Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Jim N. Reed to Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: STRS Stakeholders Paying for Apathy

From Jim N. Reed, September 4, 2009
Earlier this decade STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer corrected a retiree who questioned why his pension contributions were being misspent by explaining that the funds did not belong to retirees. Stakeholder contributions belonged to the Board and management. Entitlement takes root.
To one anxious retiree Dyer suggested it would be prudent to cut back by not eating out as often. Times at STRS were changing and retirees should stop whining and accept that some were bound to fall through the cracks during the transition.
Board member Joe Endry announced his intentions to move STRS out of the healthcare business. Since the system was not legally bound to provide a healthcare subsidy, the STRS promise to current and prospective retirees that healthcare would be the foundation of a secure and affordable retirement could justifiably be broken. No matter that most retirees made that irreversible, life-altering decision based on that promise. Ethics aside.
STRS-literate stakeholders are aware that the courts disagreed with the lack of ethics within STRS management and the boardroom and a half dozen of the Board and Dyer were adjudicated and removed. Dyer was Board-awarded more than a half million dollar "golden parachute" for his role in the scandal, paid for by stakeholders, many of whom were, and remain, unaware of what was going on inside their own retirement system.
In 2003 Chillicothe Superintendent Dr. Dennis Leone's research (using STRS's own records), investigation, and publication of his findings initiated a period of oversight and reform within the retirement system.
Still, too many active and retired educators remained uneducated about what was happening to the biggest investment of their lives. Apathy, passiveness and mind-numbing propaganda from their own OEA and ORTA organizations fomented continued abuses and mismanagement of their retirement funds.
Now the piper must be paid. In a recent Board proposal to the Ohio Retirement Study Council recommendations to make "corrections" to off-set the loss of $40 billion in assets and continued mismanagement of pension funds, the belt-tightening continues to strangle retirees, disgust knowledgeable actives, and discourage prospective educators.
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Jim N. Reed
Baltimore, Ohio
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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