Friday, May 25, 2012

Are you an educator or a retired educator and you'd like to give a grade to your friendly (or unfriendly) local legislator or non-local legislator?

From John Curry, May 25, 2012's your chance. Just click on the link below and give 'em what they earned. For some, like those who are against our Defined Benefits pension, here's your chance to let them know how you feel. Heck...even though you aren't an educator or retired educator you can still give 'em a grade....I won't tell!
Submitted by Anastasia Pantsios 5/24/2012
Did your state representative vote in favor of a punitive and ineffective system of "grading" teachers, based in large part on unreliable test scores? Are you sick and tired of hearing politicians spout about "accountability" for teachers, some of the most overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated, dedicated, and valuable members of society?
Now you can grade that state representative who most likely is NOT one of the most dedicated and valuable members of your community. At the website, you can grade any representative who voted for this legislation.
Grade My Rep is the first attempt in Ohio to use objective statistical performance measures to grade Ohio’s legislators. It is based upon a similar methodology the General Assembly recently introduced to measure teachers.
If your representative is a Democrat, you won't find him/her here. Instead you can rate such creatures as Courtney Combs, Lynn Wachtmann,Danny Bubp, John Adams, Ron Amstutz, Louis Blessing, Bill Batchelder and, bringing up the rear in last place and second to last place, greater Cleveland's two useless chair warmers, Mike Dovilla and Marlene Anieski.
Go! Have fun!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012 - Jim Stoll to board member Bob Stein re: PBI bonus raises motion passed at April 2012 STRS board meeting

Jim Stoll to Bob Stein, May 24, 2012
Bob, The stated purpose in the [April 2012] Board minutes for this change [to increase bonuses to 100% for certain investment personnel in some cases] "designed to attract, retain, motivate, and reward above-average investment talent." I would be interested - of the 80 + investment associates eligible for the PBI plan how many people have resigned or left their positions in the last three years? My guess is "NOT MANY" and they have known the Board's policy was "NO" bonuses in negative return years. Do you have a number of how much turnover, if any, there has been in those positions??
The Board "Railroaded" this vote through.... I was personally told by Nick Treneff in a phone conversation that there wasn't any change proposed for the PBI plan this year (in January) or I would have run for the Board against Tim Myers, and in writing by Craig Brooks below that there would no change in this fiscal year.... This is really BAD policy to make that change to PBI's while the dramatic changes in reductions of benefits are being proposed for members.
Quite frankly --- you folks have your heads in the sand or worse...... The performance of your "crack" investment staff has trailed almost all other Ohio Retirement Systems in the recent past.
Additionally, I don't recall reading about this Policy Change in any of your E News but could be mistaken..?? Is STRS and the Board trying to hide this from Members....
Jim Stoll
Craig Brooks to Jim Stoll, January 27, 2012
Subject: Re: STRS Investment Staff Bonuses
Date: Friday, January 27, 2012
The Benefit committee met two days ago and recommended no change for this fiscal year, meaning no bonuses paid, for years where there is a negative absolute return for Fund!

John Bos: Question for Nick Treneff

John Bos to Nick Treneff, May 24, 2012
Good Morning Mr. Treneff,
I commend you for your communications efforts for STRS (UP TO THE LAST FEW DAYS). You have done a better job of communicating the news to the STRS Participants than Laura (Everything is Beautiful) Ecklar.
Unfortunately, your failure to include the news about the changes in the Investment Bonus to ALL OF THE PARTICIPANTS is a MAJOR FAILURE. I am most disturbed that you did not include this news in your e news letter. Unfortunately, you allowed Steve Mitchell to control your publication to the membership. SHAME ON YOU!!!! Your job is not to do an editorial or select what information you wish and do not wish to report. Your previous written comment that the “BONUS” was not being changed this year also reflects on you in a very negative image. Were you kept “out of the loop” (Shame on them), or did you join in the game? (Shame on you).
Please inform me how this important news was NOT COMMUNICATED to the STRS Participants.
This information that you send to me WILL be distributed to others. I have been very silent regarding STRS for several years. YOUR decision to not report the facts has moved me from the Right Field Bleachers to the Press Box. I will not accept a “wine and dine” entertainment provided to the VIP.
Stay tuned Nick, because this will not be my last communication. I have experience in the “Press Box” and will use it to expose this latest series of errors of the manager, board, and communications departments. There will be no “stealing home” in our ballpark without the fans being told who gave the “Run Signal” and who rewrote the story of the game.
John Bos

May 24 letter from John Curry to Bob Stein re: bonus enrichment for STRS investment associates passed at the April 2012 board meeting

John Curry to Bob Stein, May 24, 2012
Bob, In times like these, when teachers are being laid off by the hundreds, teachers are facing increased contribution rates, retirees are looking at COLA cuts and retirees' health care benefits are being watered down and now..... we are presented with this? The reforms that John Lazares and Dennis Leone worked so hard to implement are now being reversed and we are sliding backward in the direction of the days at STRS where those who were on the Board were about to answer their subpoenas and take a trip to the Franklin County Municipal Court for ethics convictions.
All of this at a time when the some investors at JP Morgan Chase are being shown the door for their poor investment decisions at the same time that our investors will now be given fatter bonuses even though STRS loses money in the process? What's wrong with this picture?
How many STRS investment associates have left the employ at STRS since January 1, 2010? I have a hunch I can more than equal that tally with the number of toes on my feet and maybe on just the number of toes on one foot. Am I right?
P. S. Thank God that Regina Burch had the presence of mind to vote "no" to this madness. So much for the "unified" vote that STRS so badly desires, eh

COLA cut comparison (or guess which retirement system is throwing ITS retirees under the bus!)

From John Curry, May 24, 2012
The attachment comes from the Ohio Retirement Study Council and was dated April 24, 2012. Only the COLA cut comparison page (page 2 of 6) is attached. If you want to see the other comparison pages click on this link:
Notice how the Ohio Highway Patrol Retirement System (unlike STRS) states, with relation to the COLA cut, "Board authority to increase COLA up to 3% when funds are available." Why didn't the STRS board have this same compassion for their retirees?
Please note that a correction has been made to the OHP Retirement System's
185% of poverty rate (for a family of 2) as it is now $27,990.50 instead of the stated $26,000. Yes, STRS has many retirees who are recipients of an annual pension of less than $27,990.50 and they, of all retirees, will be hurt the most with a COLA cut.
(Click image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RH Jones: If OPERS can 'grandfather' their COLA changes, why can't STRS?

From RH Jones, May 23, 2012
Subject: RHJones on: Fw: Well stated (on your blog) Kathie!
To all:
Please read John and Kathie's original message below.
Me, in contacting a OH STRS board member about in a STRS motion to place STRS employees into our STRS for their retirement pension and HC/Rx, I was told that this was illegal; and that he had checked that out when he first became a STRS board member. However, I am wondering, therefore, why the board cannot put STRS employees into our retirement system instead of OPERS. This is at a time when our board so easily suggested to the legislature that our non-compounding COLA be cut 33-1/3%. Is our COLA not "grandfathered"? Is to suggest our COLA be cut "after the fact", which may be illegal also? This is, after all, our State Teachers Retirement System and we should be able to dictate to our employees to be able to pay into our system as well as we do.
This positive action for our STRS most likely would quickly bring us up to the 30-year amortization goal. We welcome this change as being good for us and good for the employees. For after employees are allowed in, if STRS were to fail there will be no jobs for the employees as well as no pension for us. Employees prudent investments, and prudent necessary use of our money, would be much greater if it was their money as well as ours. Is that not the "bottom line"? The motivation would be there; and, further, trust would be restored to the Board and to the employees.
By the way, the OPERS, in their latest newsletter stated that their non-compounding 3% COLA is "grandfathered". If theirs is "grandfathered", why is not our STRS?
RHJones, proud to be a CORE member
From John Curry
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Subject: Well stated (on your blog) Kathie!
(Click image to enlarge.).......................................

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

STRS Retirees

Click image to enlarge.
..................................................May 22, 2012

.....................................................May 22, 2012

..........................................................................May 22, 2012
Click image to enlarge. May 22, 2012.................

Monday, May 21, 2012

He Loves Them All (click to enlarge)
May 21, 2012...................................................................
Jesus loves them*, this we know,
For the P-Plan** tells us so,
Little ones*** to them belong,
We are weak, but they are strong.
Yes, Jesus loves them!
Yes, Jesus loves them!
Yes, Jesus, loves them!
The P-Plan tells us so!
Them* - STRS, OEA, ORTA, Ohio Senate
P-Plan** - Pension Plan
Little ones*** - STRS retirees

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dave Parshall: Report on special STRS board meeting May 15, 2012

From Dave Parshall, May 20, 2012
CORE Members and Supporters;
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012 the STRS Board held a special public board meeting to finalize the wording of the section of the STRS plan submitted to the Senate that would give the board power in the future to make adjustments to member contribution formula, age and service retirement eligibility, and our COLA.
On behalf of CORE I attended this meeting. This was a poorly attended meeting [by observers] and lasted less than a half hour.
Mr. Nehf (STRS Director) gave a presentation to the board of what the changes in the language would be and what it might mean in future years. There were no handouts made available, so I can only share my notes.
1.Member Contributions are capped at 14%, but after 2016 changes can be made to lower the percentage of contributions.
2. Age and service retirement eligibility can also be lowered but also raised.
3. The COLA is capped at 2%, but can be lowered after 2016. Mr. Nehf mentioned a lowering to 1.75% or to 1%. if needed.
4. None of the above changes can be made unless the annual actuarial report clearly shows that this would not affect the stability of the fund and would be in compliance with the Boards duties as a fiduciary of the fund.
After hearing the above possible changes, I became concerned. CORE members remember past boards that were not always ethical brokers. While I don’t think the current board would be implicit in any future actions that would favor actives over current retirees, I can see a possible scenario that once and if the Senate Bill becomes law. Down the road once attention is on other matters, things might change. A future board could lower the 14% active contribution rate and pay for it by lowering our COLA. In short, only negative changes can happen to retirees and only positive changes can happen to active members. Our COLA can never be changed without action of the legislature. Because of my concern, I decided it was a necessity to read the related sections in Senate Bill 342 as passed.
With help from Mr. Nehf and Terri Bierdeman, I was able to locate the related sections of Senate Bill 342 as passed. They saved me a long read with a hand lens. I can report the actual wording regarding the granting of the board new was different from those passed by the Board on the 15th. Below is the actual wording; you can decide for yourself:
Sec. 3307.67, Line 3424
(A) Except as provided in divisions (D) and (E) of this section the state teachers retirement board shall annually increase each allowance or benefit payable under the STRS defined benefit plan. Through July 31, 2013, the increase shall be three per cent. On and after August 1, 2013, the increase shall be two per cent. No alliance or benefit shall exceed the limit as annually determined pursuant to section 415 of the “Internal Revenue Code of 1986”, 100 Stat. 20085, 26 U.S. C.A. 415, as amended and regulations adopted pursuant thereto but before August 1, 2013. The limit may be adjusted in accordance with the rules adopted by the board.
Line 3477
(E) The board may adjust the increase payable under this section if the board’s actuary, in its annual actuarial valuation required by section 3307.51 of the Revised Code or in other evaluation conducted under that section, determines that an adjustment does not materially impair the fiscal integrity of the retirement system or is necessary to preserve the fiscal integrity of the system.
You can read all the sections online via Google at “Legislative Detail: OH Senate Bill 342” Click on the link that comes up, then the word "Texts" (near the top); then "Engrossed".
All sections are as follows:
1. Sec.3307.26 Members contributions
2. Sec.3307. 58 Age and Service Retirement Eligibility
3. Sec.3307.67 COLA
Of course, all of this could change in the House version.
Dave Parshall, CORE
Bottom line, special (and incredibly brief) STRS board meeting, May 15, 2012:
".....only negative changes can happen to retirees and only positive changes can happen to active members." (Click to view Dave's report)
Posted May 20, 2012
~ Dave Parshall

Sculpture "Integrity" in STRS board room (purchased for $100,000)

You don't suppose STRS' idea of integrity is REALLY as twisted as this, do you? Surely they can do better, but I'll bet it won't be in your lifetime or mine! Maybe they could sell this thing and start a fund for the Oldest and Neediest Retirees. But they'd have to change the name first. Any suggestions? (Click to enlarge, if you think you can stand it.)
One name suggested so far:
"It's good for me, who cares about you"
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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Vermont Teddy Bear Company