Friday, March 05, 2010

Golden Years?


COLA CUTS - $$$$$

From Mario Iacone, March 5, 2010 The Colorado pensioners have filed a class action lawsuit because,




10 yr loss of income would be $16,500

20 yr loss of income would be $63,000


10 yr loss of income would be $33,000

20 yr loss of income would be $126,000


10 yr loss of income would be $49,500

20 yr loss of income would be $189,000

PLEASE REVIEW THE CHART (Click to enlarge)


A STRS retiree receiving a $900 COLA benefit would be cut $300 yearly if COLA is reduced to 2%.

$450 yearly if COLA is reduced to 1.5%

$600 yearly if COLA is reduced to 1.0%

$900 yearly if COLA is eliminated

Lifetime income is substantially reduced with any yearly reduction in COLA.

To obtain, contact information for your State Representative or your State Senator, click on the following link:

They sure don't represent us!

From RH Jones, March 5, 2010
Subject: Fw: Emailing: ORTA Position on the Long-term Solvency Plan of STRS
To: Retired educators
Re: Service to ORTA members
Although I have been called "impolite" by an ORTA board member, as a Life Member I think ORTA's statement should read: ORTA Leadership's Position on Long-term solvency Plan of STRS. None of the retired educators that have communicated with me has, as ORTA says: "hoped that the 2% COLA for current retirees (and the 1.5% for future retirees) is retained..." (See below).
As the ORTA membership knows, retired educators now receive a flat fixed 3% COLA. Only the well-off and rich members, whom I have talked with, agree to a -- perhaps illegal -- cut from 3% down to 2%. The "leadership" position in not as they say: "reasonable and responsible" in relation to the their representation of the average ORTA member. I think they are woefully unrepresented. In their position statement, it is evident that the "leadership" does not understand that this cut will drive away the best Ohio educators from seeking employment in Ohio, and from spending their paychecks here.
Further, I think the "leadership" has hauntingly ignored the position of the majority membership to stand firm against the thought of cutting our COLA; and, therefore, has done a disservice to the membership. If anything, ORTA should be working hard for Ohio to become once again the "Cadillac" of STRS pensions. To reach that goal, retired educators must have a compounded COLA, and fully paid HC/Rx with full dental, vision and hearing coverage. That position, also, in my educated opinion, would attract America's best teachers to teach Ohio's youngsters. Can the "leadership" not see that in this competitive technological age, common sense concludes that only the well-trained worker will have an honest chance in the future for good income and the financial security? As more tax dollars are paid, the State of Ohio fares better as well.
I would expect that those in ORTA's "leadership" have been highly trained as most have Master's degrees or a PhD. Over the past few years, I have wondered: is compassion lacking as part of their education?
RHJones, Life Member of ORTA
Click image to enlarge.


CORE to meet March 18, 2010

From CORE, March 5, 2010
CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) will hold its March meeting on Thursday, March 18th at the STRS building at 275 East Broad Street in Columbus. Parking is free in the STRS parking garage behind the building. We encourage you to also attend the STRS Board meeting which usually begins around 9:00 a.m. on Thursday in the meeting room on the 6th floor. The start time varies from month to month, so we suggest you check with the STRS website ( to confirm the time. The STRS Board meetings usually include Friday as well as Thursday so you might want to check on this too.
Please remember that CORE meeting attendees usually leave the STRS meeting around 11:30 on Thursday in order to get lunch in the cafeteria room (behind the Sublett Room) on the second floor of the STRS building, where the CORE meeting will begin promptly at 11:45.
If you have suggestions for the March CORE meeting agenda, please send them to John Curry at so that he can relay this information to CORE president, Dave Parshall.
Copies of the media letter, recently generated by a CORE committee, will be available for distribution at the March CORE meeting. Members can use this media letter in writing letters to the editor of newspapers in response to the recent criticism of public pensions. Also at the March meeting, members can pick up copies of flyers for candidates for the upcoming Spring STRS Board elections. At last month's CORE meeting, members voted to endorse Jim Stoll and Dale Price as candidates for the two active teacher seats on the STRS Board. We need to discuss ways to promote these candidates to the active teachers in Ohio who will be voting on these two open seats. We need your ideas for reaching the active teachers. Please plan to join us as we prepare our election strategies.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

RH Jones speaks out on ORSC report

From RH Jones, March 3, 2010
Subject: Re: the ORSC report of 02-17-2010 & our HC/Rx, 13th ck, & COLA

To all:

In particular, pages 28 concerning our 13th ck, and page 32 that concerns our COLA. First, this is the page 28 quote: “ORSC staff made a number of recommendations.” · “That the statutory authority to grant an annual lump sum supplemental benefit check (i.e., 13th check) be repealed in STRS and that ad hoc posts be enacted on an as-needed basis by the legislature.” Over the years, I have sent enough e-mail to write a book in support of the 13th ck and explaining the fairness of it to all; that includes it being fair to the STRS retired teacher earmarked funding allocations. In one of ORTA’s few, and far between, STRS public speeches to the STRS Board, on 10-19-2001, ORTA President Dave P. Travis said in the last paragraph of his speech supporting the13th ck: “Even with an actuarial rate of return of 6.7% which is not up to the actuarial assumption rate of 7.5%, you as fiduciaries of what we all like to refer to as the ‘Premier Pension System’, can be fiscally responsible in granting a benefit this year. I urge you to do so.” To see the fairness of the 13th ck go to ORC Sec 3307:1-601 -- the STRS sometimes, at years-end, called it “the clean-up” formula.

Secondly, this is the Page 32 quote: Annual 3 %COLA - In its analysis of H.B. 157 (eff. 2-1-02), which provides for an annual 3% COLA in all five retirement systems, regardless of the actual percentage change in the CPI-W, the ORSC staff recommended against the COLA changes under the bill and suggested that ‘any additional resources of these retirement systems be allocated to the provision of discretionary retiree health care benefits that are neither taxable nor subject to Social Security offset and/or the provision of ad hoc increases, such as a ‘purchasing parity’ adjustment of some target ratio of either 75% or 85%, to retirees whose benefits have been eroded the most by inflation over the years.’ The ORSC rejected the staff recommendation and recommended instead that the legislature approve H.B. 157. Between 1992 and 2006, the CPI-W has increased by less than 3% in 12 of those years.” Personally I do not think that using the year’s 1992- 2006 is not done properly or in an unbiased manner.

While employed, educators sacrificed wages in order to win STRS paid retiree healthcare/Rx. Decisions not to adequately pre-fund were made by politicians. They have the responsibility for making good on their obligations by increasing the revenues that are needed. Un-funding future responsibilities happen in other state government obligations such as Medicaid and prison costs. Why single out our retired educators?

At the time we decided to retiree, if we had known our deferred compensations that including HC/Rx, the 13th ck, and the flat 3% COLA would be so easily threatened we would have stayed on-the-job longer, at greater expense to our employers and would have negotiated even for more deferred compensations such as dental/eye-care and a compounded COLA. Speaking as one retired teacher, I encourage the STRS officials, the ORSC, and the ORSC staff to not be so hard-hearted and, in all finitude: be aware of the retired teacher’s rights under the Untied States of America Constitution. We are protected.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert H. Jones, retired teacher OH STRS stakeholder

The document that nobody seems to want to discuss...STRS in the basement with a 60% funding ratio

From John Curry, March 3, 2010
That miserable 60%..................
This page was taken from a report released by the Ohio Retirement Study Council on Feb. 17, 2010. We are in the basement as compared to all the other Ohio retirement systems, aren't we?
Here is a link to the ORSC report that this page (27) was taken from:

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

RH Jones re: Retirees suing over Colorado state pension changes

From RH Jones, March 2, 2010
Subject: Fw: Business Insurance News Story: Retirees sue over Colorado state pension changes
To all:
When you open this message from Business Insurance, you will notice that the Pennsylvania Attorney, Stephen M. Pincus, is a partner at Pittsburgh-based Stember Feinstein Doyle & Payne L.L.C., a firm that specializes in pension rights on behalf of retirees. He has been an attorney in a healthcare case also.
An e-mail to me a while back stated that no lawyer in Ohio would take such a case. The OH STRS has already cut some of our healthcare; so, in order to recoup it and all that we have lost in the meantime, this Stephen Pincus comes with good credentials. All the above can be verified by going to the web site below.
I will not be able to go to Columbus for this STRS special meeting this coming day after tomorrow, Thursday, March 4 & Friday, March 5; Some other retiree could, and should, let the STRS know at this public meeting that there is the danger of STRS having to pay out legal fees as well as "make up" awards in which the litigation may favor retirees; and if damages were to be awarded.
The right thing and best thing for STRS officials to do is to honor the promises and just to go on and ask the ORSC, and all the other organizations involved that a modest increase in employer and employee contributions is the only way to go for now. Times are tough, we know: but, as every knowledgeable person knows, they are even tougher for retirees.

More info re: Colorado COLA cut and class action suit challenging it....

From John Curry, March 2, 2010
Lawsuit challenges PERA retiree cuts
By Todd Engdahl, February 26, 2010
A class-action lawsuit seeking to overturn the Public Employees Retirement Association solvency plan was filed against the state in Denver District Court Friday, just three days after Gov. Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 10-001 into law.
At issue is the provision that cuts retirees’ annual benefit increases from 3.5 percent to 2 percent starting in 2011. (For this year there will be no increase. Future increases could drop below 2 percent under certain conditions.)

Want to read the class action lawsuit by Coloradoans to halt the COLA cut?

From John Curry, March 2, 2010
Here is a link to that class action lawsuit:


From Mario Iacone, March 2, 2010



Colorado Retirees estimate that a 1.5% Reduction in COLA will cost them more than $165,000 over TWENTY YEARS!

The entire article follows.

"The attorneys said some retirees will lose more than $165,000 over the next two decades because the legislation reduces the annual cost-of-living raise from 3.5 percent to 2 percent annually, with no increase this year."

Jim Stoll: Independent thinker, tireless worker and candidate for Active Seat on the STRS Board

Support Jim Stoll

Stop The Rampant Spending!

And The Cutting of Our Pension Benefits!

Join us on Facebook:

Click: Jim Stoll for STRS


In the past two years, over 1,400 Ohio teachers have signed his election petitions and over 10,000 teachers supported Jim Stoll for election to the STRS Board. They do not want cuts to their Pension including working till age 60 or 35 years of teaching! Join your fellow teachers in "Supporting Jim Stoll" in the upcoming election. Stoll will fight for your right to retire under current rules. "Stoll has been a watchdog of STRS and his actions and information to teachers has dramatically changed STRS Bonus practices!" "He needs and deserves your support!" (Kathie Bracy's Blog -

· I ask for your support in the upcoming STRS Board Election which will begin on April 2, 2010. Over the past year I have fought hard to preserve your STRS pension by challenging STRS to eliminate the "Bonus" (PBI, Performance-Based Incentive) structure for their employees while they propose "cutting" your retirement benefits.

· Every teacher deserves the right to retire under the current rules which have governed for the many years which we've paid into STRS. However, STRS now proposes dramatic cuts to our pension benefits because of their own mismanagement.

· If you think it is unfair for STRS to tell all teachers who have less than 25 years in the system that they NOW must teach for 35 years or until age 60 before retiring, and at the same time tell you to contribute more, then I need and want your vote.

· If you want to stop the drastic and unfair changes proposed by STRS before the Ohio Legislature votes on them next year - then I need your vote.

· I have worked in the past year with Ohio legislators Matt Huffman (Lima) and Danny Bubp (Brown/Adams Counties) to propose bills which would eliminate the outrageous "bonuses" for STRS investment staff, so I know the legislative process and how it works.

· If you are unhappy with the proposed changes to your retirement system then you must vote for a change to the current Board and its status quo. The current STRS Board has obviously not served you well in protecting your retirement investments and benefits. Stop The Rampant Spending – Support Jim Stoll!

· I will protect the COLAs (cost of living adjustment) for retirees and work to preserve the Health Care Fund that is critical to all teachers upon their retirement. All teachers should realize that a retirement without Health Care is no retirement at all.

Active teachers: On April 2, 2010 the ballots for the STRS Board will be sent to you. TO PROTECT YOUR RETIREMENT and to STOP THE RAMPANT SPENDING, I ask you to "Support Stoll."

Vote for James A. Stoll for the Active STRS Board Seat.

About Jim Stoll:

Jim Stoll is the Director of Athletics at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati and a veteran teacher and coach who has contributed to STRS for the past 25 years. He taught American Government classes and coached basketball for 13 years before becoming an administrator. He was also an adjunct professor of Sports Marketing at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and has served as an assistant basketball coach at Miami and the University of Wyoming.

Jim is also a successful business owner who in the summer months founded a company called ProCamps,, which puts on youth sport camps for professional NBA and NFL athletes around the country. Knowing full well the diligence, hard work and sacrifice required to succeed in business, Jim has fought hard against the outrageous spending practices and incredibly huge bonus awards for STRS investment staff that continue unchecked while the STRS pension fund lost almost 33 Billion dollars of its assets (your dollars) in 2008 and 2009. In turn, this has led directly to proposed drastic and undesirable changes in your pension benefits.

This is what Jim Stoll intends to change. (Posted 3/2/10)

RH Jones: A plea to ORTA and OEA-R

From RH Jones, March 2, 2010
Subject: Can they legally reduce your pension benefits once they are vested? A class action lawsuit in Colorado might just tell us something in Ohio!
Will you not act on behalf of your fellow retired members? And, if you are not willing to, will you kindly ask OPERS or AFSCME to take the initiative?
Robert H, Jones, PUFL member of ORTA and OEA-R
[See post below]

Can they legally reduce your pension benefits once they are vested? A class action lawsuit in Colorado might just tell us something in Ohio!

From John Curry, March 2, 2010
Note from John....this pretty well sums up what RH Jones has been telling us all along!!!!!!!!!!
"Both the United States and Colorado Constitutions bar reductions in pension benefits once the right to those pension (benefits) vests. And that is exactly what the legislature did here," attorney Stephen M. Pincus said in the release.
"The attorneys said some retirees will lose more than $165,000 over the next two decades because the legislation reduces the annual cost-of-living raise from 3.5 percent to 2 percent annually, with no increase this year."
PERA benefit cuts bring expected class-action lawsuit
By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post, February 27, 2010

A class-action lawsuit filed Friday claims pension legislation signed into law this week is unconstitutional because it reduces benefits promised to retired government employees.
The legal challenge, just three days after Gov. Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 1, comes as no surprise.
Lawmakers who backed legislation aimed at rescuing the Public Employees Retirement Association have said all along they expected a challenge.
The lawsuit was filed in Denver District Court by Gary Justus, a retired Denver Public Schools math teacher; and Kathleen Hancock, a retired Colorado Department of Labor employee.
They are represented by a Pennsylvania law firm that has filed similar suits in other states, and by Colorado attorney Richard Rosenblatt.

In a news release, the attorneys said the suit also was filed on behalf of approximately 100,000 PERA members who became eligible to retire or who have retired since March 1, 1994, when annual pension increases were first guaranteed under state law.
"Both the United States and Colorado Constitutions bar reductions in pension benefits once the right to those pension (benefits) vests. And that is exactly what the legislature did here," attorney Stephen M. Pincus said in the release.
The attorneys said some retirees will lose more than $165,000 over the next two decades because the legislation reduces the annual cost-of-living raise from 3.5 percent to 2 percent annually, with no increase this year.
Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, who co-sponsored the legislation, said the bill was aimed at taking care of PERA's $30 billion in unfunded liabilities.
"Our reform bill represents the first time a state has cut the benefits of current retirees, so litigation was always expected," he said.
"But to the plaintiffs, who I assume are well-meaning folks, I would say this: If we don't reduce these automatic pension increases, the entire fund is poised to go bankrupt. Think United. Think GM. That didn't work out well for the company or the retirees. These reforms are tough, but they're necessary."
PERA covers 434,056 state workers, teachers, local-government workers and employees of the courts who don't receive Social Security benefits. They pay a certain percentage toward their retirement, as do their employers, the taxpayers.
The cost-of-living provision of the legislation went into effect when the bill was signed. The rest of the bill, including provisions that change the amount of contributions and retirement ages, are effective Jan. 1.
Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327 or

Monday, March 01, 2010

AARP fights attempt to block a COLA increase for Idaho public service retirees

From John Curry, March 1, 2010
COLAs contribute to state and local economies, as every dollar paid out in benefits is estimated to generate $2.36 in economic impact. A 1% COLA totaling $4.28 million could bring as much as $10.1 million to state and local economies.
AARP Applauds Senate for Saying No Way to No COLA for State Retirees
Harsh Bill to Deny State Retirees Modest 1% COLA Stopped in Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee
BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Already seeing costs for the basics soar while retirement savings dwindle, Idaho state retirees who were bracing for the worst received some good news today – they'll receive a much needed 1% cost of living adjustment this year. The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee, chaired by Senator John Andreason, cancelled a hearing on the bill today, effectively stopping the measure in it's tracks. AARP commends the Senators on the committee for saying 'NO WAY' to 'NO COLA.'
"AARP applauds Senator Andreason and the members of the committee for taking a stand for state retirees and ensuring Idaho continues to value those who have contributed so much to this state," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.
The bill (HCR 42) was the first time state lawmakers have tried to block a recommended increase by the Public Employees Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI). COLAs do not cost the state any revenue; rather the funds are already in the PERSI fund, which has been rated one of the strongest retirement funds in the nation.
"Without this COLA, state retirees living on the brink would see tougher times ahead," added Wordelman.
An AARP survey released earlier today found that many older Idahoans are struggling and some would have been hit particularly hard by no COLA for state retirees this year. According to the survey, one third saw retirement savings and investments decrease, while 71% stated the cost of living has increased (71% reported increases in grocery prices, 64% in utility costs, and 53% in health care related expenses).
Economic impact of a COLA for state retirees:
COLAs contribute to state and local economies, as every dollar paid out in benefits is estimated to generate $2.36 in economic impact. A 1% COLA totaling $4.28 million could bring as much as $10.1 million to state and local economies. To see a county by county breakdown of retirees and the COLA's impact on local economies, click here:
The full survey, Economic Well Being in Idaho, can be found online at:
AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

Hey Dispatch......are we a little biased against public pensions and especially Ohio public pensions?

From John Curry, March 1, 2010
Columbus Dispatch - Feb. 28, 2009
Newspaper miscast report on pensions
With each story it becomes increasingly clear that The Dispatch doesn’t support retirement security for the more than 500,000 public employees who work in Ohio. First, it ran the Jan. 3 “Good as gold” articles, a four-page spread bashing Ohio’s public pension systems, burying the fact that public employees are not eligible for Social Security, a huge gap that must be filled by the public pensions.
Now it missed the point completely on the Pew Center on the States report about public pensions in the United States (Dispatch article, Feb. 18). One only has to look at the headlines to see the bias. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s headline was “Pew Report gives Ohio pensions high marks.” The Dispatch’s was “Public pension systems reeling.”
The true success of the public pension systems in Ohio was buried in another negative story by The Dispatch. The fact is Ohio was issued the highest rating as a “top performer,” with 87 percent of its total pension costs in the bank, way above the recommended 80 percent preferred by pension experts.
And why didn’t The Dispatch use this quote from the study: “It (Ohio Public Employees Retirement System) started saving back in the 1970s, and today it is one of only six states on track to fully fund its nonpension (retiree health care) obligations. Ohio had $11.1 billion — an amount far higher than any other state.” Clearly the headline should have been, “Ohio public pensions outperform the rest.”
And in general the Pew report supported public pensions, which despite losing money in today’s poorly regulated Wall Street, still manage to be funded on average at 84 percent, 4 percentage points higher than preferred by pension experts.
It is a disservice to readers, Ohio residents and public-employee retirees to mischaracterize this report.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Ohio Council 8

RH Jones: Where's ORTA's rebuttal? (You're dreaming, Bob)

From RH Jones, March 1, 2010
Subject: Hey Dispatch......are we a little biased against public pensions and especially Ohio public pensions?
John and all:
Concerning the Dispatch's biased attack on defined benefits (deferred compensation), where is the rebuttal from ORTA, I wonder? Silence is not golden in this instance. Perhaps retired educators could become members of the union mentioned [in John Lyall's letter above].
RHJones, PUFL Member of ORTA

Doctors threaten to close up shop over changes to Medicare

ABC, February 26, 2010
Contributor: Kerry Kavanaugh
For Doctor Stephen Kreitzer, practicing medicine is about to get a lot more expensive because he's getting a pay cut.
"A lot of physicians could not stay in practice at a 21% cut," he says.
Of his 5,000 patients, Kreitzer says half, or 2,500, receive Medicare benefits. But on Monday March 1, the federal government is set reduce Medicare reimbursement rates by 21 percent.
The Tampa doctor says while he'll be making less, the rent is going up, supplies are more expensive, and employees need raises. But, Kreitzer says they'll be lucky if they even get a pay check.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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