Thursday, January 03, 2008

Damon Asbury, Letter to Columbus Dispatch: Defined benefit plans a worthy role model for all

Columbus Dispatch, January 3, 2008
Retirees deserve well-run benefit plan
The Dec. 26 Dispatch editorial "Pennies not saved" stressed the importance of young workers saving for retirement — and the need for education about available savings options. We couldn’t agree more, and we include information about the options available to young teachers, including 401(k) plans and Ohio’s Deferred Compensation Program, in our member-education workshops.
However, the editorial also noted "the day of the defined-benefit plan has passed." We do not believe that is true. In fact, we believe the retirement security provided by well-run defined-benefit plans can serve as a worthy role model for retirement planning for all Americans. Defined-benefit plans reduce the chance that there will be future generations of poor, elderly retirees who have outlived their savings and subsist only on Social Security (if eligible) supplemented by public assistance, charities and assistance from their families.
Employees and their employers fund a defined benefit plan during their working careers; investment earnings account for about 70 percent of the remaining pension-fund revenue.
The Dispatch is correct that saving for retirement is important. Having a retirement plan that includes a defined-benefit component and individual savings is an even better approach to ensure retirement security.
Executive director
State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Open challenge from Dennis Leone to STRS Board: Which policies do you want to drop?

Dennis Leone to Molly Janczyk, January 1, 2008
Subject: Voting on "All" Operational Issues?
Since McGreevy and the Board majority are apparently worried that my real motive is to have the board vote on all operational issues, I think it is time for me to make a motion for the Board to withdraw about 25 policies that have been adopted since 2003. I will list them on a paper and ask the board members to say publicly which ones they’d like to drop and reinstate so we are not micromanaging and so the executive director won’t feel that we don’t trust him. Let’s see, let’s reinstate the one permitting staff member children to drive STRS cars. Let’s forget about requiring itemized receipts for meals, or purchasing plane tickets 30 days in advance, or forbidding subjective factors to be used to determine investment staff bonuses, or requiring a review of contract summaries before we vote on multi-million dollar issues, or forbidding the expenses of Board member spouses to be paid at conferences, or not allowing fax machines, credit cards, or personal phone calls to be billed by Board members. Gosh, Molly, while we are at it, let’s drop the policy forbidding the purchase of alcohol, requiring the child care center to be cost neutral, spending pension money on entertainment, like concerts, baseball game, Kings Island, and the Columbus Zoo Light Show. And while we are at it, let’s allow vendors to give tickets to staff for Broadway Show and Cleveland Indians baseball games, and let’s drop spending limitations for staff members on trips altogether. I mean, after all, the prior system worked so well, let’s just stop adopting policies to address issues that arise. Shame on the board for agreeing with me on any of these items in the past.
Dennis Leone
From Molly Janczyk, January 1, 2008
Subject: RE: Legal Fees
NO ONE HAS EVER SUGGESTED THAT THE BOARD VOTE ON EACH AND EVERY OPERATIONAL ITEM AND FOR THIS TO BE STATED IS PURE INTENTIONAL MISREPRESENTATION!!!!!!!! It is suggested that on the very rare circumstances (my words) when a staff member has a question of legal representation , that this is a case by case situation by the AG: Patterson and when asked how this should be worded as policy, STRS Legal mind Neville stated: "Unless otherwise dictated by law , no legal fees for associates should be paid without Board approval." What you think the legal opinion may also has no place. This is the quote in the minutes. What a Board member thinks has no place without confirmable legal backing by legal minds and the AG.
This low tactic of making generalized situations out of one issue is to continue to smoke and mirror tactics hoping some of this misrepresentation sticks even though NO ONE has ever wanted to micromanage operational issues beyond stated and at times changed for the better policy. This reeks of no leg to stand on so let's go for attempting to confuse the issue.
No one may misrepresent as an argument basis. What is suggested is not the case nor has it been the case. It is for a rare circumstance which no one policy can possible cover so as the AG said to me first thing: "Molly, this is a case by case situation. What Dennis proposed has nothing wrong with it and it can be reintroduced as a motion." Dennis made Neville's words a motion: "So moved!" when Neville answered how this issue (of legal fees) can be corrected: "Unless otherwise dictated by law, NO associate legal fees should be paid without Board (not Exec. Direc, not Staff: BOARD) approval."
That is all I have to say and this is my mantra.

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Dennis Leone, Molly Janczyk, John Curry; discussion re: legal fees and STRS Board policies

Dennis Leone to Molly Janczyk, January 1, 2008
Subject: RE: Legal Fees
Very well stated Molly. I just wish my fellow board members would think this through like you have. It is so disappointing that three or four board members fail to understand really what is going on. Naivete at its worse. You are correct – a general policy that Meuser et al want to protect staff CANNOT deal with all of the zillion of scenarios that can occur (some of which can be the result of staff misconduct and/or poor performance). That is why my policy recommendation is worded the way it is – to protect the board and the pension system. As you said: What’s the problem? Of Ohio’s 611 school districts, do you know have many school boards have a policy that Meuser et al. want STRS to have? Zero. Supts and boards won’t let it happen. All teacher unions would love such language – then OEA and OFT would not need as many lawyers.
From Molly Janczyk, January 1, 2008
Subject: Legal Fees
I would rather a Board with many views and perspectives then ONE Exec. Direc. who may or may not like me. Plus it comes with advice of the AG and I am sure Neville and the Legal Team. No one person on the Board can make a decision and it is majority, not individual, which is better, to me.
I am sure many Staff members have been cursed and even threatened as has happened with one former STRS employee who contacted me which I immediately passed to Damon who contacted security and the police even extending it to me for protection since this person is unstable. He was not threatening me but Damon felt it appropriate in case he transferred his anger to me somehow. The former employee issued many threats to me towards Staff even naming them. I always passed it on the Damon. He somehow got my name as communicating with STRS. This has been going on for years now. He contacted me recently again but I ignored him and passed it to Damon. Unfortunately, he lives near me.
The point is while we would never want to take a chance, these threats are just that. There was an incident years ago with a retiree sitting outside of STRS with a gun being denied disability again. It was more suicidal, I believe.
We had threats from parents working in urban areas thick with drugs, weapons and alcohol. Some teachers were hit and off work for weeks. We never had the ability and few even thought of it to seek outside counsel with OEA paying our bills. Frankly, I never even knew anyone who considered it. With low income folks, it would only have resulted in a warning and perhaps restraining order which can be obtained free anyway. Not like money is coming out of it. So, if an employee is threatened, I don't know what outside counsel is going to get them.
This seems only to fight for their jobs if a problem arises and they are fired. And, rarely, if ever, does that result in a retraction of the firing. Look at the principals etc. accused of taking money from their 'general funds' supposedly for use for staff. Still fired. Generally, in this day and age, paper trails are long and detailed for firing someone and good luck getting them reversed because other employees do not stand up for you fearing for their own jobs.
The Laura Ecklars and Sandy Knoesels (sorry both of you-just using you for examples is all since you spoke out on this at meetings) do their jobs well and are protected as a result. There simply is not a chance that either of you or those hundreds like you who are in any danger. If a mess occurs somehow and you are the scapegoat, good luck, however, because there is little likelihood that a Damon or whomever is going to take the fall for a Staff member and supposed facts will line up against you in a flash. We have all seen such in businesses. The same would probably hold true for an educator against OEA. What would happen? The individual would pay for their own counsel.
A general policy simply cannot cover all scenarios in this issue. Some issues, yes, more comprehensively. But ANY policy is going to have exceptions which must come to the Board. This particular issue is as determined by the Attorney General and stated by NEVILLE (though some inexperienced and certainly not legal certified persons seem to think they know better ) to be CASE BY CASE TO BE DETERMINED BY THE BOARD.
Say whatever you like: STRS Legal Staff say policy should read 'Unless otherwise requested by law, no associate legal fees should be paid without Board approval' and the Attorney General Office say it is case by case.
No STRS Staff or Board member or OEA or OEA-R individual has come up with facts to negate these legal statements. It may not be their choice but that doesn't change the legal stand. Let's stop this back and forth with 'wishes vs. legal opinion.' If and when you have a substantially supported legal stand with which Neville and the AG cannot disagree, let's talk. Until then, I go with the legal statements by Neville and AG Patterson.
OEA: OEA-R: OEA BOARD MEMBERS: Give me an approved legal statement not just a phrase from a book interpreted by one person to displace Neville and Patterson and have them both say: Yes, this overrides what I said and then put it in writing as policy to present the Board for consideration.
Until then: enough.
From Dennis Leone, January 1, 2008
Subject: RE: Legal Fees
What I believe you are hearing from Meuser et al. is that THEY, AS TEACHERS, feel their school boards have not done enough to support them. Many of them feel this way. In fact, Laura Ecklar said precisely what they wanted to hear – which was that she does not want her employment dictated by the “whim” of a board member who may not like her. Think about this one: As you know, Sandy Knoesal has had to deal with many disgruntled retirees over the years about health insurance. I suspect that some have cussed at her, while others have yelled at her. Sooooooooo, I wonder if Meuser et al. believe that if SHE feels she is threatened, that it’s okay for her to demand legal advice, and – if she is not satisfied with what staff lawyers tell – she then can go outside and get her own legal advice……..then expect the board to pay for it. As a pension membership organization, the removal of subjective factors HAS to be more strict.
From Molly Janczyk, January 1, 2008
Subject: RE: Legal Fees
I just really don't get this. I cannot fathom why OEA is pressing for this blanket policy to be overseen by an Exec. Direc. we don't even know. Like I said, some OEAers must not have been happy with their representation in this past, it seems to me. But, this is a system for membership, not staff. Staff does a great job working for the membership who are the system and for whom they were hired just as we were hired as public servants for children and community. Now, we expect someone to look out for us.
Dennis Leone to John Curry, December 31, 2007
Subject: RE: Legal Fees
Good point, John…………….and, as you know, NO teacher would go out on their own, pick a law firm, determine an hourly rate, then turn in a bill to OEA after-the- fact. OEA would say “go jump in the lake” and would NOT listen to a teacher saying – “but I was discharging my duties, so you have to pay for my legal representation.” OEA would say no out of principle due to the teacher making a decision that he/she was not empowered to make.
Dennis Leone
From John Curry, December 31, 2007
Subject: Re: Legal Fees expound on what you say below one must also realize that the OEA furnished attorneys to educators who request them is NOT an automatic coverage. The educator has to run his/her account of the incident by the OEA first and then has to "hope" they will receive's not automatic...IT CAN BE REFUSED! It is determined by others in the hierarchy of the OEA. It is determined on a case by case basis...sound familiar???

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Famous Quotes: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Remember these?

Watch this column, as quotes are added from time to time.

"I will consider responding to your records request when and if I have time, and that's not likely to be soon" (Former STRS executive director Herb Dyer, [convicted on ethics charges] responding to Dennis Leone's letter in Dec., 2002)

"The Board decides what's fair and it's the Board members' money to spend as they see fit." (Herb Dyer, letter to retiree Joe Gebhardt)

"It's a drop in the bucket." (Former Board member Jack Chapman [convicted on ethics charges] re: the total cost of his meeting expenses, in comparison to the total STRS assets)

"We don't get paid as Board members, so we deserve these things." (Jack Chapman)

"This is unfair because they don't get paid as board members" (Former Board member Hazel Sidaway's lawyer, H. Ritchie Hollenbaugh, on her day of conviction on ethics charges)

"I think it is clearly overkill.....the system is unfair to people that make an innocent mistake." ~ Attorney H. Ritchey Hollenbaugh, who represented several ex-STRS Board members convicted of ethics charges

"His (Leone's) report is contains misrepresentations" (Gary Allen, President of OEA, June 2003)

"_________________________" (ORTA, after Dennis Leone's investigative report came out in May, 2003) (You're right -- they had nothing to say.)

"We could have discovered what Dennis Leone found, but we've been busy doing other things for retirees." (ORTA Executive Director Dave Travis)

"The initials S.T.R.S. are not supposed to stand for Spending, Travel, Retreats and Sculptures." (Dennis Leone, addressing the STRS Board in August of 2003)

"They're like kids in a candy store" (State Representative Michelle Schneider, regarding the spending habits of former STRS Board members and staff members).

"Beware of malcontent retirees." (Former ORTA president and former STRS Board chair, Joe Endry [convicted on ethics charges], departing words in ORTA Quarterly)

"I was doing board business when I attended that Broadway show" (Hazel Sidaway/Joe Endry)

"What would Rome look like today if they hadn't supported the arts?" (Former STRS Board member [forced out by SB 133] Jim Petro, regarding the $869,000 spent on sculptures at STRS)

"I am not against bonus checks at all." (Former Board member [forced out by SB 133] Betty Montgomery, upon learning that some 500 STRS employees received annual bonus checks)

"I really should have been more vigilant." (Montgomery, at Senate hearings)

"Shut up!" (Former Board member & Chair Bob Brown, directed at Leone in public Board meeting, 2005)

"It is questionable whether Leone actually will be on the ballot because it is unclear whether he is working in a school district." (OEA's Gary Hollow, in NEOEA-R newsletter, after Leone filed his Board candidacy petitions in February of 2005)

"You're being intrusive." (Former appointed Board member Judith Fisher [who resigned in August, 2006], about Leone operating budget questions)

"You're micro-managing" (Fisher, about Leone vendor contract questions)

"I agree with Judith on this." (Former appointed Board member Geoffrey Meyers [who resigned 10/26/06], about Leone vendor contract questions, four months after Fisher left the board)

"He's childish, he needs parenting, and if he were a student in my class he'd be suspended from school." (Board chair Conni Ramser, about Leone, in the Canton Repository)

"We just disagree on whether he's a savior or a crackpot." (OEA's Tim Myers, regarding Leone)

"This is a waste of time." (Ex-Board member Geoff Meyers, about Leone question regarding Ferguson contract)

"Any Board involvement in vendor contracts impairs the staff's ability to negotiate" (New Board member Mark Meuser, October 2006)

"See, you don't have to go to Florida to find a good meeting; you can attend one right here in Columbus!" (ORSC President Aristotle Hutras at February, 2007 STRS Board retreat)

"I've never been to Lindey's in my life!" (STRS Board chairman Conni Ramser at a November, 2006 Board meeting, re: a dinner voucher with her name on it) [Her union friends seemed to regard it as a mild memory slip and she was sweetly forgiven; most assuredly, it would have been a different story altogether, from their viewpoint, had a certain other Board member or two made the same denial, then were later found to have received such a dinner with an STRS-purchased credit card.]

"Well, we can't put everything in the booklet!" ~ An STRS rep to a sick retiree calling about a drug that was denied, even though it was on the list of approved medication with prior authorization and listed in the 2006 STRS HC booklet as "approved."

"I have consulted our executive board and they agreed with me that there is no reason to publish an article that will be about 3 or 4 weeks old by the time it is in the hands of our members." ~ Tom Seamon, editor of the ORTA Quarterly, to Dennis Leone, after refusing to publish his March 2007 STRS Report (Keep this quote in mind each time you read your Quarterly.)

"Because we don't have to" ~ Response to Dennis Leone after he asked why the Board wasn't voting publicly, after a secret ballot was taken to appoint Conni Ramser to the STRS Board (to replace Jack Chapman) and Tai Hayden (to replace Michael Billirakis).

"We are looking at it." ~ Marc Dann (4/8/07) after being asked to examine the practice of secret balloting, with regard to its legality, during open Board meetings at Ohio STRS.

“Oh my God,” said state Rep. Michelle Schneider, R-Cincinnati, and sponsor of legislation to reform the state’s five pension systems.

“They just don’t get it. The nightmare continues.”
~ Canton Repository article (by Paul Kostyu), May 12, 2004: STRS workers to get $3.85M in bonuses

State Attorney General Marc Dann, addressing March 2007 STRS Board meeting; from the official minutes of the meeting: "Mr. Dann said he agreed [with Board member Dennis Leone] that it was a conflict of interest for the Attorney General to sit on the Board. Mr. Dann also said he will strongly exercise his independence and that he is only accountable to the people of the State of Ohio. He said he will offer his independent judgment as at first, but if necessary, he will take action against his own clients in order to make sure the law is followed. He said he understands STRS Ohio exists to serve its members, not serve itself and he will certainly be mindful of that going forward."

“You will NOT insult MY people in MY house!” ~ Patricia Frost-Brooks, when Dennis Leone was criticizing the voting practices of certain board members during an OEA-R representative meeting at OEA, where Dr. Leone was the invited speaker; December 29, 2007

".....any motions before the Board that would or could undermine trust and confidence between the Board, Executive Director and Staff, are not in the best interest of the system, and, in fact, may be unnecessary and counterproductive."
~ Patricia Frost-Brooks, December 13, 2007, in a speech before the STRS Retirement Board*
[* Note: Ms. Brooks did not articulate any specific motions to which she was referring.]

"Dennis is an attack-dog." ~ An OEA-R member, January 9, 2008

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Molly Janczyk re: Legal fees at STRS

From Molly Janczyk, December 31, 2007
Subject: Legal Fees
I feel that what is not understood is that a policy saying that STRS “will provide legal representation to employees who need it in connection with the proper executive of their duties” would open the door for employees to ALWAYS argue that they need legal representation (no matter what they did) because they would say that the matter at hand resulted from the “proper execution of their duties.” If a Board member has a parent teacher conference tonight, and he/she feels threatened by a parent, would he/she be allowed to go out and hire a lawyer for advice, then turn in a bill after-the-fact? After all, this in line of duty as a teacher when the parent was viewed as threatening. We could have thousands of teachers submitting such fees. We have union attorneys to give such advice. Is OEA saying that their union attorneys are not good enough?
Employees can always, always, always argue they were doing something associated with their jobs. How about if a teacher/Board member shoves or grabs a high school student discharging the responsibilities to break up a student fight or when being severely badmouthed? We all know at times, educators' tempers are lost as well. Duty or temper? Do we go to a personal attorney for advice or call OEA? Again, is OEA inferior in its support?
What if an STRS employee is fired for making serious calculation errors? The employee, under a policy seemingly currently desired by some board members, then would be able to argue that the board owes him/her legal counsel support to fight the board because the alleged miscalculations occurred when he/she was discharging his/her duties. Is it a good idea to adopt a policy forcing the board to give employees legal counsel to fight the board? Such cases need paid for by the employee.
The reasons are endless as to why it is inadvisable to have a blanket policy that attempts to say WHEN the pension system will pay for employees’ legal counsel support as they can vary in numbers by the number of employees and their individual case.
WHY would an employee want one individual making such a decision. That is a roll of the dice as to whether the current Exec. Direc. holds you in high esteem or not. If you are not a 'politics' player, you may not be in the in circle. I'd sure want an objective Board of individuals coming with experience beyond one person to judge me over one subjective person.
It is a case-by-case matter judged on its merits, and the STRS Board should have to decide in each case as a majority. In the case of the 3 STRS employees who went out and selected lawyers when former STRS Board members were facing charges, the board did not get to vote on any of them. None of them sought board approval in advance. Everything was after-the-fact………..and it happened because the STRS Board majority seemed remiss to do anything about it as they do now.
Proposed policy, as amended by Bill Neville:
“Unless required by law, associate legal fees will not be paid without approval of the board.”
This policy is case by case as stated by the AG Office as well.
This lets the board members, the executive director, and employees know that they are rolling the dice if they are hoping for the board (after the fact) to pay for the legal advice that they have arranged on their own. This whole thing should be so simple to understand, and it is so discouraging that it is not.
Based on history, many members are not trusting of a blanket policy with only the Exec. Direc. determining the scenario. I know I am not.
We have 2 legal opinions on this matter: Neville and the AG: Patterson.
What is the problem?
I see only a control issue here being exercised by OEA and its Board members to ensure that the Exec. Direc. have a blanket policy.
AGAIN: How many such cases are expected?
I assume few to none.
Let's move on. Much ado about nothing, it seems.
Just attempts to control.
STRS is improved by all accounts due to more oversight and policy change.
Why is OEA trying to stop what has made for renewed trust and respect? What is OEA afraid of ?
I hear that some OEA members are not happy with past representation by their union and so are subjectively, it seems to me, placing their mindset onto this issue for STRS.
I understand any employee would be most happy to have guarantees but if one does their job within the objective boundaries, they should be no problems.
You know, folks, if someone wants you gone, ways will be found. And I have found that those who are gotten rid of were with basis. The only guarantees are what YOU provide making sure no one can question your abilities and guidelines. That's reality! We all had iffy principals and administrators. Some like you and others - not so much. Would you really want one of them deciding your future?
Making sure our jobs were done well by all accounts ensured our longevity giving no room for deciding otherwise. I guess I don't see why this fuss is about and I sure didn't have every administrator love me since I ask questions. Some welcome input; others find it horribly offensive but I always got outstanding evaluations because I worked hard and got results and helped other educators get results so their wasn't room for any problems.
Not touting myself, just wondering why the worry.
It is not hard to protect yourself with your own performance.

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If I'm not moving, please click me.


Conversations with OEA VP

Any new readers interested in reading the correspondence between STRS retirees and OEA vice president Bill Leibensperger should begin with December 13, 2007 posts reporting on the December STRS Board meeting; namely the speech made by Patricia Frost-Brooks, OEA president (currently they run through Dec. 21). There is a lot to read; you will also need to navigate through articles, etc., which are interspersed along the way. (BTW, the articles are included because they affect many retirees; perhaps some actives. Some affect all STRS members.)

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Beacon-Journal: Is Ted Strickland uneasy about risk? All that political capital, and school funding to solve

Akron Beacon Journal, December 30, 2007
Jon Husted likes to needle the governor. The speaker recently compared Ted Strickland to Bob Taft. Husted explained to the Gongwer News Service that both are ''very risk averse'' in approaching economic problems. He had in mind taking chances politically to do the right thing for the state economy.
Put aside that Taft pushed for a tax cut, and then watched his approval rating plunge into the teens. The description certainly runs counter to the image of a governor determined to turn around Ohio.
Is Ted Strickland averse to risk?
A year into his term, the first Democrat to sit in the governor's office in 16 years, Strickland has played safe in many ways. If that veto on day one was a brilliant stroke, galvanizing allies and disarming adversaries, the governor hardly has traded in the controversial.
Cutting taxes is easy stuff, and there at the top of his list of accomplishments is the expansion of homestead exemption, property tax relief for all seniors. An equivalent step was the freeze on college tuition. Who would object?
Strickland points to passage of the state budget with one dissenting vote, Republicans and Democrats embracing the plan. Such agreement suggests something less than difficult choices. Republicans advanced the cause of higher education, finding money to cover the shortfall due to the tuition freeze. If the governor won a greater investment in health care, the budget stiffed hundreds of school districts, state money remaining flat.
The governor deserves much applause for avoiding the rancor that can prove debilitating at a Statehouse. He took the lead in the complex matter of electricity restructuring. All of this has translated into an approval rating of 69 percent — with 65 percent of Republicans joining in the huzzahs.
Utterly unTaftian?
Don't be so sure. If Taft eventually careened off a cliff, he ended his first year at a similar stratospheric level. By April 2000, the Ohio Poll found Taft with an approval rating of 69 percent.
The challenge for the governor and his team is how to avoid what happened to his predecessor. Put another way: Will Strickland make effective use of all that political capital?
In a year-end interview with the Dayton Daily News, the governor all but removed a tax increase from the list of options. He did so even as the budget tightens, threatening his achievements in health care, in particular.
A governor resembles a standup comic to a degree. Almost everyone in the audience wants to laugh. They want the comic to succeed. Thus, Ohioans first listened to Bob Taft, and now they have warmed to Ted Strickland. What Strickland must avoid is the timidity that gripped Taft.
That may seem odd to say about a governor who has set in motion Eric Fingerhut to bring new energy and focus to higher education. The chancellor of the Board of Regents already has provoked a heated and worthwhile discussion in this corner of the state. His strategic plan is due by the spring. Put the state's universities on an unquestioned path to excellence, and Strickland will have much more to champion than an expanded homestead exemption (which now means tax relief for the wealthiest seniors at the expense of dental care for the poor).
Then again, the governor set the bar for himself. Worth recalling at the end of this first year are his words in the campaign about the inadequate, inequitable and inefficient way the state pays for public schools.
Yes, an old saw. Yet Strickland could not have been more emphatic: ''I am going to be a law-abiding governor, and I'm going to make Ohio a law-abiding state. . . . That means we take seriously what the Supreme Court has said. . . . The funding for elementary and secondary education by Constitution is a state responsibility.''
More: ''I don't know, quite frankly, what Bob Taft doesn't understand about the word unconstitutional.''
Still more: ''I am so committed to solving this school-funding issue that, if I become governor and I do a lot of wonderful things, but I fail to address this school-funding issue, I will have been a failed governor.''
Finally: ''I think the people of Ohio are ready to deal with this problem. It's the anemic, the perhaps for lack of a better word, the cowardly political structure that is unwilling to take the bold action that needs to be taken.''
Cowardly political structure.
That doesn't suggest risk-averse.
Strickland has been cagey about addressing school funding, arguing he won't be rushed, cautioning against ''another proposal that is doomed to failure.'' He uses an accounting gimmick to claim (over and over) that the state share of school funding has increased from 48 percent to 54 percent. He wants a consensus to form, knowing that Democrats and Republicans must address the problem together for the remedy to stick. He rightly talks about the state doing a better job spending its school money.
The governor understands that many Republicans are eager for him to try — and fail. That is part of the box in which he finds himself. Another element is the temptation to succumb, as Bob Taft did, signaling that this puzzle is too hard to solve, reaching for the rationalization that the issue hasn't been decisive in elections.
That overlooks how the funding system paralyzes districts to the detriment of all Ohioans. It neglects that impressive 69 percent approval rating, inviting the question: If not now, when? It leaves the last word to Jon Husted, who acknowledged that Ted Strickland is ''very talented politically,'' something you wouldn't say about Bob Taft.
Douglas is the Beacon Journal editorial page editor. He can reached at 330-996-3514, or emailed at
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