Saturday, November 08, 2008

Shirlee Zerkel: More questions for Sandy Knoesel

From Shirlee Zerkel, November 8, 2008
Subject: More disk loss questions
Dear Ms. Knoesel:
I did receive the letter from Medical Mutual on Saturday, Nov. 8th. It explains the process for the credit checks.
Considering your email, the letter from Medical Mutual and other information on the topic I have some more questions.
1. Medical Mutual's website states such "disks were routinely mailed monthly."
You state in your email: "In previous months, these disks were hand delivered to STRS by a Medical Mutual staff member."
What is the real and true answer? Both can not be true!
2. If what you stated is true, why did the delivery method change change for that group of disks?
3. In the OFT's newsletter of Oct. 24, 2008, it is stated that if the disks are not found by Monday, the 27th, SERS and STRS will alert members. Oct. 27 was over 2 weeks ago and STRS has never alerted any retirees who were involved. WHY NOT?
We had to personally find out by calling Medical Mutual ourselves. We could not have even, done that, if we had not seen some of the articles such as the one OFT sent out.
4.Today, 16 days after the loss of the disks, I received a letter from Medical Mutual. As I reread your email to me, you state that we will be able to sign up free for identify theft protection.
Medical Mutual's letter says: "we have arranged for you to enroll, at no cost, in an online credit monitoring service provided by TransUnion." This service is not a protection service; it only monitors and reports unusual activity to the individual after the fraud against us has already been committed. This service is for one year. Things can happen to a person's loss of ID for a much longer period of time than that! The letter does go on to state that there will be up to $25,000 with no deductible, but this has limitations and exclusions. No other details are given about how the supposed protection is utilized. $25,000 could be a drop in the bucket for how much we could loose both financially and emotionally.
My question to you is: What happens to us if someone commits ID fraud against us after the one year monitoring service is finished?
5. I also have another concern. The letter from Medical Mutual recommended that we regularly review charges to our bank and credit cards. Is there some reason for us to be concerned that our bank account numbers may also have been lost on the disks? I know that STRS does have our bank account numbers for direct deposit of our pension checks! Do those numbers stay within STRS? Or are they for some reason on these disks?
Still waiting for relief from this stress caused by someone else,
Shirlee Zerkel

John Curry to Mike Nehf: Tens of thousands of STRS retirees would like to know if their pensions are guaranteed

From John Curry, November 7, 2008
Subject: Mr. Nehf - please respond this time
Mr. Neff,

The letter below was sent to you on 10/31/08 but, as of today, this letter was not addressed by you. I am asking you the same questions that she asked below...myself and tens of thousands of STRS retirees would also like to read your answer that, as of yet, has not been tendered. The answer to these questions is of utmost importance to all of us and I feel that we are owed the courtesy of an explanation.

Thank you,

John Curry

A CORE member

From Kathie Bracy, October 31, 2008
Subject: Pension fund guarantee?

Dear Mr. Nehf,

According to the SERS website (, SERS retirees have a guaranteed pension: "A SERS pension is guaranteed by Ohio law (section 3309.661 of the Revised Code) and cannot be reduced due to investment losses."
In checking STRS Ohio's website, I can find nothing about a guarantee for STRS retirees' pensions, just reassurances such as:
"Times like these are a good time to remind our members that STRS Ohio pension benefits are safe and secure."
"Every month, we have thousands of retirees who can count on receiving a pension check from STRS Ohio — regardless of market fluctuations."
Assurances are nice, but do we have an actual guarantee that our pensions are safe in the same manner as SERS pensions? What can you tell me about this?

Thank you.

Kathie Bracy

Shirlee Zerkel to Tim Myers: About those lost disks.....

From Shirlee Zerkel, November 8, 2008
Subject: About the lost disks
Mr. Myers,
I have some real concerns about these lost disks that Medical Mutual was sending to STRS. OFT sent out the information in a newsletter to their members and stated that SERS and STRS would get in touch with the retirees who were affected. Where was OEA? I never heard anything from them!
I never heard from STRS either, yet several other Lima area people and my information is among the lost? You are a respresentative of both groups. What happened that we who were the victims were not told by our own organizations?
Also facts do not add up! Laura E. of STRS tells us that in the past runners bring the infomation from MM to STRS and MM claims that they have usually used the US mail in the past. Who is telling the truth? Someone isn't!
Also why weren't the disks encrypted so it would be much harder to get the information from the disks if they were lost or stolen? Too much time has passed between the loss and when we were notified. I received my letter today from Medical Mutual and others received theirs yesterday, yet STRS reported them missing Oct.23.
Thanks for your consideration of my questions,
Shirlee Zerkel

Med Mutual: Hey, we'll protect you, but only up to $25,000

Guess you're stuck if it's higher.....
From Shirlee Zerkel, November 8, 2008
Subject: Got my Medical Mutual letter

Hi, Received my letter today about the lost disks. Some quotes: "You are receiving this letter because your name and/or your dependent's name, your Social Security number and recent claim costs were included on one of the disks. The disk did not include any mention of medical conditions or treatments."
"We are aggressively investigating and will do everything we can to find the disks. In the meantime, we have arranged for you to enroll at no cost, in an online credit monitoring service provided by TransUnion, one of the three major credit reporting agencies. This service will provide you with one year of unlimited access to your credit reports and credit scores. The service includes daily monitoring by all three credit agencies, which will notify you if there are any critical changes to your credit files, including fraudulent activity, new inquires, new accounts, new public records, late payments, change of address and more. The service also includes up to $25,000 in identify theft protection with $0 deductible. (Certain limitations and exclusions may apply" "In addition, we recommend you regularly review charges to your bank and credit card accounts and alert these companies if you see any unusual transactions."
Kent W. Clapp

Chairman, CEO and President

Isn't it interesting that they will only cover up to $25,000 in costs and, yes, there are certain limitations and exclusions to even that amount. What if their mistake cost one or many of us each 2, 3, 4 times that much money. We should not have to suffer financially at all or emotionally. It is their doing. Why put the disks in the mail anyway, especially with no safeguards on them? I am very angry about this as I have always been so careful about my personal information. I understand what all this can entail because my one sister had her id taken and used, even to start new utility accounts, to withdraw money she had left in a home equity loan, etc.

We have to go out-of-state to see an editorial that asks the real question...if they only knew we lost 25 Billion they'd have the "rest of the story!"

From John Curry, November 8, 2008
The Intelligencer - Wheeling News-Register (West Virginia)

"When private financial institutions paid out lavish salaries, bonuses and pensions to executives who ran their companies into the ground, many people were furious. That was in part because Congress approved a massive bailout bill to use our tax dollars to repair the damage.

Why has similar outrage not been heard over the Ohio government pension programs?"

The Intelligencer
POSTED: November 8, 2008

During the first six months of this year, state pension programs for Ohio teachers and other government employees lost about $13 billion in investment assets. At the same time, top executives at the programs received more than $7 million in "performance" bonuses.

When private financial institutions paid out lavish salaries, bonuses and pensions to executives who ran their companies into the ground, many people were furious. That was in part because Congress approved a massive bailout bill to use our tax dollars to repair the damage.

Why has similar outrage not been heard over the Ohio government pension programs?

Officials point out that losses could have been much worse than the $6.9 billion at the State Teachers Retirement System and the $6.2 billion at the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System. They add that big salaries need to be paid to attract the best investment managers.

The pay is good at the top of the ladder. According to the Associated Press, the highest paid STRS official is Assistant Director of Investments Mary Ellen Grant.

She received a $259,200 bonus on top of her $270,000 salary.

Perhaps the managers did do a good job of controlling losses - at a time when some investment programs were suffering far worse. But state legislators should look into the retirement programs, perhaps comparing them with others in both the public and private sectors.

If the managers indeed are earning their fat paychecks, fine. But the public deserves to know if it is getting its money's worth from them.

Express Scripts and a website for more info on identity theft

From John Curry, November 8, 2008

Scripts Receives Extortion Threat

By Ed Silverman
November 6th, 2008

The big pharmacy benefits manager says it received a letter in early October from an unknown person or persons trying to extort money by threatening to expose millions of patients’ records. The letter included personal data - including dates of birth, social security numbers, and in some cases, their prescription info - for 75 of its members, who were notified, along with the FBI.

“We have been conducting a thorough investigation since we received this threat and we are taking it very seriously,” George Paz, Express Scripts’ ceo and chairman, in a statement. “We are cooperating with the FBI and are committed to doing what we can to protect our members’ personal information and to track down the person or persons responsible for this criminal act…a threat like this against our members is outrageous.”

The PBM insists it uses a variety of security systems designed to protect members’ personal info from unauthorized access. “However, as security experts know, no data system is completely invulnerable,” Paz continues. “We continue to conduct our investigation. We are notifying our members and clients to enable them to take steps to protect themselves from possible identity theft.”

Express Scripts launched a website for members to obtain information about this security incident and to access resources and information to help them protect themselves against the possibility of identity theft.

Apples to apples - If STRS Investment associates worked for Colorado PERA retirement system

From John Curry, November 7, 2008

(Click image to enlarge)
It is interesting when one steps out of Ohio, like is sometimes told STRS retirees when bonuses are compared between Ohio STRS associates and Wall Street investors. In this trip out-of-state let us visit the state of Colorado and its public employee retirement system; PERA (Colorado Public Employees' Retirement system) and it's 30% "cap" on investment associates' bonuses. Let us take to top 10 STRS bonus recipients and place them in the employ of the Colorado PERA... just for the sake of comparison, you know...apples to apples:

(Click image to enlarge)

The scanned page contained in this email (page 3-22) comes from the Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association Performance Audit 2005. A link to this page and study is found here:$FILE/PERAAdminExpensePerfAug2005.pdf
This is a 37 page Adobe download.

John Curry

Friday, November 07, 2008

Good thing we have the newspapers and Med Mutual's willingness to communicate -- you're sure not getting it from you-know-where!

From Lloyd Knudsen, November 7, 2008

Subject: Lost Medical Mutual Disks

Hi All!

Just a quick followup note on the missing Medical Mutual disks sent to STRS. Our Akron Beacon Journal reported on October 26 that the disks were lost in the US mail.

Today, November 7, I received a letter dated November 5 from Medical Mutual. The first paragraph of the letter reads as follows. "You might have read in the newspaper that Medical Mutual has reason to believe that a recent mailing of computer disks to the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio (STRS Ohio) might have been lost or compromised within the US postal system. This mailing contained the personal information of some of STRS Ohio's health plan enrollees. You are receiving this letter because your name and/or your dependent's name, your Social Security number and recent claim costs were included on one of the disks. The disk did not include any mention of medical conditions or treatments."

The letter goes on to say Medical Mutual is investigating the problem. Obviously they have NOT YET found the missing disks.

Because our personal information may be compromised Medical Mutual is offering each STRS affected member a free, one-year subscription to a credit monitoring/reporting agency called TransUnion. Medical Mutual is giving STRS members a gift certificate code to enroll with online. The TransUnion Web site is: The offer is good until January 30, 2009.

Just thought you would want to know the latest on this. To my knowledge STRS has neither commented on nor publicized this problem to their members.

Hope to see many of you on the 13th when we meet with Mr. Nehf.

Lloyd Knudsen

Just piled higher and deeper!

From an STRS benefits recipient, November 7, 2008
Subject: Re: FW: [News] Message to STRS Ohio Members From Retirement Board Chair Mary Ann Quilter Cervantes
More BS from STRS. Make us happy and do the right thing. No bonus in 2008.
[Well, maybe 2009, since they've already been paid in 2008.]

Terri Bierdeman: Sharp gal, class act

From John Curry, November 7, 2008

Subject: I don't always heap praise upon those in leadership at Ohio STRS but.....
This time I surely will make an one who deserves it...Terri Bierdeman. This is an excellent presentation by an STRS associate who is really attuned to the pulse of Ohio retirees' feelings about the GPO/WEP! To access Terri's comments, unfortunately, you will have to download this 273 page Adobe Acrobat document AND go to the LAST 5 PAGES! It is worth it unless you have a telephone modem. Terri, you are one associate in the hierarchy of STRS that most certainly doesn't get under my skin!

Here is the link: Thank you,

John Curry
A proud CORE member

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hey, Medical Mutual -- where are those disks?

Retiree to John Curry, November 6, 2008
Subject: Re: Medical Mutual lost disks...are they still lost?
I just got off the phone with Med. Mutual, speaking with Debbie. I called them back since no one (big surprise!!) returned my call.
I called the same number I called yesterday where the woman was unable to give me any info. Today, when I called that same number, she said that the woman I spoke with yesterday should have been able to tell me if my name was on the list.
Of course, I am on the list, and am going to be receiving a letter in the mail with a code, and that letter will tell me what to do next.
I told her that I felt I shouldn't be the one having to do anything since I wasn't the one who lost the data. Her response- oh, I'm sure you won't have to do much.
Since the letters are going out today,(hmm??) I don't suppose I will receive it until Tuesday or Wednesday.
Will let you know as soon as I do and its contents.

Might want to tell others to call the number and insist they be told if they are on the list of affected individuals.

It was the 1-800-854-8139.

an STRS benefits recipient

From John Curry, November 5, 2008
Medical Mutual policy holders....have you called the "hotline" to check on the status of your personal information? I can find no other recent news re. this problem. Here is the hotline info:

Medical Mutual has a customer protection plan that will kick in if the disks are not found. "We are ready to provide credit monitoring services, free credit reports and a hotline to answer our customers' questions and help with resolving potential fraud," Chaney said.
Ohio retirement system members can call the customer service number on the back of their Medical Mutual identification cards for information. That number is 1-800-854-8139.
Medical Mutual spokesman Ed Byers said the insurer planned to staff the customer service hotline from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday to handle calls about the information loss.

Medical Mutual computer disks on Ohioans missing, probably delayed in mail
Company thinks they're in mail
Friday, October 24, 2008
Mary Vanac
Plain Dealer Reporter
Eleven computer disks containing personal information for more than 36,000 Ohio retirees and employees are missing, probably somewhere in the U.S. postal system.
Cleveland-based medical insurer Medical Mutual of Ohio reported the missing disks early Thursday afternoon, stressing that none of the information appears to have fallen into the wrong hands.
"We believe the disks are somewhere in the postal system, and we are doing everything in our power to help locate the missing disks," Jared Chaney, chief communications officer for Medical Mutual, said in a written statement.
Criminals can use personal information to commit financial and identity fraud. Medical Mutual declined to give details about the types of member information contained on the lost disks.
Medical Mutual said it was notified by four retiree groups - the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund and Ohio State Highway Patrol Retirement System - that disks routinely mailed between the insurer's Columbus office and the retirement systems, also located in Columbus, didn't arrive this month.
Medical Mutual uses information on the disks to reconcile medical insurance claims by retirees in the systems and by active employees of the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio, the insurer said in its statement.
Medical Mutual has not provided insurance to retirees of the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund since December, said David Graham, spokesman for the fund. The disks contained information about open insurance claims, so their loss probably would have less effect on retired police and firefighters than they could have on retirees in the other systems, Graham said.
The U.S. Postal Service is investigating the potential loss, Medical Mutual said. "Our investigation, so far, indicates that insufficient postage was placed on the envelopes [containing the disks]; therefore we believe they are likely to still be safe within the postal system," Chaney said.
Medical Mutual has a customer protection plan that will kick in if the disks are not found. "We are ready to provide credit monitoring services, free credit reports and a hotline to answer our customers' questions and help with resolving potential fraud," Chaney said.
Ohio retirement system members can call the customer service number on the back of their Medical Mutual identification cards for information. That number is 1-800-854-8139.
Medical Mutual spokesman Ed Byers said the insurer planned to staff the customer service hotline from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday to handle calls about the information loss.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5302

STRS: A little damage control here; at least they're reviewing the PBI program; maybe they'll make some changes - what do you think?

From Mary Ann Cervantes, November 6, 2008
Subject: [News] Message to STRS Ohio Members From Retirement Board Chair Mary Ann Quilter Cervantes

As the chair of your Retirement Board, I would like to take this opportunity to write to you about the Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) Program for STRS Ohio Investment staff. On behalf of the board, I want to thank all those members who have written to us either in support of this program or with concerns or questions. This input is very valuable to us.

In managing our investments, STRS Ohio has three basic choices. We can hire outside investment managers, we can do much of the investing "in-house," or we can purchase only passive investments, which require minimal staff. Though we use all three methods for portions of our investments, 80% of our assets are managed by internal staff, including almost all real estate investments.

Because of the success that our internal Investment staff has had over the last 30 years, both in times of market upswings and declines, the Retirement Board has chosen to keep the bulk of its investment activity managed by its own staff. To attract and maintain this staff, we have to pay competitive salaries. The compensation program for Investment staff came about through careful study by the Retirement Board with recommendations from our outside investment consultant and a specialist in investment compensation and incentive programs. This program includes incentives for eligible Investment associates who outperform the benchmark. With this program in place, the net value added over the benchmark was $215 million for fiscal year 2008.

The Retirement Board is aware of the interest this topic has generated among some members. We are currently reviewing the PBI program and plan to continue this discussion at the November board meeting. We will use our Web site, e-mail news service and newsletters to convey the results of this discussion.

I want to take this opportunity to again thank our members for sharing their thoughts with us on this important issue. I am confident that with your support and input, and under the leadership of our new Executive Director Michael Nehf, STRS Ohio will continue to manage its responsibilities to its members with care and diligence.

Mary Ann Quilter Cervantes
Chair, State Teachers Retirement Board

Shirlee Zerkel: Two weeks, and still waiting.....

From Shirlee Zerkel, November 6, 2008

Subject: I am among the lost!

Just what are STRS, Medical Mutual and the US Postal Service doing to find the lost disks? Why can't I find out what information is on those disks that would mean I might need a credit check?

I talked to Medical Mutual this morning and received very vague answers. The lady told me I would be receiving a letter. NO one else appears to be concerned simply because it is not their important information that is missing!

These disks were lost going from one office in Columbus to another office in Columbus. Laura says they most likely are somewhere in the postal system. Well, let's find them then. Can't the postal service check the route of such material?

For example, here in Lima if mail is sent to another address in Lima on Mondays through Fridays, it stays in the Lima Post office and is then delivered the following day. If mailed Friday evening through Sunday, it goes to Dayton and the Lima mail is returned to Lima for delivery on Monday.

Also there should be some checks to safeguard that info by Medical Mutual. They should have records of how many were actually mailed. Since the two offices are in the same city, why were they not delivered by Medical Mutual runners and that way STRS could sign for the disks and our infornation would be more secure?

Over two weeks and waiting,
Shirlee Zerkel

Mr. Lambert...a comment from Dr. Leone re: your recent blog posting

From John Curry, November 6, 2008
Mr. Lambert....I call to your attention to your recent posting of an entry into your blog which is posted below and a comment re. your posting from STRS Ohio Board member, Dennis Leone.
John Curry
A Concerned Ohio Retired Educators member (CORE)
An STRS benefits recipient
From Dennis Leone, November 5, 2008
Who wrote this? It is not accurate. STRS investment staffers WERE paid handsome bonuses for positive stock market returns in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007…….when STRS made money. We are talking about years when STRS LOSES money. We lost big bucks in fiscal year 2008 and we are currently losing even more in the first 4 months of fiscal year 2009. It is an insult to the STRS membership when 87 people are given bonus checks averaging $65,000 (on top of $100,000 - $200,000 base salaries) when we lost money. We are not talking about the past. We are talking about the future. STRS assets have dropped $25 billion in the past 12 months, which is 31.25% of everything STRS has. Bonus checks shouldn’t even be in the picture right now.
Please share with Hilliard. I voted NO on the bonus compensation due to the information summarized above.
Dennis Leone
STRS Retiree Board Member
Friday, October 24, 2008
In her blog, retired Ohio teacher Kathy Bracy has published a string of posts in which she and others are outraged that the State Teacher's Retirement Fund has lost a pile of money in the stock market and other investments of late. In their latest blog, they're crying for the suspension of bonus payments to STRS executives "during this time of economic upheaval."
First of all, one would presume that the bonus packages paid to these managers would be based on how they performed over some period of time, meaning you wouldn't pay them any bonus unless the investment portfolio had grown in value by the target amount. So my first assumption is that these bonuses are set to be paid because the STRS portfolio generated very good returns their last fiscal year. Presumably the STRS members have been happy to pay bonuses to these folks in the past, and would have been happy to pay out these bonuses as well had the stock market not tanked.
So now the STRS members want to reach back a year and take money away from managers they hired to generate those results. The justification is that this year is going to suck, and a lot of money has been lost, so therefore the managers should sacrifice bonuses they have already earned…
… in order to pay to the retired teachers benefits they feel they have already earned. Seems duplicitous doesn't it?
Americans have been feeling pretty cocky about their stock market skills. After all, they've seen their portfolios climb steadily over the past 30 years since the development of the 401(k), albeit with a couple of bumps along the way. Little did they understand that they weren't riding the investment market to higher levels of value, they were just driving the prices up by chasing investments with all that 401(k) money. The saying goes: "All boats rise with the tide."
Retirement fund managers were caught in a trap. Even if they were smart enough to know a dangerous bubble was developing, they had to go along for the ride because their members expected to share in the extraordinary opportunity, even if they didn't understand why it was happening.
Now the bubble has burst, they've taken a huge paper loss, and they want to hold someone accountable. The first victims in their crosshairs are their own fund managers, the same ones who apparently made them so much money in the past that the STRS members granted them these lucrative bonus programs.
The STRS members face a serious situation: a big loss in the value of their portfolio jeopardizes the ability to fund the pension benefits of both the current retirees and those who have yet to retire. But they have an interesting backstop – state law. Section 3307.28 of the Ohio Revised Code gives STRS the power to increase the contribution required by the employers (ie the School Board) as necessary (up to 14%) to prevent funding shortfalls. So when the STRS portfolio takes a hit, the burden can be transferred back to the taxpayers to make up the difference.
What happens if the hit is really large, as is happening now? We can be pretty sure that the teachers' union – spearheaded by the Ohio Education Association – would lobby our legislators aggressively to get this 14% limit raised. They have a strong voice, as OEA is a large contributor to the campaigns of state politicians.
Where is a school district supposed to come up with this additional money? That's easy: ORC 3307.30 says we have to raise our taxes with another levy. What if the levy doesn't pass? Got that covered too – ORC 3307.31 says the State will just withhold it from their normal state funding payments to the district.
I wish my 401(k) had that kind of backing. How about you?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

John Bos to Tim Myers: How respected organizations handle bonus issues

From John Bos, November 5, 2008
Subject:'s a guy who turned down his bonus!
This article [link below] might enlighten you on how other well respected organizations handle bonus issues.
It would be very appropriate if the STRS Associates read this article. How about sending it to Laura (Everything Is Wonderful) Ecklar so that it can be properly distributed.
FYI, I am not going away. I have just gotten started. THERE'S an idea!

"There should be a moratorium on bonuses,'' Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told reporters last week. "If nobody gave them, there wouldn't be a competitive aspect.''

In Zurich, protesters blocked UBS AG's private-banking branch on Paradeplatz last week to seek curbs on executive pay after Switzerland's largest bank was forced to ask for government aid.

$145 Billion

"I'm just flabbergasted that the financial community has failed to show any sense of leadership on this issue and doesn't seem to understand how angry people are at them,'' said Nell Minow, editor of Corporate Library, a Portland, Maine-based corporate-governance research firm. "They are just a bonus away from having the villagers come after them with torches."

Two CORE meetings this month, November 13 and 20; details below

From CORE, November 5, 2008
CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) will hold its November meeting on Thursday, the 20th at the STRS Building at 275 East Broad Street in Columbus. Parking is free in the STRS parking garage behind the building. We encourage you to also attend the STRS meeting which usually begins around 9:00 a.m. on Thursday in the meeting room on the 6th floor but this beginning time varies from month to month. For this reason, we encourage you to check the STRS website ( to confirm the time. CORE meeting attendees usually leave the STRS meeting around 11:30 in order to go to the cafeteria on the 2nd floor to get our lunches. We then take our lunches to the small cafeteria room behind the Sublett Room on the 2nd floor of the STRS building where the CORE Annual Membership Meeting will begin promptly at 11:45.
In response to suggestions from our supporters, CORE is calling for input for agenda items for this November 20th meeting. Please send the agenda item(s) you would like discussed to John Curry ( He will forward all suggestions to CORE President, Dave Parshall. In order to have an agenda in place and printed for the meeting, please send your item no later than Tuesday, November 18th. Agenda items which are sent after November 18th will be held over to the December CORE meeting.
Thanks to input from members who attended CORE meetings this summer or who sent suggestions by email, we will be distributing a new CORE pamphlet which can be used to promote CORE membership. Members may pay their CORE membership dues now for the 2008-2009 year ($10.00) and/or make a CORE donation. So please plan to come, actively participate, and take home a new supply of CORE pamphlets to share with your Retired Teacher Association and others. We need each and every member. . . your ideas, your concerns, and your help. BRING A FRIEND OR TWO! We are always encouraging new members to join us.
Please remember the extra meeting this month with Michael Nehf, Executive Director of STRS. CORE President, Dave Parshall, has invited Mr. Nehf to meet with CORE membership on Thursday, November 13th at 1:30 in our usual CORE meeting room, the small room off of the cafeteria on the second floor at the STRS building. Mr. Nehf has been attending many RTA meetings around the state in order to meet STRS members, and he has accepted the CORE invitation to do the same for our group. There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of his presentation.
Map/directions to STRS, 275 E. Broad St. Columbus, OH 43215

How it used to be: Dennis Leone's 5/16/03 memo to Herb Dyer and the 'old' STRS Board; is their legacy returning today?

.....and does that big teachers union still lurk behind the scenes? What do you think?
American Association of University Professors
May 16, 2003
MEMO TO: All STRS Board Members
Herb Dyer, STRS Executive Director
FROM: Dennis Leone, Superintendent, Chillicothe City Schools
SUBJECT: STRS Organizational Matters and Spending Practices
Over the past three months, I have studied information supplied to me by STRS staff in an attempt to better understand issues that have received considerable news media attention recently. It also has been my desire to learn the truth about numerous STRS financial issues that have been on the minds of many STRS active members, retired members, and employers. I have reached the following conclusions:
1. Membership Issues: According to the STRS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year 2002, STRS has 424,171 total individual members. This includes 178,557 active members, 105,300 retired members, 15,730 re-employed retirees, 106,746 inactive members (eligible for refunds only), and 17,838 terminated members (eligible to receive a benefit at some point in the future). There also are 944 employers that send their portion of retirement contributions to STRS. The bulk of these (899) are school boards that represent public school districts, county ESCs, vocational schools, MRDD boards, and community schools - all of which have contributed 14% of every employee's annual salary to STRS since January of 1984.
CONCLUSION: The make-up of the current 9-member STRS Board really is not representative of its membership. Only one member of the Board represents retirees and no one represents the 944 employers that make the very existence of STRS possible. It would seem that the Ohio School Boards Association should either have a seat on the STRS Board or some official role in the STRS decision-making process. The 944 employers send more dollars to STRS than all active members combined, and therefore they need to have direct involvement and a voice in how the millions they send in are spent. Retirees, likewise, are under-represented and feel taken for granted.
2. Declining Assets: To set the record straight, STRS assets peaked on August 31, 2000 at $58.7 billion. Assets dropped significantly over the next 2 years - hitting a low of $41.6 billion on September 30, 2002 - before rebounding slightly six months later to $42.4 billion on March 30, 2003. The net $16.3 billion drop in assets between 8-31-00 and 3-30-03 represents a loss in assets for STRS over the 2-year period. Enron stock started declining continuously in the summer of 2001, prior to the September 11 tragedy. Unfortunately, nationally recognized external investment consultants utilized by STRS - some of which had been quite helpful is assisting STRS, benefit from the stock market in the past - provided bad advice in this instance. Before STRS finally ceased buying Enron shares in late November of 2001, $66 million was lost. The Columbus Dispatch reported on April 18, 2003, that STRS "underperformed" most pension funds nationally in 2002 in the area of investments. The report, based on a national study conducted by Milliman USA, stated that the median loss in investment revenue for public employee retirement systems nationally in 2002 was 8%. The loss at STRS, however, was 11.6%. CONCLUSION: Mr. Stephan Mitchell has served STRS for the past 30 years, the last 20 of which have been as Deputy Executive Director in charge of investments. It has been published that STRS employs twice as many investment specialists as PERS (even though PERS has greater assets). Mr. Mitchell also has acknowledged that STRS has the largest investment staff of any teacher retirement system in the nation. While the investment returns at STRS have not been good over the past 3 years, and while some argue that STRS should have had a "stop loss" provision in place to prevent the huge losses experienced in the Enron fiasco, STRS investments were quite successful prior to 2000. Mr. Mitchell has had a good track record at STRS and retired members have benefited greatly from the productive investments by his department. Due to the collapse of Enron and other corporations, STRS needs to reassess its policies and practices for investing the membership's money to help ensure that investments are better protected. Even if stock market advice received is normally reliable, it seems there needs to be greater consideration for the use of "stop loss" orders to trigger an investment pull-out at a certain point after the stock has declined (to protect prior gains and/or minimize continued losses).
3. Staffing and Administrative Expenses: According to the STRS Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, administrative expenses climbed at STRS 17.4% per year during the 6-year period between 1996 and 2002. (Administrative expenses include such things as salaries and benefits of STRS employees, legal services, travel, supplies, printing, computer services, etc.) The Columbus Dispatch reported on November 3, 2002 that in the specific area of salaries, STRS costs went up 26% in one year alone between 2000 and 2001. During the same one year time period, the Dispatch reported that total administrative expenses at STRS went up 25%. During the 6-year period between 1996 and 2002 - according to data supplied by STRS staff - the number of people employed at STRS rose from 414 to 725, an increase of 12.5% per year. In a letter dated February 28,2003 from STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer to the Ohio Retirement Study Council, Mr. Dyer wrote that 137 new employees were added in 2001 alone, and 69 of those were in administration.
CONCLUSION: While it is true that a number of new employees were needed to staff the new STRS headquarters in the areas of security, information technology, and various membership services, it is hard to accept these types of increases at a time when the total assets at STRS have plummeted a staggering 28% ($16.3 billion). When the school boards that send dollars to STRS experience declining assets on the home front, they do things like freezing salaries, cutting supplies, laying off employees, and even closing schools. In a nutshell, they reduce expenses by instituting cost-cutting measures. The STRS Board and administration have not satisfactorily demonstrated that they have reduced costs in their "house." While the administration is to be commended for reducing the total number of STRS employees in recent months to 707 (after peaking at 735 in February of 2003), much more needs to be done. To begin with, there needs to be a shift in what the STRS Board considers as priorities. The Board currently is not in touch with the managerial principles and fiscal realities from which their members and employers must operate under in order to survive. The STRS Board and administration are living a professional lifestyle that is completely foreign to their own membership. They need to emulate their membership. They need to set an example, and show they understand how it important it is to do so. This situation must change.
4. Costs Associated With New STRS Headquarters: A STRS summary of construction costs for the new and renovated building that opened in September of 2001 shows that a total of $94.2 million was spent. Included in this very nice facility is a fitness center for STRS employees that the staff estimates cost $426,000, and a child care center for STRS employees that the staff estimates cost $818,000. Also included in the cost for the new building was $869.235 for sculptures, artwork, and polished stones. One sculpture cost $378,500, another cost $168,125, another cost $112,500 and yet another cost $100,000.
CONCLUSION: The membership of STRS is NOT sending in a portion of their annual salaries to enable the Board and the administration to spend an incredible $869,235 on sculptures, artwork and polished stones. The new STRS building is not a museum, is it? It is outrageous that these purchases were allowed to occur. There is simply no acceptable answer for it. The need for the new STRS building to have a costly fitness center and a child care center is a subject for debate. What is not a subject of debate is that there are substantial annual STRS operating costs associated with the child care center. When Board members have been asked about the child care center at regional meetings, some have implied that the operating costs for the child care center are covered by the fees that are charged to the users in the STRS building. While it is true that fees are charged, they only covered 46.6% of the total child care center operating costs in 2002 - according to data supplied by STRS staff. The other 53.4% of the operating costs associated with operating the child care center in 2002 - according to data supplied by STRS staff- is picked up by STRS. And how much did this cost in 2002? The STRS Board offered up $487,560 to operate the child care center. STRS members and their employers do NOT pay their required retirement contributions so the STRS Board can annually pick up 53.4 % of the operating costs of a child care center for STRS staff members. If Latch Key programs operated by school districts do not pay for themselves through fees, then they're discontinued. The $869,235 that was spent by the STRS Board on sculptures, artwork, and polished stones, and the $487,560 that was spent by the STRS Board in 2002 to operate a child care center were simply wrong. Both represent a managerial and fiscal embarrassment. The STRS Board seems to forget that their members are in a period of financial decline.
5. The 13th Check: For 21 consecutive years starting in 1981 and ending in 2001, STRS awarded a 13th check to retired members. This check was not based on prior retirement contributions of retired members or their former employers. It was based on positive STRS investment earnings each year - earnings that occurred from the utilization of the prior contributions of retired members and the current contributions of active members. According to data supplied by both STRS and the Ohio Retirement Study Council in Columbus, the total amount awarded during this 21-year period was $711 million. If one adds the lost investment income to that amount, the total price tag for the 13th check was $1.4 billion. On December 11, 1996, a Joint House/Senate Legislative Committee of the Ohio General Assembly released its 8-month study of Ohio's public retirement plans. Included in this committee's final report was a proposal from the Ohio Retirement Study Council. It recommended that the 13th check to retired STRS members be disbanded. Despite this recommendation, the STRS Board continued to hand out the 13th check for 5 more years at a total cost of $233 million. (And this total does not include another $52 million that was lost in interest earnings during the same 5-year time period.)
CONCLUSION: While retired members deserved the 13th check as a way to help deal with inflation, some now feel that all of those dollars really should have been put into the STRS health insurance fund or in a rainy day fund. According to NEA, no other state has done anything close to what Ohio has done with its 13th check. Only four other states provide bonus checks to retirees, and all of those do so intermittently and/or only with specific legislative approval on an annual basis. It deserves noting that immediately after STRS received the recommendation in December of 1996 to disband the 13th check, literally thousands of teachers and retirees wrote to legislators and STRS Board members to voice their opposition to the proposed disbandment. In fact, OEA urged its members to write letters at that time. While the 13th check seemed like the right thing to do at the time, whether it should ever have started is now being questioned. Had STRS honored the recommendation it received in 1996 regarding this fund, the projected deficit for the STRS health insurance fund for 2004 would not be there. In fairness to STRS, what the Board did in 1996 is what some school boards and collegiate trustee boards do - they respond to the vocal and written pressure of their constituents.
6. Cash Reimbursements for Unused Sick Leave and Vacation: Existing Board policies permit STRS employees to receive reimbursement on an annual basis for up to 9 days of unused sick leave and 9 days of unused vacation time. Employees must have a balance of at least 20 sick leave days and 5 vacation days to qualify. In 2002, according to data supplied by STRS staff, the STRS Board paid out $701,948 in sick leave reimbursements and $342,980 in vacation leave reimbursements. Collectively, this employee benefit cost the STRS budget $1,044,928.
CONCLUSIONS: How many school districts provide all full-time employees an annual cash reimbursement for unused sick leave and unused vacation leave? It would be one thing to provide such a benefit to a select few, but to provide it to all full-time employees is inconsistent with the practices of the overwhelming majority of STRS members that are employers. It is common for school districts to provide a sick leave severance check to employees when they retire. It also is common for school districts to award a small cash amount of a few hundred dollars to employees who have perfect attendance. What STRS does is not common. These two policies need to be dropped, except for perhaps a few individuals. It deserves noting that until 2002, the STRS Board paid 100% of the family health insurance premiums of employees. Last year was the first time in STRS history that employees had to pay a portion of the Board's total premium cost. The number of STRS employer members that pay 100% of their employees' family health insurance premiums is, indeed, very rare.
7. Annual Bonus Checks to STRS Employees: There are 3 major types of bonus checks that STRS administrators and investment personnel are eligible to receive on an annual basis on top of their base salary and base salary raise. Investment employees are eligible to receive two major bonus checks annually, while non-investment administrators are eligible to receive one major bonus check per year. According to data published in the STRS 2002 Staffing, Compensation, and Benefits Review, the following summarizes the total number of full-time STRS employees who received these bonus checks over just the 2000-2001-2002 three-year period:
Year /Employees Receiving Bonus /Total STRS Cost
2000 290 $3,534,002
2001 345 $6,168,175
2002 395 $5,752,233
3- Yr. Totals 343 avg. per yr. $12,274,410
In 2002, according to data supplied by STRS staff, there were 82 STRS employees with total salaries (base salary plus bonus checks) in excess of $100,000. Thirty-three (33) STRS employees received total salaries in 2002 that were larger than the current 2003 salaries of the- governor and the chief justice of the State Supreme Court. In other words, 33 STRS employees earned in excess of $155,000 in 2002. Fifteen (15) of these cleared $200,000. The following represents the distribution of bonus checks that STRS employees received in 2002:
Total Bonus Amount /Number of Emplovees Receiving
$10,000 - $19,999 55
$20,000 - $29,999 17
$30,000 - $39,999 14
$40,000 - $49,999 7
$50,000 - $59,999 2
$60,000 - $69,999 7
$70,000 - $79,999 7
$80,000 - $89,999 1
$90,000 - $99,999 3
$100,000 - $109,999 1
$110,000 - $119,999 5
$120,000 - $129,999 1
Total Receiving Bonuses Over $10,000: 118
In 2001, there was one investment employee who received single bonus checks of $110,000 and $68,880 on top of her base salary of $164,000. This brought her total STRS salary in 2001 to $342,880. And according to Mr. Dyer's February 28, 2003 letter to the Ohio Retirement Study Council, all investment personnel also received a 3.2% base raise in 2001.
CONCLUSION: It is almost incomprehensible that during a three- year time period when STRS total assets declined a huge 28% ($16.3 billion), the STRS Board spent $12.2 million on bonus checks for employees. The dollar amounts associated with the bonus checks are mind-blowing. For the 944 employers that send STRS employee contributions each month, the bonuses represent fantasyland finances. Who could have guessed that one STRS employee received single bonus checks in 2001 of $110,000 and $68,880 on top of her $164,000 base salary? Who would have thought that 34 STRS employees would receive bonus check totals in excess of $40,000 in 2002?
STRS Board members and administrators defend the bonus checks awarded for several reasons. First, they say, the money used for the bonuses for the investment personnel comes from a pool of dollars that was received when investment earnings were positive in years past. They say that since investment revenue has declined, money will not be available for these bonuses for very long in the future. We shall see. Secondly, and most importantly, they state firmly that the bonuses for investment personnel have been based on the employee's ability to achieve both an individual investment benchmark and a total fund investment benchmark. Under this standard, an investment employee still could receive a bonus check even if STRS assets decline, as long as the performance of the stock he/she is managing doesn't decline as much. A third reason STRS Board members and administrators defend the bonuses is they risk losing valuable employees to the private sector (where they can receive the bonuses and higher salaries). While this concern could very well be valid, it is not fair or reasonable to expect the STRS membership to accept it given the realities of the financial problems facing everyone else.
In 2002, 65 STRS administrators received bonus checks. Since they had nothing to do with the investment earnings, why did they receive the bonuses at all, given the overall decline in STRS assets? All of them received a base salary increase. While maybe there is some logic in providing a few top STRS employees some type of small bonus for exemplary work, it defies logic for bonuses to be awarded to 395 employees in 2002...and big bonuses at that. There are a lot of excellent school treasurers in Ohio who invested money very well for their school districts in the 1990's. Did any of them get big bonuses for bringing interest earnings into their school district? If any did, it was a rare circumstance and it likely was a very small bonus. Properly investing the school district's money is part of the treasurer's job. That is why they receive a base salary. The large number of bonuses STRS gives its administrators must stop immediately. Bonus checks for so many investment personnel must stop as well. It they must be given, they should go to a select few, and they should more realistically reflect the realities facing the 944 employers and the thousands of individuals who are members of STRS. On November 13, 2002, according to the STRS 2002 Staffing, Compensation and Benefits Review, a company called Buck Consultants recommended that STRS do a better job of "establishing a clear link between individual performance and overall organizational success." The consultants analyzed recent STRS practices for bonuses, and wrote:
"The absence of a direct linkage among organization-wide performance and absolute performance (versus indexed) and incentive payouts is inconsistent with best practices." To an outsider, the above would seem to mean that if STRS is failing to show profits with its investments, employees shouldn't be receiving bonus checks. Ultimately and unfortunately, it will be the STRS Board who determines what constitutes organizational success, not the membership. Is there any wonder how a membership survey would turn out if the STRS Board took the time to ask their membership what they feel about these issues?
8. Travel-Related Exnenses for STRS Board Members: According to data supplied by STRS staff, $177,009 is expected to be spent in 2003 on travel-related expenses for Board member/administrator development, training, professional seminars, and conferences, and for investment transactions, plus real estate transactions. In the three previous years, the total amounts spent were $186,116 (2000), $174,167 (2001), and $170,001 (2002). On May 31,1995, the Cleveland Plain Dealer called into question the fact that Board members were turning in bills for trips to places like Hawaii and Palm Springs, for lodging at the nation's top hotels, for dining at expensive restaurants, and for beach bar bills. The article said that one Board member named Jack Chapman, who is a current Board member, spent $36,736 the previous year all by himself. According to the article, a planned trip by STRS Board members to China two years earlier was cancelled after the State Attorney General Office complained that such a trip would create an image of "junketeering." In recent years, while no STRS Board member has spend money like the Plain Dealer claims Jack Chapman did in 1994, Board members still spend a great deal of membership money on out-of-state travel expenses. The total travel-related expenses and the number of trips requiring airfare over the past 3 years are shown for each Board member below:
Total Expenses Paid /Number of Trips in 2000.2001. & 2002 Requiring Airfare
Hazel Sidaway $54,216.60 25
Jack Chapman $49,647.11 34
Eugene Norris $47,148.00 21
Deborah Scott $39,916.30 16
Gloria Gaylord $32,941.87 14
JoeEndry $11,727.43 7 (2 yrs.)
Rick Moore $10,437.95 10
Michael Billirakis $ 9,923.28 7
Paul Shreve $ 8,174.91 4 (2 yrs.)
CONCLUSION: While there certainly are valid reasons for Board members and administrators to attend professional seminars and be properly trained, and while the STRS membership wants to be effectively represented at real estate/investment transactions, was it really necessary for Board members to spend so much money for so many out-of-state trips over the past 3 years? The STRS Board and administration say yes. The STRS membership says no. One would think that after the Plain Dealer wrote the article in 1995 about STRS Board member expenses for out-of-state trips, and after a 28% decline in assets ($16.3 billion) since August of 2000, maybe - just maybe - expensive trips to places like Hawaii would cease. Not so. Board members Eugene Norris, Deborah Scott, and Hazel Sidaway spent thousands of dollars to go to Honolulu in 2000. Board members Jack Chapman and Gloria Gaylord spent thousands of dollars to go to Kiawah Island off the coast of South Carolina in 2001. Chapman liked it so much that he went back in 2002. Board members Michael Billirakis and Joe Endry spent thousands of dollars to go to Anchorage, Alaska in 2002. Perhaps, in the minds of Board members, the dollar amounts spent and the out-of-state trips taken are not excessive or exorbitant. The STRS Board just simply doesn't understand that if the boards representing the 944 employers that are members of STRS took trips like these at a time when their organization was experiencing financial difficulties and/or declining assets, they'd be run out of town. The public wouldn't stand for it. The "public" that represents STRS is the membership - 178,557 active members, 105,300 retired members, 15,730 rehired retirees, and 944 employers.
Recommendations: The $100,000 sculpture sitting outside the STRS Board room on the 6th floor is entitled "Integrity." The inscription under the sculpture reads:
"Integrity. .. ..guiding all that we do at STRS Ohio, from retirement Board actions to counseling members and investing money. This sculpture symbolizes integrity through the bronze figure representing members, intertwined with the stainless steel figure providing the security so highly valued by members and benefit recipients alike. The spiraling shape captures the boundless energy and strength that characterizes the system's mission and vision."
1. If the STRS Board truly believes it has the "integrity" to "provide security so highly valued by members," then NOW is the time for the Board members and the administration to have a new priority, a new focus, and a new philosophy regarding their past spending practices. No one is blaming STRS for the downturn in the nation's economy or for the national health care crisis. But when your assets have declined by a huge 28% ($16.3 billion) over just 2 years - and you tell your membership at the same time that there's no longer enough money to pay for health insurance or an inflationary increase (the 13th check) - you need to fully understand that:
The Board cannot spend $869,235 for sculptures, artwork, and polished stones in a new/renovated $94.2 million building. The Board cannot increase administrative expenses 25%, increase administrative salaries 26%, and hire 69 new administrators in the same year. The Board cannot give STRS employees annual cash reimbursements totaling $1,044,928 for portions of unused sick leave and unused vacation leave.
The Board cannot spend $487,560 per year to provide child care services for STRS employees in a center that the Board spent $818,000 to construct. The Board cannot give 395 employees gigantic bonus checks every year (34 of them over $40,000 in 2002 alone) totaling $12.2 million over 3 years. The Board cannot give out bonus checks, period, except to very select few, and only if STRS assets exceed the asset high that was achieved in August of 2000. What the Board has done in the immediate past is tell the retired membership that it didn't have funds for a 13th check, but then came up with the funds for its own internal 13th check - the one that's a huge bonus increase for 395 employees. The Board cannot take trips so many trips in a single year, go to places like Honolulu, Anchorage, and Kiawah Island, or allow single Board members to have 10-15 airfares and travel-related expenses totaling anything close to $36,767 in one year.
2. It is recommended that dollars currently set aside for future employees bonuses be put into the STRS health insurance fund.
3. It is recommended that you seek legislation to change the make-up of the STRS Board in such a way that there is increased representation from retired members and new representation from the 944 employers.
4. It is recommended that you layoff employees, cut costs internally, and initiate steps to reduce total administrative expenses to their pre-August of 2000 level - which is when the total assets at STRS started to decline.
5. It is recommended that you receive serious in-service training (at a Columbus location) from managerial experts who can help you better relate to the financial conditions currently facing your individual members and employer members, how your membership is dealing with said conditions, and how STRS can help them.
6. It is recommended that you survey your entire membership - as corporations do with their stockholders - specifically to see how they feel about the seven bullet points on pages 11 and 12 of this memorandum. You might be surprised at the answer.

Nora and Dick Cooper: Question about the 14% payment

From Molly Janczyk, November 5, 2008
Subject: RE: Question
STRS pays the employer portion of contributions for its OPERS staff. State workers are under OPERS. STRS staff pays its contributions into OPERS.
From Nora and Dick Cooper, November 5, 2008
Subject: Question
Nora and I have a question we hope you can answer. Did you mean in your recent email that the STRS Board has to pay OPERS 14% of these bonuses into the individual employees retirement account.. What then do the employees pay into OPERS for their retirement?
We just want to make sure we understand this Ok, I did not really know that these STRS employees were a part of the OPERS retirement system. Who else would have bonuses under the OPERS system that would require l4% payment for their employees?
Thanks for you help!
Nora and Dick Cooper

Molly Janczyk to Mike Nehf re: November 13 meeting

From Molly Janczyk, November 5, 2008
Subject: Mr. Nehf, CORE Officers and Trustees: CORE Meeting: 11/13: Agenda Items: ***CORE ALERT - Nov. 5, 2008***
Mr. Nehf:
I received this as the CORE Meeting format. See bottom: I thought it would be a roundtable discussion as held with Damon Asbury. While there was an agenda, it was used for open discussion by all expressing thoughts, concerns and ideas. I personally am not interested in hearing a presentation as I have read your thoughts on topics at issue. If most of the meeting is as described, I would be disappointed and would like to hold another meeting for discussion only by any present.
Please advise your intent of presentation. If it is to be a brief opening and followed by open discussion of topics of concern, I am most interested. I am only interested in open ideas being welcomed by you with real consideration vs. automatic staid responses. Of course, some of that is no doubt, in order. But, has the day come YET when STRS will HEAR its shareholders and both consider and approach topics with creative thinking beyond ways already tried.
We offer many avenues for small considerations for retirees who have been destroyed in their retirements struggling to pay costs far too overwhelming to absorb.
I sent you some suggestions asking you to consider some small ways to meet retirees needs a bit more. Much would be gained in trust. Little would be lost to STRS.
1. Create a Needy Retiree Charity Fund: Staff can contribute personal dollars, bonus or merit raise dollars, etc. to this fund set up as a charity. Retirees are a proud lot and the majority will not ask. But, others in their family or acquaintance could name them and their status checked by STRS.
A statement could be put on the bottom of statements asking if a staff member would like to contribute $1 per check with a higher amount for administrators to check: $5 or $10.
Candidates for receipt must fill requirements, of course.
Office memos could name a needy retiree of the month. Money could be used to buy store gift cards or sent directly to their home.
2. Consider sliding scale out of pocket costs for retirees with career teachers paying less and those retiring early paying more unless disabled. Encourage longer careers with educators paying into longer and taking out till older. This would include premiums, out of pockets costs and RX coverage vs. just premiums.
3. Early retirement is more work forces is a minimum of 20 yrs. yet STRS rewards 15 yrs. WHY? If a person only has to work 15 yrs, they can afford more and have addit'l income on which to rely. Disability does not apply to any of this and is a separate category.
Many come to teaching or leave teaching accumulating less than early retirement and have other sources for health care and pensions. Any who have left teaching and do not plan to return SHOULD HAVE to take monies out of STRS. If one is gone for 5 yrs or 10 yrs or whatever is determined, working another career with pensions, should have to withdraw funds and have NO say in STRS workings and elections. Funds can be withdrawn and held by individuals should they return one day to earn early retirement at 20yrs or full at an increasing age beginning 5 yrs out.
4. Increase retirement age incrementally beginning 6 yrs out as further incentive to work longer and withdraw pensions later.
5. 35 year rule: change this rule to be more incremental as 88% is indecent for a mere 5 more years. Make it attractive but not opulent. This same result can be achieved by raising retirement ages without such a huge payout.
WE ARE IN CRISIS MODE! Unions will not like it. Your union minded and dictated Board will hate it. WE did not like saving health care for future retirees with overwhelming burdens creating unbearable personal crisis.
6. % of pension should guide ability to pay for health care. Those making whopping pensions should pay more so those who make so much less can pay a bit less. It is fair.
7. Bonuses: There is much room for discussion regarding this. Corporate minded entitlement is past in order to survive. Bonuses and fair market (public pension fair market) compensation is needed. There is room for discussion and compromise.
8. STRS Board meetings: Public Speak:
45 min. for members to ask questions and receive answers from Board members. Real give and take for resolutions. Consider real attempts to offer suggestions. Invite talented retirees to sit at meetings to offer perspective if qualified.
I have attended so many meetings since 2003. I only have energy left for those which work towards REAL change, REAL compromise, REAL direction by dynamic leaders who can ignite members and lead with direction towards achieveable goals inviting and listening to creative ways to bring about a better way. Open discussion mapping paths to resolve problems for retirees.
I welcome your response as to the tenor and intent for this meeting. Is it to roll up sleeves and attack issues with hope of input or the same old administrative rhetoric talking at us saying what we have heard a zillion times over.
Thank you for your response. I do not speak for anyone but myself as an independent retiree of STRS. I am CORE-minded but have not always shared all beliefs with some individuals. I am not worried about following rules and words written making going from A to Z more difficult at times. I am only concerned for retirees and what I feel and hear they say through me.
I am direct and only wonder how fast change can be affected without the endless red tape. I go from A straight to Z with planning.
Topic Discuss with all who wish thru letters, email, calls, meetings for those who can attend. Make a Plan that all can live with Implement Evaluate with staff, Board members, shareholders.
Sincerely, Molly J.
If this is too much for this meetings, I welcome a chance to hold another in this format.
Please remember the extra meeting this month with Michael Nehf, Executive Director of STRS. CORE President, Dave Parshall, has invited Mr. Nehf to meet with CORE membership on Thursday, November 13th at 1:30 in our usual CORE meeting room, the small room off of the cafeteria on the second floor at the STRS building. Mr. Nehf has been attending many RTA groups around the state in order to meet STRS members, and he has accepted the CORE invitation to do the same for our group. There will be time to ask questions at the end of Mr. Nehf’s presentation.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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