Saturday, March 24, 2007

OEA makes legal move against charter schools

From RH Jones, March 24, 2007
Subject: OEA makes legal move against charter schools
To all;:
This is long overdue. The OEA leadership has finally listened to their members. This is great!Go OEA! Also, Note: Charter schools have not only hurt public school districts they have hurt our STRS as well. ORTA should join the suit! Hopefully, my OEA will become the powerful OEA that it was once know as in the news media. In the many years gone by, that was what we paid our dues for.
Robert Hudson Jones
OEA Life member builder, ORTA Life Member & proud to be a CORE
Charter schools face another lawsuit
Lack of monitoring ends up hurting Ohio public schools, teachers union says
Saturday, March 24, 2007
By Catherine Candisky

Five months after the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state's charter-school program, another teachers union is challenging the tax-funded, privately operated schools.

The Ohio Education Association filed suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court yesterday on behalf of the Dayton school district. It accuses state Superintendent Susan T. Zelman, the Ohio Board of Education and the state Department of Education of failing to properly monitor charter schools.

Charter schools have violated state laws and various terms of their sponsorship agreements, yet few face any consequences, the suit alleged.

As a result, charter schools are undermining Ohio's education system by diverting tax dollars from traditional public schools.

"There is no reasonable justification for Ohio's public education system to benefit a few while harming the many," the 31-page suit said.

Dayton has the second highest number of charter-school students in the nation: nearly 6,500, or 28 percent of the district.

The exodus of students cost the district an estimated $43 million in lost state aid during the 2005-06 school year. Since 2000, $189 million has followed students leaving Dayton schools for charters.

"The expense of operating the Dayton City School District does not decrease in direct proportion to the reduction in its student population resulting from students who transfer to community schools," the suit said.

Department of Education spokesman J.C. Benton declined to comment, saying he had not seen the lawsuit.

"Ohioans have the right to expect the (state) to monitor the performance of the $500 million-a-year charter school program," said OEA President Gary L. Allen. "Through this legal action, we hope to end a pattern of lax state oversight, poor compliance and avoidance of fiscal and academic accountability."

The case was assigned to Common Pleas Judge Beverly Pfeifer, with trial set for April 15, 2008.

In a 4-3 decision in October, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the state's charter-school law. The Ohio Federation of Teachers filed that suit, arguing that charter schools violated the state's constitutional requirement of a "thorough and efficient system of common schools" because they were not held to the same standards as traditional public schools.

The court's majority found the General Assembly had the latitude to set different standards for different types of public schools.

Friday, March 23, 2007

We, Gary, are getting nowhere .... and are also getting there quickly

John Curry to Gary Russell, March 23, 2007
Subject: Re: Gary, I still haven't received an answer!
Gary, I thank you for getting back to me re. my March 20, 2007 letter to you concerning some questions about pharmaceutical issues. But, there's a lot of uncertainty that's not clear in my mind.
5 complaints (out of 35,000 prior authorization requests) escalated to STRS Ohio management is an interesting statistic but..... it is also an ingenious answer to a non-existent question. For convenience, I'll restate my questions:
1. Is there a timetable that Caremark is held to for initially contacting the physician's office of any retiree if the denial (for an Rx) is to be issued?
2. Who is legally allowed to come to STRS and view our contract (in its entirety) with Caremark...are STRS Board members....are STRS the general public?
I sent Dr. Leone a letter a few days ago in which I told him that I'd bet these questions would not be "touched with a 10 foot pole." I think you've proved me right.
I will not bother you anymore with these two questions above as I don't really feel I'll receive a reply of substantive matter....kinda' like many retirees who have just "given up on the system" after they received a refusal of a certain medication for one reason or another and didn't have the physical health and strength to continue the battle. We, Gary, are getting nowhere .... and are also getting there quickly.
From Gary Russell, March 23, 2007
Subject: RE: Gary, I still haven't received an answer!

John, Typically Caremark responds to a prior authorization request of a doctor within 48 hours. The timeline is really driven by the doctor's office based on whether the prior authorization questionnaire is completed in its entirety and how soon the doctor's office returns the questionnaire.
Reviewing the number of transactions there doesn't seem to be any sort of systematic problem with the retirees on this issue. During the last year there were more than 35,000 prior authorization requests made to Caremark. There have been less then five complaints escalated to STRS Ohio management.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Even the insured have trouble paying bills

From John Curry, March 22, 2007
Subject: An article that the hc insurers didn't like to read.....
USA Today, March 21, 2007
Report: Even the insured have trouble paying bills
Interviews with 45 people with insurance who faced financial problems found:
• About two-thirds cited premiums, deductibles and co-payments as one source of their medical debt.
• One-third had debt because their insurance did not cover such things as drugs, dental care or medical equipment.
Source: The Access Project
By Julie Appleby, USA TODAY
When Janet Fredrick got breast cancer in 1998, she never thought she would face bankruptcy because of medical bills: She had insurance. But her illness dragged out, then her income plunged when she went on disability. By 2005, her co-payments for treatment, including surgery, medications, doctor visits and hospital care, totaled about $8,000.
Such co-payments and deductibles, along with difficult-to-understand policies and complex hospital billing issues, are among the main reasons even people such as Fredrick who have health insurance can face devastating financial costs, says a report out today from The Access Project, an advocacy group that researches medical debt.
"They were going to cut off services because I could not pay," says Fredrick, of Urbana, Ill.
After the hospital and clinics refused to accept $25-a-month payments toward her bills, Fredrick filed for bankruptcy and is now paying off a portion of those bills and credit card debt at $300 a month.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Health Insurance Plans The Boston-based Access Project studied Fredrick and 44 others who had trouble paying medical bills to determine why they ran into difficulties. The study was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Missouri Foundation for Health.
The study comes as higher annual deductible policies — those at $1,000 or more for individuals or $2,000 for families — are being touted by some policymakers, insurers and employers as one way to control rising health care spending in the USA.
Most insured people have lower annual deductibles, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Even with lower deductibles, some families are having trouble.
In October, a poll by USA TODAY, the Kaiser Family Foundation and ABC News found that one in four Americans had trouble paying for medical care during the year. Among those reporting trouble paying, 69% had insurance.
"Shifting more costs onto patients has significant health access and financial consequences," says Carol Pryor, senior policy analyst for The Access Project.
Mohit Ghose, spokesman for the industry trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, says the study unfairly blames insurers for rising costs.
He says there are many reasons spending on health is going up, including new treatments and drugs, rising demand as the population ages and "defensive medicine" by providers worried that they will be sued if they don't run every test or offer every alternative to patients.
"For too long, people have found it convenient to put any and all problems with the health sector at the doorstep of health insurance plans," says Ghose.
Along with deductibles and co-payments, The Access Project found other factors associated with medical debt were annual or lifetime "caps" on benefits; extra charges for "out of network" care, even when admitted to in-network hospitals; and complex billing systems by insurers and hospitals that left patients confused about what they owed.

Wanna see how badly you'll get ripped off thanks to the GPO?

From John Curry, March 22, 2007
Subject: Wanna see how badly you'll get ripped off thanks to the GPO?
Below is a link for you to calculate how much less you'll receive from Uncle Sam because you are drawing or will draw an STRS pension payment. Click on the link below to go directly to the Social Security Administration. Once there you can enter some stats and see what SS projects your SS payments (if you are lucky) will be. John

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gov. Strickland on vouchers and charter schools (Canton Repository)

From RH Jones, March 18, 2007
Subject: (No subject)
To all:
Julie Carr Smyth, AP Statehouse Correspondent, created an article for the, 03/17/07 and I quote: "Strickland calls school vouchers 'undemocratic'
COLUMBUS Gov.Ted Strickland sliced Ohio's voucher program from his budget because he sees the concept as 'inherently undemocratic,' he said Friday.
The first Democrat to run Ohio in 16 years expressed that concern, his distaste for companies that turn public dollars into charter school profits. . .'To me, vouchers are inherently undemocratic because they allow public dollars to be used in ways and in settings where the public has little or no oversight', Strickland said.
Those who are paying tax dollars have no ability to vote for a Board of Education or to make determinations regarding curriculum, or discipline or admission policies or a whole range of things,' he said. . .
The governor also said he questions the expense because he's seen little evidence that voucher students do better. . ."
'I expect a push back. We're going to push back as well,' he said. . ." (END QUOTE).
The quotes that I left out referred to Gov. Strickland's speech of 3-days earlier. You probably already know it's contents. Also, there was mention of his stand of capital punishment that was not germane to my -- and perhaps yours as well -- major interest: The total elimination of for-profit charter schools, tax paid home schooling, and all the other failed gimmicks to take tax funds away from public education PreK-16. This is my opinion. Dr. K. Fluke, SummitCRTA Leg. Chair, told me of this Canton Repository article. [View article here]
RHJones, CORE & SummitCRTA Leg. CMTE Mem.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dennis Leone: ORTA quiet at STRS Board meetings for past 19 months

Dennis Leone to Molly Janczyk, March 20, 2007
Subject: Never ORTA Assistance at Board Meetings
Truly, Molly, had ORTA stood up and been counted on so many of the resolutions I presented over the past 19 months, it would have been sooooo helpful. Instead, ORTA sat quiet. It was always only CORE representatives who spoke up to Board members and wrote to them about their unwise decisions. Where was ORTA to say: You know, Board, you really should review summaries before you vote on big ticket vendor contracts. You know, Board, maybe some of these staff perks should be cut back. You know, Board, it may not be fair to the members if you vote on Damon's contract without it being on the agenda. You know, Board, maybe it's not wise to pay the legal fees of 3 employees when free service is available from the State Attorney General's Staff. You know, Board, it's not a good idea to pay for fax lines, credit cards, and personal long distance phone calls for the homes of Board members. And you know Board, Dennis and John may be right, maybe you should first look at other options before you vote on the Medicare Part B reimbursement issue.
Dennis Leone
From Molly Janczyk, March 19, 2007
Subject: Re: Dr. Leone
I know WE have wondered why not several times. Retirees have disproportionate representation on the Board and TO the Board except for you and those membership retirees who speak.
Many issues could be addressed in a 'balance but firm' manner re: many concerns of retirees by ORTA.
From Dennis Leone, March 19, 2007
Subject: Re: Dr. Leone
I think you are right, Molly. If anyone from ORTA spoke, I sure don't remember it, and I have not missed a single STRS Board meeting, not one, since Travis left.
Dennis Leone

Have our constitutional rights been taken away?

From a concerned educator
March 15, 2007

In January 2007, the Senate unanimously passed John Kerry’s bill to deny pensions to dishonest lawmakers. The new law cannot take away already vested benefits.


Because “a retroactive law of that nature would be unconstitutional.” As I understand, this law cannot affect Congressmen already vested to receive their pensions or healthcare or whatever is already vested.

Please read this again so you will understand what is said here.


The Ohio Constitution has the following clause Section 28, Article II.

The General Assembly shall have no power to pass retroactive laws, or laws impairing the obligation of contracts.” (The Ohio Constitution)

“The Ohio Supreme Court has adopted the following definition of an unconstitutional retroactive law; “… [A]Statute which takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under existing laws, …” Rairden v Holden, 15 Ohio St 207, 210(1864)(Quoting Justice Storey in The Society v Wheeler, 2 Gall. 105 (1814)).

“A law is retroactive if it “takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under existing laws.”

Why is this important to you?

From 1976 until 1997 the Ohio Revised Code read:

“(A) Benefit recipients are eligible for health care benefits on the following basis:

(1) The state teachers retirement board hereby waives the single rate monthly conventional premium costs for retirants or other primary benefit recipients whose benefits are based on not less than one and one-half years of credit for Ohio service and who are enrolled in the Ohio retirement systems health care plan or such health maintenance organizations as the board may approve.”

What did the Ohio Revised Code say ????

I believe it says with 1 1/2 years of service you are vested for health care in your retirement years. It says STRS will provide us with this at no cost.

I believe that the Ohio Constitution guarantees this right because retroactive laws cannot be enacted to take away already vested rights.

I also believe that the Supreme Court has erred in its judgement; if it interprets it any other way. It needs to be corrected or challenged in court. I also believe that if the legislature passed this legislation; it is indeed unconstitutional and the legislature under Ohio law had no right to pass this legislation.

I believe it says with 1 1/2 years of credit for Ohio service and when you enroll in the health care plan, you will pay nothing. STRS will pay for you and your primary benefit recipients’ health care premiums.

In 1998 STRS went to the legislature and asked them to change this statute so retirants would pay part of the premiums. I believe they could enact it for new teachers without 1 1/2 years of credit, but not for those who were already vested. I believe enacting this retroactive law was unconstitutional.

What do you think?

John Curry to Gary Russell: I still haven't received an answer

From John Curry, March 20, 2007
Subject: Re: Gary, I still haven't received an answer!
Thank you for the immediate response. Your response on March 8, 2007 still (in my mind) doesn't divulge a timetable thus leaving retirees and myself still wanting:
"John, I don't want to speak for the Caremark representative; however, I would guess that the representative was implying that it is STRS Ohio who makes the final determination of the drug plan and the plan's provisions and Caremark administers those provisions. While the prior authorization program is developed in conjunction with Caremark, STRS Ohio determines whether or not we utilize a prior authorization program. Caremark pharmacist and doctors make the approval or denial decision.
In regards to the timetable, I know that there has been communication back and forth between the doctor's office and Caremark to resolve the issue. The decision is always delayed when additional follow up information is needed."
Gary, please let me clarify: In regards to a "timetable" that you addressed above that I still am looking for actual numbers i.e. "days" that Caremark is held to (if, in fact they are) for initially contacting the physicians office of ANY retiree if the a denial is to be issued. This is not related to this specific retiree's experience but to all STRS retirees who are awaiting their mail-in prescriptions from Caremark. If, in fact, the divulging of this information to me and others would result in the violation of "trade secrets," I would understand as Nancy Hamant and the Warren County Retired Teachers Association have been down that road before.
While I have your ear, I would also like to ask you this:
Who is legally allowed to come to STRS and view our contract (in its entirety) with Caremark...are STRS Board members.....are STRS the general public?
I am concerned about this issue because I am concerned about all STRS retirees and their prompt attention when it comes to medical issues. I am concerned because many retirees don't have the knowledge that sometimes PBMs aren't always the most honest "kids on the block." If you get some time I ask that you take a look at a recent federal complaint against the PBM Merck-Medco in 2003 which resulted in an out of court settlement for millions of dollars and, of course, no admission of wrongdoing.
In this document, Merck was accused of "canceling and destroying prescriptions, failing to perform the professional pharmacists' services needed by patients and required by law, by switching patients' prescriptions to different drugs without their knowledge and consent, by shipping medications and billing patients for drugs they never ordered, by creating false records of contact with physicians, by soliciting and receiving inducements from pharmaceutical manufacturers to favor their products, and by making false and misleading statements to the United States about its conduct. Here is the link to this 60 page Adobe download It contains some eye-opening accusations that would make most retirees (and prosecutors) shake their heads in disgust.
Thank you, Gary for listening to my long email and I do know that you and I only want the best for our retirees. I will be awaiting your reply... not only in regards to the actual timetable but also equally to your answers as to whom may inspect our current contract with Caremark.

STRS FLASHBACK -- 3 Years Ago -- They Hosted a Reception

STRS staff say farewell to ousted executive director
Canton Repository, March 25, 2004
By PAUL E. KOSTYU Copley Columbus Bureau chief
COLUMBUS — Senior staff at the State Teachers Retirement System hosted a reception this week for their former boss, who was forced out of office last year.
The get-together, paid for by the system’s 10 senior staff members, was described as a chance for employees to say goodbye to Herbert L. Dyer, whose tenure with the system officially ended Feb. 29, though his last day on the job was Aug. 5.
Laura Ecklar, a spokeswoman for the system, said no system funds were used to pay for the event.
“We didn’t want the system to come under any criticism,” said Ecklar, who was one of the 10 who contributed to the cost of the Tuesday afternoon event. “We’re very aware of how people might perceive it.”
Dyer was forced to step down after 10 years as executive director after media reports raised questions about spending on travel, employee bonuses, artwork and other items. His contract was bought out at a cost of $550,000; he remained a consultant through February.
You can reach Copley Columbus Bureau Chief Paul E. Kostyu at (614) 222-8901 or e-mail:

RH Jones: A good Beacon editorial by Mark A Zimmerman of Akron

From RH Jones, March 19, 2007
A good Beacon editorial by Mark A Zimmerman of Akron
To all:
Here's the Beacon 03/19/07 editorial page by Zimmerman that I quote:
"Are we there yet
Our Republican leaders in Columbus have had 16 years to screw up virtually every aspect of state government, and yet they now want newly elected Gov. Ted Strickland to fix it all in three months.
That's what I call inflation."
GOP "leadership" of politicians like Jon Husted and Kevin Coughlin have a flurry of taunting and mocking press releases that make one wonder: What ever happened to mutual respect? Can't the GOP give Gov. Strickland some time to get his programs going? Boys, Gov. Strickland is in the drivers seat now. Give him time to get where he's going. That's also my opinion.

RH Jones: Gov. Strickland calls charter schools unconstitutional

From RH Jones, March 17, 2007
Subject: Great RepositoryArticle Today
To all:
The Repository, according to K. Fluke, mentioned that Gov. Strickland calls Charter Schools unconstitutional!
In a related matter, we are having to spend so much time trying to get the "milquetoast" ORTA to represent what members tell me they want: To be forward, up front with the members, we are not getting time to inform those interested in what is transpiring politically in Columbus & Washington.
While they attend STRS board meetings meetings, at our expense, they offer no comments and have put little in the newsletter.
On Rep. Husted (R), why do they not let the membership know that he, and guys like Rep. Kevin Coughlin (R) are not representing public education?
Is ORTA afraid to rock the boat? It will be interesting to see how ORTA does at the April "Get-together" with state politicians.
When will the ORTA "leadership" ever get the message from it's membership: WE want real steak & potatoes issues. Milquetoast is too bland for me.
RHJones, ORTA Life Member

Petition Drive -- IMPORTANT

From Molly Janczyk, March 16, 2007
Subject: Please help! CORE RTA Reps, Officers, membership: ORTA: Contact for petitions
PLEASE HELP! Call the number below and request petitions be sent to you to disperse to your RTA's. A huge number of signatures is needed and it only takes a moment to order them. Please help with this education initiative by ordering petitions for your area! We ALL need to help in this matter to better education in Ohio for our children and our future!!!!!
From Ann Hanning, March 16, 2007
Subject: RE: ORTA
Molly, ORTA has been encouraging the chapter presidents and/or legislative chairs to contact Tom Ash (BASA 614 846-4080). Tom is coordinating a Speakers' Bureau, which includes himself, Jim Betts, Bill Phillis & many others. Bill can be reached directly
These individuals will present information about the Campaign for Ohio's Future initiative & have petitions (with instructions)to share & distribute to the groups.
From Molly Janczyk, March 16, 2007
Subject: Ann: ORTA
Dear Ann, Sorry to have missed you yesterday as there is a question. Jim McGreevy and Russ Harris evidently are asking CORE's help with the petition gathering. I do not want to duplicate nor interfere with ORTA's efforts. Please advise if ORTA is sending petitions to all 90 RTA's for signature gathering.
If so, how can we help or coordinate efforts?
Thank you.
Best regards, Molly Janczyk

Minutes of CORE meeting March 15, 2007

From Glenna Barr, Secretary
CORE met March l5,2007, at 11:45 in the cafeteria room behind the Sublett Room. Officers present: President Dave Parshall, Vice President Mary Ellen Angeletti, Treasurer CJ Myers, and Secretary Glenna Barr. Trustees: Nancy Boomhower, Chuck Angeletti, Betty Bell, Liz Ebbing substituting for Nancy Hamant, Lloyd Knudsen substituting for Chuck Chapman. President Dave Parshall called the meeting to order. The minutes were approved by all members by a motion made by Mary Ellen Angeletti and 2nd by C.J. Myers. The treasurer's report was given by C.J. Myers.
(A) Website-to be updated with Dennis Leone reports on it. Dave ask for suggestions for the website.
(B) Molly Janczyk was absent and no report was given on Contacts and Regional Reps.
(C) Constitution: Article III of the By-Laws passed.
(A) Correction of Article 3 in the Constitution By-Laws to add the Vice President's office was passed out to members attending is to be amended to read: Access to the CORE database shall be limited to
(1) The author of the database
(2) The CORE President
(3) The CORE Vice President
(4) The CORE Secretary
(5) The CORE Treasurer
(6) The person designated by a majority vote of the Board of Trustees to send official CORE Alerts. In April this amendment will be voted on.
(B) Dave Parshall pointed out the ORTA State House Day, April 24,2007. He is going and encouraged others to attend.
(C) The goal of CORE as to getting the key facts of Health Care. By 2009, HC Fund will dip into the fund's principal and by 2021 we may not have HC. One misconception on health care is that all teachers upon retirement has medicare coverage but this is not true. Many teachers will qualtify for Part B only .
CORE is only interested in the election of STRS Board members not the Ohio political arena of candidates.
Mary Ellen Angeletti mentioned that Herman Fisher of Clinton County would like a list of talking points for retirees to go out and talk about CORE. Send your talking points to Dave Parshall,
Chuck Angeletti suggested a statement that CORE needs to keep STRS Board members feet to the fire on Health Care issues, board behavior, and staff perks. Dave Parshall stated most of STRS staff are very helpful.
(A) Chuck Angeletti and Dave Parshall attended a seminar on STRS financial structure presented by Russell Investment Group to STRS Board Members. There was a great deal of information presented. It was helpful to learn first hand how STRS financial department is structured and how Russell interacts with them.
(B) Dave Parshall,Lloyd Knudsen, and Nancy Boomhower discussed changes in the board meeting with Ms. Ramser and made suggestions to better accommodate the retirees who want to attend. Lloyd Knudsen said Ms. Ramser and board will discuss the changes for April after today's meeting. Ms. Ramser would like everything on one day. She schedules the STRS Agenda and stated this month's changes were to save money.
(C) A motion was made to send out Dennis Leone's quarterly report as a CORE Alert and was passed unanimously.
Russ Harris from OEA passed out Initiative Petitions for any Ohio registered voter to sign to put on the ballot titled "Guaranteeing High Quality Public Education". He stated this has to be a Constitutional Amendment so that every child in Ohio will be given a good education and have fair funding for every school district. This initiative and the Governor's State of the State Speech has the same theme. This initiative will empower the legislature to follow the Governor's suggestions. Mr. Harris discussed the guidelines for the petitions and a petition can be picked up at any OEA Uniserv Office, from PTAs and OFT offices, libraries, fire and police stations. Petitions were passed out to the members present. A question-and-answer discussion on benefits to senior citizens, where funding would be coming from, and that seniors' property taxes would be reduced, etc., followed.
Mary Ellen Angeletti welcomed the new members. Attending from ORTA were Lou DiOrio, Ann Hanning, and Ray Troxell, ORTA Vice President. The meeting was adjourned by a motion by Nancy Boomhower and 2nd by Marie Fetters. The next meeting is tentatively set for April 15th.
Submitted by Glenna Barr,
CORE Secretary.

Barr and Knudsen speak at STRS, 3/15/07

From Mary Ellen Angeletti, March 15, 2007
Subject: Public Speaks - Mar. 15th


"Good afternoon, Dr. Asbury, Board Members, staff, and visitors. I was disappointed when I opened my email Tuesday to find that the Thursday a.m. session was not going to be held. Also the health care benefit discussion was to be held on Friday again. I realize that all the Board members have schedules in their respective jobs to meet. However, for the retirees who wish to attend the Thursday session to speak and hear about health care and pension information, Friday is in most cases out of the question due to travel time, energy, and expense to attend both sessions. Health care is of most importance to me and the eight Southwest counties retirees. I travel t the eight counties to speak to the ORTA county retiree associations to give them information as well as many of them call me regarding questions on this subject.
This is not the first time this has happened. I do not know the reason for not having this Thursday a.m. session. If it is due to a Board member who cannot attend, could another member of the vice chair conduct the meeting? This is truly something for you to consider. Thank you, Glenna Barr."
Lloyd's theme to the STRS Board was that they (the Board) were not intentionally trying to discourage Public Speaks. He also said that the Board was not continually changing the meeting days and the agendas to punish CORE members. He felt that they (the Board) did all of these things because they NEVER even consider what the retirees want. He maintained that it is ALWAYS about what the STRS management wants. He recalled that at the last two STRS meetings, the Chair limited access to the STRS Board and disrespected Dr. Fluke, a retiree who spoke during Public Speaks and was gaveled to stop for being over his three minutes. He suggested that if the Board was considering having only one day for its meeting that Thursday be considered out of respect for the retirees. He reminded the Board that the retirees are especially interested in Health Care reports, pension benefits, and the Public Speaks portion of the STRS meetings.

Jim Kimmel to Conni Ramser: A friendly reminder

From Jim Kimmel, March 19, 2007
Subject: CORE
Ms Ramser:
CORE is not going to give up on promoting needed change at STRS. Just thought you needed a reminder of that fact.
James O. Kimmel
CORE Member
STRS Retiree

Does ORTA have the sense of a goose?

From Debbie Roush, March 20, 2007
Subject: Meigs County RTA /Dennis Leone's quarterly report

Ms. Hanning and Mr. Seamon,
I am disappointed that ORTA decided not to publish Dennis Leone's article. Yes, I read about the "sharing" of the information with others. Twice, we have graciously received Dr. Leone's thoughts, insights, and opinions at our meetings. We, at Meigs County RTA, have learned to trust Dr. Leone's findings; we know that he is working to make the system better for us.
I received my Leadership Bulletin last week from ORTA about the upcoming events for April 24th. When reading on the back page of the Bulletin, I came across the wonderful story, "The Sense of a Goose". "If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by EACH OTHER in difficult times as well as when we're strong". I thought, "this is what we need to do."
Yet, now I am reading that ORTA does not want to stand by Dennis Leone. On March 22nd, our chapter has its regular meeting, and I have copied Dr. Leone's article for each member to read. It is my job to keep the chapter informed about what is happening in our retirement system.
Are you, at ORTA, standing by us?
Debbie Roush,
Meigs County RTA, ORTA life member, CORE

Shirlee Zerkel to Conni Ramser re: Board meeting scheduling

From Shirlee Zerkel, March 18, 2007
Subject: About the monthly meetings
Dear Ms. Ramser:
I am a retiree from Lima, OH who finds it impossible to attend meetings in Columbus two days in a row such as those held last week. Our pension amounts and health premium costs do not allow for a motel stay and meals out for two days.
We retirees are interested in the health care meeting, member benefits meeting and the public speaks portions. I really don't understand what the big 'puzzle' is. Those portions of the monthly meeting have been held on the same day for years before you became chair. Now the whole schedule is in a state of constant change.
In February, there was only one meeting day -- Friday. You then stated that you were trying to make things more efficient with only one day meetings. Friday is a very difficult day for older retirees and those from a distance to be able to get through the Friday rush hour traffic. We then emailed you about our concerns after the meeting. Now this month it was even worse: public speak on Thursday and meetings we are interested in on Friday.
What happened to your suggestion of one day monthly meetings? You have made it clear in your comments that you, as chair, are in charge of the meeting schedule. I, as a retiree ask you to please return something constant to the schedule. Either return to the old schedule if this is such a 'puzzle' for you, or have your Wednesday night meeting and the remainder of sessions that interest the retirees on Thursday.
Conni, you knew when you ran for this office that it demanded much time. How on earth do you figure that a Wednesday evening, all day Thursday and all day Friday monthly meeting, can be handled in one day! It possibly can if you rubber stamp everything the STRS staff want you to rubber stamp. But the board is there to look out for the interests of the members and sometimes that takes considerable time to figure out.
Please listen to your retired members, for one day you will be one us! Thank you for listening,
Shirlee Zerkel

Monday, March 19, 2007

CORE ALERT, March 19, 2007

From Mary Ellen Angeletti, March 19, 2007
Russ Harris of OEA asked to speak to CORE at the CORE meeting of March 15th for the purpose of soliciting CORE's help in the dissemination of an Initiative Petition which Gary Allen discussed when he spoke to CORE on January 22nd. This Petition is being passed to obtain signatures for putting an amendment on the ballot titled "Guaranteeing High Quality Public Education". Due to the fact that this Petition contains three pages of explanation and four pages of definitions, it is too lengthy for CORE to duplicate in this Alert. A brief overview follows:
1. There are two documents, the petition itself and also a petition guideline.
2. Any Ohio registered voter may sign the petition.
3. A voter can sign only one petition.
4. A voter should not sign the petition he/she is circulating.
5. When signing the petition, the voter must use his/her address on file with the Board of Elections.
6. The petition must be signed in ink.
7. One petition has spaces for 72 signatures.
8. The date must be correct on the petition.
9. The ward/precinct referred to on the petition does NOT have to be completed.
10. All signatures must be registered voters residing in the county listed on the first page of the petition.
11. A petition circulator may circulate petitions from more than one county at the same time, provided that each county is on a separate petition.
12. All completed petitions must be returned to the Labor Relations Consultant who will then forward to Bonnie Joseph at OEA headquarters.
13. The Circulator of the petition must complete the Statement of Circulator at the back of the petition but the name and address of the employer is NOT necessary. All other information is required of the Circulator.
14. The Circulator must circulate original initiative petitions. Reproducing the petitions is not permitted.
To obtain Initiative Petitions and the Petition Guidelines, call Tom Ash at 614-846-4080 or email Bill Phillis at or petitions can be picked up directly at the OEA office in Columbus. You may request as many Initiative Petitions as needed in your county, school system, Retired Teacher Association, etc.
This is an opportunity to give support to an effort to improve education in Ohio. Perhaps this collaborative effort will help to win favor with the school boards which may cause them to think more favorably on our pending Health Care legislation. A big plus for this amendment if it is successful, is that it may reduce the property taxes of senior citizens. CORE is sending this information as an Email Alert in an ongoing effort to keep members informed of what is happening in our state regarding education.

Beacon Journal article on Police and Fire pensions' problems with paying for HC

From Molly Janczyk, March 18, 2007
Subject: Akron Beacon Journal:Schneider and Wachtmann against HCA legis
We know they are 2 of about 10 known legislators against helping us with HCA legis. NOT really researching or crunching the numbers
From Mary Beth Hunter, March 18, 2007
Subject: Akron Beacon Journal
There is a front page article about the problems with paying for health insurance for retirees in the Police and Fire Dept pension. There are quotes from Michelle Schneider and Wachtmann about legislation and NOT asking the public to pay any more. I can't send an online edition even tho I am a subscriber. I'm working on trying to get a copy to send. Tell the people in the Akron area to get the Sunday paper.
Mary Beth
[View article here]

Nancy Boomhower on ORTA

Nancy Boomhower to Molly Janczyk, March 18, 2007
Subject: Re: ORTA rejection
I think Lloyd hit the nail on the head. Bingo!!!
((Thanks, Nancy! This is not a social club and silence is not golden when working thru these times to make retirees aware. It is a process to actually come to terms on issues-find a way.. That is OUR purpose, to be totally informative and upfront; no more back rooms and sitting quietly. Debate and reaching compromise is a must for all to forge together. ORTA needs to find a way to make this rt. We do all we are asked by any organization; when we ask, we usually get silence and ignored. That can't continue-new day-change is healthy and makes us all grow. Just ignoring doesn't satisfy membership: WE ARE MEMBERSHIP! Some of us the newer ones perhaps but membership and change needs to occur to meet all membership needs not just some. m.j.))

Lloyd Knudsen on ORTA

From Lloyd Knudsen, March 18, 2007
Subject: ORTA rejection
Molly & Mary Ellen,
Let the truth be told on ORTA's "old news vs. current news" publication policy. If Dennis had NOT included one sentence "ORTA, in my opinion, should have supported Lazares and me on this issue" in his article. This article would have made the ORTA publication. Just my opinion.
Lloyd Knudsen

John Curry: A major housecleaning long overdue at ORTA

From John Curry, March 17, 2007
Subject: Dr. Leone - Once again snubbed by ORTA
It sure looks like reform at ORTA once again takes a back seat to the "old guard" still in control, but....what else is new? Gee, just when I was about to join an organization that gave appearances that it was about to become a unified voice for all STRS retirees this comes along! I Guess all those retirees who don't have computers, can't physically operate computers, or can't afford them will be left out in the dark again. Guess they'll have to go to those ORTA once-a-month mashed potatoes and meatloaf meetings and still miss out on the latest news from the candidate they elected to represent them on the STRS Board, Dennis Leone. Thanks to the hierarchy at ORTA, ignorance will still be bliss in the minds of those thousands of the faithful. Please read below what has transpired in the last 24 hours as presented in Kathie Bracy's Blog. A major housecleaning at ORTA is long overdue. This is a travesty!

Tom Cooper on ORTA

Tom Cooper to Molly Janczyk, March 18, 2007
Subject: Re: Fw: Dr. Leone
RE: Members are not going to rejoin ORTA unless they get on the ball and get more proactive. Chuck Chapman Legislative Chair for Medina County
Ironic, in light of these events, Chuck, that you would make such a statement, because you are so right. I dropped my ORTA membership, a few years back, when it became clear that under Travis and Hanning, there was not going to be any change in the arrogance of the ORTA leadership. That was right about the time Travis' term ended. I did get a letter from Hanning last year, reminding me of the "benefits" of membership, which I ignored, as she herself has done to so many retirees.
In the past 6 months, however, it did appear that the tone of ORTA had become one of accepting to at LISTEN to all retirees voices and needs. I actually, in just the last 2 or 3 weeks, sat down and wrote a check to ORTA to renew the membership for both myself and my wife. Due to an unexpected illness and some physical problems, that came up rather quickly, the check did not make it from my desk into an envelope for mailing. I am pretty sure I can find other ways to spend those dollars that will be in the interest of my family without information about that product being denied.
What ORTA is saying to ALL retirees, is, we want your money, but we don't want your voice, unless you are telling us how good we are.. Just pay up and shut up.
Sorry. Been there -- done that...and I am DONE doing that.
T Cooper

More comments re: ORTA

From Molly Janczyk, March 19, 2007
Subject: Re: Dr. Leone
Correct to my knowledge, preferring to work silently behind the scenes never offending a soul.
From Jim Kimmel, March 19, 2007
Subject: Re: Dr. Leone
From Molly Janczyk, March 18, 2007
Subject: Fw: Dr. Leone
No one from ORTA has spoken at Board meetings since Travis left. I'm sure all would be compliments if they did. Why do they not ask for more minutes for their membership when only a few speakers rather than being hammered out of order after coming hours away.
Chuck Chapman to Rep. Gordon Rice, March 18, 2007
Subject: Fw: Dr. Leone
Gordon, Anything that you can do to help this situation would be appreciated. With Dennis Leone and CORE we have changed the makeup of the STRS Board and are beginning to make some slow headway. If ORTA is to continue representing our needs and concerns they are going to have to speak up at the meetings. Why they will not support Dennis Leone I cannot understand. Without him we would be nowhere. ORTA did not expose the problems at STRS and neither did OEA. It was Dennis who got this thing started. Now he needs the help of OEA and ORTA to continue improving the situation. Members are not going to rejoin ORTA unless they get on the ball and get more proactive.
Chuck Chapman
Legislative Chair for Medina County, Ohio

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann leads nationwide bipartisan effort to protect public pension funds, private investors

From Attorney General Marc Dann's blog
(submitted by Tom Curtis)

Responding to the position taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission, AGs from 20 states, commonwealths and territories join U.S. Supreme Court brief in Tellabs securities fraud case

March 9, 2007

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case that could profoundly affect the ability of states to protect their pension funds and, by extension, private investors from securities fraud. The case, Tellabs, Inc. et al. v. Makor Issue & Rights Ltd. et al., will be heard by the Court on March 28, 2007.

The Attorney General’s decision to become involved in the case was, in part, a response to a brief filed in the case by the Securities and Exchange Commission in which the Commission took a position that would make it more difficult for public and private institutional investors and other shareholders to recover losses in securities class actions.

Attorneys General of both political parties from across the country have signed on to the brief – known in court parlance as an amicus curiae brief – in which Mr. Dann argues that making it much more difficult to have securities cases heard in court “would severely damage one of the most powerful mechanisms for controlling fraud in the marketplace: legitimate securities lawsuits by large institutional investors such as the States’ pension funds.”

“States like Ohio regulated the securities industry decades before the federal government acted to curb fraud, and we’ve been the first line of defense for investors for nearly a century,” Attorney General Dann said in a statement released as the brief was filed. “The suits we file don’t just protect our pension funds, retirees, and the taxpayers, they protect private investors, legitimate businesses and the securities markets themselves.”

“But if the Court rules for Tellabs, the bad actors in the market win and the public loses. That is why I decided to intervene in the case and why Republican and Democratic attorneys general from across the United States have joined me,” Mr. Dann said. “We all recognize that the destruction of the firewall we provide will open the door to fraud, erode investor confidence, and jeopardize America’s economy. And we all recognize that we could not sit back and allow that to happen.”

The Attorneys General of Alaska, California, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Samoa, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia joined Attorney General Dann in signing onto today’s brief.

For more information contact:

Leo Jennings III at 614-374-8355 or 614-387-1108

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Duane Tron to ORTA: Get on board or step aside

From Duane Tron, March 18, 2007
Subject: ORTA Publishing Policies!
Dear Ms. Hanning,
The failure of ORTA to publish Dr. Leone's report is in my opinion petty. It once again demonstrates a lack of understanding on the part of people in position's of leadership, and authority, that common sense should take precedent over arbitrary and capricious policies. It is very difficult to build consensus among retirees, to achieve common goals, as long as ORTA refuses to recognize the importance of solidarity and a spirit of cooperation.
Sometimes we allow personality conflicts to dictate our decision-making process and this has a tendency to cloud our judgment. A best practices policy would dictate that the report be published and all differences be placed aside. Fact: Whether you and others at ORTA like Dr. Leone he is our elected representative to the Ohio State Teacher's Retirement System Board. Fact: To this end he should be afforded courtesy and respect by those of us he serves.
If ORTA is going to lead retired teachers then ORTA needs to understand that it is imperative to do what is in the best interest of all retirees and ORTA needs to be a part of consensus building. At this point you once again indicate that ORTA lacks a desire to become part of solutions, for retirees, but continue to maintain the status quo which is to the detriment of all of us! My best advice to the leadership at ORTA, either get on board or step aside! We all need to be moving forward in solidarity and cooperation to resolve the issues that have harmed so many retirees.
Duane E. Tron
Champaign County Retired Teachers
Immediate Past President

Nancy Hamant to ORTA: a professional and ethical way

From Nancy Hamant, March 17, 2007
Subject: Fwd: ORTA's publishing flip-flop!

Dear Ms. Hanning and Mr. Seamon:
I am deeply concerned that ORTA has decided not to publish Dr.
Leone's quarterly report in it's upcoming journal. This appears to
be a decision made after the fact. Are all contributors told prior
to writing their piece for the ORTA Journal, that it may not
be distributed before the release of the ORTA Journal in
which it is to be printed? If writers are not told that, then
ORTA should print the said article in question and request
that the ORTA Board develop a policy that is then shared
with each contributor prior to their developing their articles.
This would be a professional and ethical way to deal with all
future submissions.
Nancy B. Hamant,

Jim Kimmel comments on ORTA

From Jim Kimmel, March 17, 2007
Subject: Re: ORTA Refuses to Publish Column
Recent findings show that some modern people have some DNA fo the Neanderthals- I think at ORTA we have found a cave full and need to contact OSU Department of Anthropology immediately!
This is the last of my nasty comments but venting makes me feel better! The woman who came to Warren County RTA meeting recently was very condescending and bragged that she "takes no medicine at all"- to a room full of older adults who do take medicine and PAY for it at very high prices. I do not recall her name but she was from ORTA and grudgingly admitted that "finally ORTA is beginning to work with CORE " Big #$#%^*+ deal !

Chuck Chapman to Ann Hanning: You are our hope for change at ORTA

From Chuck Chapman, March 17, 2007
Subject: Dr. Leone
Ann, You are our hope for change at ORTA. I am a life member of ORTA. I have been active with ORTA for many years. Our membership will die if ORTA does not take a more proactive role in protecting our retirement fund and health care. Dennis Leone is the only one really standing up for teachers. He won't be able to do it by himself forever. You leaders at ORTA need to start leading. Not permitting Leone's report to be published in the ORTA paper is terrible. Members need to know what is going on at STRS. Please step up to the plate and help us change the attitude at ORTA before it is too late.
Chuck Chapman
Legislative Chair for Medina RTA.


March 18, 2007
What makes the difference who publishes it or who is first? The more times it is published; the more people will see it. We need people to realize what has happened at STRS and how serious it is. We need to give our support to those who are working hard to try to change things. Where was ORTA all these years? Let's stop arguing and start supporting Dennis Leone and John Lazarus and the many people of CORE working hard in the background. It is for those teachers who are suffering that we should be working for, not for our ego and recognition.

Let's work together. After all it is a fact that it takes several times of reading or viewing for people to comprehend and digest information. The more it is repeated the better chance we have of gaining support. Is this a popularity contest where again people are just trying to promote themselves to move up; or is it a sincere effort to help? Perhaps ORTA could call special attention to the article by putting it on page one and highlighting it with color and bold print. Aren't we both (CORE and ORTA) working for the same results?

RH Jones to ORTA: This is outrageous

Bob Jones to Ann Hanning, ORTA staff, Rep. Gordon Rice, etc., March 17, 2007
Subject: Fw: ORTA's publishing flip-flop!
To all:
This is outrageous. Does my ORTA want to leave room in the newsletter for social commentary, or for something of interest to the membership, I wonder? In the last issue, at a time when retirees are hurting, they, the "leadership," spent 2 or 3 pages for photos of themselves and commentary on awards to themselves and their friends. Those members who are really doing the real work for them, speaking at STRS meetings, etc. are left out of the newsletter both photographically & editorially.
Until stronger players step up to bat and run for office, we members active on the issues over the electronic media, will be left out in ORTA's left field.
RHJones, ORTA Life Member

RH Jones to Jim Kimmel: ORTA's membership will grow when they become aggressive for retiree issues

RH Jones to Jim Kimmel, March 17, 2007
Subject: Fw: Censorship of Dennis Leone
ORTA's "leadership" has bragged of a membership number of 32,000 or so; but, they fail to mention that before the year 2001 & before they took on membership of some colleges, they were at 37,000 or so. Hopefully, in the future with new leadership, ORTA will get the message of the retirees members & non-members: BE MORE AGGRESSIVE FOR RETIREE ISSUES AND WATCH THE ORTA MEMBERSHIP GROW!
RHJones, an ORTA Life Mem.
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