Minutes of the CORE Meeting of Thursday, February 14, 2008
CORE met at 11:45 on Thursday, February 14, 2008 in the cafeteria room behind the Sublett Room at STRS. Officers present were: Dave Parshall, President; Mary Ellen Angeletti, Vice President; Bruce Hodges substituting for Glenna Barr, Secretary; and Mary Thomas substituting for C.J. Myers, Treasurer. Trustees present were: Chuck Angeletti, Betty Bell, Lloyd Knudsen substituting for Chuck Chapman, Liz Ebbing substituting for Nancy Hamant, and Kathie Bracy substituting for Nancy Boomhower.
Lou DiOrio of OCHER was also present, as was Herschel Grim of OFT.
Guest speaker was Mr. Tim Myers, a candidate for the active teacher seat on the STRS Board, who had requested the opportunity to speak and share his reasons for running for the position.
Next, President Dave Parshall called the CORE meeting to order. The January CORE meeting minutes were approved. In the Treasurer's absence, Dave gave the Treasurer's report, which included the payment of some bills for the CORE website work.
A. CORE Website: Dave reported that information on CORE's endorsed candidate for the STRS Board, Mr. Dan Vincent, is available to all on the website as well as Kathie Bracy's blog.
B. Contacts and Regional Reps: Molly Janczyk was not present but it was shared that she is maintaining via email the count of signatures and petitions from different districts around the state for Dan Vincent. Many petitions were handed in today to STRS for Dan.
A. STRS Board. Election Campaign: Dave reminded those present that all petitions for Dan Vincent must be in Laura Ecklar's hands no later than February 29. He suggested getting them to her a week earlier (Feb. 22) if possible in order to assure receipt.
B. House Bill 315: Mary Ellen shared news from the Special Health Care Committee meeting held this morning at 9 a.m. in the Sublett Room at STRS. Terri Bierdeman, STRS contact for the Ohio legislature, reported that the slow pace of HB 315 is being caused by a term limited environment in which the congressional members are reluctant to make waves by supporting or not supporting bills. She spoke of the problem term limits produces in that no long term relationships are established and that many of the new representatives have little or no experience. She doubts whether HB 315 will be considered during the 2008 election year but she encouraged us to continue to work on its behalf by continuing visits to representatives and school boards. She recalled that HB 190 moved in just six months, which was a great improvement on the previous bill, which required seven years. She reminded us that we may not end up with exactly what we start out with. One third of the representatives in the new legislative assembly will be NEW members. Regarding the Ohio Retirement Study Council, she said of the 9 members that 3 were positive for HB 315 but 2 more were needed. She lauded Warren County Retired Teacher Association for having an effect on a complete turn-around regarding Michelle Schneider's consideration of 315. She now seems supportive of the bill. She said much work must be done behind the scenes to get favorable votes prior to any hearing. She feels that 315 can progress but will not work its way through the House and Senate till the next General Assembly.
HCA member Bill Leibensperger, representing OEA, then reported that a meeting had been set with the school board association and reminded us that the Health Care Advocates are in this effort for the long haul. He said that OEA would be doing screening for all candidates running for office in the Legislature in order to identify those who support HB 315.
HCA member Ann Hanning, representing ORTA, ensured support from that group.
Dennis Leone spoke addressed Ann regarding on the need to contact and encourage the retired teachers associations to support HB 315. He praised Warren County RTA for their efforts in effecting change and support.
Craig Brooks added that if there has been no progress in a year, we may need to reassess and consider a Plan B. Sandy Knoesel assured him that planning would continue to occur.
Mary Ann Cervantes suggested that we need to get to the candidates before they get elected in order to obtain their support for HB 315.
Mary Ellen Angeletti asked Laura Ecklar for suggestions regarding the best way to approach a school board to seek inclusion of HB 315 (by STRS) on board agendas. She suggested starting with the school district for which the retiree taught. Many times fellow teachers who are still active can share the name of someone on the school board who might be supportive of the idea of helping to add 5 minutes to a school board agenda for discussion of 315. Another idea is to contact the Superintendent to add 5 minutes to a board agenda for this purpose. Many times superintendents are close to retirement and very concerned about health care in their retirement. [End of report on Health Care Committee meeting]
A. Handout: A new handout was distributed [in the CORE meeting] that provides information for retirees with regard to contacting legislators to enlist their support of HB 315. It includes a sample letter and is also posted on Kathie Bracy's Blog.
B. Trustee Voting: Members present were asked to volunteer to vote in place of absent (ill) trustees and officers. Dave suggested the possibility of assigning permanent substitutes, if needed, for future CORE meetings.
A. Dave and Mary Ellen reported on recent meetings with Sue Taylor of OFT. At the first meeting, we sought OFT support for our CORE endorsed candidate, Dan Vincent. She promised consideration. At our most recent meeting, she reported that she had brought our request for candidate support to her Executive Committee, and they had decided NOT to support any candidate, including Mr. Vincent. When we asked why they could not support Dan Vincent, she said they would have preferred a classroom teacher rather than an administrator (curriculum director). We do not know why this was not mentioned to us at our earlier meeting with her. She did give us permission to distribute candidate flyers in OFT schools.
Mary Ellen reported on her recent conversation with Rhonda Johnson, President of CEA (Columbus Education Association). Dave and Mary Ellen had had an earlier meeting with Rhonda also seeking CEA support for Dan Vincent. We had also had a meeting with the former president of CEA, John Grossman. He was encouraging and mentioned possible use of CEA mail system for our candidate flyers. Rhonda also promised consideration of support but when Mary Ellen spoke with her recently, she informed us that CEA was not supporting any candidate this election.
When she was told of John Grossman's reference to support using the CEA mail system, she reminded us that John had not been president for four years. Mary Ellen mentioned that this would entail retirees physically going into schools to disperse campaign flyers and seeking signatures for petitions. She informed Mary Ellen that this would not be allowed. The only way that petitions could be signed was to give them to an active teacher to pass around to the staff. She said retirees could get signatures in the parking lot when teachers left for the day. She said that this was the Columbus City School district policy and that if it was violated, it would come back to her and be a big problem. CORE plans to investigate further.
B. Report on the January, 2008 STRS Board Retreat: Dave and Mary Ellen reported that notes had already been sent out as a CORE Email Alert regarding Day 2 of the Retreat. The only review of Day 1 was reliance on the CDs sent out by STRS. The recordings were of such poor quality that they were rendered almost useless. The one bright spot on the CDs which was audible was Craig Brooks' moving and inspiring assessment of his first year on the STRS Board in which he commended all members as good people who were committed to their job. He said it was important that members speak respectfully to each other and be respectful of other points of view (by putting themselves in the other person's shoes) and try to see things from that person's viewpoint. He emphasized active listening and encouraged his fellow board members to not forget past problems, but that it was important to learn from the past and then move on to building a stronger and better STRS Board, one that was able and ready to tackle the problems ahead. [In defense of the recording engineer, it should be noted that tremendous progress has been made in making Board meetings much more audible for all; but at the same time, having many microphones out there (one for each person at the table, and there were many, plus a lapel mike for the moderator) poses monstrous problems; some people do not speak into the mikes; others forget they're there and shuffle papers near them, etc.; if someone has a bad cold, you're going to hear a lot of coughing, etc. All of this is magnified because of the sensitivity of the mikes and the recording engineer's efforts to get every word that is spoken. KBB]
C. CORE Executive Session: Dave Parshall announced a CORE retreat for the officers and trustees of CORE on March 20, 2008 to discuss the terms of CORE officers and trustees. Some may not want to serve until the next Annual Meeting in September of 2008. Many had understood they were to serve only one year this first term even though the CORE constitution calls for a two year term. Replacements can be appointed until the next election if needed. Ideas about how to get members to become more active in the organization will be discussed. Also the officers and trustees need to brainstorm possible directions for the future of CORE. Ideas will be presented to the membership for discussion, consideration and approval at the March 27 CORE meeting. The membership will, of course, make final decisions.
D. Flower Fund & Cards: Mary Ellen shared that a get well card had been sent from CORE to Treasurer C.J. Myers and a sympathy card and note to Judy Kimmel whose late husband, Jim, had been a strong supporter of CORE and the Warren County Retired Teachers Association. Dennis Leone and John Lazares plan to attend his memorial service this Saturday, Feb. 16. Valentines were sent on behalf of CORE to Dennis Leone, John Lazares, and the STRS staff. In a gesture of appreciation, each STRS Board member found a box of candy conversation hearts marked from CORE at today's STRS Board meeting. Cards will be sent on behalf of CORE to ill members: Paul Boyer, Glenna Barr, and Herman Fisher. A sympathy card and note will also be sent on behalf of CORE to STRS staff member, Joyce Baldwin, who recently lost her sister.
It had been suggested that CORE consider establishing a flower fund. Following discussion, it was moved by Mary Thomas that CORE send out notices of any illnesses, deaths, etc. via email chains and alerts. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously. Mary Ellen will continue to send cards on behalf of CORE but when obituaries request donations in lieu of flowers, then this information will be sent out to the membership via email for members to contribute on their own. If members wish to contribute to CORE in memory of the deceased, then this should be noted on the check so that CORE can send this information to the family of the deceased. Please see item E below, concerning a memorial for Jim Kimmel and another good friend of CORE, Mr. Fred Bien.
E. James O. Kimmel Memorial: Judy Kimmel has suggested that memorials be made in Jim's name to: The Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, 3333 Burnet Avenue, MLC 3008, Cincinnati, OH 45229, Attention: Holly Hursong.
Many may remember Mr. Fred Bien, CORE's good friend and CPA who spoke to us 5 years ago regarding a fiduciary audit of the STRS pension fund. He volunteered to do this audit for CORE at a very reasonable sum; however, STRS turned down the offer. Fred attended many of our meetings, and we asked him for advice many times. He is suffering from leukemia and receiving home hospice; we would like to encourage our members to participate in a card shower for him. His address is: Mr. Fred A. Bien, 969 Augusta Glen Drive, Columbus, OH 43235-5015
F. Open/Closed CORE Meetings: The idea of closing our CORE meetings has been brought to our attention recently. The pros and cons of the idea were discussed at today's meeting, and it was decided that we should be encouraging all possible participation by anyone interested in attending. Holding closed meetings, for whatever purpose, would really be very difficult, as all educators [members of STRS] are considered members of CORE. We have no dues, asking only for donations. All are welcome.
G. Agenda Requests: The idea of sending out the CORE agenda to members via email and prior to our CORE meetings has been suggested. This idea was discussed, and we were reminded that usually the agenda is not finalized until the day before the meetings so this idea would be impossible. However, it was suggested that when the first of the month CORE Email Alert meeting reminder is sent out that it include a request to send to Dave Parshall any topic or concern that the person would like to see addressed at the CORE meeting. It would include a deadline date for getting agenda items to Dave at DParshall@insight.rr.com
H. Better communication with the STRS Staff & Board regarding issues of concern to the STRS membership: Suggestions have been given to CORE regarding better communication with the members of the STRS Board and staff. This idea suggested by Molly Janczyk and also Herschell Grimm of OFT was for consideration of regular, small group meetings of Board members and staff. It was mentioned that Molly has had good response from Board members just recently when she emailed them seeking inquiry about the vacant board seat. Several of the Board members emailed her a response and expressed a willingness to bring up the topic at a Board meeting. This happened at today's Board meeting when Craig Brooks brought it up, and the Board instructed Damon Asbury to follow through on finding out why one Board seat [for an appointed member] has been vacant so long. Likewise, Mr. Grimm shared that OFT's Retirement Committee has held an annual breakfast with the Executive Director and his executive staff members which has been very conducive to improving relations and encouraging a closer working relationship. These ideas were well received at today's CORE meeting and consideration of them will be part of the brainstorming session at the March 20 CORE retreat.
Mary Ellen Angeletti,
Substituting for Glenna Barr