Saturday, December 30, 2006

CORE member to Damon: You really need to read and respond

From a CORE member, December 30, 2006
Subject: Fw: Please, Tell Us: What Options Do Retirees Have?
You really need to read and respond to these folks. They are hurting!!! I realize that this is not all the fault of STRS, the former director, or current staff, but this cannot continue. As executive director, the buck stops at your desk.
[My wife] and I will enjoy ourselves in Florida, file our LONG RETURN for a tax refund, thanks to the high medical expenses and premiums, and live a comfortable lifestyle for the next 3 months. (All on one income due to a wife that could not work, but did not qualify for disability social security because we were not smart enough to appeal with a lawyer). Unfortunately, some of the other retirees will continue to split pills, share a TV dinner for their evening meal, and read newspapers from their neighbors. In the paper, they will continue to read about the double dipping, 88% retirement benefits of current retirees, and the national health crisis.
The indifference of the STRS Staff Members and Board Members has caused the hostile feelings. I do not expect you to respond to this message, but I would hope that YOU would be more sensitive to the retirees and to have a serious discussion with your staff regarding retiree relations.
I sincerely wish you a Happy New Year and good health in 2007.
(Name of CORE member/author withheld by request... although Damon's copy does include name of author) Sent with all previous communications attached to provide sufficient information to address the problems [posted below, with same Subject line as above].

Molly to Duane: No one (at STRS management level) loses any sleep over our problems

Molly Janczyk to Duane Tron, December 30, 2006
Subject: Re: Please, Tell Us: What Options Do Retirees Have?
I assure you, no one has any trouble sleeping at night or feeling they deserve the large salaries. When I asked them face to face at a Damon/CORE meeting if they were giving their bonuses to needy retirees, they all said no. If any ask: WHY SHOULD THEY? They didn't plan long term and we suffer as a result. Sure, the market and the soaring HC costs were huge. But, had we long ago been guaranteed HC, we would not be in this untenable life-altering catastrophic situation. Sure, they feel sorry for us. Just not enough to contribute. One of their bonuses each would sure go a long way toward many retirees meeting their year's outlay allowing them to seek treatments and drugs they need. They said they had their charities. I said, WE ARE YOUR CHARITY! No response.
Heck, one $65 dinner would help a needy retiree. Excuse: not set up to do that. A system who writes their own bylaws could correct that, I would think.
From Duane Tron, December 30, 2006
Subject: Re: Please, Tell Us: What Options Do Retirees Have?
I received my statement from STRS today and my monthly income dropped over $150.00 due to the increases they imposed on our health insurance. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Then I read about dozens upon dozens of top administrators who are making six figure salaries retiring with 88% of their three best years and then being rehired for the same pay. Many of these wonderful and caring people have increased their annual income to over $200,000.00 while we are struggling to stay afloat due to ongoing increases in the cost of our health insurance premiums. STRS has created two classes of retirees. The "haves" and the "have nots!" Guess which group we have been relegated to? We no longer have a fair and equitable retirement system now do we??! We retired and got screwed and they retire, rehire, and get rewarded!
Wow! If I were Damon Asbury I would have trouble sleeping at night! I guess this is what makes us very different in how we think and act in our individual lives. On the other hand I have found that people like Asbury don't have any consciences, and they lack feelings for others, and they can't or don't really feel or appreciate our pain! They talk the talk but since they don't have to walk the walk they have no idea, and probably don't really care, what happens to the rest of us.
My take for what it's worth! Happy New Year!
Duane Tron

RH Jones: Educators getting the shaft from some of the very ones they elected

RH Jones to John Curry, December 30, 2006
Subject: Re: Public Educators-Taft did it to us again!
Not only Taft did it to us, some of the Democrats we worked hard to get elected voted for that HB! We had high hopes for change; and, then, early on public school teachers ( both active & retired) get the "shaft" from them. It makes one wonder if in today's times, will there ever be politicians of the caliber and integrity of our founding fathers?
RHJones, CORE Lifer
Article published December 30, 2006 (View article here)
Taft signs bill expanding use of school vouchers

COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft yesterday signed into law a bill greatly expanding the number of parents eligible to apply for taxpayer-funded vouchers to send their children to the public, private, and religious schools of their choice.

The bill also:

• Includes provisions designed to increase oversight on quasipublic charter schools.

• Expands the authority of the Ohio Department of Education to demand criminal background checks every five years on teachers it licenses.

• Requires all schools, public and private, to report suspected misconduct by teachers to state licensing officials.

The number of vouchers, or scholarships, available in the next school year will remain unchanged at 14,000, but the number of academically struggling schools where students could apply would be increased from 99 to 212. Three-quarters of the grants went unused this year.

Among the 212 schools are 19 Toledo Public Schools buildings, 2 in Sandusky, and 5 in Lima. The schools must have been classified as being in academic emergency or watch in two of the last three years.

If approved, low-to-moderate-income parents could receive vouchers of $4,250 for children in grades up to eight and $5,900 for high schoolers toward tuition at another school.

Friday, December 29, 2006

An editorial from Molly that speaks volumes: What options are left for retirees?

From Molly Janczyk, December 29, 2006
Subject: Please, Tell Us: What Options Do Retirees Have?
What more can we do?
We served your children asking only for modest but secure retirements with health care. We were discouraged from purchasing other medical plans by STRS literature saying it would erode our pensions while being told we had excellent health care which would never be a problem.
Yet, many did know health care was becoming prohibitive while not working to secure a stream of revenue for a health care fund relying on the market instead. After the fall of the market, we were told it was a 'perfect storm' of a market downturn and soaring of health care costs creating a crisis.
Why then, did Joe Endry speak in the early 90's saying if health care costs weren't addressed then, we wouldn't have health care? Why then, did Herb Dyer say it wasn't necessary to pursue health care legislation instead stating he wanted out of the health care business?
What blame do retirees have in any of this? We went to consultations and planned accordingly and no one told us that bad news was fast approaching. So, we made irrevocable decisions and followed our counselors' advice. Sure, we had saved what we could in annuities but educators and especially educators with families can only save so much. We did everything we were supposed to do. We retired. And then, the sky came down. Virtually overnight, we tried to absorb 400% up to 800% increases in health care costs for families.
In 1999, my spouse was approx. $33 per month. In 2007, he is $581. I was -0- in '99 and am now $163 (not bad if that was all I paid). $744 per month in just premiums for both of us vs. $33 for both of us in 1999.
That alone is over a 400% increase in premiums each month.
But, there are other changes taking away benefits. Not medical actual benefits but money benefits as we went from 100% coverage after low deductibles to 80% coverage (we now pay 20% of medical costs out of pocket up to $1500 each person) and our deductibles are now $500 each person.
RX's have gone from $5 and $10 to:
$25, $75, $125 each for a 90 supply. The average household of 2 persons has 20 Rx's.
20 Rx's times the lowest rate of $5 = $100 vs. today's 20 Rx's x $25 = $500 and these figures are for generics only. Much more is spent if we can use only brand names or need a Rx our Dr. orders but STRS feels is too pricey or decides it is not on their formulary.
Well, as I heard Hazel Sidaway asked: "Why are they complaining about? We gave them a 3% COLA! Yes, you did! SIMPLE COLA NEVER TO INCREASE BUT ALWAYS REMAINS STAGNANT BASED ON OUR FIRST YEAR OF RETIREMENT!
Mine is approx. $70 more per month each year. $70 x's 7 yrs. = $490 more each month in 2007 vs. 1999. Doesn't even cover our RX's increase as we do have some meds that need to be name brand or do not yet have generic.
So every year, retirees lose more than they gain. That average of $70 doesn't ever cover the increased costs and so never even makes it to inflation which translates to more loss to retirees.
We, who can, went back to work, which was Joe Endry's solution. Too bad for those who could not work. Of course had anyone bothered to explain the real situation to us, many of us would not have retired.
We have used savings, some have sold homes and moved in with children. Now, Medicare reimbursements are cut for those 65 and older as well. Every year, we work with less money and then the next year comes, and we realize less yet again. Retirees are on the decreasing benefits plan never realizing any gain and only continually losing more money each year.
Can anyone tell us, what options do retirees have? Retirees have been robbed of their retirements and we will never recoup our losses. Our hope is for actives. We wish this on no one and know how important it is that young and highly qualified educators stay in Ohio. But, why would they with no promise of health care in retirement (we have learned there is no retirement without health care) and Ohio education not properly funded.
Write your legislators asking their positions on the HCA legislation and stressing the importance to our state to attract educators and keep them. This is the only chance young educators have of securing health care for their retirements and no educator can ever save enough for their health care. A few dollars now out of actives' checks would have been such a welcome option to us had we been given that chance to secure affordable health care for the future of all educators. The average amount is approx. $50 per check now if legislation passes for health care in retirement. Compare that with trying to save for health care in retirement at an average cost of $240,000+ each for just health care in retirement.
Some school districts and legislators like to point generically to numbers alone stating that STRS is a billion dollar system and simply needs to manage properly. In spite of all the bad press and misspending, none of that would have come close to paying for health care for even one month. Approx. $270,000,000 was misspent as I recall, and STRS spends up to $1.5 million per day on our health care being self insured. We always knew this. It was just wrong and we were outraged they helped themselves to our earnings! We felt a fund for needy retirees or some other option with extra money, our money, was in order vs. Board Members treating themselves. Mostly, we felt time would have been better spent planning long term for a stream of revenue for health care such as is going on now with this legislation.
School districts are in trouble and can use some realigning of funding themselves and trimming of top level positions. The answer is fighting to get education properly funded so funds can be set aside for legislation and employer contributions. Stop spinning wheels on failed programs and hefty salaries and perks and redirect for educators. We can all point fingers.
Employees recently experienced a 0.7% increase in contributions -- the first increase in many years. Retirees have borne the brunt with the increases described above to save the system. It is time to share the burden more equitably with those who have the capacity to make much more and it is for their futures. Our burden will not be lessened but actives' futures will be much more secure with health care in retirements. It is the closest possible solution to guaranteeing health care for generations to come.
Legislators, School Boards: What are retirees to do to survive? Why are young educators to choose education without secure retirements with health care when other occupations call them with better futures?
Educators are not to blame for this crisis. Please stop punishing us. Retirees will start using the ER more being unable to pay for treatments and meds. The state will be more burdened. Someone has to pay. Retirees have run out of options.

Jim Kimmel: Teachers perceived as second class citizens

Jim Kimmel to Molly Janczyk, December 29, 2006
Subject: Re: Less for retired teachers in 2007!
I experienced, even at church, that those in the business community often feel that teachers got "too good" a deal in retirement. We are seen (especially male teachers) as second class citizens and it is not a "real" job (for a man). But then I pointed out that they should come and sub at one of the local schools for a month or so to see what skill sets are important and confront unruly teens. They opted out and went away mumbling. We have since quit that church for that and other reasons.
The idea in America today is that you always need to have SOMEONE who is lower on the food chain than you are -- at least in your own mind. I told my wife when I first retired in 1994 and learned that the fund was at that time around 55-60 billion that I hoped that nobody in the business or investment world would see all that money and try to pry off a big chunk. I am not usually prophetic but I was for that brief moment. Now they have 75 billion and they reduce our Medicare reimbursement by 9 or 10 dollars a month! You can't convince me that was even necessary! Especially when they get several million into the HC fund for keeping a pharmacy plan. I just hope that Strickland puts in some better people in the appointive seats at STRS!
I saw somewhere that someone at STRS said that even with the 5% increase there would be no health care in 15 years (2021). If that isn't an agenda first stated by Dyer I don't know what is. If that is their plan, of course it will turn out that way. If they wanted to do something, they could. It all started when Dyer said that it was not necessary for a dedicated revenue stream for health care in the mid 1990's. Republican Conservatives do not like anything where the government helps the average person. STRS is not a government entity when it is convenient to say so and it is when they find it advantageous to say it is. We need to get new leadership at STRS from top down and to have them set a new agenda which puts US FIRST!! If in 15 years we do not have any health care for retirees will out pensions jump (gross) higher? They should because there would be no other place for the money to go.....or would there? Hmmmm. So many questions, yet so few honest STRS people to answer them truthfully!! And if there is no health care after 2021, would that extra 5% remain?
Jim Kimmel

Gouging another STRS retiree?

Lenora Wood to RH Jones, December 29, 2006
Subject: RE: Fw: "The retirees of STRS are leading the pack!"
From John Bos, November 03, 2006
Subject: Re: drugs
Meijer is already selling the same prescriptions as Walmart for FREE!
Caremark is NOT an honest company. We all know that. It will be very interesting to see if STRS again selects a company that is not 100% transparent.
This is another example where the STRS Board (based on my information) gave authorization for Dr. Asbury to select the best provider with very little or no information what was in the contract. According to information on the internet, Caremark has one of the lowest ethics of any company that operates in the USA. Unfortunately, the STRS staff has not recognized the problem. Perhaps they would be more receptive if they would use Caremark and learn about the problems with their daily personal experiences.
We, the retirees of STRS are being taken to the barnyard with high co-payment, drug pricing, and poor service.
The prescription crisis is a national issue, but the retirees of STRS are leading the pack!!!!
My mind will never change on Caremark. We can only hope that CVS brings a higher ethical standard to the table for the next 12 months. I do not believe that this will happen in a brief period of time.
John Bos
Paul Boyer to Damon Asbury, November 03, 2006
Subject: drugs
Dear Damon:
With the news of the merger or buyout, however it is classed, we expect STRS to immediately begin negotiations to get our drug prices lowered so that Caremark does not make all of the profit but passes some of it on to us. There is a revolution going on in the drug industry, as you well know, and we will not stand paying these high co-pays that have been determined for next year.
Strict negotiations should have some exciting results for STRS. Don't back down with them; show them you mean business. There is no reason now why our prices should go up when the drug companies are offering lower prices directly to consumers.
$125 co-pay for Tier 3 is absolutely out of line as is the new copay for Tier 2.

RH Jones: Less for retired teachers in 2007!

From RH Jones, December 29, 2006
Less for retired teachers in 2007!
To all,
Even those of us who are old enough for Medicare will suffer less income next year due to the STRS increasing our co-pays and the federal government cutting back on our Medicare. Personally, it will cost me a loss of over $50 per month. And we do not have paid eye or dental care; nor a compounded COLA to keep up with inflation..
As with any machine, the body deteriorates with age. Like me, most teachers used very little sick leave during their careers. Some even used none! The body, eyes and teeth were young then. Now, however, in old age at a time when we need medical care, we are being told: "Be careful what you ask for." The school boards will not stand for any increases. Recently, as exposed in the news media, to try to educate "on the cheap," some boards are reported to have paid treasurers high salaries to figure out how to exploit our STRS for their gain. Either in the board room or the court room, this exploitation of the retirement system has got to be stopped. Of course the board room is preferred. However, let it be known that retirees are hurting; and, as we have in the past, we can not afford to supplement school districts' income now, or in the future -- this retired teacher would be content to not ask for anything, had not the STRS been so financially exploited over the past several years. The funds would have been there for us. Now it is makeup time; and, being the right thing to do, the employer/employee shared increase of 5% must be approved.
It is hard for me to believe that our American civilization has gotten so savage that the teachers of American children would lack proper financial or medical support in their old age. If America is to be remain the richest nation in the world, Americans should not savage their retired teachers into poverty. Neither should Ohioans.
RHJones, a retired teacher of the STRS of Ohio & Life member of all teacher unions

New York Times: Estimates for Pensions to Tighten

Click image to enlarge
New York Times, December 29, 2006
By Mary Williams Walsh
The states of New York, New Hampshire, Tennessee and about a dozen other governments may no longer be able to say their pension funds are fully funded no matter how the markets perform.
Accounting rule makers have proposed an amendment that would force these governments to provide a more realistic estimate of how much they owe retirees over time. They would also have to compare this with the assets they have set aside, showing whether they have enough to make good on their promises.
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board, an independent body that sets the rules for state and local governments, is also proposing that an outside auditor be required to vet this new financial snapshot. That is not now required of the pension funds that would be affected by the rule change, believed to make up about 8 percent of the nation’s public pension funds.
That’s just the first step,” said Timothy S. Lucas, a former research director for the accounting board’s sister organization, the Financial Accounting Standards Board. He oversaw that body’s slow and tortured efforts years ago to issue pension accounting rules for corporations.
“Small changes are important,” said Mr. Lucas, who now has his own consulting firm in Connecticut. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
It is not yet clear whether the rule change will give rise to any big new pension shortfalls in New York or elsewhere. The new rule is expected to take effect near the end of 2007, and the market conditions prevailing then will determine whether any shortfalls — or surpluses — appear.
Officials representing the New York State pension funds say they stand behind the existing financial report. But, they added, if there were changes, the effects would not be damaging.
The rule change would also force the incoming governor, Eliot Spitzer, to modify his previous assertion that the state pension fund “is fully funded,” and that the numbers his predecessors issued were accurate.
The method Albany has been using “doesn’t provide adequate information for disclosure purposes,” said David R. Bean, director of research and technical activities for the government accounting board, known as GASB and pronounced “gaz-b.”
New York City, meanwhile, will not be directly affected by the proposed rule change, because it does not use the same method of tracking its pension fund as New York State and the others in the affected group. But New York City’s unique methodology also greatly distorts its pension fund’s appearance, experts agree.
The city’s chief actuary, Robert C. North, suggested that the city might voluntarily provide the same type of numbers the accounting board will be requiring the state to report. He declined to be specific, saying he had not had a chance to study the accounting proposal yet, or discuss it with the city’s pension trustees.
Perhaps more important than the proposed rule change, GASB said it was beginning to research other possible changes in pension accounting, long one of the most controversial areas of financial reporting.
The board is responding to mounting concern about whether the benefits being promised to retired public workers are being accurately measured. Because employee compensation is usually a big part of government budgets, miscalculating benefits can cause significant problems.
Officials could award benefits that are unaffordably rich, for instance, or unions could sign off on benefits plans that are not really secure. Local residents may not understand why taxes are going up. Credit analysts might rate municipal bonds inaccurately.
Similar problems have already come to light with the pension accounting rules for the private sector — the ones Mr. Lucas helped to draft. Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission told the rule makers to make improvements.
The S.E.C. has not delved into accounting rules for the public sector, but other authorities are venturing in. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan research arm of Congress, has been studying the rules for public pensions and retiree health plans at the request of the Senate Finance Committee. The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board issued a proposal in October for making public pension disclosures more comparable from one country to another.
Closer to home, the New York State Insurance Department has been reviewing the public pension funds in the state, over which it has regulatory authority.
The governmental accounting board has no legal authority to enforce the rules it issues, and must therefore rely on each pension fund’s outside auditor to provide monitoring and enforcement. But the outside auditor’s ability to be a whistle-blower is severely limited by client confidentiality rules.
The audit industry itself got its own oversight body, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, after the scandals at Enron, WorldCom and other companies in 2002. But this new watchdog has no jurisdiction over the auditors working for governments.
Jack R. Buchmiller, a risk management specialist with the New York State Insurance Department, said he had taken a professional and personal interest in the controversy over pension measurements — particularly the question of whether the sector is habitually underestimating its obligations to retirees through the use of faulty actuarial methods and assumptions.
Public pension plans usually make assumptions about their investment income over the long term, then use these assumptions to measure the value, in today’s dollars, of the benefits they must pay in the future. Many economists consider this practice incorrect, and corporate pension plans are not permitted to use it.
“It’s circular logic,” Mr. Buchmiller said.
Pension funds in the private sector are required instead to measure their obligations using a conservative bond rate. The thinking is that an interest rate associated with a safe bond is appropriate because the pensions themselves are supposed to be safe.
Mr. Buchmiller, who worked on Wall Street before going to work for the state, has been completing a study of what the nation’s public pension funds would look like if they were required to calculate their obligations in a way closer to what corporate plans must do — though he noted that economists criticize corporate pension measurements, too. A draft of his paper, which he hopes to publish in a financial journal, showed that when potentially misleading investment assumptions were replaced with conservative bond rates, tens of billions of dollars worth of unfunded obligations appeared.
Mr. Buchmiller stressed that the views expressed in his paper were his own, and his calculations should not be taken as a sign of any coming regulatory changes.
For now, the only imminent change is the one being proposed by GASB for the New York State pension fund and others like it. The board will be receiving public comments on the proposal until the end of February.
The rule change takes aim at a type of pension calculation that makes public pension funds look fully funded at all times. Normally, values float up and down in response to changes in the financial markets.
Actuaries use the calculation at issue as a tool for tracking pension costs over time and helping local governments decide how much money to put into their pension funds each year. Experts say the calculation — called the aggregate cost method — is a good one for that purpose because it tends to force governments to put money behind their pension promises more quickly.
The accounting board is not disputing that. But it said that when the numbers generated by the aggregate cost method were picked up by accountants and included in annual reports, they often ended up being misinterpreted.
If New York City were to voluntarily follow the proposed new method, it could reduce the friction that became apparent last summer, after a report in The New York Times cited accounting experts who said the city’s pension disclosures were not compliant with the rules.
New York City maintains that there is nothing wrong with its pension accounting.
When asked about the accounting proposal, Mr. North, the city’s chief actuary, said he would reserve comment until he had had a chance to study it.
“The New York City Retirement Systems, and the City of New York,” he said, “have always followed and will continue to follow the GASB rules and provide whatever information GASB requires, and more.”
That suggested the way to a truce, in which New York City could start disclosing the type of numbers the accounting board will be making the state provide — while continuing to disclose the type of numbers it already publishes.
Because of his own concerns about the confusion that actuarial methods can cause, Mr. North has already been offering additional pension values as a supplement for the last few years. He is believed to be the only actuary for any public pension fund to report the financial condition of its fund on a market basis — the sort of calculation Mr. Buchmiller has been trying to devise.
New York City’s most recent supplementary numbers showed a $49 billion shortfall. Mr. North’s calculations for the fiscal year that ended last June are scheduled to appear in January.

Dennis & Ryan re: rehires

From Dennis Leone, December 28, 2006
Subject: Re: Ryan re. the "shrinking pool" of administrators
Ryan Holderman to John Curry, December 28, 2006
Subject: Re: A "shrinking pool" of qualified people who can run school districts or a desire for local districts to save $$ by letting STRS pay the hc insurance tab?
Dear John:
The pool will continue to shrink if younger educators are not given the opportunity to move up to administrative positions! The same is true of classroom teachers who stay on for 35 -39 years holding positions that formerly went to new recruits after 30 years.

Readers' comments on AP story on rehiring retirees (Canton Repository, 12/27/06)

Brenda Grass - 5:46 AM on December 27, 2006
This trend is not only for the teachers, many state employees are retiring and returning back after six months to their old jobs. They collect their retirement and they work their old job. This is double dipping. No one else can get hired. Good old boy network still alive . This is not fair hiring practice.

Mary Beth Habunek - 7:44 AM on December 27, 2006
So, please tell me how exactly this is saving money in the various school districts who rehire such as this? Then they have the nerve to ask for more tax money? LOL.

Mark Adams - 8:17 AM on December 27, 2006
Retiring and rehiring goes on everywhere, not just government employees. B&W, Detroit Diesel, just two local entities, do the very same thing. Although I am completely against the practice, it's not right to single one entity out. I feel that the practice does not give a new person a chance or current employees a chance at a promotion. I do think that new teachers have it the worse though, good luck in finding a job in this state.

Margaret Dowdell - 3:40 PM on December 27, 2006
This is why new teachers can not find a job in Ohio.

Sheri Dornhecker - 3:58 PM on December 27, 2006
Don't any of you people ever read the facts before you make stupid comments? I am a retired teacher who has worked as a teacher after retirement and again pay the same 24.5% of my salary back into STRS. That creates new monies for those teachers who have not yet retired. Do Fortune 500 companies care that you have additional income when they hire CEO's? Since public schools are anxious to get rid of teachers when they are eligible for retirement at age 51, there is a real lapse of time and money for relatively young persons out of a job. If, like me, you still have children dependent upon your income, it is not possible to just go away to the beach for the rest of my life. I worked most of my life for less than $40,000 per year. My retirement now leaves me with less than $30,000. As an educator, I feel that my children deserve the possibility of higher education. Society demands that teachers accept the blame for illiteracy, poor behavior, and a host of other problems of today's youth. I cannot stand the whining public who belittles teachers and resents every penny they make. Give me $1.00 per hour per child as childcare income (I averaged 150-180 high school students per day}. There is no child care facility anywhere that would provide what a teacher provides for 7.00 per day per child.

David Culp - 4:44 PM on December 27, 2006
This is no more double dipping than any retiree going out and finding a job after being on a pension. Benefits from Public retirement funds are not tax dollars. They are returns on investments legitimately earned from public employees' earnings and employer benefit contributions paid into those pension funds. In short, it is the retiree's money 100% and no one else's business. That they return to work at the same job they once had 6 months ago is also no one else's business. They are earning their pay check just like you and me.

Don Cirelli - 9:19 PM on December 27, 2006
I actually read a letter once from a jealous soul who didn't like the so-called "double dipping". This guy actually demanded that any public employee who stays on after retirement age FORFEIT THEIR RETIREMENT and start over!!! What a nitwit! Would YOU forfeit your retirement after working 30 years for it? I don't think so!!! People receive their salary plus their retirement pay after 30 years because it was EARNED, just like your paycheck is earned. They aren't getting anything extra that they don't deserve. "Double dipping" isn't a valid term in this case, but "jealousy" definitely is.

Donna Whelan - 10:09 AM on December 28, 2006
My question is: WHY is the pool of qualified people who can run school districts shrinking? Who will run school districts once these retired/rehires finally stay retired? Is there going to be a huge gap between 'experienced' teachers and 'new' teachers with no 'in-betweens' [those progressing through the ranks toward experienced/qualified]? While retiring/rehiring happens often, it usually is a money saving practice. Retire from a company, rehire as an independent contractor or part-time. The company saves benefit monies yet has their qualified, experienced, personnel back in place. Retired military often go into civil service/government jobs and retire with 2 government benefits. Back on point. I will say that 13,000 RETIRED teachers, returning to teaching seems like an extraordinarily high number. If they are rehired at their pre-retirement wages, the attrition factor in budgeting goes out the window. New teacher wages will be affected, they will find decent paying jobs with a future in the private sector. Revolving door of new teachers at entry level, revolving door of retire/rehires at the top. That's a system that will crash and burn.

Mary Spear - 11:13 AM on December 28, 2006
First of all, I wish the stats would show how many of these are teachers being rehired. In most districts around here it is ADMINISTRATORS being rehired after retiring at these huge salaries. I don't know many retired teachers who made $90,000 a year while working. And no, I can't understand how this saves a district money if TEACHERS or administrators are rehired at their salaries at the time of retirement. I also have a problem with the STRS picking up a retired administrator's healthcare costs when the retired teachers' healthcare costs have risen so much in the last few years and spouses are no longer subsidized. I think the good old boys network is indeed alive and well. I heard recently about 2 young college grads who could not get a job teaching in Ohio despite good credentials. They moved out of state to teach and then found that many Ohio districts are advertising for teachers mostly out of state. Ohio is not a state that tries to hang onto its educated young people even when there are jobs. Should a superintendent be making over $197,000 PLUS a pension? I can't believe that no one else qualified is available...and that no one could be groomed for this job. How about putting some of that money into helping a good young educator in a district get his/her credentials paid for...instead of helping a retired administrator live like a celebrity?????

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ohio AFL-CIO thanks OEA, OFT; Jim Kimmel: Where was ORTA?

From Jim Kimmel, December 28, 2006
Subject: Re: OFT & OEA given thanks for help during "lame duck" sessions
Where was ORTA during all this discussion and bipartisanism.? Did they do ANYTHING or did they once again wait to see who "won" and then jump on the bandwagon? I would like to have some reason to rejoin but so far ..nada!
Jim Kimmel
December 27, 2006
Ohio AFL-CIO Capitol Report 2006
Lame Duck Session Wraps Up
Republicans Play Scrooge to Working Families...Again
The theme is all too familiar - Republican leadership in the General Assembly wasting taxpayer money on legislation designed to leave working families behind. The "Lame Duck" legislative session finally came to a close on December 20 leaving most to wonder what rock the Republicans were under when voters overwhelmingly voted for a change from their typical divisive and arrogant practices.
Instead of respecting the voters' desire for bi-partisanship to turn Ohio around, the final throes of the 126th General Assembly were filled with backroom, late-night Republican deals that would make Scrooge blush. Front and center on the legislative hit list was organized labor and working families. We are pleased to report that organized labor came together very quickly and displayed a united front not seen for quite some time. As a result some of the attacks were weakened or stopped altogether as you will notice in the mark up of bills below.
We also want you to know that the Democratic leadership of Joyce Beatty in the House and CJ Prentiss in the Senate was steadfast and with labor 100%. Both leaders invited the Ohio AFL-CIO and various unions to speak to their delegations and as a result their members were informed and on message. Please let your Democrat legislator know that you appreciate their support. There were also a handful of Republicans that bucked their leadership and voted with us on some if not all issues.
First, the good and semi-good news:
PASSED: HB 468 - Ohio's Best Rx Amendments Labor led bipartisan bill makes the following changes to improve on the success of the program: Increases eligibility to 300% of poverty level, improves enrollment over the phone or on-line, terminates the Golden Buckeye Rx program and incorporates its members into Ohio's Best Rx. Click to read a related Toledo Blade article.
HB 187 - Civil Service The Ohio AFL-CIO and the public sector unions worked together to blunt harmful provisions of the bill and as a result all of the unions' position changed from opposed to neutral.
STOPPED: HB 699 - Amendments to Weaken/Eliminate Prevailing Wage The Ohio AFL-CIO joined the building trades in removing amendments to the Capitol Appropriations bill that would prohibit prevailing wage on school construction and eliminate project labor agreements on public works.
HB 685 This bill would have made unwarranted changes to the Executive Branch's ability to efficiently perform its rulemaking responsibilities.
Amendments to Enact School Employee Health Care Pooling and to Expand Charter Schools
Now the bad news:
PASSED: HB 690 - Minimum Wage Implementation* In our opinion the bill violates the newly passed Constitutional Amendment by exempting some employees like home healthcare and agriculture workers from receiving the new minimum wage. It also makes it more difficult for workers to recover back wages from employers who cheat them. Click to read a related Columbus Dispatch article.
HB 694 - Campaign Finance* Well, here we go again. The bill treats unions that have collective bargaining agreements with government entities at the state and local levels like business contractors and places restrictions on campaign contributions. We believe this bill also has some major legal problems. Click to read a related Plain Dealer article.
School Vouchers The legislature broadened eligibility for the state's voucher program. Vouchers will now be available to students who attend a school that has been rated Academic Emergency or Academic Watch for two of the last three years. This increases the number of eligible buildings from 99 to 236.
*The Ohio AFL-CIO will hold stakeholders meetings in January to review legal opinions and discuss options regarding HB 690 and HB 694.

The Ohio AFL-CIO would like to thank the following organizations for their tireless work at the Statehouse during "Lame Duck":
Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters
Ohio Education Association
Ohio Federation of Teachers
Ohio State Building and Construction Trades
Operating Engineers
Plumbers and Pipefitters
Special thanks also go to Mike Hunter of Hunter, Carnahan, Shoub, & Byard for his masterful legal assistance on the Minimum Wage Issue.

Maybe MM is out to lunch??

Sondra Stratton to John Curry, December 27, 2006
Subject: Re: Nothing like a timely flu shot notification!
Yes, I have to agree it was a total waste of money. I get these kind of things telling me when I need to go get certain tests for the diabetes....yet STRS/MMOH does NOT cover them completely!!!
I also received a retirement pamphlet at the same time. Now it seems to be to be an absolute WASTE to send this to me....who has already retired!!!!!! It might be helpful to rehires but why is it being sent to all of the rest of us who are NOT rehires!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Canton Repository: More teachers retired and rehired, at highest salaries

Canton Repository, December 27, 2006
More teachers retired and rehired, at highest salaries
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS More than 13,000 retired teachers were back at work in Ohio classrooms during the last school year, a number that has grown 62 percent since the state changed retirement rules in 2000.

The greatest increase has come among educators who have been rehired at jobs paying more than $90,000 a year while also collecting a retirement pension, according to an analysis by The Columbus Dispatch. By last year, their number had jumped to 331, a 1,850 percent increase over the 17 teachers at the highest salary levels who were receiving pension checks in 2000.

That was the year state lawmakers voted to allow public employees to return to jobs within two months of retiring. Under the old rules, some had to wait a year and a half.

There are more highly paid educators in the retired-and-rehired category because the pool of qualified people who can run school districts appears to be shrinking, said Scott Ebright of the Ohio School Boards Association.

Two years ago, the Solon school board allowed superintendent Joseph Regano to retire, then rehired him to a four-year contract.

Regano earns $197,950 per year in addition to a state pension equal to about 88 percent of his salary, making him the state education system's highest paid retiree, according to State Teachers Retirement System records, the Dispatch reported.

Local voters don't seem to mind, because the suburban Cleveland district is saving money, Solon school board President Margo Morrow said. Regano's $11,000 yearly health insurance premium is now picked up by the retirement fund.

However, the pension system's board voted earlier this year to require employers to provide health care to retired and rehired workers where possible, starting in 2009.


State Teachers Retirement System:

Tom Curtis on double-dipping

Tom Curtis to Ryan Holderman, December 27, 2006
Subject: Re Double-Dip By The Numbers
Hello Ryan,
FYI - Two years ago I wrote the superintendent of the township school system I retired from (Plain Local Schools). I commented on her rehire position that netted her a $5000 increase in pay.
She wrote me back defending her decision and her minor increase in pay. She said she and 65 other Stark County administrators were helping hold costs down for their schools by retiring and then rehiring due to the health care costs being shifted to the STRS. Isn't that so considerate of them? HOGWASH!
Retirees have been forced to take the brunt of the increased cost for health care. Why do rehires cost the HCSF 2 million dollars per year over what their costs are? Especially when these administrators can well afford the cost of their own health care. This is not right and should be corrected far prior to 2009.
A prior superintendent of mine is the Stark County Supt. and has been for many years now. Roughly 3-5 years ago he retired with enough years to draw 100% of his 3 best years. That netted him in the area of $120,000. He is currently being paid $155,000/year as a rehire. Pretty sweet deal isn't it? Therefore, he receives approx. $275,000 per year at this time.
That's my take on it and it is not right!
Tom Curtis

Hey, Medical Mutual, when do you guys get YOUR flu shots?

Michelle Jump to Linda Meinelt, December 27, 2006
Subject: Medical Mutual of Ohio
Dear Ms. Meinelt:
Thank you for your feedback. I will pass along your suggestions to our health care department to share with Medical Mutual.
Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.
Michelle Jump
Senior Member Service Representative
From: Linda Meinelt, December 26, 2006
To: HCcomments
Subject: Medical Mutual of Ohio
Today, Dec. 26, I received from Medical Mutual a foldout with autumn leaves (Tis the Season) "When the leaves change color and a chill is in the air, it's time to think about getting your flu shot."
This concerns me on two counts:
1) It is winter, and this would have been far more relative had I received it a month ago.
2) I am being encouraged to get a flu shot and to consider getting a pneumonia shot; thus, it seems to me these should be covered 100% under our policy and not subject to deductible and co-pay.
Linda Meinelt

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Throwing Stones at Rehires: A rehired retiree speaks out

From Sharon Faust-Dyke, December 27, 2006
Subject: Throwing Stones at Rehires
I just wanted to sound out a little on the subject of rehires and their impact on STRS. It seems that all of us rehires are not making a fortune or bleeding out the STRS health funds.
I taught for Cincinnati Public Schools until my two daughters were born, taking off a year for each one. I taught in a religious day school until the youngest was in the first grade, and then I returned to my urban district. During the years following, I developed diabetes, asthma, and a deteriorating spine disease, causing me to have surgery to fuse the bones in my spine. My doctor suggested that I retire and teach part time for the remainder of my career.
My husband, an Ohio State educator, took the "buyout from STRS" when it was offered because he believed--as we all did at that time--that he could opt into my health care as a spouse. We all know where that option went. I am now teaching three English classes out of the normal five class day. I started at the new hire step ten rather than at step 31 because I was a "new hire." I was not permitted to retire at 35 years because five of my years were purchased. We can not afford to retire because of fears concerning health care.
Since I am a .6 teacher, I get full benefits from Cincinnati Public Schools. I have never taken a cent of STRS health, dental or optical benefits, but I am put in that same category by folks looking to throw stones and me and others of my ilk.
I am well aware that there are a number of "administrators" who are "double dipping" and making lots and lots of money as well as draining STRS healthcare. I am not in that position; I am merely working to salt enough money away to pay for that most costly health care when my husband and I are in our "golden years." Yeah, right!
It really bothers me that some people out there see me as taking advantage of the system. Fortunately, I fully enjoy teaching, and I don't intend to stop until my health forces me to leave for good. I have taught for thirty eight years, and I do believe I am entitled to my earned pension.
Sharon Faust-Dyke
A CORE member and
A point six-rehire

Ryan Holderman's take on double-dip by the numbers

Ryan Holderman to John Curry, December 27, 2006
Subject: Double-dip by the numbers
Dear John:
Thanks for sending the chart "Retired But Working." [Chart shown several posts down] It's very interesting. The enormous percentages in the upper income area...$80,000 to $100,000 or more...would seem to indicate that folks in the administrative, non-classroom sector are benefiting in a very big way from this arrangement.
When you combine this practice with the possibility that they are already drawing 88% - 100% of their final average salary, having retired, I'd say they're enjoying a very comfortable semi-retirement! It stands in stark contrast to the many retirees who are struggling to exist on $30,000 or less, in some cases much less, per year.
It seems to me that these newer retirees will have very little concern or empathy for those who retired before 1999.
That's my take,

Dayton Daily News: Outgoing Ohio governor reprimanded for ethics violations

How about the indelible black mark many STRS retirees gave Mr. Taft for his line-item veto for proper funding of the IG to investigate STRS? In many retirees' will also remain indelible. Isn't it curious that he forced resignations from some of his staff members for committing the same type of ethics violations that he was convicted of and didn't step down? ..... so much for the "practice what you preach (or teach)" philosophy. John

The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday publicly reprimanded outgoing Gov. Bob Taft over ethics violations while in office, a black mark that stays on his permanent record as an attorney.

Taft, a Republican who has been an attorney since 1976, pleaded no contest in 2005 to failing to report golf outings and other gifts and was fined $4,000. He was the first Ohio governor to be charged with a crime while in office.

The reprimand, which ends the ethics case against Taft, fell between other sanctions the court could have considered, from no punishment at all to revoking the governor's law license.

Taft governor is not an active lawyer and has talked about teaching after leaving office, not practicing law.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an arm of the state Supreme Court, said in April that Taft violated Ohio's code of professional conduct for lawyers, and Taft later signed an agreement admitting to the violation.

The court's 6-0 decision constitutes the reprimand, which goes in Taft's attorney registration record. Five of the justices are Republicans and one, Alice Robie Resnick, is a Democrat. Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, without explanation, did not participate.

Messages were left with Taft's office seeking comment.

The justices agreed with a recommendation from a court board that hears complaints about alleged wrongdoing by lawyers.

In its six-page ruling, the court noted there was no evidence that Taft had purposely tried to hide the gifts and said that the governor was guilty of an oversight.

The court also said there was no evidence any of the gifts were given as bribes and referred to Taft's prior clean record as an attorney and his "long and previously unblemished career in public office."

The court also noted that Taft had already been punished by the criminal justice system.

Taft "conceded this ethical lapse and acknowledged in his public apology his personal failure to maintain the standards of integrity to which all public officials must adhere," the opinion said.

The ruling also distinguished the reprimand for Taft from harsher punishments for other attorneys who also didn't disclose required matters. In those cases, which involved suspending attorneys' law licenses, the lawyers "had deliberately withheld that which by law they were required to reveal," the court said.

The charges against Taft, who could not seek re-election this year because of term limits and will leave office Jan. 7, stemmed from the governor's failure to report 52 gifts worth nearly $6,000 that he received over four years while in office. The case spiraled off a scandal in which a Republican fundraiser was convicted of stealing from a $50 million state investment in rare coins, which contributed to the Republican Party's loss of the governor's office on Election Day.

Taft, 64, a great-grandson of President and later Chief Justice William Howard Taft, has rock-bottom approval ratings but never considered resigning, though he had forced out several staff members in the past for improperly accepting gifts.

Taft's law license has been on inactive status since 2002, meaning he is not required to take 12 hours of continuing education each year or pay the $300 biennial license fee.


On the Net:

Ohio Supreme Court:

Gov. Bob Taft:

Columbus Dispatch: More educators rehired; Dennis Leone quoted re: effect on pension system

Number collecting bigger paychecks, pensions at same time has increased
Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The number of Ohio educators who are collecting state retirement pensions while still working is up 62 percent since lawmakers loosened restrictions in 2000.

Of that group, the number making more than $90,000 a year has grown the most, exploding by 1,850 percent.

In 1999, when educators had to wait 18 months after retiring to collect pensions, only 17 were collecting pensions from the State Teachers Retirement System while simultaneously working at jobs paying more than $90,000 a year.

In 2000, lawmakers cut the wait to two months, and by last year the number of retired educators working in those highpaying jobs had leapt to 331, and more are being added to the rolls every month.

The growth of high-paid people who were retired, then rehired shows how hard it is to find qualified people to be district executives, said Scott Ebright of the Ohio School Boards Association.

"It’s keeping experienced administrators," he said. "That pool seems to be shrinking."

With an income of $197,950 and a state pension equal to about 88 percent of that, Solon school Superintendent Joseph Regano is the highest-paid Ohio educator in this status, according to retirement-fund data.

The Solon Board of Education’s decision two years ago to allow him to retire and then be rehired to a four-year contract financially benefited both him and the district, Regano said. He got to keep working fulltime and collect a pension, and the district got to hand his $11,000-a-year health-insurance premiums to the retirement system.

"I think I would be lying to you to say it’s not money-driven," said Regano, 58. "This isn’t like I’m 40 looking at the next 10 years. I’m looking at the end of my career."

Teachers in Solon are also offered a similar deal, but they must leave the district after one year back on the job, Regano said. The district uses it as a retirement incentive so that longtime employees can be replaced with lower-paid, entrylevel workers, he said.

Voters don’t seem to have a problem with the plan, because it’s saving the district money, Solon school-board President Margo Morrow said.

"I have not had anyone call me and express dissatisfaction," Morrow said.

Dennis Leone, retirement system board member, said that while it may be a win-win situation for a school district and the retiring employee, the pension system is paying the bill. It lost $2 million last year providing health insurance to retired rehirees, he said.

The system’s board voted earlier this year to make retiredrehired workers get health care if possible from their employers starting in 2009.

Next month, the board will discuss the long-term financial health of the system in light of the fact that teachers’ payments into the system are not growing as quickly as projected. The board also might discuss what a financial shock, such as a large stock-market downturn, could do to its ability to meet its obligations, Leone said.

However, he doesn’t think the fund is being too generous by allowing retirees to simultaneously work and collect pensions.

Employees contribute 10 percent of their gross earnings to the fund, while employers — mostly public school districts — contribute 14 percent. That money is mostly invested in stocks, bonds and real estate.

Educators with 30 years in the retirement system qualify for pensions worth 66 percent of the average of their three highest years’ salaries. At 35 years, pensions grow to 88.5 percent of their three highest annual salaries and can climb to 100 percent with additional years of service.








Click image to enlarge

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas to all!










Jim Kimmel and Molly Janczyk discuss health care and more

Jim Kimmel to Molly Janczyk, December 23, 2006
Subject: Re: HC: STRS Board
Well said Molly!
While it is true that the perks would not make up much for health care it does reveal the insensitive attitude that led to poor planning for health care. And that resulted in big bucks lost., not lost as in disappear but lost as in "otherwise spent". I still think that 99 million for a new building and bonuses should not have been spent. But it is more than ethics - it was a calculated ideological strategy (Republican) to deconstruct the public pension system so that 1)it would help the brokers and bankers and 2) remove public pensions as a center of influence over Corporate America. After all, a pension fund of civil servants, cops, firefighters, teachers (perish the thought), and school janitors and cooks which holds a large block of a corporation like P and G or GM or AT&T and can influence the proxy vote at stockholder meetings which would otherwise be rigged by the Board of Directors is totally unacceptable(to them). This is the strategy that Herb Dyer and Fiends ( I mean Friends) had planned from the start, at least in my opinion. It wasn't Enron (Dyer admitted only one tenth of one percent of STRS funds were in Enron when pressed as to why STRS hung on to the stock so long.) It mostly was a plan of the 1990's and the keystone, I think, was using health care as one would use a Vernier precision dial on a piece of electronic equipment to fine tune the calculated decline of STRS. This would make STRS weaker thus encouraging young teachers to go it alone in one of the other programs. The air is being let out of the balloon and retirees, the "end users," are of course feeling the draft the most... and can do the least about it. And as I understand it the broker fees are paid not by the young teacher in one of the individual stock plans but by STRS. Gee - I wonder how fast THOSE fees are rising. That could be a big bite out of the retirement funds just at a time when fewer teachers are paying in due to staff cuts from state funding issues and low Charter School salaries as well as lower raises for public school teachers. Dyer pulled the plug on the Titanic and fiddled along like Nero when he burned down Rome and blamed the Christians. Only it's us old teachers who get sick and go to doctors instead. Let's hope some Democrats in Ohio government will make a difference!
It is interesting that people used to be called "customers," which denotes some respect since they have money, the business has goods, and you bargain on an equal basis. Then a few years ago we were called "consumers" which if not precisely derogatory did bring to mind little piggies nosing up to the sow and greedily trying to take more than their share. Not exactly respect either! NOW we are "end users" which means everybody can pass on their losses and take their profits - everybody but the people who buy services. and goods. We as retirees are the end users and are treated as such with the same contempt as some businesses treat customers today all too often.Next thing will be some entrepreneur selling places at Esquimo Ice Floe Village where we can spend our last days without worries about the Gas and Electric bills!
Merry Christmas to All and to some STRS fiends :: Bah Hum Bug!!
Jim Kimmel
From Molly Janczyk, December 23, 2006
Subject: Re: HC: STRS Board
Rationalization is a powerful thing, Jim. Believe me when I tell you they sleep just fine. I asked Dyer that question. "Do you see us, Herb? Do you see our faces in the night?" He said, he did. Didn't change anything. Still wanted out of the HC business. Told me, "We all have to row, Molly." I said, "Yeah, but we hang onto timbers from the Titanic while you sail by on your yacht." We had quite a few late night email conversations. Just never saw the point just as Sidaway, Chapman (Jack), Eugene, Scott, Dyer, Mike B. never did. "That money would never have paid for HC," they all said. We knew that. It was just wrong to skim it. There's legal according to a not even semi quasi state system who writes its own bylaws and there's ethics. Was it legal? Yes. Was it ethical? OEC said No. But they knew precisely where that line was and made very sure they stayed just on that border. Legal according to their own written laws. Let us write the laws. Won't be legal. We'd change daily food allotments, paying for stuff such as fax, computers, phone lines for folks like Mike who make triple figures and can sure afford to pay for his own phone line.
WHY? It is not that much? True. So what is the fuss? Principal of the thing. For years of being skimmed and for not planning longterm to preserve HC and as Jack Chapman said, "We rode the wave and it crashed!" I knew it would. Didn't everyone else know as well? It never stays up all the time. Why wouldn't he be in there finding ways to preserve and protect? Cause he wasn't going to be around and because his golf buddy, Herb, wanted out of the HC business. So, take what you can while you can. That was Jack's seeming philosophy anyway as he was heard in a restaurant saying, "Drink up! It's on STRS!" Hazel paid bar bills. Golf for Herb and Jack instead of inservices. You know all this. So, WHY? It's just not right, that's all. Retirees suffer so you don't get frivolous perks unless you buy them as because as Mooney said, "It just doesn't look right! Needs to be a cooling off period." (A period of real concern for retirees and only retirees with real action and real results). OFT has to use their own cell phones vs. paid for calls to home when gone, he told me.
Simple folks want simply represented not salt in wounds. Do you want to see those who rep you at Lindey's or with new laptops or staying the night in places better than you can afford, etc. when you eat modestly if you go out and use old and cheap computers if you have one or stay at Red Roof or other modest lodgings? No one should ask for anything unless the poorest among us is taken care of. We are no better than they. We have spent hundreds of dollars ourselves for retirees asking for no reimbursement because we know how hard it was for some to get $5 to send us. One lady had to wait months to send that in. Why would I ask CORE to pay me back for something I did when I know? Some have been reimbursed for running many copies in their regions during elections and such things. Many are offered to be reimbursed for mailings, phone calls, etc. for CORE. Some have run many copies themselves at home asked for ink for example, planning more copies which were obviously done and distributed. Others who ran hundreds of copies at stores were reimbursed at a said rate which was the cheapest found. If someone chose to do copies at places over that, the individual paid the difference. Long distance phone records for contacting areas for elections or important decided issues can be refunded. Most defer calling it a contribution if they can and refunds are given when costs go beyond one's available money. We operate like we work for membership regardless of when our funds are higher or lower. Much was spent on the last election with enormous numbers of flyers mailed to all areas of the state. So, it is rebuilding again though we can take on an election if we wish, we are in a holding pattern for a bit.
Jim Kimmel to Molly Janczyk, December 22, 2006
Subject: Re: HC: STRS Board
I wonder if Ms. Ramser would shed a tear if she were indicted like Sidaway and friends. There are a lot of people in the world- I have met quite a few- whose attitude is " I got mine and to hell with you.!" So my conclusion about the suggestion is that it probably would not do much good because some of the board members have already been exposed to stories of some of the poorer retirees and displayed an attitude of frigid indifference. Guess I am still too idealistic about human nature. But I do sleep nights!
Jim Kimmel
From Molly Janczyk, December 21, 2006
Subject: Re: HC: STRS Board
Guess it takes multiple times as no response yet. Al Rhonemus stood before the old Board several times with tears in his eyes telling them of his friends selling their homes and moving in with children. No dent; no expression. This Board has heard us say these things but, I agree, perhaps more is needed to bring it face to face. Many of those most in need refuse to say anything due to pride and not wanting deferential treatment. They suffer silently. I wish they would all tell their stories. Leone and Lazares simply wanted to explore any and all options for the medicare increases in premiums and decrease in benefits as they do understand how $15 or $20 dollars means so much for some. Heck, that's only a cheap dinner to many on the Board. It means a month's RX for some they do without. Sad.
Jim Kimmel to Molly Janczyk, December 21, 2006
Subject: Re: HC
I wonder if there is some way to make us retirees more "real" to some of the board members. Maybe we could prepare a list of real teachers who have retired and their present REAL situations. Not some statistical"report" from STRS in which everything is just peachy but how real retirees are doing financially. I wonder what a couple of thousand "retirement autobiographies" would do ? We could present them to the board members at a meeting. people would have to volunteer to write them but that might not be too much of a problem. With pictures even ! We could send them to the board members' homes rather than the board meeting if Damon Opposed them. coulnd't hurt!! Or would it just solidify in their Ramsier minds that "too bad, they are suffering but I am not - so good for me!" Not sure but something to think about!
Jim Kimmel
From Molly Janczyk, December 20, 2006
Subject: Re: HC
Only Lazares and Leone really get it! Mooney got it and he's gone. Others - it's removed and they feel bad but not enough to remember each and every minute they sit there, in my opinion , or they wouldn't ask for or do things that cost extra money when they have other options-maybe not so convenient. Re: laptops, as Johnson said, it is a generational thing; translates to me: not a necessary thing.
We know people are starving in the world and we give a bit or put it out of our minds. That is how I regard most Board Members on our issues - as long as it is not too inconvenient, they give up time and sit there and do think on matters, I am sure. But, are you real to them? Hard to answer that. YOU ARE real to Lazares and Leone and they never forget. Just can't get anywhere without a major hassle is all and then it's bit by bit.
Harsh about folks who say they devote their time, I know. Actions are what I judge by as well as comments I cannot believe come out of their mouths proving to me how little they understand your daily life.
That's my take. Enough press and enough yelling and enough trouble and little by little some things change and finally, HC is put to legislators. Far, far late but it is now there.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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