Saturday, November 25, 2006

Teresa Fedor to John Curry: The accountability system is shameful

Teresa Fedor to John Curry, November 25, 2006
Subject: RE: Joke of the day: What entity has three truant officers to cover the entire State of Ohio?
The whole accountability system from the school’s sponsor to the State Auditor is failing the tax payer and parents of these students. ODE and is trained to “look the other way” by the Superintendent and the state school board – who is mandated to “oversee” the system and sponsors. The whole system is a shame.

Thank you for your attention to this – it matters greatly to retirees and their future.
Senator Teresa Fedor
District 11, Toledo, Ohio

From John Curry, November 25, 2006

Subject: Joke of the day: What entity has three truant officers to cover the entire State of Ohio?
Answer: ECOT!
Count truants or lose state aid, 11 charters told
Friday, November 24, 2006
Bill Bush
The Ohio Department of Education has answered a riddle: How can the same school report perfect attendance while also saying it has expelled some students for chronic truancy?
The state’s answer: It can’t.
The department is requiring 11 charter schools in that situation to change the way they take attendance. Nine of the 11 are Internet schools, including the state’s largest, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.
ECOT, which had 6,664 students last school year, reported 100 percent attendance to the state but expelled 1,946 chronically truant students — 29 percent of its enrollment.
The Elgin Digital Academy, a 23-student Internet school sponsored by the Elgin school district in Marion, forced out 13 truants — 57 percent of its enrollment — but also somehow listed perfect attendance on its state report card.
"It made no sense to have 100 percent attendance and have kids withdrawing for truancy," said Todd Hanes, executive director of the state department’s Office of Community Schools.
The 11 schools have until Jan. 10 to submit a plan to record student attendance accurately or face forfeiting up to 10 percent of their state aid payments, Hanes said.
For ECOT, that could mean a loss of about $4 million, said Education Department spokesman J.C. Benton.
ECOT officials said they have simply been following the state’s instructions and will continue to do so under revised rules.
"If (the Education Department) is stating that ECOT was not reporting attendance correctly in the manner they specifically prescribed for the 2005-2006 school year, then they are being disingenuous," ECOT Superintendent Jeffrey P. Forster said in a statement.
Under the revised rules, ECOT would have reported an attendance rate of more than 94 percent last school year — still meeting the state standard of 93 percent, said ECOT spokesman Nick Wilson.
Charters, like traditional public schools, don’t charge tuition. They are publicly funded but often are run by private companies.
Calculating attendance at Internet schools is different than at bricks-and-mortar ones because students can work online 24 hours a day. Students at Internet schools must perform 920 hours of work a year to earn perfect attendance.
Regular public schools calculate attendance by dividing the number of days each student shows up for school by the total days in the school year.
In light of the controversy over attendance, the Education Department is reminding all charter schools that they are responsible for following Ohio’s education laws and must report chronically truant students to the juvenile courts or a county child-welfare agency.
"There is an explicit safety net between schools and districts to ensure that students attend in compliance with state mandatory and compulsory education laws and with missing child laws," a letter sent on Nov. 8 to all charter-school sponsors says. "This benefits every child and ensures that no child falls through this education safety net."
Hanes said, "The idea is that we’re attempting to create an attendance policy that, if the student arrives at the school, that school is responsible for them."
ECOT employs three parttime police officers who cover the entire state for the school, checking up on truant students who miss more than 15 days of logging on for classes, Wilson said.
"They’re based regionally," Wilson said. "Their goal there is to basically work with the family, get the reason (the student) is not attending."
If those officers worked five days a week, 52 weeks a year, they would have needed to visit 2 1 /2 students a day, on average, just to cover the 1,946 whom ECOT expelled for truancy.
The Elgin Digital Academy has been closed, according to a worker answering the phone in the Elgin school-district office.
Only schools reporting 100 percent attendance that expelled students for truancy have to file corrective plans. Although other Internet schools had near-perfect attendance, the state didn’t review their truancy data, Hanes said.
Note from John: I think that many readers of the above article are shaking their head after reading this article. This article begs the question, "Where was the Ohio Department of Education while all of this was going on?" Let's hope that the new administration takes a long hard look at the ODE and their shortcomings and takes remedial action. Ms. Zelman, where have you been?

Bob Jones: Double-dipping, SSO, WEP

From RH Jones, November 25, 2006
Subject: Double dipping hurting our STRS
To all:
The following Akron Beacon Journal, Friday, 11/24/06, Editorial page B3 is a totally outstanding letter by a fellow Norton Ohio retired teacher, Ruth Johnson. Please hang file it. I quote:
Double dipping is outrageous
(From the Akron Beacon Journal, 11/24/06)
Taxpayers should protest the continuing greed by state retirement system ``retirees'' who, through well-oiled connections (boards of trustees, city and county councils, state officials) are luckily able to continue in the jobs they retired from. The beauty of this graft is that the newly retired employees draw about double the salary they were earning before retirement.
Ohio law permits a state retirement system member to retire and subsequently be re-employed in a position covered by the same or another system: the Public Employees Retirement System, Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, School Employees Retirement System, State Teachers Retirement System and State Highway Patrol Retirement System.
Ohio's laws should be changed to prevent such outrageous double dipping. Ironically, federal retirees are not permitted to double dip. A retiree who is re-employed in a federal job must forfeit his or her pension.
Contrast state retirees' double dipping with the situation of those receiving unemployment compensation, who must offset their compensation by any earnings received on another job.
Thus, a person earning, say, just the minimum wage in another job must offset his or her unemployment compensation by such job earnings.
It is immoral (and should be illegal) for those at the top of public payrolls to reap such double salary windfalls while those at the bottom economic rungs are penalized by lopsided public policies.
Hogwash to those who say the double dipper is too talented and skilled to be replaced. In this economic climate, there is plenty of untapped young talent desiring an opportunity to advance in their careers.
Ruth Johnson
My thinking on her very fine letter to the editor is that: We should forward it on to our state reps. They need to pass legislation to correct "double dipping" in Ohio public pensions. Retired public servants suffer HC/Rx losses due to the unfair ORC.
Please understand that this is much different from the federal SSO/WEP that also unfairly targets retired public employees. We earned our Social Security. We, or our spouses, paid into it and deserve full retirement benefits as we were promised we would enjoy.
RHJones, Proud to be a CORE Lifer

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dennis Leone on Damon's letter re: Credit card open records

Dennis Leone to John Curry, November 24, 2006
Subject: Re: Asbury to Curry 061122
Hi John -- got your call. Also got in today's mail a copy of what Damon sent to you. He sent the same thing to Dave Parshall and to all board members as well.
Here is my reaction: What I find interesting about the report is the usage by Board members Debbie Scott and Eugene Norris in 2004 and Steve Puckett in 2005 -- all members of the board when the spending was completely out-of-control in 2000-2003. Why weren't they required to turn their cards in like the staff members did? I am greatly bothered by the term "Business Lunch" and "Business Dinner" that we see on the report. Note that the precise dates are NOT shown -- which to me is important because one would be able to determine when, for example, the "Business Dinner" occurred. I doubt they occurred when Board meetings were held. If Board members were allowed to determine on their own what constituted a "Business Lunch" or a "Business Dinner," then this is completely inappropriate -- especially after what erupted in 2003. I wish to know what credit card expenditures occurred during the month of September 2006. (Why did the report you received stop in August 2006?) I believe that 2 board members might have used credit cards to pay for lodging (and perhaps meals) the evening AFTER and the day AFTER the board meeting ended on Thursday, September 14 -- in order to attend OEA functions on Friday, September 15. I plan to ask a lot of questions about this.

Damon Asbury responds to John Curry re: Credit cards

From John Curry, November 24, 2006
Subject: (COMPLETE COPY of Curry to Asbury - the open records request included) & the Asbury to Curry 061122 response
Note from John - this is a "second sending" with (yes, I included it this time) a copy of my original "open records act" letter to Damon Asbury requesting this information

Below is a copy of a letter that I sent to Damon Asbury on 10-30-06 requesting STRS Board members credit card use. The attachments are copies of what I received in the mail today. John
October 30, 2006
Dear Dr. Asbury,
Pursuant to the state open records law, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. sec. 149.43 to 149.44, I write to request access to and a copy of the following:
1.The name(s) of all current and/or former STRS Board members who are holding or held an STRS credit card(s) since January 1, 2004.
2. The amounts of the charges that were posted by each individual cardholders transaction(s) beginning January 1, 2004.
3. The business or service that each said expenditure(s) in #2 above involved.
I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $20. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document. I would request that this information come in the form of an email so as to lessen the costs involved, but will accept the issuance by U.S. Mail.
I would request your response within ten (10) business days.
If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.
Please be advised that I am prepared to pursue whatever legal remedy necessary to obtain access to the requested records. I would note that violation of the open records law can result in the award of court costs and attorney fees.
Thank you for your assistance.
John Curry
Note: You will need to click on the images below to view a larger version. If you still have trouble (and you are using Windows), try using the magnifier on your computer. Click Start/Programs/Accessories/Accessibility/Magnifier. You can click on Help in the pop-up window for help with manipulating the magnifier. If you are using Firefox, move your mouse after clicking on an image and a little magnifying glass should appear; position and click where you want magnification. Another option for some Windows users: save the images and open them in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer; then use the magnifier in the taskbar. Sorry, I don't know how to help Mac users. KBB



















Jim Kimmel: A few ideas for STRS to try

Jim Kimmel to Molly Janczyk, November 23, 2006
Subject: Re: Medicare: HCA
Molly: I don't think that it is the end of the story for us retirees who retired in the cohort of retirees in the 90's who were abandoned by not being in the 88% group and not told about the real health care story. They could do one or two ( or both) of these:
1. An ad hoc raise for those who could not get into the 88% because they had already retired but should have had the choice and those that have had an unsubsidized spouse for Health Care Insurance for many years, paying the full price for the spouse.
2. Make the COLA a real COLA by compounding it based on last year's check.
Also the 13th check could be reinstated.
There is still little consideration of the retirees compared to the employees (child care*,dining hall, bonuses) which I think are called something else now. It's like Bush I who said "no new taxes" and then when he raised taxes anyway he said it was only a "revenue enhancement".It is obvious to me that there is an agenda to ride the STRS fund into the ground and that those who cooperate in this, (employees and board members) except for Dennis and John of course, and in return they get perks and front row seats. And STRS employees can do it without fear or compunction because THEIR retirement is in OPERS so there is no real accountability. And they can perpetrate in their own minds ( and hearts if they have them) that teachers are second class citizens anyway so they are justified that we will remain poor souls with chalk dust on our sleeves clinging to our foolish idealism. There is a mentality at STRS and other places that there must be losers for there to be winners. How many times have you heard in political/economic discussions when "trickle down" or some Greenspan monetary plan is proposed that the proponent says, "well..of COURSE there will be winners and losers as in any plan."..I guess we have been selected to be in the loser category! But it all depends on who is in charge. and that is changing.
*Didn't Damon promise that the Child Care facility be "revenue neutral" by July 1 of 2003 or 2004 ? I don't think it is yet. ?? Just more of his prevarication!
Jim Kimmel

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Molly Janczyk: Questions for Bill Leibensperger

From Molly Janczyk, November 23, 2006
Subject: Bill: Medicare: HCA
Bill, Perhaps you could personally address this email with patience and good will to answer what many feel. So many feel betrayed that their careers were not protected decades ago with better long term planning and securing revenue for HC when OEA and STRS knew in late 80's and early 90's there would not be HC without action though we were being told , we had nothing to worry about in consults. Please don't lay all blame on the stock market which was too heavily relied on and drastic HC costs soaring since you did know according to literature and Joe Endry's statements in '91 that HC was to be a crisis with no intervention. Dyer wanted out of the HC business and it was headed that way until we got involved. Membership wants to know where OEA was and yet we read OEA and STRS felt no intervention was necessary in early 90's. Please don't pretend that didn't happen. It was all recorded and sent to you years back.
It would go a long way to admit negligence and ask for all to help now-even though we all know it is too late to ever recover our losses. We have had our retirements robbed and it is only natural for us to be ever hurt knowing we work for the future retirees and will never realize meaningful upgrades to our own retirements.
We hope for a real response out of respect for retirees and for the future of all active educators. Denial only makes for insult to our injury.
Molly J.
June Hughes to Molly Janczyk, November 23, 2006
Subject: Medicare: HCA
Molly, I realize and respect the choice that many actives and retirees are or have been members of OEA but the bottom line question for OEA is this:
What has OEA done in the past to help salaries, benefits etc for active teachers and along that same line, what are they doing now for anyone including the retirees. How is the money collected for dues being used? Has anyone checked? I saw nothing from OEA when I was actively teaching and I sure as heck don't see it now. I would like to see a list of their accomplishments that benefited teachers no matter their status.
Many of us could have made more money in other than teaching and if we had known how regardless retirees would become after our dedication, we could have kissed teaching goodbye. I quit a good retail job to return to teaching because I felt it would be more stable. Wow, what I wrong. I used to shop in the best stores but now I have a problem shopping at K-Mart. What a downward trend.
The national economy and STRS are causing us to fall below the low-middle income status. We all have not only taught those who became successful in many professions and employment but also paid our taxes at the same level as everyone else meanwhile paying a higher percentage into our retirement with the understanding of what we would have when we retire. Then -- the rules change and we are left out in the cold while as you said, free day care for OUR employees, cafeteria, free cars to drive, don't forget the credit cards, a palace with ambiance atmosphere in which to work (thank goodness some of these are improved to our benefit) while those of us taught in hot classrooms in fall and spring (sometimes summer), ate yukky unhealthy cafeteria food, came in early and left late to help students (with no extra pay), took test papers home to grade and make lesson plans, call parents, visit parents in their homes, etc (have I ever had a politician or STRS board member visit me at home or even call to see how I'm doing or how they are doing in their position? NOT!)
This list could go on and on. I'm again disgusted with words not being enough! The old saying is "Action speaks better than words." And there's one more saying, if the STRS board members are unable to perform in a reasonable manner without being rude then if he/she "can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen".
I think some of these board members want to be a board member so they can get a salary and not have to be in the classroom. They like the power and treat us like students who are to behave and shut up and take what they give us. Maybe we should all get together, pick out a different board member each holiday and go to his or her house where they really will do something for us -- feed us food bought with our money. Excuse me, I'm going to stop here to turn my heat off since the sun is shining into the windows and the kitchen is heating up with cooking.
I have always felt the legislature should no longer have any say about our retirement once we've earned our money with our work. If it's because it's tax money, then we tax payers should have a say so about politicians' salaries too! Tax money is no longer tax money once we've earned it. Why is it we're the only profession not treated as a profession and that we have to beg to get salary increases and bow and scrape when we do get one?

RH Jones: April 24 Columbus Demonstration

From RH Jones, November 22, 2006
Subject: April 24 Columbus Demonstration.
To CORE Leaders:
On the ORTA Web-site for members, they mention that their Columbus demonstration will be April 24, I think that we of CORE should be there at the same time. There is strength in numbers. We may need to cooperate with them on this. They plan on meeting with their elected representatives and for an honorable gathering.
RHJones, CORE for Life.

Bluffton board developing retire-rehire policy

"Employees are typically hired back at a reduced rate and the district saves additional money because the retiree can receive health insurance through the State Teachers Retirement System."
Lima News, November 21, 2006
Bluffton board developing retire-rehire policy
By BETH L. JOKINEN 419-993-2093

BLUFFTON — While the school board has already said it doesn’t want its superintendent to retire and be rehired, the board is still moving forward to develop a policy on retire-rehire for the future.
The policy would specifically address administrators retiring and being rehired. There is already an existing retire-rehire policy in the teachers’ negotiated agreement.
Members discussed retire-rehire at their regular Monday board meeting. A final decision will be made in the next couple of months. Board President Rick Matter said the board began discussing the policy before the situation with Superintendent Rodney Russell came about.
“We had a policy with the teachers and all felt we needed one with the administration,” he said, saying the policy will give the board some direction.
There was some disagreement Monday over whether to include salary specifics. A sample policy the board received from the Ohio School Boards Association stated that the retired administrator’s salary after being rehired would be set at 85 percent of the current base salary.
“I just don’t want to tie our hands or future boards’ hands. It is not right,” board member Gary Bishop said of why he does not want a salary included.
Other board members agreed except for Dan Rumer, saying that future boards would have the latitude to change the policy if they wanted to. He believes including the salary would give the board some direction.
“To me salary is a significant item, which has to reflect a significant savings to the board,” he said, adding that it would allow applicants to know what salary they are looking at early on.
The policy will likely say that the salary is negotiable. Board members agreed that contract length should be negotiable.
The issue of retire-rehire came up with the board in August when Russell asked board members to allow him to do it. The board voted 3-2 against it, opposing members saying it was nothing personal against Russell or his performance, just that they were against the practice of retire-rehire. They had also heard concerns from residents. Rumer, Kay Miller and Brad Fruchey voted against the retire-rehire.
Russell, who was hired by the board in 2003, has since said that he is looking for employment elsewhere. He told the board last month that he had an interview with another district. He said Monday that he is still looking.
Retire-rehire is a common and legal practice among school employees. Some officials support it because it is usually a savings to a district and allows schools to keep good employees. Opposition says it’s not fair to younger people, who may have difficulties finding jobs.
Employees are typically hired back at a reduced rate and the district saves additional money because the retiree can receive health insurance through the State Teachers Retirement System.
Bluffton schools would have saved about $13,000. Russell could have drawn 66 percent of his retirement, meaning he would have received about $5,000 a month. His salary would have been reduced from just more than $92,000 to $89,000.

Molly Janczyk: Medicare: HCA

From Molly Janczyk, November 23, 2006
Subject: Re: Medicare: HCA
Retirees lose more money each year with increasing premiums, Rx's and lower reimbursements which cannot be met with net COLAS which do not meet these increases and losses of benefits.
Therefore, we do not come close to cost of living increases on already challenged pensions. We have been losing in large amounts since these increases occurred and more is eaten each year. Something has to be done about just letting retirees survive.
IF ONLY STRS had informed us properly BEFORE we retired so those of us able bodied could have also benefited by 35 yr. rule, older retirees being given some kind of grandfathering, etc. Retirees were literally thrown to the wolves and left to drown to save HC until a resolution could be found for future retirees due to lack of planning and seeking revenue for HC decades ago. It is beyond cruel and lacks any modicum of concern for human beings -- educators -- left to find ways to survive while some pretend this is not the case of retirees refusing meds, treatments, losing homes, etc.
To not mention this in praising of STRS for its 'difficult decisions' lets retirees feel again abandoned and hopeless. Bill L. needs recognize what has happened and at least mention those who suffer while he praises STRS. It is a slap in the face and continued lack of acknowledgement of what has happened to the entire body of generations of retirees who have literally held HC together during these past years bearing the entire burden. This cavalier attitude was what brought us here with no oversight by organizations to force seeking revenue for HC long ago and plan long range. To say, we now are planning lets decades of retirees hanging out to suffer and continues to flog them with no hope for any relief.
Why do we support legislation? To NEVER allow this to happen to another educator! To attract young educators with the firm security of retirements with HC. But, at least mention us along the way, Bill. At least acknowledge our assistance and suffering. To not do so, continues the path of OEA leadership in pretending none of this happened under their watch avoiding responsibility when in fact, leadership should have provided oversight to avoid harm caused. Do not tell us, OEA decided not to interfere. Membership NEEDED its interference and it was OEA's solemn duty to stop wrongdoing and plan solidly for its membership's security. THAT has never been said and what membership still wishes to hear even though it is too late for us retirees. Some compassion of recognition is in order vs. compliment after compliment with no hint of those who struggle to survive.
Maybe in all those compliments of Billirakis and STRS, etc., you could just mention retirees who have been the glue to HC for your future getting us to this proposed legislation. It would be nice.
Molly J.
Jim Kimmel to Molly Janczyk, November 23, 2006
Subject: Re: Medicare: HCA
Keeping the medicare reimbursement the same or raising it the same percentage as the Medicare premium increase would really take very little money -- so I think it is just another way to keep us in our place. I am looking forward to see the results of the meeting with Strickland and Lazares and Leone!! (And the new Democrats in legislature!) I think this time around I would have voted for any Democrat as long as he or she could speak English and had a regular heartbeat!!
From Molly Janczyk, November 23, 2006
Subject: Medicare: HCA
John L and Dennis L. can sometime approach certain lawmakers which STRS Board members cannot do based on relationships and trust they have established. STRS Board members do not understand how they need to utilize this valuable tool. I have stated this often to Damon and the Board. Dennis and John know can speak with legislators, LSB's and influential school administrators to help pass HC legislation.
Another point: I wanted to ask Ann Hanning last week if Bill Leibensperger was speaking on behalf of ORTA when he said he was sent as spokesperson being the chair of HCA in SUPPORT of changing the Medicare reimbursements for elderly retirees. Since then, I have had several questions and concerns regarding limits and the future of Medicare increases for those receiving only 3% COLAS eaten up by higher premiums and reimbursements not keeping up with inflation. I understand the figures given at the meeting but I wonder if the ORTA Board had taken a position in favor the staff's proposed change. It bothers many that Lazares and Leone wanted to seek other options if ORTA allows Bill L to say, in effect, that he is representing ORTA with his speech.
Bill L. said he cannot and would not use the podium or position to further his goals but I haven't heard anyone but Lazares and Leone question this in depth or ask for a committee to seek other avenues regarding Medicare reimbursements. A few dollars for retirees goes so far and surely if we can find money for credit cards, to pay staff legal fees and huge headhunter fees, we can look for options to not take more from retirees already burdened with saving HC on pensions long diminished and lacking.
I hope the recent civility was due to Bill speaking with Ramser as well as ORTA and other interested parties as it was one of the few if only time, I have seen her act as a reasonable chair. I asked Bill repeatedly to speak with her when he admonished us for addressing her behavior. Hopefully, he has but we will see month to month.
Instead of criticizing John and Leone for calling things into question, saying they are not respectful, please remember the actions of Brown, Fisher, Ramser, Meyers, Puckett that have not been respectful and others not seeing all sides. 11/16 seemed better as far as listening and seeing points more objectively whether forced or real.
Molly J.
We will be vigilant observers in the next few months and hope the Medicare reimbursement is revisited. Many said words sounding compassionate but few offered real options or time to search for them in the budget other than staff. $20 a month is little except to a retiree struggling and finding each year more difficult to survive. The question asked : What does this mean each year when our pensions are the same and COLAS do not make up the increases for HC and less reimbursement for Medicare.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Shirlee to Sandra Knoesel's assistant: Third request for information on 2007 premiums & benefits

From Shirlee Zerkel, November 22, 2006
Subject: Re: Questions about preventive services in basic policy
Thank you for telling me that you are sending the 2006 benefits and premiums for the STRS staff. What about the 2007 premiums and benefits. I also asked for that, but evidently no one wants to discuss it! This is the third request that I will have made for the 2007 information concerning STRs staff health care info.
Expecting the 2007 info soon,


Note from John - Sally and I wish all of you and your families a very enjoyable Thanksgiving. With quite a few turkeys soon to be missing in action from Ohio's political landscape, all retirees should really be giving special thanks to those whose drive for reform has been accomplished on a measurable scale. I wish to extend a special thanks to Governor elect Strickland, Attorney General elect Marc Dann, Senator Teresa Fedor, all of you at CORE, Tom Mooney & those in the leadership of OFT who really do understand what has happened at STRS and aren't afraid to talk about why it happened, the Ohio Ethics Commission, and most of all ..... to our personal champions of reform: JOHN LAZARES & DENNIS LEONE. Although struggling as retirees, we need to reflect on the accomplishments of those who are looking out for our best interests. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Don't forget to give thanks for politicians

By Paul E. Kostyu, Copley Columbus Bureau chief
Canton Repository, November 28, 2003

COLUMBUS--Children and adults are often reminded at Thanksgiving that they should be thankful for all sorts of things.

Sure, we’re thankful for family and friends, food on the table and a roof over our heads. Those of us with one are thankful for having a job. Kids should be thankful for good teachers even though the education system in Ohio is in shambles.

We give thanks for those things every year. That’s routine.

But you don’t often hear people giving thanks for politicians, except maybe the lobbyists. But they do that privately, sometimes in the form of a check.

There are so many turkeys laying eggs around the Statehouse, it’s time someone publicly gave thanks for them. How could we not be thankful for the current flock that keeps our state government operating like an out-of-control megafarm? The supply of manure is so plentiful, the Statehouse lawn is always green.

The Statehouse remains upright only because of all the hot air that fills it. If you watch closely, the rotunda sinks a bit when legislators are on recess for an extended period of time. Though there are 12 entrances to the building, only four are used, ostensibly because security can be better maintained. But really it’s because officials thought too much hot air was escaping from the other doors and feared the whole building would collapse.

No, we have a lot to be thankful for in Columbus.

We have a governor who can’t get along with fellow Republicans any better than he gets along with Democrats. Rank-and-file Republicans have pushed his approval ratings so low that he would have a tough time getting elected. They don’t like his broken promise to not raise taxes without their consent. They don’t like his changing requirements for a concealed-weapon law. They didn’t like his Third Frontier high-tech bond proposal. Republican officials are hoping he won’t bring down the ticket in the next statewide election in 2006.

Speaking of that election, we can be thankful that there are three candidates — Betty Montgomery, Jim Petro and J. Kenneth Blackwell — running for the Republican Party nomination for governor. It’s really no fun when everyone knows who the party’s candidate will be. We can be thankful that the three are bickering among themselves and that Blackwell is actually running a referendum to repeal a Legislature-passed sales tax.

Speaking of money, who could not be thankful for state Treasurer Joseph Deters? Here’s a guy who walks into a House committee meeting one day empty-handed and walks out with the power to appoint the executive directors of the state’s five retirement systems. Sweet.

So what if Deters was linked to a pay-to-play system of campaign contributions from financial institutions when he last ran for treasurer? Imagine the pay-to-play system he or his successor could set up with power over the billions of dollars in the pension portfolios.

Speaking of Deters’ successor, who could not be thankful for House Speaker Larry Householder, who is in the market for a statewide office? He not only wants the treasurer to oversee the pension boards, he also wants to force them to use Ohio financial institutions for a certain percentage of their investment business.

Householder also has an uncanny knack for hiring some of the best legal minds in Ohio. One deputy legal counsel was giving legal advice without being licensed by the state. Another deputy legal counsel was arrested recently for being Columbus’ “naked photographer.” Dressed only in sunglasses, a knit hat and a camera, this guy accosted 40 women over 18 months before getting caught. Back in 2000, one of Householder’s budget analysts was charged with soliciting a prostitute (and then was found guilty of a lesser charge). Who can’t be thankful for that?

Speaking of pension funds, who could not be thankful for Herbert Dyer, former executive director of the State Teachers Retirement System? You’ve got to love a guy who says with a straight face, “It’s the board’s money and they can spend it however they want.”

Apparently members of the STRS board and those on the board of the Police and Fire Pension Fund agreed, based on their spending on travel, staff bonuses, meals and assorted other nice things while the portfolios tanked and health care costs went up.

And speaking of turkeys, shouldn’t we be thankful for our local lawmakers? Pass the gravy.

You can reach Copley Columbus Bureau Chief

Paul E. Kostyu at (614) 222-8901 or e-mail:

Jim Kimmel and a Caremark computer glitch

John Curry to Jim Kimmel, November 22, 2006
Subject: Caremark computer glitch
Jim, thanks for sharing your story.
For the STRS to have signed a contract with a PBM (Caremark) that is full of "trade secrets" with little or no transparency and who pays their CEO in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, THIS SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.
For some fun, ask Damon Asbury if you are allowed to read the full STRS/Caremark contract with him and see what he says! Warren Co. Retired Teachers Association (Nancy Hamant) even took the question of PBM Rx pricing to court for Rx pricing and it was thrown out due to a PBM industry nationwide (with the approval of Congress) "lockdown" (or, as they call it, trade secrets) on contractual information and pricing between PBM's and their contractors due to laws written by and favored for the pharmaceutical and PBM industry. In short, the consumer has and is getting the short end of the stick and the fat cats are getting fatter.
With a new majority in Congress, some of this will begin to change: more pharmaceutical manufacturers and PBM's will be investigated, more out-of-court settlements will be made, more executives will be taken to court for engineering ("back dating") of stock options, and some executives will see some actual "hard time" behind bars. A case in point, watch New York State where their former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been elected to Governor. AG Spitzer was the kiss of death to those unscrupulous health care insurance companies, Rx providers, doctors, and hospitals who made a sport out of bilking those in need of medical care and Rx and the federal Medicare & Medicaid programs. Hundreds of millions of dollars have recently been recovered from these rascals and settlements for many more millions of dollars are on the horizon. Gee, remember STRS's recent 4+ million dollar court-ordered settlement with Medco? It was a landmark case in which the PBM pricing lawsuit actually made it to court (and even made headlines in the Wall Street Journal). My, my ...... even in our own back yard!
Jim, congratulations for your investigating and questioning of this situation. Unfortunately, you are in the minority and thousands of STRS retirees don't have the drive, the guts, nor the health to pick up the phone and take Caremark to task for their errors.
The STRS is currently contracting for a company to aid them in the selection of a new PBM. I have given Damon Asbury a suggestion (and contact information) to check with the University of Michigan who recently inked an agreement with a PBM with a "transparent" contract which is open to public oversight -- one which has already saved the U. of M. over two million dollars in the short time it has been in existence (since Jan. 2006) while serving only 80,000 beneficiaries -- STRS has over 100,000 beneficiaries with their current Caremark contract. This "new" U. of M. contract is a result of a "thinking out of the box" mentality -- will STRS try this approach on their next contract? I guess we'll see......... John
From Jim Kimmel, November 22, 2006
Subject: Caremark computer glitch
Recently Judy went in to get some prescriptions refilled. Each was with a $25.00 co-pay. Always had been. The clerk said "co-pay is zero". She questioned it and they rechecked and said that this is the co-pay Caremark had on the computer screen. So we got free prescriptions? No, not really!
I called Caremark and got confirmation that the co pay was $25 each I called STRS. STRS said to call Caremark again. After several wrestling matches with the female computer voice who could not recognize my last name "Kimmel" (to her I was "Mr. Kim") I got to a person who said call Kroger Pharmacy. Kroger's executive suite called Caremark 's "suits" and they both agreed we had to pay nothing. This went on for several days with each blaming the other. I finally got a supervisor and told him that the information had to originate at Caremark because they were the ones getting the big bucks from me to administer the program and get it right with the prices. The supervisor finally admitted that this has been a problem for a number of STRS people. Finally! My prescriptions went through OK, it was just Judy's that were "free", One of the Caremark people said not to worry and just consider it an early "Christmas present" That's when I asked for a supervisor!
At any rate (or rant) here is the bottom line of the problem: The computer system had added last year's accumulated out-of-pocket to Judy's 2006 out-of-pocket payments and concluded that she had met her $1500.00 out of pocket maximum and so stopped charging her for the rest of this year. Actually her out of pocket for 2006 so far (November) was only $700.00 and about $859 or so for 2005. so it stopped charging her. The supervisor admitted that a large number of people have been affected by this. He said in 3-5 business days it should be fixed. He tried to fix it but said he could not and would refer it to "Stephanie" and she would set things right and then do a mass download to correct the records of everyone affected. He gave me his first and last name so I think he was sincere. But next time Judy goes to the pharmacy she will have to pay the $50. Also, 3-5 business days would mean about November 30 - December range on the outside. Just be aware.
I THINK it is in process of getting straightened out. One just has to be persistent and not accept the superficial explanation some give to get you off their back. Caremark did give me a chance to talk to a supervisor who was very helpful. Note: Caremark paid Kroger pharmacy but had it wrong for the Co-Pay.
Jim and Judy Kimmel
STRS retirees

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

FLASHBACK - 3 YEARS AGO: Good news for Lynn translated into bad news for STRS retirees!

From John Curry, November 20, 2006
Note from John: What's good for the goose isn't always good for the gander! Would you, the STRS retiree, consider an increase in annual deductible, a decrease in the in network facility coverage, and the increase in Rx co-pays as "good news?" I certainly don't! Consider those 3 PLUS an ungodly increase in monthly healthcare premiums since 2003 (including dropping any subsidies for the retiree's spouse) and we have a bigger dilemma, don't we. That was three years ago and "the beat goes on" ........
"Lynn Hokanson, director of health care, called the numbers “bad news.” Though she was not able to pinpoint the reason for the decline, she and Sandra L. Knoesel, deputy executive director of member benefits, suspected the publicity the system has been received contributed to the fall.
The good news, Hokanson said, was that the total net cost of the health-care program from January to September fell 13.3 percent. The per-member, per-month cost also plummeted 14.2 percent.
She said those savings came from the changes in health-care plan design the board implemented in January, saving the system $51 million. Those changes included an increase in the annual medical deductible, a decrease in the in-network facility coverage and an increase in the prescription drug mail order co-pays, among other changes."
Plan’s approval rating falls after scandal
Canton Repository, November 21, 2006
By PAUL E. KOSTYU Copley Columbus Bureau chief
COLUMBUS — Members of the State Teachers Retirement System were less satisfied with their health-care plan in August than they were in February.
That came as no surprise to the State Teachers Retirement System board which has been inundated for months with letters, e-mails, and phone calls from members complaining about their health-care costs. On Thursday, however, the fall in satisfaction became official with the release of survey results. Still, the State Teachers Retirement System beat the national average for health-plan satisfaction.
The retirement system has been under scrutiny since mid-June after media reports, many by Copley Ohio Newspapers, about spending on travel, parties, art work, pay and bonuses, while the system’s portfolio plummeted and the cost of health-care benefits increased.
The survey, conducted by Morpace International of Michigan, showed the State Teachers Retirement System health plan’s approval rating fell from 80.4 percent to 76.3 percent. The national average is 62.5 percent.
Also, telling in the survey was a question that asked participants to rate the value of what they pay for health coverage and care. The number of those who rated it excellent dropped 6.6 percent, and very good by 2.8 percent, while the number of respondents rating it good, fair or poor increased.
The retirement system’s February excellent ratings in other categories also fell by August, some by as much as 15 percent.
Lynn Hokanson, director of health care, called the numbers “bad news.” Though she was not able to pinpoint the reason for the decline, she and Sandra L. Knoesel, deputy executive director of member benefits, suspected the publicity the system has been received contributed to the fall.
The good news, Hokanson said, was that the total net cost of the health-care program from January to September fell 13.3 percent. The per-member, per-month cost also plummeted 14.2 percent.
She said those savings came from the changes in health-care plan design the board implemented in January, saving the system $51 million. Those changes included an increase in the annual medical deductible, a decrease in the in-network facility coverage and an increase in the prescription drug mail order co-pays, among other changes.
Knoesel said the dollar figures are likely to change once the State Teachers Retirement System gets the complete figures for 2003. She said generally there is a lag in claim filing at the end of the year, which could affect how much the system saved.
The board also learned from Stephen A. Mitchell, deputy executive director for investments, that the market value of the pension fund’s portfolio climbed to $50.5 billion up from $47.2 billion in June.
He estimated growth to continue at roughly 3.5 percent for the reminder of the fiscal year, which ends in June 2004. He said the last three months exceeded expectations.
Consultant Kim Nicholl of Mellon Co. discussed the effect of various pension-plan changes to protect both the pension and Health Care Stabilization Fund. Board members repeatedly emphasized that Nicholl only was providing information for them to study. The board has not decided what changes to make.
Nicholl addressed changing retirement to age 57 years with 32 years of service, any age with 32 years service and any age with 35 years service. She was asked to collect additional information for the board’s January meeting.
You can reach Copley Columbus Bureau Chief Paul E. Kostyu at (614) 222-8901 or e-mail:

Dennis Leone: Bottomless Cup of Wealth and Luxury

Yes, Dennis, this sounds all too familiar! John

Dennis Leone to John Curry, November 21, 2006
Subject: "Bottomless Cup of Wealth and Luxury"

Sound familiar? I see today, according to the Columbus Dispatch, that Thomas Noe was sentenced to 20 years in prison for:

"Spending state money to present a facade that he had a bottomless cup of wealth and luxury at his disposal."

I wonder whether others also fit this definition -- if the word "state" was changed to "STRS". My oh my, can you imagine what WOULD HAVE HAPPENED if Taft had not vetoed Senator Teresa Fedor's bill in 2004 (passed almost unanimously by the House and Senate) to give the State Inspector General the power to investigate STRS. I wonder what a judge would say, if given the opportunity, about pension money being spent on booze, parties, concerts, Kings Island, baseball games, credit cards, beach bar bills, personal computers, personal fax machines, personal long distance telephone calls, multiple trips to Honolulu, etc.

Dennis Leone

Two doctors and which wolfpack do you want to belong to... Leone's or "the other?"

The article below was written by Dr. Peter Rost, MD. Rost was the VP of Pfizer and "blew the whistle" on them. Pfizer returned the favor by firing Dr. Rost. When I read the article, I think of the similarities between Dr. Rost, Dr. Dennis Leone, and Dr. Rost's description (below) of what it takes to be a "whistleblower." ~ John Curry

Whistleblowers: Crazy people?

Most people wonder how anyone can become a whistleblower—ever. After all, most stories of whistleblowers don’t end well. And that’s the reason most people keep quiet.

It’s called self preservation.

So who are these people who go against the crowd?

In my book “
The Whistleblower” I start out with the following description:

A study of 233 whistleblowers by Donald Soeken, St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC found that the average whistleblower was a family man in his forties with a strong conscience and high moral values. After blowing the whistle on fraud, 90 percent of the whistleblowers were fired or demoted, 27 percent faced lawsuits, 26 percent had to seek psychiatric or physical care, 25 percent suffered alcohol abuse, 17 percent lost their homes, 15 percent got divorced, 10 percent attempted suicide, and 8 percent were bankrupted. But in spite of all this, only 16 percent said that they wouldn’t blow the whistle again.

One thing I’ve learned—which didn’t exactly come as a surprise—is that most organizations react the same way to whistleblowers. The basic response is “kill the messenger.” And if he goes public, he is all but guaranteed to lose his standing in the group. (Note from John: Remember OEA's Gary Allen's initial reaction to Dr. Leone's release of his 13 page report in 2003?Since then, Gary has publicly said little in reference to Dr. Leone, hasn't he?)

So when I
blew the whistle the third time around, at the Huffington Post, it didn’t surprise me that they immediately locked me out and stopped me from writing further articles for them. Of course, one reason I criticized the HuffPo publicly was because, based on my experience, I didn’t think doing so quietly would help and I also wanted to test this hypothesis. It also shouldn’t surprise anyone that they were forced to implement my recommendations (prohibit employees from anonymously posting on blogs and remove “reader’s favorite comments” which I had shown could be abused).

Whistleblowers are often right, however, most organizations feel it is more important not to be embarrassed than to correct what is wrong. So the whistleblower is seen as a bigger threat than the problem they bring up. When Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins went to the CEO to save the company, she didn’t get a pat on the shoulder. Instead, Ken Lay, the CEO, tried to fire her. This is a typical reaction. Of course, part of the problem is that corruption often starts at the top, so when employees try to correct things they discover that they step on some mighty toes.

So how can someone be crazy enough to blow the whistle?

After all, I wouldn’t recommend for anyone to do what I’ve done. I guess whistleblowing should have the same disclaimer they use in car commercials: Closed course, professional driver, do not try on your own.

But I always believed, that just like a professional driver, I’d be able to pull this stunt off. I’ve never encountered anything I couldn’t resolve in the end. We’ll see if that’s true this time around as well.

This still begs the question, however . . . how can anyone be crazy enough to be a whistleblower?

Clearly, there are lots of good, conscientious people in every industry; yet, most of them don’t end up in such an exposed situation.

The reason for that is, I think, that when you work in lower or middle management, you don’t see the big picture and you don’t see all the things that are going on. It’s not your job to deal with those problems. And, at least in my experience, once you get to a more senior management level, that’s when suddenly all hell breaks lose. And this is also the reason management is so careful about whom they promote to this level. Everyone knows this isn’t just about the best guy for the job—it is about trust. Management needs to trust the senior employee to do the “right thing,” and that may be defined very differently in different companies. Usually it means quietly solving things, or looking the other way, or to be able to take a hint when to back off.

But some people don’t take that hint. Are they born troublemakers, born whistleblowers?

I don’t think so. I think whistleblowers are made, not born. They simply saw enough and said “enough is enough.” It’s basically a matter of fairness. Some had no choice. “Join the conspiracy, act or quit.” Those are the options. Not an easy choice. And some choose to act. When the company doesn’t like their action they are branded “whistleblowers.”

Animal experiments support this contention.

You see, animals appear to have an inherent sense of fairness and justice, just like humans. In experiments with Capuchins, they proved they knew unfairness when they encountered this.

Capuchins prefer grapes to cucumbers, and when a scientist in a test gave a grape to one capuchin and a cucumber to another, the latter threw it onto the ground and stalked away rather than give in to this injustice. In another experiment, these animals learned to trade a plastic pipe for food. If they saw another capuchin make a trade for a delicious grape, but were offered a cucumber in exchange for their own plastic pipe, they were much more likely to refuse to hand it over in return for the stupid vegetable. Clearly, they felt it was better to go hungry than to give in to this unfairness. Many similar experiments have been performed, showing that animals rather have nothing than something, if another animal is treated better.

And humans may operate the same way. It may be better to become a whistleblower and stop an injustice, even though the cost is much higher than the gain, simply based on this sense of unfairness.

Many studies in humans have confirmed that this is how we operate. In one experiment, one person is offered $100 and then tells his teammate that he will only get $25 out of that $100, or they’ll both get nothing, and the teammate usually refuses, and so they both get nothing.

Whistleblowing; it’s about fairness. Doing the right thing; correct an injustice.

It’s not something people do lightly, because the penalties in our society are so high—no job, no money, no future, etc.

But deep down it is probably hardwired into our brains.

Just like the response is hardwired. We need cooperation to survive. Whistleblowing is perceived as a threat to the group: Kill the wolf that doesn’t acquiesce.

We are all wolfs in a Wolfpack.

Which pack do you want to belong to?

RH Jones: Keeping the pressure on

RH Jones to John Curry and Paul Boyer, November 21, 2006

John & Paul,
Re: In response to Paul Boyer's message.

Malcolm-X, a Muslim, once said: "The power of the pen is greater than the blood of martyrs." The Arab countries need to heed this advice.

Because Americans of African descent heeded this advice, and Martin Luther King exercised his freedom of speech, it was not long until blacks finally received their full constitutional rights to exercise both freedoms: pen and speech. Remember, too, the women of the 1920's who suffered and overcame discriminatory attitudes among Americans of both genders. Through their protest, women finally gained their voting rights. At present, we Americans of all gender, faith and race, enjoy our full freedoms.

Educators should take heed! Active/retired public professional educators who have suffered a lack of economic status and public support, especially in the last 16 years, need to follow their examples. All the thousands of educators need be shy no more, and to aggressively exercise our freedom to communicate! Did not we teach it in our schools? We have for too long accepted compensation well below our awesome responsibilities. We have achieved the "Perfect Storm" -- almost -- in the last Nov. 7 election. (We still have a few legislators elected only because of their huge amounts of money in their campaign coffers.) Educators, we have to keep on the pressure. JUST DO IT!

Paul, thank you for reminding me.


Your letters and calls are urgently need NOW to help get investment expert Prof. Tom Hall appointed to the STRS Board (to replace Geoffrey Meyers, formerly appointed by the House Speaker and Senate President; Meyers resigned his post this month).
Tom Hall's presentation at the November 16, 2006 STRS Board meeting as one of three candidates to replace Michael Billirakis on the Board totally blew many of us away. But for reasons I will not attempt to outline here, he was not selected. Our best chance now is to get our legislators in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly to support his joint appointment by the Speaker of the House, Jon Husted, and the President of the Senate, Bill Harris.
We ALL need to contact four people to urge support for Tom Hall's appointment to the STRS Board: Husted, Harris and our respective State Representatives and State Senators. Information follows:
The Honorable Jon Husted,
Speaker of The Ohio House of Representatives
77 S. High St
14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Telephone: (614) 644-6008
Fax : (614) 719-3591
Email Address:
The Honorable Bill Harris,
President of The Ohio Senate
Room #201, Second Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Telephone: 614/466-8086
Another link for locating your state legislators in the House or Senate:

Information on Tom Hall (may be pasted in e-mails):
Tom Hall's credentials as outlined in campaign material used when he was a candidate for the STRS Board, spring 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

An important message from Paul Boyer: YOU MUST WRITE THOSE LETTERS NOW

From Paul Boyer, November 20, 2006
THE POWER OF THE LETTER. The American public has today reaped a huge victory over the TV and Publishing industry. Rupert Murdock stepped in to cancel the printing and film depiction that O.J. prepared as a pseudo admission of his guilt in the death of his wife and her friend. That is an example of the power of letter writing because the TV stations and I am sure the publisher received a huge number of protest letters from the American public. Tom Brokaw said on NBC news that this has never happened before.
Now, why am I writing this letter? I am writing to urge you, one and all retirees to get busy and help our cause by writing letters NOW to help achieve our purposes and aid our cause. The battle is far from over. We must let the current and newly elected office holders of Ohio to help us.
Everyone should write to your state representative and senator, asking them to urge the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to appoint Tom Hall to a full four year term on the STRS board. While you are at it, write a letter directly to each of these two men. [Click here for more contact info. KBB]
We all need to write to Marc Dann and ask him to appoint an attorney from his office to sit in on the STRS board meetings who knows something about teaching and school law that will do more than simply occupy a chair in the meeting room. The current person filling that position has not been effective in the least in making sure that the board sticks to legitimate business and all. That is about the best I can say about the present attorney from the Attorney General's office.
I beseech all of you not to put this off but to get busy and get these letters in the mail. We get better results when we use the USPS rather than an email.
Can we depend on you? I trust so. I am going to leave it up to Molly to add the addresses for these people as I can not put my hands on them quickly. I will then send them out again to all who do not receive Molly's letters.
I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.
Paul L. Boyer

Your STRS: From Caretaker to Undertaker; a blockbuster letter from Jim N. Reed

Jim N. Reed to June Hughes, November 20, 2006
Subject: Your Letter Got My Attention!

Dear June (Disgusted in Cincinnati),

Just read your letter and it makes me mad, again. The STRS debacle has left me with many a sour grape and I can tell you are angry as well, rightfully so.

You're right about so many of the things you said. Why did so many of us sit back and trust our OEA, our ORTA's, and, most disgustingly, our STRS?! Our trusting, passive, and apathetic nature finally caught up with us, didn't it?

Your letter reminded me of my mentor who died in 1999. He had been retired for almost 15 years and he and his wife enjoyed a frugal but comfortable retirement. Nothing extravagant, but secure and the 13th check was so looked forward to. Mark's wife's healthcare premium was minimal and he was so proud of his late-career Masters and how STRS seemed to have rewarded his family. I'm certain he would be most disappointed and disgusted were he still living to see what has happened in the past six-seven years.

I retired with the class of 1998, kept in ignorance of any benefit formula change by the STRS Board and my counselors when I had my "retirement talk." I had 33 years of service and, as Herb Dyer told me, "got caught in the cracks of the transition but should not complain and be thankful for what STRS was doing for me." Doing "for" me or "to" me? What a jerk Dyer was! And to think the Board gave him a $600,000 "going away" present! How many times were you given a cash bonus for screwing up in the classroom, June?

While millions were being spent on the "palace" and STRS employees were being provided with child-care, lunchroom subsidies, a work-out room, beautiful (and expensive) artwork, pavers on the garage floor, and a most attractive healthcare package (that we paid for), and STRS Board members were spending our money like one-armed bandits, we were rewarded with a stolen 13th check and obscene healthcare premium increases. And to make matters worse, the beat goes on at the STRS. Though Dr. Leone and Mr. Lazares have stuck their fingers in the dike, the arrogance and mismanagement is still a disgrace.

It almost makes you ashamed to admit you've been a duped teacher for most of your career!

I finally gave up trying to use STRS healthcare for my spouse. She just turned Medicare eligible and I have opted for an independent agent to establish an outside plan. (I'm keeping my STRS coverage but my wife was not an educator.) Adverse selection is not the answer to the STRS dilemma but they have given us little choice.

Alternative plans must be searched prior to pre-existing conditions making a change impossible.

I certainly can empathize with you. I feel very fortunate that as part of my retirement negotiations with my Board I was re-employed as a half-day teacher. I anticipated working part-time for a few years. It's now been nine. I had no idea my retirement system was going to go from being my caretaker to being my undertaker. But, again, I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

It makes me very angry to know that teachers who have earned a secure retirement are still trying to stay in the classroom when they are no longer capable, risking an exemplary career by hanging on so they can provide their families with health care. And, of course, many have had to find a retirement job just to make medical expenses.

I'm afraid I sound like a cynic. Guilty.

I don't know that I have lifted your spirits any but it is therapeutic for me to blow off some steam occasionally and your letter provided the motivation. (Now, if I can just motivate my students after 42 years!)

By the way, I thought Molly's letter to you was indicative of the discouragement many of us sense at this juncture. Again, I blame the STRS Board for their insensitivity, arrogance and mismanagement. And, for their dysfunction, they will have to listen to my sharp tongue and my sharp pen frequently. There are many other CORE members who will continue to make concerted efforts to "throw the rascals out."

Thank you for the courage to write your letter. One of the positive outcomes of such notes is the sense of belonging to a spunky group of "malcontents," as we have been name-called by our detractors. I wear it as a badge. Welcome to the club, June.
Jim N. Reed
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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