Saturday, May 11, 2013

STRS board election results

John Curry: "Deceptive ballot language and tens of thousands of dollars from OEA has taken its toll on an election that was engineered long before the ballots were available........"
From STRS, May 11, 2013 
Retirement Board Election Results
On Saturday, May 11, 2013, the results of the State Teachers Retirement Board election were certified by a board of tellers appointed by the State Teachers Retirement Board and VR Election Services — the independent firm administering the election.
The result of the election for the retired member seats on the Retirement Board is as follows:
• Bob Stein, 23,542 votes
• James McGreevy, 21,311 votes
• Dennis Leone, 20,533 votes
• Nadine McIlwain, 10,199 votes
• Write-Ins, 164 votes
The terms of office for Bob Stein and James McGreevy begin on Sept. 1, 2013, and will end on Aug. 31, 2017.
The one seat for a contributing teacher member had only one qualified candidate apply, so by law no election was needed. Incumbent Carol Correthers will continue to serve until Aug. 31, 2017. 

Perceptions and impressions and the flawed 2013 STRS board election that was no accident

1. The flaws in the 2013 STRS retiree election, most notably commanding retirees to "Select TWO candidates" were NOT an accident. The ballot language was deliberately changed from the 2009 ballot, and was specifically designed to cause confusion among the voting retirees who originally intended to vote for ONE candidate (called single-shot voting). They were deliberately tricked, by carefully crafted language (and a pop-up, second ballot for online voters) into thinking their vote would not count at all unless they voted for TWO candidates, which worked very much in favor of the incumbents. The STRS staff and board were very much aware of this all along and heartily approved it. They PRETENDED not to see the confusion it caused when retirees pointed it out to them REPEATEDLY. To them it was clear as a bell, which was a sham. We had legitimate concerns, yet we were totally ignored, and deliberately so. Everyone at STRS was in on the act. They knew what was coming and were prepared for it.
2. No one at STRS has offered an explanation for WHY the 2013 ballot was different from the 2009 ballot, even though there were four retirees running for two open seats in both years. WHY? The active teachers on the STRS board would demand answers in their home school district if their school board refused to provide any explanation whatsoever for why flawed ballot language was being used for an operating levy. Perception: deliberate deception on the part of STRS staff and board (backed by OEA), what else? STRS has absolutely NO intention of ever offering an explanation. This was all planned very, very carefully.
3. OEA basically runs the STRS board and staff; otherwise, why does the STRS board vote unanimously or nearly so to pass all issues put before them? (Notice that the issues always seem to favor OEA's wishes.) NOBODY on the board ever asks hard ball questions!  For sure OEA runs the two retired board members, though they would argue otherwise; otherwise, why would OEA spend many thousands of active teachers' dollars to get them elected again? And why would those two candidates for re-election PERMIT this? What interest does OEA have in retired educators when it is well known that they drop these people like hot potatoes the minute they retire and aren't paying into the OEA coffers any more? Is this OEA's way of repaying thousands of teachers for their 30 years of loyalty to their union? The playing field for this election (as for previous elections) was NOT level. The two non-board-member candidates had only out-of-pocket money for their campaigns while the winners had megabucks of OPM behind them! Money talks. OEA money buys board members and board elections.
4. The investment department has been screwing us BIG TIME, for a long time, and they know it. Heads need to roll, but knowing this board and staff, I don't see it happening. Everybody's too happy with the status quo because they're ALL benefiting at our expense and are not about to rock the boat. Isn't it interesting that while people say they have earned back everything they lost in the stock market in 2008, and while the DOW has reached a record high of 15,000, STRS STILL is a whopping $13 billion shy of where STRS was with total assets in 2008. Yet HUGE bonus checks are still handed out to investment staff like candy!.
5. OEA has complete control over ORTA. Why else would ORTA go along with them (other than sheer stupidity) to screw retirees out of COLA funds and affordable healthcare, not to mention allowing potentially extremely damaging language (to retirees) to be written into the pension law? ORTA pretends to represent retirees, but I have yet to see proof. What has ORTA done for us? Not one damned thing. CORE gave it their best shot, but couldn't fight City Hall.
6. All the above groups are extremely afraid of Dennis Leone. Why? Because he is the ONLY one who LISTENS TO RETIREES and fights for what is best for them. He rocks the STRS boat by asking tough questions and pushing for straight answers. Why don't these groups like that? You be the judge. You know what the bottom line is, every time. Where there's money there's greed and corruption. Dennis Leone represents truth, openness and SUNSHINE; the last thing the STRS board and staff, ORTA, and especially OEA want to see. What have they got to hide? PLENTY!!!
7. Retirees are scorned and laughed at -- PLENTY -- by STRS staff and board and OEA. For most of our careers we had the naivete to trust these groups to look out for our best interests. So naive on our part. Never again!!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tom Curtis: A call for ORTA leader's resignation

From Tom Curtis, May 10, 2013
Dear Ann Hanning,
I am writing you as the executive director of ORTA to express my deep concern and dissatisfaction with your failed leadership of ORTA. Thus, I am calling for your immediate resignation as the executive director of ORTA.
You and the ORTA board are very aware of the dissatisfaction of the many retirees who formed CORE. That organization was formed because of the lack of representation by ORTA for retiree benefits. CORE members vigorously voiced our feelings and concerns to ORTA and the STRS leadership. You personally attended many of the CORE monthly meetings, so you were made very aware of the reasons we felt you were ineffective in your position. You and the ORTA board simply ignored us and wrote us off as a bunch of disgruntled retirees. That speaks volumes as to your lack of concern for all STRS retirees.
Instead of speaking out at STRS board meetings against the reduction of retiree benefits, you have always sat silent. I have no knowledge that you have ever spoken to the board protesting the reduction of retirees' benefits during your tenure. Further, and more disturbing to me and many other retirees, you have actually supported all of the reductions the board has made. What can you possibly be thinking? You have failed all retirees miserably and permitted changes that will effect the loss of income for all STRS retirees for the rest of their lives. You are paid handsomely for your services, yet provide little leadership. In my opinion that is disgusting.
Thomas Curtis
STRS Benefit Recipient
ORTA Life Member, Resigned

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Your STRS board and the infamous 2013 election.....

More comments from retirees (April/May 2013)

This election was a sham. I wrote and called the Bd, and have heard nothing.
I need not receive a ballot for this election. Is the election over?
I was talking to my friend in S. Carolina yesterday, and she did not receive a ballot either.  We both would have voted for Dr. Leone.
You and the Board have power and important jobs, but are not in the slightest remorseful for what has happened on this ballot issue.  If you were remorseful, you would have called for a new election. You also would have explained to Dr. Leone at the April Board meeting what actually happened instead of the scornful silence. You have turned your backs and scorned the retirees by your actions and silence on the issues.  We can see that the variances in ballot language was intentional.
STRS should be absolutely embarrassed by either this blatant attempt to guide an election result or the inexcusable ineptness which allowed these discrepancies to be a part of the election ballot process.   After what candidates go through to just appear on the ballot, they should not be treated to this type of disrespect in the balloting process.
DO THE BLASTED ELECTION OVER AND IN THE FUTURE, THINK BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING.  If you cannot figure out the correct way to word a ballot for teachers, why not ask a few of us to preview it for you.  I can probably still find a red ink pen around somewhere!
I don’t care how you flower it up or use the English language, the wording on the ballot is WRONG, and it should be null and void.  Any person with a fifth grade education knows “Select two candidates” means to select two candidates. I assume you know what an imperative sentence is and this command meaning “(You) Select two candidates”, the subject is understood (“You”). I really don’t care what your interpretation or rationalization is about the ballot language, or are you preoccupied or worried about something else?
In my opinion STRS has been unethical and illegal since they began. 
Dear Mr. Treneff, et. al.,
I am so very disappointed with the wishy-washy self serving, spineless answer you sent to Ms. Bracy regarding her questions and concerns regarding the ballot irregularities.  I am disappointed that such mental midgets are running the show.
To quote your answer, "We also shared that 'Paper, phone and Internet ballots that only contain one vote will be accepted, as well as those ballots that contain votes for two candidates.'"  (If I am correct this was shared with a very limited audience after the fact!).
Too bad no one had the pure common sense or decency to make sure that explanation was on the ballot  for everyone to see prior to voting. That language was not on the ballot or the accompanying directions. Makes one wonder if there was anyone with any intelligence  in charge....or was there another reason unclear language was included? I suppose we will not know for sure -- however, actions (or lack thereof) speak volumes.
You are absolutely correct, the entire balloting process was engineered to ensure the incumbents were protected.
I noticed the language immediately and just figured that it was intentional.  Anyone who would send out a ballot with this working to TEACHERS of all people must need an English refresher.  Are not the people sitting on the board, at least most of them, teachers?  Those who are not teachers are supposedly PROFESSIONALS that should have been aware that such language would be confusing.  I agree that the voting needs to be done all over.  This board, unfortunately, are acting like some we have had before.....some I should add ended up in court with charges for their poor choices.  I say VOTE OVER with clear and concise directions!!!!!!
I can’t believe that a group of professionals could and would make such a mess of a simple process!! The juvenile behavior is disgusting and an embarrassment to all of us. What has happened to honesty, integrity, fairness, which have been replaced with deception, dishonesty, unfairness and a lack of civility???
STRS is so crooked, it's unbelievable. It was all cut and dried before the ballots were ever sent out.

Letter to Gary Russell: Why was the ballot language CHANGED this year?

Kathie Bracy to Gary Russell, May 8, 2013

Hi Gary --
We missed you today at Franklin Co. Retired Teachers. Your "sub" did a credible job, but she ducked out quickly when she was finished, without giving us an opportunity to ask questions (she said to call STRS if we had questions), so I decided to e-mail you instead for some answers.
My questions have to do with the 2013 STRS board election, which, as you know, ended just two days ago.
In both the 2009 and the 2013 elections, there were four retirees running for two seats on the STRS Retirement Board. In 2009 it said on the ballot "Select up to two candidates", but this year the wording was changed to a command, "Select Two Candidates". (Also, Mike Nehf's letter that was sent with the ballots said specifically "vote for two candidates"!) This confused many retirees, causing them to vote for two candidates when they had originally planned to vote for one (called single-shot voting, a fair and square voting approach) because they were tricked into thinking it was a requirement in order for their vote to count.
(1)  My question: Why was the wording changed?
For people voting online this year, again those who wished to vote for ONE candidate found themselves forced to reject a second, pop-up ballot before their FIRST vote was accepted!
(2)  My question: What was the reason for this second pop-up ballot?
When you go into a voting booth to vote for president of the United States or whatever, you are NEVER given a second option like this. Why did STRS require it? Are retirees being patronized, or what?
More questions:
(3)  If online voters in the STRS board election were given such an option, then why wasn't a second ballot mailed to every retiree who sent their original one in with only ONE vote?
(4)  Why weren't they given a second chance as the online voters were?
I would appreciate some answers to my questions, which, as you are aware, are legitimate. Thank you for your time.
Kathie Bracy
STRS Retiree

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

STRS Asset Value as of 3/31/2013

From Mario Iacone, May 3, 2013
CURRENT ASSET VALUE as of 3/31/2013 
68  Billion 
UP 1.8  Billion 
Current Fiscal Year
ASSET VALUE as of  2/28/2013 
67.3  Billion
approx 66.2 Billion
approx 80 Billion
LOW ASSET VALUE...early 2009 
approx 47 Billion 
approx 12 Billion BELOW 2007 HIGH and 
approx 23  Billion ABOVE 2009 LOW

Monday, May 06, 2013

STRS Ohio Contact Information

Retirement Board Members as of May 2013
All board members:
Mark Hill, Chair
Contributing Member
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Dale Price, Vice Chair
Contributing Member
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Craig C. Brooks 
Appointed Member
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Michael Sawyers
Superintendent Representative
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Carol Correthers
Contributing Member
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Taiyia Hayden 
Contributing Member
4443 Landmark Road
Groveport, OH 43125-8924
Yoel Mayerfeld
Appointed Member
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
James McGreevy 
Retired Member
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Tim Myers 
Contributing Member
1676 Bethel Rd
Columbus, OH 43220
Robert Stein 
Retired Member
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Jason Rafeld 
Superintendent Representative
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Executive Director
 Mike Nehf
275 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Toll-free 1-888-227-7877

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Shirlee Zerkel to STRS: Scrap the election!

From Shirlee Zerkel, May 5, 2013
Mr. Nehf: As a retiree, I find these quotes from Julius Caesar of interest in our present election situation: (1)  "The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins Remorse from power..." and  (2)  ..."But 'tis a common proof, That lowliness is young ambition's ladder, Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; But when he once attains the upmost round, He then unto the ladder turns his back, Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend."
You and the Board have power and important jobs, but are not in the slightest remorseful for what has happened on this ballot issue.  If you were remorseful, you would have called for a new election. You also would have explained to Dr. Leone at the April Board meeting what actually happened instead of the scornful silence. You have turned your backs and scorned the retirees by your actions and silence on the issues.  We can see that the variances in ballot language was intentional.
I would like to walk you through some of those "clear and correct as presented"  directions on the ballots and on the Internet.
The following is what retirees received in the mail.
1. Just under the Personal ID Number on the paper ballot:  "You may vote for up to TWO candidates only."
2. To vote on the Internet:  "Check the name of the candidates of your choice."
3.  To vote by touch-tone phone:  "The name of the candidates you have selected...Your selections will be displayed."
4.  To vote by mail-in ballot:  "You may vote for up to TWO candidates.  Mark your selections."
5.  Last and certainly not least, is your own quote, Mr. Nehf, near the top of 2013 State Teachers Retirement Board Election Issue.  Here it is:  "...Then vote for two candidates." This is what the retirees experienced on the phone:
6.  Some retires have said they were told that their single vote was invalid. The following is what the retirees saw on the Internet:
7.   Screen 1:  (Select two candidates.) Screen 2: (Select two candidates.) Screen 3:  You may vote for up to Two candidates
As a retiree who was a student of the English language, the type of sentences, the punctuation and capitalization are very important in the meaning of what is being stated. Your use of the Command sentence is intimidating. Commands do not allow choices. The constant use of the plural and capitalizing all or part of the word 'TWO'. works subconsciously to make the voter feel he/she must vote for two candidates.
You know what was done, or there would not have been a scornful silence at the Board meeting!  Your other vague and weak attempts to explain the confusion and then to state that the directions and the ballots  "were clear and correct as presented" is just your 'dance'.  By the way, STRS needs a new communications director who can correctly edit material or maybe he/she was  afraid to tell you and the Board the truth for fear of being scorned.
I ask you to do the right and honorable thing; scrap this election.  Let the candidates be put on a corrected ballot without having to get the signatures again from the members. As I see it both STRS and the VR Election Services are at fault, so the cost should be shared.  I feel that way because of an answer to a question, Mr. Nehf. That answer:  "We did not ask the vendor to change the ballot language from what they prepared in 2009." Then how did those changes happen! Also your communications director did not catch the changes that appeared on the ballots.  Run a new, honorable election!
Just remember that without the base degrees (the retirees) there would be no important jobs such as Executive Director of STRS,
Shirlee Zerkel


From Sondra Stratton, May 2, 2013
Subject: Re: Thoughts from one of southern Ohio's "malcontents"
I, too, am one of those "malcontents" from southwestern OH.  I agree with Duke in his comments.  I also believe the election should be held all over and that a letter should be sent to all retirees with an explanation of the problem......oh but you don't see a problem.  You people should know better than to put out such instructions to TEACHERS of all people.  It should have said, " You may vote for no more than 2 candidates." NOT "VOTE FOR 2 CANDIDATES".  Teachers take those kind of things literally (EXCUSE us!!!  It is an occupational hazard!) as should STRS.
The politicians decided to put the task on the shoulders of STRS so they would not have to listen to retirees complaints.  WHAT COWARDS!!!!!!!!! And also I might add  a crappy thing to do to constituents! Some of the very politicians who have met and sympathized with retirees and then do something despicable as put the power in the hands of the STRS board!!!!  WE only have to look to the past to see what kind of problems that could or may have  already been created.
You know, we all became involved in the mess at STRS around 2001 or 2002 and nothing seems to change much.  We are hated because we stood up for retirees and OUR MONEY and  have been treated with disdain by many when attending the STRS meetings.  As long as employees are looked upon to find the answers, retirees will continue to be crapped upon as we have since I have been almost 13 years. (That is how the rich get rich and the poor get poorer!) You people in Columbus just don't get it. There are a lot of stressed out retirees who are barely making a living and I am surprised that someone severely stressed  has not taken matters personally.  You only have to look at the postal system to see people who lose it. I am NOT making a threat of any kind, just siting the facts as have happened with other professions who are crapped upon.
I don't know how the older retirees are making it. It is hard, especially when you have health or medical problems.  The insurance keeps going up, deductibles keep going up, doctors and medical procedures keep going up and the insurance keeps paying for less. For example, I am now on oxygen for a condition known as COPD.....something that is mostly a smoker's problem.....lucky me, I never smoked!!  I digress. My oxygen and supplies cost me almost $500 for 2 months.  That is an EXTRA expense!!!!!!  OH, I might add it does not pay for the portable tanks one must use when going out of the house and away from home.  I guess you are supposed to sit home and rot!
Wise up STRS.  You all just keep doing stupid things again and again and don't want to see your stupidity.  For people who make the kind of money you all make you are mighty dumb!!!!!
DO THE BLASTED ELECTION OVER AND IN THE FUTURE, THINK BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING. If you cannot figure out the correct way to word a ballot for teachers, why not ask a few of us to preview it for you?  I can probably still find a red ink pen around somewhere!
Sondra Stratton 
Southern Ohio MALCONTENT

Straight from the horse's were TOLD to VOTE FOR TWO CANDIDATES!!!

In case you don't remember, this was enclosed with your paper ballot.
Click image to enlarge.

Mike WANTED you to vote for two, didn't he?

From John Curry, May 5, 2013
The image below shows the March 2013 STRS newsletter with profiles of each of the four STRS board candidates, mailed to qualified retired voters with the paper ballots for the current STRS board election. Please note the part of this letter (written by Michael Nehf) that has the asterisks (**). It doesn't say "vote for up to two," does it?
[Click image (maybe twice) to enlarge.]

A primer for STRS: Single-shot voting explained by Eric Meyer, MD, Arizona State Representative

Cast only one vote - for Eric!
Did you know:  Single-shot voting means voting for only one candidate, even though there are two open seats.
Here’s why it matters:  The winners in this race will be the top two vote-getters. Sounds straightforward, but it’s not. Actually, if you use both of your votes, you might dilute or cancel your first vote. Though this seems counter-intuitive, here’s how it works:
1.Each voter gets two votes for State Representative, but is not required to use both votes.
2.If some voters use only one of their votes, then the candidate receiving those single votes receives a larger proportion of all the votes cast.
3.This candidate would then have a better chance at winning.
Voting for only one candidate increases the likelihood of your candidate being elected, by not giving your second vote to an opponent. That’s why we urge you to cast a “single-shot” vote.
“My race is a perfect example of how voting for only one candidate can make a greater impact. Both of my opponents have values that are very different from mine. They intend to make deeper cuts to education funding and continue to steer our state down the same, irresponsible path.
A vote for either of my opponents is a vote against me and the values that we share.
If you cast one vote for me and your second vote for my opponent, it will decrease my odds of winning, and you will have helped elect someone you may not support.”
So it’s important to remember:  In this case, one is better than two. Cast only one vote, for the candidate who supports your values. Make your vote count!
[Note: Remember, the two incumbent candidates for the retired seats on the STRS board have MEGABUCKS -- OEA money "borrowed" from their members -- backing them while the other two candidates have only their out-of-pocket money for their campaigns. What's wrong with this picture? As a retiree, I have to wonder WHY a huge union that works for ACTIVE teachers is supporting two RETIRED candidates. If I were an active teacher, I would be FURIOUS that MY money was being spent this way.]
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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