Saturday, October 27, 2007
Legislators' e-mails public, suit says
By James Nash
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Jeffrey L. Glasgow, a retired Franklin County assistant prosecutor, is testing the limits of Ohio's public-records law by demanding that Mandel, R-Lyndhurst, turn over e-mail messages from his private account that pertain to state business.
Glasgow's case, now before the Ohio Supreme Court, is thought to be the first courtroom test of an emerging area of open-records laws: whether e-mail and text messages from a government employee's private accounts are public records if the messages have to do with official business.
Glasgow contends that Mandel and fellow Rep. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, have been less than forthcoming in their responses to his demand for records about the two representatives' quest to get Ohio pensions to withdraw their investments from companies that do business with Iran and Sudan.
"I just want to know who's talking to whom in making the law," Glasgow said. "That's the motivation. I just think secrecy in government is a bad idea."
Mandel, a Marine reservist, spearheaded the drive to force Ohio's five public pensions to divest more than $1 billion in holdings in companies with investments in Iran and Sudan. He and Jones argued that retired public employees shouldn't be subsidizing terrorism, even indirectly, by profiting from investments in countries with known ties to Islamic extremists.
Glasgow and other retired government employees protested that their retirement savings were being used as a bargaining chip in a foreign-policy debate.
Pension leaders initially resisted Mandel and Jones' move but ultimately capitulated. In June, they agreed to voluntarily divest at least half of their holdings in Iran- and Sudan-connected companies by the end of the year, with the ultimate goal of full divestment.
Three months later, Mandel shipped off to Iraq for his second tour of duty.
For Glasgow, however, the battle continued -- it just changed venues.
Although Mandel and Jones turned over boxes of documents, Glasgow contends that they also withheld public records. Glasgow, who once handled public-records requests for various government agencies in Franklin County, asked the two representatives for e-mail and text messages from their private accounts that dealt with the divestment measure and other government business.
Mandel used his private account at least three times to discuss the measure with a Dispatch reporter in May and June. His office, however, provided none of those messages to Glasgow. The former prosecutor also said he has evidence that Mandel sent text messages during committee hearings on the bill; the representative's office furnished no text messages in response to Glasgow's request.
Attorney General Marc Dann has said that e-mail and text messages are public documents if they deal with government business, even if they come from private accounts. Dann has urged public officials not to use private e-mail and text accounts to conduct their official business.
However, Dann's office is representing Mandel and Jones in their responses to Glasgow's lawsuit. The attorney general's spokesman, Leo Jennings III, said he couldn't comment on whether the two state representatives have complied with Dann's directives.
"We have to represent them," Jennings said. "The legislature is our client."
Jones declined to comment. Mandel, who is expected to be in Iraq through late spring, can't receive phone calls or e-mail messages, said his legislative aide, Michael Lord. Mandel has asked the Supreme Court to delay hearing Glasgow's case until the lawmaker returns from Iraq.
"I don't have his computer," Lord said. "We don't have any access to his e-mails."
RH Jones: Teachers unimportant in the lives of children?
Subject: Unimportant in the lives of children?
Friday, October 26, 2007
Conrad Ott: An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal supporting HB 315
Subject: Editorial of Ex Akron Super Surperintendent Ott
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
H.B. 315 Assigned to FIRES Committee; Open-Enrollment Assistance Available to Retirees
[News] H.B. 315 Assigned to FIRES Committee; Open-Enrollment Assistance Available to Retirees
House Bill 315, which contains the proposal for creating an ongoing, dedicated revenue stream for the STRS Ohio Health Care Program, has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Institutions, Real Estate and Securities (also known as the FIRES Committee). No hearings have been scheduled as yet.
The members of the FIRES Committee are: Representatives Chris Widener (chair), Kevin Bacon, William Batchelder, Todd Book, Armond Budish, David Daniels, Dan Dodd, Clyde Evans, Bob Gibbs, Jay Goyal, William Healy, Cliff Hite, Joseph Koziura, Eugene Miller, Allan Sayre, Dan
Stewart, Jimmy Stewart, Tom Patton, Carol-Ann Schindel, Matt Szollosi, Mark Wagoner, Sandra Williams and James Zehringer.
This bill carries with it the support of the Health Care Advocates for STRS (HCA) -- a coalition of major management, professional and retiree organizations representing Ohio's public K-12 and higher education teachers. This member-driven initiative calls for increasing public teachers' contributions to STRS Ohio by 2.5% and their employers' contributions by 2.5% of teacher payroll to create an ongoing, dedicated revenue stream for the STRS Ohio Health Care Program for current and future retired educators. These increases would be phased in over a five-year period, in .5% increments. The bill was introduced by Rep. Scott Oelslager, along with 14 co-sponsors, on Sept. 18, 2007.
Members who would like to share their position on H.B. 315 with the members of the FIRES Committee can do so via mail using this address:
Ohio House of Representatives, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215-6111.
Additional contact information (phone numbers and e-mail addresses) can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-282-0253 or by using this Web site: http://www.house.state.oh.us/jsps/Representatives.jsp.
NEED ASSISTANCE WITH OPEN ENROLLMENT? ATTEND A HEALTH CARE PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS MEETING
To help guide retired members through the health care open-enrollment decision-making process, STRS Ohio is offering "Health Care Program Highlights for 2008" on multiple dates throughout Ohio this fall.
During these meetings, STRS Ohio representatives will review 2008 health care premiums, plan design changes and cost-saving measures, as well as discuss the transition to STRS Ohio's new pharmacy benefits manager, Express Scripts. All health care plans will be discussed at all of the meetings. Plan administrators and Express Scripts will have representatives at every meeting. This includes Aetna, Medical Mutual, Paramount (in its areas), Aultcare (in the Canton area), Kaiser (in the Cleveland area) and Express Scripts.
Attendees will be given the opportunity to ask questions at the meeting's conclusion. Registration is required. Register by calling STRS Ohio toll-free at 1-888-227-7877 or register online. Space is limited and there will be a limit of one guest per member. Attendees will receive a confirmation letter after registering.
Meetings will be offered at 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on each date, with the exception of Tuesday, Nov. 13, when meetings will be offered at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Meetings will last no more than two hours; dates and locations are as follows:
Nov. 6, 2007 Holiday Inn Select - Strongsville
Nov. 7, 2007 Holiday Inn - Boardman/Youngstown
Nov. 8, 2007 Courtyard by Marriott/Hall of Fame Inn - Canton
Nov. 13, 2007 Kings Island Resort & Conference Center - Mason
Nov. 14, 2007 Ohio University Inn - Athens
Nov. 15, 2007 Holiday Inn - Dayton North
Nov. 20, 2007 Holiday Inn French Quarter - Perrysburg
Nov. 27, 2007 Holiday Inn - Mayfield/Cleveland
Nov. 28, 2007 STRS Ohio - Columbus
For more information, or to register online, click the link below:
Monday, October 22, 2007
OFT makes it EASY for us to write our reps re: HB 315 -- thanks, OFT!!
Subject: The OFT makes it easy to write your Representative re. HB 315! Click on the link below!
Thank you, OFT! John
Shortcut to: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/strshealthcare?rk=xp27xts1qk5cW
A sample message from RH Jones: HB 315 committee member reps. post cards
HB 315 committee member reps. post cards
The following is a hand-written $0.26 post card message that I have mailed today to each of the 23-house committee members regarding the HB 315 retired teacher health care package. Since it fits perfectly on the postcard, you may want to use it as a guide. You certainly have my permission to do so. Please mail your cards or letters as quickly as possible. This must get out of committee and back on the house floor.
To the Honorable Rep. John Q. Public: 10-22-07
Please support HB 315. With a good retired educator health care package, the best educators will be attracted to Ohio. Thus, it is a win-win situation for all Ohio citizens: the children get better teachers; and, with the resulting better-educated citizens, the public business climate is improved.
Mr. Robert H. Jones, a retired STRS member
(Also have your spouse sign it! Two signatures are better than one.)
This HB 315 is EXTREMELY important for Ohio for all the reasons mentioned in the message. It is a modest step forward but will greatly benefit Ohio. The modest 2.5% employer increase has shown to be, due to inflation creeping in the dollar, cost neutral. Everyone wins on this wonderfully crafted HB 315 sponsored by a farsighted and Honorable Rep. Scott Oelslager.
This is my learned opinion,
RHJones, a retired Master of Education, Kent State Univ. 1960
John Curry: Letter to Wapakoneta City Schools Educators
Molly Janczyk: Sample letter to legislators and school boards
Subject: HB 315: Compiled points
My letter to legislators and school boards compiled from different sources. If you like, revise, edit, condense, etc. to print and use for yourself and others. Please forward to educators in any version you feel appropriate.
I am a 30 year retired educator with STRS. I support HB 315 as an equitable proposition allowing educators the ability to prepay for their own health care by creating a stream of revenue for STRS health care. Please consider and research the following points:
1. Employer contributions have not increased in over 20 years to offset the soaring health care crisis and inflationary costs for retirees.
2. If this legislative initiative is not passed with increments of .5% per year for 5 years, most educators will not be able to retire.
*Districts and Local School Boards will be faced with an aging staff in their 60's, 70's etc. at the top of their salary schedules and costly age related medical expenses paid for by the districts.
*Educators will not be able to accept buyouts due to long term health care costs if a district can afford to offer them with the increased costs they will be paying.
*Accrued sick leave used by those educators together with subsitute pay will cost the districts
*Young educators will know they will not have health care in retirement and leave the State or profession. If they stay, they will demand high salaries towards their future health care as there is no retirement without health care.
3. STRS has been conserving for years now but this translates to cuts for retirees while increasing retiree health care costs untendably forcing all able bodied back into the workplace to pay for health care. STRS and retirees have done all they can do for their health care. Many who cannot return to work have stopped or cut medicines, treatments, Dr. visits and some have sold their homes using up their finances.
STRS continues to work hard to meet all the ORSC criteria exercising prudence and responsible oversight to reduce unfunded liability and increase the 85% ration before consideration of any expenditure from pension funds.
Ohio is not nor ever has been ranked high in priority to education. The court has ordered 4 times to properly fund education dismissed by legislators. This is a sad scenario for education in Ohio and the cause for loss of residents while not attracting new residents. Educators are dropping out of the profession and or leaving Ohio. A well educated workforce by highly qualified and motivated educators is what grows an economy and brings business to Ohio creating jobs.
Ohio is proving education and educators are not its priority by refusing to properly fund education fairly vs. simply raising taxes for homeowners. This would allow more latitude and freedom with funding by School Boards as well. This initiative and properly funding education are seperate but connected issues affecting Ohio.
The health care initiative is supported by the majority of educators wishing to help solve the problem of health care in retirement. This is evidenced by keeping track of phone calls, online responses, phone calls, meetings, etc. on this proposal.
There are many needs with Ohio's population. STRS and the Health Care Advocates consisting of many organizations is attempting to solve its own problems. The cost to School Boards is minimal and .5% is about their expected yearly increase. The average cost is $8 per check for an educator earning $40,000 in the first year. After 5 years, this will mean $40 per check from a $40,000 salary. Of course, that educator will be earning more to offset the increase.
Please let educators solve their own problem prepaying for health care in retirement.
Ohio needs to attract and retain the highest caliber of educators. Educators are 400,000+ strong with families and friends who suppor this bill. We remember well our 'friends to education.'
OEA, NEA Lifetime
(Address, phone number, e-mail address)
Glenna Barr: Minutes of October 18, 2007 CORE meeting
Dave Parshall opened the meeting, calling for approval of the September minutes. Mary Ellen Angeletti made a motion to accept the minutes; Marie Fetters seconded the motion and all approved. C.J. Myers gave the treasurer's report.
A. Website has been updated.
B. Contacts and Regional Reps report given by Molly Janczyk. She stated if there are any changes to contact her.
A. CORE promotion: A presentation was made by Jill Fetters on a T-shirt and sweatshirt with the CORE logo. Dave Parshall discussed other ideas to promote CORE. Donna Thorpe presented an example of a shirt with the CORE logo. The members could have ordered the T-shirt or sweatshirt at the meeting from Donna for: T-shirt $9.00 and the sweatshirt for $l5.00. Dave thanked both of the ladies for their presentations.
A. Dave will meet with CEA (Columbus Education Association) on retiree issues.
B. Dave is to read a CORE resolution, written by John Curry, to the STRS board that states: The Concerned Ohio Retired Educators resolves to support STRS pension fund investment decisions made by the STRS Board of Trustees as long as they do not involve divestiture. Oppose any divestment mandate STRS relative to companies doing business in Iran, Sudan or any other foreign country. The complete speech will be on the e mail pipeline. Paul Boyer made a motion to accept this resolution and Nancy Hamant second the motion and all approved. We were reminded that most legislators are against HB l5l.
C. HB 315 -- Dave and Mary Ellen are contacting the Franklin County legislators and were told postcards count. When you email legislators, be sure to talk about facts. A fact is that there are approximately 36,000 STRS retirees earn less than $30,000. A fact: no teacher, no matter much salary they draw, can put aside enough for health care. We need this bill, Health Care Funding Increased Contribution, to pass. Have your active teachers send postcards. They are to put their phone # and what organizations they belong to. School boards have pushed opposition on HB 315. It is still in committee. A motion was made to pay for post cards to be sent to legislators for reimbursement of postcards' cost . Send your bill to CORE, PO Box l4358, Columbus, Ohio, 43214. Ann Hanning, ORTA Executive Director, thanked everyone for their work on this bill. STRS Health Care Champions Training will have 3 more meetings: Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the STRS Building: Thursday Nov. 8 at the Toledo Federation of Teachers, 111 S. Byme Road, Toledo, Ohio: and Tuesday, Nov. l3 at the Warren County Service Center, 320 E. Silver St., Lebanon, Ohio. If you were not able to attend the first meeting in September, this is a good opportunity to attend the above meetings. They will be from 5:30-8:00 PM. A light supper will be provided. You are to RSVP by Nov. 2 to Laura Ecklar at STRS via firstname.lastname@example.org or call the toll free number l-888-227-7877.
C. CORE received a card of thanks for flowers from CORE and everyone's thoughts during the recent death of his wife from Ryan Holderman.
D. From John Curry regarding the Ross county newsletter encouraging HB 315: they thanked CORE for all of the members' work and our support of Dennis Leone.
E. The OEA Lobby Day will be in Dec., contact Tim Meyers at OEA if you want any further info on this.
F. Nancy Hamant gave a report on Medicare Advantage. It is not a good plan and everyone needs to be well informed on this plan.
We had a good turnout of members at our meeting. Ann Hanning, ORTA Executive Director, Don Bright, ORTA Prresident, and Lou DiOrio of OCHER were present. The next meeting will be November l5,2007.
Submitted by Glenna Barr, Sec.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Colorado retiree organization takes bold stand against divestment
Subject: Re: Another retirement organization..
Subject: Re: Another retirement organization..