Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RHJones on: The "Golden Boy" [Josh Mandel] might have been a Marine but he certainly didn't get endorsed by the Boys in Blue, did he?

From RH Jones, July 18, 2012
To all:
How awful it will be for public school children, their active, and retired teachers, if John Mandel and a Pro-Kasich Ohio Supreme Court is elected. We must stand, together, behind those candidates that are on the side of education, the soundest investment in the interest of Ohio.
Wisely, the FOP endorses candidates, but unwisely our ORTA does not! For without endorsement, how can this retired teacher organization be in solidarity? The ORTA officials have always said it would damage our independent and non-partisanship political position. Fellow ORTA members, it is essential that we, as educators, stay in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in other OHIO public employment - these are the services for a civilized society. We cannot allow public services (including education, Pre-K -16) to be only for the most-well-to do. We cannot, therefore, afford to be independent. Our political power is magnified when we stand shoulder to shoulder.
Please read John's message below.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
From: John Curry, July 16, 2012
Subject: The "Golden Boy" [Josh Mandel] might have been a Marine but he certainly didn't get endorsed by the Boys in Blue, did he?
Please pass this one on to your friends in blue...and black...and other law enforcement colors.
Ohio Fraternal Order of Police endorses Brown for U.S. Senate, incumbents for Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police today endorsed Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown for re-election to the United States senate.
The law enforcement group, with 25,000 active and retired members, also endorsed Ohio Supreme Court incumbents Democrat Yvette McGee Brown, and Republicans Terrence O'Donnell and Robert Cupp for the three seats up for election at the court.
The FOP made its selections during its 78th annual conference in Independence, Ohio.
"Senator Brown was one of our strongest allies in the fight against SB5, Issue 2," said FOP president Jay McDonald, referring to the collective bargaining law that was repealed by voters last November thanks in part to heavy opposition to it from organized labor, including Ohio's first responders.
Brown "is also one of the strongest supporters of law enforcement issues in the United States Senate and our members of the FOP in Ohio are proud to stand with Senator Brown for his re-election," McDonald said.
Brown, who is being challenged by Republican state treasurer Josh Mandel, said he was pleased to receive the backing of the FOP.
"I am honored to have the endorsement of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, who count among their members some of the bravest men and women I know," Brown said in a statement. "These law enforcement officers have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities, vowing to run towards danger when others run away.
"I was proud to stand with the FOP last year as we fought against Senate Bill 5, an egregious attack on our courageous police officers that Ohioans roundly rejected," he said.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Question of the Day.....

Approximately how much did the 88%/35 year rule cost STRS in its first ten years?
Highlight the space below to see the answer.
$1,000,000,000 (One billion dollars)

July and August 2012 meetings

STRS and CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) will NOT hold July meetings. The next STRS board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 16th and Friday, August 17th.

Monday, July 16, 2012

STRS knew this 17 years ago...

From John Curry, July 16, 2012
....but they certainly didn't heed their own advice, did they?
Back in 1995 (5 years before STRS approved the 88%/35 years "sweetener" to retiree benefits) the STRS produced a book entitled The Story Thus Far......STRS at 75. This book was 173 pages long and was a compilation of STRS' history up to the year 1995.
If one would read the final chapter. entitled "Here Comes Tomorrow" (pp. 151-155), they would find the following advice given by the same agency which (5 years later) failed to heed their own advice. So...what "advice" am I talking about? is an excerpt from "Here Comes Tomorrow":
Effect on Health Care
......."Coupled with longer life expectancy and the resulting rapidly escalating health care costs, STRS payouts for health care are expected to grow by more than five percent each year, quadrupling through the next 25 years. This will increase demands on the pension system to fund this benefit and may force increasing the amortization period for unfunded liability and decreasing the funded ratio. Investment portfolios will have to be modified to meet new goals. And the current two-percent-of-payroll contributions allocated for health care will almost certainly need to be increased."
......."These are all problems future STRS managers must solve."
So....did they follow their advice? At the time the above words were put to print STRS was contributing twice as much (2%) as they currently are contributing towards our health care (1%). Five years after the words in script above were placed on that page STRS passed an 88%/35 years rule at the expense of funding health care coverage for ALL retirees.....didn't they? The STRS Board, at that time, didn't seem to mind, did they? Weren't many of the members on that board the same ones who were later convicted of criminal violations of the Ohio ethics laws?
P.S. Cut the 88, we can't afford to wait!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

STRS's a Rep. who says she needs your input!

From John Curry, July 15, 2012
Might this be a person who should be told, "Cut the 88, we can't afford to wait?" Her email address and telephone number are included in the article below. She is a Republican Representative from Marysville and is also an attorney.
Report says retirement plans need to make changes
July 15, 2012
Photo caption: "Please keep in touch with me as we navigate these difficult issues. I shall do the same." Dorothy Pelanda
On June 10, KMS Actuaries of Manchester, N.H., released a much-awaited $240,000 study of the five Ohio pension systems.
Ohio's five statewide retirement systems are the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), the School Employees Retirement System (SERS), the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, and the Highway Patrol Retirement System. These systems' assets total more than $165 billion and provide a range of benefits to more than 1.5 million individuals.
The 206-page report concludes that Ohio's pension system structure is solid, but legislative efforts to enact the retirement boards' own proposals for restructuring would put the funds in better financial shape.
The report advises that the five pension bills that the Ohio Senate approved in May will greatly assist with helping the retirement systems pay off their obligations within 30 years as required by state law and ensure the solvency of health care.
However, the report goes on to say that adjustments beyond the provisions contained in the Senate-passed bills may be needed because of lower-than-expected returns on investments since the board plans were originally established.
The report also recommends that the systems themselves, not the legislature, should be vested with the power to make cost-of-living adjustments and changes to retirement ages and employee contributions (the Senate bills already give some of these powers to the pension boards except for the PERS Board.)
While these adjustments could mean additional cuts in benefits, giving the retirement boards the immediate power to make decisions such as these would help to decrease the millions of dollars that some experts contend are lost each day in these funds while legislation is pending.
The House declined to consider passage of the Senate bills until the report was released, contending that a quarter of a million dollars had been invested in the study. With its release, the Health and Aging Subcommittee on Retirement and Pensions will begin meeting Wednesday to review the report in its full context and to consider what, if any additional legislative measures, should be taken to shore up the systems.
On July 9, 2012, I was appointed to serve on this Subcommittee. As your state representative, and a member of this special committee, I am keenly aware that many of you have deep concerns for the future of your state retirement and health benefits, not only for yourselves, but for your families and loved ones.
Please keep in touch with me as we navigate these difficult issues. I shall do the same.
State Representative Dorothy Pelanda can be reached at 614-466-8147 or email

A retired administrator responds to Dorothy Pelanda; all retirees need to do the same!

Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2012
Subject: Honorable Dorothy Pelanda
Dear Representative Pelanda,
What a refreshing notice from you that you are interested in feedback regarding the proposed revision of the State Teacher Retirement System. My father started paying into STRS in 1932. I started paying into the system in 1958. Our daughter started paying into the system in 1971. I am a retired school administrator with 31 years of active employment and 23 years of retirement. I believe this gives me experience to speak about the issues. I will use outline format that will be easier for you and for me.
1. The Ohio Education Association controls the direction of the STRS Board.
2. The Ohio Education Association is interested in the actives since they pay for the staff with their monthly dues.
3. You should not give them additional power as the ORSC Report suggested. They will keep their 88% forever and eliminate the COLA’S for all of us that have been retired for many years.
4. The 88% should be eliminated quickly. Perhaps a 3 year window. All pensions should be based on the 2.1% that the older retirees received “and still receive”.
5. The contribution rate for actives should be raised from 10% to 14% in 2 steps, effective Jan. 1st, 2013. This is an easy change that does not require advanced notice.
6. There needs to be a sufficient stream of money to provide health care. The current plan is a disaster. New retirees with a spouse are paying around $1100 a month. This is not realistic.
7. I can live on my retirement, savings, and minimal Social Security. Many of my retired friends can NOT live on their low pension. Yet, these are the same people that will not receive a COLA for 1 year and be reduced to 2% for every other year. This does not make sense when the actives, working on a much higher salary, and retired at 88% live the good life.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance. Don't believe everything that OEA is telling the legislature. It is simply not all true.
Best Wishes,
xxx, Ohio
Cell xxx Home xxx

Kathie Bracy to Representative Pelanda: STRS retirees need your help

The Honorable Dorothy Pelanda
The Ohio House of Representatives
Columbus, Ohio 43215
July 15, 2012
Dear Representative Pelanda,
Thank you for your willingness to listen to input concerning Ohio's five pension systems. I am a retired teacher in Columbus with 37.7 years of service, most of it in the Columbus City Schools district, and have been retired since 1998. My pension comes from STRS Ohio.
The retired administrator who also wrote you today was right on the mark when he/she said the 88%/35 year rule must go, and go quickly. STRS has a lot of housecleaning it needs to do, though many people are not aware of this. The STRS board has been for some time, and continues to be dominated by influence from the Ohio Education Association, and much of this has been very detrimental to retired educators, most of whom are former members of that organization and many of whom are life members of OEA-R. (I am a life member of all the major teachers' organizations.)
It is obvious to many that it was an OEA-dominated STRS board that put the 88%/35 year rule into effect for their own benefit, as well as that of their friends. If you take a look at STRS history of the past 10-15 years, you will see there was an incredible amount of corruption (flagrant spending on trips, alcohol, STRS credit cards, cars, etc.) and greed that existed at STRS at that time, thanks to the board; you will also find that a number of former board members (and a former executive director of STRS, as well as a former OEA president and other OEA officers) were convicted of ethics violations in Franklin County Municipal Court. I was present for almost all of their sentencings.
While many retirees are now watch-dogging what goes on at STRS, and there has been improvement, many of us still do not believe the board's actions affecting retirees are altruistic in most instances. While they may have tossed a few crumbs our way when the 88/35 rule went into effect, all of us who retired before 1999 with 35 years of service did not reap the huge benefits that our successors did; it was a real slap in the face to us. But worse than that, the generous payouts have had a detrimental effect on our pension system, yet that money is still pouring out of it today. The rule should never have been enacted in the first place for all the damage it has done and continues to do to our pension system. It needs to be stopped immediately. In case you aren't aware, no other state pension system, other than STRS Ohio, gives out an 88% pension for 35 years of service; the most they give is 77%.
There are other issues, which I will not go into, except to point out that almost without fail, STRS board actions that affect retirees are almost always detrimental to us financially, which is grossly unfair since we are retired and have no way to better our financial situations as do active educators drawing salaries far greater than our pensions. Actions that hurt retirees are almost always put into effect immediately. On the contrary, actions that affect active teachers work to their benefit most of the time, and are almost always “grandfathered” over a substantial period of time, which is NEVER done for retirees.
Recently, the legislature granted the STRS board the authority to make future changes without legislative approval that would affect both retirees and active educators. But the way they are authorized to do it is outrageous. Changes for retirees can ONLY be detrimental, financially; changes for actives can ONLY be beneficial to them, financially. It can NEVER be the other way around. You might want to read that sentence again. I have been struggling to find the fairness in it, but have not been able to. If all of this does not have the fingerprints of OEA all over it, then I'm missing something.
Retirees need all the help they can get. Since we no longer pay into the coffers of OEA, we get no help there. Since our retired teachers organization, the Ohio Retired Teachers Association, has demonstrated for years that it has no backbone when it comes to fighting for retirees (they always side with OEA and the OEA-dominated STRS board), we get no help there. As older citizens who have paid our dues and done our job, we don't have the power (the money) to put up a big fight, and OEA knows this. We can only hope that enlightened legislators such as you are willing to listen and go to bat for us.
Thank you for listening and for any help you can give us. Taking away our COLA for a year, then dropping it to 2% from 3% will hurt many retirees, who have already been hurt by increases in health care premiums and cutbacks in benefits. Rest assured that you will literally be saving lives if you can keep this from happening. There are 170 STRS retirees who are over the age of 100. They need your help more than anyone else. And they are not alone.
Kathie Bracy
(Address, phone, blogsite)
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