Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jim N. Reed to Susan Zelman: Time to replace Puckett

From Jim N. Reed, October 28, 2006
Subject: "...making the teaching more valued and honored."
Superintendent Zelman, in a recent education article by Andrew Welsh-Huggins regarding federal grants for teacher bonuses in select Ohio school districts you were quoted that one purpose for the bonuses was "about making the teaching profession more valued and honored."
Both ends seem to be worthy and honorable goals for the education profession (though I'm not certain these means are the best methods of achievement.)
I'm certain you are aware of the education critics that have always questioned the use of "profession" when defining our vocation. Unfortunately, educators have often been their own worst enemy when unprofessional behavior besmirches our rank and file.
I submit that the performance of Dr. Puckett, your appointee on the STRS Board has demonstrated questionable professionalism in his interaction with retirees and other Board members. You could have sent anyone from your department to be a rubber stamp for an administrative philosophy that has been, and will continue to be, challenged by stakeholders who will no longer allow their retirement system to be an embarrassment to their profession.
Dr. Puckett has contributed little to the attempts of concerned Ohio retired educators' efforts to correct the shameful behavior of past Boards. Furthermore, it seems Dr. Puckett may remain a current participant in the disgraced entitlement practice of personal spending using plastic funded by retirees' contributions.
Superintendent Zelman, it is time to send a genuinely qualified, independent thinking and compassionate individual to the STRS Board to represent our profession's active and retired educators.
In advance, thank you for your serious consideration of Dr. Puckett's replacement.
Jim N. Reed

June Hughes: Getting Rx at Target

Looks like June has been doing some comparative Rx shopping. Thanks for the info, June.~ John Curry
From June Hughes, October 28, 2006
Subject: Target & Wally World
Target is matching WalMart's list of prescriptions. There are NO restrictions. I was told if our so-called plan was cheaper than $4 we would be charged the lesser price. Well I choose Target over WalMart because of their hiring, HC and salary practices. I found the Target person much more personable. I picked up a list from WalMart. Soooooooo, we can save our $30 next year for generics on their lists and only pay $4 for a months supply or if written for a 3 months supply, then it will be $4 x 3 = $12. I'm going to ride this train for as long as it runs for my benefit. Thank goodness, there are some antibiotics too. Now for some relief of the brand names prices!!!!!!

Duke and Jane Snider to Conni Ramser: Time for you to leave, too

From Duke and Jane Snider, October 28, 2006
Subject: Resign
Ms Ramser,
My wife and I feel you should do the same as Mr. Meyers and resign. I heard you supposedly have been unkind and disrespectful to Dr. Dennis Leone with your remarks. If you made unprofessional remarks, then it's time for you to take a good look at yourself and step down. Do you realize Dr. Leone and Mr. John Lazares are icons to educators throughout Ohio? Do you realize we trust them, because they place ORC 3307.15 at the top of their list? Do you realize they want the retirees to be treated fairly? We were at the last STRS board meeting and I was NOT impressed with your leadership. It's time for you to give the gavel to someone else. We, retirees and active teachers, need STRS board members with the highest integrity, professionalism, caring, and follows ORC 3307.15, and hopefully the person appointed to replace Mr. Meyers will have these qualities.
Duke and Jane Snider, labeled by a former board member as malcontents from southern Ohio

Deborah Sodders -- Letters to STRS Board and Susan Zelman: Corruption must stop; Puckett acting irresponsibly

From Deborah Sodders, October 28, 2006
Subject: Corruption MUST stop!
Dear STRS Ohio Board,
Again I am reading and viewing information about your actions that upsets me thoroughly! Why would the STRS executive director need a spending limit of $100,000 let alone $1,000,000? And, why would you approve of funding monies for personal legal fees of 3 employees when FREE legal service was already available? Your corruption and fiscal waste between 1995 and 2003 should have set an example of how NOT to vote and yet you are still acting irresponsibly!
Your own representative from the State Superintendent's office is not representing active teacher's and retiree's interests. He voted against a spending cap for the executive director and for the personal attorney's fees.
Corruption and wastefulness needs to stop with the board! The retirees worked hard for their pensions and should feel secure that it won't be wasted by a group of people who are entrusted to use it responsibly.
Deborah E. Sodders
Greenville City Schools retiree
From Deborah Sodders, October 28, 2006
Subject: STRS corruption
Dear Supt. Zelman,
It has come to my attention that once again STRS Ohio is acting irresponsibly and that your board representative, Steve Puckett, has been part of it. Mr. Puckett voted against a spending cap for the STRS Executive Director. He was in favor of paying legal fees for three STRS employees who were subpoenaed to testify in an ethics conviction trial even though free legal advice was available from the State Attorney General's office. He voted "no" to prohibit full-time rehired retirees from utilizing STRS health insurance. He also thought it was proper for STRS to purchase an American Express credit card for him. Mr. Puckett is NOT responsibly representing active teachers or retirees!
As a 30-year teacher now retired from Greenville City Schools, it is an embarrassment to hear about corruption and irresponsibility from our pension caretakers. Thank goodness for Dennis Leone and John Lazares who seem to understand what and who they represent.
I hope you will consider examining the voting position of your STRS board representative. If Ohio expects excellence from its educators, then the educators expect excellence from its pension caretakers.
Please do not hesitate to contact me concerning this subject.
Deborah E. Sodders
Greenville City Schools retiree

Paul Boyer to Conni Ramser: It is time you wake up and know that the CORE members mean business

From Paul Boyer, October 27, 2006
Subject: Meyers
Conni, Did your really mean the accolades you gave to Mr. Meyers today in the STRS news bulletin or were you just trying to be kind to him? If it was the former, as I suppose it was, then you certainly have not been paying attention. From what I have seen and heard, Mr. Meyers was probably the biggest stumbling block to the Board ever gaining the trust of the retirees.
We hope that the new consultants who will be appointed for those that have resigned will have a better idea of what this is all about. Conni, it is time you wake up and know that the CORE members mean business and we will not rest until we get you people to handling our money according to ORC 3315.07.
You would do the retirees and STRS a great benefit if you would just quietly resign as the others have done.

Paul L. Boyer

Retired since 1985

Life member OEA/OEA-R,


Proud to be named "Core" of CORE

Friday, October 27, 2006

Molly Janczyk: Big bucks charged on credit cards, but not itemized -- WE PAY FOR IT

From Molly Janczyk, October 27, 2006
Subject: Re: Who?
Conni Ramser, Jeff Chapman, M.A. Flannagan, Puckett and I'm told there was a possible 5th for things like lodging, maybe for conferences with fees like registration seemingly not counted, and probably meals. Problem: We are charged the fees for credit cards and from what I am told (NOT BY LAZARES OR LEONE) large amounts charged up to $7000 -- $14,000 lumped so as not to be able to tell who went where or for what trip.
This is what I was told by CORE researchers, not confirmed as of now, other than there were credit cards as well as other items for board members paid by us for them such as calls, etc.
Waiting to hear more on this. Gary Hollow initiated it when he decided to investigate Dennis only. It made it necessary to view records for all board members. Any of us can ask for records at any time.
From Ken Ruth, October 27, 2006
Subject: who?
Hey Molly: A quick question. Who were the Board members issued and using the credit cards? When, what for?
I totally enjoyed (laughed out loud) last night when I read your three word response to Geoff's resignation. I was the shortest e-mail you have EVER sent. (:-)}
Ken Shelby County

Molly Janczyk and June Hughes: 'Legal' vs. 'Right'

From Molly Janczyk, October 27, 2006
Subject: Re: Legal vs Right: NOV STRS BOARD MEETING: THURS 11/16!
Because, June, it is legal. That's the reason I have seen for a couple of days.
The real answer for me is: I have found that people are much more easily influenced to go along than to stand up and do right - esp. if it is tolerated or allowed. The difference is: Lazares and Leone are made of different cloth. Just ask Gary Hollow. He investigated Leone, only, on expenses. He found nothing but accurate and correct receipts but then Damon had to release all the board's expenses and credit cards, etc. came to light Lazares and Leone knew nothing about.
Leone wanted to submit resolutions but was put off.
From: June Hughes, October 27, 2006
Subject: Re: Legal vs Right
Molly, but think about the fact that no matter where ever anyone is they will want to eat. Why should we subsidize something that's a normal biological necessity. If the member pays for their own food at home then they should pay for their own food where ever they are - period. While I was still an active teacher and when ever I went to seminars, meetings etc out of town I had to pay for my own food because I would have eaten somewhere anyway! Stop this policy! When I was a buyer for a retail chain, I bought my own food in New York, and yes, my 'coach' plane ticket and hotel was paid by the company. They made the reservations, I showed up at the airport and made the cheapest decent hotel reservations I could find to help allay the food costs. I gave up ambience in a hotel for food.
From Molly Janczyk, October 27, 2006
We have been hearing a lot about it was 'legal.'
Billirakis was legal due to Ohio loose definitions of a teacher when he milked the system by being called a teacher with Perry Local Schools where he never taught one day but had his retirement enhanced as a result, substitute pay was given to the Perry Local Schools though subs were never needed. Chapman did the same thing. Eugene Norris was touted to be an educator as well and hadn't been in a classroom for years. Legal. Was it right?
It was legal to go on lavish trips to exotic sites and have the best rooms and meals with our earnings. Some played golf vs going to those boring meetings. Was it rt.?
It was legal for membership to pay $800,000 in child care subsidy for STRS staff when we had to pay for our own and to subsidize the cafeteria for $88,000 annually. Cafeteria subsidy was dropped but we are still paying for childcare -- about $125,000, I believe, annually. We have been told and told it will be cost neutral SOMEDAY! Dates have come and gone and come and gone. Is it right?
It was legal to build a palace with art designed for it when membership lives modestly. Was it right?
How about family driving STRS cars opening us to legal suits taking down STRS should a fatal accident occur?
All the over benefiting of STRS staff was legal though over what other systems allowed such as $7000 for education annually vs. $3500 with OPERS which is now down further. STRS still allows $5000. Just one tiny example.
Paying staff legal fees is legal. We had to go with union legal staff or pay for our own. Why is right for them to get better than those they work for receive? How does that look to teachers who cannot pay attorneys?
Educators don't get calls or trips or $1000 flights to NY and Boston paid for them. We pay for our own and flights are $200-250 max but we make them in advance and go cheap coach not trying to get bumped up to first class by paying high coach fares as was done. Legal! Not right.
Will you pay for my computer, please? I use it for STRS business, primarily and had to update my equipment with my money to be able to do so. I am sure that must be legal!
Issue me a credit card! It surely must be legal cause I do so much STRS related spending. Just see my receipts! Pay me what I charge - not what you might allow me but what I allow and pay my credit card fees for me. The membership may be upset seeing this issue as a big red flag due to history but it is legal! So, never mind them.
Now, I want to come to Cols. for the next Board Meeting but I want to stay beyond Board business. I understand it is legal for an extra day or so. I want to relax and get away a bit after the meeting or I may attend another event. Do you think membership will mind since it is legal? Of course, they know I have to eat , right? We work hard and I feel this is fine since it is legal. I deserve it.
This may not look so good so 'splain' to membership one thing: It is legal. That's that.
When you have to explain to them whether it is right after a decade or so of misspending and bad decisions, don't bother. Just keep telling them it is legal.
We have all learned legal isn't always ethical or the right thing to do.
The question is and every board member should ask themselves: IS IT THE RIGHT THING TO DO!
Please try it. But don't validate wrong but saying it is legal. Rewrite these laws to make them right, ethically, and in accordance to ORC:3307.15: Are you acting SOLELY on behalf of membership when you do those things. Not justifying it but really acting on behalf of membership. If you wonder , just ask US! We'll be able to help with that. So, put away the books which are good for reference on issues, roll up your sleeves and ask yourself as though you were one of us: Am I doing this for membership in the eyes of membership? It may be legal but is it RIGHT!
Rewrite those rules to make them right.
Sincerely, Molly J.
TO THE ENTIRE BOARD: For the future, I hope the entire board realizes how bad it looks to those of us harmed by the old board to have credit cards, overstays, extra meals, etc. To have done this, again, behind our backs, is harmful all over again. It just looks bad to have this secretly-something we felt was done! Please feel how we do. Please act transparently and totally public without trying to slip little things by like this. It only adds to mistrust no matter how large or small. Just looks bad and I, for one, cannot believe it was done.
Molly J.

STRS official announcement: Meyers is gone (well, almost)

Oct. 27, 2006
The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS Ohio) announced that Geoffrey G. Meyers has resigned his position as a retirement board member, effective Nov. 17, 2006, citing personal reasons. Mr. Meyers was appointed to the State Teachers Retirement Board by the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and the president of the Ohio Senate on Nov. 4, 2004. These individuals are responsible for appointing a successor to Mr. Meyers.
Conni Ramser, retirement board chair, said Mr. Meyers' leadership and expertise will be missed by fellow board members. Ramser said, "Geoff's focus and understanding of issues of relevance to our system made him an outstanding board member. We valued his input and counsel on investment matters and effective business practices."
Amended Substitute Senate Bill 133 created three new appointed positions for the State Teachers Retirement Board. One position is appointed by the Governor, one by the Treasurer of State and one is a joint appointment by the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and the president of the Ohio Senate. These appointees serve four-year terms on the board.

Jim N. Reed to House Speaker Husted: Please send us a qualified and in-touch replacement for Meyers

Jim N. Reed to Jon Husted, October 27, 2006
Subject: A Qualified and In-Touch Board Replacement
Mr. Speaker, I have just read your e-mail to a CORE friend about the resignation of Geoffrey Meyers as the General Assembly's representative to the STRS Board. After witnessing and hearing the exchange with Dr. Dennis Leone at the October meeting I must admit I am relieved to know Mr. Meyers will no longer be a member.
It was shameful and an embarrassment for all and certainly lent credence to the age-old question among some non-educators as to whether our vocation is a true profession. Unfortunately, this was only one incident. It's become a recurring scenario at the Board meetings.
As a public school educator for 42 years I must admit to being too trusting, too apathetic, and too uninformed for too long regarding the behavior of my retirement system. For the past year I have become more STRS-literate thanks to my own homework and that of Dr. Dennis Leone and Mr. John Lazares whom I feel genuinely represent me and many other retirees on the STRS Board.
Unfortunately, the majority of the leadership in the Boardroom is so disconnected with the average retiree that "business as usual" is not even recognizable to its constituents. Mr. Meyers was the quintessential corporate talking head who was out-of-touch with those stakeholders he was to be serving and whose contributions he was be protecting.
I don't know that a transcript of the Meyers-Leone exchange regarding the propriety of a questionable STRS contract with a real estate talent scout firm is available but it certainly should be for everyone to review, including the Honorable House Speaker and the Honorable Senate President.
I don't know that I can adequately express the anxiety thousands of STRS retirees sense at this critical time in our retirement system's history. So many of our older active colleagues have been forced into nightmarish anguish over whether retirement is a goal or a deadline. Those retired are scrambling to make decisions among physician-directed treatments, purchasing meds, hanging on to their homes, and otherwise struggling to find the security to enjoy a well-deserved retirement for themselves and their families.
I cannot believe there is not a qualified candidate for your appointment to the STRS Board who has the credentials and the caring to join Dr. Leone and Mr. Lazares in their efforts to bring a Renaissance for Retirees. I ask you, Mr. Speaker and your fellow-leader President Harris, to search for someone who can make a genuine connection to Ohio's retirees, someone who can understand their plight by getting on the same level with the legitimate concerns we have.
Not being a politically savvy educator I'm not certain of the protocol at this juncture but I would submit that it would be a common sense and reasonable decision to request some input from the stakeholders. It would certainly be a breath of fresh air, a signal of hope, and a sign of legislative good faith to have a listen to Concerned Ohio Retired Educators.
CORE members would certainly be grateful just to know that our design to hold the Board and Administration strictly to ORC 3307.15 is recognized and supported by our lawmakers.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and carefully considered appointment.
Jim N. Reed
Professional Educator
CORE Member

82 credit cards at STRS? Perhaps ANOTHER tip of the iceberg?

From Dennis Leone, October 27, 2006
Subject: Point of Clarification -- Credit Cards
The 5th credit card was in the possession of Billirakis. His was discontinued when he quit in September. Ramser said last Friday that the other 4 have been turned in. Of those 4, Puckett had his from the "old" days. I recall calling him 2 years ago and asking him if he had one. When he told me that he DID have one, I told him I felt he should turn it in. He did not. My memory is clear on this. I doubt that Damon asked either Billirakis or Puckett to turn in their credit cards when he retrieved all of the staff's credit cards. Regarding the cards that were given to Ramser, Cervantes, and Chapman, I don't know whether Damon advised them how it would look for them to have them given that staff had turned in their cards.
My 2003 report listed STRS as having 52 credit cards -- a figure given to me by Herb Dyer. A follow-up article by Paul Kostyu that year revealed that STRS actually had 82 credit cards. Don't know where Paul got that, but he might have been more accurate. What is a fact is that years ago, a credit card was used by a board member to purchase alcohol at a beach bar in Honolulu. STRS paid the bill. What the current board needs to understand is that with the recent history we have, it just makes no sense for ANYONE to have a credit card, and it makes no sense for STRS to pay American Express $55.00 annually for each credit card.
Dennis Leone
From Shirlee Zerkel, October 27, 2006
Subject: Re: who?
Molly, Interesting information about who had or has the credit cards. Since Puckett has been on the board since we began complaining, he may have never had to give his up, but the other 3 or 4 have been new electees or appointees since the credit cards were taken away(?) a few years ago. These were newly issued and given (I feel) to secure that the board votes in favor of whatever Damon and crew wanted passed. To me that is NOT ETHICAL!

John Bos: News from WLW

From John Bos, October 27, 2006
Subject: I just heard something on WLW that applies to STRS
It is OUR money that is paying THEIR lawyers to keep US from obtaining what is rightfully OURS!
Yes, the attorney general and STRS lawyer are giving advice that tells them that they can do most anything that they want. We then need to beat the drums, file freedom of information requests, and yes, eventually retain a lawyer to solve the problem that they created.
John B

John Curry: A question for the Dispatch

From the Columbus Dispatch, October 23, 2006
During the debates and campaigning I have heard no mention by the candidates of the 7 ethics convictions handed out to former State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio officials. Why do you think both candidates have failed to mention this scandal? -- John, Wapakoneta
Darrel Rowland: John, thanks for joining us from the land of Neil Armstrong. But I'm not sure I have an answer for you.
My guess is that with so many higher profile scandals -- a convicted governor, illegal presidential campaign contributions, a $50 million coin fund gone awry, a congressman heading for prison, etc. -- the STRS mess hasn't made the radar.
It will be interesting to see how much of an emphasis on ethics occurs in the new administration. We seem to go in phases in Ohio; even now, many blow off the STRS convictions and others (including Taft's) as trivial reporting violations instead of what they really are: breaking state law by hiding goodies from the public.
What tone will Blackwell or Strickland set? How strictly will the public hold them accountable?

Tom Cooper's response to Mark Meuser: Please don't be led astray by those who have no interest in doing what is right

From Tom Cooper, October 27, 2006
Subject: Contracts, negotiations, delegations
Hi Mark;
First, I would like to say that while I personally do not accept some of your reasons/explanations as to dealing with the problems/questions cited, I have to tell you that I DO greatly respect, and appreciate the fact that at least you do extend the respect of honoring our questions and comments with plausible responses. You know, the thought occurs to me, that if those people who preceded you on the STRS Board had responded to questions five years ago with the dignity and respect that you do, we might very well not be having a need for these e-mail sessions today.
That being said, I would like to point out why I have a great deal of anguish upon reading some of your responses: First, Let's look at the question of delegation of responsibility and support of the delegate, as described in your example:
"As far as negotiating those contracts is concerned, I have discussed this with a number of people. They feel that any negotiator's position is strengthened if he or she has the authority to hammer out the final details of any contract. As a negotiator for our local teacher association's contract with the board of education, I have found that to be true."
Your position, as stated above, is the IDEAL, but we are not working with ideal conditions, are we? I doubt that your experience as a negotiator with your board had to deal with the problems of ethics violations of board members stealing from teachers funds. And I am sure that if it did, your Association president would have expected, and maybe demanded, a much more restrictive line of communication, and an insistence to know anything "creative", or out of the ordinary game plan laid out before negotiations began.
I too have been party to both having authority delegated to me, and also having to delegate authority. At times, my authority was limited and monitored because of the delicate situation at hand, and while I agree, the eventual agreement on a solution would have been much smoother if I had the right to final approval, I fully understood that because of the circumstances, I did need to check regularly with the source of my authority to make sure there were no gaps or misunderstandings. Considering the events of the past years, and the state of affairs currently at STRS, I don't think that it is asking too much now, for OUR representative Board members to be extra vigilant. If a delegate negotiator doesn't understand that, get a new one that does.
But the details worked out in the "give and take" can mean the difference between a good contract and a great contract. And, yes, board members should be aware of those details.
Here, you seem to acknowledge such, (as stated above), but there is no evidence that this occurs at Board meetings, or in Board minutes, or anywhere.
All participants were randomly selected. I do not have the full survey in front of me. Of course, I was not on the board at the time. I am getting my information, as any member could, from the STRS Ohio News. When the survey was completed, the board and staff then used the results, both positive and negative, to plan and address issues of concern.
With all due respect to your integrity,as you state, you were not on the Board the time of that survey, and it is obvious that not all Board members had the same respect for questions AND the questioner, nor the integrity, that you have shown. That survey was taken during a period of time when members of CORE were being called "malcontents" and trouble makers, and treated rudely and disrespectfully by Board members, some of whom are still on the Board, including the Executive Director.
There is no way I will believe that survey was distributed to "random" samples. I know how "random" samples works. You simply tell the surveyor (in this case Saperstein Associates), that "this" (limited area of the entire population) is the population, now do a "random" sample with this area. Surveys can do one of two things. They can show YOU a true picture of how things are, or they can help you show OTHERS what you want them to see.
The STRS Board, it's Executive Director, the Executive Board of OEA, the "leadership" of ORTA, had ALL ALREADY taken part in bashing members of CORE as a small group of malcontents. Do you really think that AFTER the fact of labeling retirees as malcontents, that the survey was taken to find out if retirees were unhappy? There were plenty of retirees attending meetings to find that out. or do you think the survey was taken to show OTHERS what the Board, et. al. had already decided before the survey, in order to discredit retirees claims?
I think you personally are a good and honest man. But even honest people can be deceived by those who also seem honest, but aren't. Please don't be led astray by those who have no interest in doing what is right.
Tom Cooper

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Molly's conversation with Mary Ann Cervantes: Mary Ann wants to hear from us

From Molly Janczyk, October 26, 2006
Subject: Mary Ann (Flannagan ) Cervantes
I spoke with Mary Ann this evening for quite some time. It was most pleasant and very encouraging. She was most adamant that membership contact her:
She wishes that members would stay and talk with her after Public Speak. I did say many have to leave to get back home and or we go back to our meetings at times.
Mary Ann wanted to clear up the misunderstanding that she was not receiving emails. When she first joined the board, she was asked whether she preferred mail or emails and being new and overwhelmed she requested mail. I got her email address and used it often but she felt few others wished to contact her. Then, she married and moved and changed her email. So, the old one failed and she is just now up with a new one listed above. She apologizes for this and hopes to hear saying she is just beginning to hear from others and welcomes this.
Mary Ann made it clear she wants to speak with Dennis and John and hear their thinking on issues to come before voting in the future. She has based her voting on STSR legal advice and investment appointees feeling they were sent to provide the board with experience since she felt she was still learning. We spoke of getting all views before voting including from Dennis and John and Tom Mooney who have actually worked on many boards and with legal and experienced individuals but also have put this advice into practical matters realistically and for the good of membership.
I said we never dictate votes and Mooney has made it clear he will not dictate votes but that all considerations need be heard before voting their conscience.
She was most agreeable to seeking all sides of issues prior to voting and appreciative of honest dialogue. I was very happy to speak with her and encourage others to let her know points to consider. I found her approachable and direct. Nothing was held back nor ill received.
Please do be heard!
Molly J.

Kathie Bracy's response to House Speaker Husted: We need Tom Hall

The Honorable Jon A. Husted
Speaker, The Ohio House of Representatives
October 26, 2006
Dear Mr. Husted,
Thank you for your response and notice of Mr. Meyers's resignation from the STRS Board. It is my sincere hope that a replacement can be found whose background and experience would not be undermining factors in his/her ability to understand and relate to the situations of retired educators of this state.
I hope you will give serious consideration to appointing Dr. Tom Hall, economics professor at Miami University, whose background would be an asset to the STRS Board. Dr. Hall is also a contributing member of STRS and is vitally interested in helping to solve the financial problems of that institution. He is "one of us."
The following post (below), taken from my blog ( will give you information about Tom Hall. This material was used during his campaign last spring when he ran for STRS Board, but was defeated by candidates with big money backing. We very much need someone such as Tom Hall on the STRS Board, but as retirees, we don't have the funding to help him get there. Thank you.
Kathie Bracy
[Click here to see post]

From House Speaker Jon A. Husted: Geoffrey Meyers resigns from STRS Board

With Goeff Meyers bailing out due to "the heat of the battle," will our legislature finally listen to the request from Dennis, John, and CORE members who demand accountability? We 400,000+ actives and retirees of STRS don't need another political appointment from the "Country Club Set." Have the legislators learned their lesson? I certainly hope so.
~ John Curry

October 26, 2006
Dear Ms. Bracy:
I received your e-mail regarding Mr. Geoffrey Meyers. Please know that Mr. Meyers has resigned from the STRS Board and Senate President Harris and I will soon begin the process of looking for a new appointment.
Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. If I can be of further assistance, please contact my office.
Jon A. Husted
Ohio House of Representatives

Molly's letter to House Speaker Husted and Senate President Harris

From Molly Janczyk, October 26, 2006
Subject: Geoffrey Meyers Resigns!
Dear Sirs,
Thank you for this update and we plead with you to appoint a public minded Board Member who can identify with moderate membership unable to pay for HC costs whose only fault was they gave themselves for public service.
We can not tolerate another person who came from elitist backgrounds and only is familiar with corporate mindsets as was Meyers. We would like to recommend Tom Hall, a Miami U Professor of Economics who has expertise in Economics, Investments, Market Trends and Business Cycles. I do not know if he meets the requirements of an appointee meaning he is employed at a State Univ.
We have asked all to appoint him and while he is considered, most likely for our benefit, the appointment seems to go with favored individuals.
Sirs: PLEASE EXERCISE THIS DUTY WITH GREAT CARE AND EMPATHY TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS! We are anxiously awaiting and so dependent on your decisions with no recourses available to us.
We retired before HC rose and were promised by STRS that we had nothing to worry about ever even though we now know they did know a crisis was looming. They allowed us to make uniformed irrevocable decisions and then placed the burden of saving HC for future retirees on our backs. PLEASE HEAR US! WE BEG YOU!
Appoint Tom Hall who has an interest in STRS paying into it or someone like him if that is impossible due to some law.
Thank you!
Molly Janczyk

Jim McGreevy: A clarification

From Jim McGreevy, October 26, 2006
Subject: Jim Kimmel's Question on Kathie's Blog
Molly -
Could you forward this to Jim Kimmel or give me his email address so I can communicate directly with him?
Jim Kimmel's posting on Kathie's blog indicated an incorrect interpretation of the HCA proposal as I understand it.
If the 5% of Payroll increase for health care is enacted (The HCA Proposal) then the 1% of employer contributions currently being directed to the Health Care Stabilization Fund (HCSF) would be directed back to the pension fund. This results in an improvement to the pension fund's actuarial statistics AND increases the amount going to the HCSF by five times.
The proposal as it is drafted provides that by the end of a five-year phase-in period a full 5% of statewide payroll would be dedicated totally for the HCSF. None of that money could be diverted to the pension fund.
Dennis Leone's response to that question implies that part of the HCA proposal would be diverted to the pension fund. As I have said before, I share Dennis' concern about the payroll growth assumptions.
- Jim

Paul Boyer's letter to the editor, sent to the Lima News 10/25/06

October 25, 2006

Dear Editor:

Election Day is less than two weeks away and all registered voters in Ohio have an opportunity to support all public school teachers, active and retired. The name Betty Montgomery will appear on the ballot for Attorney General.

Let me give you a little information on the actions of this woman as both auditor and attorney general. For many years, state law mandated that both the attorney general and the auditor were members of all of the state retirement boards. These state officers rarely, if ever, actually attended the board meetings but send one of their deputies. Retired teachers, members of CORE, Concerned Ohio Retired Educators, persuaded the legislature to remove these state officers from the boards.

During the tenure of Mrs. Montgomery and Mr. Petro, the State Teachers Retirement Board Executive Director and Board members, along with many of the employees, drifted into an entitlement philosophy and spent millions of dollars on themselves and a monstrosity of a building and art work instead of using the money for retirees.

Ohio Revised Code 3307.15 states

“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….”

In the budget bill a couple of years ago, we were successful in persuading the legislators to put in a line authorizing the Inspector General to investigate the board. It has been reported to us that both Mr. Petro and Mrs. Montgomery went to the governor and asked him to line-item veto that because they were members of the board. When later we asked these two directly to launch an investigation, we were told that that would be a conflict of interest.

The greatest scandal ever to hit Ohio, the NOE Coin collector scandal, an audit was made which showed errors and Mrs. Montgomery OK’ed it.

Now, I ask you, do we want this person to be our attorney General. Absolutely not.


Paul L. Boyer

Dennis Leone: Need for a contingency plan

From Dennis Leone, October 25, 2006
Subject: Nervousness
To answer your question: The projections that have been given to the board stipulate that if we receive the full 5.0% increase in contributions (2.5% from actives and 2.5% from employers), and 1.0% of that amount is set aside to help reduce our unfunded liability, the desired stability for the Health Care Stabilization Fund should still occur. Note I used the word "should" -- which is what the board has been told. I am as nervous about it as anyone else.
I am more nervous about the following: We heard good news on Friday that our unfunded liability -- due to terrific investment returns for the past 3 years -- has dropped from 55 years to 47 years. HOWEVER, it also was reported that our projected payroll growth of 4.5% per year from actives has been woefully low. The current 47-year unfunded liability figure assumes a 4.5% payroll growth for the future. Unfortunately, for the past 3 years, our payroll growth has been 3.9%, 2.2%, and 2.0%. This is due to fewer students, fewer teachers, lower pay increases for teachers, and increased charter school activity. The truth is the truth. Our positive investment returns can be wiped out by an adjusted (lowered) payroll growth of less than 4.5%.
I asked our experts, from Buck Consultants, what would happen if we lower our assumed payroll growth from 4.5% to 4.25%. Answer? Our unfunded liability would go up from 47 years to 53 years. I asked what would happen if we lower the assumed payroll growth from 4.5% to 4.0%. Answer? Our unfunded liability would shoot clear up to 62 years. And what, I asked, would happen if we lower our assumed payroll growth to 3.5% (still higher than the average of the last 3 years). Answer? Our unfunded liability would go way over 70 years, which means that we would be at "infinity." What does "infinity" mean? It would mean that we are not able to meet our pension obligations in the future.
There are some board members who think our payroll growth will go back up to the projected 4.5% increase per year (which is was between 1993 and 2003).. Do you agree? I do not. This is another reason, I feel, we need to have a contingency plan approved to mitigate the negative realities of a catastrophe, or a huge drop in the stock market, or an inability to acquire a 4.5% payroll growth.
Dennis Leone
STRS Board Member
From John Curry, 10/24/06
Jim - good question - I'll forward to Dennis. John
From Jim Kimmel, October 24, 2006
John- am I reading the board minute summary right ?
If so then how do we get ahead with the passage of increased active payroll contribution if 1% goes to the health care fund and then the 1% now going into the health care fund will be diverted back to the general fund to help bring down the unfunded liability to 30 years ? Won't we then be right where we are now with the health care level of funding ? Won't this tend to keep the health insurance rates just where they are now ? I thought that the idea of the legislation to increase payroll contributions was to augment the health care fund.
Jim K
From Jim McGreevy, October 24, 2006
Subject: STRS Report to OEA-R
This report contains my observations at last week's STRS Board meeting as well as excerpts from the PERS and SERS Board meetings covered by the OEA Governmental Services Department.
- Jim
The STRS Board met Thursday and Friday, September 19 & 20, and conducted the following business:
New Member Joins Board A new member of the Board, Thomas Johnson, was welcomed to the Board. He is the former Ohio Director of the Budget and is an appointment of Governor Taft. Before taking on the state's top budget job Mr. Johnson was a state representative from the New Concord area, having been elected to multiple terms. He was endorsed by OEA during several election cycles and is considered a pragmatic political moderate. His expertise on budget issues should be a valuable addition to the STRS Board.
Active Member Contributions Hit Record Level Bob Slater reported that for the first time in STRS history active teacher member contributions to the system totaled over $1 billion in fiscal year 2006. Despite this impressive number there is concern that the growth in educator payroll has fallen in the 2% range for the second straight year, well below the anticipated 4.5% and less than the trend since the mid 1990's. This lower than projected growth may be the result of experienced staff being replaced by younger teachers as baby-boomers retire, the competition of charter schools who generally pay less than public schools, or teacher layoffs due to the state's refusal to adequately address the school funding crisis. It shows dramatically how the fate of public education in this state not only affects active teachers but also retired benefit recipients. While we retirees may look with envy at the higher salaries being earned by today's teachers, we have a very real stake in seeing those salaries continue to grow at a robust rate
Investments Continue to Beat Benchmarks The Investment Department reported continued strong performance for STRS investments. The market value of STRS assets at the close of business September 30, 2006, was $67.9 billion, a 4.9% increase over the previous month. STRS continues to do well in all types of investment and remains heavily invested in the real estate market. Board member Thomas Johnson questioned whether we should be in this segment of the investment market considering recent downturns in this part of the economy. It was explained that STRS focuses on the commercial real estate sector which continues to be strong. As an example it was noted that STRS recently sold a major suburban Cleveland office building for a figure that was a record (in per square foot costs) for that city. The property, Lakepoint Office, was purchased in 1995, generated net income since then of $7.7 million, and sold for a gain of $1.5 million over the purchase price, representing a nearly 9% annual return on investment.
Real Estate has been a very high-performing part of the STRS portfolio and its importance underlies the significance of finding highly qualified managers to fill vacancies in the Investment Department. The search for these managers by a nationally recognized "headhunter" firm continues to be a matter of some controversy on the Board due to the price tag for their search - $315,000. Damon Asbury explained that it was essential we find highly qualified personnel for these jobs and that headhunter firms in this league are not cheap, but in the long run are worth the cost. STRS' real estate profits last year were among the highest in the system's portfolio.
STRS Selects New Auditor STRS has hired a new auditor, Clifton Gundrerson, Inc., replacing KPMG. CG will provide financial statements, reports on internal controls, management letters suggesting needed changes, and financial statements STRS is required to file with the state of Ohio for their financial records. The Ohio State Auditor's office actually enters into the contract with the auditor, but generally follows the STRS recommendation on the selection of an auditor.
Internal Investment Management Saves Big $$ An external consulting firm, CEM, reported that the use of internal investment managers by STRS has resulted in an annual savings of $93.6 million as compared with the cost of paying external managers to handle our investments. This includes the cost of all investment department overhead, salaries and bonuses.
Actuarial Report Presented Kim Nicholl of Buck Consultants presented the Actuarial Valuation Report. This is a statistical snapshot of the condition of STRS relative to some standards of financial stability. It gives you some idea of the financial soundness of the system and can provide a sort of "early warning system" for potential problems. The calculations include data on benefit recipients and active members, financial data, benefit structure, actuarial assumptions (life span, age at retirement, etc.), and some mathematical formulas designed to assess asset values and other financial statement data.
One of the main stats presented was the Funding Period, the number of years necessary to pay off the unfunded liability of the system. Currently, STRS has a Funding Period of 47.2 years, down from 55.5 years a year earlier. While this is a nice improvement, the state of Ohio expects a Funding Period no more than 30 years, so there is considerable work to be done to continue to lower this.
Another key statistic is the Funded Ratio, a comparison of assets to accrued liability. STRS' Funded Ratio is 76.6%. Our high point for this statistic was in Fiscal Year 2000 when we hit the 92% mark. The stock market drop in 2001 and 2002 immediately depressed that figure to the 75% range as the value of our assets declined. Pension systems generally try to achieve a ratio of 85%, so once again there is work to do. Continued strong performance of investments and meeting our other assumptions (like annual payroll growth) hold the key to improving this number. The passage of the Health Care Proposal would also provide an additional 1% of state educator payroll as that amount is re-directed back to the pension fund and away from the Health Care Stabilization Fund.
The Board began a discussion on whether or not our actuarial assumptions needed to be examined to reflect reality more accurately. The general consensus was that it was indeed necessary, although Thomas Johnson pointed out that despite individual variances in some of the assumptions (like payroll growth) the overall picture was very accurate and that retirees and active members should be very pleased with the system's performance through some difficult economic times.
Computer Systems Upgrade Continues on Track The Information Technology Services Department reported that the project to upgrade the computer systems at STRS (Vitech V3) is proceeding on schedule and within budgeted amounts. The total cost of the project when completed will be a bit more than $19 million. Thus far about $5 million of the total has been spent.
Executive Director's Report Executive Director Damon Asbury reported:
* The proposal to provide a dedicated revenue stream for retiree health care "continues on a steady course." There is some hope it will be introduced during a lame duck session following the November election, but no one anticipates fast action on the legislation.
* The Ohio Retirement Study Council has directed its consulting actuary to compile data on the impact of purchased service credit on the five state retirement systems. The actuary (Milliman) will present their findings by January 31, 2007.
* The open enrollment period for health insurance is ongoing. Many calls have come in regarding the changes to the Basic plan because of enhancements in coverage of preventive services.
* Aetna Insurance has informed STRS that it plans to phase out its Long Term Care insurance plans. Aetna will continue to support the group plan offered by STRS. About 14,000 members are currently enrolled. These members will continue to have coverage unless the enrollee cancels the insurance or exhausts their benefits. Enrollee premiums will not change as a result of this action, and the inflation protection provision also remains in effect. Additional charter schools have increased the number of participating employers to 1,112.
Board Member Questions "Headhunter" Fees Following the lunch break on Thursday Board member Dennis Leone raised an issue concerning the compensation we must pay for the "headhunter" (Ferguson Group) to recruit candidates for the Real Estate investment managers. He was concerned that under provisions of the contract that STRS would have to pay Ferguson a fee if we hired someone for one of the positions that was not on their list of recommended candidates. The staff responded that this is not the case unless the candidate was originally recommended by Ferguson or we hire them within the term of the contract with Ferguson. This is apparently standard contract language for "headhunter" organizations so that someone will not bypass their organization when word gets around that there's a job opening at a specific location. Another concern about travel expenses connected to the search process was resolved when it was explained that such expenses would be in accordance with STRS associates' guidelines for travel.
Public Participation Five members took part in the "Public Participation" portion of the meeting.
* Nancy Hamant of Warren County voiced concerns over reductions in the Medicare Part B subsidies. (Staff later in the meeting noted that this was largely beyond the control of STRS unless the Board voted to divert other resources to those subsidies.)
* Bill Leibensperger, co-chair of the Health Care Advocates, brought a unanimous request from that group that the Board recognize the contributions of Mike Billirakis to the HCA effort over the past two years.
* Ralph Roshawn, a retired school superintendent, cited several areas of concern including his opposition to the "88% Rule" for 35 years of service, the HCA proposal as too expensive for local school boards to handle, and a few other spending issues at STRS.
* Dr. Glen Kiefer, a retired superintendent, expressed his dissatisfaction with the Board decision to no longer offer STRS insurance to retirees who resume employment either in the public or private sector.
* Jim Reed thanked Board members Leone and Lazares for their work on behalf of STRS members.
Contingency Plans Discussed During a further report on investments, Dennis Leone raised the issue of a contingency plan should some catastrophe result in e plunging stock market. He asked specifically if The Russell Group (OEA's investment consultant) would be making some kind of recommendation as to what steps could be taken in the event of such an occurrence. The answer: Russell may provide some ideas at the November meeting, but it was pointed out that the advice generally given by experts when a disaster strikes and drives down the market is to stick to your investment plan and make daily decisions based on the conditions of the moment. It was explained that the impact of a disaster is immediate and can't really be reacted to quickly enough to protect the organization from short-term losses. The key is to remain focused on long-term recovery. A good example of that is the recent past when the stock market tanked in 2001 - 2002. If we had panicked and abandoned the stock market for "safer" investments we might have missed the rally of the past three years that has quickly restored the asset base of STRS. There will unquestionably be further discussion on this at future Board meetings.
STRS and OPERS Cooperate in PBM Selection Process On Friday the Board heard the report of the Member Benefits Department on Health Care. One of the major points of this report was the discussion surrounding the selection of a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) after the contract with Caremark expires in December of 2007. Ohio's largest public pension system, The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), is working jointly with STRS to find the best provider at the most affordable price. It is hoped the two systems can agree on the same PBM and thus enjoy economies of scale resulting in lower costs to STRS and its members.
New Contract Review Process Established The Board adopted a policy on contract review by the Board. Essentially any contract that meets one of three conditions will be summarized on a one page form for the Board. Additionally, Board members may review any contract in its totality prior to Board action. The conditions that trigger the review process are: 1) contracts of $100,000 or more, 2) contracts that provide services directly to the Board to facilitate the performance of their duties, and 3) contracts not provided for in the adopted budget.
Executive Director Asbury's Contract Extended The Board approved a contract extension for Executive Director Damon Asbury. Details of the contract were not made public as the final elements of the agreement had just been finalized. These will be forthcoming. Dennis Leone objected to considering the contract since it had not been placed on the agenda but the Board on a 5 - 2 vote rejected this position. The vote to approve the contract was also 5 -2 with members Leone and Lazares voting "No."
Associate Legal Fees Payment Determined to be Legal The issue of payment of legal fees for private attorneys for STRS associates called for questioning in the Hazel Sidaway ethics case was resolved with the reception of a letter from State Auditor Betty Montgomery to the effect that although she might have voted not to grant the expense reimbursement there was nothing illegal about the expenditure of that money. Dennis Leone expressed his continued disappointment about the decision to pay those legal expenses. A heated discussion about this issue between Board members Leone and Geoffrey Meyers ensued.
Routine Business Conducted During the conclusion of the Friday afternoon session the Board approved service retirements, disability retirements, and other routine matters.
The Board adjourned around 2:30 p.m.
The following information is reprinted from the OEA Governmental Services Department's report on Ohio Retirement Systems. SERS and PERS meetings are covered each month by Robert Davis, OEA Lobbyist.
Report Shows Dismal Funding for SERS Health Care Program
At the SERS Board meeting on Thursday, September 21, 2006, Buck Consultants, the Board's actuary presented the Board a report on the funding status of the SERS health care program. The report showed that the current SERS health care program is only 3.3% funded. Further, it would require a contribution of 27.95% of payroll to fully fund the current level of benefits on a full reserve basis. As a point of comparison, the current SERS contribution to health care is 4.92% of payroll.


Valuation Date


Funded ratio

Annual Required Contribution

Current Contribution



















These figures clearly demonstrate a structural funding problem for the SERS health care program that is both dire and immediate. The SERS health care fund is projected to run out of money in fiscal year 2011. It is in the best interest of both current and future retirees to continue the program for as long as possible and to make reasonable effort to provide the highest level of benefits to current and future retirees who have dedicated their careers to public service in our schools.
On October 5, 2006, the OEA officers, OEA Executive Director and staff met with leaders from the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) to discuss the SERS health care issue. The organizations agreed to discuss the forming of a coalition of all stakeholder groups to work with the SERS Board in establishing a strategic plan for health care. In order to provide affordable health care for current and future retirees, the coalition will review the current program as well as options for ensuring additional revenue to fund health care benefits. These are difficult decisions that are best addressed with all parties at the table working toward a common goal.
SERS Board Meeting (October 19-20)
The SERS Board decided to bring together a group of stakeholders to collectively work on the issue of health care. Stakeholders include labor groups, retiree groups, employers and members of the board. The group would look at what adjustments can be made to the SERS health care program to extend program solvency. Representatives of OEA, AFSCME Council 8 and OAPSE all spoke in favor of this development and expressed willingness to be involved in the discussions. The Board also stated its desire to survey SERS members, active and retired, about their support for policy changes on the state and/or federal level to address the rising cost of health care and to communicate those views to policy makers.

OPERS Board Meeting (October 17-18)
The OPERS Board held a retreat to begin examining viable solutions to sustaining the health care program. Currently, the program is projected to be solvent through 2024 and the Board has a goal of 15-25 years of solvency. However, the Board recognizes that the system will have to be actively managed over time in order to meet or exceed the current goal. The Board held a broad ranging conversation of options including plan design, eligibility, and wellness initiatives. Staff is going to survey Board members in order to provide direction on a few areas to pursue.
The Board also acted to accept the results of the retirement board election that was certified by the Secretary of State's office on October 2, 2006. Current Board member Ronald Alexander was re- elected as the state employee member of the Board. He defeated Matthew Schulz 4,745 to 3,099. Sharon Downs was also re-elected as a retiree member of the Board; defeating Jerry Krupinski 25,284 to 9,503.
James McGreevy

Dennis Leone: Answer to Ferguson Contract Question

Wonder if Mr. Meuser's textbook mentioned this? -- JC
From Dennis Leone, October 25, 2006
Subject: Fw: Answer to Ferguson Contract Question
Molly -- At your request, I double-checked the Ferguson contract with STRS legal counsel Bill Neville today, and I confirmed what was said at the Board meeting.
1. Let's assume that Ferguson submits 5 names to STRS.
2. Secondly, let's assume that STRS determines not to interview or consider 3 of the 5 because they have poor qualifications.
3. Thirdly, STRS decides to seek, screen, interview and hire its own candidate -- someone NOT on the Ferguson list
Conclusion: STRS would have to fire the Ferguson firm in total BEFORE we chose to hire anyone on our own. In other words, as long as Ferguson is under contract (which they will be for the next 18 months, unless fired), STRS must pay the firm $315,000 no matter whom is hired. It doesn't matter if Ferguson does a lousy job. It doesn't matter if we hire a person who was never on the Ferguson list. If we hire ANYONE, we pay unless we fire Ferguson first. It's a good deal for the firm, at the expense of STRS. I don't like it. Not publicly-generated pension money. THE BOARD SHOULD HAVE LEARNED THAT THIS WAS IN THE CONTRACT BEFORE $315,000 WAS APPROVED.
Dennis Leone

Janczyk, Leone & McGreevy discussion: unfunded liability, Ferguson contract

From Molly Janczyk, October 25, 2006
Subject: RE: Major Point Not Missed on Unfunded Liability
I agree about Betty's performance stated in Jim's notes below. Dennis just wished the report first to visit the issue.
Re: Ferguson: yes, I know it is policy but to us, that is not all the picture. It was the large payout to a firm without the board knowing all the details, once again, that is the problem. I would like to hear that kind of thing in your reports, is all. Not just what is general rule but also why some question these things, as I would hope you would want from those who oversee your dollars. That is the pt. to me. Jim, we can all play nice and do business as was usual or we can question and know what we are doing this time around. We sent Lazares and Leone to question. They are listening to us and only doing what WE ask of them. I think this point is missing in a lot of exchange. We WANT to know about any slipped through issues or spending and yes, we would have liked to know the mechanics of the Ferguson Deal and how it operates. OUR MEMBERHIP is one who questions these issues and Lazares and Leone take our questions and any other items which should be known to us to the meetings. WE WANT TO KNOW!
For all to see: regarding the bringing up of other ways to lower unfunded liability other than the always charted and used 1% .
This is the point: Retirees are scared to death of losing HC should legislation not pass.
1% to HC is constantly charted over the years as a way the STRS Board could lower unfunded liability. It is said it is not being considered. Retirees do not trust that statement as we have learned the hard way that when STRS discusses something it may very well come to pass. So, WHY, was Leone's question, is THAT the ONLY way presented when there are other ways to reduce liability ALSO no one wants or considers them either. But to keep using this example scares members as though if push comes to shove, it may be considered. We would strongly fight that.
He was only raising the point of there are multiple ways so why only ever mention 1%. NOT BECAUSE HE WANTS TO CHANGE SB190 AND NO ONE DOES. We understand ALL BENEFIT FROM IT! The only change I have heard mentioned was by the retiree who spoke Thurs. 10/19 who feels the addt'l benefit retro to '99 and passed '00 was unfair. Of course, retiring in '99, I feel good about it. I didn't benefit from the '98 Incentive for Retiring and I won't benefit from future benefits most likely. Things change and enhancements are part of it. I am better off than older retirees and won't be as well off than younger ones. I don't benefit from 35 yrs and probably wouldn't have retired if I have understood it all back then. That's life. I do benefit from SB190 thought as most retirees do. It would be disastrous to try to change SB190 for actives and retirees already benefiting and Leone has said he would never want to take away benefits from anyone.
You know, folks, listen to the man. Hear what he SAYS IN CONTEXT and stop jumping on every word taken out of context and it is simple: if you have a question, ask him directly instead of supposing and he and Lazares will tell anyone up front and personal. They are really easy to approach. Thousands of us do it and RTA's love them. Take down the wall and attitude and just talk/discuss and stop name calling and behave universally. You can't say be a team player on your issue and vote against them on every issue the membership wants like NO DOCUMENT: NO VOTE and simply LOOKING AT WHERE OUR MONEY GOES . YOU ALL BE TEAM PLAYERS! TEAM MEMBERSHIP! Where were you as team players on those issues or when Lazares and Leone are wrongly attacked in the media?
Where are you THEN? Did any of you support them/him?
You only want to point out what you view as negative and then fault them when you disagree instead of establishing real dialogue which might, oh no! result in heated debate and then finding ways to uniform compromises.
YOU want to give veiled attacks on not working professionally you call it for legislators to see. As Angelettis pointed out so well: DO YOU THINK LEGISLATORS WILL APPROVE LEGISLATION WHEN THEY SEE BLATANT MISUSE OF FUNDS? The old board found ways 'LEGAL' but not ethical IS THE POINT and this is same ol when THIS board approves rubber stamping money spending by Damon and staff and Board members whether $1400 or $55 credit card fees secretly used until Gary Hollow inquired about Dennis to no avail and Damon had to present all Board Member records. Hollow didn't expect that, he said, when Dennis thanked him for his actions making these records available.
Legislators ARE looking at us for RESPONSIBLE spending and INTEGRITY of spending, for OPEN AND HONEST dialogue resulting in REAL solutions so they see we are trying all we can. Billirakis was praised as if a saint had died. This board member was convicted of 4 ethics violations and OEA chose to speak of his professionalism and impossible to replace interactions on the HCA committee. Bill had how many years to get this rolling and did nothing until STRS Board Members were found out. Suddenly, his name muddied, he wanted to save HC and pled with us to keep him out of our 'news.' WHERE WAS HE all the years on the board when HE KNEW HC was a disaster as OEA and STRS knew since late 80's/early 90's and is documented. WHERE WAS his influence these past 3 yrs even when he decided to be the one to save HC?
Mike was approving misspending and NOT working to save HC, is where he was. Mike was as the Canton Repo said, 'milking the system' another 'legal' but unethical way to up his salary and retirement benefits by being a 'teacher' in the Perry Local SD without ever showing up for one day of teaching while earning big bucks on the road for NEA.
This is who OEA chooses to LAUD! This is the one OEA chooses to use as an example of professionalism and demeanor for other board members. This is who we should mimic in efforts for legislators to see we all are on the same page. FORGET IT!
We will work for HC legislation but we do not feel to behave as Billirakis did is the answer. We do not feel not looking at contracts or voting without documentation or watching Damon's spending is the way to 'all get along ' and be 'team players.' WE WILL NOT ACCEPT SUCH ACCUSATIONS ONLY USED WHEN WE DISAGREE AND FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT FOR MEMBERSHIP!
If we speak up, oh, be careful, legislators are looking. If you laud such ridiculous ex.'s of professionalism and stand up for 'team playing' on wrong issues, YOU THINK LEGISLATORS AREN'T LOOKING?
They are looking for how we changed, how we oversee what we have, how we stand for membership according to : ORC:3307.15.
It is YOU who don't watch and blindly support those who are convicted who should be worried about legislators!
Legislators, of all people, know honest and passionate dissension brings solutions and real compromise. Problem : This board is so blindsided by what they want and fighting Leone and Lazares they don't see the exceptional qualities they are wasting using these men for local school board presentations, RTA presentations, legislator meetings and school district meetings. THESE ARE THE 2 WHO MEMBERSHIP RESPECTS AND BELIEVES!
Find a renewed path to communication of real debate and working through issues and you will find a "team." Tom Mooney should be on this board. He knows perfectly how to talk with Leone and Lazares with no problems. Mark Frederick should be on this board as he is not afraid to speak and to listen. Tom Hall should be on this board with expertise and understanding of economic and investment issues. Instead we have individuals who want to play nice and give appearances of all agreeing when they don't.
I'm sick to death of this continued play acting. If you can't stand the heat of real work, get out of the fire and let us have those who wish to roll up their sleeves and get down with improving our lot. This isn't a tea party and you don't have board meeting experience. You belong to the old board mentality of good ole boys and girls if you want just and only to play nice with your friends. YOU ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS! YOU ARE THE GUARDIANS OF OUR FUNDS! GUARD THEM!
And as a member of every organization, I want to hear exactly who felt how and voted how. Report ALL the facts not some generic nice general write up and approved issues with no specifics.
Personally, I think Mary Ann and Jeff are nice people but not experience enough or with enough fight to stand up for what is right for membership. Either learn to stand up or go back to your nice lives. Mark M., you are obviously taking a 'learned' approach. I like you. You have kept your word to be responsive. But, take from books what is needed and couple it with reality of a lost trust and needed oversight not in books as we are not those systems but one that has proven we need oversight-esp. with Damon
(regardless of STRS surveys; take your own survey but be sure to mix it up with ages and all membership and let us write the questions)
No insult intended but membership is not happy and we have waited long enough for experience to be learned and views taken seriously.
Jim McGreevy to Molly Janczyk, October 25, 2006
Subject: Major Point Not Missed on Unfunded Liability
Molly -
I've exchanged emails with Dennis about the two emails you forwarded.
Regarding the Ferguson contract: I don't believe anything I put in my report was inaccurate. I reviewed my notes and I believe I got it right. The bottom line on that contract is, as the staff who negotiated reported to the Board, the language on paying fees was standard contract language for high end headhunters.
On the Montgomery letter: I don't give a rat's patoot what Betty Montgomery SAYS she would have done had she been on the Board. The key point as far as I'm concerned is the legality of the payment. Was it poor judgment on Damon's part to pay it? I think it was. Had I been on the Board would I have voted to approve it? No. But, given Betty's dismal past record on such issues, I don't put much credence in anything she says. She's trying to have it both ways with this letter. Not surprising in an election year, I would say.
On the payroll growth assumptions, I completely agree with Dennis that those assumptions are out of whack with reality and need to be looked at. But, we also understate performance on investment income, so the net result is something of a wash as I heard the report. As Tom Johnson said on the subject "both retirees and active teachers should be pleased at the performance of the fund" as was evidenced in the overall picture. If the HCA proposal passes it will help the funding period substantially, another argument we can use to get it enacted.
Dennis Leone to Jim McGreevy, October 25, 2006
Subject: Re: Major Point Missed on Unfunded Liability
How could you possibly conclude that the major point of Montgomery's letter was that the expenditure was "legal." How could NOT report that she determined the payments were inappropriate and that the free service was available to the three employees from the Attorney General's office? How could you, or any retiree, NOT be upset that pension money was used, given this undeniable fact? It matters how Leone, Lazares, Ramser, or Meyers feel, or what they said. What matters is what the truth is........and you are choosing to report a limited version of the truth.
I do not understand what you are trying to say about the payroll growth and our unfunded liability. The truth is the truth. If we adjust our payroll growth assumption to 3.50%, we are at "infinity" -- which means we are admitting that we can't meet our future pension obligations. Board members and you can't smile about our unfunded liability dropping from 55 years to
47 years unless you are willing to tell the truth about our payroll growth assumptions.
Dennis Leone
From Jim McGreevy, October 24, 2006
Subject: Re: Major Point Missed on Unfunded Liability
Dennis -
I was in the room and heard the exchange between you and Kim Nichol concerning salary projections. I am in complete agreement with you on the seriousness of the lack of accuracy recently displayed on the actuarial assumptions on salary. I think the payroll growth percentage should be in the 2.5% - 3% range for next year. Of course, as Tom Johnson pointed out, on the whole the assumptions are producing a generally balanced picture since STRS has been doing better than assumed on investments and some of the other numbers. I don't think we should use an inflated figure for asset growth even though recent experience has been more robust and that would improve our numbers. But I don't think there's any doubt that the picture today is better than it was a year ago. The trend lines, as I recall the presentations, are in the right direction, even with the shortfall on payroll growth.

On the other concerns about my report that you mentioned in the earlier email, I have tried to present what the Board did as a group, what the consensus is as I observe it. I understand your points about the Montgomery letter, but it was clear to me that, with the exception of John Lazares, the rest of the Board did not see it in the same light that you did. That doesn't mean you're wrong, just that the consensus of the Board saw it differently, and that's what I reported. The letter is out there on the Internet for all to read and draw their own conclusions.

I do appreciate your points about Damon Asbury's contract extension. I would probably react negatively to the way it came forward if I were in your shoes. But, again, I'm trying to report the Board's position, not individual members' positions on such matters. I fully understand why CORE and Kathie Bracy's Blog want to exclusively promote your point of view on some of these issues, but I'm trying to do a factual presentation on the Board's actions. Similarly, I did not provide a complete exposition on Mark Meuser's position on contract review -- I reported the actions of the Board that supported your position.
- Jim
On Oct 24, 2006, at 9:04 PM, Dennis Leone wrote:
Perhaps you were not in the room when I asked questions of Kim Nichol, but here is the bottom line about our "improved" unfunded liability, which is now "down" to 47 years. My own previous reports to RTA's, I now know, were incomplete. Everything assumes that STRS will have a 4.5% payroll growth from active teachers in the future. The last three years? We have received payroll increases of only 3.0%, 2.4% and 2.1%. If we lower our payroll growth assumption from 4.50% to 4.25%, our unfunded liability goes up to 54 years. If we lower the assumption to 4.00%, our unfunded liability shoots up to 62 years. If we lower the assumption to 3.50% (still higher than what we've received in the past 3 years), our unfunded liability, Ms. Nichol reported, would be at "infinity" -- which is defined as a pension system not having sufficient funds to meet pension obligations in the future. Tell me, James, what should the Board use as a future payroll growth assumption?
The above is a serious, serious matter.
Dennis Leone

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