Saturday, February 18, 2006

RH Jones: Accountability of Legislators In Regard to Charter Schools

From RH Jones, February 18, 2006

To all:

Representing retired teachers, at the Akron Charter Schools accountability seminar sponsored this morning by the League of Women Voters, only K. Fluke of the SummitCRTA, Rep. Bob Otterman (D) -Akron, Rep. Brian Williams - Akron (D), Joan Platz (D) -Toledo and an OFT Rep were there for us. (Otterman & Williams are retired educators.) Despite a wind-chill of below zero and slick streets, A large crowd attended.

Concerning charter schools, Dr. Fluke reports that the "bottom line" of the seminar is:
"There is nothing in the ORC that holds legislators responsible for not following the mandate of the Ohio Supreme Court."

It was interesting to note that no OEA or NEOEA was recognized as being in attendance. Dr. Fluke represented (CORE) and the SummitCRTA branch of the ORTA attended, but no other members were there. A Same.

RHjones CORE and SummitCRTA

Robert Hudson Jones, A call to arms re: OSBA Platform Opposing STRS Enhancements

From: RH Jones, February 18, 2006; Subject: My letter to Linda F.R. Omobien, Newly Elected OSBA President

To all:

My letter is below. It has been 2-wks. since I took the time to write her. In that 2-wks. I have not yet received a reply.

You retired & active teachers may wish to contact her at:

Phone: Asst. Sup. Office Sec. Aldena Sample, 330/761-2921 or;
Akron Public Schools Switchboard Operator, 330/761-1661 or;
Home phone: 330/867-6571
Write her at:

Linda F.R. Omobien
The Akron Public Schools
70 North Broadway Street
Akron, OH 44308
Note: of course, she can also be reached at the OSBA, as well.

My e-mail letter to her:

Subj: OSBA Platform Opposing STRS Enhancements
Date: 2/4/2006

Dear Linda F.R. Omobien:

First, I would like to personally congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the OSBA and your Award of Achievement from them. What a great chance for you to do good for our pupils, and their active and retired teachers. I am proud to be a retired 6th grade teacher from the Akron City School System of which you are also honored to serve as a school board member. God Bless Your Service!

My reason for contacting you is that I am concerned that: the OBSA opposes -- according
to OSBA Legislative Platform, Personnel Section -- any attempt to increase the employer's share to cover increase in cost. As you probably know, it has been 21-yrs. since there has been an increase. Therefore, an enhancement of the present 14% employer rate is long overdue. The teaching profession, and it's retirement system, needs an enhancement at this critical time in Ohio history. While businesses are leaving the state for lack of a pool of educated job seekers, the OSBA opposes future benefit enhancements unless accompanied with a reduction in the 14% only a reduction in the employers share.

As a consequence of this type of negative thinking, damage is being done to both the commercial businesses and the public education sectors. And, contrary to this outdated OBSA platform: #1. Our children need, and deserve, well paid career educators with a guarantee of a STRS offering a Compounded COLA pension & health care benefits. #2. And contrary to outdated OSBA statements, these enhanced STRS benefits will attract and keep the best educators serving Ohio's children, and their communities. The attraction of businesses and keeping them here will thus be the outcome of a financially healthy public school system backed by a forward thinking OSBA that cares for outstanding public schools; for the last several years that has not been the case. Furthermore, backward ultraconservative OSBA attitude is hurting us all. Please help with a progressive change.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I await your response.

Robert Hudson Jones,
a concerned retired career Akron, Ohio teacher

Note: Linda F.R. Omobien also was awarded the prestigious Master Board Member Award (2003)

Molly Janczyk and Mark Meuser on the 35 year incentive (SB 190)

From: Molly Janczyk; Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2006; Subject: RE: Correction:
Mark, Thank you. It was never more than wanting to look at all issues for impact. Buser is the one who requested the study on the 35 yr. and SB190 areas. It was never us who started the rumor that the Board was considering rolling it back or eliminating it. Now that it has been studied, it was a good thing as all understand it better.
We all feel the same about Charter Schools. We all feel the same about most every issue. That is why collaborative efforts would do much to help ease all educators about issues and work together for solutions which is all CORE ever wished.
We would never want any young educator to experience what current retirees have with overwhelming increases robbing them of retirements. We work for actives and retirees for secure retirements and any who think otherwise or promote otherwise are hurting efforts to move forward and help make education an attractive profession for our children. When we hear rumors about our intent , then we must react and it is so very unproductive. We just want to make sure all educators are treated equitably. Some in your organization are not informed about us and only hear or listen to those who feel we are somehow the enemy when in fact, we ARE OEA and OEA-R and we WERE assoc. Pres and officers and members and felt we were ignored when the crisis hit and we seemed to be standing alone enduring smirks and comments unearned. So, we formed and fought for ourselves just as we formed the locals during our careers and fought for raises and recognition and rights. We are the same. We are educators and we are part of the family wishing to be treated equitably. We feel much has changed and organizations now speak of and for all retirees.
We are here and ready to join forces for increased legislation. Thanks Mark for remaining available and communicative. We appreciate that. Stay in touch. You came to meet us and speak with us. We treated you with respect and you have responded in kind.
Molly J.
From: Mark Meuser; Subject: RE: Correction: Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2006
Thanks for your recent e-mails. I'm glad that CORE is not interested in doing away with the 35-year incentive. That is by far the biggest STRS concern of the members of my local association. It's even bigger than health care!
I also read your e-mails regarding charter schools in Ohio. I applaud the stand you are taking on that issue.

Good news from STRS: 12.1% investment gain in 2005

2 Ohio funds’ returns beat the market
Saturday, February 18, 2006

Although major stock-market averages changed little last year, Ohio’s two biggest pension funds did significantly better.

The $69 billion Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and the $63.4 billion State Teachers Retirement System recorded investment gains of 9 percent and 12.1 percent respectively, representatives of the systems said.

Both funds have annual growth targets of 8 percent to keep them financially sound well into the future.

By comparison, the Dow Jones industrial average was down slightly last year while the S &P 500 managed only a 3 percent gain.

"We were able to produce a respectable return that beat benchmarks and contributed $4.5 billion to the overall fund" in 2005, said Jennifer C. Horn, director of investments at OPERS, the nation’s 16 th-largest pension system.

She said gains were recorded in each of the system’s asset classes, and the returns were particularly strong in the bond and private-equity portfolios that are managed by OPERS staff members, not outside investors.

STRS also topped all of its benchmarks last year by nearly 1.5 percentage points. The system, which includes public school and university teachers, had particularly strong returns in its emerging-markets stock and real-estate portfolios.

About 80 percent of STRS assets are managed by its staff; it’s 63 percent at OPERS.

The state’s smaller pension systems, which use outside advisers to manage their investment portfolios, recorded similarly strong gains.

The Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund ended the year with assets of $10.4 billion and an 8.6 percent return, the $9.8 billion School Employees Retirement System of Ohio scored a 10.8 percent return, and the Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System, with $712.56 million in assets, recorded a 7.3 percent investment return.

Despite the increases, actuaries say the overall funding levels at the police system and STRS are inadequate to cover their liabilities for benefit payments expected during the next 30 years, as law requires. The Highway Patrol fund also is slightly behind.

Across the United States, average pension-fund assets grew 7 percent last year, according to Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a benefits and financial-management consulting firm.

This is the third consecutive year that assets at retirement systems have grown, following a three-year stock-market slide when many pension funds lost money. But many retirement plans are struggling.

"While assets have clawed back some ground in the last three years, liabilities are likely to continue to increase" as bond yields remain low and retirees live longer, requiring bigger payouts by the pension plans, said Roger Urwin, who leads Watson Wyatt’s investment-consulting business.

OPERS had gains of 25.3 percent in 2003 and 12.5 percent in 2004. STRS recorded increases of 24.2 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively.

Corrections from Molly: Nipping rumors in the bud

From Molly Janczyk, February 17, 2006

It was not said that Robt. Davis of OEA said the items mentioned re: teachers on SS, Health Care Savings Accounts, stopping the 35 yr rule, etc. at the Assoc. Meeting mentioned in STRS minutes. The Active OEA attendee was saying he was there and these things were mentioned as being talked about by some STRS Board members. ALL THE ABOVE ARE UNTRUE AND THERE IS NO TALK BY OR HEARD BY ANY BOARD MEMBERS of any of these items according to Leone and Buser and Damon and attendees at Board Meetings.

Perhaps Robt Davis can shed some light on this. Conni Ramser, STRS Board Member and OEA Active 2006 Endorsee along with Mark Meuser for the STRS Board Seats , said she would speak to Robt. about this for clarification.

The 35 yr rule was merely looked at to see its impact and found to do as it was anticipated to do and helped all-actives and retirees. NO ONE wants it rolled back or stopped. Board Member Buser was the one who wanted to see its impact with a study in STRS' attempt to look at all areas. He approves it and would vote for it if it were up for vote today. HE WANTED ME TO PASS THAT ON TO EASE CONCERNS. The issue is dropped. Rest assured.

The concern is that rumors still exist at OEA Assoc. Meetings and we feel it is detrimental for collaborative efforts to focus and work on HC. Please stop the rumors and let's move on because that is all they are: rumors and untrue.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Molly's notes on Feb. 16 CORE and STRS Board meetings; HCA meeting

From Molly Janczyk, February 16, 2006

CORE met at 11:45 as usual with Mary Ellen taking notes for the Election 2006 discussion re: Flyers and Conni Ramser was welcomed for a question and answer session. Minutes to follow.

Speakers at STRS Board meeting:

1. Mark Millis: 30 yr retiree: OEA-R/NEA: Some retirees cannot work 35 yrs due to illness, conditions, funding but still depend on SB190 for its enhancements for the 66%.

2. Gary Hollow: Retiree with 36 yrs: OEA-R: Some retirees understand that STRS pays more $ and benefits to retirees than it collects from actives. Reducing staff won't pay for HC. The only thing that can pay for HC is a dedicated stream of revenue for the HC Fund. We must all work together for legislation. We can't ask for 13th cks, compounded COLAS, etc. when we don't have the money to pay for HC.

3. Tom Curtis: Speaking on the Retreat: Thanked the board for its efforts and hard work. Gained an appreciation for the efforts and a better understanding of the work that goes into decisions. Thank you!

4. Vicki Huff: Active with 34 yrs. OEA Exec. Comm: Represents actives in urging board to work together; HC costs are an albatross around our necks; HCA are working together; nat'l solution best but not happening now. HCA: Comprehensive Plan w/o burdening any one grp.. Retain enhanced benefit which has been counted on; actives pay into system 5 yrs longer and do not withdraw funds for 5 yrs longer and do not costs system for HC for 5 yrs longer.

5. Dave Speas: former STRS Board Member: Thank you. I remember the 13th ck and other benefits when we were making great quantities of money and none of us said not to give it to us. Then the crash and we are $9 Billion short. We'd be $34 Billion short if not for STRS investment staff.

We must learn from the past: We should have planned for a rainy day instead of giving retirees less costs and more benefits. Is there a plan for an emergency to protect funds from another disaster? It is your job to protect basic benefits and protect the funds so that an even more painful result does not occur.

6. Lloyd Knudsen: 30 yr retiree: Where is the same passion for retirees that was exhibited by some board members last month for non-investment staff compensation? I know you are thinking we must make decisions on all facets of STRS business. I know one superintendent whose motto was: Children First! Every decision was based on Children First. What was best for the kids, not the teachers, even though we thought teachers made education happen. The STRS board motto should be: Retirees First (all retirees-future and current).

A churchgoer I know has tithed 10% his entire life. Teachers tithe 10%. Retirees have made that financial commitment to STRS throughout their careers. Money was sent to invest, safeguard and later pay back to them in pension and subsidized HC benefits.

The board agonizes over non investment staff compensation, staff leaving but staff will leave when the grass is greener just as educators leave. Education goes on. I taught in a lower paying district with pride in the district serving the community and doing a good job for the kids. I hope staff at STRS appreciate all the good things they enjoy as employees at STRS. Please remember: Retirees First!

7. Scott DiMauro: Pres. Worthington Assoc., OEA/NEA: Commend Brown as Chair for overseeing the board during adverse conditions. Rumor that STRS staff should be under STRS vs. OPERS. Hope not based on thinking staff not excellent. When levy on ballot, it is about kids though some don't recognize that. STRS staff does care about Retirees and that is why they are here.

Break: 1 hr till 4pm HC Meeting:

Spoke with Conni Ramser about a 2/14/06 OEA meeting where Robt Davis allegedly talked of some members on the STRS Board being in favor of actives having their own health savings accounts and eliminating the 35 yr plan and even one board member wanting to see SS take place of our retirements. (The writer and attendee at the meeting felt it might be a political appointee, if true).

I simply complimented Conni on her speaking points to us, her diligence regarding researching topics and her saying how important it is for all to discuss and debate before voting during her meeting with us. I gave a few ex.'s of how these statements hurt OEA and collaborative relations as it puts us in the place of telling again and again what is NOT true.

NO BOARD MEMBER IS IN FAVOR OF ELIMINATING OR ROLLING BACK SB190 or any portion of it. Investment Appointee STRS Board Member, Stephen Buser, simply asked for a report on its financial impact. ALL saw that it WAS NOT a drain on STRS funds and that ALL EDUCATORS benefited-both actives and retirees - EQUITABLY. NO ONE WANTS TO DO AWAY WITH IT. Everyone sees the danger of trying to roll back for any portion and that would create terrible conflict an no one wants to lose the enhancements they gained. Stephen Buser said to tell ALL THAT HE APPROVES IT AND WOULD VOTE FOR IT IF IT CAME UP AGAIN! Conni reminded me of emails from retirees that questioned SB190 and I said yes, some did question and wished to see the study. But, having seen it, all realize both retirees and actives gained. She says she has to continue telling actives it is not a problem and asked that we help spread that message to calm fear.

Connie spoke of her determination for HC for all retirees-future and current and her duty as a board member to represent membership. She asked that we all work forward towards legislation to benefit all. She said the board learned by trusting sources and not having documents in fron of them before voting and it would not occur again.

HCA Meeting: The meeting was impressive with many offering suggestions and good debate resulting in changed minds and common ground. Mike Billirakis chaired the meeting: Main points for drafting legislation for increased contributions for HC Funding: I'm not going into too much detail or who said what as it may distract AND agreement was reached and all offered good faith comments to address issues in my opinion : -All membership would be treated the same by contributing and being offered access to HC if they chose with Sandy Knoesel stressing the importance of this with emotion: 'All are our members.' -BILL LEIBENSPERGER SPOKE FOR ALL MEMBERSHIP on several occasions stating: 'We do not like to see tiers of coverage but all treated the same referred to retiree HC.' When speaking about DC beneficiaries , he stated that it may not be that they do not want HC and if packages change, they may change their choice but regardless all to be treated the same. This is response to the fact that Dc (Defined Contribution Plan does not pay the same into the Pension funding and DB Defined Benefit makes up the difference). DC opts of of HC with STRS. But legislation would allow them the choice). -All actively teaching educators would be treated the same making contributions with choice of access to STRS HC. -Guaranteed fund for the contributions protected for HC only! -Refund options were discussed; pro: more attractive; con: take more contributions to fully fund HC Perhaps some small issuance could be written into legislation.

Mike called for a draft by March including these pts. for legislation.

****Investments: Our investors are saving us! STRS beat the market by
135 basis points!

STRS Investment Staff has earned us 12.5% in the last 7 months: fiscal year 2006! Forecast: inhouse more modest than out of house: No recession in sight! US Economy ok: growth about 3%; inflation higher due to energy costs but core inflation less than 2%. Employment growth-should average 150,000 per mo. Internat'l growth-good

Returns VERY GOOD with STRS AT 12.5% thru 1/06! Compare to OPERS 9% ; STRS 12.5%; closest in country is CALPERS at 11.2%; No similar fund nationally higher than STRS.

STRS is involved more with merging markets at 35% of investments. So, pulled money out for fixed income so not overweighted. Buser wanted to know that this good news was not due to riskier ventures and may come tumbling down; Mitchell said it is good overall with average return around 11%.

Buser questioned why we had to use outside mangers at 16 times (or 40 basis points ) the cost of using in house STRS investors at 5 basis points.

Mitchell said they send out what they just cannot do with a limited staff and until they hire replacements for some lost staff, they cannot perform all the investing responsibilities. Just don't have staff needed to do so.

Mitchell said they will continue to lower equity overweight. In 1/06, they removed $540 million from Domestic and $300 million from Internat'l and gave $1 billion in Development to outside investment staff as STRS didn't have capacity to handle it. Removed $100 million from merging and gave to external staff as well for same reasons.

JOHN LAZARES complimented and thanked Steve and his staff on a job very well done.

Dennis Leone told me that their returns were amazing and that one STRS female investor earned us $30-40 million - just herself. He said she was worth her large salary and he wanted to keep her for us at STRS. We spoke of non investment staff essential to her if that applied and perhaps compromise could be reached in some circumstances.

Dave Speas has often spoke of retaining this talented investment team and support staff with proper compensation as they have the potential to get us out of financial stress.

For what it is worth:

OUR INVESTORS ARE SAVING US! Regardless of what occurred in the past , some may not have even been at STRS nor did THEY make the decisions on what occurred. THOSE WERE MADE BY AN OLD BOARD UNDER AN OLD DIRECTOR!

30 YRS UNFUNDED IN A MATTER OF A FEW YEARS! Then more can also be contributed to the HC fund when 30 yrs unfunded liability is met. If they earn 8.5%, it will take longer but will happen.

Are other investment employees out there? Yes. Are they less money? we can get some less. Does that mean they can earn 12.5%-better than the national average or other Ohio pension systems. Well, maybe not since STRS IS the highest.

I want out of this quagmire the sooner the better. The abuses of the past are quelled and our vigilance will never again lapse. Let's not cut off our noses to spite our face. If these investors can move us out of unfunded liability of beyond 55 yrs., let's let them do their jobs. Dave Speas spoke to this last year not wanting us to face 100 yr unfunded liability. The higher it goes, the harder to get back to ground zero.

If ONE investor can earn us up to $40,000,000 and the others are talented beyond national gains, we need stand behind them and say THANK YOU! Steve said about his investors: 'These guys/gals can do anything; they can shoot rockets if they have to!'

Speas felt we should pay them their worth and those who support them and us as non investment staff. I have seen non investment staff go to any lengths to help us. It's hard not to want to give those staff their due. Not overdue, but their due if it keeps those valued at STRS with their level of competence and professionalism.

You can't replace filet with hamburger. Lots would want the job; that is not the point. WHO "ALL" GETS THE JOB DONE AND US ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY? Compensate them at fair market value for their performance. We need them to give us back our retirements and provide retirements for actives.

Some of you will ask why I am supporting STRS? I always did, just not those who wronged us. But that is over; they are facing charges and now we must get to business of getting back to normalcy and retirement for all-future and current retirees. I just want to help get that done and harping about past offenses isn't doing that.

Whatever it legally takes should be our motto: Whatever it takes to achieve funding for HC and secure retirement for us and for future retirees. We want young educators of high quality to teach our children and grandchildren. We want them to receive their just benefits for doing so.

So far, Hall, Meuser, Fredrick, Brackett, Ramser have qualified for candidacy for the STRS Active Board Seats.

Damon Report:

Damon attended the Annual Winter Legislative Conf and Coalition to Preserve Retirement Security. Speaker Democrat Earl Pomeroy, supporter of public pension, noted he sees trouble on horizon for younger generations because while they save at rate comparable to older workers, they are in peril due to decline of defined benefit plans, decline in interest rates, increased life expectancy and increase HC costs translating to higher out of pocket costs. Move to DC plans means a risk of inadequate accumulation of money for retirement.

Jeff Birnbaum, columnist for the Washington Post gave an assessment of Bush Presidency. Deficit putting limits on range of domestic issues. Primary issues to public pension sector : HC and SS reform. The President's 2 initiatives: HCSA and commissioning study on SS done before but this time Medicare and Medicaid will be included.

Minutes of CORE meeting February 16, 2006

The CORE Advisory Board met at STRS on Thursday, February 16th, 2006 at
11:45. In attendance were Kathie Bracy, Dave Parshall, Chuck Chapman, Tom Curtis, Chuck Angeletti, Ryan Holderman substituting for Nancy Hamant, and Mary Ellen Angeletti. Mary Ellen served as scribe.

Dave Parshall gave an accounting of the CORE financial fund since its inception and invited anyone present to help themselves to a copy. He and Chuck Angeletti whose name is also on the account had checked the accounting together. Dave gave the balance of the fund to date and stated that contributions were received this month. He was very concerned about one $5.00 membership sent in by a retiree who apologized for taking so long to join but it was the first time she felt she could go without a prescription refill in order to send in her membership. A discussion followed regarding changes which could be made to the CORE membership form to indicate a donation rather than a $5.00 fee to join. This will be changed the next time CORE orders more yellow pamphlets. Until then, it was suggested that we could change the form used on the website, the blog, and when sending out the form in emails.

Items needing to be changed on the CORE website were discussed. Dave Parshall will be in contact with the webmaster this week to request that he remove the 2005 Health Care Premiums (updating with the new 2006 Health Care Premiums), Thanks to Active Teachers (regarding the candidacy of John Lazares), and CORE Candidate Dennis Leone (regarding Leone's election to the STRS Board). In place of these last two articles, it was suggested that we post the two CORE endorsed candidate photos as well as their vitas and the reasons why they are running for the STRS Board.

It was also suggested that we add a sentence or two concerning information received in today's STRS Board meeting about increased costs of health care in 2007. We have had a cap on our current 2006 health care premiums but we need to remind retirees that premium costs will definitely go up in 2007. These changes were again discussed in today's meeting. Members need to anticipate that health care premium changes will be occurring in 2007. It was also suggested that we include a sentence or two about the need for CORE members to write legislators in support of increasing the employee and employer contributions which STRS is promoting.

It was announced that the next Damon/CORE meeting will occur on Monday, March 13th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 in the Sublett Room at STRS. All are encouraged to attend and should try to arrive by 10:30 to have time to review the questions submitted. Dave Parshall will be sending a lengthy list of questions and concerns to Dr. Asbury and his executive staff, and they will be providing answers to these questions at this meeting.

The Hazel Sidaway trial scheduled for February 14th was again delayed. Judge W. Dwayne Maynard recused himself from the case at 10:35 that very morning saying that he would make a statement as to why when the hearing and trial have been completed. However, the Court released his reason was due to the fact that his wife is a teacher. We guess he discovered this at 10:35 that day. The case will be assigned to another judge and the date of the next hearing/trial will be announced at a later date. This is the 6th delay for this case which is taxing the patience of retirees who are anxious for justice to be served for Sidaway's ethics violations & misdemeanors.

Letters received by CORE have been handed over to Leone and Lazares in order to get their advice on how to proceed with any follow-up. We await their suggestions at our March 9th CORE meeting.

CORE kudos go to Ryan and Rita Holderman who spent eons of their time reviewing our CORE data lists and getting them updated. We cannot thank them enough for this Herculean effort. We hope that we now have accurate information on everyone but this could not have been accomplished without the Holderman's dedicated effort. Inevitably changes will occur, and we encourage John Curry to print ANY returns of CORE Email Alerts so that we can attempt to get corrected email addresses. Our Email Alert system will be used in the next few months for campaigning for CORE endorsed candidates for the active teacher seat on the STRS Board.

The main part of the CORE meeting today was spent doing STRS Board Election planning. It was announced by STRS today that both Tom Hall and Mark Fredrick have qualified to appear on the STRS ballot thanks to all of CORE who worked hard to get petitions signed for them. It was decided that our campaigning strategies would be similar to last year's even though last year's was a retiree seat on the Board. We will be getting flyers for the candidates printed at the Ink Well or whoever gives us the best bid. We will aim to have these ready to hand out at the next CORE meeting.

We will again try to canvas the schools with these flyers and also send them out on our CORE Email Alert on a regular schedule of releases, and also post the flyer information on the CORE website and blog. CORE will also donate gasoline money to our candidates in order for them to travel to meetings to speak to active teacher groups. Tactics which have been successful in the past are: visit schools and personally hand the election flyers to the teachers, take flyers to the schools and stuff teachers' mailboxes in the office, get the word out through substitute teachers (many are retirees) who work in the schools, wait for teachers on the school parking lots and pass out the flyers as they leave, use a stamp to stamp the names of our candidates on our yellow CORE pamphlets, and send flyers to the schools asking that the teachers reproduce them for their buildings.

As you visit schools in your area, don't forget to hang the flyers in the teacher's lounges. The flyers will have dates the teachers will be receiving their ballots and the deadline date for when the ballots must be returned. We have already received complaints from some that they have been told they cannot stuff mailboxes or hand election flyers to teachers. This is the same old OEA tactic used in the past and should be ignored completely. Schools are public buildings, and we are the public.

Some of us prefer to visit the school office first just to sign in and perhaps get a visitor's badge. Others have no problem visiting with teachers in their rooms after school is dismissed or just going to the Teacher's Lounge to hang election information. Current flyer problem: We need a format that can be opened by everyone in an ordinary email since some folks do not have Microsoft Word or an email program that handles HTML documents. Can anyone out there HELP us with this problem? Contact Tom Curtis or Ryan Holderman.

Conni Ramser, a current STRS Board member and a candidate for re-election, accepted CORE's invitation to visit with us today and to permit us to interview her. Tom Curtis who conducted the candidate interviews last month for CORE asked Conni the same questions which he asked them. We found her answers to be candid and forthright and one CORE member encouraged her to be an independent thinker making decisions for the good of the retirees rather than for any group endorsing her candidacy (OEA). While CORE did not vote to endorse Conni's candidacy, we thank her for visiting with us and sharing her thinking and insights as a current Board member.

The next CORE meeting will be earlier than usual. Please note the change! It will be held on Thursday, March 9th, 2006 at 11:45 in the cafeteria room behind the Sublett Rm. at STRS. We hope this meeting will be very well attended as CORE finalizes ELECTION STRATEGY. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us. We need all counties represented in order to obtain campaign flyers.

Dave Speas' speech to STRS Board February 16, 2006

Thursday, February 16, 2006 - STRS

Good afternoon board members, staff, and guests. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to address you on matters important to each of us and the membership. I am speaking for myself this afternoon.

I remember when I retired how great it was to get my 13th check. There was no COLA then but it did help with inflation and surprise costs. Then in 1999, when we were all happy and making money in great quantities both privately and in the corporate world and STRS was having to explain to legislators why the organization was moving toward zero years in paying off its debts, we hit a bonanza of getting a COLA, moving us to 85% buying power, and nice retirement gains for actives. I do not remember any of us asking for the board to not do those things but remember how happy we were for ourselves and the actives.

All of this happened, and please correct me if I am wrong when I am finished, because our investment staff and the rest of the staff supporting them beat the bench mark average by 25 billion dollars over the approximate 25 year period prior to 2001. Then the unthinkable happened, the bottom fell out of the stock market and we all lost some of the nice things we had gained. At that time many of us began to come and really look into the organization and the rest is history. The primary cost to us was the nine billion we are short in covering health care at the level of service we all enjoyed before the bad times hit. It is Interesting to note that we would be 34 billion short if our investment staff and those supporting them had not been so good. We would be talking about a lot more than healthcare if that had been the scenario. Kudos to the staff.

My question over two years ago, and while serving, was why there was not an emergency plan in place to protect our pensions? As I looked back then and still do now, we got the 13th check. In hindsight, money should have been put away to protect us in an emergency situation. It looks like some of the increases in 1999 should have been modified and some of the money spent then put aside for a rainy day.

It is always easy to look back and tear apart past decisions. People should always be held accountable for making bad decisions or doing unethical things. However, learning from the past is as valuable a tool as anything and now I will ask the question that all of this is leading up to.

Is there a plan in place to protect us from another catastrophe like the one we suffered a few short years ago? Has the board and the staff been working on an emergency plan to protect us all from another market down turn or are we living so close to the edge in having to make 8% to cover our benefits that there is no way to put a financial emergency plan into place? If this is so, what is going to happen to us if there is another catastrophe? Have you played out this scenario? I know this is a subject that no one wants to face as we are trying to recover lost benefits by finding a funding stream for healthcare but the job of the staff and board is to protect our benefits to the tune of 3307.15.

Are you working on this plan and if not why? I believe what could happen, if we are not working on this plan now, will be even painful for all of us than the loss of our healthcare benefits. Please make this a priority, tell us the truthful facts of what could happen, what you can do to formulate a plan, or what stands in the way of protecting the basic retirement benefits we all enjoy. If you have not begun study and work on this plan, please explain why. A former board made this mistake and the pain it caused is obvious.

Thank you for serving us and I know the decisions you have to make are prodigious ones. I pray for all of you to have wisdom for all of us out here need you to be successful in your decision making.

Dave Speas,
Clark County

Lloyd Knudsen's speech to STRS Board February 16, 2006

Good afternoon. My name is Lloyd Knudsen. I was a 30-year teacher in the Woodridge Schools of Summit County. It bothered me to listen to the board's discussion as last month's meeting about how our non-investment staff was so underpaid. The passion some board members exhibited fighting for raises for "their employees" was admirable. But where has the passion been from those same board members in fighting for "their retirees"? Last time I looked the name on this organization was still State TEACHERS RETIREMENT System.
I know what many of you are thinking. It's not quite that simple. We've got to make decisions on all facets of STRS business. Let me share a little story with you from my teaching career. I worked for one superintendent whose motto was: Children First! In other words, every decision he made started with HIS first priority -- the kids. Not what was best for the teachers, even though we thought we made the education happen. But what was best for the kids. So I think it can be that simple. The STRS Board should make every decision based on this motto: Retirees FIRST!
Let me share one last story with you. A friend told me that he has "tithed" to his church for all of his adult life. As most of you know that means he gives 10% of his gross pay to his church. He's done that every month, every year for his entire adult life. I think we'd all agree that is a huge, personal commitment.
But you know what? Every active teacher in the state of Ohio today also tithes 10% of his gross pay. But it doesn't go to a church. It comes right here to STRS! Now that's a huge, personal commitment, also. Ohio now has over 100,000 teaching retirees who have made A VERY SIMILAR FINANCIAL COMMITMENT to STRS throughout their teaching careers. Every day, 185 teaching days a year, and for most teachers over 30 years, their money was sent to STRS. For STRS to safeguard, to invest and later to pay back to them as retirees in a monthly pension and in subsidized health care benefits.
So when this board sits here and agonizes over whether our non-investment staff is paid enough or whether this group of employees may leave us because of some other issue, we as retirees just shake our heads. To us, many members on this board seem more concerned with the needs and wants of the STRS "employee" than the needs and wants of the STRS "retiree" who has entrusted you with his money throughout his teaching career.
As a teacher, I taught with many people who quit or retired. But you know what? After they left -- school went on. When some left -- the educational program did suffer. But when others left -- the program actually got better. Employees come and employees go -- but the organization goes on. STRS is no different. The employee who truly values money above all else, will leave STRS sooner or later, because as the saying goes: "the grass is always greener."
Finally, I never taught in a district with the highest pay. But more important to me and most of my fellow teachers is what we did have -- pride in a school district that served a good community, an appreciation of the kids and parents we had to work with, and a knowledge that we were doing meaningful work -- educating kids.
I hope the employees at STRS can also appreciate all the good things they enjoy as employees of this organization. Thank you for listening. Please remember to think: RETIREES FIRST!

Note from blogger: Where are the latest posts?

As you may have noticed by now, I like to post general announcements at the top of my blog. The way I do this is by postdating them so they will stay put till that date or I change them. Current posts start after them; in this case, after the info on the Hazel Sidaway trial, currently scheduled for Feb. 14 (if it isn't postponed again). There are three announcements below this one; you'll find the latest posts below them. Thanks for visiting. KBB

STRS Board meeting February 15-17, 2006

Public Meeting Notice for Feb. 15 –17, 2006

The State Teachers Retirement Board and Committee meetings currently scheduled at the STRS Ohio offices, 275 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, are as follows:

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006
8:30 a.m.Disability Committee, Retirement Board Disability Adjudication Hearing and Final Average Salary Committee (Executive Session)
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006
9 a.m.Resumption of the Retirement Board Meeting*
4 p.m.Special Health Care Committee Meeting
Friday, Feb. 17, 2006
9 a.m.

Resumption of theRetirement Board Meeting*

* The Retirement Board is expected to receive reports from the Member Benefits Department (health care and pension benefits) and the Investment Department on Thursday. The public participation portion of the Board’s agenda is expected to follow the Executive Director’s Report scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday. A Special Meeting of the Health Care Committee is expected at 4 p.m. The Retirement Board meeting will resume at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, to receive a report from the Human Resource Services Department and to address routine matters. An Investment Committee meeting will come to order directly after the Retirement Board meeting adjourns and will be followed by an Audit Committee meeting.

Executive Director Limitations: New STRS policy adopted by Board

Originally introduced by Board member John Lazares, this policy was adopted at the February 16, 2006 Board meeting, passing with a vote of 9 - 0 (two members absent). THANK YOU, JOHN!

Policy Title: General Executive Constraints

The Executive Director shall not cause nor allow any act, decision, activity or circumstance that is imprudent, in violation of commonly accepted business and professional ethics, or a breach of fiduciary responsibility.

The Executive Director shall also inform the Retirement Board of any known material violation of commonly accepted business or professional ethics, or a breach of fiduciary responsibility by a business or professional vendor or contractor engaged by STRS Ohio. Material violations are interpreted to mean a finding or conviction by a state or federal agency or court, or a settlement in which the vendor admits to wrongdoing.

The Executive Director shall monitor and notify the Board when an STRS Ohio vendor admits to, or is found to have committed, a material violation of business or professional ethics and to recommend a course of action to the Board. Monitoring shall include ongoing review of agency actions (e.g., Pensions and Investments, FundFire, Compliance Review, etc.).

The Board shall evaluate the nature of such known violations with respect to the following criteria in order to judge whether or not to continue in relationship with said vendor or contractor.
A. The Board's Fiduciary Obligations including those set forth in Section 3307.15 of the Ohio Revised Code
B. Nature of the Violation
C. Impact of the Violation on STRS Ohio
D. Materiality of the Violation
E. Terms and Conditions of STRS Ohio's Contract with the Vendor or Contractor
F. Confidentiality of Information and Impact on Investments
The Board may use information identified in the monitoring process as a basis for inviting the vendor or contractor to appear at a Board meeting to address questions related to the matter. Any information so gained shall be used by the Board and its members at all times with consideration of fiduciary duties.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

CORE meeting Thursday, February 16, 11:45 a.m., at STRS

CORE will meet on the second floor adjacent to the cafeteria on Thurs., 2/16/06, at 11:45 a.m. Important issues regarding the campaign along with other items will be on the agenda, which Mary Ellen Angeletti will provide. Please send your area rep for input and motions for voting decisions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tom Curtis' speaking schedule

Tom's schedule as of 2/15/06; will be updated as new engagements are added

3.8.06xxxHancock Co. RTA, 9:00 am Breakfast
3.9.06xxxCORE Meeting, STRS
3.15.06xxClermont Co. RTA, 12:00 pm Luncheon
4.20.06xxCORE Meeting, STRS
5.17.06xxRoss Co. RTA, 12:00 pm Luncheon
5.18.06xxCORE Meeting, STRS
6.15.06xxCORE Meeting, STRS
TBCxxxxxFairfield Co. RTA, 12:00 pm Luncheon
7.10.06xxRichland Co. RTA, 12:00 pm Luncheon

Tom Curtis to Dennis Diehm: Why STRS is in the situation it is today; mentioned: OEA, OFT, CORE, ORSC, political figures, health care and more

Tom Curtis to Dennis Diehm, Feb. 13, 2006; Subject: Emailing

Hello Dennis,

First, I want to thank you for supporting our effort to educate all STRS members about what has taken place at the STRS in prior years.

I fully understand why the OEA does not want anyone stepping on their toes. They have had total control of what has transpired at the STRS for nearly two decades now. They have had total control in the schools they represent, ever since they organized in a school system.

They held 5 of 9 board seats. A past or current OEA president, vice-president, secretary/treasure and/or executive committee member filled every one of those 5 seats for the past two decades.

No one else could ever win against the OEA candidate. They controlled what the STRS did! They consistently voted as a group on all expenditures, or anything else that they voted upon.

Those 5 board members obviously persuaded the remaining four board members to vote right along with them. This is incredible, because two of the four represented the State Attorney General, Jim Petro and the Auditor of State, Betty Montgomery. They were supposedly placed on the board as the "watchdogs" for the member's funds. They were there to enforce the Ohio Revised Code section 3307.15, but failed to do so. Some of their representatives were right in the middle of this corruption. If you checked the board voting records during this era, you would find every vote was 9-0 for everything voted upon for multiple numbers of years.

As Representative Michelle Schneider, chair of the ORSC, commented in the newspaper, "These people were spending money like kids in a candy store." These people were very wrong in their direction and focus. In my opinion, they failed their fiduciary responsibility and have not as much as said they are sorry. Hazel Sidaway is due in court for the 4th or 5th time on Tuesday to plead innocent to 7 ethics violations but it will likely be continued once again.

These people became jaded by all of the stock profits that were pouring into the STRS during the 90's. They began treating themselves to trips, parties, theater tickets, and VIP treatment everywhere. Yet they failed to place sufficient funds in the health care stabilization fund, which pays our health care coverage. This is a separate fund created in 1974 to provide health care coverage for retirees, their spouse and their dependent children. It was to pay this for the retiree and his spouse for life. Now, we are told that was not really a promise, unless we had the money. But, they spent the money in other ways and did not attempt to offset the increases in health care costs they were being constantly told to do by the consultants they hired with our money.

This is why the STRS is in a poor financial situation today. The STRS was unable to meet the health care needs of the retirees they promised such when they retired. This is pathetic, and yet few members are seriously upset about this. As high as 80% of all retirees did not have a significant change in their pension check due to the increased cost of health care coverage, whereas the other 20% carried the entire burden. That 20% is every teacher that had a non-teaching spouse and/or dependent children(s). Their entire subsidy was taken away over night. Today, any teacher that had children later in life, cannot afford to retire. If they did, they would have to pay 100% of the cost of their spouse and children's health care coverage. That amount would be in excess of $1200 per month, if coming from the STRS plan. Is that outrageous or what?

They do not put this kind of information in their newsletter. What you read on the front page of the STRS newsletter this month, indicates just how few members of the STRS have any idea what has been taking place over the past 3 years, let alone two decades back. Besides, they base all that flash in the newsletter on 600 phone calls to members out of the 430,000 membership.

The STRS reneged on the benefits provided to us at retirement. We are not at all happy about it, but then they obviously did not call many of us.

I am not a lawyer or profess to be one. I ask a lot of questions and I attempt to get the right information, but that often proves very difficult. I have found there are many versions of what we are allowed to do coming from the OEA. My guess is, the OEA would find it very difficult to actually stop anyone from distributing information by any means that is not written into their contract with the board.

Please remind anyone that bothers you that you are permitted freedom of speech, use of the Internet and they cannot step over that line. I would ask you to please keep me notified if anyone else causes you any concern in any way for distributing information about two candidates running for the STRS board.

I would not advise placing anything in anyone's mailbox at school. To my understanding that is a violation in some schools, if not all OEA or OFT represented schools.

Tom Mooney, the president of the OFT has acknowledged and supports what CORE, Dennis Leone and John Lazares are doing. The OFT represents about 1/10th of the total teacher population they both represent. I am often amazed at what the OEA feels they are entitled too, by representing you as a union. In my opinion, they cannot stop the passage of candidate information, or they may lose the right to their representation of teachers. That would be like the Republicans simply saying the Democrats cannot put signs out and/or pass out information, because the Republicans have been in office for so many years. As you stated, this information is for every member of the STRS. It would be ludicrous for the union to attempt to stop anyone else from passing out information.

I am glad you are on John Bos' email list. John supports CORE and has attempted to assist the STRS in solving some problems, but they have ignored him, as they have tended to do everyone. This whole deal is really deeply political. John is a good man and has made important contributions to CORE through his involvement.

Dennis, take care and thank you again for your support. It is greatly appreciated by those of us who have been at this for three years.

Tom Curtis

From Dennis Diehm; Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2006; Subject: mailing

I just want to let you know that I get mailings forwarded from John Bos in Lima.

I will try to promote in my school but the Pres. of the teachers union has been giving me crap about using school e-mail for political stuff. I told him that I am only telling the other side of the story and doing only the same thing that he is doing. He says that the teachers union have or get clearance because they are the recognized group. That the e-mail should be used for school only related material. I told him that this is school related material because it effects every teacher. It went on for awhile and I just quit fighting with him.

PS. I am at 35 after next year and that will be it for me I think. Not a 100% I guess till I sign the papers. So the guy doesn't fluff me to much because the my boss hasn't told me not to do what I am doing.

Dennis Diehm
Beavercreek HS

Molly Janczyk: A call from Judge Maynard

From Molly Janczyk, Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Judge Maynard called to say while he cannot comment on why he waited until this week to recuse himself or any other matter pertaining to the Sidaway case, HE WILL call back when the case has been decided to explain matters from his standpoint. I told him we had folks down there and we had busy lives as well. He stated it is not a matter of favors. That was about it. Don't let that stop you from contacting him regarding votes.

Flashback - One year ago; Dennis Leone to Gary Allen and William Lavezzi re: misinformation published by NEOEA-R

A year later, and we're still waiting for a response and a correction.

From Dennis Leone
February 9, 2005

Dear Mr. Allen and Mr. Lavezzi:

A retiree from northeast Ohio has e-mailed me Vol. 5, No. 3 of your newsletter entitled NEOEA-Retired. On page 2, the following appears:

"There is a question as to whether Mr. Leone's name will appear on the ballot because it is unclear as to whether he is employed in education and a contributing member of STRS."

I have the following questions for you:

1. Where did you get this information?

2. Who says that there is "a question" as to whether my name will appear on the ballot, given the fact that STRS determined in December that I acquired the necessary petition signatures to appear on the ballot, and that my name will, in fact, appear on the ballot? You could have verified this fact with a simple phone call to STRS.

3. Since I am not employed and therefore not a contributing member of STRS (case closed), why did your newsletter say these things are "unclear?"

4. If such was indeed "unclear" to you, why didn't you ask either STRS or me if I am a contributing member of STRS? Who is or who is not a contributing member of STRS is public information.

5. Please tell me now quickly you will publish a correction.


Dennis Leone

Canton Repository: Judge withdraws from Hazel Sidaway's case

Canton Repository
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Judge withdraws from teacher's ethics case
by Paul E. Kostyu

COLUMBUS - The judge scheduled to hear the trial of a former Canton City Schools teacher recused himself from the case because his wife is a teacher.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge W. Dwayne Maynard was scheduled to begin hearing the case against Hazel Sidaway of 2915 Parkridge Cir. NW in Plain Township on Tuesday.

Now the case will be referred to the court’s administrative judge, who will use a process to randomly assign it to another judge. That was expected to happen within 24 hours of Maynard’s withdrawal.

Sidaway pleaded innocent on July 8 to seven criminal charges accusing her of violating state ethics codes. The charges, all misdemeanors, stem from September 1998 to June 2003, when she was a member of the board of the State Teachers Retirement System. She denies having done anything illegal.

Tuesday’s trial date was the sixth time a date had been set.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hazel Sidaway: Trial postponed AGAIN (sixth time); wonder what she's afraid of? Hey, Hazel, don't worry; we'll hang in there for you!

February 14, 2006
From the Angelettis:
Well, it has happened again even though we called yesterday at noon and again at 5:30 p.m. and THIS MORNING AROUND 8:30 a.m.. . . . We got down to the courtroom and at 10:35 a woman approached us asking if we were with the Sidaway case. She announced that Judge Maynard had just recused himself from the case and that the case would be reassigned to another judge and the case would be rescheduled at a later time to be announced sometime in the future. She said that the notification occurred at 7:30 p.m. last night BUT did not get released to scheduling until 10:30 a.m. DISGUSTED IN COLUMBUS. The Angelettis
From the Canton Repository:

The judge scheduled to hear the trial of a former Canton City schools teacher recused himself from the case because his wife is a teacher. Franklin County Municipal Judge W. Dwayne Maynard was to begin hearing the case against Hazel Sidaway, of Plain Township, today.

From your blogger: Ho hum. Another three bucks (for the parking garage) down the drain.

Curtis to Lloyd: STRS statistics based on carefully crafted questions -- the whole picture or propaganda?

From Tom Curtis, 2/14/06; Subject: Latest STRS Ohio Newsletter
Hello Ralph,
You and many others have writing me about the front-page story in the most recent STRS Newsletter. It is about the very favorable feedback the STRS has obtained from a phone calling survey to the membership.
This is exactly the same type of propaganda the STRS has put out for years. This is exactly why so many others and I have remained involved in attempting to educate the STRS membership about what is truly going on at the STRS with the management staff.
In my opinion, they often waste our funds to validate their performance. Those of us that are now paying 100% of the health care cost for our non-teaching spouse and/or dependent children do not need to read a survey that cost the STRS thousands of dollars. The proof that they have not been doing their jobs is in the loss of benefits to the membership. They failed to properly fund benefits they verbally promised us. They revoked benefits from those who had already received such. That is the telling story!
The only function of the STRS management and staff since its inception in since 1920 is to take the huge dedicated flow of contributions sent to the STRS each year and invest it in a manner according to ORC 3307.15. For me, the questions still remains, did they successfully do this? Proof of such still is the $64,000,000 dollar question.
Maybe one day, most of the STRS membership will begin to realize that the STRS management has and continues to live very well by managing our funds. This appears to be something they fail to provide for their stakeholders, as they continue to ignore following 3307.15. I guess there is not enough money for all of our employees to live well and the stakeholders too. Somebody has to pay for the employees' outstanding pay and benefits, and that would be the STRS membership. They make mistakes and we have to pay the bill. Just what is wrong with this picture?
Obviously the management felt a strong entitlement when they went so far as to purchase automobiles for themselves, which were totally expensed to the STRS. This practice, (once again thanks to Dennis Leone) was stopped and all of the personal use vehicles were sold in 2003-2004. This is just one example of their extravagance.
As for the STRS phone survey, the sample is from only 601 members of the 430,000 total. That is a very small sampling in my opinion, but the STRS received the results they desired, so that is all that is needed I would assume.
It is my understanding that 70% of all retirees did not have a substantial increase in health care coverage costs starting in 2004. Only about 30% were highly affected, so maybe that is why the phone survey was so positive. Who really knows? The STRS can manipulate those numbers in a variety of ways. All I know is that the cost of operating the STRS seems to be very excessive compared to the other four public pension systems in Ohio. That is a fact and most of the STRS membership continues to be ignorant of this!
Take care,
Tom Curtis
CORE Advisory Committee Member
From Ralph Lloyd, 2/14/06; Subject: Latest STRS Ohio Newsletter
Tom, My STRS Ohio News just arrived yesterday and I found something of interest for you. This was the result of a phone survey of 300 active teachers and 301 retired teachers during the dates Sept. 22 - Oct.1 and Oct 5 - 8. The results follow: Earned members' trust and confidence 77% actives and 83% retires agree Manage Investments prudently 69% actives 75% retirees agree Serves members in fair even-handed manner 88% actives and 86% retirees agree Manage operating expenses prudently 58% actives and 71% retirees agree Delivers what it promises? 81% actives and 87% retirees agree Will be strong and stable well into the future 74% active and 80% retirees agree One of the best programs? 74% actives and 73% retirees agree
The question marks are on the last two because the first question mark asks: What was promised? The second question mark asks: Compared to what other program?
Ralph L Lloyd

Curry to Jordan: Educating an OEA Executive Council member who's supposed to KNOW these things

Mike Jordan
OEA Executive Council member
Educator, Bath Local Schools
Mr. Jordan,
A fellow CORE member contacted me and advised that she (Liz Ebbing) met you today in a Bath Schools teachers' lounge. She advised that she did have permission to be in the building as she had checked into the office first.
She also advised me that you found it difficult to believe that current health care premiums for STRS retirees approached the $700 range. The attachment is the 2006 health care premium scale for STRS retirees with 30 or more years of service. I have circled the two most popular choice premiums for retirees who wish to take the 80/20 PPO plan from STRS. [See]
A 30 year retiree's Aetna premium is $175 and his/her spouse is an additional $521 for a total premium (deducted from the retiree's pay) of $696 per month. I would say that this is pretty close to $700, wouldn't you?
A 30 year retiree's Medical Mutual (MM) premium is $148 and his/her spouse is $501 for a total premium (deducted from the retiree's pay) of $649 per month. Once again, I would say that this is pretty close to $700.
By the way, should this same 30 year retiree have retired from OPERS, they would pay (for self and spouse) only $80 per month for the Medical Mutual 80/20 program listed above or $569 less per month via OPERS. I think you realize that up until 2005, that the OEA represented the majority of STRS Board seats for almost two decades - where were they when OPERS realized that this was "coming down the pike" and planned ahead? OPERS also lost millions of dollars in the stock market dip of the early 2000's.
I find it interesting that someone such as you, an OEA Executive Council member, isn't aware of the current "rate schedule" so that you can relate it to active teachers. If you have the feeling that these figures are incorrect, please contact the Executive Director of STRS, Damon Asbury. His email is I am sure that he will vouch for these figures which were taken from the Ohio Retired Teachers Association website. If you have any questions about this letter please feel free to contact me.
John Curry
a Proud CORE member
an Allen Co. Retired Teacher's Assn. member

RH Jones: A pending meeting with State Rep Bob Otterman and where can RH (and maybe the rest of us) sign up for OFT-R?

From RH Jones, February 14, 2006; Subject: A meeting with state Rep Bob Otterman (D)

To all:

In preparation for a meeting with State Rep. Bob Otterman, who is a STRS retiree, Dr. K. Fluke and I will not be able to attend the STRS BD or the CORE meeting this week.

Fluke and I strongly concur with OFT's Tom Mooney, especially concerning the OFT's resolution to back legislation for the STRS employees switching from paying into OPERS to paying into our STRS. The fact that these employees are not teachers should not be a concern. The concern is, if it is their retirement system too, that they most certainly will be more motivated to be prudent with our money, our investments and will behave more ethically than some have in the past. The STRS management and investment staff employees should definitely be in STRS as members. The rest is up for debate.

The recent OPERS newsletter stated that their HC is good because there are more of them paying in. If OPERS is so large, losing the few STRS employees should not be a problem. Fluke and I brought this up years ago, but could not get the OEA,OEA-R or ORTA to act on it; finally, the OFT has. The transfer of employee money already in OPERS could, in this computer age, be easily transferred to the STRS. This is a good idea whose time has come.

Where do I sign up for OFT-R?

RHJones, CORE, OEA, OEA-R, and ORTA Life member & an OFT "wannabe".


Comment from Molly Janczyk: This was an old article sent to me. I should have ck'd first. It is NOT recommended by OFT to pursue this as legislators feel we have it good and it may raise more harm than good.

Information re: Hazel Sidaway trial, rescheduled for February 14

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 (original post date)

Event: Court Trial

Date: February 14, 2006
Time: 10:30 a.m. (same as before)
Judge: W. Dwayne Maynard
Location: Franklin County Courthouse, Room 15A (updated location)
Franklin County Municipal Court
375 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Website for Franklin County Municipal Court:
Another map (type in address):
General information about the Sidaway case:
Sidaway Trial Delayed
Because of a scheduling conflict, the trial of Hazel Sidaway has been delayed until Jan. 18, 2006. [Another postponement: trial now scheduled for Feb. 14.] The former Canton City Schools teacher pleaded innocent to seven criminal charges accusing her of violating state ethics codes. The charges are all misdemeanors that stem from September 1998 to June 2003 when she was a member of the State Teachers Retirement System's board. She is accused of accepting meals, drinks, lodging and entertainment from companies that handled the pension fund's investments. The nonjury trial before Franklin County Municipal Court Judge W. Dwayne Maynard is expected to take two days.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Nancy Hamant: Some interesting statistics!

From Nancy Hamant, February 13, 2006; Subject: Some interesting statistics!

Ryan has some important questions about the 1999 increase for retirees. Another important question is how many of the retirees who received an increase have already died--therefore are no longer receiving the increase. Whereas those retiring after 1999 with 35 years service and an increase in calculation to 88% are a growing number of STRS retirees and those figures and there impact need to be published also. In all probability a major shift of STRS payments to those receiving 88% may be apparent.

Nancy (Hamant)

Dear One & All:

Tom Curtis, a fellow CORE advocate, has provided the information below [see note below]. It would be interesting to know how much these long-term retirees receive in their monthly pension checks. They retired long before the enhancements provided additional compensation for teaching beyond 30 years.

With increased longevity, many recently and soon-to-be retirees may face the issues these elderly among us now face.

Later, Ryan
[Feb. 6, 2006]

[Reference: Age of Membership in the STRS by Tom Curtis; blogged 2/06/06 KBB]

RH Jones commentary: Millions Spent on 'Meth Heads'' Teeth

From RH Jones, February 13, 2006

Today's Beacon mentioned that millions of Ohio tax dollars are spent to repair and replace prisoners' teeth. The damage is done by the use of latest drug fad: meth. The teeth get grossly black and fall out. Oftentimes, dentures have to be made.

My take on this is: at a time when the Ohio population is reportedly nearly 10-12% illiterate, and nearly illiterate, it seems strange that the regressive politicians of our state spend lavishly on prisoners; but, yet, are stingy with money going to public school districts to educate their children. Most certainly, investing in the active/retired professional teachers of students Pre-K-16 will pay off in less prison bills.

Life is choices, I find it hard understand politicians who are compassionate to grownup prisoners while the education of youngsters is being given such a low priority.


John Curry: Thank you Wapakoneta City Schools Educator from one of your retirees

From: John Curry, February 13, 2006

Dear Wapakoneta City Schools Educator, (this is a blind copy to you - your email address is confidential and will not be shared by me)

I wish to give you a heartfelt message of thanks for your signing of Thomas Hall's petition for an active teacher seat on the State Teachers Retirement System during the past week. My organization(CORE) and I have worked hard over the last three years to bring reform to the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio. As I sit here I am awaiting word whether or not one of the STRS's former Board members will really appear (on Valentine's day) to answer to Ohio ethics violations (7) in a trial in the Columbus Municipal Court for ethics violations she has alleged to have committed during her tenure as an STRS Board member. Her trial has already been postponed six times before. She was preceeded with a plea bargain of guilty that was copped by former STRS Executive Director Herbert Dyer who was charged with multiple ethics violations while in charge of "our" retirement system. One of our CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) was the person (Sondra Stratton) who initiated the investigation of Ohio STRS with her official complaint to David Freel, the Director of the Ohio Ethics Commission. According to Mr. Freel, there will be many more current and past STRS employees and Board members who will be charged with ethics violations after Hazel Sidaway's trial.

I retired for a few short years but due to the prohibitive cost of healthcare insurance through STRS (over $600 per month for an 80/20 program) I have necessarily left the retired scene and have gone back to work full time to afford health care insurance. Had I retired with my 30 years in OPERS (Ohio Public Employees Retirement System - for state,county, and municipal employees) my current healthcare premium would be merely $80 per month for my spouse and myself for the very same coverage! We, at CORE, have donated thousands of hours for the reform of your and our retirement system. We have succeeded in getting reform Board members Dennis Leone and John Lazares elected to your Board with an expenditure of less than $500. The "old guard" didn't quite know how to handle Board members who weren't "rubber stamps" and who questioned issues that involved waste and entitlement. We now have a Board which is starting to work for the active and retired teachers rather than the associates (employees) of STRS. This is required by the Ohio Revised Code (Section 3307.15).

Some will say that all of America is in a health care crunch and that we all are in trouble. I agree that many companies and retirement systems are feeling the pinch of high healthcare costs. Soon, our legislature will be asked to approve additional deductions from both the employer and employee to "shore up" the monies that go into the STRS healthcare stabilization fund that some of your monies will go into (if approved and passed by the Ohio Legislature). How much, well- for every dollar that you earn, 10 cents is curently taken out of your check and sent to Ohio STRS. NONE of that 10 cents goes for healthcare, it all goes for STRS investments for your future pension check. Out of that same dollar you earn, the Wapakoneta City Schools pays Ohio STRS 14 cents. How much of that 14 cents goes into STRS for healthcare? The answer is ONE PERCENT of that 14 cents, the remainder goes to STRS for investments for your retirement. Ohio STRS "one percent" is the lowest (by far) of all five Ohio pension programs. This could have been legislatively raised when it was known by the former STRS Boards that it wouldn't be sufficient, but they (former Boards) failed to act upon this problem and now we are suffering the consequences - they didn't want to "ruffle feathers" of our legislators.

I conclude to request that you watch for the CORE endorsed candidate names of Thomas Hall (the fellow you signed the petition for) and Mark Fredrick when you receive your ballots this spring. CORE endorsed both candidates for the two active teacher seats that will soon be vacant on the STRS Board. You haven't probably heard much about Mark Fredrick. His bio is included at the bottom of this letter to you. Mark is also endorsed by the Ohio Federation of Teachers and was interviewed by CORE as well as others (including an OEA endorsed candidate). You may wonder why CORE and I are not endorsing an OEA candidate for the two active teacher seats on the STRS Board. Well, I could write a book, but let's just say that until mid 2005, the OEA maintained a majority on the STRS board for almost two decades up to the year 2005! During their tenure as a majority on the Board, massive misspending, mismanagement, and entitlements were rubber stamped by this same OEA majority- to this day, the President of the OEA (Gary Allen) has been hesitant to meet with (despite numerous requests from education leaders and an OEA Board member) Dr. Dennis Leone. Dr. Leone started reform at STRS by presenting (in 2003) a scathing report to the STRS Board listing over twenty examples of misspending, mismanagement, and entitlements at Ohio STRS. Dr. Leone is now on the Board. It's time for Gary Allen to put his grudge aside and put his full energies toward saving our retirement system. If you have any questions about the future, please ask the teacher who approached you for your signature, he is more than capable of filling you in on what has transpired at the Ohio STRS during the past, it "ain't pretty." Thank you so much.

P.S. Hazel Sidaway was a former OEA Executive Board member. The OEA spent over $100,000 in a failed attempt to "out campaign" Dr. Dennis Leone and John Lazares - money can't buy everything!


John Curry

A Proud CORE member
A member of the Allen County Retired Teachers Assn.
A Wapakoneta City Schools retiree
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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