The CORE Constitution and Bylaws were ratified as presented, by unanimous vote of CORE members present at the meeting. There may be amendments later after the CORE officers are elected to determine who remains on the CORE Trustee Board (formerly called the CORE Advisory Board; with the Constitution is was found that Trustee is a more approp. title for our legal status).
A good suggestion was made that some current Trustees remain for 2 yrs. while some are replaced in the Sept. '07 election so as to have a staggered rotation of service with some experienced and some new members always serving as Trustee vs. brand new Trustees every 2 yrs.
Tom Mooney, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, was our guest speaker. Tom opened with some general thoughts on what he knew were points of interest before ques. and ans. period.
Tom Mooney: Paraphrased:
*I would never vote on what I don't have before me. I would not trust what I don't see. I may not understand the legalese but I could research it.
*OFT does not dictate what OFT Board Members do. We feel that is wrong and do not want to have any impression that Board Members are influenced by the organization. I may not like a vote and we may discuss issues but dictating votes creates situations with the wrong appearance.
*If something is in the budget outside of the norm, such as new items, the STRS Board needs to vote on them. They should not simply listen to management but should vote as a Board on whatever amount exceeds the amount determined to be the limit for spending.
*HCA: Proposed Legislation: STRS is in this situation because they relied on the market and previous HC costs were not that much. A dedicated stream of revenue was never established. HCA have spoken with all the Senate members and are currently working their way through the House. I feel encouraged by what I have seen and heard. The responses are favorable with legislators and most are willing to talk and understand the need. A few who don't want to see reality remain negative. But, mostly when figures are shown as to how the legislation affects the systems vs. what will happen with the proposed legislation, most give a favorable response. For. ex. Herschel Grimm begins to crunch numbers with them to show need and when they see the actual numbers, most end showing more openness.
Even the School Boards are changing their tenor on the issue again being shown the numbers.
We hope to have some change with the General Assembly in Nov. with more education minded legislators being elected and that can greatly influence swing votes. (IT IS CRITICAL TO ELECT EDUCATION MINDED LEGISLATORS OR THIS LEGISLATION HAS DEMINISHED HOPE).
Education issues are also privatization with $600,000,000 going to Charter Schools a year. This drains the Public Schools as does home Schooling. OFT endorses Strickland over Blackwell based on EDUCATION AND STRS ONLY! We realize you have other issues but OFT endorses based on education minded legislators. Blackwell promotes Charters and Home Schooling. He promotes cuts in taxes which hurt public education.
There is Aggressive Privatization of Education going on in Ohio. It seems Taft cut a deal for statewide vouchers and it is eating up public education. These charter schools are run by for-profit companies with no accountability to the public. Employees pay into STRS but are NOT public employees. There is a huge turnover with low salaries and conditions hurting the children's education. Blackwell supports these charter schools making huge profits.
John Curry: What can we do about the many actives who are still unaware of the crisis and what they will face.
Mooney: We need to do a better job informing them. We do tell them when we meet but they don't think about it just as we didn't back then. We need to do more to inform them.
Nancy: Issues re: HC: What do you think of single payer plans, actively promoting vision and dental self funding or actives won't have when retire, spousal rates so high?
Mooney: Need to consider single payer . We need Universal Coverage: National HC. Employers have to cover or pay into system. Corporations have ideological view: don't want government involved but HC bankrupts them. Companies are getting saddled with HC they can't afford. Costs get so high employees have to drop out. So, we should probably have single payer to cut down on all the billing, personnel, etc.
Ques: How can we promote reasonable STRS Board cooperation:
Mooney: The board is more diverse with different organizations represented. Contention is not necessarily a bad thing as it means issues are being debated and they are better decisions being made. There ARE better decisions being made. MORE dialogue is needed - even between Board meetings till find common ground. There is TOO much polarization with thinking that there is a right and a wrong. The Board needs to learn to work together better until they find common ground.
I am not a Board Member and do not know how much study and work goes into this but they need to have more dialogue. Don't take a manager's word - discuss it until it is resolved by the Board. WE all need to lobby Board Members rather than polarizing sides. This is right and this is wrong. Find common ground.
Chuck Angeletti: Questioned how to deal with entry into schools during elections, etc.
Mooney: CORE is NOT a rival organization and this rival organization was set up long ago to determine a school OFT or OEA. CORE is not a rival organization because a rival organization is defined as a bargaining organization which CORE is not. So, the only one to determine entry to schools is administration.
Mooney: Disability: I am concerned about the Disability Review. If someone has been on disability long term and it was determined, for ex., 20 yrs ago that a person was diagnosed with a disabling condition and now a Dr. decides that person no longer has that condition, humanity enters this decision. The question is : Can this person teach? They were disabled from teaching. Now, are they physically and mentally able to teach because otherwise, if disability is dropped, what are they to do? Common sense and humanity need enter these decisions. We plan on looking into this situation.
A statement was made by Ralph Lloyd regarding his belief that Blackwell was given a $300,000 grant from private school (s). He remarked on casinos being touted providing 100% for schools and it is 30%. He remarked on Blackwell's TEL position earlier this year.
Tom Mooney thanked us for inviting him and said he looks forward to working with us on a possible unified candidate for the STRS Board seat vacated this week when Mike Billirakis resigned. Mike will retire next year as well. John Lazares wants to express thanks to Mike for his work on HC.
Mooney and we spoke of offering candidates for consideration of joint endorsement hoping OEA and CEA would find reason to work with us in this as well. Mooney does not feel ANY organization should have a majority on the board and that various groups invite more dialogue and solutions favorable to membership.
Comments were very favorable re: Mooney as an approachable and intelligent savvy leader willing to listen and work with CORE. I think all were pleased with his exchange and impressed with his direct and open manner. His views were much appreciated. (Based on comments I heard).
Thank you, Tom! We look forward to working with you.
We adjourned to the 6th flr for the STRS Board Meeting and Public Speak:
There was an animated debate regarding voting without a contract and particularly the Fergusen deal regarding use of Head Hunters who were paid $315,000 to find 4 Real Estate Staff:
Leone: Could we have a single page summary of a contract if we cannot have the entire contract before us before we vote? My motion was defeated 8-2. We needed to have a single page to see what staff had done thus far..
Jeff Chapman: Agreed the motion needed to be put back on table.
Lazares: The Board voted for $65,000,000 for computer project and we saw nothing on it. So, I didn't vote on it. I will not vote on another thing with nothing in front of me! (Applause).
Ramser: We had proposal..............
Lazares: No, Conni, we didn't.
Leone: We had no copy of the contract and this has got to stop!
Mary Ann Flannagan: We know John L. and Dennis are concerned -- can they look at the contracts individually before voting?
Lazares: Mary Ann, YOU should look at them too! (Applause).
Mary Ann: Maybe we need an ad hoc committee for this.
Leone: We had a committee and it decided NOT to bring this back to the Board. Ramser asked if we were negotiating in bad faith if don't do what Damon agreed to.
Ramser: Need to frame items for the Board to know which are acceptable and which not.
Leone: It's simple! If the Board is to vote on a contract, we need to see the document! We're not talking electricity, etc.
Damon: Well, electricity is contracted. (Attendees groan knowing this is not what Leone means). Damon continues: We need clarity on which items need approval and which not.
Lazares: We've been muzzled since being on the Board, so thanks for letting us talk so the membership can hear us, Madam Chair ( Ramser). NO VOTE IF NO DOCUMENT (Applause). I think the Board knows the difference between $65,000,000 and cheerleader socks items! This is insulting. We've been asking this for 2 yrs!
Leone: The Board approved the Headhunters. Will the Board see the contract to know what they approved? We know this Board approved another contract with items in it they did not know were in it.
Damon: This was not the kind of contract the Board needed to approve.
Leone: You could have let us know what was occurring with a summary page. I am concerned about there being a percent of potential bonuses of the 4 being hired being given the Headhunters. Is this correct?
Damon: The HR (Human Resources) Dept. spent 3-4 months on a search and concluded they didn't have access to the level of staff we needed as they weren't looking for jobs. Firms charge 35% for this type of service. We were charged 30% for the first 3 and 25% for the 4th employee. For one year, if we need to hire others, there is no fee.
Lazares: Again, I will not vote on anything with no document in front of me. It is not responsible for us to do this and not why I was elected and sent here.
Leone: We have engaged a firm and Jeff Chapman, John Lazares and I had no clue they were even talked to. 11-0 support was given to be competitive for additional staff we were told we needed. Of the 4 people hired, 1 was a replacement, so how was that original staff member hired?
(Was a headhunter used?)
Damon: The Real Estate Staff was reduced by 16. We expected to be able to find someone. Real estate declined because we were out of the market and needed to find staff ASAP with the highest potential to get what we need from them.
Damon started to say something about staff working hard to keep the Board informed and since this issue has been on the table for months, Lazares said to Damon that he was insulting them. (Plenty of time for informing the Board by Damon, in other words, I took it). Damon started again and John L. stood up and said he could not take being insulted (and I know he cannot stomach untruths which I believe this to be as Damon could easily have informed the Board of all actions on this. John did leave the room to make his point that he would not listen nor tolerate lack of complete and factual honesty: I did speak with him later on this). [Did he go home? He took everything with him. KBB]
Ramser: Can we block time for discussion of what is acceptable and what is not, regarding needing a vote to clarify limits?
Damon: proposed giving each Board Member a survey to complete to ensure all could provide detailed input.
Leone: We had a contract approoberved without the document and no one on this board knows what is in it! What's in the Ferguson contract? What are the conditions?
Damon: I can give you copies. (NOW!)
Puckett: In October, if we can decide what contracts come to the Board, it would be helpful.
Ramser: To Leone: You sent me 2 different proposals. Maybe you could rewrite to be clear and the Board could submit items to consider.
Leone: The only difference between the proposals was the last said summary vs. complete contract.
Surveys will be given the Board Members for discussion in October.
1. Paul Boyer: Speaking for himself. Thanked the Board for 2006 HC costs containments and rebates going to HCSF. We elected Lazares and Leone and they have been stymied on every major motion. Any member of any state board has a fiduciary responsibility to its membership. Can you say you have done that when you vote without documents in front of you to know what you are voting on? The ORC:3307.15: sleep with it, eat it, memorize it! It is your basic responsibility to oversee OUR money! Not yours to spend as you wish as Dyer said.
Today , I have witnessed the worse incompetence of leadership of the STRS Board over any board I have ever seen on any board of all the many boards I have experienced. I am scared for this Board under this leadership! The leadership must change!
2. Bob Buerkle: Presented a letter he wrote 3 yrs ago to Deb Scott. All the items he suggested then have now occurred-except one: Make no drastic change for one year to give the market a chance to recover. We know drastic changes did occur.
Bob's 2003 Suggestions: -Seek legislation for increased contributions: HCA are now doing this. -allow equity investments time to return to higher levels (returns have been excellent) -create pools of HC participants for greater cost savings (2 plans now exist: Basic and Plus) -raise actuarial assumption to 8% (this was done).
Bob will speak to equity and inequity next month.
3. Lloyd Knudsen: concerned that STRS Board Members resigned due to inability to deal with Leone's intrusiveness and micromanaging. Dennis, What were you thinking? In reality, Dennis understands that sometimes a no is needed! No vote with no contract in front of you. This is not micromanaging to know details of contracts to be voted upon. No, to paying legal fees for staff appearing in court to testify! No, to $315,000 for headhunters. STRS Board: What were you thinking?
I come and hear everything is fine. The feel good approach. When the market fell and HC soared, there were no layoffs at STRS, no slashing. STRS took the approach: 'Business as usual." Damon said it was only a paper loss. (Boy, wish I had known I am really not spending 800% more for HC).
I charge the STRS Board to be passionate, intrusive , argumentative and I am concerned the newer Board members are so ready to join the 'rubber stamp club'. If you will not fight for us-resign so we can get someone who will!
4. Jim Reed left his speech but had to leave as Public Speak started late and Jim had to get back to his job.
5. Ralph Lloyd: Seen a lot of meetings. All expenses need to be approved beyond the basic budget items. No STRS Staff reimbursed for legal fees for testifying. No HC for rehires.
Lazares: debated the 120 days for subs to be counted as full year as that is what they were told and then find it doesn't count always. Needs changed!
Lazares wrote her a letter a week or so ago regarding the reimbursement of legal fees for STRS staff who testified in Board Members cases.
He had already told her she would not get the votes of the 100,000 retirees and family and friends. He showed her the No Petro/NO Montgomery buttons which didn't sit well months back.
The State Auditor Office asked the STRS Board to waive its executive privilege as a result of Lazares' letter on this issue. The STRS Board did waive its privilege and the State Auditor will be questioning them in legal fees paid to the Staff.