Saturday, August 08, 2009

Tom Curtis to Joy Silverhart: Why STRS wants to cut our COLAs

From Tom Curtis, August 8, 2009
Subject: Re: LCRTA Pension Information
[Joy had sent out a message to retirees urging them to contact STRS Board members re: possible COLA cuts]
Hello Joy,
How are you doing? I hope you are doing well.
Thank you for sending along the email below. I am encouraged to see that more and more retirees are "possibly" getting involved. However, few have taken the time to really understand how poorly the STRS/OEA/ OFT/ ORTA have represented us in the past two decades. ORTA has become totally irrelevant in my mind. The leadership of that organization just sits on their hands and keeps their mouth closed. The current executive director of ORTA sits in many, many meetings month after month and says absolutely nothing about the mismanagement and misspending by the STRS. How can that be? Well, it is because the majority of the RTA organizations that are close to ORTA are simply luncheon or dinner associations. The membership attend only for social purposes. They have little to no desire to hear any bad news about their retirement pension. When those of us that have been attempting to spread the word (CORE) have attempted to contact these groups, most have simply not replied. I guess they are waiting for ORTA to provide some direction, but that is not going to happen.
I have personally found that far too many retirees just do not desire to hear any bad information about any of the organizations I listed above. They are far more comfortable with their heads in the sand. That is very sad considering the education they possess. They are certainly NOT pro-active.
In my opinion, the leadership of the organizations listed above is really more concerned about the dedicated flow of income, which is the life blood for each of them. None of them truly care about retirees as they claim they do, or they each would have been much stronger advocates then they ever have been. I could cite many examples that would verify my opinion, but few listen.
Individually, we have been on the short end of the expenditures of these organizations for many years now. STRS benefit recipients have paid the investment staff some of the top salaries within the industry, then millions of dollars in bonuses on top of that. All the leadership of the STRS has done is make the investment people feel very entitled. We are told either we pay them that much or they will leave the STRS. Do you really think that is the case? No, it is not and statistics prove such. However, collectively, the STRS investment staff has lost a whopping $42+ billion dollars in this decade. This is why they desire to cut our COLAs.
I do not know if my many statements above are far too strong for most retirees, but this is what I have experienced since my involvement beginning in 2003. If you choose, please pass my comments onto the LCRTA.
Tom Curtis
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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