Saturday, December 19, 2009

Re-registering on STRS website

From Tom Curtis, December 19, 2009
Subject: 121909 STRS, Re-registering For Your Account
We all received a postcard a couple of weeks ago telling us we would need to re-register at STRS, since they would no longer be using our SS# (at long last!!)
If you are having trouble logging onto the site, try:
If you cannot locate the postcard with the directions on it, here is the information you will need to follow: When you visit the STRS Ohio Web site after Dec. 13, click on the "Register for Access" link that appears in the "Personal Account Information" box on the home page at You will be guided through a quick and easy process to establish a user name and password. You will then be able to log in and view your online account.
Tom Curtis

Friday, December 18, 2009

RH Jones to Representative Brian Williams re: 13th check and educators staying and spending in Ohio

From RH Jones, December 18, 2009
Subject: Re: 13th ck. & educators staying & spending in Ohio
Friday, 18 Dec 2009
Dear Representative Brian Williams and all:
After our OH STRS issuing a “Supplemental Clean-up” check (13th check) for 21-years, in the year 2000 retired educators were cut-off without it. Even now, some of us retired teachers are wondering if the STRS is conspiring to keep from paying the check as they say that the new legislation, to bring the STRS back from infinity to a goal of 34-years, still leaves us ineligible for the 13th check. As you know the Ohio Revised Code requires the goal of 30-year funding. That is just 4-years difference between having the modest “Clean-up” year-end check and not having it all.
If STRS is so against us having this modest, but fairly calculated check, may I suggest, once again, an interim solution to help retired educators and Ohio businesses? Back on the 9th of September 2007, I made this suggestion to all:
A state income tax exemption for Ohio’s retired educators will be the engine that helps educators stay, live in Ohio, and spend their checks here. Without this exemption, they are drawn to states that do exempt them. Presently, there is no financial incentive to keep them here; and, there should be. Ohio needs the business that this lost revenue generates. It is bad enough that retired educators leave the state, but it is equally bad for the state if the businesses that serve them have to leave the state as well.
No income tax for retired educators would encourage those retirees who have already left Ohio to return. This, also, will create and keep businesses and their workers here.
Legislators should know that the BEST spin-off for them would be that these individuals, their spouses, and some of their resident family stay and VOTE here. What a nice Payback for those politicians who would sponsor and vote approval of such legislation: our vote!
Since I wrote this, I have found that about 10% of retired educators leave the state after retiring. That is not much, one may think, but the fall-out from their return to Ohio would certainly boost the economy for all. Although I would not expect all to return, but I do think many would. And, any newly retired, coming on-board as a STRS retired member, would certainly have an incentive to stay put and enjoy this lovely state.
A state tax exemption for retired teachers would not cost the state lost revenue; however, it would bring in new sales tax revenue. And as the increased retired teacher spending employs more of the public, these newly employed workers would generate state taxes, rather than consuming it as the unemployed.
If legislators think that an exemption of the full-retired teacher STRS income is unacceptable, perhaps it could be just a tax cut on the amount of total state income tax percentage that goes for each year’s state budget for education. That would not be as good for us retired but it would be better than nothing.
Robert Hudson Jones, SummitCRTA Legislative CMTE member & a CORE member

Thursday, December 17, 2009

CORE's Linda Meinelt to Mike Nehf..... re. the next time you hand out bonuses

From Linda Meinelt, December 17, 2009
Subject: Fw: Ohio AG Richard Cordray: Dear Wall Street, I'm Coming For You
In case you have not had an opportunity to read the following article, I thought you would be interested in Attorney General Cordray's definition of a bonus. Acc. to the AG, "My understanding of a bonus is that it's a special reward for superior performance." You might want to keep this definition in mind the next time you vote to hand out bonuses to the Investment Staff.
STRS stakeholders are grateful for the efforts of AG Cordray in recouping monies for our funds.
Linda Meinelt

Letter to editor in Columbus Dispatch re: STRS Bonuses

From John Curry, December 17, 2009
Pension fund officers don't deserve bonus
Columbus Dispatch, December 16, 2009
I hope the news media will stay alert to what is happening at the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio. It carefully discussed, in a recent news release, the changes it has made to the performance-based incentive bonuses paid to its 80 to 90 investment officers. These bonuses are being paid in the face of drastic cuts in every avenue of our retirement.
The required years of service, the average salary formula, the cost of living to our retirees and the amount of retirement contributions made by not only the teachers, but also by the boards of education, will be increased by 5 percent.
My question is, why are these people being rewarded for losing hundreds of millions of dollars while the people who own the State Teachers Retirement System have no say in who gets what?
I have worked on jobs where incentive pay was awarded, but only when our work showed an increase above a certain level.
The whole purpose of incentive pay is to provide a reward for having production exceed a threshold, not just because it is the end of the calendar year.

Still waiting.......

Responses still pending:
Michael Nehf (Contact dates: October 30, 2009; November 8, 2009; November 12, 2009):
Tim Myers (Contact date: December 14, 2009):

Posted December 17, 2009
(Click image to enlarge.)

RH Jones: Who is responsible for the drought?

From RH Jones, December 17, 2009
Subject: The "Supplemental Clean-up" 9-yr. drought
To all:
As many other Ohioans are presently going to enjoy their year-end supplemental checks (Christmas checks), their retired teachers are going yet another year-end without one. Note: As commonly known, the “13th check” was very fairly calculated by our OH STRS. On the STRS Payment History website, for “Issued Disbursements” it is called a “Supplemental Clean-up”. It tidied-up their disbursements for the year; but, did you know that their web mentions as the year 2000 as being the last year that it was disbursed.
That is 9-years without retired teachers being able to spend the disbursement here in Ohio during this gift giving season.
As a retired educator, you may be asking who is responsible for this 9-year drought in the issuance of the 13th check? Could it be those who are trusted to honorably and thoughtfully are supposed to monitor the STRS associates, the STRS board? Or could it be a failure of our retiree and active teacher unions who may have failed in their duty to be sure the STRS funds are always sound and sufficient to fulfill the needs and promises that were made at the time the active educator chose to retire? Also, could it be the State of Ohio officials who have not provided sufficient employer economic support for the STRS?
Everyone knows the American stock market has its ups and downs; therefore, a reasonable person can conclude that probably the most blame for the 9-year drought is mostly the dereliction of the responsibility the paid “experts” in the investment department we hire to know how to keep solid high investment returns pouring in? Who else can keep STRS able to issue retired teacher year-end disbursements? Does only the shadow know?
My opinion,
RHJones, retired OH teacher

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RH Jones: Will our unions fight for retired teachers?

From RH Jones, December 16, 2009
Subject: Will our unions fight for retired teachers? Fw: Ford-Visteon
To all:
Yesterday, I received this email below from a retired auto worker in Illinois that I wish to keep anonymous -- I have edited it somewhat. Although it follows a previous message, both make me wonder: will OEA, in particular, who is affiliated with AFL-CIO, get started on legal action to keep Ohio's retired educators our promised benefits? If not them: will OFT, OEA-R, NEOEA-R,or ORTA perhaps? And, will we be able to count our national NEA/AFT, or the NEA-R? Please notice that the AFL/CIO/UAW are filing "in each retirees individual name, all 16,000"! WOW! Now that's a union!
RHJones, a PUFL member in all my professional teacher unions

December 15, 2009
Subject: Ford-Visteon
Hi All, I received an email from our AFL-CIO and UAW lawyers in Chicago with an update. The lawyers filed an appeal at 9:00am this morning in Federal Court in Illinois, the emails said they where filed in each retirees individual name, all 16,000 retirees. The email went on to say that this paper work alone will buy some time and that all members need to get any scheduled testings or surgeries done as soon as possible and to call Visteon Benefits center the day before for updated information. So I guess I will call my doctor in the morning and get my appointments moved up as soon as they can.
The US Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. has been notifed by Ford-Visteon and the Federal Court in Connecticut to start the court order within 30 days. My friend (he was our local AFL-CIO president) emailed all the retirees from the Connersville closed plant and told us to be strong and fight with all our power to vote those out of office that helped wipe out our jobs and future... And that are taking away from the seniors. The government, GM, and Delphi did the same thing to their retirees, but it took them 2 years. It only took Ford since June to get this done. Well, I probably won't hear anything else for awhile, but I will let you know what goes on. Thanks.

RH Jones: Hooray for Cordray

From RH Jones, December 16, 2009
Subject: Hooray for Cordray & a Fw: Ohio AG Richard Cordray: Dear Wall Street, I'm Coming For You
To All:
Hooray for Cordray! Our Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is working extremely hard to bring our illegally lost money back to Ohio (OH). This will help not only all of our OH public pension systems, it will help everybody: private investors, businesses, and all who have lost funds to the illegal manipulation investment funding.
To those critics of AG Cordray, I say, take another look. Ohio public pensioners have shown to spend 90% of our pensions here in OH. This is not, therefore, to be scoffed at. It represents many millions and millions of dollars pouring into all sorts of OH venders. Take that away and expect to expand Medicaid and many other costly public welfare agencies.
RHJones, a retired OH educator


Most finance job-seekers open to pay cuts: survey
Buzz up! December 16, 2009
By Nick Zieminski
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A majority of job-seekers in the finance sector would consider taking a pay cut since their job searches are taking longer than initially expected, according to a survey by an online career management company.
The survey by found 57 percent of people pursuing finance jobs would consider accepting a position that pays less than their most recent position, while 79 percent report a longer-than-anticipated job search.
About four in 10 said they are willing to settle for anything related to their field, double the number of people with minds set on a specific position or title, according to the online poll conducted last month and in early December.
Some job-seekers are souring on the finance profession as a result of the recession. Forty-one percent said they do not believe finance is as desirable a career path as they thought two years ago.
According to SIFMA, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, U.S. securities industry headcount has dropped more than 10 percent from a peak of 869,600 in June, 2008. to 780,200 in August, the most recent data available.
Still, a majority of those surveyed said they expect total compensation at their next job will be the same or higher, and two-thirds are confident they will land a job in the next six months.
That confidence comes as finance firms have stepped up hiring in the past six months, said Chairman Skiddy von Stade.
"There has been a steady uptick in hiring activity and we remain cautiously optimistic that this trend will continue through 2010," von Stade said. "(But) it will be a while before we see a full rebound in the finance sector."
The most in-demand fields include leveraged finance, restructuring, corporate finance, asset management, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, and compliance, according to OneWire.

Interview with Richard Cordray

From Nancy Hamant, December 16, 2009
Subject: Interview--AG Richard Cordray
Wow, read AG Cordray's interview. Nancy (Hamant)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Molly Janczyk to Tim Myers: Verify your statements

From Molly Janczyk, December 15, 2009
Subject: FW: Letter to Tim Myers from Retiree Kathie Bracy
Yes, Tim. Let's see all your statements verified for that matter. Depth, I fear, is not your strong suit. I think it is you who is prejudiced and who always has been beginning with your 'savior ' quip long ago. You have never had an open mind or listened to anyone beyond OEA talk, it seems to me. Your seeming lack of substance is scary.

Molly Janczyk to Tim Myers: List your accomplishments for us

From Molly Janczyk, December 15, 2009
Subject: Tim: List of Leone's Accomplishments
Tim, Perhaps you can list your accomplishments for us to see. Leone's are listed below. By this time in his term (the length you have 'served' so far), Dennis had quite a few historically unmatched accomplishments. Dennis and John brought changes never seen before or since in the interests of retirees for whom you are supposedly acting. OEA was so threatened by Leone that they had to issue slanderous statements proven wrong for which they never had the integrity to apologize.
WHO among you have any of Leone's accomplishments or who among you ensured an Ethics Policy (Lazares). You have issued your own 'crackpot or savior' remarks along with others yet have little if anything to show retirees that you act on their behalf based on your own independent thinking. I never expected anything more of you and I have not been disappointed. You take up space on the Board - a warm body to do the bidding never disagreeing with the OEA 'agenda' to my knowledge.
You say we have not gotten over the past...................We will never get over the devastation the past Board laden with OEA Board members and OEA's choice of Executive Director. Our lives are forever changed. How does one move on from being misled, not given the option to make choices to work longer as you are providing actives now. I can't blame the actives because we wanted those choices and thus I cannot deny actives what is right: change beginning 5 yrs out and phasing in. We had to save the healthcare fund for them so we were overwhelmingly burdened with catastrophic costs we could not afford. Thus, how does one get over cutting or eliminating meds, Dr. visits and treatments and even dropping insurance due to inability to pay after going through private resources? Some retirees sold their homes, cars and went through their savings. How does one move on, Tim? How does one ever forget when we live with this type of astronomical costs daily? It can't be done. It is like a learns to deal somehow without our case, at times, insurance and medical care on various levels. We are nameless faces to you and your modus operandi is smirking-you learned it from your leader: Bill Leibensperger. We heard it the first time we came to STRS with the slick OEA suited young ones laughing at us.
The vast majority of us do work for change at STRS to reduce the unfunded liability as well writing and calling and visiting legislators for increased contributions as supporters of the formerly HCA plan, defined benefits, legislation to promote quality education and all other proper movements and issues where we are asked to assist. We work to find accurate information to circulate and solicit help in areas of concern. But, don't ever think we are going to be grateful that STRS did not act long ago as it is today to save health care and ensure proper funding when many things could have been done that were not such as promoting legislation for funding health care which was a possibility back in the early 90's, incrementally increasing costs for health care 20 yrs ago. Reason STRS did not: I was told: Retirees were not have been happy. WOW! Are we happy now? Slowly saving the system with phasing in needed changes to offset our devastation would have been overwhelming welcomed in we had only had the chance to be educated about what would happen to us today without the changes. Now, we have no options or choices other than to work if we can and cut out everything we hoped for in retirement. Some who don't rely on STRS for pensions or only do so as a supplement can say we haven't gotten over the past because they do not have to worry. It is shortsighted and self absorbed of them caring only how they are doing just as it is with you saying such heartless and unfeeling things.
Tim, You have always opened your mouth and had trash fall out. This is so like you and no exception. As John and Dennis always said: "How does this action affect retirees?" Ever really go there, Tim? I think not.
Just another rant from, Molly J.
Dennis Leone's Accomplishments as a STRS Board Member
1. Bonus plan for fiscal year 2010: Motion made by Dennis Leone prohibits bonuses if overall return is negative. Plan restricts bonuses unless total STRS assets return to $65 billion. For every $1 billion our total assets fall short of $65 billion at the end of FY 2010, bonuses will be reduced by 3%.
2. Motion made by Leone prohibits bonuses beyond FY 2010 in years in which total returns are negative.
3. Motion made by Leone and passed on Oct. 20th, 2006 requires the STRS staff to provide a summary of all proposed contracts for services provided directly to the Board and for any propose contract in excess of $100,000.
4. Motions made by Leone resulted in changes to the Board's travel and expenditure policies:
1. No reimbursements for meals unless itemized receipts are provided.
2. Airplane tickets must be purchased 30 days in advance, and Board members who choose not to do this will pay the difference in cost between the two tickets. Board members - not STRS - will personally pay for any additional fees charged by the airline if ticket reservations are changed for personal reasons.
3. The previously adopted $6,000 maximum for individual Board members to spend on out-ot-state trips per year did not include the conference fee for registration or tuition. Now it does.
4. Meal reimbursements are now limited to $10.00 for breakfast, $15.00 for lunch, and $25.00 for dinner.
5. No overnight lodging will be provided by STRS on the day that Board meetings end or the day after conferences conclude.
6. Board members will not be reimbursed for expenses while attending in-state meetings unless they are a formally invited speaker or an official participant at the meeting or unless the Board votes to approve attendance in advance.
7. STRS funds will not be used every again to purchase credit cards, fax machines, fax lines, or laptop computers for Board members. Also Board members cannot expect STRS to pay for their personal long distance phone calls when they are attending meetings.
5. Proposed and received Bd. support for formally recognizing the deceased Paul Boyer, a CORE founding member and vigilant retiree supporter, in Dec. of 2008.
6. Leone was responsible for 52 credit cards and 39 gas cards held by STRS staff and Board members being turned in.
7. Leone was responsible for all but a couple of cars, vans, and SUVs purchased by STRS to be sold.
8. Leone was responsible for canceling the policy permitting staff to use STRS cars for personal use.
9. Shortly after joining the STRS Bd., Leone’s motions resulted in the STRS staff being reduced by 100 employees and and the administrative budget being cut.
10. New policies introduced by Leone prohibited the use of pension money for things like alcohol, parties, movie rentals, concerts, baseball games, Kings Island trips as well as lodging, airfare, and gifts for out-of-town STRS visitors.
11. The cost to run the STRS child care center was reduced from $500,000 per year to $100,000 per year and finally at present, the center is cost neutral.
12. Cafeteria services in the STRS building are now cost neutral.
13. Fees for staff to use the STRS fitness center were increased.
14. Bonus checks for non-investment staff (affecting over 300 employees) have been eliminated.
15. NEA paid back STRS the $39,251 that the Perry Local School District received from STRS for the substitute teacher costs for Michael Billirakis when he was attending STRS Board meetings.
16. As a result of pressure from Dr. Leone, 105 legislators called for STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer to resign (which he did) to avoid being terminated.
17. Senate Bill 133, signed by the governor on June 16, 2004, put in place a number of oversight regulations. It also requires ethics training and travel policies for all STRS Board members.
18. Senate Bill 133 added another retiree to the STRS Board, removed State Auditor Betty Montgomery and State Attorney General Jim Petro, and added three investment specialists (thereby stripping OEA of its majority control of the STRS Board.)
19. Senate Bill 133 stipulated that the “big spender” STRS Board members from 2000, 2001, and 2002 (using Dennis Leone’s language) “those who spent in excess of $10,000 per year of pension money on trips around the country may never again run for the STRS Board or serve as an appointee to the STRS Board.” This affected prior STRS Board members Jack Chapman, Eugene Norris, Hazel Sidaway, Gloria Gaylord, and Debbie Scott.
20. Senate Bill 133 contains a disciplinary procedure that authorizes the State Attorney General (in the event that STRS Board members improperly spend pension money in the future) to seek restitution, to pursue civil charges against STRS Board members, and cause their removal from the STRS Board.
21. Leone made a motion to eliminate the Severence Policy (which had never been approved by a STRS Board) and therefore prohibit the STRS Executive Director from giving cash and free health insurance to STRS staff laid off in the future. His motion was rejected 7 to 3.
22. Motion made by Leone to remove STRS Investment Chief Steve Mitchell from PBI (Performance-Based Incentive) Plan died from a lack of a second. Dr. Leone cited conflict of interest concerns since Mitchell evaluates other bonus recipients.
23. Motion made by Leone to deny FY 2009 bonuses to Investment staff died due to a lack of a second.
24. Leone presented two motions which were tabled after STRS Executive Director Nehf said he would cause them to happen administratively. They were;
1. The development of a mechanism to enable the STRS Board and staff to deviate from its passive stock policy when certain stocks go significantly south due to abnormal external circumstances like fraud. (Example: The Board practice which triggered automatic purchasing of 92,500 shares of Fannie Mae stock just before the company collapsed and was taken over by the federal government. STRS lost millions.)
2. Communicating the STRS Board’s objection to companies that use federal bailout dollars on things like bonus checks. expensive retreats, hunting trips, multi-million dollar CEO contracts, and multi-million dollar severance payouts. (STRS has spent millions purchasing stock in certain companies that have lost public confidence and stockholder confidence due to their fiscal mismanagement.
25. Dr. Leone received the Ohio Senate’s Outstanding Educationsl Service Award in 1999.
26. Dr. Leone received the First Amendment Award in 2004 from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists for uncovering the inappropriate spending practices at STRS.
27. Dennis Leone was the only superintendent to receive an award in 2002 from the Ohio Association of Public School Employees for collaborative labor/management relations.
28. The following represent a number of spending abuses discovered by Dr. Leone that occurred at STRS since 1995. Dr. Leone wrote the report that summarized the spending abuses (hundreds of millions of dollars) of our pension money by the STRS Board and staff. The abuses occurred even though assets at STRS dropped $12 billion, retirees lost their 13th check, health insurance premiums for retirees significantly increased, active members of STRS saw their STRS contribution rate increased from 9.3% to 10.0%, and school districts were implementing budget reduction plans to make ends meet. STRS expenditures included:
1. $94.2 million on the new STRS headquarters.
2. $869,235 on artwork, sculptures, and polished stones for the new STRS bldg.
3. $818,000 on a child care services center for the children of STRS employees.
4. $500,000 per year to run the child care service center.
5. $426,000 on a fitness center in the STRS bldg.
6. $88,397 per year to provide food services for STRS employees.
7. $428,056 on 16 cars, vans, and SUVs.
8. STRS Board policy that permitted staff members to drive STRS vehicles for personal use, and the family members of said employees to drive said vehicles.
9. 52 American Express credit cards and 20 BP gas cards used by Board members and STRS staff members.
10. Staff members and Board members attending conferences used STRS credit cards to purchase alcohol. 11. $18,810 was spent on a “Discovery Park” gala event which included the purchase of Instamatic cameras for attendees.
12. $15,100 was spent on the new STRS building dedication which included alcohol and gifts for attendees, as well as air fare and lodging for out-of-town STRS visitors.
13. $4,100 was spent on a private retirement party for a STRS Board member.
14. $5,594 was spent on poinsettias to decorate STRS during the holiday season in 2002.
15. $1,000 was spent on dinners and alcohol for 12 STRS Board members/staff members on two occasions. 16. $7,116 was spent to purchase baseball tickets, concert tickets, movie rentals, and Kings Island tickets for STRS employees in the summer of 2003 for “team building”.
17. $530,284 was spent by the STRS Board on trips and meetings around the country in 2000, 2001, and 2002.
18. Multiple trips were taken by STRS Board members and staff to places like Honolulu, Palm Springs, Kiawah Island, and Anchorage. A planned trip to China in 1995 was canceled after it was suggested that it would have the appearance of junketeering.
19. Frequent occurrences of at least 6 STRS Board members going to the same meeting, sometimes twice a year, costing STRS over $9,000. each year.
20. $36,736 was spent by STRS Board member Jack Chapman in a single year for trips all over the country. 21. $1,017 was spent for an airplane ticket for a STRS Board member that would have cost $258. if it had been purchased 30 days in advance of the conference.
22. $1 million was paid per year to full-time STRS employees for 18 days of unused staff vacation days and unused sick leave.
23. Administrative expenses at STRS increased 17.4% per year between 1996 and 2002.
24. STRS employees increased from 414 to 725 between 1996 and 2002.
25. A total of 1,035 employee bonus checks were issued to STRS staff in 2000, 2001, and 2002.
26. $24.4 million was awarded in bonus checks to employees between 1998 and 2003.
27. $3.2 million was paid by STRS to PERS because of bonuses alone since 1998 to satisfy that pension system’s 13.31% annual employee contribution requirement. (STRS employees are members of PERS).
28. 34 STRS employees in 2002 received bonus checks in excess of $40,000 (with 18 of those getting bonuses in excess of $70,000).
29. One STRS employee received bonus checks of $110,000 and $68,000 in 2001 on top of his base salary of $164,000.
30. Over 150 STRS employees had base salaries over $100,000 in 2002, with 32 of those making over $155,000 -- topping the salaries of both the governor and the chief justice of the State Supreme Court.
31. A total of $39,251 was paid to the Perry Local School District by STRS in 2002 and 2003 for substitute teacher costs for STRS Board member Michael Billirakis (when he attended STRS meetings) even though he did not have a position in the school district. NEA paid Perry Local the dollar amount associated with the salary and the benefits for Billirakis, enabling him to be listed as an employee.
32. Excess STRS furniture was sold to STRS employees in 2000 and 2001 for $27,703, and instead of this amount going back into the pension fund, it was given to charities.
33. The regular work week for STRS employees was 37 1/2 hours.
34. If an STRS employee adopted a child, the STRS Board awarded a $5,000 cash gift to said employee.
35. Between 1999 and 2004, the STRS Board paid out $2.1 million in educational stipends for STRS employees to take college courses. This amount was double what the other 4 public pension systems in Ohio paid out, COMBINED, over the same time period. STRS paid up to $7,000 per year (per employee) for undergraduate or graduate work.
When Dennis Leone issued his report (referred to above) on STRS, the last thing he expected was the initial reaction he got from both OEA and ORTA. OEA wrote a statewide memo that said his findings were inaccurate and “misrepresentations” , while ORTA initially tried to ignore his report. It was not until thousands of actives and retirees statewide became outraged over the truth that BOTH OEA and ORTA then said, “Of course we are concerned about the spending practices at STRS”. His report stepped on toes at OEA and ORTA. (OEA had 5 members sitting on the STRS Board, and also caused many retirees to ask ORTA why they had not first discovered what Dennis Leone found.) Dr. Leone was elected to be an STRS Board member to represent the retired teachers of Ohio. During his term of office on the STRS Board, he has been an uncompromising guardian and caretaker of OUR pension money, one Board member who knows that Ohio law REQUIRES all decisions of the STRS Board to be made for US and OUR BENEFICIARIES. THANK YOU, DR. DENNIS LEONE FOR A JOB WELL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tim Myers: Allegations without documentation -- against Dr. Leone

From Kathie Bracy, December 14, 2009
Subject: Your letter today

Tim, I'm very much bothered by some things you said in your letter to Jan Scagnetti, as you are making serious allegations without providing any documentation whatsoever. As a college graduate, educator and especially as an OEA-supported, elected STRS Board member, I would like to think you are far more intelligent than that. Please don't disappoint me.
The documentation I need from you:
1. A list of all the reasons you believe Dennis Leone "hates OEA and ORTA"
2. A list of all the things you are saying he made up
3. An explanation of your comment about his last statement and all the reasons you believe it is "complete nonsense."
I'm sure your English Comp professors impressed on you the absolute necessity of documenting everything you wrote for their courses, but yet you did not do this in your letter today. Please do so now: spell out exactly why you have made these allegations so I can confront Dr. Leone with them. I would like to get to the bottom of this.
Thank you.
Kathie Bracy
From Tim Myers, December 14, 2009
Thanks Janet,
You are correct. They can't let the past go...even if the retelling gets farther and farther from the truth. Dennis Leone so hates OEA and ORTA, for what ever reason, and just makes things up. His last statement is true, but not for the reasons he gives. We don't understand it because it is complete nonsense!
From Janet Scagnetti, December 14, 2009
Subject: Fw: OEA Credibility Factor of Zero
This was sent to me, and though most of it is true to an extent, many people in the 'heyday' responded the same way. That is the reason the US is where it is today. But nothing lasts forever and here we are today. We can't undo the past, but one would hope that we could learn something from and decide for yourself.

Click here for Dennis Leone: OEA Credibility Factor of Zero]

RH Jones: Visteon - Ford Motor Co.

From RH Jones, December 14, 2009
Subject: Visteon - Ford Motor Co
To all:
This message below is an email that I received from a relative that retired as a unionized worker having built Ford vehicles in Indiana for over 30-years. It is my opinion that Ford is creating profits, at the expense of their retired workers. Their present management and workers are "earning" big 6-figure pay, while at the same time forcing cuts for the very people who kept Ford in business over the last 3 or more generations.
Does that surprise you Ohio educators? This tactic is being done to public employees as well. There are many millions of retired elderly workers in both the private and public sectors that need to exercise their "gray power" by keeping track of the politicians that go along with this tomfoolery and vote them out of office. How dare these politicians, managers, and active employees who would cut off health care and retirement benefits from their mothers, fathers, grandparents, and teachers! If they have any humanity and conscience, their shame must an awful burden to bear. Aged folks, we have work to do and the time to do it; Let us together: use our God inspired US Constitution to win over the decent retirement we worked so hard for during our working years.
Personally, I am going to keep my 7-year old American car until death do us part. And, I am damned sure that I will not send my hard earned pension money overseas to foreign automobile manufacturers that are exploiting their elderly even more than Ford.
That's my opinion,
Robert Hudson Jones, a retired Ohio public school teacher
Subject: Visteon - Ford Motor Co
Hi All, thought I would email you all and let you know that Federal Court in Connecticut sided with Ford and Visteon, as of Dec. 17, 2009, all retires and past employees will loose there Health, and Life Insurance. Also they filled with the Federal government to have them take over our pensions plans. Our pensions stop Feb. 1st, 2009. I guess I worked all that overtime to build my pension up for nothing, I will never buy another Ford product again for as long as I live. I can't believe that our class action lawsuit was thrown out like a piece of scrap paper. I don't know what is going to happen to this country??? Our government leaders are in there offices to get rich for themselves, I read in the paper this morning that both of our Senators, Lincoln and Pryor voted in the 60 majority and Evan Bayh of Indiana a democratic voted against. Please keep all of Connersville and myself in your prayers and pray for our nation. Thanks for listening, Dona

Molly Janczyk re: HPA Proposal Changes for legislation

From Molly Janczyk, December 14, 2009
Subject: HPA Proposal Changes for legislation:
To verify these possible changes, you would have to speak with members of the HPA.
The OEA Representative Assembly met last week. As we know, OEA has NOT supported all the STRS Proposals. Changing some of the proposals relating to actives was seemingly discussed. Thus far, there is NO official release by HPA of any new consensus position. If the possible proposed changes are going to be brought forward, we would expect to see something public by the January STRS Board meeting as it has been said that legislation could be started in the beginning of the year. In any case, the bill will probably be altered many ways before it ever comes to a legislative vote as is the way of politics. To get anything through legislation will, no doubt, take the strong support and consensus of OEA, ORTA and OFT supporting the legislation as their opposition will make passing legislation difficult. Just reality as this is where the power and money and numbers exist. Thus far, it seems nothing more has been added or deleted regarding current retirees beyond the 2% COLA beginning in 2011.
'Possible' Proposal Changes:
1. Retirement Age:
Phase in 35 yrs of service for full retirement over next 10 yrs:
-30 yrs until 8/2015
-31 yrs begin 7/2017
-32 yrs begin 7/2019
-33 yrs begin 7/2021
-34 yrs begin 7/2023
-35 yrs begin 8/2023 and beyond
2. FAS: Final Average Salary: Proposal Change: Asks legislation to give STRS authority to determine 3, 4, 5 years FAS depending on funding at the time.
3.COLA: 2011:
-2% for ALL current retirees -NEW retirees wait 36 months and until age 60 before receiving COLA
**Rationale: Delaying retirement and COLA benefit for future retirees helps pay for future retirees pensions and benefits as they will continue to pay into the system and delay withdrawing benefits and COLAS. Decreasing COLA for current retirees saves STRS money immediately.
**At this time, STRS is solvent for approximately 20 years. The changes for actives is to keep it solvent for decades beyond that to ensure pensions and benefits.
**The other areas have thus far remained the same:
STRS Proposals for : Increased Contributions, Defined Benefits and Formulas have no changes mentioned.
Molly J.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

STRS FLASHBACK - 6 Years Ago - Abundant Amounts of Coal & Cane for STRS players

From John Curry, December 13, 2009
Coal: The State Teachers Retirement System and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund for their extravagant spending. A $100 million building and not a single chimney for Santa to make his delivery.
Coal: Former STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer for instilling a culture of entitlement and arrogance.
Cane: Interim STRS Executive Director Damon Asbury for making changes in that culture, cutting expenses and helping to restore confidence in the system.
Cane: Chillicothe Superintendent Dennis Leone and others for bringing the excesses at STRS to light and remaining vigilant about what’s happening at the fund.
Coal: The rabid critics of STRS who ignore the reasons the STRS headquarters and its expensive artwork are not going to be sold and the day care center shouldn’t be closed. Get over it and move on; there are other issues to focus on.
Cane: Lawmakers who saw a need for pension fund reform and acted quickly.
Coal: Lawmakers who screwed up pension fund reform by trying to give the state treasurer superpowers over appointments, and for requiring a Buy Ohio provision.
Canton Repository, December 19, 2003
Here’s short list of who has been naughty and nice
By PAUL E. KOSTYU Copley Columbus Bureau chief
COLUMBUS -- It’s a well-kept Christmas secret that journalists help Santa Claus. Really, I’m not making this up.
Sure, kids write to the jolly elf to tell him what they want and whether they have been naughty or nice. And he pretty much takes them at their word. But who keeps an eye on the adults?
Claus has subscriptions to every newspaper. A staff of elves, many of whom got rotated out of the toy department, peruse headlines and stories about the good and bad. The Internet has made this much easier, but Claus doesn’t believe in downsizing.
In fact, he may be the only employer who is adding jobs. Instead of taking a trade mission to Japan and Taiwan next year, Gov. Bob Taft might want to consider a North Pole jaunt to get some of those Claus jobs in Ohio.
Claus pays particular attention to journalists in state capitals because he needs an honest assessment of what politicians and lobbyists are up to. He’s worried Ohio lawmakers will require him to put a goofy-looking red, white and blue Ohio Bicentennial license plate on his sleigh.
Thus, he has come to depend on this annual column about who deserves candy canes and lumps of high-sulfur Ohio coal. He also knows he might as well pack plenty of coal.
Cane: Taft for threatening to veto concealed-weapon legislation so that more access can be granted to permit holders’ records. Anyone who defends the right of access to information deserves a whole bag of candy canes.
Coal: Taft for signing a bioterrorism bill that restricts access to information. Make that a big bag of coal.
Cane: Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-Plain Township, for taking a deliberate and reasoned approach to tort reform, despite pressure and criticism from Taft, fellow Republicans and lobbyists.
Coal: Akron-based FirstEnergy for starting the massive blackout that affected most of Ohio, the Northeastern United States and a good chunk of Canada.
Coal: Taft for staying well-lit in a part of Canada that had lights, while Ohioans suffered in the dark.
Cane: Sen. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, for his persistence in getting Ohio’s Best Rx, a broad prescription drug plan, enacted.
Cane: Taft and Rep. John Hagan, R-Marlboro Township, for seeing the wisdom in offering Best Rx as a drug plan better than the Golden Buckeye Card plan, which took forever to get going.
Coal: Former Consumers’ Counsel Robert Tongren for ordering an expensive report at taxpayer expense, then ignoring it before destroying the public record, all the while going along with a plan to allow additional costs on consumers’ bills.
Coal: The State Teachers Retirement System and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund for their extravagant spending. A $100 million building and not a single chimney for Santa to make his delivery.
Coal: Former STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer for instilling a culture of entitlement and arrogance.
Cane: Interim STRS Executive Director Damon Asbury for making changes in that culture, cutting expenses and helping to restore confidence in the system.
Cane: Chillicothe Superintendent Dennis Leone and others for bringing the excesses at STRS to light and remaining vigilant about what’s happening at the fund.
Coal: The rabid critics of STRS who ignore the reasons the STRS headquarters and its expensive artwork are not going to be sold and the day care center shouldn’t be closed. Get over it and move on; there are other issues to focus on.
Cane: Lawmakers who saw a need for pension fund reform and acted quickly.
Coal: Lawmakers who screwed up pension fund reform by trying to give the state treasurer superpowers over appointments, and for requiring a Buy Ohio provision.
Cane: Rep. John Boccieri, D-New Middletown, for honoring his commitment to his country when his Air Force unit was called up to serve in Iraq.
Cane: Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, for trying to move up the date when a prescription drug repository could begin operating in an effort to save money and help the needy.
Coal: Rep. Mary Cirelli, D-Canton, for voting against the new start date and then trying to explain that vote by saying she thought the Legislature was in session for another week, which makes no sense at all. Go figure.
Claus actually gets a longer list than this. He said it’s OK to share the rest next week.

Could this be another reason for sky high medical costs?

From John Curry, December 13, 2009
New York Post, Dec. 13, 2009
Sickening bonuses
Wall Streeters aren't the only ones raking in big bonuses during tough economic times.
Hospital presidents and CEOs also collect fat bonuses and "incentive payments," even as health-care systems cry poverty, claiming they struggle to break even against government cutbacks, tightwad insurers and skyrocketing costs.
While warning of layoffs and slashed patient services, many hospitals shower their top execs and department heads with bonuses and perks. They include housing allowances, chauffeurs, first-class air travel, tuition for their kids and country-club memberships.
Under new IRS rules, the extras are disclosed for the first time in recently filed 2008 tax records obtained by The Post.
The filings for the city's biggest and most prestigious private, tax-exempt hospitals show at least a dozen CEOs get compensation of $1 million and up. Some also cash in early on million-dollar pre-retirement payouts while on the job.
Dr. Herbert Pardes, who runs the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and its health-care system -- the city's largest private hospital network -- received a $1 million bonus in 2008 on top of his $1.67 million salary.
The hospital has a "pay for performance" philosophy but says even though Pardes met his goals, his bonus was smaller than 2007's to "reflect the current external environment."
But Pardes' compensation totaled $9.8 million in 2008 because he vested in a retirement plan that will pay $6.8 million when he leaves in 2011. He also received a $93,500 housing allowance and the use of a car and driver.
The $4.2 million 2008 compensation for Steven Safyer, CEO of Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, another major teaching hospital, included a $1.2 million salary, a $452,789 bonus, a $6,000 college scholarship for his child and $2.1 million in pre-retirement cash.
A $1.2 million bonus went to Miguel Fuentes Jr., CEO of the 958-bed Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. His $4.8 million package included $878,024 in salary and an $858,000 pre-retirement payout. He's also set to get $1.8 million in retirement cash next year.
Execs cleaned up even at struggling hospitals. Despite years of losses, 513-bed Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side gave CEO Gladys George an early-retirement payment of $752,469 on top of her relatively modest $522,206 salary.
Her salary still dwarfs that of Alvin Aviles, who makes $291,000 as CEO of the city's $6.3 billion Health and Hospitals Corp., the nation's largest public system with 39,000 employees at 11 hospitals, four nursing homes and many treatment centers.
Judy Wessler, director of the Commission on the Public Health System, was stunned to learn of the bonuses at the nonprofits, calling them "totally outrageous."
"They're not supposed to act like Wall Street," she said.
Brian Conway, spokesman for the Greater New York Hospital Association, an industry group that lobbies to protect hospital funding, defended the extras.
"There are thousands of 20-somethings on Wall Street making millions who don't have anywhere near the responsibilities or skills of New York hospital CEOs," Conway said.
But a top industry source slammed the CEO deals as "scandalous" because the private hospitals are tax-exempt and rely on state and federal money from Medicaid and Medicare, and other government subsidies.
"Every time there's a wave of budget cuts in Albany or Washington, they scream bloody murder," the insider said.
Bonuses and perks still flow even at New York Westchester Square Medical Center in The Bronx -- which went into bankruptcy three years ago after the state ordered it shut but extended the closure deadline.
CEO Alan Kopman got $558,491 in pay and benefits in 2008, including a $47,803 bonus. The hospital also paid $25,320 for his membership in the swank Seawane Golf and Country Club in Hewlett Harbor, LI.
At St. Barnabas Medical Center in The Bronx, CEO Scott Cooper has gotten raises and bonuses totaling 15 percent since 2006, while employees were forced to fork out more for health benefits. Cooper's 2008 compensation totaled $934,536.
Dr. Murray Brennan
Surgeon, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Brennan, a 28-year veteran who formerly chaired the surgery department, took a retirement payout of $17.5 million on top of his $1.2 million salary last year. Sloan-Kettering says Brennan invested part of his income in a nowdefunct retirement program, with 5 percent contributed by the hospital. Brennan, who is still practicing, and other execs became eligible to withdraw the money in 2008.
Dr. Scott Cooper
President and CEO, St. Barnabas Medical Center
Cooper took home $934,536 in 2008, including a $150,000 bonus — despite a more than $10 million operating loss that year. The hospital recently hiked employee contributions for health benefits, and Cooper told a staff meeting last month that Gov. Paterson’s proposed budget cuts will hit hard. He asked each department to plan to cut 5 percent, and said of possible layoffs: “I will never say never,” according to a spokesman.
Dr. Patrick Borgen
Chief of surgery, Maimonides Medical Center
Borgen is accused of “quid pro quo sex harassment” after a two-year affair with a younger staff doctor that ended in 2008. She was dismissed and he was promoted, charges a pending lawsuit by Dr. Petra Rietschel. The married Borgen, who earned $1.4 million in salary and benefits, lived in Westchester County. But Borgen and Rietschel, she claims, started their trysts in a Brooklyn pad provided to him by Maimonides — the “love nest” perk was valued at $13,200.
Dr. Herbert Pardes
CEO, New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Pardes, who runs the largest hospital system in New York City, had the fattest compensation package of any city hospital CEO — $9.8 million in 2008. He received a $1,666,773 base salary, plus a $1,047,667 bonus. The package also included $6.8 million in retirement money he’ll collect when he leaves in 2011. The money became taxable in 2008 when he vested in the program. He also got a $93,504 housing allowance and access to a car and driver.

Molly Janczyk: Many at STRS are truly caring about the membership

From Molly Janczyk, December 13, 2009
Subject: RE: OEA Credibility Factor of Zero
Thanks, Dennis. We know how OEA is and how they work and of course, the salaries THEY receive. I appreciate your thoughts and I certainly have not forgotten the OEA 5 Former Board members convicted of Ethics charges along with their former Exec. Direc and cohort retiree Board member, Endry.
When I read of OPERS being within their 30 yr unfunded liability but making changes NOW to ensure they stay there, I am so disheartened that STRS did not choose to do money saving measures to save health care long , long ago when they knew of impending troubles in the early 90's. Instead Dyer wanted out of the health care business and it was run down for retirees to save. Premiums, copays and out of pockets could have been incrementally increased, age for retirement could have been raised incrementally as well, legislation could have been sought instead of dismissed with OEA and former STRS Exec Direc. Dyer saying it was unnecessary.
Now, we are in trouble and change must occur as without change, STRS will not be able to pay. I have heard legislators tend to act when in crisis mode vs. in advance mode and it seems clear OEA and STRS did the same. The Board has changed but much of the thinking remains the same. There are good responsive people at STRS who have made themselves very available for interactive exchanges in give and take discussions. I do appreciate their efforts and feel many are truly caring about membership.
Molly J.

Dennis Leone: OEA Credibility Factor of Zero

From Dennis Leone, December 13, 2009
I have stewed about what Bill Leibensperger and OEA are currently saying about STRS proposals, but for different reasons. Leibensperger is such a deception artist when he, along with OEA-backed STRS Board member Tim Myers, now talk about the justification for the STRS staff bonuses. Leibensperger and former OEA President Gary Allen also were deception artists in 2003 when OEA tried so hard to say that the wasteful spending by STRS Board members really wasn’t happening. Remember the millions of dollars that were wasted at STRS? Has everyone already forgotten that former STRS Executive Director Herb Dyer and FIVE OEA-backed board members – including former OEA President Michael Billirakis – were convicted in court for their misdeeds at STRS? When it comes to STRS matters, OEA has a credibility factor of zero. OEA had the chance to be a leader at STRS between 1993 and 2003, but it was more important for OEA to support the costly, ill-advised 35-year/88% plan and look the other way when it came to pension money being spent on booze, parties, and multiple trips to Honolulu. OEA knew what was happening. What now continues to get lost in this bonus discussion is:
1. The STRS Board made a conscious decision 50 years ago, and it was a good decision, to hire our own internal stock managers rather than “pay more” for external managers. In so doing, the Board also made a conscious decision to provide fabulous BASE salaries to these people (which averaged $156,000 for all STRS investment staff members last year) plus a package of spectacular fringe benefits that people on Wall Street have never seen in their lives. In addition, of course, these employees have qualified for annual bonus checks – many in excess of $100,000 – even when the stocks they were managing have lost money. (My initiative to change this in future years, which was first soundly rejected, was finally approved 6-3-1, with OEA leaders Ramser, Myers and Meuser not in support).
2. Please don’t tell me now that since it would cost more if we used external stock managers (as if it is some new surprise), that this -- somehow -- justifies STRS investment staff members getting bonus checks for “value added” (even when their stocks lose money). Excuse me but the “value added” is being paid for by the wonderful base salaries and fringe benefit package that these employees receive. The bonuses are NOT contractually required and the board is NOT obligated to pay them……..but they have because of the OEA-supported and teacher-driven love affair with the concept of “value-added.” (I guess the teacher who has 90% of her students failing the OAT deserves a bonus check – due to “value-added” – because another teacher in her school has 95% of her students failing the OAT..........tell THAT to the voters in your district.)
3. All of us can come up with our own personal examples of how we are “saving” money by not doing something in a different way. THIS is what the STRS Board naively continues to believe about awarding bonus checks. Because it would cost more to handle the stocks in a different way, then this justifies bonus checks, even though the conscious decision was made decades ago to do things the way we are with tremendous base salaries and wonderful fringe benefits for the STRS investment staff members. I guess my last school board owes me a bonus check because I was “saving” my district $100,000 per year by NOT recommending that an assistant supt be hired. I mean, after all, I had to do the work that the assistant supt would do (which is the same argument that is used by STRS internal stock managers when they say if they don’t manage the stocks, then somebody externally will have to do so ). I also guess my wife and I are “saving” ourselves thousands of dollars per year because we have not tried to sell our house in Chillicothe and foolishly attempted to buy a condo that we can’t afford in Florida. I mean, after all, we need to have a roof over our heads, right? I guess my wife and I should try to figure out a way to give ourselves a bonus since we are “saving” money by not doing something in a different way with respect to our living accommodations.
The above is completely over the heads of OEA and the STRS Board majority.
Dennis Leone
Former STRS Board Member (2005-2009)

So...this is the HPA proposal?

From John Curry, December 13, 2009
If so, then.....why are the retirees getting whacked in 2011 with a COLA cut but the actives can "sit it out" for years and years? It looks to me like, once again, the retirees take the beating but...what else is new?
Click image to enlarge.

Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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