Saturday, June 20, 2009


From Mario Iacone, June 16, 2009

One of the reasons Mr. Nehf and others at STRS justify COLA elimination/reduction is the likelihood of low inflation in previous years and for some time to come.

This is not a valid argument when directed toward the senior population and retirees.


Health Care Costs Are!

Cost of Services Are!

Prescription Costs Are!

Nursing Home Costs Are!

Due to the reality of the normal aging process and a gradual deterioration of health, retirees have to spend more and more of their income for medical services and prescriptions.

Retirees are also forced to spend disproportionately more for services due to normal deterioration of physical ability with increase in age.


Nursing home costs when dependently aged. COLA offsets the depletion of personal assets for such care so that maybe some of what it took a lifetime to save can be passed on to our children.


From Mario Iacone, June 14, 2009
Click images to enlarge.
Examine the following chart showing a 10 year return of 7.78% of the Vanguard Long Term Treasury Fund.

Had the STRS Fund performed as well, current value would be approximately 85 Billion Dollars. Examine the following chart.

This is not intended as hindsight criticism of STRS Investment Department, but, simply to demonstrate that there are other ways to make good returns without risking huge losses.
STRS Members must work diligently to get STRS to:

Tribute to Dr. Dennis Leone by Tom Curtis

In January 2003 the cost of HC for STRS retirees began its huge spiral upward. I had been discussing this issue by email with many retirees from my school system. Talk of Dr. Dennis Leone’s efforts to curb expenses at the STRS surfaced. On May 1st, 2003, I captured Dr. Leone’s email address and sent him an email asking several questions about the STRS operation and oversight possibilities.

Since he was a sitting superintendent and had plenty on his plate, I thought I would not likely hear back from him for sometime. However, the next morning I was pleasantly surprised to find his response to my questions.

From that day forward, he became a trusted friend and advocate, and has nearly always been available for communication. Many others and I have supported his efforts to bring about much needed reform, concerning matters of mismanagement and misspending at the STRS. I have never been acquainted with someone of his stature, determination and dedication to his cause on behalf of educators throughout Ohio.

Over the past 7 years, Dennis Leone has spent endless hours of time trying to make sense of the outlandish spending that has occurred by the STRS management and board members. He has been labeled a hero by many, to a dissident board member by the OEA, because of his efforts to simply bring about accountability. He has received prestigious awards from various organizations for his efforts and vigilance. On the other hand, he has been rarely supported by the full STRS board, OEA, OFT, or ORTA; those organizations that derive their dedicated flow of income from educators. It is obvious to me that those organizations desire our dedicated flow of income, but desire little oversight over what they do with our money. This is simply just WRONG!

Dennis, your days on the board are numbered and those who have not supported your efforts will be joyful that you will be gone so they may get back to business as usual, of abusing our funds, while many retirees suffer the negative effects of their mismanagement and misspending.

I wish to thank each and every CORE member for their dedication and support of Dr. Leone’s efforts. It should be obvious that his issues and concerns have not fully been addressed. The high cost of operation of the STRS is still a huge issue, one few stakeholders seem to take seriously. In the near future, when our legislature calls for the reduction of our pensions, many more stakeholders may come to their senses and call for the accountability Dr. Leone has called for over the past 6 years. Consequently, I encourage each of you CORE members to continue the fight for accountability and transparency at the STRS.

To Dr. Leone’s family, I wish to sincerely thank you for also supporting his efforts, knowing that each of you has had to share him with us. Our love and admiration goes out to each of you, because you truly understand his need to embrace these issues.

Tom Curtis: The spending goes on while STRS goes broke; enjoy your pension while you still have it!

From Tom Curtis, June 20, 2009
Subject: 061909 Leone's Motion Halted Again By OEA/OFT Union Board Members

For the time in known board history, union members voted to stop discussion on a motion and tabled it until September, when Dennis Leone will be off of the board. It will never see the light of day again. The spending goes on while STRS goes broke! Enjoy your pension while you still receive it.

The 'OEA Way' on 'truth' (deja vu) and a portent of things to come: Dennis Leone looks ahead at a frightfully inexperienced 'new Board'

From Dennis Leone, June 20, 2009
Subject: Additional Thoughts About 6-19-09 STRS Board Meeting

I mentioned to one retiree last night that the Myers’s OEA-type motion yesterday at STRS Board meeting (seconded by Ramser) to shut me up and “close the discussion” about bonus checks (a motion that barely failed, 5-4) was not something we saw in the worst of times during the Dyer/Chapman/Sidaway/Norris heyday of 2000-2003. With Meuser the chair now, and Myers the vice-chair, the board and the public will be woefully uninformed over the next two years. It is not the OEA way to make sure the truth is being told. I saw, first-hand, evidence of the board’s naivete in executive session yesterday when there was discussion about how to handle the evaluation of executive director Mike Nehf. With the exception of Brooks and Burch, the rest of the board has no idea what-so-ever what to do. They are utterly inexperienced in such things, as they are with the bigger picture of governance. It’s darn scary.

Before adjournment yesterday, I publicly asked Myers to explain his written comment to the Jackson Center Local School District Superintendent. Myers wrote a couple of weeks ago that if the STRS Board does not pay the bonus checks to the investment staff, the board would experience “a penalty ten times the amount” needed for the bonuses. I publicly asked Myers to explain what he meant by such a statement. He refused to answer. I guess he wants the board to believe he has some special expertise to determine that if sued, the board would end up paying ten times the amount of the bonuses. He won’t quantify the statement, however, because he can’t. Myers has given new meaning to the word immaturity. I have told STRS executive director Mike Nehf several times in the past few months that if he allows himself to believe that Myers/Meuser/Ramser have the pulse of the STRS membership, it will spell significant problems for both STRS and himself personally.

Dr. Dennis Leone
STRS Retiree Board Member

Dennis Leone looks ahead at the 'new Board': the 'OEA Way' on 'truth' (deja vu!) and a portent of things to come

From Dennis Leone, June 20, 2009
Subject: Additional Thoughts About 6-19-09 STRS Board Meeting

I mentioned to one retiree last night that the Myers’s OEA-type motion yesterday at STRS Board meeting (seconded by Ramser) to shut me up and “close the discussion” about bonus checks (a motion that barely failed, 5-4) was not something we saw in the worst of times during the Dyer/Chapman/Sidaway/Norris heyday of 2000-2003. With Meuser the chair now, and Myers the vice-chair, the board and the public will be woefully uninformed over the next two years. It is not the OEA way to make sure the truth is being told. I saw, first-hand, evidence of the board’s naivete in executive session yesterday when there was discussion about how to handle the evaluation of executive director Mike Nehf. With the exception of Brooks and Burch, the rest of the board has no idea what-so-ever what to do. They are utterly inexperienced in such things, as they are with the bigger picture of governance. It’s darn scary.

Before adjournment yesterday, I publicly asked Myers to explain his written comment to the Jackson Center Local School District Superintendent. Myers wrote a couple of weeks ago that if the STRS Board does not pay the bonus checks to the investment staff, the board would experience “a penalty ten times the amount” needed for the bonuses. I publicly asked Myers to explain what he meant by such a statement. He refused to answer. I guess he wants the board to believe he has some special expertise to determine that if sued, the board would end up paying ten times the amount of the bonuses. He won’t quantify the statement, however, because he can’t. Myers has given new meaning to the word immaturity. I have told STRS executive director Mike Nehf several times in the past few months that if he allows himself to believe that Myers/Meuser/Ramser have the pulse of the STRS membership, it will spell significant problems for both STRS and himself personally.

Dr. Dennis Leone
STRS Retiree Board Member

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tom Curtis and former (appointed) STRS Board member Steve Buser re: The 35 year/88-1/2% rule for calculating pension benefits

(Best to read from the bottom up.)

Steve Buser to Tom Curtis, June 19, 2009
Subject: RE: 061909 Buser, Re: 061909 STRS 88-1/2% Rule

No problem at all sharing my views. And thanks for the kind words.

From Tom Curtis, June 19, 2009
Subject: 061909 Buser, Re: 061909 STRS 88-1/2% Rule

Thank you again Stephen,

I appreciate your comments, as I feel you have the background and knowledge to fully understand the complicated operation of the STRS. I wish you had been able to remain on our board for a longer period of time then you did. However, by knowing you for just that brief period of time, I came to appreciate your candor and willingness to explain important issues such as this one.

You must have been a good educator, as I now have a better understanding of the many varibles that would need to be considered when determining the current viability of the 88-1/2% rule. Do you mind if I share your comments with others?

Tom Curtis

From Steve Buser, June 19, 2009
Subject: RE: 061909 Buser, Re: 061809 STRS 88-1/2% Rule

If that is what Bob meant, I would want to know how he accounted for the fact that STRS does not have to pay out anything during the years that retirement is deferred.

To illustrate the point, I retired with 30 years credit. At 2.2% per year, that meant I could draw 66% per year. (The actual amount depends on the selection of survivor benefits, but let's ignore that.) If I had waited 5 years, I could have retired with a benefit of 88 1/2% per year. Hence the enhanced benefit, or 88 1/2% versus 66%, would have been 22 1/2% per year. To get the enhanced benefit, I would have given up five years of benefits. If we ignore the 3% annual increase in STRS payouts and potential increases in my final average salary, I would have given up 5 times 66%, or 330% of my FAS to get 22 1/2% per year for as many years as I live. Without taking acount of the timing of the payments, I would have had to live roughly 15 years to break even. However, given that the lost benefits are up front, and the increased benefit is deferred into the future, the present value of the enhanced benefit would not catch up to the up front cost of 330% unless I live well beyond my expected life span.

But as I said in the earlier email, STRS would have gotten the savings from deferred retirements for many members even if they had not increased the benefit formula. So depending on the actuarial assumptions used to project future retirements with and without the enhancement, the result can be a net loss for the system as a whole.

As for Nehf, I never met him. But I do not envy anyone taking over after Damon. Damon wasn't perfect. But he knew the system, and he managed to stay on top of things pretty well despite the fact that during his term STRS never filled the position of assistant, which Damon held prior to taking over the top spot. That meant Damon had to do two jobs at the same time during a period of many challenges.

From Tom Curtis, June 19, 2009
Subject: 061909 Buser, Re: 061809 STRS 88-1/2% Rule

Hello Steve,

Thank you kindly for responding. You have always been willing to help me understand what has been stated.

First, I am premature in passing this information along, as Slater stood up and made this statement during this weeks board meetings. So, please do not pass this along until it has been clarified.

Second, Slater indicated that this cost difference was the amount of difference between the 88-1/2% rule and simply paying 2.2% per year, if I am correct. Again, this needs to be clarified by Bob Slater.

Dennis Leone, who will be leaving the board in August, will soon have a statement about such going out.

Steve, our retirement system is in real trouble. Mike Nehf has been telling retirees at local RTA meetings that vested pensions cannot be reduced. Dennis has been telling him he should not be making such statements. Last Friday in Sidney, Ohio at a townhall meeting, he finally did indicate that yes, vested pensions may in fact need to be reduced. What has become fo the integrity of the leadership of this country?

Tom Curtis

From Steve Buser, June 19, 2009
Subject: RE: 061809 STRS 88-1/2% Rule

This is a tricky question. Depending on how you phrase it, either answer can be correct !

The cost neutral answer is based on the fact that for an individual member who defers retirement, the amount STRS saves by not having to pay any benefits during the period of deferral is more than the value of the enhanced future benefits when the member does eventually draw the higher benefit.

The catch is that some members would have deferred retirement even without the enhanced formula. At Ohio State, for example, one of my former colleagues just died at age 80 without ever retiring. STRS collected contributions from him for 50 years and never had to pay out a dime to him.

I assume Bob Slater was talking about an exercise in which actuaries guess how many members would have retired each year with and without the enhanced benefit. If the actuaries guess that most of those who defer retirement would have done so anyway, they will conclude the system is worse off. But all of the "loss" is money that specific members contribute but never collect as a benefit.

As for the specific estimate of one billion dollars, I don't recall seeing that. However, I assume it is not the amount of enhanced benefits that have already been paid out but instead also includes an estimated of future enhanced benefits STRS will pay out in excess of estimated additional savings STRS will earn if more members defer retirement than would have deferred under the old system. But the main point is that all of the money we are talking about comes contributions from those members who defer retirement. So there is also a question of whose money that really is any way.

Sorry for adding to the confusion. But as I said, this was a tricky point, and I never did manage to figure out which side I was on. In one sense, it seems fair to give specific contributions to specific members, but when we do that, the system as a whole is worse off. For example, we could make the system better off for future retirees by reducing health care benefits for current retirees like you and me. But should STRS do that? For what it is worth, I eventually decided that as long as the money was going to members and a reasonable case could be made that those members had contributed to the benefit in question, then I hoped that the payout was reasonable. However, as I say, I never really figure this one out.

From Tom Curtis, June 18, 2009
Subject: 061809 STRS 88-1/2% Rule

Hello Steve,

I hope all is well with you and your family.

I am writing to pass along some information that I heard today at the STRS and would ask for your thoughts on such.

Dennis Leone stated to a large group of retirees during lunch, that Bob Slater has stated that the 88-1/2% rule is not cost neutral, as it has always been touted to be. Further, he stated that the cost to the pension fund has actually been 1 billion dollars to date.

I know you took a look at this while you were on the board. I believe there was also a report presented by Kim McNichol (?) that indicated that it was in fact cost neutral.

Would you care to express your thoughts about this? Of course, I would expect you to confirm this information with Mr. Slater first.

I look forward to your response,

Tom Curtis

Nancy Hamant's tribute to Dennis Leone

June 18, 2009

It is impossible! We can't believe it! Say it ain't so! Dr. Dennis Leone's term on the STRS Board ends in August 2009. Just two months away!
For over six years, educators across Ohio have been privileged to be represented by Dr. Dennis Leone. Dr. Leone's efforts on behalf of all STRS members are countless. All educators have benefited from his work and leadership.
Six years ago, Dr. Leone responded to a retired teacher's call for help when her letter to Herb Dyer was sent back with comments in red. That callous action sent shock waves across Ohio. In support of the teacher, Dr. Leone persistently gathered information on STRS's management practices, Board members' travel, cost of the new building, and bonuses paid to the entire STRS staff. Educators responding to the excesses gathered in Columbus and marched to the State House and to STRS. Dr. Leone's partner in examining STRS's management practices was John Lazares. Changes have occurred at STRS that STRS members have to be eternally grateful to both Dr. Leone and Mr. Lazares, including the addition of another retiree STRS Board Member seat.
When I think of all that Dr. Leone has done over the past six years, I think the following words describe Dennis and his work: courageous, questioner, organized, energetic, devoted, fearless, advocate, ethical, staunch supporter of educators, never "politically correct", high moral standards, trustworthy, integrity, clairvoyant, predictor, long-term vision, and most of all--friend and leader.
It is unbelievable that in the next two months, STRS members will no longer have Dennis (or John) looking out for their best interests and protecting their retirement and health care benefits at STRS.
The only way that we can thank Dennis and John enough is to step forward and try to carry on their work. Monitoring of STRS administrative actions is not completed. We must work diligently to protect the changes brought about by them. We must work with the two new retiree Board Members, Mr. McGreevy and Mr. Stein, to alert them to our concerns and to support their efforts on our behalf. STRS Members best tribute to Dr. Dennis Leone and to Mr. John Lazares is to continue their work!
So, Dennis, best wishes for a relaxed future, free from STRS Board stresses, and full of love and activities with your family. From time to time, we all hope to see you at STRS Board meetings and look forward to any insights that you care to share with us!

STRS Board attempts to stop discussion on Dennis Leone's bonus motion 6/19/09

[The motion is posted immediately below this post.]

1. Dennis Leone made a motion – as he did one month ago (when died due a lack of second) -- for the board NOT to pay the 7/12ths bonuses to the investment staff for fiscal year 2009. Dr. Leone publicly read 15 reasons to justify the motion. (See attached.) Tai Hayden seconded the motion, which triggered discussion.

2. Steve Puckett – who represents State Supt Deborah Delisle on the STRS Board – then made a substitute motion to table Dr. Leone’s motion until September. Leone said he felt this was attempt to prevent him from voting on the motion. Discussion began on the matter................

3. Tim Myers then suddenly made another motion, seconded by Conni Ramser, to “close discussion” on the topic. Dr. Leone objected and Myers stated: “You’re not allowed to discuss it.” The motion to stop the discussion, however, failed 5-4, with Mark Meuser and Mary Ann Cervantes joining Myers and Ramser in the attempt to stop discussion. Leone accused Myers and Board member Mary Cervantes of having a conflict of interest in the matter because both publicly said previously that the suspension of the bonuses was “breaking a promise.” Leone read the board policy which states that the board can modify, suspend, or terminate the bonuses at any time for any reason. He said that if there was litigation, Myers and Cervantes would be exhibits A and B for the plaintiffs – against the board.

4. After more discussion, the board voted 7-2 to table Dr. Leone’s motion anyway. Hayden jointed Leone in dissent. Voting to table were Myers, Meuser, Ramser, Cervantes, Puckett, Burch and Brooks. Chapman was absent. Leone told the board he felt they were afraid to vote on the matter.

A motion on different topic also was made by Burch (seconded by Dr. Leone) that was designed to require the executive director to acquire board approval for increasing staff beyond 594 total employees. Burch agreed to withdraw her motion for reconsideration in August when the executive director said he wanted to discuss the matter with staff. Leone complained about this, noting that the Burch motion contained a provision that gave the executive director the ability to hire staff for emergency reasons. Leone said: “Now we have to get approval from the staff even to make a motion?”

Last month, Dr. Leone made a motion at the STRS Board meeting to impose a moratorium on board member out-of-state travel due to the economic conditions facing STRS. This motion failed 6-4.


Dennis Leone: Motion to suspend bonuses, June 19, 2009 STRS Board meeting

By Dennis Leone STRS Retiree Board Member
June 19, 2009
WHEREAS the total market assets at STRS have dropped from $80.1 billion on October 31, 2007 to $53.4 billion on May 29, 2009;
WHEREAS this reduction in assets represents, over just 19 months, a drop of $26.7 billion, which represents 33.3% of the total market value at STRS;
WHEREAS in the 23 months between June 30, 2007 and May 29, 2009, the stock market returns at STRS have been -26.1%;
WHEREAS, on September 17, 2008, the STRS Board awarded $6 million in bonuses to 87 STRS investment staff members for fiscal year 2008;
WHEREAS the STRS Board will be presenting recommendations, by September 9, 2009, to the Ohio Retirement Study Council to increase the contribution rates for employees and employers, increase the minimum age for retirement, change the computation of the final average salary for new retirees, increase the cost of out-of-state purchased service credit, and reduce the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for retirees;
WHEREAS the STRS Board will again increase the cost of health insurance for retirees, effective January 1, 2010;
WHEREAS since 2000, the STRS Board has: (1) Eliminated health insurance subsidies for the spouses of retirees; (2) Eliminated the annual 13th check that retirees received; and (3) Eliminated health insurance options for rehired retirees who work for employers who provide health insurance to other employees;
WHEREAS all investment staff members at STRS were told in writing by the STRS executive director in June of 2008 that fiscal year 2009 bonuses could be modified, suspended, or terminated by the board at any time for any reason;
WHEREAS STRS Board policy permits the modification, suspension, or termination of bonuses at any time for any reason;
WHEREAS membership institutions of STRS (public school districts, charter schools, and universities), the governor's office, state agencies, city governments, county governments, and private sector businesses across Ohio are addressing the downturn in the economy by sharply reducing staff, reducing compensation, and/or implementing unpaid furloughs;
WHEREAS the 132 members of the Ohio General Assembly are being asked by Governor Strickland to voluntarily take a 5% wage reduction in fiscal year 2010;
WHEREAS on March 20, 2009, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) issued a statewide bulletin which said the following, in part: "OEA is deeply concerned about STRS market losses. OEA does not agree with bonus payments to investment officers in years when STRS loses money."
WHEREAS numerous retired teacher associations in Ohio have taken a position against the awarding of bonuses in years when there are overall negative stock market returns at STRS;
WHEREAS the STRS Board, in the past four months, has received over 400 written communications from active members and retirees who have expressed their opposition to the awarding of bonuses in years when there are overall negative stock market returns at STRS;
WHEREAS House Bill 177, introduced on May 18, 2009, calls for: (1) The immediate suspension of bonuses at STRS for fiscal year 2009; and (2) The permanent suspension of bonuses at STRS in fiscal years when there are overall negative stock market returns;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that no STRS investment staff member be awarded bonus compensation for fiscal year 2009.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dr. K.W. Fluke's address to the STRS Board, June 18, 2009

Impact of Inflation to Senior STRS Retirees
With the present stimulus activities in Washington, it is only a matter of time until inflation is noted. With the STRS Board considering various scenarios, it is timely to review what has been the experience of the senior retiree for the past twenty years.
There are only three ways that STRS has provided inflationary help:
1) The Ad Hoc ra
ise has not been presented since 1986. That Ad Hoc with changes was capped at 85%. The active members of STRS received at this time a provision for 35 years+ which could in a ffew years provide 100% of the final average. For example, regarding salaries the retirees of many years ago might have had $40,000 and the person in the same category of teaching receives $80,000 today. See copy 2000-2001 STRS report which emphasizes the importance of inflation protection via the Ad Hoc.
2) There has not been a 13th Check in approximately 10 years. If we can give bonuses to investors and we recognize the market has been down and senior investors have lost individual investment money and are at an age that they cannot recoup this, it seems that instead of investor bonuses STRS should use part of this money toward the reintroduction of 13th checks. We are aware that STRS received lawsuit monies that could have been re-legislated to go toward a 13th check.
3) There has been 3% Cost-of-Living for the past 20 years. This was locked in by STRS in 2000-2001. The U.S. Department of Labor has indicated a 3.1% Cost-of-Living for each of the past 20 years. At a STRS April 30th, 200
9 Investment Merrill meeting in Akron, Ohio, the presenter indicated a 3.1% Cost-of-Living. Currently, there is a difference in the CPI for seniors in comparison to the general CPI. See materials attached which show extremely high CPI for senior housing (nursing home, home care), and health costs. Health costs escalate with age. Government statistics indicate the average life expectancy of males at 75 years, females 80 years.
The Kiplinger Letter, dated June 12, 2009, indicates a rise in inflationary rates. This was not evident in previous monthly publications. Various economists have recognized that our financial climate is signaling imminent inflation. The cost of an ounce of gold is nearing $1000 and usually increases with inflation. I have watched this inflation scenario for over 20 years as the Legislative Chair of the Summit County Retired Teachers (SCRTA).
Please do not lower inflationary protections such as the 3% Cost-of-Living.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
From STRS, February 25, 2000
Legislative updates
Substitute Senate Bill 190 pas
ses Senate
Sub. S.B. 190, containing one of the most significant benefit improvement packages in STRS Ohio's history, cleared the first chamber on Feb. 16, passing in the Ohio Senate 26-0 with four abstentions.

Sen. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) introduced S
.B. 190 in October. The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard sponsor and proponent testimony on Oct. 12. Proponent testimony was given by the Ohio Education Association, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Retired Teachers Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators and Ohio Association of School Business Officials. The Ohio Retirement Study Council reviewed the bill for several months and on Feb. 9 recommended approval by the General Assembly.
Sub. S.B. 190 now goes to the House of Representatives, where it will be carried by Rep. Dale Van Vyven (R-Sharonville), chair of the House Health, Retirement and Aging Committee. The State Teachers Retirement Board remains hopeful of the bill's passage by the end of May or June.
The bill includes three primary benefit enhancements:
• For retirees -- an inflation protection component. All benefits would be recalculated using the current 2.1% formula. Any benefit that still falls below 85% of the purchasing power of the original benefit would be increased to that level
• For future retirees -- the benefit formula would be increased from 2.1% to 2.2% for all service. For teachers with 35 or more years of contributing service the formula for the first 30 years would be changed to 2.5%. Service over 30 years would be calculated under current law.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
(Click images to enlarge.)

RH Jones' tribute to Dennis Leone

June 18, 2009
I'm a CORE charter member, Bob Jones.
Thank you, President Parshall, for giving me a chance to honor the honorable -- Dr. Dennis Leone -- who has been true to his great Italian heritage. His name, Leone, means "lion" in the Italian language. Leone has indeed been a Leone from the beginning of the STRS stakeholder's engagement in the stricter regulations, preventing a myriad of circumstances that cause reductions of our grandfathered retiree benefits. To the Leone of the corps of the Concerned Ohio Retired Educators, for the elderly educators who can't speak for themselves, I say: Mille graci, thank you, Leone.

RH Jones' speech to STRS Board, June 18, 2009

OH STRS, 06/18/09, board meeting speech -- respectfully submitted

I am a retired teacher, Robert Hudson Jones.

Until recently, in the long history of our STRS, there had never been a "rollback" in our promised legislated benefits. In part, retired educator HC/Rx has been "rolled back" and there is now the threat of a "rollback", in part, of the 3% COLA.

Indeed, cutting grandfathered retiree benefits cannot be a legal solution to pension solvency. Simply put, Ohio cannot override United States Constitutional law; and here is why: The Bill of Rights, as interpreted by West's Encyclopedia of American Law 2008, states: "The term grandfather clause, in its current application, refers to a legislative provision that permits an exemption based upon a preexisting condition. For example, through the application of grandfather clauses, certain prerogatives are extended to those regularly engaged in a particular profession, occupation, or business that is regulated by statute or ordinance." Ladies and gentlemen, a reasonable person could conclude that this can apply to the STRS retired educator benefits.

Dr. Martin Luther King once said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Taking away grandfathered STRS benefits is an injustice. There are many litigating organizations that would be happy to take on politicians and government officials of Ohio who would foolishly ignore the Bill of Rights. The court award in such a case could be devastating.

As a result of any future court-fought awards against the State of Ohio, as well as the STRS, its board members and employees, one can conclude, therefore, any "cost savings" would be "cost prohibitive." It is best for everyone if the COLA "rollbacks" are not a consideration, and the original, humane, retiree HC/Rx is reinstated in full.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this board. Please see the attached questions [immediately below].

1. Especially in view of hyperinflation of HC/Rx costs, retired educators cannot shoulder any of the "solutions" to the STRS pension solvency problem. Therefore, will the STRS staff: A. Increase the active member contribution rate? B. Increase the active contributor minimum retirement age? C. Elilminate the 88% enhancement, and D. Change the calculation of the average salaries to 5 years instead of 3 years?

2. Since the STRS board has expressed support for phasing in needed changes over 3-5 years, this in essence creates grandfathering for current active educators who retire before the effective date of upcoming changes. Therefore, will current retirees be grandfathered with their COLAs like active educators will be grandfathered to get their enhancements they want when they retire?

3. Early on, last year, Dennis Leone repeatedly said that "all is fine" statements needed to stop. Why did not the STRS cease communications last September through January, then saying in February on that they indeed are not secure, knowing full well that our pension was not secure?

4. Why did not the staff step up and support Dennis Leone in December when he pushed for suspension of the bonuses and the establishment of a $65 billion threshold for future bonus potential? At that point the STRS had dropped $15 billion in assets in the previous 10 months.

5. Also last December, Dennis Leone made a motion to institute a wage freeze for the STRS staff. Why then did the staff immediately say NO?

6. The board officially suspended the bonuses for the last 5 months of the current fiscal year (2009). Is it not true that Dennis Leone made a motion to NOT pay any bonuses of the current fiscal year and the motion died due to a lack of a second? Why did not the staff recommend that bonuses NOT be paid for the first 7 months of the current fiscal year? Is it not true that the board policy permits the board to modify or terminate the bonus plan AT ANY TIME, FOR ANY REASON?

7. The STRS, after losing nearly 40% of everything it has in the past 19 months ($30 billion) cannot act like nothing has changed. A staff reduction has not been made. A wages and hiring freeze was finally approved; however, cuts were made in financially troubled businesses and school districts; why no cuts in STRS staff?

8. If retired educators have to pay more for health insurance premiums while the subsidies are decreased and the deductibles increased, will similar changes be made on the staff of our STRS?

9. Is it true that two months ago a motion for a moratorium on board member out-of-state travel was made and the motion incredulously failed?

Lloyd Knudsen's speech to STRS Board, June 18, 2009

Hello, my name is Lloyd Knudsen. I was a 30-year teacher in the Woodridge Local Schools of Summit County. Also, I am currently the President of the Retired Teacher’s Association of Medina County.
Over the next several months this board will face many difficult decisions regarding our STRS pension and health care programs. STRS retirees, current active teachers and our STRS employees all will be affected by your decisions.
To date, only the retirees have been financially impacted by the STRS health care crisis. Our STRS employees continue to receive quality health care through STRS and the active teachers continue to get quality health care through their local school boards. While retirees on STRS health insurance have seen their premiums go up, their coverages go down, and their spousal subsidy coverage eliminated altogether.
In order to make our STRS pension system solvent many active and retired teachers understand there will be some changes to the pension rules.
This board is currently considering reducing the retirees’ 3% annual simple COLA. If our COLA is reduced, it should be reduced only in small increments over several years. A COLA cut in half (whenever it happens) would create a sudden financial loss. Retirees have already suffered greatly with increased STRS health care costs. I hope you will consider that fact when making your changes to the pension rules.
Active teachers obviously are going to be asked to sacrifice the most according to your proposed pension changes. Actives may have to pay a greater percentage of their pay into STRS, they may have to work longer, they may get a lower percentage payout as well as a lower dollar payout upon retirement. These changes are dramatic. I would hope your adopted changes would be phased in gradually and would give teachers close to retirement an opportunity to retire under the current pension rules.
However, if teachers are going to be asked to sacrifice financially for a solvent STRS, the teachers believe STRS management and staff need to share in that sacrifice.
So what sacrifices have been made at STRS?
One, STRS will require their staff to work a 40-hour week beginning in January, 2010. Who knew STRS employees weren’t already working a 40-hour week?
Two, STRS initiated a “wage freeze” for their employees. Coincidentally, this wage freeze followed on the heels of substantial wage increases. I guess it kind of evens out.
Third, STRS announced a “hiring freeze”, no new employees would be ADDED. Now, most companies who have recently lost 40% of their value would probably be cutting staff, but not STRS. They don’t want to impact customer services. Maybe when a business loses $35 BILLION, services should be impacted.
And four, the STRS Board eventually voted to suspend investment personnel bonuses when the system loses money. The board majority didn’t agree that suspending the bonuses was the right thing to do, but they did agree it was the politically-correct thing to do.
My final thought. When this economic recession is over whether that occurs in 2010 or 2011, STRS will undoubtedly return to its old ways. The pay raises will be back, the bonuses will return bigger than ever, and the STRS staff will probably be expanded. Their “temporary” sacrifices will end. But rest assured,
ANY AND ALL pension changes this board makes for active and retired teachers will impact their financial futures forever.
Thank you for letting me speak to you today.

Patricia Miller's speech to STRS Board, June 18, 2009

Dear Board Members and Mr. Nehf,
We STRS retirees have behaved responsibly and worked diligently; are seeing our well earned retirement being dramatically eroded by the fiscal irresponsibility and the lack of oversight by many, including you at STRS. You continue to place (or should I say "dump") the devastating results onto the shoulders of the ones least able to bear the burden -- our retirees. It's much easier for you to OK the reduction of our COLAs, increase our insurance rates and reduce our options. That won't ruffle the feathers of anyone you will be seeing face-to-face. After all, retirees are scattered throughout the state and don't really know what is going on. They trust you.
At the very least, we should be seeing STRS trimming staaff, reducing salaries and eliminating bonuses. If it's too much of a burden for you to do what you have pledged to do and need to do, then step down and let qualified people who have our best interests at heart do the job. As Isaid before, STRS is supposed to be serving its retirees, not the other way around. But then again, you know that.

Jim N. Reed's tribute to Dennis Leone

June 18, 2009

Recalling my first conversation with Dennis I remember putting the phone down and thinking that he had convinced me that I was not the Lone Ranger after all. Dennis quickly assured me that my negative relationship with Herb Dyer and STRS upon retirement in 1998 was not unusual. There were others who were suspicious and disgusted with the behavior of our retirement system.

As I have told Dennis several times I have coached for 45 years and consider him to be one of the most inspirational I have known. Leadership is innate and Dr. Leone has an abundance. It took only one brief conversation for me to recognize the man was a discerning leader in whom I could place my trust.

I will always be grateful to Dennis for providing me a CORE of energy with which to express my experiences as a STRS stakeholder. He confirmed my mistrust and disgust as legitimate, gave them validity and made me believe I, along with other voices, could offer those voices to make a difference.

Dennis helped many of us find our Red Badge of Courage. Like Henry Fleming, many of us were searching for a genuine cause in times of adversity. Many of us were uncertain as to how to proceed. We were troubled and the arrogance of the opponent seemed untouchable, at times intimidating. We needed an example, a model of courage and self sacrifice.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year I witnessed Dennis' relentless perseverance to research, report and expose the misdoings of STRS policy-makers and administrators.

Dennis makes me proud to wear the label of "malcontent." "Dissident" has even become a kind of positive recognition!

I will forever be grateful to you, Dennis, for providing me a platform to express my views and putting me in contact with colleagues whom I consider some of the most intelligent people I have met in this profession.

Dennis, I believe educators, both current and retired, will always associate your name and tenure with much needed reform at STRS. I have often used the word Renaissance to associate your impact on our retirement system. You've been a Robin Hood, a folk hero, to many of us. Though the system still is in desperate need of continued repair and reform, without your intervention STRS may not have survived the Dark Ages of the past decade.

You have given us hope that our once proud STRS can be salvaged and for that we owe you our endless gratitude. Your legacy is assured by the countless numbers of grateful educators and their families whom you have selflessly represented on the STRS Board.

May your future endeavors bring much happiness and health for you and your family.

Jim N. Reed

John Curry's tribute to Dennis Leone

June 18, 2009

Dr. Leone, family, CORE members and guests:

We are assembled here today to honor a man who has dedicated the better part of a decade to represent us and our interests at Ohio STRS.

Dr. Leone will always have a special place in my heart as one of several STRS board members who really understood and understands the plight of both the active and retired educators of this state.

I liken him to another great American whom I also admire and who, like Dr. Leone, cared for the concepts of integrity, honesty and the concept of fairness for all whom he represented.

The "other" Dr. Leone, in my mind, was the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Mr. Brandeis served on the Supreme Court for 23 years in the early part of the 20th century and became famous for his wisdom in dealing with those who also proscribed to the concepts of misspending, mismanagement and the entitlement philosophy.

From the bench, Justice Brandeis uttered a most-famous quote that directly applies to Dr. Leone's dedication to the stakeholders of STRS. Brandeis said, and I quote, "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

To all of you assembled here today I say, Dr. Leone is the best of disinfectants that ever walked through the doors at 275 E. Broad Street.

In the STRS boardroom, there is a plaque with the names of former STRS board members. Some of the names have been tarnished, not by age but by their ethics convictions earned during their substandard performances as board members by putting their interests ahead of those of their fiduciaries.

When STRS finally places Dr. Leone's name on that plaque they should do so with a nameplate made of 24 caret gold as no other metal would be of suitable composition. Along with Dr. Leone's name should be the simple but meaningful added inscription....

"Dr. Leone lived by the Ohio Revised Code 3307.15 while many others on this board didn't.

Believe me, it takes lots more experience and wisdom to be a good board member than participating in an eight session crash course on how to learn how to be an effective and intelligent board member!

Thank you, Dr. Leone, for your dedication to honesty, integrity and having the courage for standing up in our best interests. Thank you for being "our" sunlight and "our" disinfectant.

John Curry

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dennis Leone: STRS and a 37-1/2 hour work week

From Dennis Leone, June 16, 2009
Subject: The 37 1/2-hour work week at STRS

There were 2 board members who wanted the 37 ½-hour week to start 6 months earlier than the board majority desired when the change received a vote. They were Leone and Hayden. Of course, there were other OEA members on the STSR Board (led by Myers) who didn’t want the 37 ½-hour work week to start until 7-1-10, so they voted NO. It starts on 1-1-10, and it should – in the opinion of Hayden and myself – start on 7-1-09. Hayden and I both voted yes to the change starting on 1-1-10 because it was the best we could get. This is the truth.
Dennis Leone
From John Curry, June 16, 2009
Subject: I wonder if STRS could do likewise? Their change from a 37 1/2 hour work week to a 40 begins not until next year...that is not soon enough!

"the same as most of their counterparts elsewhere in state government"
Oh really!
Attorney general employees to take furlough
Posted by James Nash, Columbus Dispatch
June 15, 2009

Employees in the Ohio attorney general's office will get two weeks of unpaid time in each of the next two years as part of a budget-cutting effort, the same as most of their counterparts elsewhere in state government. Attorney General Richard Cordray agreed to the furloughs for non-union employees in the office, spokesman Ted Hart said today. The move is expected to save 3.8 percent in annual payroll costs. Hart said he doesn't know whether Cordray is seeking the same concession from the office's unionized employees, who include some secretarial staff and law-enforcement agents at the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. In February, Gov. Ted Strickland's administration and the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association reached an agreement calling for two-week furloughs in the executive branch of state government. The unpaid leave did not apply to separate constitutional offices like the attorney general, although the officeholders could fall in line at their own discretion. A legislative conference committee is trying to fill a $3.2 billion hole in the 2010-11 state budget, which takes effect July 1.

Tom Curtis: Questions for Mike Nehf

From Tom Curtis, June 16, 2009
Subject: 061609 Cost Reductions
Mr. Nehf,
You were recently quoted as saying in Sidney that the STRS has reduced staff size from 700 to 600. Just how many of those reductions were generated under your watch? Please be specific.
To my knowledge, the STRS has always been about business as usual, no matter what the losses totaled. The STRS investments for this decade now total over $42 billion dollars (12.3 in 2002 & 30+ in 2009), yet the investment staff and others have continued to receive millions in bonuses. Just how can you possibly justify such rewards even being considered?
Please don't tell me the board approved such, as if these bonuses did not come up for a vote through you or your predecessor, they would not have even been considered.
Thank you for a prompt reply.
Tom Curtis
STRS Stakeholder

Sandy Knoesel to Shirlee Zerkel re: question

From Sandy Knoesel, June 16, 2009
RE: Question about the Medicare Part B premium!

Shirlee: We just verified with our contact at Medicare that beneficiaries who have Medicare Part B but who do not qualify to receive a Social Security check will pay any increase in the Medicare Part B premium. Our contact also said that there has been no formal decision on a Medicare Part B premium for 2010 as yet. (This decision is usually made the fall.)

Sandy Knoesel

From Sandy Knoesel, June 16, 2009
Subject: RE: Question about the Medicare Part B premium!

Shirlee: I am checking with a contact at Social Security. I reviewed the June AARP Bulletin you referred to in your e-mail and am interpreting the information the same way. I will get back to you once I have more information.

Sandy Knoesel


From Mario Iacone, June 16, 2009
It is important to make STRS operation leaner and meaner. In the tough economic times of the forseable future, every dollar is important. And yes, this will result in reduction of services to STRS members. We might have to wait longer on the phone when we have an issue, fewer regional retiree seminars, etc......
I believe 20 million yearly can be saved in the operation of STRS.
According to Mr. Slater, current yearly COLA costs are 64 million,
20 million saved would amount to almost 1% of current retiree COLA of 3% and would lessen COLA cuts substantially for a number of years to come.
STRS members are not asking to punish STRS staff, but to share and help fix the problem.

Donna and Dean Seaman to STRS Board: Why are retirees always targeted?

From Donna and Dean Seaman, June 16, 2009
Subject: bonuses

Board Members and Mr. Nehf: Since you are still vacillating about the 7/12 performance based incentives (BONUSES!) for investment staff for this year, our state legislators have stepped up to the plate to do something about it, something you continue to refuse to do! What does this say about your effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, for dealing with this issue! But if you won't/don't deal with this issue, legislators have shown they are willing to take care of it for you! It is totally inexcusable for you to wait until September to discuss/reinstate the 7/12 bonuses when Dr. Leone will no longer be on the board. Do you believe that retirees are oblivious to your strategy? WE ARE NOT! A recent e-mail to you from Thomas Curtis says it all: STRS and the board should be investigated by an outside evaluation/audit. Obviously the board and the STRS administration is unwilling to make any significant internal and operational changes or cutbacks, even though they are overdue and badly needed!

Meanwhile Mr. Nehf is going around the state talking to retired teachers' associations (he comes to Mansfield next month), telling retirees truthfully how bad things are at STRS and suggesting some more changes, but NEVER suggesting cutbacks to STRS staff, STRS operations, or STRS staff benefits! Why are the cutbacks and reductions in health care provisions always directed at retirees?
Once again I remind you: Retirees are the ones who have generated that fund in the first place! We are legally and ethically the beneficiaries!

Donna Seaman, 2002 retiree;
Dean Seaman, 1986 retiree

Monday, June 15, 2009

Athens County RTA president: No one at STRS should make more than the Governor

Marilyn Gallaher to Molly Janczyk, June 15, 2009
Subject: Re: 'Sidney Daily News': STRS News Coverage Sidney Meeting

Molly, I think the law should be that no one at STRS makes more than the Governor of Ohio. If this were to take place, the funds would be greatly helped and the teachers of Ohio have worked for a fraction of the Governor's salary. They are teaching the children of the future with no bonus or cola. New teachers in our state with one or two children are eligible for free lunches at school. Now who is earning big money!

Marilyn Gallaher
ACRTA President (Athens County)

Express Scripts: $9.00 for generic scripts

From John Curry, June 15, 2009
Looks like Wally World, K-Mart, Kroger and many others finally put enough pressure on our PBM, doesn't it? John
From Linda Meinelt, June 15, 2009
Subject: $9 for generic scripts

Low-Cost Generics Now Available for $9 Through Express Scripts Home Delivery
(From STRS website)
STRS Ohio benefit recipients enrolled in the Medical Mutual, Aetna or Paramount health care plans can now receive a 90-day supply of more than 200 generic medications for just a $9 copayment through the Express Scripts Home Delivery Program. Generic medications that can be ordered through this program include popular medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, ulcers, osteoporosis, arthritis, asthma and hormone replacement. The complete list, including the strength and form of each drug available, can be accessed via the link below.
The quantities listed for $9 are based on a manufacturer-recommended 90-day supply. If you are on a lower dosage, you will pay less than $9; however, if you are on a higher dose, you will pay more than $9.
Express Scripts can assist you in getting a prescription from your doctor for delivery to your home. Just visit or call Express Scripts toll-free at 1-877-502-0965 from 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
STRS Ohio is one of the first plan sponsors in the country=2 0to launch a discount generics program through home delivery. It should result in STRS Ohio Health Care Program enrollees saving about $500,000 per year in prescription drug costs. Additional information will be mailed to all Express Scripts enrollees by July 2009.
Link for list:

STRS management on hot seat at Sidney town hall meeting

Teachers upset about STRS management
By Kyle Shaner
Sidney Daily News, June 15, 2009
If changes are not made to Ohio's teacher retirement system, the program will run out of money and none of the state's active or retired teachers will receive a pension, teachers were told Friday in Sidney.
Hundreds of active and retired teachers from across the state gathered at Sidney High School Friday afternoon to discuss the problems their retirement system faces with members of the State Teachers' Retirement System of Ohio (STRS) Retirement Board in a town hall meeting.
Retirement Board Executive Director Michael J. Nehf said to ensure teachers will continue to receive pensions after they retire, changes will have to be made to the system such as raising the retirement age, increasing teachers' contributions to the fund and reducing the amount retired teachers receive in pension.
"Investment returns alone won't get us out," Nehf said.
While representatives of the teachers acknowledged concessions would have to be made, they also challenged the effectiveness and attitudes of STRS.
"I think they kind of forgot who they're working for," Leon Knore, former Versailles principal, said.
Knore presented statistics from the STRS that showed the group's assets declined from more than $80 billion on Oct. 31, 2007, to $51 billion on May 15.
Despite the drop in funds, Knore said, STRS investment associates still received performance-based incentives. Two STRS associates were compensated more than $500,000 each last year while 769 retired teachers received pensions less than the federal self-sufficiency level of $21,660 a year, he said.
"We have a big concern with our STRS system," Knore said.
With teachers being presented with figures that showed they would have to make sacrifices while STRS employees continued to receive big money, active and retired educators stood and expressed their outrage with the STRS.
Jim Conard, former superintendent of Chillicothe Schools, said STRS representatives were only talking about cutting from teachers and not from STRS. When he asked if any teachers had ever received a bonus, many of the educators in the crowd laughed.
Nehf said the group has made changes such as implementing a hiring freeze that reduced its staff from more than 700 to fewer than 600, implementing a salary freeze and limiting travel.
"If we all pitch in, I think we'll be able to maintain a STRS retirement pension," Nehf said.
Nehf said Ohio is among the top 25 percent in the nation for teachers' pensions and he expects that to continue.
However, as Nehf addressed the teachers' concerns, some yelled out that STRS is still not doing enough and accused him of avoiding questions about STRS employees taking pay cuts.
Knore presented figures that showed 21 STRS employees made between $175,000 and $270,000 in 2008. In comparison, the governor made $144,830 and the U.S. treasurer made $191,300 last year.
Dennis Leone, a representative of retired teachers on the STRS Retirement Board since 2005, received large applause multiple times throughout the meeting, including when he said STRS needs staff and wage reductions. Leone said changes at STRS have been met with resistance, and he has been verbally attacked for criticizing the group.
With the meeting being a town hall-style, no action was taken to resolve the disputes between the teachers and STRS. Nehf said teachers could expect a lot of changes to occur in the next several months.
Any changes will have to be approved by the state Legislature, which was represented at the meeting by three state representatives and a senator.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Coming up this week at STRS (June 17-19, 2009).......

Thursday, June 18: Reception for Dennis Leone, Sublett Room, second floor of STRS building, 11:30 a.m.

STRS Board meeting, June 17, 18, 19
From STRS:
The State Teachers Retirement Board and Committee meetings currently scheduled at the STRS Ohio offices, 275 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, are as follows:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
9:00 a.m. Retirement Board Meeting, followed by Investment Committee

Thursday, June 18, 2009
9:00 a.m. Resumption of the Retirement Board Meeting, followed by Resumption of the Investment Committee

Friday, June 19, 2009
9:00 a.m. Audit Committee
9:30 a.m. Resumption of the Retirement Board Meeting

Shirlee Zerkel to Sandy Knoesel re: Medicare Part B premium

From Shirlee Zerkel, June 14, 2009
Subject: Question about the Medicare Part B premium!

Dear Ms. Knoesel:
I have read articles in the June AARP Bulletin and also in Suddenly Senior about the freeze on the Social Security COLA for the next two years and that that freeze means that those who have their monthly premiums taken out of the SS checks will not pay higher premiums. Their premiums will stay at $96.40 a month. The articles also had scary additional information that discussed that about 11 million people who did not have the premiums taken from their SS check would foot the increase of the Part B premium. This is very unfair. Do you know anything about this information? I can find nothing about it on the websites of Social Security or Medicare. If this is true, it can affect every STRS retiree over 65.
Thank you,
Shirlee Zerkel

John Curry: Letter to Dispatch columnist re: secret ballot vote

From John Curry, June 14, 2009
Subject: your recent piece in the Dispatch re. Board of Education vote by secret ballot
Your news coverage of the recent Ohio Board of Education's recent election states that Deborah Cain was elected by a "secret ballot" over Robin C. Hovis of Millersburg." Please check into this practice of secret balloting as, in my understanding, secret balloting by public boards is against the Ohio Revised Code as stated in a previous Attorney General's letter to Governor Strickland on April 2, 2007 (please see attached link plus a quote from that link). We retirees of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio have also undergone the secret ballot fiasco at STRS board meetings in recent years and, after a letter to former AG Marc Dann, this practice has been stopped at Ohio STRS. Your concern in this issue will serve all Ohioans in the interest of transparency and sunshine.
Thank you,
John Curry
an Ohio STRS benefits recipient
a member of Concerned Ohio Retired Educators (CORE)

State education board picks leader in close vote
Columbus Dispatch Dispatch, June 9, 2009

The Ohio Board of Education elected a retired 31-year teacher as its president yesterday.
Deborah Cain, 57, of Uniontown in Stark County was selected in the board's monthly meeting in Columbus to replace Jennifer Sheets of Pomeroy, who resigned after 14 years.
Cain won 10-8 by secret ballot over Robin C. Hovis of Millersburg. There was one abstention.
Cain and Hovis are among 11 elected members of the board. Eight others, including Sheets, are appointed by the governor.
The board also elected appointee Ann Womer Benjamin, 55, of Aurora as vice president. She won over Stephen M. Millett, an appointed board member from Columbus.
Gov. Ted Strickland praised the selections, saying in a release: "Ohio is fortunate that two very capable individuals have been placed in positions of leadership at the Department of Education."
He will name Sheets' replacement on the board.
-- Catherine Candisky

Furthermore, in a letter to the Ohio State University Board of Trustees dated February 28, 2007, this office has stated that, "Secret ballots are to be strictly avoided, as the secret ballot on actions by public bodies frustrates both the letter and intent of the Open Meetings law because it masks the openness of the decision making process." (Former AG Marc Dann - see the link to this letter from Dann to Strickland; link below)
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