Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dennis Leone on 'Spin City': Nearly all policy changes of past 4 years needed because of OEA and ORTA's look-the-other-way culture

From Dennis Leone, April 12, 2008
Subject: RE: Spin City...another name for Columbus, OH?
Yes, and given all that happened between 1995 and 2003 under the leadership of the Dyer, the Fab 5, and Endry, it is astonishing to read that OEA -- under the so-called Plan B -- wants a board that “focuses on strategic governance matters rather than operational issues” and “observes a clear separation of board and CEO roles,” yet OEA (and in particular, Leibensperger and Frost-Brooks) have publicly resisted all of the recent motions I made which were designed to do precisely those things.
I guess OEA and ORTA still would prefer the executive director to have the unilateral power to “adopt all further policies” instead of being responsible for operations and administrative regs. I guess OEA and ORTA would prefer for the executive director to have the unilateral power to give rehired retirees at STRS all of their accumulated sick leave from their previous school district, even if they were paid for those days upon retirement. I guess OEA and ORTA would prefer the executive director to have the unilateral power to adopt his own policies pertaining to severance checks for laid off employees and the payment of private/personal legal fees of STRS employees. I guess OEA and ORTA would prefer the board to vote on big ticket contract issues without so much as having a summary of proposals before voting
In fact, nearly ALL of the 25-30 policy changes that have occurred in the past 4 years were needed because of a look-the-other-way culture that OEA and ORTA were part of. OEA is an embarrassment to active teachers. ORTA is an embarrassment to retirees. Some things never change.
Dennis Leone

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FLASHBACK -- ONE YEAR AGO TODAY...does anybody in ORTA have any backbone?

From John Curry, April 12, 2008
I think we now know that answer, don't we? John
One year ago.....
Kathie Bracy to Tom Beck, April 12, 2007
Subject: To Franklin County RTA president Tom Beck re: Membership
Dear Tom,
That was a good meeting we had yesterday, and I want to commend you for your efforts as president of FCRTA. However, there are some issues that need to be addressed. I was just looking at the FCRTA website ( at a page where you set forth your theme for your term of office as president of FCRTA -- "Make a Difference -- signing up at least one new member." It's a very noble theme, but to be honest, I'm having trouble coming up with reasons to hang onto my own membership, let alone encourage others to sign up.
The problem I have is with the leadership of ORTA. They are totally unresponsive to the membership -- at least to the members I know who would like to hear from them. Many letters have been written to ORTA officers and board members about various topics pertaining to STRS; yet nobody gets replies! This is the second time I've written to you -- you don't reply, either, because I've yet to get a response to my first letter, written one month ago today.
I think if ORTA leaders were receiving a lot of mail commending their leadership, people would be hearing back from them regularly. It takes a lot of backbone to respond to messages that are critical of the way things are being done, and in the last few years, I haven't been able to think of much for which to commend ORTA.
I am a proud member of CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators), the only retiree group that is aggressively working to bring about reform at STRS since Dennis Leone's investigative report of May 16, 2003 exposed many examples of blatant mismanagement and misspending of retiree funds. At the time, we looked to ORTA for leadership in initiating reform, but none was forthcoming and still hasn't. No wonder -- one of ORTA's own, former ORTA president Joe Endry, was one of the former STRS Board miscreants who were later convicted of ethics charges. Maybe it's easier to blame us for exposing him (along with the others) than it is for ORTA to take its lumps and move forward. I'm surprised Joe Endry has the nerve to show his face at FCRTA meetings. I might be more inclined to make an effort to bring a new member if I didn't think his would be one of the faces they would see there. Is ORTA still proud of him or what? I don't get it.
Retired STRS Board member Dennis Leone has done more than any other individual to initiate reform at STRS and to continue introducing reform initiatives at Board meetings. While he has received many distinguished honors for his efforts, ORTA has YET to recognize him for this. When he submitted his March 2007 STRS Report for publication in the ORTA Quarterly, ORTA's publications director, Tom Seamon, refused to publish it supposedly because Dr. Leone had shared it with some retirees and RTAs that had asked him to speak. When he asked Mr. Seamon why it was rejected, he never even received a response! If ORTA has a policy against publishing material that was already distributed, they never made that clear beforehand. There was a lot of information in that report that was much too important to wait a month or two to put out. Now ORTA is doing real harm to thousands of retirees who will probably never get that information any other way. Is this what ORTA wants? Is this real leadership? Is this the kind of organization I am supposed to encourage my friends to join?
To continue, when Dr. Leone asked ORTA president Don Bright if the rejection decision could be reconsidered, he never received a response from him, either! He also told Mr. Bright that he or Ann Hanning could have shown him a little respect by calling him in regard to the matter, but did they extend such a courtesy to him? No, of course not -- they are ORTA "leaders!" They have never contacted him about ANYTHING during his first 20 months on the STRS Board -- and he is representing RETIREES!! Helloooooo? ORTA -- is anybody out there??
When Dr. Leone asked Ann Hanning (in writing) if he could write another column to substitute for the first one which was rejected, AGAIN he never received a response. If this isn't proof that ORTA never wanted to publish his report in the first place, I don't know what is.
Does ANYBODY in ORTA have any backbone? ORTA doesn't respond to its own membership!! And they expect US to go out and get NEW members for their dying organization? ORTA needs to take a good look in the mirror and do some real soul searching to figure out WHY membership is declining. And they need to start with those who are the most critical, because those are the one who will best articulate the problems ORTA currently refuses to face. Leadership? What a joke! Get us to bring in new members? I don't think so.
Kathie Bracy
FCRTA and ORTA life member (but not proud of it!)

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Molly and Dave on 'Spin City'

From Molly Janczyk, April 12, 2008
Subject: FW: : Spin City...another name for Columbus, OH?
OEA and ORTA want what they had in my opinion: No upsetting anyone and heads in sand -- let OEA do as it wishes and let's all smile about it and raise no points no matter what it looks like is going on. Smile, pats, pretense. Just no disagreement like happens in the real world. Live in a pretend one where we reward the likes of Jack Chapman, Dyer, Scott, Billirakis, Norris, Endry (just agree to everything) Sidaway and then praise them when they commit unethical violations but NEVER, NEVER admit fault! (My opinion).
From Molly Janczyk, April 11, 2008
Subject: RE: Spin City...another name for Columbus, OH?
It is a joke! It is surreal that blatant BS is accepted by so many clones who cannot think for themselves and form independent decisions. Well, soon enough, there will be one more to deliver a tea time majority vote with smiles and back pats just like the former Fab 5 and side kick Endry to form a voting majority once again. You can thank ORTA for helping bring that result. They can all go back to sitting in a calm, restrained room with no individual thinking just follow the mandate, make no waves, don't stomp feet, there is a way to do things: ORTA's mantra. OEA's dream! YEAH! We saw how effective that was cleaning up the old board and its leader: - 0 -
From Dave Parshall, April 11, 2008
Subject: FW: Spin City...another name for Columbus, OH?
What a joke. Actives really eat this up, I suppose, like sheep going over the cliff. Everything on their list is BS and can be summed up as “A rubber stamp board”. The future is always made up of many todays. If you don't take care of today there can be no future. Dave P

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Another viewpoint on OEA's list of STRS Board 'attributes'

By Kathie Bracy, April 12, 2008
Board A
• Obsessed with trivial concerns: Insists on policies that clearly address ALL matters, large and small.
• Short-term focus: Alert to constant efforts by some to ignore policies already in place or efforts by those who attempt to fix defective wording in existing policies; those who would move on without fixing what's "broke." Ignore it, in other words, for reasons known only to them.
• Reactive stance: .....only to those who attempt to use steamroller and/or rubber-stamp tactics to bypass the spirit and/or the letter and the law of the Ohio Revised Code, Section 3307.15.
• Reviews, rehashes staff work: well they darned well better -- until we have every reason to believe everything they do is on the up-and-up. As it was stressed in the 2008 retreat, IT'S THE BOARD'S JOB TO KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON.
• Driven by single agendas: ONE SINGLE agenda: to follow the letter and the spirit and the law of the Ohio Revised Code, Scection 3307.15, a concept which certain Board members never bring up.
• Consistent split vote: Yes, over and over and over. Brains/background/experience vs. mindless, spineless, gutless, OEA-directed sheep.
• Grandstanding How else to wake up those who are asleep? Maybe somebody needs to blow whistles, crash cymbals, blast sirens, ring bells, pound away on a steam calliope, beat drums and set off fireworks to get their attention.
• Plays to the audience: Necessary because the "audience" (CORE) "gets it" while certain Board members' ears are deaf and eyes glazed over since their minds are totally incapable of recognizing brains and leadership and true reform.
• Violates confidence: No examples cited. Obviously made up.
• Individual directives: No examples cited. Again, made up.
• No chain of command: What does THIS mean? What are the Board chair and vice-chair there for?
• "Fix it" mentality Far better than the "ignore it" mentality any day!
• Focused on day-to-day operations: .....until we get an executive director we can TRUST to handle the day-to-day operations properly; not one who considers as a normal day-to-day operation the actions of surreptitiously slipping credit cards to certain Board members without the knowledge and consent of the full Board and the approval of the STRS membership.
Board B
• Governs lawfully: Yes, I'd like that. Will never happen, however, till certain Board members wake up or are replaced with intelligent, independent-thinking individuals, which isn't likely any time in the foreseeable future (YES!! -- a SURE VICTORY for the OEA leaders!!).
• Primary emphasis on results for members: Hey, we had that five years ago, with DISASTROUS results for members. Current Board headed for same thing with the OEA-directed members aboard. Same ole', same ole'.
• Encourages full exploration of diverse viewpoints: I'd like to see this Board in agreement in more instances -- but ONLY when they can adhere to the spirit, the letter and the law of ORC 3307.15.
• Focus on strategic governance matters rather than operational issues: Hey, we ALL want THAT!! But straighten out any operational issues first, if they are wrong. Start with a competent executive director whose integrity and honesty are beyond reproach so we don't HAVE to worry about operational stuff.
• Observes clear separation of board and CEO roles: Excellent idea!! As long as it doesn't mean "Allow the executive director and his staff to do anything they please while the Board looks the other way!" Deja vu!! (Meaning "been there, done that.")
• Makes all decisions by formal vote of the board: They already do this. They're always voting, in case anybody hasn't noticed.
• Governs with long-term vision: ......which is exactly what the more intelligent and insightful members of the Board have been trying all along to do, even though they are constantly stonewalled by those with lesser intellectual and visionary capabilities, whose words and actions speak but one mantra -- the OEA mantra -- the very mentality that plunged our retirement to its lowest depths ever, and which would be FAR LOWER were it not for the brains and the perseverance of Board members such as Dennis Leone and John Lazares.

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