Thursday, June 01, 2006

Question: Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?

Highlight this section to see the answer:
Answer: They couldn't afford to pay their health insurance premiums. GOTCHA!! (Used by someone we all know and respect [??] in a very recent speech to retirees.)

Kudos to Molly and Dave

From Molly Janczyk, June 1, 2006
Thank you for your continual support Paul. Most appreciated. I went as a retiree. Dave [Parshall] was there as a CORE Adv. Board Member. He was right in their mental process. He will be a perfect connection between CORE and OEA and has said he can offer more time after his move for this effort.
They were comfortable with him and all wanted his new email address as soon as he gets it for further contact and communication. My goal was to get members' questions and concerns addressed and get Dave working with them. He is a new energy for them and knows how to say ideas effectively and so as to be received. Much better than I!
From: Paul Boyer, June 1, 2006
Subject: Re: Meeting at OEA: Wed. 5/31/06
Molly, Thanks for representing CORE at this meeting and thanks for the fine report, as always.
I hope this means something great for the future of CORE and STRS and that we will be able to persuade the legislators to give approval for what we need.

Molly Janczyk, Steve Mitchell: Foreign investments

From Steve Mitchell, June 1, 2006
Subject: RE: Investments
STRS has approximately 25.5% of investment assets in International Equities broken out between 20% in developed countries (Europe, Japan, Canada, etc.) and 5.5% in emerging market countries (Latin America, China, Korea, etc.). So far in Fiscal 2006 (11 months through May 31st), International has provided STRS with excellent returns of 29%; this includes the tough month of May's decline in International of -5%.
From Molly Janczyk, June 1, 2006
Subject: RE: Investments
I am on vacation in June. Is it correct that we ARE well invested in foreign markets such as Asia and Latin Am. and Europe? I seem to recall it being said they are doing well for us earlier this year.

Updates on Betty Montgomery will be posted here; click on links to read the stories

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June 6: Betty Montgomery released from the hospital today. To read story, Click here
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Beacon Journal, June 2, 2006
Betty tells the B-J about her disease; expects to go home next week
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Beacon Journal staff report
June 1, 2006

Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery has conducted her first bedside interview -- with her political consultant, Mark Weaver. She talks about her recovery and said she is feeling ``very well.''

Molly Janczyk: Report on 5/31/06 meeting with OEA

From Molly Janczyk, May 31, 2006
Subject: Meeting at OEA: Wed. 5/31/06

Present were: Gary Allen, Dennis Reardon, Jim McGreevy, Patricia Frost-Brooks, Bill Leibensperger, Dave Parshall and Molly Janczyk. Mary Ellen Angeletti was too ill to attend.
The atmosphere was very congenial, respectful, candid, professional and forthcoming. We were made most comfortable and an ease of exchange prevailed. Dennis Reardon had to leave early. While present, he made sure to define terms/titles with which we may not be familiar.
I asked to open with a statement. I relayed that we were here in a serious minded collaborative mindset. I conveyed that there was some concern over being 'used' or on a mission for show and that we wanted assurance there was real promise exists of positive outcome for the HC legislation.
I sent the compiling of thoughts from CORE members regarding HC legislation to all attendees prior to the meeting so as not to waste time. I was impressed with the advance preparation and effort to address every concern and question with specific information. Nothing was asked to remain confidential.
Gary Allen headed the table and I felt it was he who ran the meeting effectively and efficiently. Some topics provided room for branching out and while he certainly allowed free discussion on all ideas, when the topic was completed, he steered us back to the questions and concerns I had provided to him which we wished addressed.
A. FUNDING FOR EDUCATION: Gary opened with this issue since many, if not all, feel this is at the heart of the issue. Also, one statement to them was OEA has the political and financial power to harness legislative support for both funding education properly and HC legislation.
The answer was interesting and layered:
Historically, OEA has made it a practice to contribute equal amounts of EPAC money to both Republicans and Democrats. But, with time, Republicans have become less education minded and OEA didn't feel it could keep giving money to those who would vote against education. OEA is solid with democrats and courts moderate Republicans. However, by not contributing to some legislators, it has closed doors once open. Also, there is a strong 'pay to play' atmosphere. The longer term limits is is affect, the more conservative it gets.
If Ken Blackwell is elected, OEA feels that the HC legislation proposal will be killed. OEA supports Strickland as a friend to education. Strickland WILL BE an advocate for education issues. Voters need to realize that conservative legislators running on platforms of abortion, guns, gays and which church one attends will not solve the HC problem. The Governor backing has already been completed with Strickland being the candidate of choice.
OEA will screen Senate and House legislators for those who support 'our issues' of fixing the funding for education and support of educators. Screening for statewide positions such as Attorney General and Auditor, etc. will be completed by Aug. 31.
There will be a list in September for all recommendations: statewide, House, Senate, School Boards (John Brandt is gone), Courts, etc. OEA can present this list to us as members and we can circulate but they are bound by law not to advertise per se. Legislators can say OEA supports them.
2. ENA (Equity N Adequacy): An EDUCATION COALITION : [See note below from Jim McGreevy]
Includes ALL education based groups: HCA except Higher Educ., School Boards, BASA, etc. WORKING FOR PROPER SCHOOL FUNDING.
-This coalition has been working for 2 years determining how to move forward for proper school funding. Funding is a huge issue and OEA pledges it is doing and will do all it can politically and financially towards this end. Electing education minded legislators is of critical importance as stated above.
-This plan mirrors the HCA plan to be presented to the Governor and legislators.
-This plan would take away the over reliance on the property tax. Real estate tax is extremely unpopular with the less well off and older property owners. This would push to put funding back on the State where it belongs.
-If it is not moved to put this on the ballot, OEA will mount a campaign to get it on the 2007 ballot.
-OEA will attempt to get Republican support for a bipartisan backing.

B. HC LEGISLATION: (being written; will present late 2006 or in 2007).
1. We hear the more vocal opposition for the increased contribution legislation. There are approximately 10 who oppose openly, Allen said. Mostly , they oppose employer increases.
OEA has met with ALL Senators and 30 Representatives thus far. They have met with the more receptive representatives. These legislators have stated they were impressed with the HCA's plan and that HCA are presenting solutions to the STRS HC crisis. Good questions have been asked regarding the 5% such as if it was enough, why that amount, etc. OEA would not be going forward if they were not hearing support for this proposal. There is no wish to be without HC.
Two legislators were adamant about HSA and it was explained that once one retires, they cannot save and no one can save for their HC projected costs of $230,000 just for premiums and out of pockets.
It was stated that OEA IS doing its job and meeting one on one with legislators as they expect. It was made clear that NOW is not the time for letter writing, emails, etc.
Some legislators feel and Wachtmann stated publicly in The Dispatch: front page 5/30/06, that "The system is already extraordinarily generous." "Public pensions are much more generous than most private employers." Some feel teachers make too much money with too much time off and too many benefits. ((MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW YOUR LEGISLATOR FEELS ABOUT EDUCATORS' BENEFITS WITH HC AND EDUCATION FUNDING)).
Wachtmann stated to Curry in his letter that he was working on legislation to ensure retirees had benefits. I wonder if that is the State Plan discussed where it is decided what would be good for us in quality and costs.
Allen went on to say he feels there are simply some with no social conscience. Dave Parshall stated 1/2 of STRS retirees live on $20,000 or less. Deduct all our HC costs and not much left.
2. **OEA will present a campaign plan when it is time. There will be a need to be disciplined and on target. A strategic time line exists. First to plant seeds of support and then to lobby. NOTHING WILL BE DONE BEFORE THE NOV. ELECTIONS.
Focus on your own legislators and those you know. Plant seeds of support:
-Tell them you support the HCA's proposal for increased HC contributions.
-Tell them we really need HC in retirement.
-Ask them where they stand on the proposal
-Ask them what problems they have with the proposal
-Give feedback to HCA for their consideration
3. School Board Opposition:
-John Brandt, the biggest opposer, is gone.
-Pushback is due because School Boards don't want to be mandated as that is a block of money taken off the table for bargaining.
-Missing the point: Discuss with School Boards and legislators when the time comes or if you know some of these individuals personally that HC ISSUES WILL NOT GO AWAY by defeating this legislation BECAUSE it is a STATE ISSUE FOR THE UNINSURABLE.
SOMEONE has to pay for HC. If school boards won't help, the State will have to pay as a result of ER use in lieu of insurance.
-If this legislation fails, there will be NO HC when the HC fund runs out. Those able will leave increasing the risk pool and only those who cannot obtain HC or afford it will remain. The funds will be depleted and the poor and the ill will have to use ER's as their only HC. The state will have to pick up the tab.
-Some much time is being spent on this and that is time taken away from education issues.
-MOST IMPORTANTLY: The legislators would only be giving STRS permission to do this. STRS can change if conditions allow.

1. Actives have been surveyed. There is NO support for any other plan options. Reasons: The actives will see NO result for themselves in lesser amounts are approved. For ex., if 3% from actives only is approved, it would keep the fund alive a while longer but not long enough for most educators to realized benefit. Therefore, they will not support it.
2. 5% is the figure researched and well thought out to keep the fund solvent. OEA and HCA had to be convinced that STRS was doing ALL it could and that a plan existed to solve the problem. 5% will solve this crisis and this is part of what the legislators were specifically questioning with is it enough to solve this problem and will it keep the fund alive, etc.
3. Will raising the age requirement, sliding scales, etc., reduce unfunded liability. Age restrictions will not change matters as 58 is now the average age for retirement. The 35 yr. incentive is working to keep educators active longer already. Plus, these areas are STRS related not HCA issues.
Furthermore, speaking to these unpopular issues now will hurt the HCA proposal as educators do not want to hear more stipulations on them AND have to pay more from their salaries as well. The key is FOCUS and keep disciplined about what is needed: HC.
When we get off track, this hurts everyone and what everyone needs is HC. The key is keeping disciplined and on target for HC.
4. If Plan A fails, it will be discussed among HCA if any other viable options exist to help all in some way. For the present, to save HC and keep it going, 5% is the determined amount resulting from careful research.
I asked Bill L. about John and Joanne Bos's thinking on this: It still amounts to 5% but in a more deferred manner for School Boards.
Active contribution increases: Year 1: 1% Year 2: add'tl 1%
Active/ School Board contribution increases: Year 3: actives addt'l 1/2%/school boards 1/2 %
School Board increases: Year 4: addt'l 1% Year 4: addt'l 1%
They feel this would allow School Boards time to adjust and preplan.
Bill L. said it may be something for consideration by the HCA in the future.

The meeting ended with talk of collaboration. Allen initiated this stating that former STRS board members used poor judgement and most were gone. It is time to bind together and work for the common goal of all of us: HC. Dave and I concurred and Dave spoke to all of us getting on board for a common cause as the only way of helping us all. Going on in critical mode is not productive for us and we all need HC. (paraphrased).
Dave ended by suggested that we be represented on the HCA Board -- not to vote or be more than a sit in guest/member who can see first hand the workings and planning. Of course, issues needing to remain private to HCA would be so done. Perhaps, a question might be asked of a representative for members upon occasion. I remember sitting at such a meeting a few feet away when Jack Chapman asked the HCA how retirees might feel about something. We were right there. If a rep for us was present and allowed to respond, it may give some insight. Also, notes could be taken and perhaps points or ques. could be addressed at an determined appropriate time so not to distract.
Gary wrote the request down and said he would present it to the HCA for consideration.

Jim McGreevy and I spoke after for a bit. He was most agreeable and earnest in working together offering whatever role he might be able to play.
Please correct any point not felt to be accurate. This is based on notes and memory.
Before and after, we greeted and shook hands stating we were glad to have met. I thanked them for having us and they thanked us for coming.
Please forward to Gary Allen, Patricia Frost Brooks, Dennis Reardon.
Molly J.
From Jim McGreevy, 6/1/06: A correction
Molly -
I'll forward your emails to all parties at the meeting.
I didn't take the volume of notes you did, but I thought you accurately captured what I heard in the meeting. The only "factual error" I noticed was the timeline of OEA's involvement with the Equity & Adequacy Coalition that pushed the DeRolph case beginning in the early 1990's. OEA was one of the founding members of that coalition and had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars since then to fund legal costs and other coalition expenses.
I will do what I can to promote some role for CORE in the HCA process.
- Jim

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Tom Cooper: We need to continue our battle in a bigger ballot box, as well as the STRS ballot box, or face the consequences

From Tom Cooper, June 1, 2006

What is the solution for us who worked careers only hoping for a decent retirement promised us clear up to 2001? Perhaps you could share with Michelle Schneider who blocks me.

Help us!

Molly J.


While I abhor the logic of using a specific to prove a generality, and I am willing to admit that my position probably doesn't apply to every politician, it is my belief that NO politician in Ohio who has been in office the past 5 years is going to help us. To do so would require them to admit this all happened on their watch. Teachers, both actives and retirees, need to give up this fanaticism in our society about being associated with some party for their phony pandering of religion and morality while they steal us blind. The only way we will get help will be when we become a voting block that is a threat to throw these unethical back door dealing politicians out of office. When Wachtmann and Schneider (and arrogant jerks like them) are gone will we even have a prayer of any help. If people don't wake up soon and realize that the current prevailing economic policy strategy in this country is to force retirees back into the work force in order to drive down the wages of the entry level work force, then the downward spiral will continue until none of us will be able to afford HC, except those with ties to the prevailing party political party.

Only when Americans (and retirees, and Ohio TEACHER retirees), end their foolish ties to one party or the other, and start making each individual politician accountable, regardless of party, will we have even a prayer of any economic relief.

I am a devout Christian, and a political/economic conservative, but I am also independent enough to see that the politicians who, with one hand, are waving morality and the Cross in our face, are doing so only to distract us while they pick our pockets with the other hand.

We need to continue our battle in a bigger ballot box, as well as the STRS ballot box, or face the consequences.

Thank you for considering my perspective.


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Update on Betty Montgomery

Betty Montgomery still in hospital
From WTVG-TV Toledo website
May 31, 2006 - COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State Auditor Betty Montgomery has been moved out of intensive care and into a standard patient room for treatment of inflammation of the nerves.

Her office says Montgomery -- also the Republican nominee for attorney general -- is being treated for Guillain-Barre syndrome. She entered Ohio State University Medical Center on May 17 after a weeklong chest cold and cough. She spent two weeks in intensive care.

In a statement released by her office, Montgomery says her doctors tell her she is making great progress and she'll resume her work schedule as soon as they allow it. Neither the auditor's office or the hospital would release her condition.

The 58-year-old Montgomery entered the governor's race last year but dropped out in January to pursue her former position of attorney general. She faces Democratic state Senator Marc Dann in the November election.


Posted on Sun, May. 28, 2006
Board wants disease in spotlight

Group hopeful state auditor's illness teaches more about Guillain-Barre

By Elizabeth Suh
Beacon Journal medical writer

While Barbara Katzman never wishes that anyone falls ill, she said she hopes the recent diagnosis of Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery with a rare nerve disorder will help people learn more about the disease.

Katzman is the associate director of the GBS/CIDP Foundation International, which supports patients with Guillain-Barre (ghee-YAN bah-RAY) syndrome.

The disease often causes temporary paralysis and strikes 1 or 2 in 100,000 people in the United States.

Montgomery, who is the Republican candidate for state attorney general, was admitted for treatment of the disease on May 17 to the Ohio State University Medical Center, where she remained in the intensive care unit through Friday afternoon.

Jennifer Detwiler, Montgomery's spokeswoman, said she could not comment on Montgomery's health status but staffers at the auditor's office have no reason to expect anything other than a full recovery for Montgomery, 58.

Detwiler could not say whether Montgomery has been placed on a ventilator or when she would be discharged.

Montgomery has been in contact with senior staff members every day since being hospitalized, Detwiler said, and plans to forge ahead in her campaign for attorney general.

Signs of symptoms

With Guillain-Barre syndrome, the body's immune system goes awry, attacking nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. The first symptoms usually are weakness or tingling in the legs and arms.

In the most common form of the disease, antibodies in the immune system attack insulation around the nerves, causing weakness and altered sensation.

Virtually all who get the disease are hospitalized, as the disease can rapidly affect nerves leading to the heart and lungs. Yet even in the most severe cases, most patients fully recover. However, many patients continue to have residual effects such as fatigue.

Only 5 percent of patients die from the disease, and those cases usually occur in the elderly as a result of complications such as blood clots or pneumonia, said Dr. Gareth Parry, a neurology professor at the University of Minnesota who serves on the GBS foundation's medical advisory board.

The disease's course ranges widely among patients, but it usually lasts two to three weeks from onset to its worst point, said Dr. Richard Lewis, associate chair of neurology at Wayne State University in Detroit, who also serves on the GBS foundation's medical advisory board. Then there's a period of plateau, then recovery that can take weeks or years.

About one-third of patients are fully paralyzed, Lewis said, and the rest usually have some kind of paralysis.

It's unknown what causes Guillain-Barre syndrome, but it's usually preceded by a bacterial or viral infection. Montgomery had been suffering from a cold and cough for about a week before being hospitalized.

Some may have heard of Guillain-Barre syndrome after a spike in cases of the disease was linked to U.S. vaccines during the ``swine flu'' epidemic of 1976, prompting a halt to vaccinations. No other vaccine has been conclusively associated with the syndrome, Parry said.

Time in intensive care

About 30 to 40 percent of Guillain-Barre syndrome patients go into the ICU, usually for life support, such as use of a ventilator, Parry said. Patients are kept in the ICU as long as there is danger that vital functions like breathing, swallowing and heart rhythm might drastically change.

Doctors might be more likely to keep a ``VIP'' like Montgomery in the ICU for less serious reasons, Lewis said.

The disease doesn't seem to strike certain people more frequently, except it does occur more often in older people, Parry said.

Although it probably would take Montgomery longer to recover if she required use of a ventilator, Parry said, the disease wouldn't necessarily have to impact her campaign much.

Once patients begin improving, they can improve rapidly, he said. He's seen patients who had been on a ventilator walking a week later.

Two treatments help shorten the severity and duration of Guillain-Barre syndrome. In plasma exchange, the patient's blood is flushed of misbehaving antibodies and returned to the body with replacement fluids.

In the other treatment, called immunoglobulin therapy, the patient is injected with healthy antibodies that block the misbehaving antibodies.

Lasting effects

Kassandra Ulrich, the GBS foundation's regional director of the Midwest, said she thought she would never walk again when she got Guillain-Barre syndrome 25 years ago, a few days before her son was born.

Ulrich, an Akron resident, was almost completely paralyzed and was in the ICU for three weeks.

But she set the goal of walking again before her newborn son learned to walk. It took her eight months, but she won that race. Now, the main leftover from her disease is the fatigue that makes it hard for her to move her body steadily when she overworks herself.

Despite the disease's unpredictability, Ulrich, who has spoken with at least 1,000 people who've had Guillain-Barre syndrome, said she's confident Montgomery will be able to handle campaigning with the physical manpower of her staff.

Montgomery can withdraw from the race at any time before November's elections, but she would have to withdraw by Aug. 23 for the Republican Party to name a replacement at that time.

Hopefully, Montgomery can find some positive aspects to the hardships she now faces, Ulrich said.

``It slowed me down,'' Ulrich said of the disease. ``I got to enjoy life more.''

For more information on Guillain-Barre syndrome, visit or call 610-667-0131.

Elizabeth Suh can be reached at 330-996-3748 or
Toledo Blade; Article published Saturday, May 20, 2006

Montgomery's prognosis is hard to pinpoint

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Molly J., Jim K.: Time for cleaning house -- at the ballot box

From Molly Janczyk, May 30, 2006
Subject: Educators:This is how some legislators feel about your retirement- Mr. Wachtmann
We have already requested that OEA put out a list education minded legislators who value improving school funding and helping educators realize a decent retirement for public service. Many of those private pay employees Mr Wachtmann refers to have many more benefits and higher salaries throughout their careers. I doubt Mr Wachtman endures the rigors or the future educators do or he would not make such an unfeeling statement of retirees-many of whom have lost homes and their financial security.
From Jim Kimmel, May 30, 2006
We need to clean house in November! No one party should EVER have such control of a state for so long. To paraphrase Mr. W. Churchill, "Never has so little been done for so few causing so much blood sweat and tears". (Sorry Mr Churchill but it has to be said!) Now that's ONE "W" I do respect!
Jim Kimmel

Molly's letter to Sen. Wachtmann

From Molly Janczyk, May 30, 2006
Sen. Wachtmann, May I ask some particulars for this legislation you are working on and how it will protect retirees' HC?
You state 'STRS was not as farsighted as the other pension systems' and paraphrased esp. with ensuring the HC benefits. It has been since 2001 and we who retired thinking we had the 'premiere pension system and HC second to none' had no warning and were hit with a financial crisis from which we can never recover. Please imagine yourself going from:
- $31 to cover you and your spouse (ridiculously low since STRS knew it turns out since the late 80's problems were coming) to over $800 per month possible in 2007 just for premiums for yourself and spouse.
-100% coverage to 80% -$200 deduc to $500 each -$5 and $10 RX's to $25-125 each possible in 2007.
Yet, no increase in pensions except a 3% simple COLA earning me about $70 additional per ck each year. Going back to work was our only option in able and for those not able, moving in with their children, skipping meds and Dr. appt. etc. Some retirees are billed each month if their pension doesn't pay for their HC.
If this were you, would the legislation to help retirees move any faster? We can't keep bearing the burden for STRS not being farsighted and not seeking revenue for HC.
What is the solution for us who worked careers only hoping for a decent retirement promised us clear up to 2001?
Perhaps you could share with Michelle Schneider who blocks me.
Help us!
Molly J.

John Curry: The good (?) Senator Wachtmann was aware of this situation more than 3 years ago

From John Curry, May 30, 2006
Senator Wachtmann 2006:

State Sen. Lynn R. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, vice chair of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, said any fix to state pensions would have to recognize that public pensions are much more generous than retirement plans offered by most private employers. That means it’s unlikely that benefits and health plans would be left intact while school districts and cities are asked to cover the higher cost of health care.

"It would be improper in my view to ask the taxpayers to help bail out the system by paying more on the employer side," Wachtmann said. "The system is already extraordinarily generous."

Please read the attachment and see what Sen. Wachtmann said over 3 years ago as an ORSC official -- one who was "supposed" to have oversight over all five state pension systems. John

[Text of Sen. Wachtmann's letter to John Curry, taken from attachment]:
February 12, 2003
Dear Mr. Curry:
Thank you for your letter regarding the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). I appreciate you writing and sharing your views on this important issue.
As you may know, I am Chairman of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, which is charged with overseeing how legislation impacts the financial health of Ohio's public retirement systems. I am currently meeting with each retirement system to develop legislation in order to prevent retirees losing their health benefits.
STRS has not been as farsighted as other systems, such as the Public Employees Retirement System, on managing its portfolio and especially taking early steps to prevent more drastic measures to ensure health care benefits are there for all of the retirees in the future.
Again, thank you for writing and please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance.
Lynn R. Wachtmann
State Senator
1st District

Molly to Paul: Nash has bottom line right in today's Dispatch article

From Molly Janczyk to Paul Boyer
May 30, 2006
Paul, The reason I thought he may have misquoted you is the article says you stated "Lawmakers had many opportunities to do what the Supreme Crt ordered them to do on school funding and they refused." It is as you said below...........The Supreme Crt ended it after (I put 4) rulings by courts to fix it. It doesn't matter to the reader just as mine misquotes don't either as the public doesn't realize the particulars and the bottom line is basically correct by Nash.
I realize this is staff talking but I am putting out rebuttals because usually when talk begins, it comes to fruition, I have found. It started in 3/02 when I first read something along the lines of 'spousal subsidies may be affecte' in a little blip in an STRS Newsletter. I began calling then and started heavy emailing in the fall of 2002. Early 2003 brought me to meetings, etc. And you know the rest. ELIM OF SPOUSAL SUBSIDIES. It has happened this way all along.
They may be trying now. But there ARE other options like increasing retirement ages to bring down the liability-iincrementally like Soc Sec. did. The retiree cannot keep bearing this burden. Some of us can continue to afford it. Many cannot and aren't going to Dr.'s or taking meds. They need to think differently and outside the retiree box for some relief.
My opinion and believe me, it won't matter, anyway. After 4 yrs of this, I know they are going to do it their way.

John Curry: Wanna switch retirement systems, Mr. Wachtmann?

From: John Curry
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 1:34 PM
Subject: Wanna switch retirement systems, Mr. Wachtmann?

Active teachers and STRS retirees & Police and Fire retirement Retirement System members --please share this email with a fellow educator, policeman, and fireman.
"It would be improper in my view to ask the taxpayers to help bail out the system by paying more on the employer side," Wachtmann said. "The system is already extraordinarily generous."
The above quote, by Senator Wachtmann (R-Napoleon, was printed in today's Columbus Dispatch article (the article follows). I wonder if the good Senator (along with his brethren in the House of Representatives) would change his tune should HIS retirement be shifted to the STRS or Police and Fire retirement system (instead of OPERS) and HIS fellow politicos be stuck with monthly healthcare premiums approaching $1,000 per month. This time, his ox wasn't gored, was it? November can't come any time too soon -- Mr. Wachtmann (and many of his unsympathetic legislators) needs to look for another job. We can help him along when we visit the voting booth. In my view, Mr. Wachtmann and his ilk who don't support increases in contribution rates by both educators AND school systems are "extraordinarily callous."
Far too many active and retired educators, policemen, and firemen, and their friends and families will not forget what the honorable (?) Wachtmann said in today's Dispatch article.
John - a Proud CORE member

Paul Boyer to Molly Janczyk re: Dispatch article and HC

May 30, 2006
Molly, Thanks for the tip. I pulled up the article and printed it out. Now I am going to call my son and make sure he sees it.
No, I don't think Mr. Nash misquoted me on the Supreme Court. As I remember, I did not give the number of times the Court put down rulings about school support. I simply said that after the state legislature defied the rulings, the Supreme Court closed the case. As I remember, the Ohio Supreme Court was the only court in Ohio to make any rulings concerning the illegality of school funding.
Now, Health Care costs. I feel that our Board at this time is doing the best they can with costs rising so dramatically. There were so many mistakes in the past that can not be changed now. I am grateful for what they have done this year with Medicare D and holding the line on costs. Have you read all of the newspaper stories about the many problems retirees had in figuring out which Medicare D plan to take and then the difference in prices they were quoted when they went for their prescriptions? We did not have to do any of that or pay an extra monthly premium for it which I understand is $90.00 or more for some plans. Even with the costs containments, Alice and I each are already over halfway to the $1500.00 cut off in out-of-pocket payments and so we should both get some free medicine toward the end of the year.
Remember, the figures I sent to you from the HC report are only the suggestions from the staff. The Board is scheduled to make the decision at the June meeting. I think that instead of grumbling so much about our payments now, we should be encouraging the board members to sharpen their pencils and hold the line as much as possible for the 2007 years and beyond. I am going to write a letter to all of the board members if I can get all of the email addresses together.
I do not think I have told you about our local State House election campaign for this year. Mr. Willamowski is term limited out so he can not run again. Do you remember how Dennis Shreefer helped us so much when he had the radio talk show, even joining our local chapter? He is running as the Democratic candidate for the position. I attended his kick-off meeting last Thursday evening and I think he has an outside chance of defeating the Republican. I know I am going to work as hard as I can for him and if he is elected, he WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN COLUMBUS.
You may do whatever you want to with this letter.

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio's public pension systems struggling

Systems struggling to provide for retirees
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Escalating health-care costs and lackluster investments have placed an unprecedented strain on Ohio public pensions — a crisis state lawmakers will have to confront by cutting benefits or sticking cities, school districts and retirees with higher payments.
The systems that provide pensions and health care to 28,000 retired police officers and firefighters across Ohio and 184,000 retired teachers are struggling under the weight of health-care costs that doubled between 1998 and 2003, when pension administrators began reining in costs.
At the same time, the pension systems’ investments — which provide the bulk of the money that pays for retirement checks and health expenses — have been yielding disappointing returns since the stock-market downturn five years ago.
The trends are expected to force lawmakers to pick among a menu of choices in the coming year, none of them appetizing:
• Increasing the contribution rates for cities and school districts, which would take away money used for other purposes, from street maintenance to textbooks.
• Increasing the contribution rates for retirees, which would place financial burdens on many middle-class retirees.
• Raising the retirement age for teachers, police and firefighters.
• Eliminating government-subsidized health care for retired public employees.
The crisis came to a head this spring when the State Teachers Retirement System and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund declared they no longer had enough income and assets to keep up with expenses over the next 30 years as required by law.
Both systems have devised fix-it plans that would saddle school districts, cities and retirees with higher costs while continuing to trim retirement benefits.
The State Teachers Retirement Fund is asking members to pay 2.5 percent more toward their retirements and school districts also to hike their payments by 2.5 percent. The Police and Fire Pension Fund is asking members to increase payments by 2 percent. Cities, counties and townships would increase their contributions toward police officers’ retirements from 19.5 percent to 24 percent of their pay.
The state’s other public-pension systems — the Public Employees Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System and Highway Patrol Retirement System — have enough money to meet their obligations for at least 30 years and are not required to submit reform plans. But those systems are threatened by the same rising health costs as the pension funds for police, firefighters and teachers, said Aristotle L. Hutras, executive director of the Ohio Retirement Study Council.
State lawmakers must approve any changes in contribution rates, and some are loath to increase the burden on municipalities and schools.
"We have school levies failing all over the place," said Rep. Michelle G. Schneider, R-Cincinnati, chairwoman of the House’s Retirement and Pensions subcommittee. "There’s little or no support from the Ohio legislature to force school districts to increase their payments into the retirement plan."
Likewise, the influential lobby of Ohio cities and counties is resisting the Police and Fire Pension Fund’s prescription to spread the higher costs between cities and retirees.
John Mahoney, deputy director of the Ohio Municipal League, dryly predicted that lawmakers will be in no hurry to act this year.
"Every police officer and firefighter in Ohio would take a hit, and every city and county would take a hit," he said of the Police and Fire Pension Fund’s plan. "I don't think anything’s going to happen in an election year."
An increasingly vocal cadre of retiree activists, however, says such complacency is partly to blame for the precarious condition of public pensions.
Molly Janczyk, of Pickerington, a retired teacher who is active in the nonprofit Concerned Ohio Retired Educators, said leaders of the State Teachers Retirement System spent extravagantly in the boom years of the 1990s and did not set aside enough money in the system’s dedicated health-care fund. The teachers fund contributes 1 percent of its revenue to the health-care stabilization fund, less than Ohio’s four other public-pension systems.
"The battle they're trying to fight now could have been done less painfully on a more incremental level," she said.
Janczyk said the proposed increases in contributions would raise the monthly healthcare premiums for her and her husband from $649 to $829. That’s on top of similar increases in recent years, she said.
"What’s happening is anybody who’s able-bodied is having to go back to work," she said. "Those who are not are truly suffering. It’s been catastrophic — people are selling their homes, people are having to choose between physician visits and prescriptions."
Paul Boyer, a retired Lima area teacher who also is active in the retired teachers group, said lawmakers contributed to the crisis by defying state Supreme Court rulings that found the state’s system for funding schools unconstitutional. Boyer and other current and retired teachers argue that the state can't get health care for retirees without substantially raising teacher salaries. Otherwise, people will flee the profession, he said.
"(Lawmakers) have had many opportunities to do what the Supreme Court ordered them to do on school funding and they refused to do it," Boyer said. "(Pensions) are the legislators’ problem."
State Sen. Lynn R. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, vice chair of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, said any fix to state pensions would have to recognize that public pensions are much more generous than retirement plans offered by most private employers. That means it’s unlikely that benefits and health plans would be left intact while school districts and cities are asked to cover the higher cost of health care.
"It would be improper in my view to ask the taxpayers to help bail out the system by paying more on the employer side," Wachtmann said. "The system is already extraordinarily generous. "
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