Saturday, March 07, 2009

STRS Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs, Bonuses)

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From Jim Stoll, March 7, 2009
Please see the chart below which reflects BASE Salary increases for almost all STRS investment Staff associates from 2008 - 2009. In some cases the Base salary of associates was increased by as much as 14.6% or a total of $39,500. (Yes, that was the person's RAISE from one year to another.) In this particular case which occurred twice - two Asst. Dir. of Investments both received RAISES of $39,500 despite having made a salary of $270,000 in the previous year. They now make $309,500 PER YEAR and the investments which they are overseeing have lost over 30 Billion in Value.
Having shared this information with hundreds of teachers throughout the State I have yet to find one who isn't appalled by the arrogance and entitlement of the folks setting and approving these salary increases. ACTIVE TEACHERS need to know that 10% of each and every paycheck of their hard earned dollars go to pay these outrageous increases. Is there a School "Board" anywhere in Ohio that would approve an increase of 14.6% for their employees? I think not, But your STRS Board approved these increases upon the recommendation of the Executive can only ask what is going on up there. Even more disturbing is that 82 Investment associates received RAISES. Yes, at the February meeting the BOARD implemented a salary freeze....... with a 14.6% salary increase already "in hand" for some - it appears to me to simply be a token gesture - In my opinion there should be CUTS and it should begin at the top!!
In this chart (which has been confirmed as accurate by STRS) you will find the following astounding figures.
33 Investment assoc. received RAISES between $39,500 - $10,000
27 Investment assoc. received RAISES between $9999 - $5000
31 Investment assoc. received RAISES between $4999 - $0

[For technical reasons, the chart which should be positioned here has been placed in a separate post immediately below this one. Click each part to enlarge. KBB]

Exec. Dir. Mike Nehf and apparently the Board (who approved these increases at Mr. Nehf's recommendation) want to pay these associates so their pay is in the 25th percentile of the private sector...(Even though we are a Public Entity) ...My response would be that If someone was paid a premium in the private sector and the end result of their performance was that the company lost 30 Billion dollars - "WOULD THEY STILL HAVE A JOB" ? I'd think not..... SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE AT STRS.
James A. Stoll
Candidate for the STRS Board
Sycamore Community Schools
7400 Cornell Rd.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45242

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From Jim Stoll, March 7, 2009
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Minutes of the Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 C.O.R.E. Meeting

President Dave Parshall opened the February 19th meeting at noon in the Sublet Room of the STRS Building in Columbus. Twenty Concerned Ohio Retired Educator (CORE) members were in attendance at this monthly meeting.

President Dave explained the slightly revamped procedure for minutes to be: written by the secretary; checked over by the president; then sent to John Curry for dissemination to the membership. Ryan Holderman moved for the procedure to be approved. After a second by Carole DePaola, the motion passed.

Treasurer Herman Fisher reported that the balance in the CORE fund is $6805.41 currently. Herman also advised the group that former treasurer’s name, C.J. Myers will continue to receive the monthly bank statements and be a back up. She also will be checking our old post office until June.

There were no committee reports, but there was a brief discussion of the $10 yearly dues, from Sept. to Sept.

Jim Stoll, an active teacher candidate from Sycamore (Cincinnati area), addressed the members. He declared his concern about bonuses, raises, and the future of STRS, as well as its benefits. His interest in the board is not only for himself, as he edges toward retirement, but also for his daughter, who is now at the start of her teaching career in Ohio. Stoll is currently an athletic director and has been involved in coaching throughout his teaching years. He also runs a successful business, Pro Camp.

Stoll has already garnered the required number of signatures for his petition; now he is seeking support and help from CORE in getting the word out about his candidacy. (Stoll expressed concern about Dennis Leone’s departure this year and the void that could leave in the board.)

After Stoll’s address, Parshall stated that retirees certainly do need a straight shooter as an active STRS Board member. He expressed hope that if Stoll were to get on the Board, he’d be a fair, honest broker.

Parshall suggested that CORE should back the three candidates (Jim McGreevy and Bob Stein, retirees, and Jim Stoll, active) who cared enough to come and speak to the group. Herman Fisher moved to support the three candidates, Marie Fetters seconded it; the motion unanimously passed. Nancy Hamant followed up the motion by suggesting we flood the state with literature by handing out material at our local R.T.A. meetings, We could also place information on the CORE web site and create an e-mail campaign, too.

President Dave briefly discussed the meeting he and Marie Fetters had with Michael Nehf, executive director. Parshall reiterated that we must be factual with the information we send. It’s imperative that we try to refrain from making erroneous statements and remarks that could end up hurting the credibility and usefulness of our group. Dave stressed that our voice needs to be heard now more than ever. .

Before President Dave adjourned the meeting at 12:45, he reminded the members that health care must be our focus!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Something tells me that the STRS revolving door won't hit them on the way out because...

From John Curry, March 4, 2009

......they "ain't" gonna' leave! And if they do.....there will be hundreds pounding at that same door to come in! Who are "they?" Why, "they" are the investors. You know, like the eighty some that STRS has "on staff?" If they read this one I think they'll stick close to home...after all, nothing like an OPERS pension with reasonable retiree healthcare rates, is there? Columbus is a whole lot closer to Wall Street than Cheyenne, isn't it? After can still be an investor at Ohio STRS and make (without any bonus) more than the Governor or an Ohio Supreme Court justice, can't they? Life "in a fishbowl" isn't so bad after all, is it? It's in that same "fishbowl" that STRS beneficiaries spent their whole working lives! Please take a look at what the WSJ has to say:


Public Pension Funds Profit From Wall Street's Job Losses

Jobs are increasingly hard to come by on Wall Street. But locales like Baton Rouge and Cheyenne are posting "Help Wanted" signs for investment professionals.

Wyoming state capitol

The prospective employers? Public pension funds, many of which continue to hire to fill current positions or in some cases new ones, according to recruiters, fund executives and Web-site job listings. Thanks to Wall Street's woes, plenty of people are applying.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System, known as Calpers, is seeking a portfolio manager for risk management and another for infrastructure investing. The Austin-based Teacher Retirement System of Texas wants to add a senior telecom analyst, while the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System in Columbus is looking for a deputy chief investment officer.

"We have a different business model than the private sector," says Gary Findlay, executive director of the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System. "Regardless of the economy, we have dollars to manage and you still need the talent to do it."

Unlike at most private financial firms, pension-fund hiring can be somewhat insulated from the economic cycle. Their payrolls are supported by a steady stream of tax dollars. They don't face redemption requests. And they aren't necessarily compelled to downsize when their liabilities grow.

Not long ago, a public pension job might hold little appeal for Wall Street rainmakers, who would dismiss the positions as too staid, too low-paying or too far from the bright lights of a big city. Yet today, as bankruptcies, consolidation and layoffs have left many people out of work, résumés from people who had been at investment firms are tumbling in.

"I can't recall seeing so much interest from people who count places like Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs as former employers," says Mary Hobson, an executive vice president with EFL Associates, a recruitment firm that works on behalf of pension funds.

In Baton Rouge, an opening for chief investment officer at the Teachers' Retirement System of Louisiana drew more than 50 applicants in the first three weeks, Ms. Hobson says, ahead of expectations.
David Villa

The CIO position for the Wyoming Retirement System has attracted more than 100 candidates. That includes some former Wall Street hands willing to be based in the town of Cheyenne, population 55,000, for a salary of $130,000, a modest amount for a chief investment position, even by pension-firm standards.

Meanwhile, thanks to heightened scrutiny over everything from bonus checks to junkets since banks have started taking federal money, the glamour gap between the two job types may be shrinking.

"They're facing the same standard that we always face," says David Villa, the CIO of the Wisconsin Investment Board and a former financial analyst with a Chicago-based unit of UBS AG. "It's a fishbowl."

Public funds still offer only a fraction of the private world's historic compensation, where seven-figure salaries didn't stand out. But lots of those paychecks are shrinking. And highfliers who have made the switch say state governments offer more job security, a less-stressful work environment and the chance to be home in time for dinner with the kids.

"There is a real sense of stability," says Lawrence Kochard, chief investment officer at Georgetown University's endowment who previously worked at the Virginia Retirement System and Goldman Sachs. "Pension funds may be down, but they are still in business."

Interested comers might want to send their résumés soon. Pensions may start to limit their hiring to refilling essential positions if the recession grinds on. A few plans have postponed venturing into new areas, like infrastructure investing, commodities or private equity, and that can mean delaying hires. Some smaller-staffed city and county funds mightn't be doing much hiring at all, headhunters say.

Some pension-fund staff now are disclosing smaller compensation packages. Trustees for the $81 billion Teacher Retirement System of Texas, for one, recently voted to defer $2.5 million in bonuses to staff after the fund had a 27% decline in 2008. Britt Harris, chief investment officer, said he would forgo nearly $168,000 awarded him in incentive pay.

And financiers beware: Not every pension-fund firm will be eager to embrace Wall Street veterans.

"If a person arrives with a real sense of arrogance or superiority, they will not be thought of highly at a pension fund," says Mr. Kochard, who worked on Goldman's capital-markets desk. "On the Street, those qualities wouldn't be a problem."

Ash Williams, executive director of the Florida organization that manages state pension funds, worked more than a decade in New York including at the hedge fund Fir Tree Partners; he returned to his job as head of the pension last year.

He is looking to hire a fixed-income portfolio manager, and knows that someone from a blue-chip financial firm could excel at the Florida job. His caution lies elsewhere: Does the candidate have family ties to the Tallahassee area? A spouse with a job at the local university? A keen interest perhaps in hunting or golf?

"We're sniffing around to see if we can keep this person for three to five years," Mr. Williams says, meaning even if the economy rebounds and Wall Street jobs beckon. "You don't want someone just looking for a port in the storm."

Write to Craig Karmin at

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Handy links: Contacts, information and more

STRS Board.......STRS Senior Staff........STRS website
Ohio Department of Education:
Matt DeTemple, Chief Legal Counsel and chief ethics officer for the Ohio Department of Education:
CORE website:
Bob Stein's website:
Get free CD recordings of STRS Board meetings
Combined list: STRS Board and Senior Staff
Another site with multiple contacts
Contact information for just about anybody you would want to contact re: pension and HC concerns:
Rich DeColibus' PowerPoint presentation STRS' PBI Program; Does it work?: click December 21, 2008 (blog Archive) and scroll down to December 23 posts.
Map/directions to STRS, 275 E. Broad St. Columbus, OH 43215
ORSC (Ohio Retirement Study Council)
A Glossary of Terms (
State legislators........State of Ohio website
Armond Budish, Speaker of the Ohio House
Bill Harris, President of the Ohio Senate
127th Ohio General Assembly
Members of U.S. Congress
CORE website.........History of CORE
Who is Dennis Leone?........PDF version
More on
Dennis Leone .......PDF version
The Plain Dealer article that opened our eyes, June 8, 2003
Dennis Leone's STRS Report to ORTA, March 2007
Writings (and other concoctions) of Rich DeColibus
Sampling of bonuses -- "The old days" at STRS (when the executive director also received a percentage of each bonus)
Ohio Revised Code 3307.15
Ethics convictions: former STRS Board members, executive director
Corporate CEO salaries
Best Practice Principles (Stanford Study on board governance, PDF; click here for HTML version
Don Olson (Medical Mutual)
Gov. Strickland's State of the State address 3/14/07
Contact for HC legislation petition drive: Tom Ash, 614-846-4080 or
Helpful posts on Medicare: See some of the early April 2007 posts, beginning 4/1/07.
Blog: A Teacher's First Year
The Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights (political contributions)
OEA salaries: November 2009 USDL report
OEA top salaries 2008

STRS Assets March 2009 Update

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CORE meeting March 19

From CORE, March 1, 2009

CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) will hold its March meeting on Thursday, Mar. 19th 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. Lately the meetings have been held most of the day on Friday as well as Thursday. 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 meeting will begin promptly at 11:45.

If you have suggestions for the March CORE meeting agenda, please let John Curry know ( He will relay this information to CORE President, Dave Parshall, for consideration.

This March CORE meeting will be important as those members in attendance will be deciding ways we can support the three endorsed STRS Board candidates based on CORE's current resources. Please plan to attend and participate in this most important decision-making process. Invite a friend. Pick up a new supply of CORE's new pamphlet to share with others. Visitors are always welcome!

If you cannot attend the STRS meetings, please phone Laura Ecklar at STRS at 614-227-4077 or email her at ecklarl@strsoh.orgto request the recorded CDs of the STRS meetings which she will send to you.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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