Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jim Kimmel to Conni Ramser: For your own protection, at least read it before you vote on it!

From Jim Kimmel, September 16, 2006
Subject: Gov memo to Johnson & Zelman: Will the same standard be used at STRS?

Ms. Ramser:
Please read the memo below written by Governor Taft. He is advising Ms. Zelman and Mr. Johnson who has been recently appointed to the STRS Board to replace Ms. Fisher.
Although this was written in 2002 it still holds true and shows that Governor Taft believes that contracts should be studied, read, discussed and then approved ONLY when deemed to be appropriate and prudent. ( this is NOT rocket science!) How can you be a responsible board member if you give our money away without knowing what you are doing with it?
Don't you realize that you could end up like the other indicted and convicted board members if you vote in ignorance.? No one is smart enough to understand some of the issues which come before the board unless they study them carefully -- not just listen to Damon's thumbnail sketch of a contract or other decision.
YOU will vote -- not he. Just as one human being to another -- I really hope you will look out for yourself by voting in an informed manner. When I was a history teacher I told my students to be sure and vote when they reached 18 -- but be an informed voter. We had mock elections, discussions, group research projects. I worked very hard to make it a meaningful experience and it was -- even covered in the local paper, etc.
NOW AS A RETIREE I SEE SOMEONE WHO IS SPENDING MY RETIREMENT MONEY WITH NO APPARENT CONCERN WHATSOEVER. I THINK THAT IS WHAT GALLS ME THE MOST. TOO BAD YOU WERE NOT IN MY CLASS WHEN WE DISCUSSED BEING AN INFORMED VOTER. I really wonder what your grade would have been. If I gave you a grade for your board performances I am afraid it would be rather low so far.
All I know is that voting without proper deliberation, study, and DOCUMENTATION will come back to bite you. And please read Dr. Leone's 13-page report which you said you would not read. Many foolish people have ignored history and regretted it! AS I AM SURE YOU HAVE HEARD BEFORE, THOSE WHO IGNORE THE PAST ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT -- as in Sidaway and others.

James O. Kimmel
STRS Retiree
COLUMBUS (June 11, 2002) - Governor Bob Taft today sent the attached memo to the members of the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

TO: Thomas W. Johnson, Director C. Scott Johnson, Director Dr. Susan Tave Zelman, Superintendent
FROM: Bob Taft, Governor
DATE: June 11, 2002
RE: Ohio School Facilities Commission
Over the past five years, the Ohio School Facilities Commission has played a critical role in the improvements made to our public education system. As you well know, Commission projects in 130 Ohio school districts have included the design, construction or completion of more than 300 buildings, with a total value of more than $4 billion. These numbers represent substantial and significant improvements to our schools and, ultimately, to the education of Ohio's school children.
Despite these successes, in recent days, the Commission and its procedures have come under attack. While I do not agree with the allegations that have been lodged against the Commission and its Executive Director, I can appreciate the underlying concern for careful and considered decision making by the Commission, as with any state agency. And, while I question the validity of the recent court opinion, I recognize the need to follow the intent of the General Assembly when it created the Commission and defined its duties and authority. In the end, what is most important is to ensure that the Commission proceed with our ambitious school building program to provide modern, safe classrooms for all the children of Ohio.
Therefore, I ask that the Commission undertake immediate changes that will provide more direct oversight and approval of Commission projects. I ask the members of the Commission to take the following actions:
a.. adopt rules for the internal management of the Commission; b.. review and, if appropriate, ratify all contracts approved or authorized to date by the Executive Director; and c.. review all pending and future Commission contracts and, if appropriate, approve such contracts by majority vote.
I hope that, by taking these actions immediately, we will end any controversy regarding the Commission's work so that we can get on with the work of rebuilding Ohio's schools.

c: Representative Kerry Metzger Representative William Hartnett Senator Michael Shoemaker Senator William Harris

The good reverend's charter school just loves its Ohio Department of Education's offerings!

Maybe while he's doing time this time, he can write his next book: "Not Without Credentials."
Well-known minister arrested
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sept. 15, 2006
Cleveland - A well-known preacher who used his experiences as an ex-convict to inspire others is among three people and five corporations charged with defrauding the state's Department of Education of $2.2 million.

An indictment, unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court, accuses the Rev. Mark C. Olds, 56, of Solon, of conspiracy, money laundering and mail fraud in connection to his operation of a now-closed charter school in Cleveland.

Others accused in the indictment include: Shirley S. Haynes, 57, of Cleveland, and Timothy Daniels, 47, of Arizona. The corporations include the charter school, Cleveland Academy of Math, Science and Technology, and four related corporations, all based in Cleveland.

Olds founded the charter school in 2002. The Cleveland Academy of Math, Science and Technology closed the next year amid serious financial problems, including owing the state $1.4 million in overpayments for students not enrolled and failing to make payroll for teachers.

Federal prosecutors allege that the trio defrauded the department of education by submitting fraudulent monthly reports that inflated student enrollment numbers. They then diverted the money they received for those students to their personal use, including setting up contracts between the school and companies they owned.

Olds was arrested this morning and is to appear in federal court today.

He is a minister and has served at the Eagle Rock Covenant Assembly in Cleveland and Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. He also founded The National Restoration Movement, an amnesty program designed to get guns off the streets, help convicts get the record of their crimes expunged and rebuild communities.

Olds wrote an autobiography, "Not Without Scars," about his 16 years in prison and rebuilding his life afterwards. He has used the story of his incarceration - for selling and using drugs and robbing banks - to motivate others to live right.

By Damian G. Guevara,

Doesn't the ODE do background checks any more? Where was Dr. Zelman?

Ex-con minister faces school-fraud charges
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Damian G. Guevara
Plain Dealer Reporter
The Rev. Mark C. Olds found religion in prison and, once out, ascended to the pulpit, where he preached redemption and forgiveness.
But the preacher is in trouble with the law again and faces another stint in the penitentiary. Federal authorities accused him and two others Friday of defrauding the state's Department of Education of $2.2 million in connection with a defunct charter school that Olds founded and ran.
An indictment charges Olds, 56, of Solon, with conspiracy, money laundering and mail fraud. Also indicted are Shirley S. Haynes, 57, of Cleveland, the school's treasurer; and Timothy Daniels, 47, of Arizona, chairman of the school's board.
The charter school -- the Cleveland Academy of Math, Science and Technology -- was one of several projects that garnered media attention for Olds in the past decade. The native of North Carolina spent most of the 1980s in federal prison for bank robbery before arriving in Northeast Ohio to promote a message of forgiveness, especially for ex- convicts.
He conceived and spearheaded Cleveland's Amnesty Court, which led more than 13,000 people with outstanding misdemeanor warrants to turn themselves in and clear their cases last winter.
That led to a similar program for felony cases in August, which is being copied nationwide.
Olds opened the charter school in the fall of 2002, holding classes first at a church and then a building on East 71st Street.
The academy struggled as students were given outdated textbooks and at times went without heat or food for lunch. When the school shut its doors for good in December 2003, it owed the state $1.4 million and had failed to pay teachers.
Prosecutors said that while workers and students were left in limbo, the trio pocketed $2.2 million, using the money to pay credit card bills and buy furniture, computers and even an aquarium for Olds.
The private academy received public money based on attendance. The scam, according to the indictment, involved submitting monthly reports with bloated student enrollment numbers. The school reported as many as 681 students when the actual number never exceeded more than 100, according to the indictment. The Department of Education gave the school $2.9 million, based on the inflated numbers.
The trio then set up overpriced contracts between the school and their own companies for services such as transportation and janitorial work. They never provided the services, which served as shells through which the group embezzled money, according to the indictment.
Olds was arrested Friday, and he entered a not guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan in Cleveland. The gray-haired preacher appeared solemn as a guard cuffed him and escorted him out of the courtroom.
Haynes entered a not guilty plea later in the day. Gaughan scheduled a detention hearing for both on Sept. 20. Both will remain in custody until then and could not be reached to comment.
Daniels appeared before a judge Friday in U.S. District Court of Arizona in Phoenix. He was released without bail. Next week Daniels will be arraigned. He can not travel to Ohio or acquire a passport, court officials said.
Olds has served at the Eagle Rock Covenant Assembly in Cleveland and Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. He also founded The National Restoration Movement, an amnesty program designed to get guns off the streets, help convicts get the record of their crimes expunged and rebuild communities.
Phone messages left at Olds' listed phone number and at Eagle Rock were not returned.
In 2000, Olds published an autobiography, "Not Without Scars," about his 16 years in prison and the rebuilding of his life. He has used the story of his incarcerations - for selling and using drugs and as well as bank robbery - to motivate others to live right.
The book was published by MCO Media Group, one of the companies that authorities say benefited from the scam.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4334

Newest Board member frowns on "improper conduct"

From John Curry, Sept. 16, 2006
Like Dennis Leone, STRS's newest Board member (Tom Johnson) also doesn't like "improper conduct." click on the link below:

Duane Tron: Small potatoes

John Curry to Duane Tron, Sept. 16, 2006
Subject: Re: New STRS appointment political?
I do realize that these donations were "small potatoes," but nonetheless, we educators need to know this information. I hope (and pray) he does work out and will also be a watchdog of our monies and 3307.15. I would have preferred Tom Hall (so would a lot of others), but we'll have to work with what we've got. I will give him a chance. Like I said in my letter below, "We shall soon see." Thanks for your input.
Duane Tron to John Curry, September 16, 2006
Subject: Re: New STRS appointment political?

I don't want to burst anybody's bubble but these contributions are small potatoes in the world of campaign finance and are actually insignificant. It looks and sounds like a lot of money to you and me but in the world of campaign finance this is nothing and is viewed as such by fundraisers. Sorry! This doesn't even raise a flag here! I know people who give $100 to $500 to different political pundits right here in our small community and do so with regularity.
What I look at are those who donate thousands of dollars to campaigns of many different persons within a political party and do so with regularity! Kind of like David Brennan, White Hat Management, donating over $12,000.00 to Jim Jordan's campaigns in recent years! When people make big donations they expect something in return. When they make small contributions like these they usually do so because they like the candidate and not because they expect anything in return.
I am friends with a number of people who work in campaign finance, and fundraising, and they would laugh at this! If you asked them if this is significant they would tell you, "NO!" This guy is what they consider a small contributor! In the past I actually used to make donations of this size to some office holders.
Campaign finance is a cutthroat business and they are forced to try and find money anywhere they can because campaigns are so expensive to operate. This is precisely why McCain and Feingold were pushing for a reform of the entire system. The current system prevents a lot of "good" people from running for public office, people who would do a great job and make a difference. The system is broken!
I don't read anything into this particular scenario! No red flags so to speak.

New STRS appointment political?

From John Curry, September 16, 2006:
Below is a link to political campaign contributions. It appears as though our Taft newly appointed STRS Board member is the Thomas Johnson from 179 Montgomery Blvd. in New Concord, Ohio (not necessarily his current address) as the Secretary of State's website had him listed as the OBM director. If, indeed, this is "our guy," then he has an affinity to have donated to Taft:
1997 $1,000 to Bob Taft
1997 $500 to Bob Taft
1994 $150 to Bob Taft
1990 $100 to Bob Taft
Go to the Secretary of State website page and enter the name of Thomas Johnson, then scroll down to hit search. You can see for yourself. Will Mr. Johnson make critical Board decisions that adhere to ORC 3307.15? For our sake, let's hope so! We shall soon see. John

Who is Tom Johnson? More in this press release

Assistant Director Tim Keen to head agency
New Release from Gov. Taft's office, 2/8/06

COLUMBUS (February 8, 2006) - Governor Bob Taft today announced that Tom Johnson will step down as Director of Ohio's Office of Budget and Management (OBM), effective February 28, 2006. Tim Keen, currently OBM Assistant Director, will replace Johnson as Director.
"As OBM Director, Tom worked to ensure that Ohio remained fiscally and structurally stable during extremely challenging economic times," Taft said. "As a state legislator and as Ohio's budget director, Tom has dedicated his career to public service and promoting accountability within the state's budget operations. On behalf of the people of Ohio, I thank him for his exceptional service."
Johnson has accepted a position at The Ohio State University as an Executive in Residence within the John Glenn Institute of Public Service where he will teach and help develop courses in budgeting and fiscal management for local governments and non-profit organizations.
Taft appointed Johnson OBM director on January 5, 1999. Since then, Ohio has maintained an AA+ bond rating despite experiencing some very slow economic periods. His most recent accomplishments include helping to craft the lowest general revenue fund growth budget in 40 years and restoring Ohio's Budget Stabilization Fund.
While OBM Director, Johnson served as Chairman of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, Chairman of the Tobacco Settlement Task Force, Chairman of the SchoolNet Commission and Executive Sponsor of the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System (OAKS). Johnson also served on the Governor's OhioReads Council, the Governor's Commission on Student Success, the Governor's Commission on Higher Education and the Economy and the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Financing Student Success. Prior to his appointment at OBM, Johnson served as State Representative for the 96th District. Johnson, 56, lives in Columbus with his wife, Joyce. They have two grown daughters.
"Balancing the budget while the state is experiencing slow economic growth was a very challenging experience," said Johnson. "I am proud of all that we accomplished over the past seven years, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have served Governor Taft and the people of Ohio."
Assistant director of OBM Tim Keen will replace Tom Johnson, effective February 28. Keen served as Director of Finance for the Ohio House of Representatives, was Director of Research and Legislative Policy for the House Republican Caucus, and brings more than 20 years of experience working in various budget and policy-related positions in state government.
Keen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Arts Degree in Public Policy from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Keen, 43, lives in Upper Arlington with his wife Ana and their two sons.
"Tim Keen has been an able administrator during his time with OBM, and I look forward to working with him to maintain the same level of excellence and fiscal security that our citizens have come to expect from the State of Ohio," said Taft.

Paul Kostyu: Billirakis out, Johnson in

Third member of STRS board submits resignation
By Paul E. Kostyu, Copley Columbus Bureau chief
Canton Repository, September 16, 2006
COLUMBUS - A third member in as many months has resigned from the board of the State Teachers Retirement System.
Michael N. Billirakis of Pickerington submitted a letter of resignation effective immediately Thursday during the board’s monthly meeting. Billirakis, an executive committee member of the National Education Association, did not attend.

He is expected to appear in Franklin County Municipal Court next week to face four counts of violating state ethics law. Billirakis and three other former board members are accused of accepting and failing to disclose tickets to the Broadway Show “Hairspray” from the Frank Russell Corporation-Russell Real Estate Advisers. Billirakis also is accused of accepting and failing to disclose tickets to a Cleveland Indians game that he got from Salomon Smith Barney. The retirement system was doing business with both firms at the time.

Judith Dunn Fisher resigned June 30 saying she was driven to do so by “the inability and-or unwillingness of the STRS board (and its leadership) to ensure ... civility and respect.” On Friday, Gov. Bob Taft named Thomas W. Johnson, his former budget director, to replace her.

On Aug. 17, Stephen A. Buser resigned, citing potential ethical conflicts between his work on the board and his investment consulting practice.

Reach Copley Columbus Bureau Chief Paul E. Kostyu at (614) 222-8901 or e-mail

Friday, September 15, 2006

Flashback: A sizzling speech delivered to the Board before the birth of this blog

Dennis Leone’s speech delivered extemporaneously before the STRS Board (the last of many speeches he delivered in nearly three years before becoming a member of the Board in September, 2005)

August 18, 2005

Oh, the good news is this is to be the last time I’ll stand up here in front of this Board as a citizen for at least the next four years. That’s the good news.

I’m speaking today because I have a hope and a wish. My hope was that, Joe, that either you today would either apologize or set the record straight for the comments that recently appeared in the Columbus Dispatch and the Canton Repository. You and I spoke after the work session last week, and you indicated that you felt that you were not quoted correctly. If that indeed is the case, I would hope that you would write a letter to the Editor; or if that’s not the case, then to apologize to the STRS members for the comments that had to deal with being in the line of duty, or attending a Broadway show; the $4000 spent on the Hazel Sidaway party being trivial; and that such expenditures do not affect the lives of retirees. If, indeed, those comments were not made by you, I think you owe it to the membership to either have a letter to the Editor published or to set the record straight.

Secondly, I’m here with a wish that – a wish pertaining to a comment that was in the recent ORTA newsletter where, Mr. Endry, you advised people to beware of the few “malcontents,” and I guess my wish is today that as you leave this Board, you would have a better understanding for what, indeed, the “malcontents” have done to cause constructive change in this pension system.

Had it not been for the “malcontents” that you refer to in the newsletter, there would be no Senate Bill 133. There would be no travel restrictions, no spending controls, no required ethics training; there would be no discipline procedure in place to deal with future Board member misconduct – that would not be there!

Had it not been for the “malcontents,” there would be no Stephen Buser or Mrs. Fisher or Mr. Meyers on this Board. I believe that twenty-one, twenty-two thousand malcontent and active teachers voted John Lazares on the Board. I believe twenty-one thousand retirees likely to put me on this Board. Had it not been for the “malcontents,” Herb Dyer would still be sitting here; Eugene Norris would still be sitting up there. That is the fact that I wish that you would come to grips with.

And I guess that if those of us who have worked to try to make things better at STRS are “malcontents,” then so, also, I suppose, David Freel, Ohio Ethics Commission investigators and prosecutor Lara Baker, perhaps they’re “malcontents.” Perhaps the 105 lawmakers that called for Herb Dyer’s resignation, maybe they’re “malcontents.” Maybe Senator Wachtmann and Senator Schuring, who’ve tried to stand tall for doing the right thing for retirees; maybe they’re “malcontents” as well.

I’m here today to say thank God for the “malcontents” for what they have done to try to make things better; and my wish is, Joe, as you leave this Board, you would thank them for what they’ve done, instead of refer to them in the derogatory way that you have.

Thank you.

The speech Jim N. Reed didn't get to deliver

Jim N. Reed was unable to deliver his speech before the STRS Board on Thursday, 9/14/06, because The Public Speaks portion of the Board meeting was greatly delayed in starting and Jim was unable to stay. He did leave a copy and was assured all the Board members would receive copies.

Preface (for blog post)

As I am teaching during the A.M. and coaching the golf team in the Liberty Union-Thurston School District my attendance at the CORE-STRS meetings is limited. I plan to arrive for a few minutes of the post-lunch CORE meeting and then join my colleagues at "Public Speak."

In the Boardroom I have heard some passionate, eloquent pleas on behalf of an embattled generation of retirees. Unfortunately, many of these words have fallen on uncaring and out-of-touch ears. I look forward to hearing my fellow educators challenge the Board to do their duty as they were sworn to by ORC 3307.15.

When the "Public Speak" portion of the September 14 STRS P.M. meeting was delayed it made it impossible for me to remain.

When I read of the wisdom and courage of those who did speak and of the gutsy exchange offered in support of retirees by Dr. Leone and Mr. Lazares, it made me even prouder to be a member of CORE. I only wish I could have been an eyewitness. Sounds to me like it was worthy of a standing ovation!"


September 14, 2006

My name is Jim N. Reed and I am teaching in the public schools for the 42nd year, 33 years prior to retirement and in my 9th year as a part time "retired rehiree." As expected, in 1998 I began receiving STRS Ohio pension funds and health care subsidies for myself and my spouse. The promise had been kept.

Today, I find that promise broken. The 13th check and the spousal subsidy for healthcare insurance have disappeared, along with the trust and confidence I had in my retirement system.

Though I speak for myself today, I strongly suspect many of my fellow educators share my sentiments. Past and current decisions and indecisions of Board Members and Executive Directors have placed hundreds of thousands of active and retired teachers' careers and retirements in jeopardy.

The roll-call of mismanagement of our STRS contributions has been documented. Unfortunately there are some inside this room and many others in our profession who are not knowledgeable of the litany of fiduciary abuses.

However, there is a ray of enlightenment that has been kindled by Dennis Leone and John Lazares and a "Renaissance for Retirees" is flickering.

What exactly is it that the growing number of concerned active and retired educators expect from their STRS? Only that there is a genuine, authentic and good faith effort to decision-make and administer the legal and ethical spirit of Ohio Revised Code 3307.15.

Thank you for your attention.

Jim N. Reed

Minutes of the CORE Annual Membership Meeting Thursday, September 14th, 2006

From Mary Ellen Angeletti, September 15, 2006
The CORE Advisory Board met at STRS on Thursday, September 14th, 2006 for its Annual Membership Meeting with registration from 9:30 to 10:00 in the Sublett Room on the 2nd floor. Present were Lloyd Knudsen substituting for Chuck Chapman who is ill, Nancy Boomhower, Nancy Hamant, Betty Bell, Chuck Angeletti, Dave Parshall, and Mary Ellen Angeletti. We had a good turnout of folks representing many different parts of the state. Mary Ellen Angeletti served as scribe.
The reading of the minutes from the last CORE meeting of August 17th, 2006 was first on the meeting agenda. Nancy Hamant moved and Chuck Angeletti seconded a motion to dispense with the reading of these minutes in an effort to accomplish our full meeting agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
Ratification of the proposed CORE constitution and by laws was next on the agenda. Following announcement of this agenda item, it was moved by Ralph Lloyd and seconded by Paul Boyer that “the proposed CORE constitution and bylaws, together, be adopted by the organization”. Betty Bell then called for an amendment to Mr. Lloyd’s motion. She stated that “the motion to adopt the proposed CORE constitution and bylaws, together, be limited to a discussion period of no longer than 45 minutes.” Nancy Hamant seconded the amendment to the motion. Following discussion, the amendment to Mr. Lloyd’s motion was voted on by the group and passed unanimously.
Ryan Holderman then gave an overview of the proposed CORE Constitution and by laws. Following Ryan’s synopsis of the document, a suggestion was offered regarding the term of office for the Advisory Board members. The Advisory Board voted at the August 17th CORE meeting to grandfather the Advisory Board members to serve until the CORE Annual Membership Meeting in September of 2007. The thinking was that this would give a degree of continuity to CORE’s leadership and make for a smoother transition to the constitutional rule.
Today’s suggestion was to limit the number of Board members retiring in Sept. of 2007 to perhaps half of the Board members. The suggestion was that three Board members retire in Sept. of 2007 and four Board members agree to serve one more year. The thinking was that such an arrangement would provide leadership and historical perspective to the new Advisory Board members. After lengthy discussion, a consensus was reached that this suggestion was a moot point until the Constitution and By laws were ratified and nominations for officers had taken place. Folks were reminded that the Constitution & By laws can be changed very easily by amendment.
Voting by secret ballot occurred next, ballots were collected, and counted by the scribe, Mary Ellen Angeletti, and one CORE member, Paul Boyer, who had been chosen by the CORE Advisory Board members. A break occurred during the counting of the votes at which time CORE folks were asked to update personal information forms. Following the break, it was announced by the scribe that the vote was unanimous in favor of ratifying the proposed CORE constitution and by laws.
Dr. Leone asked that the chair of the Advisory Board read an announcement of the resignation of Michael Billirakis from the STRS Board effective today. Details concerning how Mr. Billirakis’ position will be filled should be available on the STRS website.
At 11:15 we broke the meeting for lunch in order to be ready for our guest speaker at 11:45.
At noon, Dave Parshall introduced Mr. Tom Mooney, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. Mr. Mooney opened his address to CORE by stressing the importance of health care and added that he was impressed with and encouraged by the efforts of the Health Care Advocates. He feels that we are more than half way through the process of convincing the legislature of the need for an increase in the funding for the purpose of health care. He made a general statement that most people realize that the idea of health savings accounts are not enough for much more than one major sickness during retirement.
These accounts are obviously NOT an answer to the problem of health care. The biggest impediment which he sees on the horizon for acceptance by the legislature is school boards. He does see the tenor of school boards changing however with the realization that delayed retirements may be even more costly to school boards. Another factor is that the leading sponsors currently in the legislature may change due to the 2007 election. He said that Governor Taft’s statewide voucher plan has hurt education.
Teachers receive less pay and there is massive turnover. He stated that there are 8,000 fewer teachers today than we had in 2002. He brought up a new issue concerning review of disability cases. He said that some teachers have been disability cases for 15 or 20 years and now suddenly they are no longer being considered by STRS as being disabled. He plans to investigate this problem. He feels strongly that STRS Board members should not vote on anything that is not in front of them.
Regarding the STRS budget, he said that he agrees that approval for “normal spending” is okay but that any NEW spending must be discussed in detail. During the question and answer period which followed Mr. Mooney’s remarks, someone asked him how we can better inform the active teachers as to what is going on. He admitted that OFT must do a better job especially in promoting that dental/vision insurance plans may well be in jeopardy on down the road.
He went on to say that Health Care is bankrupting our country and that all of our present health care programs are just band aids. He says we need universal health care. He also offered that social security needs to be rebuilt and bolstered so that one can actually live on it. Regarding Mike Billirakis’ vacant spot on the STRS Board, he said he would like to come together with us and other groups and explore common ground for a candidate. He said that the candidate does not necessarily have to be an OFT candidate but he feels that it is most important to make a diverse candidate choice.
He mentioned that he appreciated the work that CORE has done and the support that CORE showed for Mark Fredrick who was both a CORE and OFT endorsed candidate in the last STRS election. He volunteered that in the beginning OFT got into this election business because of OEA’s majority position on the STRS Board. He did not believe that this served us well.
He also said that we may not agree with Board members’ votes (Chapman and Flannagan are OFT members of the STRS Board) but that they are working hard and OFT is NOT telling them how to vote. Someone asked him about the problem CORE occasionally has regarding free and open access to schools during STRS elections. He says that the problem stems from the exclusivity of unions as bargaining agents for school systems.
Since CORE is not a rival and not a bargaining unit for any school systems, we should have no problem with access to schools. He suggested that we might seek clearance through the superintendent who would then inform school principals of our right to access. In discussing broader coalitions with other organizations in support of a consensus candidate for the STRS Board, Mr. Mooney liked the suggestion that we seek the support of the CEA (Columbus Education Association) which is a local teacher's union which tends to be independent in their thinking.
Mr. Mooney’s general theme seemed to be working together for common interests and broader coalitions. Someone asked him to share his thoughts on how we can get the STRS Board members to act realistically. In other words, how can we encourage them to stop being rubber stamps and to analyze each matter before them for the benefit of all teachers. His suggestion was for CORE to encourage more dialogue among STRS Board members, to attend STRS meetings, to give constructive speeches, and to pursue personal dialogue with Board members and staff. CORE extended thanks to Mr. Mooney for his visit with us and invited him to return whenever it is convenient for his schedule.
Molly Jancyzk moved and Nancy Boomhower seconded a motion to adjourn for the 1:00 STRS Board meeting including the Public Speaks portion and then to return to the Sublett Rm. to continue completion of the CORE agenda. The vote was unanimous.
Following the Public Speaks portion of the STRS Board meeting, the CORE meeting reconvened.
The procedure for nominations of officers for CORE as referred to in the CORE constitution and by laws was passed out to all members and the steps are listed below:

1. The CORE Advisory Board instructed that all nominations for officers are to be sent to the CORE scribe by October 1st, 2006.
2. The scribe was instructed to post the nominations on the CORE website, via the CORE Email Alert, and via CORE email chains as soon as possible but no later than October 5th.
3. Voting will then occur at the CORE October 19th meeting with installation of officers immediately following the counting of ballots.
4. Those elected will assume the duties of their office.
5. From this point on, the Constitution and By laws dictate the schedule of elections. Nominations should be sent to the CORE scribe, Mary Ellen Angeletti:
1. By email to:
2. By U.S. mail to: 879 Mission Hills Lane, Columbus, OH 43235-1265
Dave Parshall reported the balance of the CORE financial fund.
Next Dave made an update on the CORE website, reminding folks that the CORE constitution and by laws may be printed from the website.
Next Dave reported that CORE’s legal status is that we are listed as a non-profit with the state. We have no federal status, and we pay no taxes. We must file a 990 form every five years with the state.
The CORE focus for 2006-2007 was discussed next. It was decided by a consensus of the group that we would focus on the following objectives in the order of importance below:

1. Health Care
2. the unfunded liability (55 years)
3. monitor the Executive Director and the STRS Board
4. electing qualified candidates for the STRS Board elections coming up
5. working collaboratively with all groups A discussion followed regarding ways CORE can achieve more representation in all areas of the state.
Molly Jancyzk referred to the lists of contacts she has developed in almost all 88 counties of the state. She offered these contacts for CORE use. We discussed that it would be helpful for sending the CORE Email Alerts if we had one contact in each county for John Curry to send to. Ideally then this one contact in each county could then send to all of the Retired Teacher Associations in the county but there is a problem as some counties have hundreds of RTAs. This was the extent of the discussion concerning planning for the STRS elections of 2006-2007. Certainly this will have to be discussed at more length in upcoming CORE meetings.
Old business dealt with whether CORE should have dues or not. This became a moot issue as soon as the CORE constitution and by laws was ratified. The constitution speaks to donations only. We did anticipate one problem associated with this decision that being our yellow CORE pamphlets incorrectly refer to dues of $5.00. It was suggested that we simply explain that CORE no longer has the $5.00 dues but anyone who wants to designate their contribution of $5.00 as dues may certainly do so. We now encourage donations.
Under new business, the question of how to share the CORE financial fund balance with members who are unable to attend the meetings was to suggest that they email Dave Parshall directly at . If members do not have email, they may call him at 614-939-0354. The question of how to share meeting minutes with members who are unable to attend the meetings was to suggest that they send a self-addressed and stamped envelope for mailing of the minutes to the scribe at Mary E. Angeletti, 879 Mission Hills Lane, Columbus, OH 43235-1265. These may be sent on a monthly basis or 12 for the year. The question of how CORE can accommodate active teacher attendance at CORE meetings was not addressed and must be included as OLD BUSINESS in the next CORE meeting in October.
Pam Jones moved and Ryan Holderman seconded that the meeting be adjourned. The vote was unanimous. The meeting adjourned at 3:30.

The next CORE meeting will occur on Thursday, October 19th at 10:00 a.m. at STRS. At the time of the writing of these minutes, it was not yet decided if we will request the use of the Sublett Room again as our meeting place or if we will meet in our usual cafeteria room behind the Sublett Rm. The Advisory Board will make a decision on this and after obtaining approval from STRS, we will advise you via the CORE website, Kathie Bracy’s blog, the CORE Email Alert, and other CORE email chains.

Paul to Damon: How much longer must we suffer these indignities?

From Paul Boyer, September 15, 2006
Damon, I have read what I consider to be an incomplete report of the September board meeting. First, I assume that the board finished all of its business yesterday and did not have to meet today, hence the report is earlier than usual.
I believe that a report such as this should include all that happens in a board meeting but sadly missing was the report of the sordid discussion concerning past board action in paying bills without written information, culminating in John Lazares walking out of the meeting after stating that he did not expect (or need) to be insulted by a fellow board member. As I stated in my speech, ad-libbing, "Today, I have witnessed the worst incompetence of leadership of the STRS Board of any board I have ever been on of all the many boards I have experienced in my 81 years. I am scared for this Board under this leadership. The leadership of this board must change along with possibly the leadership of the retirement system".
I sincerely meant what I said there. You may interpret it in any way you like, in light of my recent private letter to you. The chairman should have stopped that discussion before it went as far as it did. I feel that she is totally incompetent to continue to carry on as chair of the Board but I am sure she will not resign and there is no way to remove her, unless she infringes on some of the removal provisions of the recent Senate Bill.
How long do we have to suffer such indignities as we have been having?

Billirakis resigns

September 14, 2006
Michael Billirakis, former president of the Ohio Education Association, has resigned from his position on the STRS Board, effective September 15, 2006. Billirakis is scheduled, along with three other former STRS Board members (two of whom are former OEA Executive Committee members), to be arraigned September 19, 2006 in Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus on charges of ethics violations while serving on the STRS Board. Two other former STRS Board members, Hazel Sidaway and Jack Chapman (also former OEA Executive Committee members), were convicted of ethics charges earlier this year.

Tom Mooney addresses CORE September 14, 2006

Photo by
John Curry
Tom Mooney, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers

Shirlee to Damon: Please answer the questions

From Shirlee Zerkel, Sept. 14, 2006
The double talk about the legal payments and headhunter contract did not work with me. I am not a country bumpkin who just came in from milking the goats. I was a secondary and college English teacher for over 26 years until physical health forced me to quit. Now please answer the questions I asked about in an email this week about retiree deductibles and co-pays! How high did you raise them so that premiums were raised less than first intended? You seemed to have that bit of information hidden from us.
I should hope to find out that the staff also now have deductibles and higher copays as well.
Thank you in advance for your prompt answer,

September Board News (9/15/06) from STRS, including procedures for filling vacancies on the Board; State Auditor to conduct review


During the September Retirement Board meeting, board members welcomed their newest member, Mark Meuser. Meuser, who teaches in the Gahanna-Jefferson City Schools in Franklin County, was elected last spring to a four-year term that ends on Aug. 31, 2010.

At the September board meeting, it was also announced that a letter of resignation had been received from Michael Billirakis. Ohio statute and the board's administrative rules provide the framework for a process that will enable the balance of the board members to elect a replacement for Billirakis at its Nov. 16, 2006, meeting. Contributing STRS Ohio members interested in filling his position on the board should send a letter indicating their interest and a résumé to the attention of Damon Asbury, executive director, STRS Ohio, 275 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215-3771. All letters will be forwarded to the Retirement Board. Upon receipt at STRS Ohio, these letters and any accompanying information may also be released in response to requests from the media and others.

According to board rule, each remaining member of the board may nominate one eligible candidate for the vacancy by Oct. 29, 2006. Asbury will then notify the individuals of their nomination and request biographical information. Each nominee will also be asked to attend the Nov. 16, 2006, board meeting, where each nominee will be interviewed by the board. Following this, the board will elect Mr. Billirakis' replacement through successive ballots. The individual chosen for this seat will hold it through Aug. 31, 2007.

Should the individual elected to fill Billirakis' seat want to continue in this seat beyond Aug. 31, 2007, he or she will have to run in the spring 2007 election. The process for that election begins with a mailing of notices to all STRS Ohio reporting employers and representatives of educational organizations by Dec. 1, 2006, announcing the upcoming election and providing information on how to obtain petitions. This information will also be posted on the STRS Ohio Web site in November. The four-year term for this seat begins on Sept. 1, 2007, and ends on Aug. 31, 2011. This is the only seat open for election in 2007.

Earlier this year, two STRS Ohio associates were reimbursed for the legal expenses they incurred in assisting the Ohio Ethics Commission and the Columbus City Attorney's office in the prosecution of a former board member for ethics violations. A total of $1,400 has been reimbursed. During its Sept. 14, 2006, meeting, the Retirement Board voted to waive the board's attorney-client privilege for discussions held in executive sessions on May 17, 2006, and Aug. 18, 2006, regarding the payment of these fees. By taking this action, the board is enabling the Auditor of State to discuss the expenditure with board and staff members to determine if this reimbursement is allowable.

John Osborn, from Russell Investment Group, presented a review of STRS Ohio's investment program during the September meeting. Russell serves as the Retirement Board's investment consultant. As part of his comments, Osborne noted that:

- Overall investment fund returns have exceeded the board's goals over the past one- and three-year periods and have shown a strong recovery after the down markets of 2000 through 2002.

- Both asset allocation and active management by STRS Ohio associates and outside managers have contributed to these good results.

- The breadth and strength of the current out-performance substantially exceeds Russell's expectations and will probably moderate in the coming years.

- The risk levels associated with active management remain low, and the diversification levels across asset classes (i.e., domestic and international equities, fixed income, real estate and alternative investments) remain broad.

- The external managers that STRS Ohio uses for approximately 20% of its investment assets are all favorably ranked by Russell.

The Retirement Board approved the following retirements and investment transactions:

- 689 active members were approved for service retirement; 35 inactive retirements were approved.

- In August, fixed-income purchases totaled $485 million, domestic equity purchases totaled $368 million, and real estate purchases totaled $53.6 million.


During this election cycle, mailings profiling STRS Ohio and the issues of concern to the members and retirees of the system will be sent to the home of every candidate for the Ohio General Assembly. This effort has proved beneficial in past elections in helping the new candidates understand what STRS Ohio is all about and in answering questions from their constituents. For incumbents, the mailing provides up-to-date information on what is happening at the system. Health care will be a primary focus this year.

Outside counsel for the Attorney General's office recently included KPMG as a defendant in securities litigation filed on behalf of STRS Ohio, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Consequently, accounting professional standards required that KPMG resign as STRS Ohio's financial statement auditor for lack of independence. A request for proposal for new auditors was issued through the Auditor of State's office on Sept. 6 to 12 accounting firms who have expressed an interest. STRS Ohio staff anticipates an auditor will be selected by early October.

Plans for open enrollment for the health care, dental and vision plans have moved one step closer to implementation as materials are printed, final programming changes are made and staff training is developed. Enrollees will find this year's open-enrollment materials more user-friendly and appealing. Staff improved the materials to make the writing style more inviting, easy to read and similar to information produced by plans in the marketplace. The materials point out the many advantages of the STRS Ohio Health Care Program. New information added this year includes questions that prompt enrollees to evaluate their current medical and prescription drug coverage as they review their options for next year.

Benefit recipients will be mailed a newsletter that highlights important information about the STRS Ohio Health Care Program for 2007 in early October. Health care open-enrollment packets will be mailed to all currently enrolled benefits recipients on Oct. 9. A separate dental and vision open-enrollment packet will be mailed to benefit recipients during the same time period. The deadline for the open-enrollment period is Nov. 22, 2006.

STRS Ohio, in conjunction with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), conducted a Request for Proposal for a pharmacy benefits manager consultant. The purpose is to engage a consultant to evaluate both traditional pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) purchasing models as well the viability of alternative PBM models. The current PBM contracts for both systems end Dec. 31, 2007.

Eight consulting firms responded with proposals and STRS Ohio and OPERS staff narrowed the field to three finalists. Staff members interviewed the finalists to assess the capabilities of each organization Aug. 29-30. During the next few weeks, staffs at both retirement systems will select a consultant and finalize terms of engagement.

By working with OPERS, STRS Ohio can maximize its purchasing power and share expertise. Collectively, STRS Ohio and OPERS represent about 300,000 lives and more than $650 million in gross drug spend annually. This project began months ago with discussions among all of the Ohio retirement systems, the Department of Administrative Services and The Ohio State University to explore concepts around better approaches to prescription drugs. However, only STRS Ohio and OPERS were able to move forward with the current project.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Late breaking news from Dennis, September 14, 2006

So you know -- Late in the afternoon at today's STRS Board meeting (9-14-06), the Board went into executive session to review some matters with legal counsel. After returning to public session, the following occurred:
Motion by Leone, second by Chapman, for the Board to "waive its executive session privilege for the Board meetings on May 17 and August 18." Voting yes were Leone, Chapman, Lazares, Cervantes (Flannagan), Puckett, and Ramser. No one voted no. Meuser abstained, properly in my opinion, due to his lack of background on the matter.
The purpose of this action was to give staff members from Betty Montgomery's office the legal ability, at will, to individually interview all current and former board members about the discussions that took place about the payment of legal fees for STRS employees during the two executive sessions. Without the waiver, Board members could legally choose NOT to speak about anything that was discussed during the executive sessions. Now, Betty Montgomery's office will have the ability to determine what really happened on this issue.
I am also aware that Betty Montgomery has made a public records request of STRS for all documents pertaining to the issue. Further, Betty's staff members will be interviewing certain STRS employees on the matter.
Dennis Leone

Lloyd Knudsen's speech to STRS Board, September 14, 2006

Good afternoon. My name is Lloyd Knudsen. I retired as a 30-year teacher in the Woodridge Local Schools of Summit County. I have some concerns I would like to share with the board.
An STRS board member recently resigned because apparently Dennis Leone was just too intrusive and argumentative during board discussions. Dennis, what were you thinking? Perhaps a better question is, what were the rest of you thinking?
Since Dennis Leone was elected to this board he has exhibited a passion to represent us -- TEACHERS. Dennis understands his role on this board is NOT to represent and please STRS management and staff, but to represent the teachers who voted him onto this board. That role sometimes means asking tough questions and demanding specific answers to those tough questions. And sometimes, it means saying no tot eh STRS management and staff.
The recent board approved repayment of legal fees to three staff members is a perfect example. Should these three employees have been reimbursed for their personal legal fees? NO, not if Statute ORC 3307.15 is being followed. The board even later admitted it erred when it instructed Dr. Asbury to inform the STRS staff not to expect similar reimbursements in the future. As a board, I ask you -- what were the rest of you thinking?
Demanding to see written contracts in front of you before voting, or asking the STRS staff to find a more economical solution than paying an additional $315,000 fee is NOT "micro-managing" the system. It's doing the job that you were either elected to do or appointed to do -- making decisions in the best interest of the STRS benefit recipients. As a board, I ask you -- what were the rest of you thinking?
I challenge every board member to become passionate, intrusive and argumentative about representing us -- the TEACHERS, and not just passively agreeing with the STRS staff. I am particularly discouraged by the votes and actions of our newest additions to this board. Your apparent desire and willingness to seek admission to this board's RUBBER STAMP CLUB is most disturbing.
I say to every member of this board -- if you will not stand up and fight for us -- you need to resign and let our membership find someone who will!
My second concern is a general feeling I get from attending STRS board meetings, listening to board discussions and reading about your decisions. For lack of a better term I'll call it the STRS staff and board are proper and justified because things are going great. Don't question. Don't argue. Things are going great. This approach might be OK if an opposite "feel concerned" approach was evident in bad financial times. But that doesn't seem to be the case at STRS. Let me explain.
Let me take you back to the years 2001-2003. STRS suffered multi-billion dollar investment losses. STRS's overall value decreased by about 25-30%. Most normal businesses suffering those kinds of losses would have slashed expenses and greatly reduced staff. STRS did neither. They went on as if nothing had happened. No budget slashing. No job layoffs. Just business as usual. It was later explained to me in a CORE/Damon meeting that STRS took that approach because that multi-billion dollar investment loss was not really a loss. It was just a PAPER LOSS. And see, even when things are financially terrible at STRS, it still adopts a "feel good" approach to the future.
My point is this -- if yesterday's losses were paper losses (surely to be made up), why are today's gains not just PAPER GAINS (possibly to be lost in the future)?
As board members your job is to monitor the actions and expenditures of STRS. Your decisions should not be based upon whether the stock market is up or down that day or that month. ALL of your decisions should be based upon following Statute ORC 3307.15. In following that statute, during your board discussions, it might mean as a board member you have to become intrusive or argumentative or exhibit a passion to represent benefit recipients. As one of those benefit recipients I certainly hope so.
At the risk of being redundant I will say one more time -- if you cannot or will not stand up and fight for us -- you need to resign and let our membership find someone who will. Thank you for letting me speak to you today.

Next CORE/STRS Board meeting date: October 19: Things are HAPPENING!!!

From Molly Janczyk, Sept. 14, 2006:
Please plan to attend on Oct. 19 as much will be of interest.
1. Voting on CORE officer nominees will occur by present members only.

2. IMPORTANT STRS MATTERS WILL BE DISCUSSED AT THE STRS BOARD MEETING! Please attend to show your support for Lazares and Leone! We had a very productive day and the Board Members decided to survey items for approval along with emphasis placed on NO DOCUMENTS! NO VOTE! Lazares and Leone feel our presence makes a difference on Board Member demeanor and results! This promises to be a very important month so PLEASE plan to attend! I don't think you will be disappointed.
Board Meeting usually start around 8:30-9:00 a.m. and CORE meets at 11:45 till
Note: I agree with Molly about our presence making a HUGE difference. You could feel the electricity in the air today; you could feel the tide turning. You could SEE Board members in a subdued state (as they should have been). Lazares let Damon have it; Leone got on Conni's case; you should have been there to see it. There is much to be done, but history is being made, folks. Run, don't walk, to the next meeting! (Well, OK, drive 65, not 60.) I repeat: there is MUCH to be done, and YOUR BACKING IS NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER!!! THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO LET UP!! Kathie Bracy

Paul Boyer's speech to STRS Board September 14, 2006

Here is a copy of my speech today for all you good people, along with what I remember of my ad-lib and the reason for it. It is coming to you as an attachment and in the body of the letter for those of you who can not open my emails.

Good morning, Board members, Dr. Asbury, retirees and guests. As you know, I am Paul Boyer representing myself and Allen County retirees. I wrote this speech originally for the June meeting but was unable to attend it and others since then. I have not had to make many changes in the speech because it is still very viable for your actions to this day.

I want to give the board members a great big Thank you for the way you have handled our HC costs for 2006. Not only did you save us from all the horror stories that were told of people trying to find the best Medicare D plan, but you are using some of the rebate money to hold our costs in line, both in monthly premiums and co-pays. That has been a tremendous benefit to all of us retirees and we certainly do appreciate it and applaud you for it. And the $1500.00 co-pay maximum for the year is a great help. Already my wife has spent $1,013.00 and I have spent $714.00.

Because of my worsening health problems I have not been able to attend some of the recent board meetings but I do read the emails and keep abreast of what has been going on. We elected Dr. Dennis Leone as one of our retiree members of the board and persuaded the active teachers to elect John Lazares as a contributing member. It seems, however, that these two men are being stymied in their efforts to cut down expenses. To your credit, I must say that you have voted yes with them on a few of their motions which has saved a lot of money in the budget.

What does the Ohio Revised Code 3307.15 say about the fiduciary duties of the board members?

Here it is.

ORC 3307:15 SAYS:

The board and other fiduciaries shall discharge their duties with respect to the funds "solely" in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries; for the "exclusive" purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries and defraying reasonable expenses of administering the system; with care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with these matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims; and by diversifying the investments of the system so as to minimize the risk of large losses, unless under the circumstances it is clearly prudent not to do so. (I had printed this in the largest type I could, scotch taped the sheets together and hung them on the front of the podium)

As you review your decisions in the past few months can you sincerely say that you have followed this law? You have voted down motions to require written documentation on any money item before voting on it and have voted on a couple in that manner. How can you be sure you know what you are voting on when you do that?

Now, gentlemen and ladies, it is about time that you sit down and memorize this, if necessary, and change your attitude because we retirees are not going to stand for any more nonsense. This is our money, not yours to spend as you see fit, as the former Executive Director Mr. Dyer wrote to a retiree. And we continue to demand that it be spent wisely on retirees and their beneficiaries.

Paul L. Boyer

I will now ad-lib: Today, I have witnessed the worst incompetence of leadership of the STRS Board of any board I have ever been on of all the many boards I have experienced in my 81 years. I am scared for this Board under this leadership! The leadership of the board must change along with possibly the leadership of the retirement system!

(By way of explanation, here is the reason for the ad-lib. The board was quite late in coming back after lunch and we still had to do the swearing-in of Mark Mueser and hear Damon’s report. After his report, the chair asked if the board members had any questions. I can not remember all that followed because I actually could not hear it all. Somewhere along the line, Dr. Leone brought up his motion, which was defeated, to not vote on any money matter without having printed copies to peruse or at least the main points. Some hot discussion followed, and the next thing I knew, John Lazares jumped up, said (loudly, to Damon) he did not have to be insulted by a board member and walked out of the meeting. I later found him down in the parking lot on my way out. Molly has sent out a letter which you will probably all receive that very carefully explains it. The chair then went on as though nothing had happened.

(I just could not let that pass by.)

Molly Janczyk's report on CORE and STRS Board meetings September 14, 2006; Tom Mooney's speech included

The CORE Constitution and Bylaws were ratified as presented, by unanimous vote of CORE members present at the meeting. There may be amendments later after the CORE officers are elected to determine who remains on the CORE Trustee Board (formerly called the CORE Advisory Board; with the Constitution is was found that Trustee is a more approp. title for our legal status).
A good suggestion was made that some current Trustees remain for 2 yrs. while some are replaced in the Sept. '07 election so as to have a staggered rotation of service with some experienced and some new members always serving as Trustee vs. brand new Trustees every 2 yrs.
Tom Mooney, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, was our guest speaker. Tom opened with some general thoughts on what he knew were points of interest before ques. and ans. period.
Tom Mooney: Paraphrased:
*I would never vote on what I don't have before me. I would not trust what I don't see. I may not understand the legalese but I could research it.
*OFT does not dictate what OFT Board Members do. We feel that is wrong and do not want to have any impression that Board Members are influenced by the organization. I may not like a vote and we may discuss issues but dictating votes creates situations with the wrong appearance.
*If something is in the budget outside of the norm, such as new items, the STRS Board needs to vote on them. They should not simply listen to management but should vote as a Board on whatever amount exceeds the amount determined to be the limit for spending.
*HCA: Proposed Legislation: STRS is in this situation because they relied on the market and previous HC costs were not that much. A dedicated stream of revenue was never established. HCA have spoken with all the Senate members and are currently working their way through the House. I feel encouraged by what I have seen and heard. The responses are favorable with legislators and most are willing to talk and understand the need. A few who don't want to see reality remain negative. But, mostly when figures are shown as to how the legislation affects the systems vs. what will happen with the proposed legislation, most give a favorable response. For. ex. Herschel Grimm begins to crunch numbers with them to show need and when they see the actual numbers, most end showing more openness.
Even the School Boards are changing their tenor on the issue again being shown the numbers.
We hope to have some change with the General Assembly in Nov. with more education minded legislators being elected and that can greatly influence swing votes. (IT IS CRITICAL TO ELECT EDUCATION MINDED LEGISLATORS OR THIS LEGISLATION HAS DEMINISHED HOPE).
Education issues are also privatization with $600,000,000 going to Charter Schools a year. This drains the Public Schools as does home Schooling. OFT endorses Strickland over Blackwell based on EDUCATION AND STRS ONLY! We realize you have other issues but OFT endorses based on education minded legislators. Blackwell promotes Charters and Home Schooling. He promotes cuts in taxes which hurt public education.
There is Aggressive Privatization of Education going on in Ohio. It seems Taft cut a deal for statewide vouchers and it is eating up public education. These charter schools are run by for-profit companies with no accountability to the public. Employees pay into STRS but are NOT public employees. There is a huge turnover with low salaries and conditions hurting the children's education. Blackwell supports these charter schools making huge profits.
John Curry: What can we do about the many actives who are still unaware of the crisis and what they will face.
Mooney: We need to do a better job informing them. We do tell them when we meet but they don't think about it just as we didn't back then. We need to do more to inform them.
Nancy: Issues re: HC: What do you think of single payer plans, actively promoting vision and dental self funding or actives won't have when retire, spousal rates so high?
Mooney: Need to consider single payer . We need Universal Coverage: National HC. Employers have to cover or pay into system. Corporations have ideological view: don't want government involved but HC bankrupts them. Companies are getting saddled with HC they can't afford. Costs get so high employees have to drop out. So, we should probably have single payer to cut down on all the billing, personnel, etc.
Ques: How can we promote reasonable STRS Board cooperation:
Mooney: The board is more diverse with different organizations represented. Contention is not necessarily a bad thing as it means issues are being debated and they are better decisions being made. There ARE better decisions being made. MORE dialogue is needed - even between Board meetings till find common ground. There is TOO much polarization with thinking that there is a right and a wrong. The Board needs to learn to work together better until they find common ground.
I am not a Board Member and do not know how much study and work goes into this but they need to have more dialogue. Don't take a manager's word - discuss it until it is resolved by the Board. WE all need to lobby Board Members rather than polarizing sides. This is right and this is wrong. Find common ground.
Chuck Angeletti: Questioned how to deal with entry into schools during elections, etc.
Mooney: CORE is NOT a rival organization and this rival organization was set up long ago to determine a school OFT or OEA. CORE is not a rival organization because a rival organization is defined as a bargaining organization which CORE is not. So, the only one to determine entry to schools is administration.
Mooney: Disability: I am concerned about the Disability Review. If someone has been on disability long term and it was determined, for ex., 20 yrs ago that a person was diagnosed with a disabling condition and now a Dr. decides that person no longer has that condition, humanity enters this decision. The question is : Can this person teach? They were disabled from teaching. Now, are they physically and mentally able to teach because otherwise, if disability is dropped, what are they to do? Common sense and humanity need enter these decisions. We plan on looking into this situation.
A statement was made by Ralph Lloyd regarding his belief that Blackwell was given a $300,000 grant from private school (s). He remarked on casinos being touted providing 100% for schools and it is 30%. He remarked on Blackwell's TEL position earlier this year.
Tom Mooney thanked us for inviting him and said he looks forward to working with us on a possible unified candidate for the STRS Board seat vacated this week when Mike Billirakis resigned. Mike will retire next year as well. John Lazares wants to express thanks to Mike for his work on HC.
Mooney and we spoke of offering candidates for consideration of joint endorsement hoping OEA and CEA would find reason to work with us in this as well. Mooney does not feel ANY organization should have a majority on the board and that various groups invite more dialogue and solutions favorable to membership.
Comments were very favorable re: Mooney as an approachable and intelligent savvy leader willing to listen and work with CORE. I think all were pleased with his exchange and impressed with his direct and open manner. His views were much appreciated. (Based on comments I heard).
Thank you, Tom! We look forward to working with you.
We adjourned to the 6th flr for the STRS Board Meeting and Public Speak:
There was an animated debate regarding voting without a contract and particularly the Fergusen deal regarding use of Head Hunters who were paid $315,000 to find 4 Real Estate Staff:
Leone: Could we have a single page summary of a contract if we cannot have the entire contract before us before we vote? My motion was defeated 8-2. We needed to have a single page to see what staff had done thus far..
Jeff Chapman: Agreed the motion needed to be put back on table.
Lazares: The Board voted for $65,000,000 for computer project and we saw nothing on it. So, I didn't vote on it. I will not vote on another thing with nothing in front of me! (Applause).
Ramser: We had proposal..............
Lazares: No, Conni, we didn't.
Leone: We had no copy of the contract and this has got to stop!
Mary Ann Flannagan: We know John L. and Dennis are concerned -- can they look at the contracts individually before voting?
Lazares: Mary Ann, YOU should look at them too! (Applause).
Mary Ann: Maybe we need an ad hoc committee for this.
Leone: We had a committee and it decided NOT to bring this back to the Board. Ramser asked if we were negotiating in bad faith if don't do what Damon agreed to.
Ramser: Need to frame items for the Board to know which are acceptable and which not.
Leone: It's simple! If the Board is to vote on a contract, we need to see the document! We're not talking electricity, etc.
Damon: Well, electricity is contracted. (Attendees groan knowing this is not what Leone means). Damon continues: We need clarity on which items need approval and which not.
Lazares: We've been muzzled since being on the Board, so thanks for letting us talk so the membership can hear us, Madam Chair ( Ramser). NO VOTE IF NO DOCUMENT (Applause). I think the Board knows the difference between $65,000,000 and cheerleader socks items! This is insulting. We've been asking this for 2 yrs!
Leone: The Board approved the Headhunters. Will the Board see the contract to know what they approved? We know this Board approved another contract with items in it they did not know were in it.
Damon: This was not the kind of contract the Board needed to approve.
Leone: You could have let us know what was occurring with a summary page. I am concerned about there being a percent of potential bonuses of the 4 being hired being given the Headhunters. Is this correct?
Damon: The HR (Human Resources) Dept. spent 3-4 months on a search and concluded they didn't have access to the level of staff we needed as they weren't looking for jobs. Firms charge 35% for this type of service. We were charged 30% for the first 3 and 25% for the 4th employee. For one year, if we need to hire others, there is no fee.
Lazares: Again, I will not vote on anything with no document in front of me. It is not responsible for us to do this and not why I was elected and sent here.
Leone: We have engaged a firm and Jeff Chapman, John Lazares and I had no clue they were even talked to. 11-0 support was given to be competitive for additional staff we were told we needed. Of the 4 people hired, 1 was a replacement, so how was that original staff member hired?
(Was a headhunter used?)
Damon: The Real Estate Staff was reduced by 16. We expected to be able to find someone. Real estate declined because we were out of the market and needed to find staff ASAP with the highest potential to get what we need from them.
Damon started to say something about staff working hard to keep the Board informed and since this issue has been on the table for months, Lazares said to Damon that he was insulting them. (Plenty of time for informing the Board by Damon, in other words, I took it). Damon started again and John L. stood up and said he could not take being insulted (and I know he cannot stomach untruths which I believe this to be as Damon could easily have informed the Board of all actions on this. John did leave the room to make his point that he would not listen nor tolerate lack of complete and factual honesty: I did speak with him later on this). [Did he go home? He took everything with him. KBB]
Ramser: Can we block time for discussion of what is acceptable and what is not, regarding needing a vote to clarify limits?
Ans. yes.
Damon: proposed giving each Board Member a survey to complete to ensure all could provide detailed input.
Leone: We had a contract approoberved without the document and no one on this board knows what is in it! What's in the Ferguson contract? What are the conditions?
Damon: I can give you copies. (NOW!)
Puckett: In October, if we can decide what contracts come to the Board, it would be helpful.
Ramser: To Leone: You sent me 2 different proposals. Maybe you could rewrite to be clear and the Board could submit items to consider.
Leone: The only difference between the proposals was the last said summary vs. complete contract.
Surveys will be given the Board Members for discussion in October.
Public Speak:
1. Paul Boyer: Speaking for himself. Thanked the Board for 2006 HC costs containments and rebates going to HCSF. We elected Lazares and Leone and they have been stymied on every major motion. Any member of any state board has a fiduciary responsibility to its membership. Can you say you have done that when you vote without documents in front of you to know what you are voting on? The ORC:3307.15: sleep with it, eat it, memorize it! It is your basic responsibility to oversee OUR money! Not yours to spend as you wish as Dyer said.
Today , I have witnessed the worse incompetence of leadership of the STRS Board over any board I have ever seen on any board of all the many boards I have experienced. I am scared for this Board under this leadership! The leadership must change!
2. Bob Buerkle: Presented a letter he wrote 3 yrs ago to Deb Scott. All the items he suggested then have now occurred-except one: Make no drastic change for one year to give the market a chance to recover. We know drastic changes did occur.

Bob's 2003 Suggestions: -Seek legislation for increased contributions: HCA are now doing this. -allow equity investments time to return to higher levels (returns have been excellent) -create pools of HC participants for greater cost savings (2 plans now exist: Basic and Plus) -raise actuarial assumption to 8% (this was done).
Bob will speak to equity and inequity next month.
3. Lloyd Knudsen: concerned that STRS Board Members resigned due to inability to deal with Leone's intrusiveness and micromanaging. Dennis, What were you thinking? In reality, Dennis understands that sometimes a no is needed! No vote with no contract in front of you. This is not micromanaging to know details of contracts to be voted upon. No, to paying legal fees for staff appearing in court to testify! No, to $315,000 for headhunters. STRS Board: What were you thinking?
I come and hear everything is fine. The feel good approach. When the market fell and HC soared, there were no layoffs at STRS, no slashing. STRS took the approach: 'Business as usual." Damon said it was only a paper loss. (Boy, wish I had known I am really not spending 800% more for HC).
I charge the STRS Board to be passionate, intrusive , argumentative and I am concerned the newer Board members are so ready to join the 'rubber stamp club'. If you will not fight for us-resign so we can get someone who will!
4. Jim Reed left his speech but had to leave as Public Speak started late and Jim had to get back to his job.
5. Ralph Lloyd: Seen a lot of meetings. All expenses need to be approved beyond the basic budget items. No STRS Staff reimbursed for legal fees for testifying. No HC for rehires.
Lazares: debated the 120 days for subs to be counted as full year as that is what they were told and then find it doesn't count always. Needs changed!
Lazares wrote her a letter a week or so ago regarding the reimbursement of legal fees for STRS staff who testified in Board Members cases.
He had already told her she would not get the votes of the 100,000 retirees and family and friends. He showed her the No Petro/NO Montgomery buttons which didn't sit well months back.
The State Auditor Office asked the STRS Board to waive its executive privilege as a result of Lazares' letter on this issue. The STRS Board did waive its privilege and the State Auditor will be questioning them in legal fees paid to the Staff.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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