Saturday, May 18, 2013

ORTA: Are you still wondering why your membership is on the decline?

From John Curry, May 18, 2013
Looks like more than a few educators in Ohio have wised up to ORTA's ways, doesn't it?
Thank you for this informative letter. Yes, ORTA is afraid to take a stance on many issues that would affect retirees' lives and benefits. Possibly they are afraid of losing a tax free status but fail to realize that they only would lose this status if they should exist predominately as a political organization and not one of a social benefits organization as the tax code demands. In short, they are afraid of their shadows. This boils down into an ineffective organization that collects fees to support a few at the top and lets down their membership. I would call it a total waste of your membership moneys. ORTA has given Dr. Leone the "cold shoulder" for years now and, because of it their membership roles have suffered. I was asked to join ORTA several times and my question to the asking person was, "What good would it do to give moneys to an organization that could care less about my benefits?" More and more ORTA members are now asking this same question of their ORTA leadership.
From XXXXX, May 18, 2013
I resigned my position as Board Member and Legislative Chair of XXXXXX County Retired Teachers Association several years ago over the fact that I was told I could not take a position on Issue 2, the Repeal of Senate Bill 5. I felt that repealing SB5 was a nobrainer for an organization made up of retired teachers. I was told that we could not take a position on political matters. I also let my membership in ORTA lapse as well because it did not take a position on Issue 2 until the very last minute. While I was Legislative Chair of XXRTA Ann Hanning was always very helpful to me. But I don't understand why ORTA always remains "nonpartisan" on very partisan issues that directly impact teachers (retired and active). Also, I have a daughter who is an active teacher in Ohio, so I have all the more reason to care what happens to teachers in our retirement system.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Kathie Bracy to the Ohio Retirement Study Council: Please investigate this election

May 17, 2013
From: Kathie Bracy
Sent: 5/17/2013 7:32:59 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: 2013 STRS board election
To the members of the Ohio Retirement Study Council:
Please consider investigating the recent election for two retired board seats at STRS Ohio. Retirees feel this election was highly flawed due to ballot language which we are convinced was deliberately deceptive. 
Thousands of retirees intended to vote for one candidate, Dr. Dennis Leone, and no one else, as we felt this was the best chance of his being elected. But the ballot language was changed from the 2009 election ballot in such a way as to trick possibly thousands into voting for two candidates instead of one, being worded in such a way as to make many voters believe their vote would not count unless they voted for two candidates. (Dr. Leone lost by only 778 votes.) Voting for a second candidate along with Dr. Leone heavily favored the two incumbents and worked AGAINST him. Concerns about the ballot language began arising as soon as retirees started receiving their ballots. During the election there were people calling other retirees more closely involved with the election, asking whom they should vote for as a second candidate, because they thought it was a requirement in order for their ballot to be valid. After the election, realizing they'd made a big mistake by voting for two when they had originally intended to vote for one (they were TRICKED into voting for two), people were calling Dr. Leone and apologizing for what they had done. The clever manipulation of this election was NO ACCIDENT.
(1) On the paper ballot it says "Select two candidates". It should have said "UP TO two candidates" or "NO MORE THAN two candidates", as the 2009 ballot indicated. Teachers spend their entire careers teaching children to follow directions, so of course they think they should follow directions, too. The authors of the ballot language were well aware of this and took unfair advantage of retired teachers' honest efforts to do the right thing. FOUL!!!
(2) Wording on the online ballot: "Select two candidates", not "UP TO two candidates" or "NO MORE THAN two candidates". FOUL!!!
(3) Another trick used with the online ballot: If you dared to vote for only one candidate, a second screen was thrown in your face as soon as you hit the Submit button, enticing you to vote for a second candidate ("You may vote for UP TO TWO CANDIDATES") -- yes, telling the voter AFTER HE/SHE TRIES TO VOTE FOR ONE, making many believe they'd better vote for a second candidate or their vote might not count. FOUL!!! If it was OK to give online voters a chance to vote again, why wasn't this done for the mail-in ballot voters or the telephone voters? Why wasn't a second ballot mailed to them when their first one was received with only one vote? When you go into the election booth to vote for president or whatever, you NEVER get a second chance. HIGHLY IRREGULAR!!!
(4) A newsletter from STRS (March 2013, Vol. 39, No. 2) was enclosed with each ballot that was mailed to retirees. It gave a profile on each of the four candidates. At the top was a letter from Executive Director Mike Nehf in which he specifically says " for two candidates..." ("Then vote for two candidates using the enclosed mail ballot or by phone or the Internet.") Right from the top!! FOUL!!!!
As you no doubt are aware, the two incumbent board members who won re-election, James McGreevy and Robert Stein, received heavy backing from OEA; many retirees estimate at least $100,000 or more, using robocalls and personal phone calls to retirees all over the state, in addition to glossy, expensive looking post cards mailings. This needs to be changed. There needs to be some way of leveling the playing field for the candidates running for the STRS board. The other two candidates, Dennis Leone and Nadine McIlwain, had only out-of-pocket funds at their disposal, no deep-pocket organizations to provide funding for them. Something is very wrong with this picture and needs to be fixed. Only you can fix it.
Please investigate the 2013 STRS board election. To say it was an unfairly administered election is a gross understatement.
Thank you.
Katherine B. Bracy
STRS retiree

Duke Snider to the ORSC: Please investigate the STRS board election

From Duke Snider, May 17, 2013
Subject: Ballot
Members of the ORSC,
Since our politicians have given POWER and CONTROL to OHSTRS, you are our only hope that everything at STRS is conducted in an ethical, orderly, professional, and honest manner; however, I believe the election of two retirees for the STRS board was not conducted properly. 
Probably I’m telling you something that you have already heard, but I hope you all will conduct an investigation into the election.  Dr. Dennis Leone barely missed winning a seat on the STRS board, and I truly believe it is due to the fact of the wording “Select two candidates” which means to select two candidates. I’ve had several retirees and a superintendent ask me who they should vote for besides Dennis Leone, and I told them to only vote for Dennis Leone as this gives him a better chance to be elected. 
Why won’t STRS board members answer Dr. Leone’s questions that he presented to them?  If this would have been an election conducted by county board of elections, this would never have happened, because the wording would have been “Select up to two candidates" or "Select no more than two candidates”. Retirees are teachers and they have a habit of doing exactly as they are instructed to do and in this case they were instructed to “Select two candidates”. 
In 2009 I don’t think the wording was this way; therefore, why was it in the 2013 election and who is responsible for selecting this command?  As I stated earlier, you are our, retirees', only hope, because STRS appears to be more interested in their employees than retirees, i.e. I’ve heard the investment people can earn a bonus of up to 100% of their salary, and if this is true, I believe this is not right, especially when we retirees had our COLA cut to 0% for one year and reduced to 2% thereafter.  I’ve also heard that our COLA can be cut or reduced to reduce the cost which active teachers contribute to STRS. 
Why is it always the retirees who are the ones who are targeted?  If there were no active teachers and retirees, there would not be a STRS. What is it that STRS doesn’t understand about this?  Why would OEA push so hard and spend so much money to get Mr. Stein and Mr. McGreevy elected?  Are some people filled with so much hatred, because Dennis Leone was the main person responsible for some former board members and a former executive director being  indicted and convicted? 
The top priority of STRS should be retirees, and it does not and has not appeared this way for some years.  Are some people so angry with retirees having a demonstration in Columbus a few years ago, and are some people so angry about being discovered, indicted, and convicted? I and many retirees have spoken to the STRS board several times since 2002, and many of us feel as second class citizens, because “they” seem to want to do anything to “get even” which is my opinion. 
If you feel I have made any mistake, please let me know and I will correct it. As I said you are our only hope and thank you for standing up for SERS and the “trip” to attend a meeting. Maybe you kept them from getting a sunburn.
Kenneth “Duke” Snider   
Referred to by some former STRS board members as “the malcontents from southern Ohio” (We malcontents stand up for what is right, honesty, professionalism, and integrity.)
Sardinia, Ohio

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Retirees: Want to complain about the irregularities of the bogus election you were just put through?

Many retirees feel they were duped by the deliberately deceitful language used in the ballots for the 2013 STRS board election. You can write to the members of the STRS board, as they are ultimately responsible for it. One address will go to all: E-mail addresses for individual board members may be found here.

You can also write STRS Executive Director Mike Nehf (who told you ON THE BALLOT to "vote for two": You can write to Nick Treneff, who is in charge of communications and danced around the questions regarding that ballot language every time: You can write to the ORSC (Ohio Retirement Study Council, which oversees all five state pension systems; E-mail:; Web: and demand this election be carefully reviewed and that measures be enacted to ensure such blatant treachery against retirees by their own pension board and staff NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.
You can always contact state legislators, too. They need to know what's going on at STRS. And don't forget your local newspaper. There are plenty of people who might find this whole situation very interesting.
If you'd like to share your thoughts with Dennis Leone, the lone target of all the duplicity from your STRS board and staff, you can do so here: By the way, if you do write to the board and staff, don't expect a reply. They have absolutely no interest in discussing this issue with you. They just want to control your $$$ and make sure you don't get the full benefits you are supposed to have.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

STRS board to meet May 22-23, 2013
Details here:

Cathy Burner for ORTA Executive Director

As I understand it, this is not an elected position; the ORTA board makes the decision. I do not have any contact information for this group. Maybe it's on the ORTA website. KBB
Note from John Curry: Cathy Burner has my vote. She was fed up with ORTA previously and....rightly so! Godspeed, Cathy!
From RH Jones, May 15, 2013
Subject: RHJ on: Fw: Fw: A call for the resignation of the Executive Director of ORTA

To all retired educators:
It is absolutely essential that we strongly support Cathy Burner for ORTA Executive Director. Back in 2000, she was one of the first of us to initiate action on the misbehaviors of some OhSTRS officials. She has been active in Ohio politics and is known throughout the state. She has followed OhSTRS activities for many years and has the experience and qualifications for the position of ORTA Director. In replacing Ann Hanning, she is our best hope for real retiree representation.
Cathy Burner to Tom Curtis, May 13, 2013
Subject: Re: Fw: A call for the resignation of the Executive Director of ORTA

Thank you for writing the note to Ann Hanning.  I agree with you, it is time for change!!  As you may remember, I was being groomed for the ORTA Executive Director position. I resigned from the Assistant Executive Director position due to the pressure from the membership with little to no board acknowledgement of these issues. In my opinion the pressing issues demand ORTA board/leadership action. You astutely pointed out the need for action in your note to Ann.  Let us pray she heard you.
Be great, 
Cathy Burner, M. A. 
Educational Consultant/Trainer
Columbus, Ohio

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Congratulations OEA

From John Curry, May 12, 2013
Congratulations, OEA, you just purchased an election! Your tens of thousands of dollars contributed for glossy campaign ads and robocalls for two retired educator candidates, coupled with carefully engineered (and modified for this year's election) ballot language, ensured that the guy (Dennis Leone) who exposed the misspending, mismanagement and entitlement mentality at Ohio STRS did not get elected to the board this time 'round.
His former uncovering of the above illegal and unethical activities while in office caused the Ohio ethics convictions of 5 of your former OEA Executive Council members (and STRS board members at the time) and their resignations from the STRS board. Money really can buy happiness, can't it? At least I can sleep soundly at night.....unlike some people who shouldn't. Retired educators don't pay OEA dues but, for this one time, you sure were worried about who would represent them on the STRS board, weren't you?

Dennis Leone on the 2013 STRS board election and a bold prediction for the ballot language that will appear in 2017

From Dennis Leone, May 12, 2013
Out of 73,000 votes that were tabulated, I was shy 778 to get elected..…and the STRS Board still doesn't think the two OEA-backed incumbents were improperly helped or that the  election was influenced at all by:   (1)  The “Select Two Candidates” command on the paper ballot; or (2) The online voting procedure that required retirees to reject a second pop-up ballot (which invited them to vote for a second candidate) in order to get their first choice accepted; or (3) Mike Nehf’s own letter in the ballot envelop that directly instructed retirees to “Select Two Candidates.”
No, no, no…..these 3 things didn't make retirees feel that they needed to cast a second vote in order for their primary vote to be counted.  No sir.  I wish I had a nickel for every retiree who called me or wrote to me, asking who their second vote should be for in order for their vote for me to be accepted.  And STRS refuses to answer why the 2013 ballot was different than the 2009 ballot – even though there were 4 people running for 2 open spots both times.
None of the 3 factors cited above occurred in 2009.  Oddly, Mike Nehf said in writing to me 2 weeks before the votes were tabulated that while he felt retirees had been given sufficient information to know that they could actually vote for just one candidate (even though the paper ballot issued a command of “Select Two Candidates’), he also wrote that the second pop-up ballot (that was forced onto anyone who tried to vote online for just one candidate) was necessary “to make voters aware that they could vote for 2 candidates.”
What? In other words, the STRS Executive Director put in writing that additional explanation was NOT necessary to clarify the “Select Two Candidates” paper ballot command, but additional explanation WAS necessary to make sure online, voters were “aware that they could vote for 2 candidates.”  STRS refuses to accept the reality that forcing a second ballot onto online voters would be like mailing a second ballot to any retiree who sent in a ballot with just one vote.
This whole thing does not pass the smell test. For sure, the ballot in 2017 will not be like the one in 2013. It will be like the correct one (“Select Up To Two Candidates”) that was used in 2009.
Dennis Leone

Post-election comments from retirees

May 12, 2013

Honorable Uecker,
I mentioned to you at the PRC dinner about the voting of candidates for the STRS board.  I think you might be interested in what'€™s going on at STRS.  Many of us retirees are extremely upset at what has been happening.  They (STRS) seem more interested in themselves and their employees than us retirees. If it wasn'€™t for active teachers and retirees, there would not be any STRS and they don'€™t seem to understand this.  Our COLA will be cut; however, STRS  investment people can possibly receive a bonus up to 100% of their salary.  STRS has been given POWER to do about anything they want and we retirees are the ones who suffer. Kathie Bracy has a blog which you might want to check out as to what many are saying about STRS.
It was good to see you at the Chamber of Commerce meeting May 6.  You seem to express yourself in a kind manner for people.  I think you would probably be concerned and upset if you just knew a little about what'€™s going on at STRS.  How could our politicians give so much power to STRS and just a few years ago, one executive director and some board members [6] were indicted and convicted?  I don'€™t think our current board has proven they are worthy of the POWER.
Thanks for listening to me and thanks for reading the email below (Kathie Bracy's blog).
Keep up the good work.

I'm so very sorry Dennis.  It should never have happened as it did and I'll support whatever action the group decides to take to contest the election procedures and results. Enough of OEA's lying, cheating and stealing of elections.  How do I resign my life membership in OEA?  Not that any of them would care.
Enough illegal behavior has been obvious for too many years, and there seems to be no one who can do anything about the crimes.  Powerful people in the world are guilty of kinds of manipulation on all levels, and I have decided there is no justice for the little guy like us.  When the world and the people get this rotten and corrupt, we have lost the battle.
It is indeed disheartening that Dennis Leone came so close...yet lost the election to STRS Board.
This election will go down in history as flawed. 
STRS staff and current Board members "stonewalled" their way through this election to ensure
that they would not have to face a Board member who would question any of their recommendations
or actions.
Sad day indeed!
This was a confusing election due to different language on different ballots when every ballot should have be worded identically.
Many thought they had to vote for two candidates as a result of differing ballots when they wanted to vote only for Leone.  Also, phone and email votes seemed to encourage two votes.
I think STRS has earned itself a new motto for their shenanigans of recent months. How about "Welcome to your windowless STRS board room: a place where the sun don't shine"?
Dear Mr. Nehf and Board:
This is Saturday night; May 11th; I am sure that all of you are dancing your "happy dance".  The intentional confusion on the ballots gained you what you wanted. You also gained by not sending some retirees ballots, so that means that possibly others who were not entitled to vote received ballots.  Also the write in candidate lines were a farce.  Ask any election worker in the state of Ohio. 
You have scorned all of us (retirees) by your lack of of real answers to our questions!  What do you have to hide?  It must really be something big or maybe many, many things as it was a few years ago!  Why are you so afraid of Dr. Leone being on the board that you would stoop to allowing the intentional unfair wording on the ballot and on the Internet?  Stein had 2,231 votes more than McGreevy, but McGreevy only beat Dr. Leone by 778 votes.  That tells me that some 'funny business' was going on either due to the wording of the ballot or in the tabulating of the votes!  Brutus says about Caesar: "It is the bright day that brings forth the adder; And that craves wary walking? Crown him?-that;- And then, I grant, we put a sting in him, That at his will may do danger with." This election has brought forth the adder (STRS) and we retirees must watch carefully the decisions and actions of STRS and the Board.  The winning of this election is the same as crowning Ceasar.  With the election of these two 'yes' men, STRS will have more power to sting the retirees again and again, and don't say that you have not been stinging us!
Remember 2003, many things were brought out in the open.  It WILL happen again! We are watching ALL of you!  You will all someday have to answer for the things you are silent about during your time as executive director and members of the board.
Watching your future action and decisions,
I could spit nails for how angry I am at the results of this "sham" of an election. You deserved and would have won had they not pulled fast ones in language.
I am so sorry for all retirees. Your loss is a huge loss for all of us! I hope there is some recourse that is being planned. STRS's excuses are feeble and totally inadequate and not responding to you is despicable.

OEA's salaries over $100K (Want to see where your dues money goes, active teachers?)

From John Curry, May 12, 2013
The OEA annual salary information below was taken from the most recent filing by the OEA with the U.S. Department of Labor as required by law. The salaries listed were compiled from the federal form LM-2 and were received by the U.S. Department of Labor by November of 2012 and are of the last fiscal year for the OEA. Therefore, there will be some employees listed below who are now not currently employed by the OEA and there will be some OEA current employees who are not listed due to their recent hiring. If this information needs to be verified please follow the following instructions so that you can go to the U.S. Dept. of Labor to see the names and salaries that I viewed. Note...these are JUST the OEA salaries in excess of $100,000. There are many others approaching the $100K mark that did make the list below.
Click on the link below and enter 512-490 in the first box [Enter File Number box]. Then click on the 2012 report. Pay particular attention to Schedules 11 & 12. The President of OEA (Patricia Frost-Brooks) last salary was $228,594. Do you now see where the OEA got the thousands of dollars to endorse a retired teacher candidate in this years STRS election?
Note - the position of LRC below means Labor Relations Consultant. These are the OEA employees who work directly with the locals in labor/management discussions.
Frost-Brooks, Patricia President $228,594
Leibensperger, William Vice Pres. 155,658
Timlin, James Secy/Treas 156,361
Fiely, Linda Gen Counsel 134,707
Martin, James Asst Ex Dir 155,217
Babcock, Susan Asst Ex Dir 150,143
Cohagen, Joseph Dir of Business 132,557
Fekete, Fritz Dir of Info 116,382
Flanagan, Kevin AED Media Serv 152,702
Cooper, Jeanette Regional Dir 130,117
Jowhar, Thomas LRC 163,795
Johnson, Rachelle AED Mem Serv 145,134
Collins-Murdock, Patricia Reg Dir 141,379
Mahoney, Michael Dir of Commun 132,618
Kapp, Ronald Dir Gov Serv 127,662
Suchy, Mary Dir Membership 138,953
Allison, Mark Uniserv Comp Tech Serv 125,518
Avouris, John LRC 122,425
Bell-Gombita, Mark LRC 127,065
Clay, Alicia LRC 113,184
Blanden, Lee LRC 125,600
Bozovich, George LRC 139,900
Busby, Robin LRC 125,275
Carlisle, Gary Uniserv Compac 125,238
Clum, Darren Uniserv Comp Tech 125,256
Costantino, Mark LRC 129,090
Dalton, Donald LRC 152,189
Davis, Robert G. Uniserv Lobbyist 125,113
Davis, Vicky LRC 126,841
Davis, Demetrice Uniserv Edu Reform 125,084
Day, Daniel LRC 106,767
Dotson, Matthew Uniserv Lobbyist 125,786
Field, Ruth LRC 125,481
Flora, V. Randall Dir Edu Pol 138,655
Graffton, John R. Uniserv Pol Adv 126,827
Graham, Stuart Uniserv Comp Tech Serv 125,902
Harris, Russell Uniserv Edu Edu Res Dev 126,754
Hart, Jonathan Uniserv Gm Tech Serv 125,346
Holub II, Donald LRC 130,182
Jewell, Paul Uniserv Ed Res Dev 131,202
Howell, Lynette LRC 131,020
Jackson, Schalet LRC 102,204
Jaeck, Todd LRC 115,835
Joseph, Bonnie LRC 167,155
Kazar, Suzanne Uniserv Comp 125,327
Kestner, Jeffrey LRC 137,974
Kovach, Gary LRC 123,490
Kubiska, Annette LRC 125,043
Kirkwood, Amber LRC 126,049
Lane, Kimberly LRC 125,487
Lehman, Susan Prod Consult 111,045
Lobert-Edmo, Lavonne LRC 131,026
Linder, Mark LRC 125,829
Marchese Jr., Victor LRC 125,331
Chandler-Marks, Elizabeth LRC 125,203
Matkowski Robert LRC 134,021
Matusick, Helen LRC 129,331
May, Linda LRC 125,274
Maynard, Deborah LRC 123,419
McEachern, Michael LRC 125,222
McMurray, Bonnie LRC 125,509
Messer, Donald LRC 117,153
Munoz-Nedrow, Christina Regional Dir 137,555
Mussilli Jr.,Henry LRC 125,383
Nelson, Alfred LRC 131,147
Newhall, Julie Magazine Editor 125,030
Norris, Perry Reg Dir 138,218
Nolasco, Jeffrey LRC 126,153
Hoover, Kerri LRC 108,475
O'Connell-Burton, Kathleen LRC 125,553
Otten, William Uniserv Organ 132,312
Prater, Michelle Uniserv Media Rel 125,109
Pearasol, William LRC 141,425
Paterson, Cynthia Uniserv Edu Ref 125,486
Pipe Jr., Herman LRC 125,113
Radel, Samuel LRC 115,242
Renaud, Thomas LRC 125,460
Rumsey, Lora LRC 118,787
Saad, Sheila LRC 125,853
Clark, Melissa Uniserv Lobbyist 125,110
Shoulders, Venita LRC 153,264
Smolik, Connie LRC 107,371
Stephenson, Edward LRC 126,820
Terman, Melody LRC 128,623
Townley, Renee LRC 102,591
Tieman, Diane LRC 142,131
Tufaro, Delores LRC 107,018
Turner, Patricia Uniserv Coll Barg 127,848
Urban, Eric LRC 127,490
Thomas, Anne LRC 112,922
Villamagna, Rebecca Uniserv Comp 127,203
Watson, Diana LRC 101,587
Whitney, Theresa LRC 101,586
White, Cathy LRC 134,428
Winship, Michele Uniserv Edu Ref 112,383
Wing, Debra LRC 104,068
Elling, Betty LRC 125,410
Leidy, Chloann LRC 125,245
Bird, Rodney LRC 137,312

A board that will go down in STRS history

Rotten tomatoes to our illustrious STRS board and staff of 2012-2013 for their artful collaboration on their cleverly crafted,  successfully managed, underhanded manipulation of The Infamous STRS Board Election of 2013, which will forever brandish the true colors of undoubtedly one of the most devious boards and staffs in STRS history. We can hardly wait to see what you will try to pull next on the retirees who pay your salaries, perks and humongous bonuses. While you're at it, why don't you scrap that twisted piece of metal outside the board room, the one called "Integrity", bought for $100,000 of retirees' funds? It certainly doesn't belong anywhere near the board room, or in the building, for that matter. Or maybe keep it and rename it "Avarice". That fits.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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