Saturday, August 26, 2006

Damon responds to John's request for disclosure on legal fees paid on behalf of STRS employees who hired their own attorneys

From John Curry
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2006
Subject: The Response from Damon Asbury re. attorney fees payment

While reading Damon's response, one should understand that the STRS already has available a staff attorney available for these same legal services and at no cost available to those on staff to use in a circumstance such as the one below. Why should we retirees (and active teachers) pay for outside attorney representation? It should also be noted that not all the Board agreed to paying these expenditures and that some of these fees were paid before the Board even had a chance to vote upon the payment of these expenditures. When will it end? John Curry
From Damon Asbury
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2006
Subject: RE: Information

Dear John:

Pursuant to your request for information, the following expenditures have been made:

Reimbursement to Mary Ellen Grant for legal services in connection with her testimony in the Hazel Sidaway trial. $900

  1. Reimbursement to Steven Ehlers for legal services in connection with his testimony in the Hazel Sidaway trial. $500

Both of these associates were reimbursed for legal expenses they incurred while assisting the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Columbus City Attorney’s office in the prosecution of former Board member Hazel Sidaway. Ms. Grant and Mr. Ehlers were asked to provide testimony concerning the details of a real estate trip made to New York City in 2003 by some STRS Ohio staff and board members. Ms. Grant and Mr. Ehlers were in attendance for some portions of that particular trip.

No reimbursement has yet been made to Eileen Boles as she has not yet submitted a final tally of the time spent in providing and explaining relevant documents and actions in the Sidaway prosecution and other investigations. However, the Board approved an amount not to exceed $6000.

Damon Asbury

Dennis Leone: $315,000 head hunter fee too high when many retirees are struggling to make ends meet

From Dennis Leone, August 26, 2006
Hi Barb --
Damon presented the same reasoning at the meeting. You have asked me for my reaction. My points are the same I presented at the STRS Board meeting, which are:
1. At a time when so many retirees are struggling to make ends meet, the $315,000 head hunter fee is just too darn high. There seems to be no amount that the staff and my fellow board members feels is too high for ANY vendor contract. In fact, often my fellow board members don't even know how much the contract is. Probing into that, in the eyes of Fisher and Meyers, is being "intrusive." and "micromanaging." What if the amount is $415,000, or $515,000, or $615,000? When does it get too high? Ever?
2. At the Board meeting, when the staff said they tried to find acceptable people and they could not. My response was: "Try again." I guess as a teacher, you should not be expected to try again if your students don't do as well as they should on the proficiency exam. The staff and the board never seem willing to believe that maybe there are less expensive ways to do things. I recall that when STRS lost $12 billion in the stock market between 2000 and 2002, not one STRS employee received a salary freeze -- not one. It was felt by the executives directors (2 of them) and the full board (9 of them) that this was too risky -- that it might result in someone getting upset and leaving. Oh, really. Well, I am a board member now, and it's my right to believe (based on experiences I had over the past 23 years hiring vendors, contractors, and consultants) that sometimes the amount requested to just too darn high, and sometimes we just have to try again.
3. I would not have voted yes on a staff request to hire 3 additional real estate employees if I knew that 2 months later, I'd be told that another $315,000 would be needed to hire them.
My take, at your request.
Dennis Leone
From Barb Garwood, August 26, 2006
Subject: Fwd: hiring procedures/personnel
Hi Dennis,
I thought you might like to read Dr. Asbury's response to my question about HR personnel. which I posed while objecting to the $315k authorized to hire head hunters for real estate investment staff. As always, Damon presents an objective, thorough reasoning for the expenditure. I'd be interested in your interpretation of his response to me.
Barb Garwood

Damon -- is he or isn't he? Comments from Molly & perspectives from Steve Buser

From Molly Janczyk:
Subject: RE: Again more spending abuses.
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2006
I have been told Damon is NOT stepping down.
Plus, salaries for $315,000 is one thing to consider but not $315,000 just to find them. In the minds of retirees that is another complete slap in the face in a long list. Many are calling for Damon to step down as a result.
From Steve Buser to Molly
Subject: RE: Again more spending abuses.
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006
I do not know if I am still on your mailing list by accident or by design. However, even though I share the concern of Dr. Leone with respect to the process, or lack thereof, in approving the expense for a head hunter firm to help find real estate staff, if I had still been on the Board I would have voted in favor of the expense itself.
The reason is simple, STRS member benefits cost a lot of money. STRS relies on investment income for most of these expenses, and real estate has been the top performing asset class for STRS for at least the last 10 years. In the past year alone the STRS return from real estate was a whopping 27%. That represents more than $1 billion of income for STRS members. I know that real estate in general did very well by virtue of a bubble. But STRS did even better. We out bubbled the bubble by over 7%. That amounts to nearly $100 million more than STRS would have had with average real estate investment staff.
As a point of reference, the total real estate return of more than $1 billion on STRS exceeded the total contributions that all active members paid into STRS last year. The excess return of $100 million is roughly equal to the total amount that STRS has been able to allocate to health care in each of the last few years.
Unfortunately much of the actual real estate that has accounted for the exceptional return was acquired by staff who have since left STRS for greener pastures. Despite what are admittedly obscene levels for salaries and perks when compared to teacher salaries, people who are able to generate 7% more than the market are in extremely high demand. Without the help of an outside recruiting firm, I doubt STRS will be able to replace the lost staff at anything close to a comparable level. And if STRS is not going to employ a top recruiting firm, I would want to know either how STRS plans to find an alternative source for $1 billion per year, or how STRS plans to cut benefits in the event STRS is unable to replace the return.
In sum, while I hope STRS will continue to seek ways to eliminate unnecessary expenses, I never want STRS to be penny wise but pound foolish when it comes to generating the life blood for retiree benefits.
As for Damon, he is already planning on stepping down, and I for one do no even want to think about the expense STRS will have to incur both searching and replacing him. For starters, I presume than any replacement will insist that STRS also fill the position of assistant director which has been vacant since Damon took over. It would be interesting to know the total search cost OPERS has incurred trying to fill their top spot and the final pay package they will have to offer to whomever they get. In terms of search costs, pay levels, and investment returns, I suspect that in time we will all think of the Damon years as a bargain.
Steve Buser

Friday, August 25, 2006

A word of caution re: STRS Rx plan

From Molly Janczyk, August 24, 2006
Subject: Caution: Basic Plan
Thank you.
Please read below if you are thinking of changing to Basic Plan for 2007. Unless you use few drugs, the $5000 for RX is not based on our copays but on drug costs to STRS. Therefore, the $5000 would run out faster than it would if based on our copays. For those who use few RX or little medical support, it is more advisable.
From Joyce Baldwin, Aug. 24, 2006
Subject: FW: Basic Plan
Below are responses to your questions.
1) Does that mean 100% of what WE would pay at the $25, 75, 125 mail order cost for 3 mo. and $10, 30, 50 Retail costs or 100% of the actual drug cost without the copay?
Answer: It is 100% of tier 2 and tier 3 actual drug costs without the copay. For 2007, Tier 1 costs are completely excluded.
2) For ex., does it add up at costs WE would pay or quicker due to paying more than the copays we would pay.
Answer: It does not add up the costs you as an enrollee pay.
3) If I allow $300 a month for drugs, can I count on the costs that I would pay for those drugs to calculate how far the $5000 goes or lasts by adding the costs I would have paid as listed for recipient for 2007?
Answer: You cannot use the copayments you pay to calculate how far the $5000 goes or lasts for tier 2 and tier 3 prescriptions.
Additional information that may be used in open enrollment materials:
Enrollee's Maximum Annual Benefit --
Once STRS Ohio has paid $5,000 in retail and mail-service prescription drug costs for Tier 2 and Tier 3 drugs for an enrollee, that enrollee pays 100% of the full cost of Tier 2 and Tier 3 drugs for the remainder of the year. The enrollee continues to pay only the copayment for Tier 1 drugs. Tier 1 drugs are not subject to the maximum annual benefit.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

House member McGregor casts doubt on STRS administrative leadership

From Molly Janczyk, Aug. 24, 2006
Subject: Rep. McGregor: Again more spending abuses.
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006
Dear Jim,
Please use your influence to speak with the Gov. and Treasurer re: Appointees. We hope for a committed and VESTED appointee, Prof Tom Hall, who has expertise in economics, business cycles, market trends and investments evidenced by numerous publications.
The Gov. should also strongly urge Montgomery to act upon Leone's complaint to her on the STRS Board Members who approved these legal fees for STRS Staff.
Thank you,
Molly Janczyk
From Rep. Jim McGregor
Subject: RE: Again more spending abuses.
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 12:08:44 -0400
Dear Molly,
Thank you for asking the opinions of those on your email list. It is my experience that when an organization is as dysfunctional as we found STRS to be, change needs to be wholesale and fundamental. The changes that I have seen in STRS are minimally incremental; the kind of changes a new administrator might make in a well respected and fine tuned organization. I do not see such commitment to good and needed change in the present STRS administration. Thanks for your continuing work on behalf of our retirees.
Sincerely, Jim

From:_____ To: Molly Janczyk,
Subject: Again more spending abuses.
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006
The X factor in all of this is Damon Asbury. Wonder how many signatures it would take to have the board remove him as Director? I believe Damon is not afraid of us at all and is just Herb Dyer in Asbury's body. I truly think that is our most pressing problem. Get rid of Asbury and get someone credible and we will be on the road to recovery. We are finding out that the board is very important and a very large task to take one but equally as important is a Director that can be trusted. Damon is not the one for this job. I believe we need a campaign to really get rid of Asbury and we need to start now. We need a list of his blunders and we need to start getting signatures from retirees as well as actives. If they knew about his blind, arrogant allegiance to the STRS employees instead of his employer, now even OEA could stop actives from signing the petition. What do you think?

Gary Allen gets an earful from a local president; will there be a picket line at 225 East Broad?

OEA labor talks may affect Heights case

Teachers could lose their lead negotiator if union managers and their workers don't come to terms.

By Scott Elliott

Staff Writer

Dayton Daily News, Thursday, August 24, 2006

They could end up having quite a Labor Day in Huber Heights.

As teachers today head into the final day before a midnight strike deadline, labor talks in Columbus may end up affecting the dispute here.

Huber Heights teachers have been using a negotiator from their statewide union, the Ohio Education Association, to conduct the talks on their behalf. But that negotiator, George Bozovich of OEA's Troy office, has a role in another union. He's also the vice president of the Ohio Professional Staff Union, representing OEA negotiators in a dispute with their managers in the union leadership.

The negotiators have set an Aug. 31 strike deadline in their talks with OEA.

So if Huber Heights teachers strike Friday, they face the danger of losing their lead negotiator a week later should OPSU go on strike.

That could make for a long Labor Day weekend.

Debra Owens, teachers union president, said she has been assured that OEA managers will fill in if the negotiators hit the picket line.

But she complained to OEA President Gary Allen that the union should be able to resolve its own labor disputes without a strike.

"He got an earful from me," she said.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

OPERS bennies to die for - Another coverage comparison!

From John Curry
Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Subject: OPERS bennies to die for - Another coverage comparison!

While doing a comparison between STRS and OPERS coverages I came upon this item of interest. Even in death an OPERS retiree (30 years service) is worth two and one half times an STRS retiree (30 years service) to his/her family! ...and yet STRS spends monies to pay for private attorneys of STRS witnesses who have been issued a subpoena to testify in court! What's wrong with this picture?

OPERS Death Benefit (taken right from the OPERS website):

"Following the death of a recipient receiving an age and service or disability benefit, a lump sum payment based on years of service is made to the designated beneficiary. If there is no designated beneficiary, PERS may approve payment to a benefit recipient’s spouse, children share and share alike, parents share and share alike, the person responsible for the burial, or to the estate.

The benefit schedule for those whose service credit is less than 10 years would be $500; for service credit of 10 but less than 15 years, $1,000; $1,500 for service credit of 15 but less than 20 years; $2,000 for 20 but less than 25 years of service; and the maximum would be $2,500 for 25 or more years of service credit."

Note from John - the maximum (without additional premiums) amount of the death benefit from STRS is $1,000.

Dennis Leone on what happened in executive session 8/17/06: DAMON HAD ALREADY PAID SOME OF THOSE LEGAL FEES!!!

From Dennis Leone, Tue, 22 Aug 2006
Subject: Roll call

In answer to your question, Kathie, here is what happened: On Thursday (8-17-06), we went into executive session and Damon asked for support to pay the legal fees. John and I both expressed our opposition. Since it is not legal to take any kind of formal vote in executive session, it was a matter of Damon trying to determine the Board consensus, then saying that was going to pay the fees unless a board consensus, individually and collectively (during the exec session) expressed something different. It IS legal to have this kind of boards do it all of the time during employee negotiations.
One shock I received in exec session was the fact that Damon stated that he had already paid the fees for 2 of the 3 employees. He claimed the board gave him support to do so in exec session in May. I expressed my complete disagreement over this. I said: "Why are you bringing this to us today for discussion if you felt you already were given permission in May to pay them?" He said he wanted to know if the Board wanted him to "undo" the payment, which he said he could do. Of the board members in the room, I was the only one who said that Damon was NOT given permission in May to make the payments. Lazares and Puckett were absent in May for the discussion. Chapman said he agreed with Damon. Flannagan, Ramser, Billirakis, and Meyers basically said nothing about what the consensus might have been during the May executive session. I said my memory was quite clear on the topic, which was that NO permission was given. I reminded Meyers how I told him AFTER the executive session in May how wrong it WOULD BE IF THEY EVER RECEIVED SUCH A PAYMENT. Meyers did not indicate whether he remembered this conversation with me. I even remember telling that the membership would flip out over it if it ever happened. Damon left the executive session feeling he had a consensus from a board majority that the payments were okay.
In public session on Friday (8-18-06), when it came time to vote on Damon's monthly expenditure reports for June and July, it was asked (I don't remember by whom) if the payment for the legal fees of the 3 staff members was included in the 2 monthly expenditure recommendations. Damon said yes. I announced that I felt forced to vote no on both expenditure reports because it was the only way I could express my opposition to the payments. Both votes were 6-1. I voted no on both of the monthly expenditure recommendations. Lazares was absent. Voting yes were Ramser, Flannagan, Puckett, Billiarkis, Meyers, and Chapman. Buser, Brown, and Fisher were no longer on the board. Before the vote, I announced publicly that I felt the payment for the 3 was in violation of 3307.15, and that I intended to file a formal complaint about it.
That's what happened.
Dennis Leone
From Kathie Bracy
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Subject: Roll call

(Offline, Monday night 8/21/06)
Dennis --
Please let me know if this is correct -- those Board members in attendance, supporting Damon's request for approval to use our $$ to pay the three staff members who hired their own private legal assistance:
Absent: John Lazares
Voting no: Dennis Leone
In attendance, supporting Damon's request (voting yes):
Conni Ramser
Jeff Chapman
Mary Ann Flannagan
Mike Billirakis
Steve Puckett
Geoff Meyers

Jim Reed to Betty Montgomery: Please fix the problem

Subject: STRS still abusing ORC 3307.15 and I'm angry!
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006
Mrs. Montgomery, first let me offer my sorrow and my caring for the loss of your father. I can empathize.
After 42 years as a public school educator I feel betrayed by my retirement system. Had it not been for the courageous whistle-blowing of Dr. Dennis Leone in his 2003 expose of STRS abuses of the pension fund we, as a profession, would be more embarrassed and ashamed than we already are for not paying close enough attention to our retirement system.
We have paid dearly for that apathy and trust.
Please help us begin to regain some of that trust by taking a strong position about the continued abuse of ORC 3305.17 at STRS by out-of-touch Board members and its Executive Director.
The current issue over the misuse of pension funds for payment of private, personal attorneys' fees for three nervous staffers during the Sidaway ethics trial is a symptom of the carry-over of their disgusting entitlement personality.
If it is indeed within your jurisdiction I would urge you to intercede on behalf of Ohio's prospective, active, and retired educators to bring a halt to this model of corporate arrogance and greed gone amuck in our profession.
As Dr. Leone's has requested I fully support he and John Lazares in their efforts to insist the Board and Executive Director be held accountable to the promise of ORC 3307.15 and "undo" this current embarrassing and abusive expenditure of my pension fund!
Thank you for your anticipated corrective action.
Jim Reed

Sondra Stratton: A solution for a slick learner who learned from his predecessor (Damon/Herbie)

From Sondra Stratton, August 23, 2006
Time for Damon to "hit the bricks?" NAW!!!! It is WAY PAST TIME! We are not going to get anywhere until he is gone. He learned at the elbow of Dyer and is slick. We need him replaced by someone who will take this responsibility seriously. Someone new might shake up the whole joint and adjust MANY attitudes!!!!!!!! IT is SOMETHING THAT HAS TO HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Curry to Damon Asbury: Exactly how much (of our money) are you spending on those employees' legal fees?

August 23, 2006

Dear Damon Asbury,

Pursuant to the state open records law, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. sec. 149.43 to 149.44, I write to request a statement concerning the expenditure(s) of the following:

The dollar amount of STRS monies that were allocated (and approved by the majority of the STRS Board at the August 2006 Board meeting) for the payment of private legal representations of STRS Associates Steven Ehlers, Mary Ellen Grant, and Eileen Boles in relation to their recent appearances at the Hazel Sidaway trial.

I would request your response within ten (10) business days.

If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely.

I would note that violation of the open records law can result in the award of court costs and attorney fees. An email containing the information I have requested above will be sufficient.

Thank you for your assistance.

John Curry

Kathie Bracy to Damon & Board: Paying WHOSE legal fees???

To Damon Asbury and the STRS Board:
After reading Dennis Leone's account of what happened at last week's Board meeting regarding Damon's requesting and the Board's approving STRS' paying the legal fees with OUR money for the STRS staff members who hired their OWN private legal council after being subpoenaed for Hazel Sidaway's trial, to say that I am extremely OUTRAGED is a gross understatement.
Whatever happened to ORC 3307.15? You people STILL don't get it!
I am calling for the resignation of Damon Asbury and every Board member except Dennis Leone and John Lazares, the ONLY two who have the brains, the character and the guts to consistently DO THE RIGHT THING for retirees! The rest of you have no business *serving* in your capacity. Your actions are a shameful disgrace (deja vu -- do I see the "old Board" here?) to the people you are SUPPOSED to serve. You need to do your constituents a favor and either shape up (retract this action -- paying those employees' legal fees) or get out. We don't need your kind managing OUR funds!!!
Kathie Bracy
A VERY angry STRS retiree (one of many THOUSANDS of retirees living on a LOT less than you do)

STRS August 2006 "Board News"

From John Curry, August 23, 2006
Below is a link to the STRS website which contains a condensed coverage of the August 2006 board meeting. Gee, they forgot to include the payments to the attorneys of the three subpoenaed STRS staff members! John

Betty Bell's letter to Betty Montgomery

To: <>
Subject: Misspending of Funds at the STRS of Ohio
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 03:58:23 -0400

TO: Betty Montgomery
State Auditor of Ohio
FROM: Betty Bell
Retired Educator and STRS Beneficiary
Date: August 23, 2006

Please provide immediate guidance and counsel to Damon Asbury and the
Board of the STRS of Ohio. I am extremely frustrated by the continuous
misspending of my retirement fund dollars at the STRS of Ohio while my
benefits dwindle and my expenses skyrocket.

This month, two of the board appointees who were to provide oversight in
this area have resigned halfway through their terms. In the same month,
more questionable spending of STRS monies has occured.

Dennis Leone (STRS Board Member) explained fully the most recent
misspending in his letter to you dated August 20, 2006. STRS funds are
being used to pay for the personal attorneys of three STRS employees
subpoenaed to testify in the ethics trial of Hazel Sidaway (former STRS
Board Member).

Why must I pay more than once for this? My taxes help support the Attorney

General's office. My retirement fund pays for the legal staff at the STRS
of OHIO. Shouldn't the employees use legal counsel from one of these
sources? Why should my retirement fund be billed for their personal
attorneys? How can this expense be justifiable under ORC 3307.15? It
would seem to be in direct violation of it! How can this use of STRS funds
be in my best interests as a beneficiary?

I would rather see my retirement dollars pay for a forensic audit of the
STRS of Ohio from 2000-2005. However, we both know why that won't happen
even though such an action would help curb the culture of entitlement at
STRS that has made the Sidaway trial, other trials and this letter

I am quite weary of paying for items, surveys and services that don't
benefit me in the least. Please help in any way you can.

In closing, I extend my sympathy in the recent death of your father. The
loss of a parent cannot be legislated away. The love, support and guidance
that they provide is unique in our life. Few individuals influence us so
completely. My prayers are with you and your family at this difficult

Betty L. Bell

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Molly Janczyk's letter in response to Dennis Leone's report on last week's Board meeting

Sent: Monday, August 21, 2006
Subject: : Leone Letter to Betty Montgomery
Legislators, Superintendent, Auditor,
I am most displeased to learn that the STRS Board approved paying for legal fees for Staff when served subpoenas to court as witnesses. This is improper use of MY money and not in compliance with ORC: 3307.15. WHO asked US if we wished to pay such fees. Some of those served were present and enjoyed dinners, outings, etc. with my money already. Please address this immediately. It seems the same culture of entitlement still exists in some STRS minds and that of appointees and reps. When are you going to show us that you stand for retirees?
Molly Janczyk

Monday, August 21, 2006

Comment from John Curry re: Dennis Leone's letter to Betty Montgomery

From John Curry, Monday, August 21, 2006 10:36 AM
Subject: Dr. Leone Letter to Betty Montgomery
Below is a letter from Dr. Leone to Betty Montgomery. I would ask that you also let Betty know about your feelings on this issue. It was YOUR money that was used to pay for the private attorneys mentioned. When will the Executive Director of STRS and the majority of the STRS Board act in our best interest and observe O.R.C. 3307.15? Is that too much to ask?

John - a Proud CORE member

Dennis Leone to Betty Montgomery: Complaint Regarding STRS Board Action on 8-18-06

To: Betty Montgomery
From: Dennis Leone
Date: August 20, 2006
Subject: Complaint Regarding STRS Board Action on 8-18-06

While we spoke in the past about the 13-page report I released on May 16, 2003, regarding the spending abuses of the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) Board, I am not sure if you know that I was elected by retirees in 2005 to serve on the STRS Board. I have served on the Board for one year. I have three years of my four-year term remaining.

I write this email to ask for your help.

I objected strenuously during the STRS Board meeting on Friday, 8-18-06, about an expenditure that was authorized by the Board and STRS Executive Director Damon Asbury which I believe was in violation of ORC 3307.15. The ORC Section requires Board members to discharge their duties "solely in the interest of the participants (STRS members) and their beneficiaries for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to the participants and defraying reasonable expenses of administering the system."

I was the sole Board member on 8-18-06 (Board member John Lazares was absent) to vote no on the executive director's monthly expenditure report. I stated publicly my reason for voting no, which was that the executive director and the Board had improperly agreed to pay three STRS staff members their personal, private attorney fees when they were subpoenaed for the ethics trial of former Board member Hazel Sidaway.

The facts are these:

1. These three staff members (Steven Ehlers, Mary Ellen Grant and Eileen Boles) were not charged, they were not indicted, and they were not being sued by anyone.

2. They did not approach either the STRS legal staff for the State Attorney General's legal staff (which statutorily represents STRS) for legal assistance on this matter.

3. The three staff members chose on their own to seek personal, private, outside legal assistance. They approached no one at STRS with an expectation that the pension fund would pay for their fees after the fact.

4. In executive session on Thursday, 8-17-06, STRS Executive Director sought Board support for the three payments (two of which, we learned, he had paid prior to the meeting). He stated that absent a Board consensus to the contrary, he would pay the legal fees. I objected, as did fellow Board member John Lazares (who WAS in attendance during the executive session on 8-17-06).

5. I did my best to explain to Mr. Asbury and the Board that during my 23-year career as a superintendent of schools in Ohio, I chose to pay for a additional liability umbrella on my home insurance policy to protect myself if someone came after me personally. If, for example, I were sued for terminating a staff member or expelling a student (which I was), then the school board was required to provide legal assistance because was I discharging my professional responsibilities.

6. Other current and former STRS employees were subpoenaed to testify in the Sidaway ethics trial. None asked for STRS to foot the bill for private, personal legal assistance.

7. Former Board member Hazel Sidaway asked the STRS Board to pay for her private, personal legal fees, and the Board said no.

8. I told the STRS Executive Director and my fellow Board members in public session on 8-18-06 that I felt paying for the legal fees of the three staff members was in violation of ORC 3307.15. I also told them I felt the Board was setting a dangerous precedent, and that other STRS staff members could be asking for the same reimbursement in the immediate future (since other ethics charges are forthcoming for former STRS Board members). In response to this second concern, my fellow Board members instructed Mr. Asbury to inform the STRS staff not to expect similar reimbursements in the future. This, in my mind, is an admission of guilt. If my fellow Board members believe it will be wrong to provide such reimbursements in the future, then it is wrong to do it NOW.

9. I am a retiree member of STRS. My daughter is an active teacher member of STRS. Please tell me how the payment of the private, personal legal fees of the three STRS employees is solely in our best interest or in the best interest of our beneficiaries -- pursuant to the expressed language in ORC 3307.15. Is it supposed to benefit us because it makes the three employees happy?

10. STRS Executive Director Damon Asbury told the Board on 8-17-06 that he could "undo" the payments to the three STRS staff members if the Board wanted him to do so. I bring this to your attention because you, as State Auditor, can cause this to happen. Just like you would tell me as a superintendent of schools that it would be wrong for me to spend taxpayer money in this fashion, you could/should tell the same thing to STRS. And to remind you -- STRS receives $2 billion dollars per year from Ohio taxpayers to help fund the pension system.

The decision to pay the private, personal legal fees of three STRS employees was improper. John Lazares and I tried to stop it in executive session on 8-17-06, then I tried again in public to stop it on 8-18-06 with a speech and a no vote on Mr. Asbury's monthly list of expenditures.

Please help.


Dennis Leone
STRS Board Member

Mary Ellen Angeletti's letter to Betty Montgomery

Aug. 21, 2006
Dear Ms. Montgomery,

Dr. Dennis Leone has sent you a letter dated yesterday, Aug. 20th, in which he has asked for your help concerning inappropriate spending by the STRS Board. This spending related to STRS paying part of the attorney fees for three STRS employees who were subpoenaed for the ethics trial of Hazel Sidaway. The payment of legal fees for these employees was most certainly in violation of ORC 3307.15 and in no way did this money benefit retired teachers. I trust that the Auditor of State will support Dr. Leone concerning this matter.


Mary Ellen Angeletti, STRS retiree

Minutes of 8/17/06 CORE meeting

The CORE Advisory Board met at STRS on Thursday, August 17th, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. Present were Ryan Holderman substituting for Nancy Hamant, Lloyd Knudsen substituting for Nancy Boomhower, Mary Ellen Angeletti, Betty Bell, Chuck Chapman, and Chuck Angeletti. We had a better attendance at this meeting than we had last month. Guests were Ann Hanning, Don Bright, Mark Meuser, and Lou DiOrio. Mary Ellen Angeletti served as scribe for the meeting.

Dave Parshall reported on the balance of the CORE financial fund. He also shared that he had approached Damon Asbury concerning setting a date for the CORE/Damon meeting and that Dr. Asbury said he would get back to Dave on a date.

Dave Parshall also gave CORE an update on the CORE website. The webmaster has returned from his travels and has made the changes to the website. The proposed CORE constitution & by laws are now posted there for all to copy and review. Dave then clarified that CORE is a 501corporation which is somewhere between a C4 & C5 which means that we can accept donations from groups (such as Retired Teachers Associations), we are non-profit, we are not a charitable group, we can legally raise money, and we can participate in things political.

The proposed CORE constitution and by laws which underwent a revision at the CORE July meeting were then presented and explained by Ryan Holderman. More revisions were offered at today's meeting which is the last meeting for soliciting input from members. This final document will be presented to the membership for ratification at next month's CORE Annual Membership & Election Meeting on September 14th at STRS in the Sublett Room beginning at 10:00 a.m. Applause of appreciation awaited Ryan Holderman when he finished his presentation of the Constitution and By Laws.

A conversation followed concerning enlarging the CORE Advisory Board members from seven to nine. It was decided that the number of Advisory Board members would remain the same as it is now. . . seven.

In planning for the September CORE Annual Membership Meeting next month, Ryan Holderman moved and Dave Parshall seconded that if the proposed constitution and by laws are ratified at the Sept. 14th meeting, then the CORE Advisory Board will issue a call for nominations for officers to be sent to the CORE scribe by October 1st. The scribe was instructed to post the nominations on the CORE website, via the CORE Email Alert , and via other CORE email chains as soon as possible but no later than October 5th. Voting would then occur at the CORE October 19th meeting with installation of officers immediately following the count and those elected would assume the duties of their office. From this point on, the Constitution would dictate the schedule of elections. As part of this motion, it was also suggested that the current CORE Advisory Board should be grandfathered to serve until the CORE Annual Membership Meeting in September 2007. The thinking was that this would give a degree of continuity to CORE's leadership and a smoother transition to the constitutional rule. This motion passed unanimously.

Suggestions sent in by CORE folks to the Advisory Board regarding the planning for the Annual Meeting were discussed. All of the ideas would be permissible for CORE to do but it was the consensus of the group that we would not have time since Tom Mooney will be speaking to CORE at 11:45 that day. As it was decided today, we will be starting the Annual Meeting early at 10:00 just to have time to present the constitution and by laws. It was decided that we would have two long tables set up outside the entrance to the Sublett Room to accommodate the signing in process. Molly Ganz and Ryan Holderman volunteered to take charge of the sign-in table. They will prepare a form for CORE folks to use to update their personal information. They will also divide the CORE member data lists so that each of them has half of the alphabet in an effort to expedite the signing in process. Dave Parshall volunteered to take charge of the other table which will hold a very large DONATION BOX. Dave will be able to give receipts to any CORE member who requests such. Pam Jones volunteered to make the DONATION BOX for us.

The issue of dues was discussed but no decision was made. Further discussion will take place at the September meeting. A motion was made by Chuck Angeletti and seconded by Regina Swisshelm that he and Dave Parshall would compose copy to be placed on the CORE website and sent to the CORE Alert Email and other CORE email chains as soon as possible. This copy would emphasize the need for CORE to receive additional funds by generous donations and would give notice that the DONATION BOX would be in place at the Sept. Annual Membership Meeting. This motion passed unanimously.

The time line for the September Annual Membership Meeting was determined today. Registration will be from 9:30 to 10:00, the official meeting will begin then at 10:00 with the usual CORE agenda plus a set time for discussion of the constitution and bylaws, a break to get our lunches in the cafeteria at 11:15 (we will request that STRS set tables at the back of the Sublett Room for eating), and Dave Parshall will introduce Tom Mooney, President of the OFT at 11:45. This should leave plenty of time for the membership to ask questions and then attend the STRS meeting at 1:00.

CORE folks in attendance today were encouraged to call and to send letters of recommendation for Professor Tom Hall who is on Governor's Taft list of three possible candidates to be his appointee for the STRS Board to replace Judith Fisher who resigned. His address his: Governor Robert Taft, Vern Riffe Center, 77 South High Street, 30th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-6117 or call 614-466-3555 or email at THIS IS SO VERY IMPORTANT! Please flood the Governor with requests to appoint our candidate in the last STRS Board election: Dr. Tom Hall. He came in third in the election with a good show of support. WE NEED ANOTHER VOICE ON THE STRS BOARD to help John Lazares and Dennis Leone represent US.

Whether CORE should make endorsements for political offices was debated at today's meeting. It was decided that CORE would NOT endorse candidates. Instead it was suggested that the CORE Advisory Board form a committee to study and recommend the educational issues which CORE feels are worthy of promotion.

The next CORE meeting will be our Annual Membership Meeting at STRS in the Sublett Room with registration beginning at 9:30 and the official program beginning at 10:00. Please plan on attending to hear Tom Mooney speak and to hear about our new proposed CORE constitution & by laws and to VOTE.

From Mary Ellen Angeletti, Aug. 21, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Molly Janczyk: Information on Sept. 14 CORE meeting

From Molly Janczyk, Aug. 20, 2006

Our ANNUAL CORE meeting will be held at STRS on Thurs. Sept. 14, 2006.

Registration is from 9:30-10:00am.
10:00-11:45 will be discussion and voting on the proposed Constitution. Focus and Election for 2007 are to be discussed.
11:45am Tom Mooney, Pres. of OFT will be our guest speaker. All are invited to hear Mr. Mooney.

1PM is Public Speak at the STRS Board Meeting and with the earlier start time, the meeting can adjourn.

**Annual CORE meetings are held to decide future focus points. Health Care has been the priority as determined by majority vote at past meetings. Priorities for the next year will be established in Sept. Ideas have been presented and will be discussed in Sept. regarding restructuring CORE. Thus far, there has been a policy of no leaders but action based on majority vote by volunteers.

It had been suggested, that in order to effectively meet and discuss with other major groups, we elect leaders/officers for CORE so groups know who to contact on CORE issues. The leaders would still base their discussions on CORE policy and approved stands by the majority and CORE ADV. BOARD but we would have a spokesperson for the group. They would not individually set policy just as Damon Asbury or other leaders do not and are subject to Board votes on their action. Of course, they would meet and discuss freely but just as any organization leaders do, CORE officers would base their premise on CORE's own by laws and policies. The Constitution was written to provide for these areas and safeguard CORE.

PLEASE plan to send representatives from your areas with input from membership for this most important to hear and vote on these important changes.

Hopefully, leaders would oversee areas of concern at STRS for feedback and direction. CORE can benefit by having different members attend various meetings at STRS and perhaps other organization meetings. If this were divied up, no one person would be responsible for many meetings. Committees were formed and volunteers signed up for them last year but there has been no direction in this area to oversee attending of committee meetings. This needs attention. The idea was good and it is hoped that members who sign up would then attend appropriate meetings and take minutes to report to CORE for discussion and action.

The above is my understanding of possible ideas up for discussion. Any ideas and concerns can be raised regarding matters. Come with forethought ready for open discussion.

Please interact and bring solid suggestions for changes from your local membership. It is important that all are heard and are part of any decisions.

Thank you, Molly J.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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