Monday, April 29, 2013

Dennis Leone's questions for Mike Nehf re: Ballot Language

From: Dennis Leone 
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 4:16 PM 
To: 'Nehf, Mike' Cc: 'Neville, Bill'; 'Treneff, Nick'; 'Board' 
Subject: Questions

Mr. Nehf -- Thank you for your reply below.

Regarding #1 below:  What was “clear as presented ” (using your words in #1 below) in this matter  is that the ballot issued a command of “Select Two Candidates.” So while you are saying to me that no one at STRS asked the election vendor employed to change the ballot language from 2009, are you also saying that the change just happened on its own, that no one at STRS felt the new ballot language needed to be changed, but that the change occurred mysteriously anyway?  This is not making much sense?  The STRS Board not bothering to even look at the ballot language ahead of time would be like a school board authorizing a bond issue, then not looking at the ballot language before the board of elections printed the ballot.  Hands-off governance at its worst.

Regarding #2 below:  If the ballot information was clear, as you wrote in #1 below, then why did STRS deem it was necessary (as you wrote below in #2) to offer a second ballot to “make voters aware” (using your words in #2 below) that they may vote for up two candidates in this election.  You didn’t feel a need to make it clear with the paper ballot that retirees did not really have to “Select Two Candidates” (even though that is what the ballot said to do),  but you felt a need to make clear with online voters that voters could chose up to two candidates.  Don’t you see the inconsistency?
Regarding #3: Yes, I am well aware that the board may only go into executive session for matters authorized in ORC 121.22(G), but your statement to me (see #3 below) that it would be inappropriate for you to disclose “the content of the executive session”  does not address what I am asking you. I am not asking you to specifically disclose WHAT was discussed in executive session. I do not care to know the specific content of what was discussed. I am simply asking IF the ballot issue or voting concerns WERE discussed in executive. There IS a big difference.  I am entitled to know IF these issues were discussed in executive session. That is all I am asking.  If these issues were NOT discussed in executive session, then you have nothing to worry about. If I asked you whether you discussed the Ohio State Cheerleaders in executive session, my guess is that would quickly say no and you would not dodge the issue.  But for sure, if you DID discuss the Ohio State Cheerleaders in executive session, I suspect you would not want to admit it. Is this perhaps why you are NOT telling me if the ballot issue of election concerns were discussed in executive session?  Yes or no?  Was there executive session discussion about ballot issues or election concerns on 4-18-13 at STRS?

Please provide me with needed clarification and answers to questions above.

Given the large number of retirees who have told me they desired to vote for ONLY one candidate, but – for concern that a single vote would invalidate their ballot – ended up voting for 2 candidates so they would not disobey the “Select Two Candidates” command on the main ballot or the online second ballot, I hereby make the following public records’ request:
I wish to have a copy of all written communications (including – but not limited to – letters, memos, emails, text messages, and other electronic communications) sent by you or received by you in the current fiscal year that pertain in any way to the 2013 STRS Board election, 2103 Board election petitions, 2013 ballot concerns, or 2013 board election process concerns.  (I do not desire copies of any election petitions that were turned in for retiree Board candidates.)  This request includes communications on said topics to or from VR Election Services, STRS employees, or STRS Board members, or copies of communications that were authored by STRS employees or STRS Board members on said topics. Understand that since STRS Board members are public officials, I am entitled to copies of written communications they authored on topics pursuant to this request, whether said communications were generated by  their STRS email system, their home email system, work email system, or any other electronic communication device they have used to communicate information pertaining to said topics.  I am asking you to make sure the board members (who have been in office during the current fiscal year) are made aware of this request and to instruct them to comply with my request with copies of communications they authored on said topics. I am willing to pay the printing costs associated with this request, pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code.

Thank you.
Dennis Leone

From: Nehf, Mike
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2013 11:27 AM 
To: Dennis Leone Subject:RE: Questions

Dr. Leone, below are my responses to your questions.  Be assured that I have given consideration to the concern you have raised about this year’s Retirement Board election.  I have reviewed these items with my staff and understand that they have been in contact with you throughout the election process.  I believe these responses clearly state STRS Ohio’s viewpoint on the matter.

From: Dennis Leone 
Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2013 7:17 PM
To: Nehf, Mike; Neville, Bill 
Subject: Questions
I would appreciate answers to the following questions:
1. Why does this year’s Board election ballot read “Select Two Candidates” when the ballot in 2009 read “Select Up To Two Candidates?”  In both years, there were 4 retirees running for the 2 open spots on the board.  Response:  VR Election Services, the vendor STRS Ohio hired to administer the election, prepared the ballot – we did not ask the vendor to change the ballot language from what they prepared in 2009.  My communications director subsequently reviewed the voting packet contents in its entirety (including the ballot) and believed the instructions were clear and correct as presented.
2. Why, when I voted for myself electronically this year by clicking the word “submit,”  was my ballot not accepted until a I rejected an additional pop-up reminder that I could cast a second vote?  Response:  The pop-up reminder was included to help make voters aware that they may vote for two candidates in this election.  Voters, whether they vote online, by phone or by mail, are able to cast a vote for only one candidate.
3. Was there any discussion in executive session on April 18 at STRS about matters pertaining to this year’s board election process, election documents, or election complaints expressed by me?  As you know, the Board may enter executive session only in accordance with Ohio Revised Code Section 121.22 (G).  It would inappropriate for me to disclose the content of executive session.
4. What will happen if the active teacher “teller” who volunteered to represent me on May 11 cannot attend the vote tabulation at STRS?   She has just informed me that she may need to have surgery.  Will my board candidacy be jeopardized if there is no active teacher teller present for me on May 11?  There are hundreds of retirees who would enjoy serving as a teller for me, as retirees did in 2005 for both Dave Speas and me. Response:  The inability of your teller to attend the meeting on May 11 will not affect your eligibility to be elected.
Thank you. 
Dennis Leone
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