Saturday, May 11, 2013

Perceptions and impressions and the flawed 2013 STRS board election that was no accident

1. The flaws in the 2013 STRS retiree election, most notably commanding retirees to "Select TWO candidates" were NOT an accident. The ballot language was deliberately changed from the 2009 ballot, and was specifically designed to cause confusion among the voting retirees who originally intended to vote for ONE candidate (called single-shot voting). They were deliberately tricked, by carefully crafted language (and a pop-up, second ballot for online voters) into thinking their vote would not count at all unless they voted for TWO candidates, which worked very much in favor of the incumbents. The STRS staff and board were very much aware of this all along and heartily approved it. They PRETENDED not to see the confusion it caused when retirees pointed it out to them REPEATEDLY. To them it was clear as a bell, which was a sham. We had legitimate concerns, yet we were totally ignored, and deliberately so. Everyone at STRS was in on the act. They knew what was coming and were prepared for it.
2. No one at STRS has offered an explanation for WHY the 2013 ballot was different from the 2009 ballot, even though there were four retirees running for two open seats in both years. WHY? The active teachers on the STRS board would demand answers in their home school district if their school board refused to provide any explanation whatsoever for why flawed ballot language was being used for an operating levy. Perception: deliberate deception on the part of STRS staff and board (backed by OEA), what else? STRS has absolutely NO intention of ever offering an explanation. This was all planned very, very carefully.
3. OEA basically runs the STRS board and staff; otherwise, why does the STRS board vote unanimously or nearly so to pass all issues put before them? (Notice that the issues always seem to favor OEA's wishes.) NOBODY on the board ever asks hard ball questions!  For sure OEA runs the two retired board members, though they would argue otherwise; otherwise, why would OEA spend many thousands of active teachers' dollars to get them elected again? And why would those two candidates for re-election PERMIT this? What interest does OEA have in retired educators when it is well known that they drop these people like hot potatoes the minute they retire and aren't paying into the OEA coffers any more? Is this OEA's way of repaying thousands of teachers for their 30 years of loyalty to their union? The playing field for this election (as for previous elections) was NOT level. The two non-board-member candidates had only out-of-pocket money for their campaigns while the winners had megabucks of OPM behind them! Money talks. OEA money buys board members and board elections.
4. The investment department has been screwing us BIG TIME, for a long time, and they know it. Heads need to roll, but knowing this board and staff, I don't see it happening. Everybody's too happy with the status quo because they're ALL benefiting at our expense and are not about to rock the boat. Isn't it interesting that while people say they have earned back everything they lost in the stock market in 2008, and while the DOW has reached a record high of 15,000, STRS STILL is a whopping $13 billion shy of where STRS was with total assets in 2008. Yet HUGE bonus checks are still handed out to investment staff like candy!.
5. OEA has complete control over ORTA. Why else would ORTA go along with them (other than sheer stupidity) to screw retirees out of COLA funds and affordable healthcare, not to mention allowing potentially extremely damaging language (to retirees) to be written into the pension law? ORTA pretends to represent retirees, but I have yet to see proof. What has ORTA done for us? Not one damned thing. CORE gave it their best shot, but couldn't fight City Hall.
6. All the above groups are extremely afraid of Dennis Leone. Why? Because he is the ONLY one who LISTENS TO RETIREES and fights for what is best for them. He rocks the STRS boat by asking tough questions and pushing for straight answers. Why don't these groups like that? You be the judge. You know what the bottom line is, every time. Where there's money there's greed and corruption. Dennis Leone represents truth, openness and SUNSHINE; the last thing the STRS board and staff, ORTA, and especially OEA want to see. What have they got to hide? PLENTY!!!
7. Retirees are scorned and laughed at -- PLENTY -- by STRS staff and board and OEA. For most of our careers we had the naivete to trust these groups to look out for our best interests. So naive on our part. Never again!!!
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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