Sunday, May 05, 2013

Shirlee Zerkel to STRS: Scrap the election!

From Shirlee Zerkel, May 5, 2013
Mr. Nehf: As a retiree, I find these quotes from Julius Caesar of interest in our present election situation: (1)  "The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins Remorse from power..." and  (2)  ..."But 'tis a common proof, That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; But when he once attains the upmost round, He then unto the ladder turns his back, Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend."
You and the Board have power and important jobs, but are not in the slightest remorseful for what has happened on this ballot issue.  If you were remorseful, you would have called for a new election. You also would have explained to Dr. Leone at the April Board meeting what actually happened instead of the scornful silence. You have turned your backs and scorned the retirees by your actions and silence on the issues.  We can see that the variances in ballot language was intentional.
I would like to walk you through some of those "clear and correct as presented"  directions on the ballots and on the Internet.
The following is what retirees received in the mail.
1. Just under the Personal ID Number on the paper ballot:  "You may vote for up to TWO candidates only."
2. To vote on the Internet:  "Check the name of the candidates of your choice."
3.  To vote by touch-tone phone:  "The name of the candidates you have selected...Your selections will be displayed."
4.  To vote by mail-in ballot:  "You may vote for up to TWO candidates.  Mark your selections."
5.  Last and certainly not least, is your own quote, Mr. Nehf, near the top of 2013 State Teachers Retirement Board Election Issue.  Here it is:  "...Then vote for two candidates." This is what the retirees experienced on the phone:
6.  Some retires have said they were told that their single vote was invalid. The following is what the retirees saw on the Internet:
7.   Screen 1:  (Select two candidates.) Screen 2: (Select two candidates.) Screen 3:  You may vote for up to Two candidates
As a retiree who was a student of the English language, the type of sentences, the punctuation and capitalization are very important in the meaning of what is being stated. Your use of the Command sentence is intimidating. Commands do not allow choices. The constant use of the plural and capitalizing all or part of the word 'TWO'. works subconsciously to make the voter feel he/she must vote for two candidates.
You know what was done, or there would not have been a scornful silence at the Board meeting!  Your other vague and weak attempts to explain the confusion and then to state that the directions and the ballots  "were clear and correct as presented" is just your 'dance'.  By the way, STRS needs a new communications director who can correctly edit material or maybe he/she was  afraid to tell you and the Board the truth for fear of being scorned.
I ask you to do the right and honorable thing; scrap this election.  Let the candidates be put on a corrected ballot without having to get the signatures again from the members. As I see it both STRS and the VR Election Services are at fault, so the cost should be shared.  I feel that way because of an answer to a question, Mr. Nehf. That answer:  "We did not ask the vendor to change the ballot language from what they prepared in 2009." Then how did those changes happen! Also your communications director did not catch the changes that appeared on the ballots.  Run a new, honorable election!
Just remember that without the base degrees (the retirees) there would be no important jobs such as Executive Director of STRS,
Shirlee Zerkel
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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