Saturday, June 30, 2007

RH Jones on several topics

Subject: Lottery profits for schools? Think again!
June 27, 2007
To all:
The Beacon today; "State has a balanced budget" " It took finagling but lawmakers and Strickland aides find some extra funds." ..." and will transfer $16.6 millions in lottery profits to the general fund.
Need I say more? It seems to me this finagling of lottery profits shortchanges the intention ot the voters and the politicians who created the lottery to fund schools. That's my opinion.
RHJones, proud member of CORE
Subject: Retired Akron Super Conrad Ott's comments on HB 151
June 29, 2007
To Retired Akron Superintendent Conrad Ott and all:
Mr. Ott, thank you for your supportive comments. Coming from a man who for over 25-years did so much for Akron's children and their school district, I am extremely humbled. During your tenure as "Super", I remember one of many successful school levy campaigns that we used the expression: "SOS, Save Our Schools." We did just that for Akron, and now we need to do it again; This time on the state level! Note: Out of genuine respect for you, as one of the 2,000, or more, teachers on your staff during those 25-years, I would still like to refer to you as Mr. Ott. However, I retired before I had the privilege of working under the tenure of another Akron "Super" Superintendent, Brian Williams, now retired as well and is presently an Ohio Legislator. I do think of him, and a retired Akron Guidance Councilor, Bob Otterman, also now an Ohio Legislator, as friends. I hope that this friendship is not strained by either of them taking a position of voting for any of these "...sickening bills.". As Democrats, I do not think they should, or will.
Yes, concerning HB 151, Mr. Ott, as you say: "...and other sickening bits of possible legislation.", we do need to keep the pressure in all 88 counties. I agree, it will make a difference. I can tell you that CORE is indeed keeping the pressure on in all of Ohio's counties through the internet and the media. As a group, they are leading the state in this battle. There is no one person that can lead this awesome task. It takes all CORE members and all other interested citizens in working together nationally and locally to defeat these harmful issues to our nation, our state, and our local school districts. Working together cooperatively with those of us that wish to Save Our Schools is the most effective way for us to "make noise" in a "last gasp" campaign to defeat these sickening legislations: HB151,152 and SB161.
Ohio STRS Retired Member, Dennis Leone, and the Ohio STRS CEO, Damon Asbury, have lead the STRS members in exposing the fallacies of these hurtful Ohio legislations. Dr. Asbury has been aware of the national movement going on to push the false patriotism exemplified by Ohio's HB151 in particular. My opinion is that it is Un-American to single out only a few companies that do business with terrorist nations when all the international companies are selling to them. The motivation for these "...sickening bits of possible legislations." is to divert our pension funds into the coffers of companies friendly to the sponsoring legislators. They are doing this as a power move; just as certain now as it was with the exploitation of religious beliefs to gain office. The American people will not be fooled by this false-patriotism grasp for power. The present GOP should take the advice of Republican Abraham Lincoln who once said: "You can fool the people some-of-the-time, but you cannot fool them all of the time." Mr. Ott, these unscrupulous modern politicians are not fooling us." We are informed as to what they are up to. I believe the public must be informed as well. Unfortunately, that responsibility, sir, has fallen onto us. We are teachers of children until our last gasp of breath. God Bless!
Robert Hudson Jones, a proud member of CORE
Subject: Re: Husted & Jordan..."My conservative friends are totally wrong on the issue of education."
June 30, 2007
Concerning Duane E. Tron's message of 06/09/07:" My conservative friends are totally wrong on the issue." I do agree with him on that point; however, I have a disagreement concerning his statement of praising the deceased President Ronald Reagan as: "...understanding the meaning of compromise, compassion, empathy, sacrifice and doing without." Reagan was none of these when it came to teachers. Everyone should remember that it was he who initiated the Social Security (SS) "take away" from those of us who paid into both SS and public pension systems. Personally, it has cost me $450 + compounded SS COLAs ever since it passed! It was Un-American in that it punished those of us who worked hard, at sometimes as many as four jobs at a time. We labored for this money; we earned it, and we deserve it in our old age. And, I was fool enough to vote for Reagan. Shame on me. I was too busy working to get the proper facts. However, I will admit that his acting ability was excellent in more ways than in the movies.
As for myself, born into poverty, I started working at age 12. For several years, riding my bike 15-miles round trip, I had to work at farm labor, bent over in a farm field for 8-hrs. daily --- by the way, illegally employed farm laborers get their SS --- I mopped floors and cleaned toilets; I worked in a dairy store; and I worked at worst place on earth: the Akron Firestone Rubber Cement House --- Fumes were so volatile that they had to blow steam into the factory to keep it from exploding. All this was done before and while I was teaching. In the 1960's, my wife, an RN, & I had combined income so low that we were in the US Government category as being in poverty for a 2-person household!
I know other educators, forced by low wages, who had to double and triple dip. They have even worse stories to tell. No, my readers, Reagan did not compromise, show compassion, empathy or sacrifice when it came to us public educators that did, and still do, without our earned SS allowance. This is my individual opinion of Reagan .
RHJones, proud to be a CORE member

Friday, June 29, 2007

Another letter from an enlightened Senator Schuler

"The money in a retirement fund should be in control of the retirement board, not the government."
~ Senator Robert Schuler - 7th Ohio District


Click image to enlarge

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Test By Blogger


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Jim N. Reed to the Columbus Dispatch: HB's 151-152 Ill Conceived And Hostile to Public Servants

June 27, 2007
I do not know how many lawmakers in the General Assembly have educators in their families but I would hope they have all researched carefully and intelligently their reaction to the current legislation that is misaimed at retirees in Ohio's five public pension systems.
A bill to make sacrificial patriots out of these retirees is so misguided that it actually should be an embarrassment to a majority of Ohio's lawmakers, regardless of political party. As constituents we public servants are counting on our Representatives and Senators to have the vision to see through this fiasco that is putting the fiduciary responsibility of the STRS Board (as well as the other four Boards) in jeopardy. ORC 3307.15 is crystal clear, much clearer than the fuzzy vision of some legislators who see hundreds of thousands of Ohio's public servants , active and retired, as cherry-picking targets for wrong-headed, ill defined patriotism.
Original HB 151 was so foolishly, haphazardly, and hastily designed that it was shameful. Companies that employ tens of thousands of hard-working Ohioans were black-listed. Cleveland has been recruiting Rolls Royce to bring employment opportunity to an economically depressed area and then rookie members and the Speaker accused RR of being accomplices of the terrorists in Iran. Private investors, including sponsors of the misguided legislation, were not required to divest in their portfolios. Other private American investors, including governors, lawmakers, and presidents were not ordered to practice divestiture, only Ohio's retired public servants, many of whom are already caught in the crossfire of rising healthcare costs, stagnant COLA's, corporate greed, and mismanagement within their own retirement systems, received marching orders to divest, costing them millions of dollars.
HB 152 sucks the lifeblood from current and retired educators. Once again, it appears private investment vultures practicing predatory capitalism are sitting on the side of the road ready to take advantage of the road-kill resulting from the slaying of the "defined benefit" policy of STRS. This once-proud, prestigious retirement system has been the victim of scavengers before and cannot afford to be picked clean by ill-conceived legislation while it is laboring through a Renaissance under the leadership of Dr. Dennis Leone and Mr. John Lazares.
It seems that retired public servants are currently under siege within the general Assembly by some legislators who are out-of-touch with the mounting concerns accumulating upon the backs of many who seem to have become political pawns in a contest they did not conjure.
To our honorable and wise General Assemblymen and women I ask you to consider carefully and judiciously the damage and hostility that this model of legislation can bring to the retirement lives of many of Ohio's loyal public servants. I would also strongly encourage you to divest yourself from this kind of lawmaking.
Jim N. Reed
42-year public educator and Concerned Ohio Retired Educator
Baltimore, Ohio

'Duke' Snider and Caremark: Huh???

"Duke" Snider to John Curry, June 26, 2007
Subject: Huh
John, I called Caremark about a prescription which I haven't received. I talked with a customer service supervisor who said they would ship it overnight. Almost in the same sentence he said he would give me a fourteen day supply at my local pharmacy. I said I wouldn't need the fourteen day supply, because it was being shipped overnight. He said it sometimes takes FIVE days to have it shipped overnight. HUH!!!!!!!!!! I also told the customer service supervisor that I placed a check for my wife's bill and a check for my bill in the SAME envelope. One time I had included one check for both of us in the same envelope and talk about confusion, so this is why I write separate checks. Guess what? I guess I must have confused them, because I included both checks in the SAME envelope. Now he wants me to place them in separate envelopes. I said to him (you) surely hires people smart enough to open envelopes and figure out what to do with the contents. HUH!!!!!!!! I thought you might enjoy this high degree of professionalism and intelligence, AND we're paying for it.

John Curry to Wapakoneta Daily News: Michael Moore can ill-afford more propaganda?

John Curry to Bill Laney, June 26, 2007
Subject: Michael Moore can ill-afford more propaganda?

Mr. William Laney - Editor - Wapakoneta Daily News
Mr. Laney, would you please see that Mr. Burkholder gets this reply to his editorial entitled "Michael Moore Can Ill-afford More Propaganda" which ran in the Wapakoneta Daily News and is listed below my letter. I would also ask that it be published in the Letters to the Editor column. Thank you.
John Curry
Mr. Burkholder,
You know, you might just be right...and then some. However, Michael Moore can afford more ill propaganda better than Americans (many of whom are ill sans health insurance or underinsurance). In case you haven't checked, there are more than 40 million Americans without any healthcare insurance.
Emergency rooms are plagued with unneeded lines of people who are refused treatment at doctor's offices because they can't afford the visit. So...the ill flock to the emergency rooms to be treated and...the hospital bill doesn't get paid. The end result of this is that you and I end up paying the tab in our super-sized medical bills. This sad scene isn't repeated in all the other "industrialized" countries of the world due to their compassion for their fellow citizens. In our country, great as it is, dignity for one's fellow humans takes a back seat to the dollar bill.
As I write this, physicians in this country are paring their patient lists to care for only a fraction of Medicare recipients because Medicare pays an amount not to their liking. For the other Medicare aged ill, it's "try going to another doctor's office to see if they'll treat you." I'd call that a "long wait" for treatment, wouldn't you? I wonder why that "long wait" allows Canadian citizens to live an average of three years longer than the average citizen?
Our country's "medical fiasco" doesn't stop at the hospital or doctor's office. It continues on with U.S. Pharmaceutical manufacturers continuing stranglehold on the U.S. Congress by their lobbyists who seem to have been able to aid the majority of our senators and representatives in beating down prescription drug reimportation into this country. During the past several years, the pillmakers lobby has spent more money than any other lobby to wine and dine our representatives to maintain our country's "protectionist" stance when it comes to profits by pharmaceutical companies. These are companies which are wallowing in the profits trough of billions of dollars obtained through the inflated prices they are charging the very same U.S. Citizens who subsidized many of their wonder-drug discoveries by U.S. taxpayer dollars that were sent to the National Institutes of Health in state universities throughout this country to aid in the development of these very same miracle drugs.
If you get some time, take a few minutes...go to Google...and enter "pharmaceutical manufacturer" and "fraud." Then hit the "search" button and you'll find a host of articles relating to the hundreds of millions of dollars that were forked over by pharmaceutical companies mostly in "out-of-court" settlements to state governments, state retirement systems, and our own federal government. These "settlements" by the pillmakers are factored into the cost of their product and are viewed as simply the "cost of doing business." The CEO's of the pharmaceuticals walk away from the settlements while smiling....all the way to the bank!
Mike, I see that you also mention the term "bureaucratic red tape" while discussing universal healthcare. Did you ever have to wade through the "bureaucratic red tape" that is entailed with a minor visit to your friendly local hospital? First, it's the billing procedure....not from one entity but from a host of specialists who are involved in the procedure. One then (if one has healthcare insurance) has to fight the battle of coverages, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, billing codes, in vs. out-of-network physicians, pre-authorization restrictions, and other assorted hassles which drain the life-blood out of an already ill patient. Americans deal with more medical procedure red tape than can stomach.
Finally, let's take a look at the dominant control of the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch of our federal government by the majority party (GOP) during of the past decade. George Bush, who's inauguration was primarily paid for by the CEO of a major pharmacy benefits manager (PBM), has done little to ensure that Americans will enjoy a better quality of life. He, and his congressional friends, have attempted to "privatize" almost any and every aspect of modern-day medicine. Mr. Bush even attempted to introduce privatization into our national Social Security program but....cooler heads finally prevailed and that movement has been put on George's "back burner." So, Mr. Burkholder, I end by urging you not to worry too much about whether or not Michael Moore can "ill-afford" more propaganda worry about whether Americans can ill-afford more illness without fear of bankruptcy. The leading cause of bankruptcy in this country? It is now bankruptcy caused by inability to pay for medical bills. Imagine that!
John Curry
Retired Wapakoneta City Schools Educator
Member of Concerned Ohio Retired Educators
Michael Moore can ill-afford more propaganda
By Mike Burkholder
Assistant Managing Editor
Wapakoneta Daily News
June 26, 2007
Film maker Michael Moore unleashed more political rhetoric and GOP bashing disguised as documentary with the release of “Sicko,” a pointed look at the health care system in America. Moore is no stranger to controversy and actually seeks it out as is evident in his previous films. “Bowling for Columbine” was an anti-gun movie linking NRA lobbyists to the Columbine tragedy and “Fahrenheit 9/11” portrayed Bush as inept in the months leading up to the terrorist attacks in 2001.
The latest installment of the Moore propaganda machine examines the difficulties in obtaining and maintaining affordable health care in America — a task no one can argue is easy. However the way Moore goes about it illustrates he is just out of one thing — to make Republicans and the Bush administration look like fools.
Moore gives detailed accounts of patients’ horror stories in coping with paying mounting medical bills. In one segment, Moore interviews a couple living in their daughter’s basement because of soaring bills and a man who must choose between which of his two fingers he wants reattached after he cut them off.
Where Moore strays from a true documentary into a twisted tale of slanted political propaganda is when he travels to other countries to compare health care systems. The film maker compares the U.S. system to those systems in England and France.
Moore goes off the deep end when he is shown bringing sick patients from the 9/11 cleanup crew into Cuba for medical treatment. The segment shows the patients getting free examinations and treatment and paints Cuba as an ideal place to live — tell that to the millions living in poverty under a Communist dictator.
There is no question “Sicko” will get people talking and put the Bush administration’s feet further in the fire — Moore’s apparent M.O. The issue of health care reform is a hot topic in the 2008 race for the White House and is something that needs to be addressed as an aging population continues growing older.
The problem is Moore’s film accomplishes that for all the wrong reasons. No where does Moore depict the problems with universal health care — long waits for treatment and bureaucratic red tape. Moore’s convenient exclusion of the other side discredits his character as a maker of documentary films and further illustrates he is just out to serve is own agenda. Moore should revert to his “Roger and Me” days and make films that tell a story, rather than what amounts to political ads attacking Republicans and the president.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Molly Janczyk: Thank you, Senator Schuler, for your stand on HB 151

From Molly Janczyk, June 26, 2007
Subject:Sen. Robt. Schuler: 7th District: Anti HB151
Thank you! Sen. Schuler for your stand on this issue. To view Sen. Schuler's letter in answer to Nancy Hamant, go to:
Many public retirees, future and current, wonder how divesting in Rolls Royce, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Shell, etc. is allowing STRS to due its fiduciary duty to 'act solely on behalf of membership for its benefit' in accordance with ORC:3307.15.
Those retirees wonder if all the legislators are directing their brokers or are themselves divesting their personal funds from all the 74 companies as well. We wonder if legislators are forcing or making deals with ALL companies in the U.S. Why, pension systems? Those most in need of funding with educators who have lost their retirements due to health care costs.
We worked for modest pay for our communities for promised secure retirements. That is lost. There is no retirement without health care. We were told we had health care second to none. We were discouraged from purchasing other health care and told we would never have to worry about health care. My spouse alone will be over $700 monthly just for premiums and I will be near $200 monthly. We must allow $300 a month for RX's at $20, $75 and $125 each for 90 days. Then comes the dedcutibles and out of pocket coinsurance.
How does this compare to your insurance coverage for public service?
STRS funds are our lifetime personal contributions and earnings on them being invested on our behalf. How are you invested? It is so disheartening to hear some of you say we make too much or retire too early and have it so good.
Ever try planning for and managing 26 different leveled individuals so that each can rise to their potential in every subject maximizing their particular learning style starting from their singular instructional level so they can grow while incorporating them into groups and modeling their behavior involving parents who do not always wish to be bothered with kids going home to stress and frustration and lack of ability to help? Try it! One day with no help. I promise you, no more : 'They have it so easy.'
I will [not] support any company found to have as its goal to support terrorism by directing funds or laundering money for terrorists. I have asked our CIO, Steve Mitchell, if he is aware of ANY of the 74 companies supporting terrorism. His answer is: 'No.' Investing is his business.
I feel these companies exist for employment of citizens of countries around the world providing opportunities to support their families and to make a profit for shareholders. These companies will dislodge innocent citizens merely trying to live their lives with no terrorist loyalties suffering themselves in Iran and Sudan, countries of horrific murder and turmoil.
Thank you.
Molly Janczyk
STRS Retiree
CORE Lifetime
ORTA Lifetime
OEA-R Lifetime
CEA- R Lifetime

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sen. Schuler responds to Nancy Hamant

"The money in a retirement fund should be in control of the retirement board, not the government." -- Senator Robert Schuler


Click on image to enlarge

Jim N. Reed to Rep. Stebelton and Sen. Schaffer re: Recent Legislation Cutting Retired Educators Off At The Knees!

From Jim N. Reed, June 25, 2007
Dear Representative Stebelton and Senator Schaffer
I do not know if you have educators in your families but I would hope you have researched carefully your reaction to the current General Assembly legislation that is misaimed at retirees in five Ohio pension systems.
A bill to make sacrificial patriots out of these retirees is so misguided that it actually should be an embarrassment to a majority of Ohio's lawmakers. As a constituent, I am counting on you to see through this fiasco that is putting the fiduciary responsibility of the STRS Board (as well as the other pension Boards) in jeopardy. ORC 3307.15 is crystal clear, much clearer than the fuzzy vision of legislators who see hundreds of thousands of Ohio's retired public servants as cherry-picking targets for wrong-headed, ill-defined patriotism.

Original HB 151 was so foolishly and hastily written that it was shameful. Companies that employ tens of thousands of Ohioans were black-listed. Cleveland was recruiting Rolls Royce to bring opportunity to an economically depressed area and then rookie members and the Speaker accused RR of being accomplices of the terrorists in Iran. Private investors, including sponsors of the legislation, were not required to divest in their portfolios. No private American investors, including governors, legislators, and presidents, had a legal mandate to force divestiture, only Ohio's retired public servants, many of whom are already caught in a crossfire of rising healthcare costs, stagnant COLA's, corporate greed, and mismanagement within their own retirement systems.
HB 152 sucks the lifeblood from current and retired educators. Once again, it appears private investment vultures are sitting on the side of the road ready to take advantage of the road kill resulting from the slaying of the "defined benefit" policy of STRS. This once-proud, prestigious retirement system has been the victim of scavengers before and cannot afford to be picked clean by ill-conceived legislation while it is laboring through a Renaissance under the leadership of Dr. Dennis Leone and Mr. John Lazares.
It seems that retired public servants are currently under siege within the General Assembly by some legislators who are out-of-touch with the mounting concerns accumulating upon the backs of many who seem to have become political pawns in a contest they did not conjure.
Representative Stebelton and Senator Schaffer, I ask you to consider carefully the damage that this model of legislation can bring to the retirement lives of many of Ohio's loyal public servants. I would also strongly encourage you to divest yourself from this kind of lawmaking.
Jim N. Reed
Concerned Ohio Retired Educator

Molly Janczyk: A resolution to the issue re: e-mails to the governor

From Molly Janczyk, June 25, 2007
Subject: Susie Long:Ass't to Gov.;Wade Rakes:Constituency Dept.;Bill Hartnett:Legis Dept
Susie called to inform me that she forwards issues of concern to:

1. The Constituency Dept. who then tabulates items to be taken to the Governor and
2. Bill Hartnett, Legis. Direc.

*The site was suggested because it goes straight to that Constituency Department who carries out this task. There is a link to contact the Governor on this site. The Dept. receives the email.

The Director of the Constituency Dept. is Wade Rakes:

The Legis. Direc. is: Bill Hartnett:

I explained that it is more convenient to most to write one letter and send it to multiple sources vs. writing separate letters to each. Susie understood this which is why she called. She wanted to know it was fine to send to her to be the link who then sends letters to the 2 appropriate Departments. She is alerting the Bill Hartnett of our use of email.
I then asked Susie for the email addresses for Constituency Dept. Head and for Bill Hartnett. She provided them above and said ALL try hard to make sure the Governor is alerted to concerns and important issues.
I told Susie, I would request that direct letters to the Governor or letters on which the Governor is copied be spread out among the 3 so as not to overburden any one person. (Susie did not request this, I did). Also, she was receiving intercommunications among membership from some and hopes these will be kept more minimal ONLY so the actual concerns are highlighted. I did explain this sometimes occurs simply to inform of responses and reactions and that hopefully, those would be more a sampling than all intercommunications sent. Once an issue has been addressed, we have no need of sending every person's comments. We don't want to be overlooked due to tiresome rehashing and thus, dismissed. Keep things a bit fresh with different letters and varied authors. (Again, my thoughts).
Susie was most gracious, easy to talk with and all these folks can be reached at: 614-466-3555
Thanks to Susie for her refreshing direct contact approach-obviously an open door Administration would promote and invite such interaction. Most appreciated and all we have ever wanted from any group.

Very Sincerely,
Molly Janczyk

Letter to the Editor: Legislators should keep hands off pensions

Columbus Dispatch
Monday, June 25, 2007
If I had chosen to work for anyone other than an Ohio county, my private retirement money (which would be taken out of my paycheck and invested by the company for which I worked) could be invested anywhere.
However, the General Assembly says my private money, which was invested by the Public Employees Retirement System, cannot be invested in Honda, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Ford, Boeing, etc ("Lawmaker's arm-twisting gets Ohio pensions to divest," Dispatch article, June 8).
The money still belongs to me, but our legislators don't seem to understand that and have coerced the retirement systems to take out all of their monies invested in Ford, GE, etc.
As a private citizen, I can invest in these. All residents of Ohio can invest in these. The president of the United States can invest in these. Other investment groups can invest in these. Our governor can invest in these. Even individual members of the Ohio House and Senate can invest in these.
After all, Coke, Ford and GE are on the New York Stock Exchange and open to everyone in America, except those who work for counties in Ohio, as teachers in Ohio, in Ohio police departments and fire departments.
How American is this action taken by the Ohio House? I now wish I had had a choice of investment groups. I would have chosen a fund that the House does not have any influence over.
Of course, the House has no right to tell the pension systems in Ohio how to invest the private monies of the individuals in the investment funds.
But this is probably the first un-American action taken by the House, and it wants to see just how far its influence will go. You may be next!
After all, the $100 you invest in Ford (as, for example, an Ohio citizen) just might be supporting Iran, which allegedly is helping to kill Americans in Iraq. But if the Americans were not in Iraq, Iran could not be so accused.
Honda... and many other Ohio companies have been quickly (wonder why?) removed from the original list that appeared on the ORSC website. Imagine that!! Some of our(?) politicians discovered that they were about to bite the hand that fed them!! Wiser heads finally came to the rescue and Mr. Mandel got a little egg on his face out of this one!! ~ John Curry

Letter to the Editor: Pension funds used as political pawns

Columbus Dispatch
Monday, June 25, 2007
Ohio's public-pension systems caved in to demands by state Reps. Josh Mandel, R-Lyndhurst; Shannon Jones, R-Springboro; and House Speaker Jon A. Husted, R-Kettering, to divest its funds from any companies that do business with Iran or Sudan ("Lawmaker's arm-twisting gets Ohio pensions to divest," Dispatch article, June 8).
Why did the pension fund executives give in so easily? They have a fiduciary responsibility to invest for maximum return for the members. In this global economy, can we afford to tie the hands of private enterprise and reduce its ability to compete?
As a retiree of 10 years, I have lived long enough to see former enemies become powerful allies, i.e. Germany and Japan. Our pensions should not be used as pawns in the ever-changing political climate.
The costs of gasoline, utilities, medical care, etc., are constantly increasing. What are retirees to do when expenses go up and pensions go down because of political interference?
If these representatives want to make a statement, they should do it with their own funds, or is sacrifice required only from those who no longer can work?

Letter to the Editor: Posturing on pension funds purely political

Columbus Dispatch
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Why aren't more of us more worried? Now that they've protected us from the ever-present danger of fondling strippers after hours, our legislators have turned to influencing foreign policy, formerly the realm of the federal government. They're forcing Ohio's five public-employee retirement systems to sell off some $500 million in investments with corporations that have links to Iran and Sudan.
In our global economy, most large American corporations have such links.
This misbegotten idea will cost the five pension systems hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish and deprive them of more hundreds of thousands in investment income. These legislators mistake the adjective public in public employees' retirement systems. Public applies to the employees, not the systems nor the funds. Public employees are nevertheless private citizens, and these funds are not public money, but those citizens' hard-earned savings.
The employers' contribution is the same as private employers pay into their workers' Social Security accounts.
Why not make it fair? Require the same of private-sector pension funds. Then we'd all think, "Gee, if the legislature can do this to enhance their voter appeal, what's next? Nicking our health-care dollars to help pay for their re-election campaigns?"
Do these representatives actually think Iran and Sudan will notice? Of course not.
This is a flag-waving species of political pandering, and pandering is what we've come to expect of them. (Right, strippers?)
What's harder to fathom is why the five pension systems knuckled under before this legalized swindle was even out of committee, instead of letting it run its course through both houses, attracting the kind of publicity, testimony and debate it should have.
They don't have to pander; they've already got our money.

RH Jones to Brian Williams and Lyn Falk re: educational funding vs. cable monopoly

From RH Jones, June 25, 2007
Subject: Re: 06-14 Am. Sub S.B. 117 Seeks to End Cable Monopoly in Ohio
Brian Williams and Lyn Falk,
This legislation is all well & good; but, my opinion is that District 41's voting educators would prefer that you concentrate your major efforts in leading the State of Ohio in crafting legislation to correct the glaring deficiencies in education funding, and fighting to eliminate harmful legislation such as HB 151, 152 & [SB] 161 that, if passed, will have an extremely negative effect on Ohio's public retirement systems. This has a greater priority.
And the elimination of the charter community schools in Ohio is another high priority item needing corrective legislation. Voters expect that this drain on education funding be stopped. Ohio's voters gave a strong mandate in the last state election: Correct the problems with public education funding Pre-K-16. I for one registered voter expect Gov. Strickland (D), Rep. Bob Otterman (D) and you, Rep. Brian Williams (D), to get busy in making the necessary legislative changes in education funding. These issues are certainly more important than choices of TV legislation.
In the last election, education leaders backed politicians who were progressive in their thinking concerning education funding. Some of them are beginning to get upset with Democrats who, as reported by the front page in a USA Today, are in a new spirit of cooperation with the Ohio GOP. My question to you is: How can democrats "cooperate" with the GOP that has such a regressive and radically different idea concerning education funding and our public retirement systems? It is time to be progressive, not regressive. It is time to straighten out the mess left by so many years Ohio GOP control. It is time to act on the voter mandate!
RHJones, Proud member of CORE
From Lyn Falk, June 14, 2007
Subject: 06-14 Am. Sub S.B. 117 Seeks to End Cable Monopoly in Ohio
PRESS RELEASE - SB 117 - Cable Reform Legislation Am.
Sub S.B. 117 Seeks to End Cable Monopoly in Ohio
Press Release Brian G. Williams, State Representative, District 41 (which includes - portions of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls; All of Bath Township, Boston Heights, Boston Township, Copley, Fairlawn, Macedonia, Northfield Center, Northfield Village, Norton, Peninsula, Reminder Ville, Richfield Township, Richfield Village, Sagamore Hills, Twinsburg City and Twinsburg Township)
Contact: Brian G. Williams
or Lyn Falk, 614-644-5085
Ohio House of Representatives
77 S. High Street
Columbus, Ohio, 43216
Sub S.B. 117 Seeks to End Cable Monopoly in Ohio
AKRON/COLUMBUS, OHIO – State Representative Brian G. Williams (D) (Ohio House District 41) today voted for S. B. 117. The controversial bill passed the House Public Utilities Committee unanimously on June 13th, and the today passed the House with a 92-2 vote. Representative Williams said: “I am pleased that the final bill is crafted in a way I can support. The original legislation was a dilemma for me. I want to be the voice of my constituents and still support my schools and local elected officials. That would not have been possible under the original legislation. The new bill promises a win-win result for all!”
In recent weeks, Representative Williams’ voice mail and e-mail accounts had been deluged with constituents demanding a positive vote for the legislation. They are looking for lower cable bills and better access to channel variety. At the same time, local officials and school officials called demanding a negative vote because they feared a loss of public television access channels, and lost municipal franchise income money. All of these things would have been true if the original legislation that passed the Senate had also passed the House. Happily, largely through intense negotiations of the House Democratic Caucus, the new bill should satisfy all parties!
The bill that passed the Ohio House today will allow municipalities to continue to collect the 5% franchise fee, as they have done in the past. Local school districts and municipalities will also benefit from public access channels because cable providers must supply 3 PEG (Public-Education-Government) channels. These PEG channels will be available under the basic tier of service; not just on premium packages.
Constituents called daily complaining about rising cable bills and asking for Rep. Williams' assistance by voting for the pending legislation. Reports indicated that Akron cable rates have risen nearly 40%* since 2000. Canton has seen a rate increase of 41% from 1999-2007. When it is considered that 100 million households have television, and of those 86% have cable or other satellite or video service, cable companies have been raking in the profits!* In states where cable reform has been instituted by the Legislature, the citizens have benefited from competition.
“Another plus of S.B. 117 is that it creates employment through the building of new infrastructures to support the changes. Laborers came to the Statehouse to rally for this bill, and cheered when the bill passed on the House floor! Nearly everyone left chambers feeling positive about this legislation,” Williams reported. ###30###
*Source: Freedom Works-“Assessing the Case for Cable Franchise Reform” by Diane S. Katz.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

‘Sicko’ Is a Jumping-Off Point for Health Care Change

Representative John Conyers Jr., a Democrat from Mr. Moore’s home state of Michigan, played host to the filmmaker at a Congressional hearing this week to build support for his bill to establish a single-payer system. Fabian Núñez, the speaker of the California Assembly, who is negotiating a health care package with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, held a closed-door meeting with Mr. Moore last week and then joined him at a crowded news conference. After attending a screening on Wednesday night, Representative Bobby L. Rush, a Democrat from Chicago, promptly swore off contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.
June 24, 2007
For Filmmakr, ‘Sicko’ Is a Jumping-Off Point for Health Care Change
New York Times
The cameramen shuffled backward through a Capitol Hill corridor, as reporters from Tokyo and Paris strained to capture the campaigner’s every word. An entourage of handlers, with cellphones to their ears, kept the scrum moving toward the door. A van was waiting, its engine running. “Keep moving, people,” one aide barked. “Keep moving. We’ve got to go.”
Barack Obama in the House? Perhaps Fred Thompson?
Try Michael Moore, the guerrilla filmmaker, his plaid shirt untucked in the back, on the latest stop, held Wednesday, in a Barnumesque promotional tour that has taken on the trappings and purpose of a tightly managed political campaign.
As he moved from Sacramento to New York and on to Washington this week, Mr. Moore has not just set out to sell tickets to “Sicko,” his cinematic indictment of the American health care system. He has also pushed his prescription for reform: a single-payer system, with the government as insurer, that would guarantee access to health care for all Americans and put the private insurance industry out of business.
Whether embracing Mr. Moore’s remedy or disdaining it, elected officials and policy experts agreed last week that the film was likely to have broad political impact, perhaps along the lines of “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s jeremiad on global warming. It will, they predicted, crystallize the frustration that is a pre-existing condition for so many health care consumers.
Well before the film’s June 29 national release (it opened Friday on one New York screen), politicians on the left began lining up to associate themselves with Mr. Moore.
Representative John Conyers Jr., a Democrat from Mr. Moore’s home state of Michigan, played host to the filmmaker at a Congressional hearing this week to build support for his bill to establish a single-payer system. Fabian Núñez, the speaker of the California Assembly, who is negotiating a health care package with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, held a closed-door meeting with Mr. Moore last week and then joined him at a crowded news conference. After attending a screening on Wednesday night, Representative Bobby L. Rush, a Democrat from Chicago, promptly swore off contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.
“I think one movie can make a difference; I do believe that,” Mr. Moore said Wednesday, while being driven from the standing-room-only Congressional hearing to a puckishly arranged screening for health care lobbyists. “I’m not doing this to market the film. First of all, I don’t need to market my films. Every time I make a film, it breaks the last record. But I’m doing this because I really want to make a contribution to the national debate on this issue.”
Though few people have actually seen the movie, Harvey Weinstein, one of its executive producers, said it had already set off “a political wildfire.” The film, Mr. Weinstein said, “comes at a time when people are fed up with health care and want reforms — and I believe it will be a catalyst for the type of real change people want.”
Mr. Núñez, a Los Angeles Democrat, said the movie would galvanize support for the reform legislation in the California Legislature. “The conclusion you come to after watching that documentary is that you have a health care system on the verge of collapse,” he said. “It’s either going to fall of its own weight, or people are going to rise up against it.”
The movie’s critics argue that it lacks the credibility to move public opinion in a lasting way, and that it will have no more impact than Mr. Moore’s previous films.
“I think it will be like ‘Bowling for Columbine,’ ” said Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute. “You remember how we all got together afterwards and decided to ban guns.”
Mr. Moore and his producers have hired a team of experienced political operatives to garner publicity for “Sicko” and to respond to anticipated attacks from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. They include Chris Lehane, an aggressive consultant for the Gore and Kerry presidential campaigns, and Ken Sunshine, a prominent New York publicist who once served as chief of staff for David N. Dinkins, the former mayor.
At stops on each coast, in scenes that seem made for a sequel, the Moore camp has surrounded its standard bearer with chanting health care workers uniformed in red scrubs. The strategists used full-page advertisements to invite 900 lobbyists — by name — to the private screening in Washington (only half a dozen showed) and held another screening on Wall Street for health care stock analysts. They orchestrated a march on the headquarters of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in Chicago, and sent Mr. Moore into New Hampshire, the first primary state, to demand pledges of support from presidential candidates.
“It’s being run like a war,” Mr. Moore said. “I mean, we’re in a battle with these corporations who want to maintain their position. They don’t want to give an inch on this, and we’re out to upset the apple cart.”
Mr. Moore agrees that he is merely setting a match to fuel that has been welling for years. Recent polls show that universal access to health coverage is by far the country’s top domestic policy priority, and that nearly half of all Americans say they support the single-payer system extolled by Mr. Moore in “Sicko.”
But the success of Mr. Moore’s previous films guarantees “Sicko” the kind of mass audience rarely associated with health care reform. His last movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” became the top grossing documentary ever, taking in $119.2 million domestically in 2004 (five times as much as Mr. Gore’s movie in 2006). “Sicko” has a $9 million budget, Mr. Weinstein said.
Though speaking against the film carries the risk of generating more buzz for it, the opposition is also campaigning hard. Representatives of insurance and pharmaceutical trade groups are countering Mr. Moore’s praise for socialized health systems in Canada, Cuba, France and Britain. And as details have seeped out from screenings, they have started disputing some of Mr. Moore’s anecdotes about rejected insurance claims and unnecessary deaths.
Staff members of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s leading trade group, handed out news releases at Mr. Moore’s events this week emphasizing the need for “a uniquely American solution” and raising the specter of “long waits for rationed care.”
Free-market policy groups like the Cato Institute have held briefings to rebut Mr. Moore, showing short films that find fault with the Canadian system. Health Care America, a group that is financed in part by pharmaceutical and hospital companies, placed an advertisement in a Capitol Hill newspaper stating: “In America, you wait in line to see a movie. In government-run health care systems, you wait to see a doctor.”
Ken Johnson, a senior vice president for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America, predicted the movie was “going to energize activists, but I don’t think it’s going to change anybody’s party affiliation.” Yet, Mr. Johnson said the industry did not feel it could ignore the movie because doing so would “admit tacitly that some of what he says is true, and that’s not the case. He holds the camera, he gets the last say, and that’s the problem for us.”

Form letter sent out by Speaker Jon Husted

From Molly Janczyk, June 20, 2007
Subject: From Husted: HB 151, HB 152 and SB 161
This is the form letter many are receiving as a result of their concerns over HB151, HB152, HB161 from Rep. Jon Husted; email address below. Please make yourselves heard to Rep. Husted and to YOUR legislators.
Jon Husted to Molly Janczyk and Nancy Hamant, June 20, 2007
Subject: RE: HB 151, HB 152 and SB 161
June 20, 2007
Nancy B. Hamant
Dear Ms. Hamant:
I received your e-mail regarding your concerns with House Bill 151, House Bill 152 and Senate Bill 161. I appreciate you sharing your views on these issues and for your work on behalf of retired teachers and educators in our state.
As you are likely aware, House Bill 152 was introduced by Representative Widener on April 17, and referred to the House Financial Institutions, Real Estate and Securities Committee. This measure would require school boards to establish alternative retirement plans for teachers and school employers.
Additionally, House Bill 151 was scheduled for a vote on the House floor on June 5. However, after meeting with the pension plans, my colleagues and I agreed to give the plans time to deliver a letter in which they state their intent to divest at least 50 percent of their investment portfolio with the intention of divesting 100 percent at a later, unspecified date. On Thursday, June 7, Ohio's five public employee pension systems agreed to adopt policies aimed at dropping shares of companies that do business in Iran and Sudan. The systems said that they would divest themselves of half of these investments by the end of the year and ultimately divest the rest. In this case, I am thankful the pension funds have agreed to voluntarily comply.
Senate Bill 161, sponsored by Senator Jeff Jacobson was introduced on May 3 and referred to the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee. Senate Bill 161 would specify procedures for divesting investments a public authority holds in a company conducting specified types of business in Sudan and to prohibit public authorities from investing in such a company.
Again, thank you for contacting me and sharing your views on these pieces of legislation. Be sure that as we continue to discuss these measures in the Ohio House, I will be mindful of your views. If I can be of further assistance, please contact my office.
Jon A. Husted
Speaker Ohio House of Representatives

Molly Janczyk: Rep. McGregor on Investments

Molly Janczyk to Rep. Jim McGregor, June 20, 2007
Subject: Rep. McGregor on investments
Dear Jim, As always, I appreciate that you take the time to respond to us. I know some agree with you but many of us feel politics should not play a role in our futures. Ford, Coca Cola, Honda, etc. all provide jobs and earnings for many in multiple countries and are not there to promote terrorists in any manner. All countries have folks just wanting to support families while a faction of all countries raise terrorists and supremists-just as dangerous to individuals living their lives. I am not certain which companies are now included and dislodged as the list numbers are different depending on the source. But, I am certain that many are simply providing jobs and trying to make a profit to produce earnings for their investors.
I simply find it difficult to believe the vast majority of these companies , if any at all, are in countries to support terrorists vs. supplying jobs and selling product for the countries' citizens.
Thank you, I always welcome your comments and am happy to share them.
Molly J.

From Representative Jim McGregor
Subject: RE: The Plain Dealer: HB151: Sponsor Mandel calls pension bureaucrats liars
Dear Molly,
It seems to me that our number one goal is to keep our retirement investments safe and profitable. Not too long ago, our investment experts at STRS felt Enron was a great place for them to invest our hard earned dollars (mine are in PERS). Because they received a fair return on our investment dollars, they ignored the rising signs of corruption and gross excess at Enron. They lost our retiree's money. Now the investment experts have placed our money in another corrupt and self-destructive entity. I think a good solution has come out of this. The Retirement systems may reinvest our money in safer investments and do so gradually so as to invest with equal profitability and with much less risk. This voluntary program allows them the flexibility to exit this unwise investment without losing any profit on our dollars.
From Molly Janczyk, June 20, 2007
Subject: The Plain Dealer: HB151: Sponsor Mandel calls pension bureaucrats liars
Where is Mandel's proof of losses overstated? Any of us can state anything without substance to back it.
Deal or no deal?
Openers: The Plain Dealer Politics Blog
Posted by Aaron Marshall June 06, 2007 17:33PM
A controversial bill forcing Ohio pension systems to pull $1.1 billion worth of investments in businesses with ties to Iran and the Sudan was stopped in its tracks Tuesday on the House floor with pension fund managers in an uproar at the mandatory requirements.
Hoping to reach a compromise after several hours of talks, House Speaker Jon Husted offered to pull back the divestment bill -- which was scheduled for a vote Tuesday that never happened -- if the pension systems agreed to a voluntary divestment of the half of those funds (more than $500 million) by the end of 2007.
Husted spokeswoman Karen Tabor said the fund managers have until the end of the day Thursday to send a letter agreeing to the deal.
But it's a slightly different tune from Rep. Josh Mandel, a freshman
Republican state rep from Lyndhurst, who said Wednesday that "there is no formal agreement or compromise" and that he plans to push forward for a
House floor vote next Tuesday. Mandel and other backers of the bill want to pass the legislation because of the ties both countries have to terrorism.
So is there a deal here or not?
"There wasn't an agreement as of yet," said Laura Ecklar, spokeswoman for the State Teachers Retirement System, one of the five state employee retirement systems affected by the bill. "The speaker made a proposal and we've asked for 48 hours to respond and are mulling it over and creating a response back."
The brouhaha began when state nsion fund managers and some public retirees railed against the bill, saying it would cost pension funds big bucks -- one estimate said almost $250 million a year. Mandel said he "fundamentally rejects" the idea that it will cost pension funds anything to divest and said that divestment in Missouri actually brought gains of
3.9 percent. And the Iraq war vet opened fire on pension fund "bureaucrats," who he said overstated how much they would lose.
"It's been eye opening seeing how the pension systems act," said Mandel. "I've learned that many of the pension system bureaucrats are dishonest and don't communicate with retirees and retiree associations in good faith."
The bill originally targeted all investments in businesses with ties to Iran, but was scaled back to just energy companies in Iran and broadened to include Sudan as Mandel sought to widen support among lawmakers in his caucus getting cold feet.
So how much support did the bill have among House Republicans Tuesday?
"That was in flux all day long," Tabor

Molly Janczyk to Governor Strickland re: The high cost of healthcare for STRS retirees

Molly Janczyk to Gov. Strickland and Susie Long, June 20, 2007
Subject: To the Governor: Governor Emails
Dear Governor and Dear Susie, (Ass't to the Governor):
Yes, there are meant for the Governor to see. That is why they are included to show what we are receiving and our reaction for the Governor to have a complete picture with a few samplings.
We are a reactive group to what has happened to us. Our retirements have been robbed due to retirees having to save STRS health care. I retired at no cost for HC, and $31 for spousal coverage because STRS did not plan long term or seek HC legislation decades ago for a steady stream of revenue to HC funding for us. Now we pay $681 just for spousal coverage and close to $200 for ourselves. In 2008, that spousal coverage will top $700 and RX's will be $75 EACH and $125 EACH for name brand and off formulary 90 day supplies which includes drugs many need for specific conditions. Generics are $20 and most use these as much as possible. Generics are not always available nor as effective for some due to chemical make up variances such as filler substances, etc.
We went from very low deductibles to $500 each for Plus Plans which many need due to health conditions, 0% copays to 20% copays. Being on set pensions with only 3% COLA's based on our first year of retirements which never increase helping with inflation or rising HC costs, to these untenable and catastrophic increases has caused many to sell homes, stop meds and treatments, or stop HC coverage. Some actually owe STRS each month due to HC costing more than their pensions.
All the issues that affect our pension systems affect dollars important to us for survival. We, CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators, current and future), elected Dennis Leone and John Lazares to the STRS Board who uncovered the spending abuses at STRS. Leone researched and attempted to speak with STRS for months before they would hear him. We stood strong behind him and his findings resulting in : -reductions of spending at STRS -we subsidized childcare for STRS employees until demanding it cost neutral which began reducing our subsidy and now it is cost neutral] -eliminated subsidizing the fitness center and cafeteria for STRS staff -drastic reductions in travel (Leone policy) -Ethics Policy (Lazares Ethics Policy) to not do business with vendors guilty of ethics violations -respon. for OEC recommending Ethics Violations and subsequent convictions of all the offending former Exec Direc and 6 STRS Board Members -SB133 which has Leone language and Molly Janczyk wording included to disallow any offending board member from ever returning to STRS Board. -demanding no signing of large vendor contracts without documents being viewed first which was formally practice -respon. for removal of former Exec Direc Dyer and ALL 6 of the former offending STRS Board Members.
There is much more. We accomplished more in one year than many do in a decade told to us by a legislator. We did so because we refused to go away and produced a public grassroots movement not to be denied evoking media reports and multitudes of letters, emails, calls to our legislators.
We want to involve Gov Strickland. Even Taft received our emails. I am sorry this inconveniences you. But, yes, these are not just polite letters to let the Gov. know our position but a total picture to let him know how we feel on issues and the responses we receive lacking any personal contact or knowledge of how devastated we are in matters concerning STRS.
Issues are very upfront just now and we need support. Your constituents are letting you know what is going on in a first hand manner. Hear us. See our efforts. Let us know how you intend to help us on this important life survival issues to us.
I will circulate this and copy Gov. Strickland. I hope we can fiind a balance which accommodates us all but please understand when we include you, it is to inform you of our positions and is the same as writing the Governor on these matters. My personal email lists includes: legislators, media, retiree groups for most every county of the state with very few exceptions, superintendents, active and retired educators in many school districts throughout the state, STRS and Staff, OEC, ORSC, OEA, ORTA, OFT, OSU, CORE officers, County and District Reps, CORE Trustees, OCHER, Alumni Sorority and Retiree Grps., a personal blog by a retiree who chooses what she wishes to blog and is read by journalists both in state and out of state including the Wall St. Journal, legislators, Educator grps, retirees and actives.
We are a factor to be considered and are considered a lobby group. We only wish to provide the oversight and action needed for our lives and stepped up to that position when others representing us did not. We work together with OEA, ORTA, OEA-R, OFT, etc. on common goals important to educators. We do not always take the same track but we are working fervently for HC Advocate Legislation because without it, there will be no HC for educators and attracting and retaining the finest educators will be lost as they leave or go to other more lucrative positions.
We gave our lives to contribute to the youth of Ohio for low wages but secure retirements with HC. We need Ohio to give back to those who only wanted to help young people realize their goals and become contributing members of our society.
Most respectfully,
A firm believer in Gov. Strickland,
Molly Janczyk
STRS Retiree
CORE Activist
OEA Lifetime
ORTA Lifetime
OEA-R Lifetime
CEA Lifetime
From Susie Long, June 20, 2007
Subject: RE: Governor Emails
I understand that and that is fine, but I am getting e-mails from people that are not inquiries to the Governor, but a discussion among your group of e-mail addressees about the legislative form letters that your group is receiving from the Legislature - they are not letters to the Governor. Thanks for your consideration.
Susie Long
Executive Assistant to Governor Ted Strickland
(614) 466-3555
From Molly Janczyk, June 20, 2007
Subject: Governor Emails
Susie, I called yesterday and was SPECIFICALLY told if we want the Governor to see our positions on legislation matters, to direct them to you. is not an email address.
The returns and I was told it is because he cannot attend to his emails and so his box gets too full.
Retirees wish for the Governor to hear us on important legislation affecting us so drastically. This is his concern as he has veto power on some of these bills, doesn't he? Plus, does he not want to know how those of us who voted for him are impacted by legislative decisions?
In a quandary and disappointed,
Molly Janczyk
From Susie Long, June 20, 2007
Subject: RE: Boyer/Husted communications
Molly: Could you please direct e-mails that you wish Governor Strickland to receive to: My state e-mail account is receiving numerous e-mails that I believe does not pertain to the Governor's office and it seems someone has added my e-mail to a group address account within your organization. They appear to be communications between members regarding legislative form letters. Thanks for your consideration to this request.
Susie Long
Executive Assistant to Governor Ted Strickland
(614) 466-3555
From Molly Janczyk, June 20, 2007
Subject: FW: Boyer/Husted communications
The response was the same form letter forwarded earlier.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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