Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John Curry: Dear Ohio GOP

From John Curry, September 29, 2010

Dear Mike DeWine,

I have received a colorful Mike DeWine flyer in my mailbox today and want to discuss with you a half truth that it contains.

Half truth in your glossy ad:

"Under Attorney General Richard Cordray, evidence testing delays can last nearly a year."


(as verified by

BCI statistics provided by Cordray’s office show a small portion of DNA cases cases do drag on "up to six months" and even longer. Those records also show, though, that it's far from typical. The average turnaround time in processing DNA evidence has dropped from 100 days in 2009 to 71 days in 2010."

Sixty-five of 854 current DNA cases -- 7.6 percent -- have gone beyond the "up to" six months mark cited by DeWine. Of those 65 cases, 62 involve work being done by outside laboratories, which Cordray's office argues shouldn't count on their tally.

We also asked DeWine's campaign for evidence of "up to" six month delays. They pointed us to a trio of examples detailed in media reports.

We tossed out one because the case predated Cordray's time in office by six months.

The second was described March 26, 2010, in the Marietta Times. The article describes how the arrest of a suspect in the rape of a college student was delayed for nearly a year because of a backlog at the BCI lab.

Acting Chief Jim Weaver of the Marietta College police confirmed that "we got our match right around a year from when we gave the sample." The DNA evidence was sent to BCI on April 3, 2009, and returned to his office on March 16, 2010.

Weaver, the lead detective on the case, said BCI officials told him the 50-week delay was because "we didn't have anyone in custody and we didn't need it to keep anyone in jail, so it kept getting pushed back."

The third example from a WTOL-TV report May 3, 2010, focused on a lengthy delay in DNA evidence processing in the murder of 91-year-old Grace Kennedy in Bryan, Ohio.

Bryan police Capt. Paul Zawodny told us that the crime scene DNA evidence was received by BCI just hours after the Dec. 23, 2009, murder was discovered. The first DNA results came back April 5, 2010, a span of about four and a half months, Zawodny said.

The officer said part of the reason for the lag time was that prosecutors had to give the BCI lab permission to use all of a suspect's DNA sample while doing the testing.

DeWine's campaign sought to bolster its case by putting us into contact with Union County Prosecutor David Phillips, a Republican, who said that DNA evidence has recently taken longer than six months to be processed by BCI."

On average, we are waiting a long time -- sometimes even over a year for DNA evidence -- and during that time the case is just sitting there," Phillips said. The county prosecutor since 2005, Phillips said "I wouldn't say it's gotten any worse under Cordray's watch, but I wouldn't say it's gotten any better."

Phillips said his most recent DNA evidence-based case was a rape case where a suspect had been arrested, triggering a 90-day clock (about three months) under the constitutional provision for a speedy trial. He said he was on the phone "a lot" pressing the BCI lab to meet the 90-day window, which they did by only 10 days causing his office "anxiety" that the deadline would be missed freeing the suspect.

We find that DeWine’s statement is accurate when he states that the processing of DNA evidence is currently taking "up to six months," as at least the Marietta example far exceeds that window. Even Cordray's own statistics show that processing of DNA evidence stretches beyond six months in about 7 percent of cases, including at least three cases not shipped to an outside lab.

But the BCI statistics Cordray’s office provided show that more than 90 times in 100 the processing time falls somewhat short of "up to" six month mark cited by DeWine. Cordray’s staff also cites records that show that the turnaround time has dropped by about one-third. That's clearly additional contextual information not given by DeWine that tends to undercut the clear inference of his statement -- that DNA cases are dragging on for long stretches of time under Cordray.

Therefore, we rate DeWine's statement that DNA evidence is currently taking up to six months to be processed by the BCI crime lab to be Half True.

So, Mr. DeWine, when you only tell half truths, it will continue to come back and bite you in the butt because some people do take the time and trouble to investigate your allegations. By the way, you forgot to tell the good people of Ohio (in your flyer) that Mike DeWine hasn't prosecuted a case in a courtroom for over 30 years, did you? You also failed to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars that Richard Cordray has recouped for Ohio's public pension systems, didn't you? Funny how you leave things like that out, isn't it?

Next time, save your postage and send your bogus campaign flyer to someone who won't check out thevalidity contained therein. My mailbox deserves much better do the people of the State of Ohio!

John Curry
Wapakoneta, OH

P.S. I also sent this to my fellow public educator retirees so that they will be informed of this half truth. They also appreciate our current Attorney General because of what he has done for us and for all of Ohio.

Minnesota retirees fighting their COLA cut now have their own website!

From John Curry, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tom Curtis: Response from Senator Schuring to August 17 questions

From Tom Curtis, September 27, 2010

From: Senator Schuring
Thomas Curtis
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 4:13 PM
Subject: RE: Questions From a STRS Retiree

Dear Mr. Curtis,

Thank you again for contacting Senator Schuring regarding STRS pension proposals and the comprehensive pension bill to be introduced in the General Assembly.

After I reviewed your questions with the Senator, he asked me to let you know that some of your points certainly have merit. As you know, for example, Senator Schuring sponsored the 2002 bill (HB 157) that created the 3% COLA, so he is extremely sensitive about that issue. However, because the pension bill has not yet been introduced, all of this is purely speculative. It would be premature to get into any specifics prior to having an actual bill in front of us. We anticipate that after bill introduction, which probably will not occur until after the New Year, an arduous process will commence and many additional changes will be debated and made.

While these issues are hypothetical at the moment, the Senator and I look forward to discussing them in more detail with you subsequent to bill introduction. He hopes that you will continue to bring your concerns to his attention, as you have in the past when you have emailed or met with him.

Thank you again for writing.

Rachel Near
Rachel M. Near
Legislative Aide
Senator Kirk Schuring
29th Senate District
P: 614.466.0626
F: 614.466.4250

A "pickup-on-the-pickup" forbidden in 3 of 5 of Ohio's public retirement funds?

From John Curry, September 26, 2010

A free retirement

BY JESSICA ALAIMO • • September 26, 2010

Some see it as a little-known perk for public employees that's a growing burden for cash-strapped Ohio governments and schools.

Others, including public employee unions, say they're saving taxpayers money while shortchanging their own retirements.

The same can't be said for a select group of school officials -- and a few school unions -- that have negotiated deals that give them lucrative pensions without paying a penny for them.

Welcome to the world of Ohio's public pension plans, where confusing terms like "pickups" and "pickup-on-the-pickup" have nothing to do with trucks and more to do with decisions that can lead to free retirements.

With private employer retirement benefits eroding along with local government revenues, local pension costs are becoming a hotter topic in contract talks already strained by the potential layoffs of teachers, police officers and firefighters.

An analysis by and The News Journal of pension expenses in 15 Ohio counties found they consume 6 to 12 percent of local government revenues, which in many cases include public employers using taxpayer money to pay for what's normally an employee expense.

Ohio requires public employees to contribute 10 percent of their salary toward their public pension plan instead of paying Social Security 6.2 percent, and tens of thousands do each payday. But many local government employees and school administrators are pocketing all or some of that money because taxpayers are picking up the tab.

The analysis also discovered a limited number of school employees also get a "pickup-on-the-pickup." This practice -- which three of Ohio's five retirement funds decline to do -- inflates employees' retirement income at the expense of taxpayers.

The bottom line? While it's difficult to compare public versus private retirements, a retired public worker collects a bigger retirement check than a comparably paid private employee does from Social Security -- some without contributing a dime. Census data shows almost 732,000 Ohioans lived on Social Security alone in 2008, although 514,000 also received private retirement benefits and 388,000 received public pension checks.

addendum to pick-up-on-the-pick-up from the Mansfield Journal

From John Curry, September 27, 2010
Click image to enlarge.

More info on a pickup and a pickup-on-the-pickup

From John Curry, September 27, 2010

Schools' perk pads pensions

BY JESSICA ALAIMO AND BRIAN GADD • Staff Writers • September 27, 2010

Click image to enlarge.

ZANESVILLE -- Many public school administrators pay nothing toward their own pensions. But the perk doesn't stop there.

A lucrative deal allows 84 percent of Ohio superintendents to retire with a higher pension than they otherwise would have earned -- all at additional taxpayer expense, according to an analysis of public records by and the Times Recorder.

About half of Ohio districts also give this benefit to other certified administrators, although it's far less common for other school employees -- only 29 of Ohio's 613 school districts statewide give the perk to teachers or classified staff.

More than 70 administrators in Coshocton, Morgan, Muskingum and Perry counties have their pension contributions paid for and an extra 10 percent added in.

While 13 of 18 local districts only provide the benefit to superintendents, treasurers or both, the other five -- Zanesville, Tri-Valley, West Muskingum, Franklin Local and Morgan Local -- extend the additional benefit to curriculum directors and principals as well.

In Muskingum County, this practice, officially called "pickup-on-the-pickup," cost districts $41,567 per year.

School districts pay the employee share of the individual's retirement contribution, or 10 percent of their salary, and then consider it extra salary for pension purposes at a total cost of 26.4 percent of the employee's salary. The mandatory portion is 14 percent.

While practiced widely at many schools, this method has received virtually no attention on the state level. Many close to the public pension system process are unfamiliar with the practice, and apparently it has never been the focus of statewide legislation.

It only is offered in the pension funds for school employees. Ohio's other three retirement funds decline to participate.


Pickup-on-the-pickup does not put extra money in the workers' pocket immediately. But for a school superintendent retiring on a $100,000 base salary it means an extra $169,620 in retirement over 20 years because the pension is based on a reported salary of $110,000.

The extra cost to the employer amounts to 2.4 percent of the employee's annual salary, in addition to making their 10 percent employee contribution.

Some officials say the extra benefit helps districts hold on to top talent and is a way for administrators' take-home pay to keep pace with teachers who receive regular step increases.

Dale Dickson, who has been superintendent of the Perry-Hocking Educational Services Center in New Lexington for 13 years, said if pension pickup and pickup-on-the-pickup were taken away, many administrators who receive the benefit would be asking for a raise to make up for the amount they would then be required to pay into their pensions.

Andy Jewell, a researcher for the Ohio Education Association, said most local bargaining units for teachers have not pursued a pickup-on-the-pickup. When they do propose it, it's just another item on the table in the collective bargaining process. The union has no official policy on the pickup-on-the-pickup, he said.


The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that once earned, sick time could not be taken away from public employees. In doing so, the ruling expanded what could be considered salary.

"It should be obvious that sick leave credits, just as other fringe benefits, are forms of compensation," the court's opinion stated.

Language officially made the ruling part of state law in 1986, opening the door for overtime, sick and vacation time, certain fees and commissions and disability leave to be considered salary for pension purposes.

Each of Ohio's five pension funds is governed by a different section of the Ohio Revised Code. They all have similar definitions of earnable salary. None mention pension pickups, but all give the pension funds the final authority on what can and cannot be counted toward one's final average salary.

The pension systems representing teachers and school employees then allowed pension pickups to be considered salary.

The systems representing state and municipal employees, and police and fire employees declined.

Mary Beth Foley, legal counsel for the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, said that once an employee share is picked up, it becomes part of the employer share. The employer share does not count toward the worker's salary, she said.

When asked why the Public Employees Retirement System didn't allow it, spokeswoman Julie Graham-Price simply said: "It's a school system practice."

Pickup-on-the-pickup was permissible in the State Teachers Retirement System starting in 1982. That year, former executive director James Sublett asked former Attorney General William Brown for a legal opinion on the practice. Although he had ruled to the contrary in 1979, he reversed that opinion citing the 1980 Supreme Court case.

"The rationale was that this was compensation," said Tom Ash, director of governmental development for the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, on why the pension funds allow the practice.

One of the first districts to allow a pickup, and one of the few that give a full pickup to teachers, is Osnaburg Local Schools in East Canton. The pickup came out of a change in the health insurance program in the 1980s, said Larry Morgan, currently the superintendent of the Stark County Educational Service Center. Teachers got the pickup-on-the-pickup as a trade-off for having to pay more for health care, Morgan said.


Ash said there are a number of reasons why districts give administrators this benefit. Primarily, everyone else does, so in order to attract the best candidates they need to offer competitive benefits.

If a district were to roll this back, they'd likely have to increase salary to either attract viable candidates or appease current administrators, Ash said.

Northern Local Treasurer Elizabeth Arnold said district records show the school board first approved the extra pickup-on-the-pickup for the superintendent and treasurer positions in 1988.

She said the board "has never even entertained" the possibility of expanding the extra pickup to more administrators, in an effort to contain costs. Arnold and new Superintendent Thomas Perkins receive the pickup-on-the-pickup.

While former superintendent Jack Porter was always concerned with the district's financial stability, providing the extra pickup-on-the-pickup was a way the district could help "entice or retain" administrators, she said.

"We don't have cars and annuities like administrators in big city districts," Arnold said. "And we aren't necessarily on a time clock. It's a 24-7 job. That's just a part of what we do. And this (pickup-on-the-pickup) is part of the board's acknowledgment of that."

Zanesville City Schools paid out $2.5 million in total pension contributions in 2009, both mandated by the state and those they have agreed through contracts to contribute. That is down from almost $3.1 million in 2007.

The pickups have decreased over the past three years, from $115,354 in 2007 to $80,625 in 2009, while other school districts' costs have either remained steady or increased. For example, Tri-Valley's total pickups have risen from $116,130 in 2007 to $126,243 last year.

Zanesville City Schools Treasurer Cindy Nye said the decrease can be attributed to the fact that pickup-on-the-pickup is not offered to new administrators. Currently, eight Zanesville school administrators receive the pickup-on-the-pickup. Two others who did, former Roosevelt Middle School Principal Dick Lear and Director of Curriculum Kathy McCray, retired before the start of this school year.

Nye said the Zanesville district has had the policy in place since at least 1990, the earliest she can find that paperwork was sent to the state on the issue.

"I believe the thought behind the pickup-on-the-pickup was due to the fact that the superintendent and treasurer do not get salary steps as teachers do until they are at the top step," Nye said.

In Franklin Local, Superintendent David Branch along with nine other administrators get the pickup-on-the-pickup, which will cost the district an additional $8,212 in the next year.

That number is down about $200 over last year, Treasurer Chris Miller said, after the school board approved 10 percent salary reductions for both herself and Branch in August through the retire-rehire process.

Miller said pickup-on-the-pickup for the superintendent position was approved by the Franklin Local Schools Board of Education in 1986, with the assistant superintendent and principals added in 1988. The treasurer position was added into the mix in 1997.

"Although we were not here at the time, we believe the pay difference between teachers and principals was not great and this was a way to give additional benefits without increasing salaries," Miller said.

The additional benefit for administrators also guards the district against the possibility of losing a valuable and experienced member of the staff, she said.

"Not all districts pay the retirement for principals. We have had other districts contact our administrators and we do not wish to lose these administrators," Miller said. "When the pickup is figured into their salary, they have decided to stay."

Tri-Valley Local Schools provide the pickup-on-the-pickup to 15 administrators, including Superintendent Mark Neal.

Based on current salaries, Tri-Valley will voluntarily pay $147,377 for the 15 administrators' pensions, according to a Central analysis of information provided by the district. With the mandatory employer share factored in, the total pension tab for these individuals is $313,771.

On Neal's $108,000 salary, the district pays $28,512 to the pension fund on his behalf -- but $13,392 of that is voluntary.

Treasurer Ryan Smith said Tri-Valley's school board had approved the pickup-on-the-pickup plan in June 1988 on a 5-0 vote.

In Perry County, Crooksville Exempted Village Schools Superintendent Kyle Newton is the only administrator in that district to be offered the pickup-on-the-pickup, Treasurer Michael Hankinson said.

Newton, who was hired earlier this year, receives a $90,000 salary, with his employee contribution of $9,000 picked up and an additional $900 for the pickup-on-the-pickup, Hankinson said.

Superintendents Dr. Larry Rentschler (New Lexington) and Dale Dickson (Perry-Hocking ESC) also receive the pickup-on-the-pickup benefit, as does Southern Local Treasurer Jeff Kaaz.

All of these districts have offered the benefit since at least 2003, although the plan for Kaaz was just approved in 2008, according to documents.

The contract for Kaaz also froze his salary at $61,696 for the first three years of his five-year contract and eliminated salary steps.

Echoing Miller and others, Dickson said the added benefit is one incentive school districts offer in an effort to hold on to experienced administrators.

"I only know of one superintendent who did not have that (pickup-on-the-pickup) offered," Dickson said. "This is my 13th year as superintendent, and it has always been covered here."

Dickson said in the great scheme of things, the extra amount picked up by school districts is a small amount when compared to the salaries and other compensation that is offered.

For instance, both Franklin Local and Morgan Local schools pay out between $8,000 to $9,000 annually for the pickup-on-the-pickup, or one-hundredth of the administrative salaries.

And districts have to balance the cost to taxpayers versus the cost to the kids if experienced administrators are not in the classrooms, he said.


It is highly unlikely that pickups will be addressed in any Ohio pension legislation soon. In fact, employee pickups have never been the focus of statewide legislation.

While local employers are required to notify the pension funds of pickup plans, the involvement ends there.

"STRS Ohio's only focus is on making sure both member and employer contributions are correct and received on schedule," Laura Ecklar, spokeswoman for STRS, said in an e-mail.

Tim Barbour, spokesman for Ohio's School Employees Retirement System, agreed.

"We only need employers to provide notice as to whether there is a pickup so that we can account for the contributions," Barbour said in an e-mail.

State Rep. Dan Dodd, D-Hebron, is a member of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, which oversees the pension funds. He said lawmakers view the pickup-on-the-pickup as a local issue.

"We expect local districts to do things that are in their own best interest financially," he said.

Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, another member of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, is advocating for major cuts to public employee pension benefits. As for pickups? He thinks they should be outlawed.

Wachtmann said the Legislature has never addressed it because most lawmakers see it as a local control issue.

"It's long overdue that we looked at it," he said. "These issues could be solved by taxpayers refusing to vote for levies."

Pickups Part II

From John Curry, September 27, 2010

Who pays for pickups?

Some local governments have agreed to pay all or some of the pension contributions for certain employees. Sounds sweet? Yes, officials say -- for taxpayers as well as workers.


• Staff Writers • September 27, 2010

ZANESVILLE -- Zanesville taxpayers spent nearly $700,000 in 2009 to make pension pickup contributions for 200 city employees, payments that could have been made entirely by those employees.

Combined with mandatory employer contributions, around 8 percent of the city's revenue goes to the Public Employees

Retirement System and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund every year.

Zanesville is far from being the exception. Often as a result of long-standing union agreements, many local entities "pick up," or pay all or some of their employees' contributions to the retirement funds.

The practice is growing: In the past three years, the cities of Coshocton, Lancaster, Chillicothe, Bucyrus, Heath and others have all agreed to new or increased pickup plans, according to an analysis of public records by Central and the Times Recorder.

As a result, many entities pay anywhere from 6 to 12 percent of revenues into the funds.

"It was a novel idea in the 1970s and 1980s because money could be put into the pockets of employees without the normal roll-up costs for worker's compensation and the city's share of pension contributions," wrote fact-finder Paul Gerhart in a recent opinion to the State Employee Relations Board regarding a union dispute in Toledo.

Ohio's five public pension funds themselves view pickups as strictly a local issue with no impact on their financial health.

"The pension funds are going to get their money, regardless of who pays it," said Aristotle Hutras, executive director of the Ohio Retirement Study Council.

But the growth of employers paying employees' shares represents a strict divergence from private sector trends. There, most employers have stopped participating in traditional pension plans, instead favoring personal savings plans such as a 401(k). Many employers have stopped making any contributions on their employees' behalf, said Kathy Keller, communications director for AARP Ohio.

While private sector pensions still exist, they are relics of an earlier age.

In Ohio, more public sector employees were guaranteed a lifetime pension in 2009 than private sector employees. In 1997, the opposite was true, according to the Ohio Retirement Study Council and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency that insures private pension plans.

"What we're seeing right now with (private) employers is that it's just not there anymore," Keller said. "If you get a job, you're lucky to get health care. You're lucky to get vacation time."


Unlike the private sector, public employees do not pay into, nor can they collect, Social Security.

Social Security and public pensions are defined benefit plans, meaning recipients are paid a fixed monthly amount from eligibility to death.

Private employees and employers each pay 6.2 percent of employees' wages to Social Security.

The public sector's mandatory employee share is 10 percent and the employer share ranges from 14 percent for most to 24 percent for firefighters.

Pension pickups often are done instead of salary increases.

When one's salary increases, so does everything else that is attached to salary -- for the employer that is unemployment insurance, Medicare and the employer's pension contribution. For the employee, it's Medicare, taxes, and their pension contribution.

"If we had not done that (given a pension pickup), wages would have increased, and that could have hurt our bottom line," said Dale Raines, budget and finance director for the city of Zanesville, which pays pickups for its unions. "So it's kind of a wash."

Employees still pocket more money. Although the base pay is the same, less is withheld from each paycheck.

It also might lead to a smaller pension down the line -- if a wage increase was sacrificed, the final average salary and monthly pension check will be less. This is why the Ohio Education Association would prefer that, if given a choice, its union members take a raise instead of a pickup.

"It's not something we encourage because it's done in lieu of wage hike, and a wage hike would count toward final compensation," said William Leibensperger, vice president of the Ohio OEA.

The city of Zanesville picks up 9 percent of the 10 percent employee contribution for the seven sergeants and lieutenants covered under the Fraternal Order of Police contract, and 8.5 percent for 44 police officers. Members (96 employees) covered by the city's contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have 8 percent of their 10 percent personal contribution picked up.

But corrections officers, police captains, as well as secretaries and records clerks covered under FOP agreements pay their full share. So do 102 unaffiliated city employees.

Firefighters, members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 88, have the city pickup 9.5 percent of their 10 percent employee pickup.

Raines said the pension pickups first were offered in the mid- 1980s in lieu of employee raises.

"If we had not done that, wages would have increased, and that could have hurt our bottom line," Raines said. "So it's kind of a wash. And if you take that away from them now, it would be the same as saying their pay would decrease. It would be treated as a pay decrease, if they had to pay more."

He said the pension pickup system hasn't been a problem for the city's finances and is viewed as "a matter of give and take." The city wasn't "being nice" when they offered to pick up part of the contribution.

"It wasn't just a lollipop you hand out to a kid," he said.

He said the only discussion about changing employee benefits was "three contracts ago" with the service workers, but it was just "general discussion" about not extending some benefits to new employees.

County employees pay the full 10 percent share toward their pensions, Human Resources Director Michelle Campbell said.

The only exceptions are Dave Boyer, executive director of the Muskingum County Children's Services Board, and Zanesville-Muskingum County Port Authority Director Mike Jacoby, who both get a full pickup, she said.

The county makes a little more than $5 million in total pension contributions for its employees, or a little less than 6 percent of its revenues. Pickups only amounted to $21,370 in 2009.

Data received from Perry County shows five administrators with the Board of Developmental Disabilities receive a full pickup of the 10 percent employee contribution, while one employee has 8 percent picked up and another 6 percent. Remaining employees pay 8 of the 10 percent.

County employees with child support enforcement, the county home, human services and the sheriff''s office all pay their full share, records show.


Any talk of taking away a pickup almost certainly would cause a backlash from unions. Marianne Steger, director of Health Care and Public Policy for Ohio's American Federation of State and Municipal Employees, said this would have the same effect as a pay cut.

"The problem with giving up pickups now is that people gave up wage increases to get them," she said.

Some entities are addressing the pick-up costs by ending the benefit for new hires. The city of Coshocton did that this past year, saving the city about $20,000, Auditor Sherry Kirkpatrick said.

Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, a member of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, thinks pickups should be abolished.

"Public workers should be thankful they are in such a generous system, but taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for it," Wachtmann said. "No public employee should be financially pillaging the taxpayers."

RH Jones: ORTA & OEA-R going alone with COLA cut could be held liable?

From RH Jones, September 27, 2010

To all:

At this point in time, the ORTA an OEA-R should be protecting us from cuts, but they have not. Recently, here in Akron a person who was going along with an individual who pulled the trigger in a murder case was also held responsible and was sent to prison for life -- without parole. Possibly, under the same reasoning one could think that ORTA and OEA-R, having gone along with a deleterious 1% cut in the simple 3% COLA, also possibly could be held liable in court as well as would be the perpetuator: the OH STRS officials. Perhaps, even other organizations, which are a party to this retired teacher reduction of our COLA, could be held liable. NOTE: of course this not for life in prison.

This retired teacher is not a lawyer but it seems to me that officials should think through advocating something that affects those who retired thinking that our simple 3% COLA HC/Rx, and that which would cover our spouse, lawful dependent, and us would not be cut. These" were clearly printed in the STRS simple 3% COLA "Survivor Benefits" pamphlets long ago and even now in 2010.

Is it not time to just move on to a better plan than that which could not be so deleterious to all of us retired teachers?

This is my thinking,

RHJones, retired OH STRS teacher member

Minutes of the Sept. 16, 2010 CORE meeting

From Marie Fetters, September 26, 2010

Since the CORE meeting unexpectedly started at 10:30, due to the STRS Board going into executive session at 10:15, and I arrived in the Sublett Room shortly before 11, my actual minutes are starting at the point where the 18 members present were in the throes of a discussion about the ORC plan. However, I’m inserting the following two paragraphs based on notes from President Dave Parshall.

According to the CORE President, prior to my arrival, President Dave Parshall had presented a slate of officers and trustees; they’d been approved by acclamation, according to President Dave. Also, Treasurer Herman Fisher had given his treasurer’s report (over $10,000 in account) and the minutes from the August meeting had been approved. The attendees also had discussed the new HCPA Plan, which is supported by ORTA. (Parshall further stated that a motion will be made by Bob Stein and Jim McGreevy to study a plan which could help retirees who have a final average salary (FAS) of $30,000 or less.)

President Dave gave a plea for all members to contact candidates for state offices, using the questions CORE sent out earlier. (He himself has already sent our questions to 21 candidates in Central Ohio.)

Focusing on ways to help ourselves, the president urged members to be careful about what we say. He asked members to stop e-mail attacks on STRS because revisiting the past at this time does no good. Groups who wish us harm are reading our e-mails and blogs, Dave continued. Dave stressed that we need to re-focus our attention on the attacks against educators being waged by the media and others. Parshall stated that it is time to be politically smart and direct our attention to the pension problem. After the pension mess is fixed, we can revisitany problems see in STRS. “It does us little good to win a few battles, but lose the war,” President Parshall concluded.

Five additional CORE members arrived as President Parshall was delivering his cautionary remarks about attacks on STRS. The 23 in attendance then were reminded of the next CORE meeting on Oct. 14th in the Sublett Room of STRS. It is supposed to start at 11:45. (But retirees might want to arrive earlier! However, this month’s early start of this CORE meeting is a rare occurrence and is unlikely to happen again!)

This meeting adjourned at 11:45 so that people could attend the afternoon session of the STRS Board Meeting.

Respectfully submitted,
Marie M. Fetters
CORE Secretary
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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