Saturday, March 14, 2009

Advice from STRS Board candidate Bob Stein: Write a letter to the editor of your local paper

From Bob Stein, March 14, 2009

Bob is running for a retiree seat on the STRS Board and is endorsed by CORE.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Write a Letter to the editor of your local paper. Express your hopes and concerns about STRS and point out how STRS affects your community. Click here to contact your paper by email.

Ask your paper to:

-- Cover the STRS election. It is a local economic issue. Most communities have significant numbers of retired educators who contribute both volunteer time and spend most of their pensions locally. Changes in STRS pensions or health care affect local consumer spending and the viability of local charitable and public service organizations.

-- Visit

-- Follow and feature volunteer activities and accomplishments of retired educators. Talking to retired teachers from all over the state suggests that many of our local service projects could benefit from publicity to increase their funding and volunteers.
-- Recognize that the success of STRS has a direct effect on the ability of Ohio and your local schools to recruit the highest quality teachers.

Jim N. Reed's letter to the Editor of the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette

From Jim N. Reed, March 11, 2009
Letter to be published in the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette
Ohio's State Teachers' Retirement System (STRS) has hemorrhaged 40% of its assets to the tune of $33 billion in the past 16 months.
Granted, there are many corporations, businesses, organizations, agencies and families suffering. How many school districts are cutting budgets by altering curriculum, reducing certified and non-certified staff, slicing services, freezing or cutting salaries and increasing pay-to-play?
Nevertheless, some entities continue entitlement philosophies and are awarding bonuses and raising salaries under the management ruse that they cannot afford to let their "experts" get away. Besides, they claim, "It's happening everywhere."
During this economic contraction, $6 million in Executive Director-approved bonuses (paid by stakeholders, boards of education and taxpayers) have been awarded to STRS investment staff, rewards for losing less assets than other failed investment counselors. Though a temporary freeze has been placed on the bonus policy, associates will still receive partial bonuses, some in excess of $100,000.
What of base salaries and raises? Sixty-six employees have base salaries of $140,000 to $529,000, higher than the governor's. Thirty-three associates received base salary raises from $10,000 to $39,000. The latter figure represents more than many retirees' annual pension.
How serious is it? Darn serious when you consider it has provoked a warning from one Board member that, with further significant stock market failure, current and prospective retirees' pensions can no longer be considered secure despite the recent ill-advised "all is fine" STRS communications to the membership.
Not acceptable. 440,000 active and retired educators and beneficiaries deserve better.
What to do? A vigilant STRS-literate membership is mandatory. Independent thinkers, proponents of reform are needed on the Board. In April's STRS Board election Concerned Ohio Retired Educators endorses the candidacies of Jim Stoll ( for the active seat and Bob Stein ( and Jim McGreevy ( for the two retired seats. A new blood transfusion is needed to stop the hemorrhaging at STRS.
All Fairfield County educators, active and retired, are encouraged to do their homework and vote.
Jim N. Reed
Baltimore, Ohio

STRS...take the hint!

From John Curry, March 12, 2009
OSU freezes pay for top execs, creates 2.5% pool for faculty raises
Thursday, March 12, 2009
By Encarnacion Pyle
Read the OSU pay memo
Given the sputtering economy, Ohio State University has decided to freeze the salaries of its top executives but continue to offer modest raises to faculty members.
In a memo to academic leaders last night, Provost Joseph A. Alutto outlined the compensation guidelines for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Deans and department chairs will be given a 2.5 percent pool for raises that they can distribute based on employee performance, as long as budgetary goals are met. As in past years, there will be no minimum or across-the-board raises.
"The compensation process must inspire excellence by rewarding performance and accountability," Alutto wrote in his memo.
Continuing to offer raises is important to reward and retain Ohio State's highest performers, Alutto said.
"Our average faculty salary was at one time in the top third of the (American Association of Universities), and is now near the bottom third, and our staff salaries are on average more than 10 percent below those of competing employers,'' he said. "We must make this limited merit pool a priority."
The university will not raise health-care premiums or recreation fees, as some had feared but will increase parking permits by a little less than 5 percent.
President E. Gordon Gee, Alutto and members of the senior management council will give up salary increases and bonuses for the year. That money will be redirected to student scholarships.
The council includes 17 of Gee's top advisers, including former lawmaker Joyce Beatty, now OSU's senior vice president for outreach and engagement.

John Curry and John Bos re: Who gets hit (hint: it's not the investment department)

From John Curry, March 14, 2009
Subject: Re: Investment Balance Feb.28th
John...I hear you. It seems as though every time the HCSF gets into trouble the retirees (AND THE RETIREES ONLY) take the hit. The STRS associates should equally take the "hit" this time and so should the active educators. They and the associates are more able to take the "hit" than are the retirees. I don't want to drive a wedge between retirees and actives but.....that is what STRS is doing by just cutting retirees.
From John Bos, March 14, 2009
Subject: Re: Investment Balance Feb.28th
Thank you for the information Dennis. We all are also at fault for EVER expecting an 8% return. Warren Buffett talked about these unrealistic numbers this past week. Houston, we have a BIG PROBLEM. It starts with some of the board members that remain in "cruise control". We then have a problem with senior STRS staff members that are not realistic regarding the entire "retiree" situation. They are also not realistic regarding the STRS staff. Let me give you an example. They want to be compared to Wall Street when we talk about pay, but want to be compared to teachers when it comes to their medical coverage. Teachers have better medical than Wall Street.
I am most concerned about my future medical coverage. Who will hire me at 73 and what type of job am I able to perform? Greeting at Wal-Mart.
John Bos

Nancy Hamant: How can they even look us in the eye?

From Nancy Hamant, March 14, 2009
Subject: Re: Investment Balance Feb.28th
Thanks, Dennis!
It amazing that none of the other STRS Board members nor Mr. Nehf want to hold the staff responsible for any of the extreme loss. I do not know how any STRS investment staff members can even look an STRS member in the eye. They take no responsibility at all for this mess. And as for following so-called "investment strategies" that appears to be a dodge to keep the whole mess undercover!

The bad news: STRS assets are now down $46.4 billion; a drop of 42%. (We were in shock when it stood at $30 billion!) The good news? There isn't any.

From Dennis Leone, March 14, 2009
Subject: RE: Investment Balance Feb.28th
Yes. Here it is: As of February 27, 2009, STRS total assets stood at $46.4 billion – which represents a total drop of 42% of when STRS peaked at $80.1 billion on October 31, 2007 (which was just 16 months ago).
For the first 8 months of the current fiscal year 2009, our stock market returns have been -32.1%. Add a -5.4% return for the previous fiscal year, and you will come up with a -37.5% for the past 20 months. How can anyone EVER get a bonus check when we have lost 42% of everything we have in the past 16 months and when our investment returns have been -37.5% for the past 20 months?
Oh, but they beat the so-called Wall Street market “benchmark,” or so I am told, which I guess means that I am supposed to be happy. I'm not. We shouldn't just suspend bonuses, freeze wages, and hold the line on hirings, we should be reducing salaries and cutting staff. Future bonuses should never be considered until our asset total returns to at least where we were at the beginning of the current fiscal year – which was $70.1 billion
What do private companies do that lose 42% of their value in 16 months? What do school districts do? We all know the answer to those questions. It’s called LAYOFFS.
I wonder if there is a single STRS investment staff member who has received an unsatisfactory evaluation recently? Don’t blame them, I am told by staff and board members, because it is the market’s fault. But please blame them, and please praise them, and please give them huge bonus checks when our stock market returns go up 20%, like they did 2 years ago. Heaven forbid if I suggested that the “market” caused everyone’s stock market portfolio to go up 2 years ago.
Dennis Leone
From John Bos, March 14, 2009 2:41 PM
Subject: Investment Balance Feb.28th
Does anyone know the STRS Investment Balance for the end of February?

Texas teacher retirees, you aren't the only ones concerned!

From John Curry, March 14, 2009

"The report states that the pension’s actuaries would favor a stair-step increase in state and employee contribution rates over the long term."

"But teacher groups don’t like the idea of increasing contributions from employees."

"At this point, we would say that the teachers contribute an adequate sum already,” said Derik Hayenga, chief of staff for the United Educators Association in Fort Worth. "The state needs to step up with their portion."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar 14, 2009
Texas teacher pension shortfall is billions worse than expected
The Teacher Retirement System of Texas has sustained investment losses that were billions of dollars more than expected, according to a newly released valuation.

On Friday, state lawmakers were soberly assessing the report, which showed that the pension’s unfunded liabilities have more than tripled in six months, to $40.4 billion from $11.5 billion. That shortfall will eventually have to be made up, or in the long term the pension won’t be able to meet its obligations to all its members.

Overall, from Aug. 31 to Feb. 28, the fund’s value declined about 32 percent, the report states.

The news shatters hopes for a cost-of-living adjustment for hundreds of thousands of retired Texas public school employees. What’s more, lawmakers will be forced to consider increasing contributions from active members and from the state to shore up losses, one key lawmaker said.

"Candidly, I’m not optimistic," said state Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, chairwoman of the House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee.

"My No. 1 goal is to preserve and grow this fund so it will be here for the members," she said after the report was released. "We’re just in a very difficult time right now."

Pension officials warned legislators for weeks that fund values had dropped significantly. The expectation was that the fund’s value had fallen to $80 billion, from about $104.9 billion last year. So the current estimate was shocking to many.

"I didn’t know it was going to be that bad," said state Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who is also a member of the Pensions and Investments Committee.

The fund’s value stands at $70.6 billion, the report shows.

"When we saw 70.6 . . . it was definitely a more eye-opening perspective based on what we’ve been hearing in the last couple of weeks," said Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association. "It hurts."

At this time, officials stressed, the fund is healthy enough to pay retirees.

"In the short run, the fund is sound," Truitt said. "Retirees do not need to be concerned about whether or not they will be receiving their annuities."

It is the fund’s future that’s at stake.

The Teacher Retirement System has at least 1 million members, including retirees and active employees. The fund makes its money from employee and state contributions and investment earnings. If it could earn a steady 8 percent return on investments in the future, it would have enough assets to cover its obligations through 2040, according to the report.

If that doesn’t happen, the other sources of funding will have to be tapped to keep the fund sound.

Active employees now contribute 6.4 percent of their pay to the fund; the state contributes a rate of 6.58 percent of employees’ pay.

"These contribution levels are no longer adequate to fund TRS’ future liabilities," according to the report by Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Co., the pension’s Irving-based actuarial firm.

The employee contribution rate hasn’t changed in two decades; the state increased its contribution in 2007 after more than a decade. There have been suggestions during legislative discussions to reduce it, Lee said.

The report states that the pension’s actuaries would favor a stair-step increase in state and employee contribution rates over the long term.

But teacher groups don’t like the idea of increasing contributions from employees.

"At this point, we would say that the teachers contribute an adequate sum already,” said Derik Hayenga, chief of staff for the United Educators Association in Fort Worth. "The state needs to step up with their portion."

Friday’s announcement seems to have killed efforts by teacher groups and some legislators to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees. They haven’t had one in eight years.

Another bill, filed by state Rep. Craig Eiland, R-Austin, would grant retirees a one-time supplemental payment this year. In 2007, legislators approved a bill that provided a 13th check to retirees.

Veasey said he still wants to make it a priority.

"If we don’t do the right thing by the teacher retirees, it’s really going to make it harder for us to recruit new teachers," Veasey said. "They need some help."

As for retirees, they are paying close attention to what’s going on in Austin.

"Certainly, retirees would accept another 13th check," said Bill Barnes of Fort Worth, state legislative chairman for the Texas Retired Teachers Association.

Friday, March 13, 2009

~ Quote of the Day ~
"The cockroaches will always run for cover when the lights get turned on....."
~ Mark Fredrick (3/13/09), after STRS stonewalls Jim Stoll's request for public information

Warren County RTA..a Progressive RTA Website

From John Curry, March 13, 2009 8:37 PM

Warren County RTA is more than just meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans! Retirees...please share this page with your local RTA officers.
STRS 2009 Board Elections
In April STRS members bill be electing three new board members. One Active and two Retiree seats are to be filled.
CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) has endorsed Mr. Jim Stoll (Active) as well as Mr. Bob Stein & Mr. James McGreevy (Retirees).
Additional information about these candidates may be found at:
Updates about the candidates and this election will be posted at this site as they become available.
Photo: Jim Stoll
James A. Stoll has been Director of Athletics at Sycamore High School for the past 12 years. Prior to that Mr. Stoll was an assistant college basketball coach at the University of Wyoming and Miami University where he also served as adjunct professor of Sports Marketing.
In addition to being a Teacher/Coach/Administrator for 22 years, Jim also Co-Founded a successful summer business called ProCamps where he puts on youth sports camps for NBA/NFL players in their communities throughout the United States. Among Jim’s clients are five NBA superstars who played for Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Olympic Gold Medal Team, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, Tayshaun Prince and Carmelo Anthony. Mr. Stoll feels his business acumen will greatly assist in helping to protect the assets of our pension fund.
First and foremost the role of a State Teachers Retirement Board Member is to be a “Fiduciary” of the pension fund that active and retired teachers have paid into throughout their careers. As you know our pension fund has lost 33 billion dollars from June 2007 – February 2009, I want to put mechanisms in place to be sure losses like this will never occur in the future. Other key issues include elimination of bonuses for investment staff, Health Care for retirees and protection of our assets so pension benefits will be ensured when active teachers are ready to retire.

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OEA salaries.....Latest Dept. of Labor posting 11/2008

From John Curry, March 13, 2009

Below is a summary of the top OEA salaries as reported to the U.S. Dept. of Labor from their website. This posting was presented to the U.S. Dept. of Labor in November of 2008 and covers a time period from 9/1/2007- 8/31/2008. Just as public school educators' salaries are public domain, the salaries of the OEA associates are also public domain. I have listed all salaries at or above $50,000, there are some less than 50K but this may or may not be due to a part time position or a person who was hired during this time period or resigned during this time period or....could just be a salary lower than 50K.
John Curry
a member of CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators)
If you wish to access the full report please follow this procedure:
1. Go to this page (this link opens in a new window):
2. Enter this employer number: 512-490 in the box listed as "File Number."
3. Click the "Submit" button.
Now, here's the summary. Please note the term "LRC" listed as a job description - this stands for Labor Relations Consultant....the OEA people that you probably see when they visit your school. These names/salaries can be found listed on schedules 11 & 12 of the U.S. Dept. of Labor document should you decide to click on the link above and do your own search.
I have left out the dollar signs. The first group listed are officers of the OEA and are on a separate schedule from the rest of the associates. Salaries in excess of 100K are in boldface print. These figures are from column (D) Gross Salary Disbursements (before any deductions).
Frost Brooks, Patricia---President---172,574
Leibensperger, William---Vice-President---151,451
Timlin, James---Secertary-Treasurer---151,382
Allen, Gary---Former President---97,502
Allison, Mark---CIS Consultant---118,901
Arrigi, Geraldine---Admin. Secretary II---58,821
Austin,Jolynn---Staff Consultant I---59,215
Avouris, John---LRC---91,314
Babcock, Susan---AED Strategic/Workforce---136,209
Heitzman, Lynn---LRC---54,663
Gee, Karen---LRC---54,574
Barbu, Alex---CIS Technician---55,732
Bartlo, Lynn---Admin Secretary II---58,887
Bayou, Ann---LRC---118,668
Bell, Marla---LRC---118,690
Bibler, Timothy---LRC---118,634
Biddle, Susan---LRC---118,536
Bird, Rodney---LRC---121,805
Blanden, Lee---LRC---107,062
Boerger, Katherine---LRC---72,695
Botz, Gail---Communications Tech.---61,654
Bozovich, George---LRC---124,050
Brooks, Lisa---Ex. Assistant-Counsel---66,286
Busby, Robin---LRC---118,369
Carlisle, Gary---LRC---118,917
Chandler, Elizabeth---LRC---119,904
Chanfrau, Graciela---Dir. Human Resources---85,826
Chavez, Peggy---LRC---124,235
Chute, Danielle---Staff Accountant II---60,790
Clark, Melissa---Lobbyist---86,002
Clar, Airica---LRC---86,213
Cline, Cathy---Admin. Secy. II---60,615
Clum, Darren---CIS Consultant---118,692
Cohagen, Joseph---Dir. Accounting---116,872
Colbeck, Tad---LRC---72,586
Coyler, Shelley---Admin. Secy. II---61,189
Cooper, Jeanette---Dir. Region 4---113,458
Cooper, Shawn---LRC---109,938
Constantino, Mark---LRC---106,966
Crawford, Douglas---LRC---118,621
Crumrine, Margaret---Admin. Secy. II---58,691
Dalton, Donald---LRC---118,580
Davis, Demetrice---Education Reform Cons.---101,237
Davis, Elaine---Admin. Secy. II---60,084
Davis, Robert---Lobbyist---106,625
Davis, Vicky---LRC---118,525
Dotson. Matthew---Lobbyist---114,386
Doubledee, Arlene---Admin. Asst.---55,048
Eichelberger, Donna---Admin. Secy. II---58,123
Elias, Dawn---Ex. Asst. Human Resources---77,814
Elling, Betty---LRC---96,394
Facchiano, Joyce---Admin. Secy. II---60,363
Fekete, Fritz---Dir. I/S & Research---140,258
Field, Ann---LRC---120,498
Fiely, Linda---Dir. Legal Services---111,075
Flanagan, Kevin---Dir. Region 3---137,692
Flora, Randall---Dir. EI&I---123,764
Fulton, Karen---Dir. EI&I---54,220
Gallagher, Kathleen---Admin. Asst.---68,625
Garlits, Lenna---Admin. Secy II---58,968
Gascon, Gregg---Research Cons.---121,534
Grafton, John---LRC---106,981
Graham, Stuart---CIS Consultant---121,518
Harris, Russell---Ed. Research Cons.---118,658
Hart, Jonathan---CIS Consultant---105,003
Helvey, Edward---LRC---101,457
Holub, Donald---Research Consultant---105,482
Hornacek, Anthony---CIS Consultant---86,782
Howell, Lynette---LRC---118,857
Hutchins, Talmadge---LRC---118,715
Jackson, Schalet---LRC---76,904
Jewell, Paul---Research Consultant---118,658
Johanson, Barbara---Admin. Secy. II---59,112
Johnson, Charles---LRC---118,633
Johnson, Rachelle---Counsel---111,171
Jones, Esther---Admin. Secy.II---59,040
Jones, Jan---LRC---118,658
Joseph, Bonnie---Political Consultant---139,822
Jowhar, Thomas---LRC---118,671
Kaliszak, Teresa---Membership Accounting---70,011
Kappes, John---Tech. Operator---74,868
Kaszar, Suzanne---Communications Cons---118,064
Keller, Rosemarie---Manager Legal Services---90,995
Kelm, Linda---Admin. Secy. II---63,488
Kestner, Jeffrey---LRC---131,935
Kidwell, Sally---Staff Accountant II---69,957
Kirdwood, Amber---LRC---96,485
Kovach, Gary---LRC---93,826
Kubiske, Annette---LRC---118,595
Lane, Kimberly---LRC---120,191
Leidy, Chloann---LRC---112,771
Lester, Donna---Admin. Secy. II---59,252
Linder, Mark---LRC---110,354
Lindsey, Linda---LRC---119,438
Lobert-Edmo, Lavonne---:RC---109,355
Mahoney, Mike---Dir. Communication---117,098
Marchese, Victor---LRC---112,885
Marcum, Connie---Admin. Secy. II---58,986
Martin, Beverly---Admin. Asst.---53,208
Martin, James---AED Business Services---148,249
Matkowski, Robert---LRC---121,120
Matusick, Michael---LRC---53,672
May, Linda---LRC---118,658
Maynard, Debbie---LRC---81,809
Mceachern, Michael---LRC---102,680
McMurray, Bonnie---LRC---120,157
Messer, Darlene---LRC---101,614
Messer, Donald---LRC---119,224
Miller, Diane---LRC---118,631
Miller, Tim---LRC---118,642
Miller, Vickie---LRC---101,900
Mills, Linda---Accountant Asst.---52,902
Mueller, Daniel---LRC---72,548
Munoz-Nedrow, Cristina---LRC---97,929
Murdock, Patricia-Director Region 1---126,006
Musilli, Henry---LRC---118,617
Navin, Lori---Admin. Secy. II---59,121
Nelson, Alfred---LRC---111,526
Nelson, Judy---Admin. Secy. II---64,674
Newhall, Julie---Editor---119,324
Nolasco, Jeffrey---LRC---106,810
Norris, Parry---Director Region 2---123,068
Obrien, Sharon---Admin. Secy. II---59,206
Oconnell-Burt, Kathleen---LRC---101,735
Odonell, Tina---Ex. Assistant---81,582
Otten, William---LRC---118,540
Patrick, Maureen---Prod. Consultant---159,087
Pearson, William---LRC---127,356
Peltola, Dennis---LRC---121,881
Peterson, Cynthia---Education Reform Cons.---125,441
Phillips, Crystalle---Admin. Secy. II---59,558
Picker, Barbara---Admin. Secy. II---58,681
Pipe, Herman---LRC---101,517
Prater, Michelle---Communications Cons.---107,679
Puterbaugh, Debra---Admin. Secy. II---58,393
Quesada, Dinica---Education Reform Cons.---88,836
Radel, Sam---LRC---81,994
Rapp, Ron---Director Governmental Svc.---73,384
Ray, Patricia---LRC---72,305
Reardon, Dennis---Executive Director---176,317
Reed, Phyllis---Admin. Secy. II---59,420
Reimund, Marci---LRC---118,681
Renaud, Thomas---LRC---118,670
Rivera, Daniel---AED Member Services---133,466
Roberts, Debra---Admin. Asst.---59,254
Rosa, Miriam---Admin. Secy. II---59,703
Rumsey, Lora---LRC---91,369
Saad, Sheila---LRC---127,606
Shoulders, Venita---LRC---135,677
Simonini, Laura---Admin. Asst.---66,634
Slaughter Rebecca---Mgr. Governance Relations---96,687
Smith, Peggy---Admin. Secy. II---58,717
Smolik, Carrie---LRC---118,665
Soto, Charlene---Reprograhics Tech.---53,847
Squires, Jerry---LRC---119,424
Starcher, Connie---Admin. Secy. II---60,424
Stephenson, Edward---LRC---118,653
Stewart, Joyce---Admin. Secy. II---54,648
Suchy, Mary---Dir. of Membership---135,321
Terman, Melodie---LRC---107,278
Thomas, Anne---LRC---68,629
Thompson, Angela---Admin. Secy. II---59,895
Tieman, Diane---LRC---123,962
Trapp, Helen---LRC---101,428
Tufaro, Dolores---LRC---80,960
Turner, Patricia---Research Cons.---118,750
Urban, Eric---LRC---98,610
Villamagna, Rebecca---LRC---118,624
Volz-Costell, Jerrilyn---Mgr. Admin. Svcs.---82,567
Walters, Saundra---Admin. Secy. II---58,815
Watson, Diana---LRC---77,486
Webster, Michelle---Staff Accountant II---79,438
Weldon, Cecelia---LRC---120,466
White, Cathy---LRC---117,624
Whitney, Theresa---LRC---76,220
Williams, Don---LRC---118,742
Williams, Kent---LRC---52,729
Wilson, Jada---Admin. Asst.---59,352
Wing, Debra---LRC---103,862
Winters, Deborah---Data Entry Tech.---50,505
Wittemire, Leroy---Ex. Asst. Business Svc.---83,431
Yevincy, Amy---LRC---61,118
Yoder, James---Director Region 5---166,254
Young, Alice---Admin. Secy. II---59,655
Young, Norman---LRC---127,705
[Gov. Ted Strickland: $144,831]

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tom Curtis to Sandy Knoesel re: Spousal eligibility

From Tom Curtis, March 10, 2009
Subj: 031009 Curtis To Knoesel, Re OPERS spousal eligibility beginning 2011...they Grandfathered/STRS didnt!
Hello Sandra,
Below you will find some information in support of my recent email to you. This was regarding information found on the STRS website about comparisons between OSTRS & OPERS benefits.
I hope to have a response from you this week.
Thank you,
Thomas Curtis
STRS Stakeholder

From John Curry, March 9, 2009
Subject: OPERS spousal eligibility beginning 2011...they Grandfathered/STRS didn't!
The item below was taken from the OPERS site. Unlike STRS, OPERS gave two years notice and will allow retirees' spouses to get back the subsidy after the spouse turns 55.
New Eligibility Rule for Spouses Effective 2011
OPERS has an on-going strategy in place to preserve our ability to subsidize retiree health care premiums amid rising costs and a rapidly growing retiree population. As part of this strategy, the OPERS Board of Trustees has adopted a modification to our health care plan eligibility rules affecting covered spouses.

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, OPERS will no longer subsidize the monthly health care premium cost for spouses of retirees who are under the age of 55. This change will affect spouses of retirees who are currently retired and those who will retire in the future. Retirees may continue to cover their spouse under the OPERS health care plan, but they will be responsible for the full health care premium. Once their spouse reaches age 55, OPERS will again subsidize their health care coverage premium.

To clarify, below is a detailed list of those spouses who are and are not affected by the new policy:

Who is affected:
  • Spouses of age and service retirees who are under the age of 55 as of Jan. 1, 2011
  • Spouses, under the age of 55 as of Jan. 1, 2011, of retirees who converted from a disability benefit to an age and service benefit and,
  • Spouses, under the age of 55 as of Jan. 1, 2011, of survivor benefit recipients whose health care coverage subsidy has been grand-fathered
Who is NOT affected:
  • Spouses of disability benefit recipients
  • Any spouse who is receiving a benefit as the surviving spouse of an age and service retiree (joint and survivor annuity) or as the surviving spouse of a deceased active member (receiving a survivor benefit)
  • Spouses with early Medicare
  • Dependent children

Tom Curtis, Mike Nehf re: Employee numbers

Tom Curtis to Michael Nehf, February 19, 2009
Subject: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
Hello Mr. Nehf,
Would you kindly provide me with the current number of STRS employees at this date? Please break that down into full and part-time, if that applies.
Further, would you kindly have a listing prepared of the number of employees, month by month, from July 1990 to March 2009. That will cover a span of four executive directors. I will ask that you provide me with this listing in a reasonable amount of time, as it should not take much time to produce.
I am requesting this information, because I find it troubling that the STRS continues to employ the highest number of employees, of the five public pension systems in Ohio, yet does not have the largest amount of holdings or members. Further, the STRS does not provide the best benefits for their stakeholders. Actually, in my opinion from documentation that I have obtained about the other four, the STRS provides fewer benefits to their retirees, with the exception of the State Highway Patrol. Please correct me if I am wrong.
These are very trying times, which you are well aware of. All of us are having to cutback on our expenditures. In my opinion, so should the very people that are employed to handle our retirement funds. I have not witnessed, or know of any reduction in force in the history of the STRS.
The STRS does not produce a product and therefore does not require a specific workforce to provide the most crucial benefits the stakeholder needs. Reducing programs and the work force at the STRS should be highly considered and completed no latter then the end of this fiscal year.
We have more employees, but receive fewer benefits then do the OPERS stakeholder. I realize some of the other pension funds show little comparison to the STRS, but we most closely are compared to the OPERS.
I for one am getting very tired of loosing ground every year financially, while the STRS employees continue to gain in compensation at a rate far above what the retire receives and/or the rate of inflation has been. This is absolutely wrong!
Just one example: The pay increases given this fiscal year, along with all of the added ways of receiving more bonuses, shows little consideration of the very people that you are employed to represent. Please explain how you justify such? Please do not tell me we paid a consulting firm to justify the increases for the employees, as that simply verifies your greed and shows how little concern you have for your stakeholders.
Others and I had discussed these issues with Damon Asbury and the executive staff as far back as when we held monthly CORE/STRS meetings in 2003-2005. I chaired many of those meetings. I stopped doing so in 2005, when my level of frustration grew far beyond my ability to be civil to those people that provided us with so many lame answers. I lost all respect for those people, because they were not being held accountable for their decisions and actions. Unfortunately, little has changed since that time.
After reading about your background and experience prior to coming to the STRS, I was very encouraged by your selection as our new executive director. I will show you the respect and courtesy you well deserve, but as my father used to tell me, respect in earned and not simply given. I will continue to question many policies and practices at the STRS and I am hopeful that you will respond to such in an appropriate manner.
Please keep in mind, that business as usual is no longer the norm. Our new president, who I highly admire and voted for, is offering a new direction for this country. One of renewed accountability, though I realize that is a very tuff avenue to travel down, considering the mindset of today's society.
With all due respect Mr. Nehf, despite all of the various surveys the STRS wastes our money to have produced, the stakeholders of the STRS are not getting value for their dollar.
The STRS literature sent to the stakeholders is and has been skewed to the positive for as many years as I can remember, which makes for a truly uninformed stakeholder. A stakeholder lulled into thinking everything is just peachy, when many of us know it is not.
I implore you to follow the freedom of information policies of this country and state and provide the information I have requested.
"We the STRS stakeholders will be ever vigilant, not because we desire to be, but because the personal greed of our money managers has forced us to be."
Tom Curtis
STRS Stakeholder
Michael Nehf to Tom Curtis, February 20, 2009
PM Subject: RE: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
I recently reported to the Board how the number of STRS employees has decreased over the years. STRS is also the only one of the five public pension systems to manage its real estate portfolio with its own staff, thus saving thousands of dollars in investment fees. I’ll work with staff on your request, but hopefully you witnessed positive results from this week’s Board meetings.
Mike Nehf
Curtis to Nehf, February 22, 2009
Subject: 022109 Curtis To Nehf, Re Your Response
Hello Mike,
I greatly appreciate your quick response and willingness to provide the figures I have requested. I hope the information might be a valuable snapshot for you as well, possibly for future planning.
During the CORE/STRS meetings held a few years back, Steve Mitchell made us all very aware of the benefit of the investment department and the money saved. So, too, have the many STRS consulting reports I have read over the past 5 years. However, the operation of the investment department is completely over my head, or that of anyone who has not had a strong investment background; but then you know this.
I also realize there are few complaints when times are good and the department is producing at, or far above the 8% benchmark. However, that is another issue, and one I have absolutely no expertise in. I am a technologist and I look at things in a very different manner then do most other educators. I am a problem solver and use failure to my advantage, to better a procedure or process. I find so many others abhor failure and simply try to find blame and point fingers at others less likely to be able to defend such. Prior to teaching, I had a background in industry and manufacturing and know that one has to manufacture a product to make a profit. The employees of the STRS do not manufacture goods as such; they are there to provide a service. You and they were hired because of our money. Herb Dyer's culture was simple, but very wrong! His thinking, and I quote, "'s the Board members' money to spend as they see fit." He made that statement to a retiree and again before the ORSC. The members of the ORSC quickly informed him that was not the case. His comments were in all of the major newspapers in Ohio and the AP press. I believe he felt that he and the investment people were the "chosen few" who were going to handle our money as they saw fit and needed no input from the stakeholder. Well, he failed, and the educators of Ohio are the big losers, because the cost of HC has never been properly funded and is bleeding retirees dry. It has been said that Herb Dyer wanted the STRS out of the HC business. It looks like he has accomplished that, doesn’t it? (What a shame he became one of our executive directors)
There is one glaring fault I find with most of the elected board members. Collectively, they have little to no background in business and finance. They could attend 2 seminars every year and still have little true understanding of how the investment department operates. Many of them, still active teachers, could not possibly have the time to read the vast amount of materials they are provided and asked to read each and every month, and also complete the school work they have 180-189 days a year. In my opinion, they are pawns for both the STRS and the union management. Companies would never consider hiring one of them to make billion dollar decisions, but the OEA/OFT pay their way to be on the board. From my experience, educators are ignorant of whom they vote onto the STRS board. They simply listen to their union officials, like good sheep.
Mike, you are aware that the educators of Ohio have provided a continuous flow of income to the OSTRS since 1920. That plan went well and they added HC benefits in 1974. Management promised such and were paid handsomely for providing that added service and for managing our funds; but failed to fulfill the HCSF obligation, seeing that it was properly funded for the future.
Please check your Newsletter library and locate the 1992 Newsletter when Herb Dyer came to the STRS. His picture is on the front. He clearly states that a dedicated flow of income must be found for the HCSF. But guess what: management and the OEA took their eye off of that ball. They never made that the #1 priority. They did many other things, of a lesser priority. They built a beautiful building with all of the luxuries of corporate America; they provided for entertainment and travel galore; they paid a 13th check to retirees for an unprecedented 21 years; in short, they provided themselves with the best, including free cars -- all at the Fund's expense. So, what do we have left now, a few drops left in the HCSF bucket? (I wish I knew the real figures).
The stakeholder is left with a HCSF that is nearly dried up; the death spiral is already in progress. We probably do not have more then a handful of years left until the HCSF is gone. This is really going to upset the actives, for they have paid into a HC system that will be gone when they retire. What are you and the board going to say to them? The miniscule 1% that has been placed in the HCSF for many years now is a joke, compared to the other four pension systems. That is just one more reason management is not trusted by those of us who understand what has been taking place at the OSTRS for the past 3 decades.
Mike, we desperately need an executive director with the ability to operate the STRS in an efficient and cost effective manner. We need an executive director that will place the concerns and the future of the stakeholder first. Are you that person, because we need you to be? The abuses of the past cannot stand. We need you to provide the leadership necessary to turn the "business as usual" around. Dennis Leone has done his best, along with John Lazares’ support. As you know, he will leave the board at the end of August. Undoubtedly, the two unions will take all stops out to fill the open board seats with union pawns. If that occurs, we will repeat history once again, by having all of the board seats filled by union representatives. In my opinion, their financial influence should not be permitted in determining who will be on the board.
Through the use of the Internet, your stakeholders can easily communicate with one another, as you have witnessed by reading Kathie Bracy’s Blog. Her blog reaches more stakeholders each and every day. She does an absolutely outstanding presentation of the many issues that effect educators. John Curry does an equally outstanding job of researching information that is pertinent to the retiree.
Those of us that supported Dennis Leone’s historic document made quite a difference in the operation of the STRS beginning in 2003. No one thought we would. Herb Dyer thumbed his nose at Dennis Leone and would not even sit down and discuss the concerns he brought to the board. He was a very arrogant and rude man and was out of control. We brought about change by placing constant pressure on the executive director and the board. Damon Asbury and the OEA have attempted to take credit for the changes, but we all know who caused them to take place. There is still much to be undone. We, your stakeholders will continue to cause your administration and the board much concern, as we will never take our eye off of the operation, until we are all gone. We desire a pension system that we can all have trust and faith in. Right now, that is not the case.
You have to be aware that the STRS stakeholder is becoming increasingly fearful for his/her future. This is the pulse I get from those I talked with while getting signatures for two retiree candidates. If the stakeholder is going to suffer, then it is natural that they want the people handling their money to (at the very least) show good faith and restraint, not "business as usual." We saw "business as usual" with Herb Dyer after the $12.3 billion loss in 2001. He's gone and has a criminal record to boot. He received a handsome severance package, but he was forced to leave, like so many money managers of today. I can tell you first hand, being a disability retiree myself, no one wants to leave their profession under unfavorable conditions.
The STRS has been unable to provide the HC benefit I was promised by the OEA my entire career. My cost of HC for my wife and me, beginning in 2004, is in excess of one-third of my pension. Compare that to the $30/month for both my wife and me, and a 90-10% coverage, when I retired in 1998.
Yes, this all happened before you came, but most of the names and faces have not changed, and this is the legacy you inherited. If you did not understand why so many recent retirees are so untrusting and have little faith in the management of the STRS, I hope this snapshot allows for a clearer picture.
It looks like Steve Mitchell was wrong when he stated almost a year ago that the recession was going to be weak. Well, obviously, that was the signal for business as usual; what the heck, pay raises for everyone!
In response to your question, yes, I am pleased with some of the decisions finally being made to reduce costs. I've heard good reports about actions being considered but have not read about them yet. I must tell you though; I am very disappointed that our board allowed the huge salary increases given to everyone in fiscal 2009. When a company that produces a product has lost $8 billion dollars, which I believe was the case at the time when those raises were approved, they do not hand out 6%-15% pay increases, so why does the STRS? I believe I know the answer to that. The consultants were paid well to tell the board that those increases were justified. Who pays the bill, the goose that lays the golden egg, the stakeholder? Who has continually lost ground financially, the stakeholder? Who, has continually gained ground financially, the employees? What do you see wrong with this scenario? The cost of operation of the OSTRS is way out of line.
In conclusion, others and I feel management is taking unfair advantage of the lack of backbone, background and inadequate training of the STRS elected board member. Both Herb Dyer and Damon Asbury were masters at this game. Mike, you guys are supposedly to be the professionals hired to provide us with a comfortable pension. Both the OEA and the STRS promised us that we had the "Cadillac" of pension plans. We agreed to work for lower wages then we deserved, for the education required for a teacher. So, why can't the OEA and STRS management be trusted to provide us with what they promised? Is having faith and trust in one's own pension system too much to ask? Do any STRS employees place one dime into the STRS pension fund or have any investment in our fund? Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe so. The only thing any employee has to lose is his/her job.
Tom Curtis,
OSTRS Stakeholder
Curtis to Nehf, March 3, 2009
Subject: Re: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
Hello Mike,
It was my hope to have the numbers I requested by this time? Why the hold-up?
Would you kindly respond?
Thank you,
Tom Curtis
Nehf to Curtis, March 4, 2009
Subject: RE: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
My apologies. I was away for several days and will have staff respond with a copy.
Joyce Baldwin to Tom Curtis, March 5, 2009
Subject: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
Per your email request on February 19, 2009, Mike Nehf asked that I forward you the attached document.
Our apologies that the information was delayed with Mr. Nehf out of the office last week. I hope this information is helpful.
Best regards,
Joyce Baldwin
Curtis to Baldwin, March 5, 2009
Subject: Re: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
Hello Joyce,
I could not open the attachment. It indicates that it is an unknown file type.
I was looking for a spreadsheet with employee counts, both part and full-time from 1990 - 2009 or present.
Thank you,
Tom Curtis
Baldwin to Curtis, March 5, 2009
Subject: RE: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
Tom, I pasted the document into the e-mail.
To: Mike Nehf

From: Robert Slater
Date: February 10, 2009
Subject: 2002-2009 Budget Savings and Associate Counts
Budget Savings
A schedule of administrative expense budgets and actual expenses for the eight most recent fiscal years is shown below. The total administrative expense budget increased from $89.1 million in fiscal 2002 to $98.8 million in fiscal 2009 – that is a 1.5% compound annual rate of increase. However, even that relatively small increase is skewed by significant increases in budgets for investment-related expenses, including custodial banking fees along with board-approved salary and incentive increases for staff in the Investment Department. Budgeted expenses in all other areas actually decreased by more than 16% over the period, a 2.5% compound rate of decrease per year.
Actual expenses were even lower, increasing 0.7% per year in total and decreasing 2.6% per year, on average, for all departments other than Investments. A summary of the most significant reductions over the period is also attached.
Click image to enlarge.
Associate Counts
Since June 30, 2002, the number of full-time equivalent associates has been reduced significantly. The chart below outlines the number of budgeted and actual full-time equivalent associates at the end of each fiscal year.

NOTE: Current staffing is 601 total associates or 584 FTE’s.
[See Summary of Actual and Budgeted Expenses, with % of Change in Budget, posted separately, immediately below this post]
Curtis to Baldwin, March 5, 2009
Subject: Re: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
Thank you Joyce,
However, would you please remind Mike that I had requested the employee counts from 1990 - 2009, and would still like that information.
Tom Curtis
Baldwin to Curtis, Thursday, March 5, 2009
Subject: Re: 021909 Curtis To Nehf, Employee Counts
Thank you Joyce,
Would you also please remind him that I requested that both full and part-time numbers be listed separately. Because the employee count varies throughout the year, ask him to list the highest count per year.
Thank you for your assistance.
Tom Curtis
P.S. My wife Linda said, "Hello."
Nehf to Curtis, March 6, 2009
Subject: RE: Employee Counts
STRS Ohio does not have this information available to copy for you. It would have to be compiled. I apologize that I cannot comply with your request. I reiterate that STRS is working diligently during these difficult times to serve our members’ most important needs. Tom, I hope you understand. Is there any additional information we can provide that we may already have developed?
Mike Nehf
Nehf to Curtis, March 6, 2009
Subject: RE: Employee Counts
Dear Tom,
It is my understanding that we would have to create a document to provide you with this information. I’m checking with Human Resources to see what data they have. As you might imagine, STRS is working extremely hard during these difficult times to serve our members’ primary needs. I appreciate your patience on these types of requests.
Mike Nehf
Curtis to Nehf, March 6, 2009
Subject: Re: Employee Counts
Hello Mike,
I had no thought that what I requested would be readily available to copy. Whether the information I requested would have to be compiled or not, the freedom of information act makes it clear that you will provide such. I would think, especially to a stakeholder, so your apology is not warranted. You are on very shaky ground Mike, when you start providing such excuses for not providing public information.
Please reconsider your position and have one of our many excellent employees put this together in a timely fashion. I have waited long enough, while you have been dragging your feet.
If I do not receive the information by the end of next week, I will file a complaint against you with the proper authorities. That is not what you desire, is it?
Tom Curtis
Curtis to Nehf, March 7, 2009
Subject: 030609 Curtis, Re Nehf, Re Employee Counts
Hello Mike,
Thank you for passing my request along to the HR department. I am confident that HR will be capable of fulfilling my request.
Would you kindly have the person in HR contact me either by phone or email on Monday? I would like to make sure they understand my request and thus would not have to duplicate the search at a later date. I find that good communication is essential to getting the job done the first time. I like efficiency.
And, this is a primary concern of mine and many other retirees. I am sorry you do not seem to feel that way.
Mike, with all due respect, if you want to know about difficult times, you should be in my shoes, your stakeholder. There is no greater feeling then knowing, that both the union and retirement system you provided a dedicated flow of income into throughout your career, could not uphold promises they made to you all that time.
But then, you won't have to experience that with the retirement system you belong to, will you?
Tom Curtis
03.10.09 Response from Mr. Nehf...None to date

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