secretarial salaries, and salaries of over $100,000 for labor relation consultants- you and your organization could and should have taken serious measures to "clean-up" the STRS organization if for no other reason than to show your dues paying members that they were getting the best bang for their bucks. The OEA's lack of action has contributed to some of my fellow retirees having to make the decision of whether it will be food or medicine.
With winter coming on, the reality of home heating bills will compound this situation. OEA's lack of care, leadership, and compassion will now be realized by its former dues paying members. Fool the active teachers once, shame on you; fool them twice, shame on them. Throughout modern history, many companies and most trade unions have looked out for the health and welfare of their employees AND retirees. The OEA has sorely abandoned the latter. You now have reached a point in time to reform your organization's concern for its retirees, will you heed the call?
You have questioned Dennis Leone's "motives" upon reading his 13 page report about the mismanagement and spending fiasco at STRS. Once Dr. Leone's facts were presented, they were not disputed-not even by you. You never apologized to Dr. Leone. If you wish to question my motives for writing this letter to you - please do. In fact, I'll even save you the time and trouble by supplying you with my motives. I wish to see the rape of retirees by the OEA controlled STRS board stop immediately. I wish to see the STRS return to the Cadillac of retirement systems that it once was. I wish to see STRS retirees live out their lives without being one major illness away from becoming bankrupt thanks to the miserable and expensive health insurance coverage that STRS offers. I don't expect an apology either- I expect action and not the cancellation of two health care advocates meetings in a row. The next time you or the OEA complains about S.B. 133, you should now understand why this bill became law. Every day more and more current and retired educators are becoming cognizant of why this baby was born.
John Curry
30 year teacher retiree -- a PROUD CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Teachers) member (sent 8-9-04)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Richard Thomas applauds Dennis: The future of STRS will be determined one way or another by the presence or absence of representatives like you

The email below was received today re: Dennis's first six months. The author, Rich Thomas, is the Director of Business Operations at the Tri-County Educational Service Center which serves students in the Ashland, Wayne, and Holmes Counties. -- John Curry
From: Richard Thomas, Monday, April 03, 2006
Subject: Re: Dennis Leone's first six months

Dennis deserves our strongest support! It is so good to hear that a member of the STRS board is wise enough to recognize the economic consequences of such liberal practices which have been taking place far too long at our central management office in Columbus, where the assumption is that all of these perks are necessary to successfully recruit personnel who can deliver the services of STRS.
While the hiring of good employees in any business is important, STRS, like schools, will never have the resources to fish with large sums of money to catch those who "appear" to be the brightest, best skilled and most experienced for the job. Weren't we doing this five-ten years ago when disaster struck and we found that the performance of many of these people was substandard?
I'm not opposed to recruiting the very best, but I truly believe there is a good supply of people who are capable of being trained to get the job done in nearly every position we have at STRS without the lure of big bonuses or perks. It is also encouraging to see that we have someone who has the courage to speak their mind and vote their conscience, knowing they will likely find themselves in the minority, at least until such time as we are able to elect others with similar strengths.
Keep up the good work Dennis! The future of STRS will be determined one way or another by the presence or absence of representatives like you.
Respectfully shared,
Rich Thomas

Betsy Cook's letter in the Marietta Times: Elect Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick

Marietta Times
April 1, 2006
Educators of Washington County, it is STRS Board member election time again. Early April, you will receive your ballot to elect two active members to the State Teachers Retirement System Board. I encourage you to read about the five candidates running for the two positions and hope you will consider this article as just one piece of reading.
I recommend Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick for the two active teacher positions. After a review of this year's activities at STRS, I will share information about these two gentlemen and why I feel they are the best candidates.
Each active and retired teacher that voted in the last two STRS elections can feel proud because you were an integral part of “democracy in action”. After learning about the abuse and misuse of your retirement funds by the STRS Board, you voted the old Board members out by electing new Board members. With the help of Senate Bill 133 passed by the Ohio Legislature and your votes for change, the eleven-member Board has eight new faces! As I attend the Board meetings, I notice that these new members are not “rubber stamps” but thinking, questioning and concerned participants.
We, the members of STRS, have sent the message that we expect Board members to fulfill their duty “to act solely on the behalf of STRS membership”, that we are paying attention and will remove Board members not carrying out their elected duties responsibly. The new Board members have heard us and are now listening to us, the members.
There is still much work to be done. The budget has been reduced but still has waste. Salaries, bonuses and perks for employees need to be further studied and made reasonable. The childcare center has not yet become self-sustaining. A pet peeve of mine is the extravagant building that is a drain on the budget and has much wasted and unused space. This will take some creative problem solving.
Our investors are making great gains for the pension system but a vitally important issue to be resolved is affordable health care for all members and their dependents. The Board has many issues to deal with and will require the help of a strong, involved membership working in collaboration and unison.
The members of CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators -- active and retired teachers that joined Dennis Leone in exposing the previous Board and administration) realize the importance of involvement, perseverance and collaboration. CORE members continue to meet with the director of STRS and attend every Board and committee meeting.
This all-volunteer group is vigilant and works to build positive communication channels with STRS Board members, ORTA (Ohio Retired Teachers Association), AFT (American Federation of Teachers) and OEA (Ohio Education Association). As a member of STRS, CORE, and ORTA, I realize it does not matter with which group you are affiliated; we all have an equal stake in the solvency of STRS. It is vital that we not forget the past but learn from it and together build a stronger STRS for the future of all Ohio educators.
As I mentioned, 8 of the 11 Board members are new. The two active seats that are up for election in April (one current member choosing not to run, one current member running for the seat) could mean an almost complete renewal of the STRS Board since the uncovering by Dennis Leone of the massive waste and extravagant spending by the previous Board. My hope is that this will happen so we can continue the process of rebuilding the trust between STRS and we, the membership.
Earlier, I stated my recommendations of Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick.
Tom Hall is a professor of economics at Miami University and the author of books and articles on business cycles and marketing trends. Tom feels his strong investment background will help him as a Board member to find ways to hold down operating costs, stem administrative bloat and overhead and oversee investment funds.
Mark Fredrick is an active classroom English teacher in Cleveland Municipal Schools. Mark feels he is an independent thinker, a good problem solver and has an ability to connect with people.
Both pledge to strictly adhere to ORC 3307.15 “act solely in the interest of membership”, have open communication with membership, prudently oversee the STRS funds and work for the continuation of affordable health care.
Finally, CORE has endorsed Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick because we feel Tom’s knowledge of economics will be invaluable for insuring fiduciary responsibility and Mark’s people and problem solving skills will help promote communication and creative workable solutions.
More information can be found at I know that as an active teacher, your time is very limited but your retirement future may depend on a few minutes of that time. When you receive your ballot in early April, please vote. I encourage you to elect Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick to continue the rebuilding of trust, the responsible management of our funds and for our future.
Betsy Cook, retired Marietta teacher
Lowell, Ohio
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
web page counter
Vermont Teddy Bear Company