Saturday, January 24, 2009

RH Jones: A reason to focus on education

RH Jones to Kathie Bracy and John Curry, January 24, 2009
Subject: Wow! Watch This...
Kathie & John,
This is why I think that America and Ohio need to focus on education to move the economy forward.
An interesting presentation given to Sony executives...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Of course, we at CORE knew this, didn't we?

From John Curry, January 23, 2009
Millions can't afford their meds, study says
January 23, 2009
By Suzanne Hoholik
(Click image to enlarge)
When your doctor writes you a prescription, she expects you'll get it filled.
But 36 million Americans didn't fill a prescription they needed in 2007 because they couldn't afford it, according to a study published this week by the Center for Studying Health System Change.
That's an increase from the estimated 24.4 million people who didn't fill prescriptions in 2003 because they couldn't pay.
In Franklin County, about 112,000 people currently are not filling prescriptions or not taking medications because they can't afford them, said Jeff Biehl, executive director of Access HealthColumbus.
"We're heading into a period where this will continue to worsen, especially for those people with chronic diseases on multiple drugs," he said.
Researchers who performed the national study blame rising prescription-drug costs and health-insurance plans that require consumers to pay more for medications.
"This would indicate that health insurance offers less financial protection against out-of-pocket costs than it did in the past," said Laurie E. Felland, a senior health researcher at the center and co-author of the study.
The 2007 survey by the Washington-based nonprofit center covered 18,000 children and working adults.
Since 2007, the economy has worsened and more people have lost their jobs and health insurance. Felland said she expects an increase in the numbers.
Physicians say they are worried.
"You see it a little more frequently than you used to," said Dr. Diana Donati, a North Side primary-care physician.
When patients tell her they can't afford a medication, she tries to give them samples or find a generic.
"Most people can pay $4 and $10," Donati said.
People also can use discount-drug-card programs or ask drug companies about free medication programs.
"Too many people are delaying needed care and turn up for health care when they're much sicker and more expensive to treat," said Cathy Levine, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio.
"We need to change from a sick-care system to a health-care system by making sure that people have preventive care."
U.S. prescription-drug spending had its lowest growth rate -- 1.6 percent -- in 30 years in 2007, according to a study last month by the journal Health Affairs.
The decline in price increases is attributed to more drug patents expiring, an increased use of generic drugs and a drop in the number of new medicines approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Cheaper options
• Many retail stores offer $4 prescription drugs, mainly for generic medications.
• There are several discount-drug-card programs; some include:
For information about free drug programs from pharmaceutical companies, go to https://
Have you ever gone without medicine or medical care because of the cost? Click here to vote and comment.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Social Security, GPO/WEP and how it affects many STRS retirees

From a retiree, 1/19/09
"I don't want to change the entire law. STRS can have their monopoly. 30 year - lifetime teachers do just fine with STRS. However, this is a sincere problem for those who had 15 year second career with teaching after another career where they had to pay social security. They were counting on both retirements and no one tells them about this until they do that exit interview with STRS. Frankly I don't know how 'Troops to Teachers' stays in business. They are setting folks up for a poor retirement. I also think it is awful that retired teachers who take a part time job have to pay social security that they can never get. This is just so wrong."

STRS retirees...we have plenty of company out there!

From John Curry, January 22. 2009
"As a result, the problem of medical debt is climbing the income scale, affecting not just the poor or the uninsured. Millions of Americans covered by health insurance are paying more for less -- fewer benefits, higher co-pays and additional deductibles -- and are at risk for large out-of-pocket bills when serious illness or injury strike."
Of course...there are some out there who just don't believe this. Here's one person, from the American Enterprise Institute (sounds patriotic, doesn't it?) who thinks that you are just seeing things and it's just all in your mind! Of course, his "institute" also is against governmental regulation, pharmaceutical price regulation, and Rx reimportation. But....cheer up, they are for something...Medicare Advantage and charter schools! Give me a break!!!!!!!!!!
P.S. If you don't believe what I said in the above paragraph, here's the link to this "institute" so that you can read for yourself!
"Economist Thomas P. Miller of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, said he believes the problem of medical debt has been exaggerated and is a symptom of the broader economic crisis."
Seeing Red The Rising Costs of Care And a Failing Economy Drive More Americans Into Medical Debt
By Sandra G. Boodman
Kaiser Health News
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Pummeled by a deepening recession that is demolishing jobs and family finances, more Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills.
For years a booming economy camouflaged the burden of medical debt. Patients borrowed against their homes or whipped out credit cards, including some specially designed to pay medical or dental bills. But falling house prices and tightening credit have eliminated those options for many.
As a result, the problem of medical debt is climbing the income scale, affecting not just the poor or the uninsured. Millions of Americans covered by health insurance are paying more for less -- fewer benefits, higher co-pays and additional deductibles -- and are at risk for large out-of-pocket bills when serious illness or injury strike.
"People who are underinsured end up facing almost identical problems as the uninsured," said Karen L. Pollitz, director of the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University. "The difference is, they paid for the privilege."
Medical debt is likely to figure prominently in the looming national debate over reforming health care.
Jim Eyler, 57, of Westminster, Md., says he needs help. The cement company manager said he spends about 33 percent of his take-home pay on unreimbursed medical bills, many connected with the advanced breast cancer his wife has been battling since 2005. "I keep wondering, where's the money going to come from?" he asked.
Experts define the underinsured as those forced to spend at least 10 percent of their income on health care, excluding premiums. But the nonprofit Center for Studying Health System Change found recently that financial pressures on families increase sharply when out-of-pocket spending on medical bills exceeds 2.5 percent of family income. New York's Commonwealth Fund has reported that 72 million adults under age 65 had problems paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt in 2007, up from 58 million in 2005. Many had insurance, and 39 percent said they had exhausted their savings paying for health care.
"There's every reason, given what's been going on, to expect the situation has gotten worse" as the economy has deteriorated, said the study's co-author, economist Sara R. Collins.
Unlike other forms of consumer debt, such as a mortgage or installment payments on a plasma TV, medical debt is typically involuntary and unplanned, the result of necessity, not desire. Consumers can't shop around for the best deal on an angioplasty or the cheapest hospital, nor in many cases can they delay treatment. Often they are forced to make decisions at their most vulnerable, because they or a loved one is sick, injured or dying.
Medical debt can quickly snowball. Consumers with unpaid bills can wind up in court defending themselves against lawsuits filed by doctors and hospitals, which typically charge the uninsured full price for care, without the hefty discounts negotiated by health plans. Debtors' wages can be garnished, liens can be placed on their homes, and their future job and housing prospects torpedoed by bad credit ratings. Those who charged medical expenses to a credit card can find that missed or late payments result in an interest rate that zooms retroactively to 29 percent.
Ironically, many people don't know that they are eligible for low-cost or free care, as Howard County officials recently discovered when they tried to register 1,100 residents in a new program, only to find that most already qualified for existing benefits but had not enrolled.
Embarrassed by unpaid bills and fearful of accruing more, many such patients postpone care until they are sicker and their illnesses are more difficult and expensive to treat.
Sheila Bell-Clifford of Alexandria has been uninsured since August, when her husband lost his job and with it their health insurance while he was being treated for metastatic cancer. She has stopped going to the doctor for treatment of her severe diabetes and skips pills, although complications landed her in the hospital two years ago. "I have to juggle them," she said of her medications, "because if I run out I'm in worse shape."
The nexus of the growing problem of medical debt and the inauguration of a sympathetic president may buoy prospects for overhauling health care, one of the top priorities of the incoming administration.
During the campaign, President-elect Barack Obama talked about his mother, who died of ovarian cancer in 1995 at 53. "In those last painful months, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well," he said. Obama has said he supports creating an exemption for medical debt in stringent new bankruptcy laws.
Tackling the problem on a national level will involve replacing the mystifying welter of insurance plans with a standard, comprehensive benefits package that limits consumers' exposure to out-of-pocket costs, some experts say. Currently "there are no real standards for plans, so there are an infinite number of options," said Mark Rukavina, executive director of the Access Project, a Boston-based research and advocacy group that focuses on medical debt.
Transparency is also important, Rukavina said. Insurance policies are typically written in "intentionally confusing and unclear" language that can make it virtually impossible for consumers to figure out what is covered and how much they owe.
Economist Thomas P. Miller of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, said he believes the problem of medical debt has been exaggerated and is a symptom of the broader economic crisis. The solution, he said, should not be "to kill people with kindness" by requiring an overly expansive and expensive benefits package that could "preempt the use of resources for other purposes."
Unwilling to wait for federal action, a handful of states, most notably Massachusetts, have passed laws designed to expand health coverage or to protect medical debtors. An Illinois law passed last year caps rates that hospitals can charge the uninsured, while a New York statute bars foreclosures intended to pay off medical bills.
For now, Althea Saunders-Ranniar, a financial coach at the Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation, a nonprofit that works with low- and moderate-income residents of Baltimore, predicts that unraveling medical bills will consume an even larger part of her workday. "Everyone I see has medical debt," she said.
Many of her clients receive one bill from a hospital and five or more from physicians or labs, each of which she must parse and, possibly, negotiate. "It becomes very difficult to figure out," she said.
This package of stories was produced through a collaboration between The Post and Kaiser Health News. KHN is a new service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A superintendent writes, after reading Dennis Leone's STRS Update of Jan. 16, 2009

January 20, 2009
I for one believe in being pro-active whenever possible. Let's learn from the recent difficulties and set our pathway on more solid footing for the future.
Perhaps a rubric that sets qualifications for future bonus payments [should] be clearly spelled out, as well as criteria for changing the rubric to those of us who are or will be affected by it. Many of us who presently work and who will be relying on STRS for years to come, consider conservative approaches to bonus payments a baseline necessity. Should a bonus represent a reward for outstanding performance or is it an expectation? There are many highly qualified people in the financial industry who are seeking a position such as the ones presently held at STRS. I am shocked that this was not a unanimous vote in support for this needed change.

Minutes of January CORE Meeting

Minutes of the January 16, 2009 CORE Meeting
The January 2009 meeting of the Concerned Ohio Retired Educators was called to order by President Dave Parshall at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, January 16. The meeting was held on the second floor of the STRS building in Columbus. It was also held on Friday this month, instead of the usual Thursday, due to necessary changes in the STRS Board meeting schedule. This in turn forced CORE to choose which day to attend the Board meeting and to schedule our meeting, since many members were unable to attend both days. Board chair, Mary Ann Cervantes, was apologetic about the situation, as she is aware of the inconvenience this presented to CORE members, and has assured us she would do everything possible to prevent it from happening in the future.
Dave introduced the first of two guests, Robert Stein, a 1999 retiree, to the 18 in attendance. Stein is running for one of the two open retiree seats on the STRS Board. Because of his extensive knowledge of the stock market, the main focus of his presentation was investment procedures and efficiency. He also fielded questions about the STRS health care program and about H.B. 315. In order for members to learn more about him and his ideas, Bob provided his web address: ( .
Next, Dave introduced James McGreevy, another candidate for a retiree seat on the STRS Board. Jim, who has attended most Board meetings since his retirement in ’04, stressed his concern for our health care situation. He also stated that he agreed with the outcome of Board’s vote on “Plan B” (regarding Performance Based Incentives [PBIs] for investment staff) earlier in the day.
Mary Ellen Angeletti presented the treasurer’s report in the absence of Treasurer Herman Fisher.
Dave explained much of what was covered at the special Health Care session of the December STRS Board meeting. On behalf of CORE, he has also officially requested information from Executive Director Michael Nehf on the actual number of retirees whose annual pensions total less than $35,000 and the number of surviving spouses.
Dave announced the resignation of Jim N. Reed as a CORE trustee and the election of John Curry as his replacement via an e-mail vote by the other CORE trustees.
Lastly, he stressed that in any communication anyone has with STRS Board members, Mr. Nehf and/or anyone else concerning our pension, health care, or other retirement matters, in the interest of accuracy, we must make sure we have researched and verified information before we write or e-mail about it.
The meeting adjourned at 1:15 p.m. in order for members to attend the afternoon session of the STRS board meeting on the 6th floor.
Respectfully submitted,
Marie M. Fetters

January Board News from STRS

From STRS, January 20, 2009
Last week, the State Teachers Retirement Board held its monthly meeting. Following the regularly scheduled meetings, a report titled "Board News" is posted on the STRS Ohio Web site, as well as mailed to a number of members and education organization representatives who have requested it. As a member of STRS Ohio with an e-mail address on file, you will also receive this report each month. The January report follows.
RETIREMENT BOARD APPROVES CHANGES TO PBI PROGRAM At its January 2009 meeting, the State Teachers Retirement Board voted to suspend the current Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) Program for eligible Investment Department associates as of Feb. 1, 2009. With this suspension, calculations for any earned PBIs for this fiscal year will generally be based upon the performance results for the first seven months of the fiscal year (July 1, 2008-Jan. 31, 2009). The awards paid will be limited to 7/12 of these results, thus recognizing the plan's existence for only a portion of the fiscal year. With this suspension of the PBI Program, the estimated PBI payments for this fiscal year would be about $3.3 million. Payments are calculated on the performance of various portfolios and asset classes against their respective benchmarks for multiple-year periods, total fund performance and absolute return.
The Retirement Board also agreed that a new PBI Program would be implemented on July 1, 2009, for fiscal year 2010. The current program calls for the earned award for any eligible associate to be reduced by 20% if the total STRS Ohio investment fund does not earn a positive absolute return. The new program for fiscal year 2010 further states that if the total fund return is between -5% and -20%, the reduction would increase from 20% up to a maximum of 60% on a linear basis. For returns below -20%, the reduction remains at 60%.
While the new PBI Program reduces the amount of payment when there are significant market downturns, it also will enhance earned PBIs when the absolute and relative performances are high. Each associate's earned award will be increased by 8% if the total fund's absolute return exceeds +8.5% and the net relative return exceeds 60 basis points, but less than 100 basis points. Earned awards will be increased by 12% if the total fund's absolute return exceeds +8.5% and the net relative return equals 100 basis points or more.
Finally, the Retirement Board agreed that if the market value of STRS Ohio's investment assets exceeds $65 billion on June 30, 2009, the new PBI Program will be instituted retroactive to Feb. 1, 2009. As of Dec. 31, 2008, preliminary results show STRS Ohio's investment assets totaling about $52.5 billion.
At its February 2009 meeting, the board will be presented with the PBI Program for fiscal year 2010. In addition to the above-noted items, it will also include language reflecting a cap on Investment associate compensation, as well as a reduction in the number of individuals eligible for the PBI Program.
2008 SURVEY SHOWS HIGH MARKS FROM MEMBERS The 2008 membership surveys show that most STRS Ohio members -- active and retired -- have positive impressions of STRS Ohio, overall. Positive impressions extend to member services, pension benefits, the Retirement Board and communications.
These results were contained in a presentation made to the Retirement Board by Dr. Marty Saperstein of the Columbus-based firm, Saperstein Associates, during the board's January 2009 meeting. The annual telephone surveys were conducted by Saperstein Associates from Nov. 10-20 and involved 602 randomly selected participants (302 active members and 300 retired members).
In summarizing the results, Saperstein also noted the following:
- In addition to having positive impressions about STRS Ohio overall, most members also agree that the system is strong and stable, well managed, and has earned the trust and confidence of its members.
- Health care remains a source of concern. Members would value more information about health care and want the Retirement Board to consider this issue a top priority. Majority support also continues for the legislative proposal to create an ongoing, dedicated revenue stream for the STRS Ohio Health Care Program.
- The faltering economy is forcing more actives to teach longer; one out of three expects to retire with at least 35 years of service credit.
- Retirees also are being affected by the recession. More than half of all retirees at all income levels feel less secure financially than a year ago. These retirees most often spoke of their personal investment losses and a poor economy.
- Nine out of 10 retirees have at least one additional source of income; seven out of 10 have at least two additional sources of income. On average, STRS Ohio provides about 58% of retirees' income.
Additional details about the survey results will be included in the next edition of the STRS Ohio newsletters.
ASSET ALLOCATION STUDY CONTINUES During its January meeting, the Retirement Board and staff continued with the Asset Allocation Study that began in November 2008. The current target allocation for STRS Ohio's investment assets is 42% domestic equities, 25% international equities, 20% fixed income, 9.5% real estate and 3.5% alternatives (which for STRS Ohio are primarily private equity and venture capital investments). John Osborn, from the board's investment consultant, Russell Investment Group, presented an option that would call for gradually allocating more assets to investments in such areas as hedge funds, commodities and infrastructure. The long-term goal would be to earn equity-like returns (net of fees) with these new investments, while lessening losses during equity bear markets. The Asset Allocation Study discussion will continue at the February board meeting.
RETIREMENTS APPROVED The Retirement Board approved 128 active members and 97 inactive members for service retirement benefits.
FOCUS ON HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION WILL CONTINUE WITH NEW GENERAL ASSEMBLY Rep. Scott Oelslager will reintroduce STRS Ohio's health care funding legislation. However, several procedural matters have to be dealt with in the House of Representatives, including committee assignments and the adoption of House rules, so it is likely the health care bill will be introduced sometime in February or shortly thereafter. At this time, STRS Ohio does not anticipate any major changes to the bill going forward from the language contained in House Bill 315.
COUNCIL OF INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS DISTRIBUTES CORPORATE GOVERNANCE REFORM ADVOCACY LETTER Council staff in December delivered a corporate governance reform advocacy letter to 99 members of Congress, including the leadership of both parties as well as members of key House and Senate committees dealing with financial markets. Signed by 48 representatives of 44 Council general member funds, including STRS Ohio, the letter emphasized the need for vigorous oversight and investor protection, as well as better tools for shareholders to hold managers and boards accountable and address unforeseen future risks. The letter specifically calls for eight corporate governance improvements to be included in any potential broad financial market reform legislation.
STRS OHIO CONTINUES TO DOMINATE HIGHER EDUCATION MARKET Since July 1, 2008, 980 newly hired faculty at Ohio public colleges and universities have had the option to select a privately run alternative retirement plan (ARP) in place of participating in STRS Ohio. During this time, only 271 (28%) chose to opt out to an ARP; the remaining 709 (72%) chose membership in STRS Ohio.
E-MAIL NEWS SERVICE CONTINUES TO GROW January 2009 marks the first month that the number of STRS Ohio members who are registered for the e-mail news service exceeds 50,000. This service provides an easy way for members to stay current on important issues between the publication of member newsletters.
BOARD RETREAT DATES ANNOUNCED The Retirement Board will hold its annual retreat at STRS Ohio from Jan. 28-30. The meeting is open to the public.

RH Jones: A letter to fellow retirees and a thank you to the STRS Board

From RH Jones, January 20, 2009
Subject: Thanks. Where it really belongs
Inauguration Day 2009
Dear fellow Ohio STRS retired members:
In this long and bitter battle to right the many past wrongs of our STRS, we need to give credit where credit is due: first to the CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) whose members by using the Internet, created a groundswell that gained national notoriety, and sparked a spin-off desire for political change in state and the federal government. CORE taught the nation through its appeal to the media -- and to those who support integrity.
In the past few years, not only has there been a sense of greed and entitlement with the STRS board and our employees, but also with the local, county, state and national governmental agencies. That has changed because of the many fair-minded people who recognized the dangers of sitting by, doing nothing, as others exploit our retirement system; and those who exploit all levels of our government for their personal gain.
CORE has been at the forefront of this groundswell. Being career educators, CORE has been vocal and people have listened. CORE got their attention! As a reward for the hard work of CORE, hope and change are now in effect. No longer can those who abuse their elected offices stay in power. Educators and the public are fed up with it. Transparency and openness is being demanded. Today’s inauguration of a new President of the United States demonstrates this new wave of hope for America’s traditional positive values in the rule of democratic law. Do not think for a minute that the CORE does not deserve accolades; they earned the applause. Thank you CORE.
Secondly, thanks to those who sit on the board to serve the STRS members and who vote with ORC 3307.15 in mind. That is your lawful duty. Thanks for interpreting it correctly this time. That gives us hope for a healthy Ohio STRS now and in the future. It is never hard to do the right thing.
My opinion only,
RHJones, retired teacher

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jim N. Reed addresses STRS Board members re: their 6-3-1 vote on suspending PBIs

From Jim N. Reed, January 19, 2009
Subject: 6-3-1 Alteration of The PBI Policy
Dear STRS Board Members,
Please accept my sincere gratitude for your studied consideration and enactment of a revised PBI policy for the investment staff at STRS.
Thank you, Ms. Hayden, for your courage to second a motion by Dr. Leone. Without your commitment all may have been lost.
Ms. Burch, your willingness to become immediately involved as a new member and to add your voice to reason have not gone unnoticed and are much appreciated by stakeholders.
Mr. Chapman, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Puckett, your support of the down scaling of an out-dated corporate-minded bonus system gives retirees the hope of a new attitude that can assist in the rebuilding of trust and confidence among membership. Retirees are grateful for your support of a volatile issue that was capable of furthering divisiveness and eroding faith in our retirement system.
Ms. Cervantes, Mr. Meuser, Mr. Myers, Ms. Ramser, your continued reticence or silence in viewing this issue through the sensibilities of the average retiree is a shameful disappointment. Your attempts at justification of your negative ballot to revise an obscene bonus allotment, especially during these times of a faltering economy when so many stakeholders are suffering, are, as Mrs Slocum would admonish, "Weak as water. Weak as water."
Especially disgusting is a defense of your negative vote for reduction and removal of PBIs based on the "breaking of a promise." After thousands of prospective retirees were told by STRS counselors during their retirement planning sessions that educator retirement "promised" family security and affordable healthcare, how can there be any legitimacy granted to your ethical dilemma in reducing (or removing entirely for those not qualified) a six-figure bonus for our employees who are already receiving six-figure salaries!
Some may have a suspicion that your negative vote may have been more personally motivated. Is it possible that your vote reflected an automatic revulsion of the motion because it was Dr. Leone's? That would be a difficult admission. Dr. Leone's advocacy for retirees and success in bringing about retiree-friendly policy initiation or change should be emulated by all Board members. After all, that should be at the top of your job description.
After witnessing so many rubber stamp decisions from previous Boards, this difficult but correct (in the eyes of STRS-literate stakeholders) decision is a breath of fresh air and a cause for hope, once again, that the Board and Executive Director are genuinely interested in and concerned about the expectations of the membership.
We look forward to a time soon when all Board decisions are based on the well-being and security of all of your constituents.
Thank you for your vote of caring and concern.
Jim N. Reed

Jim N. Reed: STRS PBIs Go Front and Center at Dispatch

Jim N. Reed to Columbus Dispatch reporter James Nash, January 19, 2009
Dear Mr. Nash,
As a 42-year public school educator and STRS member I want to express my gratitude to you and whoever else at the "Dispatch" were responsible for reporting on and publishing the STRS Board's decision regarding the alteration of the staff's Performance Based Incentive policy.
The fact the article appeared front and center in the Metro section was most gratifying to those of us who have been witness to much general public inattention and apathy and the loss of sympathetic investigative reporters.
A relatively small group of retirees and the persistent watchdog approach of current Board member Dr. Dennis Leone (and former member John Lazares) have continued to hold the Board accountable to ORC 3307.15. Needless to say, it has not been an easy or popular task.
We realized from the onset of Dr.Leone's research and publishing of his 2003 whistle blowing at STRS that our best chance of getting attention for our attempts to bring about a Renaissance of STRS literacy and intercept the entitlement philosophy of the Executive Director and Board rested with investigative reporters and their willingness to help us unravel and publish the truth.
CORE President Dave Parshall along with members Kathie Bracy, John Curry, Molly Janczyk, Tom Curtis and other charter members deserve much credit for their relentless insistence that the STRS Board not be permitted to mismanage retirement funds for 450,000 active and retired educators and beneficiaries.
Again, thank you for staying on top of the STRS story and reporting it to educators, boards of education, and taxpayers. You have provided an invaluable service, a prime example of the power of the pen.
Jim N. Reed

Kathie Bracy: Letters to Board members

From Kathie Bracy, January 19, 2009
To Regina Burch:
Dear Ms. Burch,
I just wanted to thank you for the monumental and pivotal role you played in getting a landmark vote through the STRS Board last Friday regarding the PBI policy. I admire tremendously your keen insight for knowing what is right; your courage to stand up for it; and the compassion you have shown for those who have the least power to bring about badly needed changes at their own pension system: the retired educators of Ohio.
The dynamic leadership style you have demonstrated in the very short time you've been on the Board is a real shot in the arm, and hopefully a sign of things to come. We desperately need Board members such as you to continue the reform movement started by Dennis Leone, but which still has a long way to go. You will never know how many lives your actions will touch. You have given us renewed hope.
Thank you for what you have done for us, and keep up the good work. We will be cheering you on.
Kathie Bracy
1998 STRS Retiree
To Craig Brooks (click to enlarge):

To Tai Hayden:
Tai --
I can't tell you how much it meant to me to see you strongly supporting Dennis Leone's motion to suspend the PBIs at last Friday's STRS Board meeting. Your seconding his motion sent a clear message to the other Board members that you aren't afraid to stand up for what you know is right. That's all we ask of any Board member.
Thank you, Tai. That motion wouldn't have passed without your help, and thousands will benefit because of it. It took a lot of courage on your part. Hang onto that courage, because you're going to need it for future battles. You will be tested many times, but never be afraid to Do The Right Thing, no matter what. I promise that you will never regret it.
Kathie Bracy
1998 STRS Retiree
To Jeff Chapman:
Jeff --
I just wanted to thank you for supporting Dennis Leone's motion to suspend the PBIs in last Friday's STRS Board meeting. I know it was not an easy decision for you, but it was an intelligent one; you did the Right Thing. You will never regret it. Thank you!
Kathie Bracy
1998 STRS Retiree
To Steve Puckett:
Dear Dr. Puckett,
I just wanted to thank you for your support of Dennis Leone's motion to suspend the PBIs in last Friday's STRS Board meeting. I know it was not an easy decision on your part, but you did the right thing. It's always good to see Board members following the letter and the spirit of ORC 3307.15, and I hope to see more of this on your part. Thank you!
Kathie Bracy
1998 STRS Retiree

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Donna and Dean Seaman to STRS Board: Thank you!

From: Donna Seaman, January 18, 2009
Subject: THANKS!
Dear STRS board members: A big thank you to the six of you who voted to suspend bonus incentives for investment staff. Thank you for having the courage and the wisdom to do the right thing! I have been writing to you, and have been attending most of the board meetings, and I understand how difficult it must have been to reach that decision. But it was the right decision for you to make, at the right time!
Ms. Hayden, thanks for seconding Dr. Leone's motion. Ms. Burch, even though you haven't been on the STRS for very long, thanks for taking a stand on this issue. Mr. Brooks, Mr. Puckett, and Mr. Chapman, thanks to all of you for supporting this motion. And Dr. Leone, thanks for persevering and not giving up on this effort, which was unpopular at first, but needed to be done by the STRS board.
Board members Mr. Myers, Ms. Cervantes, and Mr. Meuser, you continue to disappoint us. You reflect the old point of view espoused by Herb Dyer, this is STRS's money to spend as you see fit, not retirees' money! you are completely wrong not to support that motion. Ms. Ramser, your ambivalence is sad! Abstaining is simply not taking a stand on this important issue.
Board members, you must know that we are not going to go away with this issue resolved for now. There are still many issues for you to deal with:
...1. The 13th check should be reinstated for retirees!
...2. The performance based incentives/bonuses should be reinstated for investment staff only after the total fund has recovered to its early 2008 level.
...3. The STRS staff must be reduced to reflect the dramatic losses in the fund's value. The fund is down 30 to 40 per cent. The staff should be reduced by that amount.
Thank you once again for making this important change. You've given us so much more confidence in your decision-making!
Donna Seaman, 2002 retiree
Dean Seaman, 1986 retiree

John Bos to Regina Burch: THANK YOU!

From John Bos, January 18, 2009
Subject: Thank You VERY MUCH!!
Dear Ms. Regina Burch,
Thank you for voting at the STRS Board meeting to adjust the investment staff PBI. You are a breath of fresh air that has the interest of the retirees. I am not opposed to a bonus IF the appropriate conditions are met.
I would also like to mention that I have SIGNIFICANT concerns regarding the communications from STRS to retirees. As Dennis Leone told other board members that those that live out of state are TOTALLY depend on the message from the STRS Associates. The communications director has CONSISTENTLY reported positive information, but has NEVER reported information that may reflect negatively on the STRS establishment. An example was the statement that STRS is not concerned about the daily market, but rather the BIG PICTURE. Unfortunately, the loss for the past 6 months IS the big picture. The actual graph showing assets was never prepared until the Kathie Bracy web site produced the information. Public information has been kept hidden from the retirees and the actives.
I would sincerely appreciate any assistance from the board to require that the monthly finanacial information for health care and retirement assets be included in the electronic newsletter. The previous month and 1 year comparison would also be of great value to those that are not well informed.
Thanks again for your concerns for those of us who have been retired and are struggling to pay for their health insurance, co payments, and deductibles.
John Bos
Elida, Ohio

So....who were the.... Eight Positions Removed from STRS PBI Plan?

From John Curry, January 18, 2009
Thanks to Dr. Leone we now know! No more bonuses for these folks!
(Senior Performance Officer of Internet E-mails - a non-paid [no bonus either] position at CORE)
From: Dennis Leone, January 18, 2009
Subject: Eight Positions Removed from STRS PBI Plan
Here they are:
...1. Real Estate Attorney
...2. Senior Investment Performance Officer
...3. Investment Performance Officer
...4. Investment Policy Officer
...5. Director of Portfolio Services
...6. Senior Valuation Officer
...7. Valuation Officer
...8. Investment Performance Junior Analyst

Why Pension Funds May Be The Next To Collapse:

From John Curry, January 18, 2009
Want to hear NPR's audio news discussing state pension funds and related problems including social investing (remember Josh Mandel, the AIPAC influence, and the divestiture that was shoved down our throats when Damon Asbury signed an agreement [brokered by then House Speaker Jon Husted] that the Board never had a chance to approve?), risky investments, and other items that we, as stakeholders of Ohio STRS, face and have faced? ...and then Mark Meuser, Mary Ann Cervantes, and Tim Myers voted FOR BONUSES at the Jan. 16, 2009 STRS Board meeting...give me a break! Oh, Don't forget Constance Ramser...she couldn't make up her mind! Maybe THEY should listen to this 6 minute NPR presentation's link above! You might even want to send it to them!
This presentation begins with a brief introductory "lead-in" but the article is worth the 30 second wait. Sounds a lot like Ohio STRS, doesn't it? The above was called to my attention by CORE member, Jim N. Reed. Thank you so much, Jim! It was well worth the time!
John Curry
*Listen/Watch on* Many stories at have audio or video content. When you visit the link above, look for a "Listen" or "Watch" button. For technical support, please visit NPR's Audio/Video Help page:
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
web page counter
Vermont Teddy Bear Company