Saturday, June 02, 2012

Will Ohio be next?


Friday, June 01, 2012

STRS Bonuses and, thanks to Jim Stoll's using the Freedom of Information Act, we now have this information for you!

Click images (once or twice) to enlarge.


Cutting COLA 'after the fact' an ethics violation?

From RH Jones, June 1, 2012
To all:
Not being a lawyer, I am wondering if the OH STRS Board, in their unanimous vote to cut our COLA “after the fact”, may have violated an Ethics Code of Ohio? To take such risky decision-making to penalize retired members should raise a red flag of their decision perhaps to be unethical. Retired teachers have been undercounted in the aspect of inflation especially in regard to the increase costs to us in our HC/Rx and other inflationary expenses such as food and fuel.
Our ORTA by being consubstantial with our STRS has worked against its very retired members it supposedly represents. Another union, the AFSCME, reports in their AFSCME Works Spring 2012 edition, Page 28, that the City of Pawtucket in Rhode Island stated: “… thanks to a court decision earlier this year that overruled the city’s decision to arbitrarily change what was in the contract.”
Had the ORTA made a move to “cry foul” when younger retirees' HC/Rx was “cut out from under them” by the STRS before they reached Medicare age eligibility, many retired teachers would not have had their promised, vested benefit HC/Rx cut short. This ORTA member looks forward to having ORTA representation that will lead to significant victory in keeping our simple 3% COLA. Our STRS Board cannot unilaterally cut retirement benefits.
RHJones, I would be proud to be an AFSCME member

STRS retiree Duke Snider to STRS board member Jim McGreevy

May 25, 2012
Dear Mr. McGreevy,
Thank you for listening to me yesterday evening. I have given our talk a lot of thought and have come to some conclusions. You conducted yourself in a very gentlemanly manner and listened intently. You are very articulate and appeared to be incredibly informed by upper management. In fact, I feel you believe 100% in everything management discloses to you and you relay this information to whomever.
I’m not convinced you really believe everything that has been conveyed to you; however, you probably feel in your own mind you must support the staff 100% to be a good board member. I would think that this would cause a lot of stress, especially when there have been decisions that were/are inappropriate or just plain wrong, but the decision must be supported regardless.
After talking with both board members who were placed in that position by retirees, you and Mr. Stein appear to be on the same page with information except Mr. Stein did not tell me everything properly. It really sounded as if both have almost been programmed with similar figures. Neither of you seem to go to bat for retirees and both of you seem to be more focused on teachers who must pay more which is understandable to me.
When I hear the older retirees are getting so much more than they contributed, and they must also take the brunt is sickening, because it is/was not the retirees who made the “deal” in the beginning. It is/was not retirees or active teachers who caused the problem. The cause of the problem starts at the top, administration. Instead of slapping the wrist of retirees, why not admit where the problem is?
STRS employees are treated like kings and queens compared to retirees, but cut those retirees’ COLA. Do you know what would happen in life if something has been agreed to and the other party reneges or tries to take advantage of the first party by changing the rules in the middle of the stream? Loyalty, integrity and respectability would be lost and the other party will never trust them again. Then again people who engage in taking advantage of others usually end up on the losing side, because integrity, professionalism, respect, loyalty, and respectability will be lost which money cannot buy.
I’m not going to refer to any problems, except one, present or past due to the fact I know I’ll get a canned answer. The up to 100% bonus for investors is a sore spot to many of us retirees. It doesn’t make any difference how much it costs. The message that is sent to retirees is disgusting in that it shows where priorities exist. We must keep the investors, because we might lose them. Hog wash! There would be applications for their positions before they get out the door with equally qualified people maybe more qualified.
What’s going to happen when these great people retire? Will STRS shut down? I believe you and Mr. Stein are out of touch with retirees and what makes it worse it that both of you are retirees! We have no one to stand up for us.
You stated CORE wasn’t even recognized. WHY? In other words NO ONE stood up for us. Just cut the retirees. Retirees paid their dues and to change things in the middle of the stream is inconsiderate, and not honorable. I know you and Mr. Stein can quote this and that and give canned reasons why retirees must be cut, but I believe you deep down find it difficult to swallow this crap that’s being handing to retirees which probably causes a lot of stress to both of you.
I just can’t understand why people get in positions and do not have the backbone to do the right and honorable thing. I know one person can’t do much, because of pressure and plain bullheadedness, but I have been in that position as a board member and I don’t really care whether they like or dislike me. I’m not on the board to be a puppet or just go with the flow. If that’s expected of me, then I would resign.
Please give your conscience a good workout without anyone pulling strings trying to gain control of you. Be your own person. Again, I enjoyed talking with you, but I wondered afterward was I really talking to you or only hearing what someone had instilled in you? I’m not expecting any reply about this letter, because you have more important matters to address than replying to a country boy in southern Ohio.
Kenneth “Duke” Snider, M.Ed., STRS Retiree

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wow, this is a biggie....Wally World leaves ALEC!

From John Curry, May 31, 2012
Wal-Mart latest to leave conservative ALEC advocacy group

By Jessica Wohl
May 31, 2012

ROGERS, Arkansas (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer and biggest seller of firearms in the United States, is dropping out of a conservative advocacy group in the United States that has been criticized for promoting "Stand Your Ground" gun laws.
Wal-Mart was suspending its membership in the American Legislative Council (ALEC), which the retailer joined in 1993, the company said late on Wednesday.
Other groups that have backed away from supporting ALEC, include Coca-Cola Co, Kraft Foods Inc, McDonald's Corp, Procter & Gamble Co and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The move by Wal-Mart comes more than a month after ALEC abandoned its committee that worked on "public safety and elections" to focus on the economy.
ALEC had come under criticism for its support of "Stand Your Ground" gun laws, such as the "self defense" law under scrutiny in the Florida shooting that killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February.
ALEC, a pro-business, free-market organization whose members include corporations and mostly Republican lawmakers and lobbyists, also drew scrutiny for promoting laws that require photo identification to vote. ColorOfChange, a liberal advocacy group for black Americans, had said such voting laws disadvantage the poor and minorities.
"Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC's decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission 'to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets,'" Maggie Sans, Wal-Mart's vice president of public affairs and government relations, said in a May 30 letter to ALEC's national chairman and executive director.
"We feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide. To that end, we are suspending our membership in ALEC."
Sans is also giving up her role as secretary of ALEC's private enterprise board.
(Reporting By Brad Dorfman; Editing by Michael Perry)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

STRS Asset Value

From Mario Iacone, May 29, 2012
CURRENT ASSET VALUE as of 4/30/2012
.....65.2 Billion

.....65.6 Billion

.....approx 80 Billion

LOW ASSET VALUE...early 2009
.....approx 47 Billion

.....approx 66.2 Billion

approx 15 Billion BELOW 2007 HIGH and
approx 18 Billion ABOVE 2009 LOW

Question of the Day.....

For STRS: How many investment managers have left STRS for better paying jobs in the last five years? 5/29/12

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Year of the Pension Plan


Shirlee Zerkel to Nick Treneff: Why weren't we told?

From Shirlee Zerkel, May 26, 2012
Hello Mr. Treneff:
What a surprise to hear of the changes to the investment bonuses for the coming year! Why weren't the members of STRS told that such a discussion and vote was going to be taken and above all, why were we not informed in an SRTS communication of this decision? I know that you did not make the decision of 100%, but you kept it from the membership and for that I blame you. Were you trying to hide the truth. Shame on you!
This is a very hard time for all retirees and actives. STRS is taking much away from retirees and actives in their plan that has been given to the legislature. Mr. Nehf and others at STRS stated that this was necessary to help the system's financial situation. If it is so needed that we retirees who get below $25,000 a year have to give up our COLA for a year and then only get 2%, how can the system afford to present 100% bonuses to investment staff?
Please respond with your reasons for not informing the membership. We are why you, Nick, have a job, but we are the last persons considered in decisions.
Shirlee Zerkel
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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