Tuesday, June 09, 2020

John Bos to State Treasurer Robert Sprague: Please help us DRAIN THE SEWER on E.Broad Street

John Bos' letter to State Treasurer Robert Sprague
June 9, 2020
Subject: StateTeacher Retirement System of Ohio
Good Morning Treasurer Sprague,
I am writing you regarding multiple issues regarding the STRS Ohio system that was establish nearly 100 years ago to provide a retirement for dedicated educators. In the May meeting of the STRS which was held via internet Web process, Mr. Mayerfeld, the appointee of your office (yes, I know you did not appoint him) spoke strongly to support a raise for the STRS Staff. As you are aware, the State of Ohio faces a major challenge for a 2021 budget. STRS is not a direct Ohio budget category, BUT a very wrong message is being sent to everyone. STRS associates get a raise when other Ohio Departments, School Districts, Cities, Villages, and Townships are making significant cuts. When the Ohio School Foundation is reduced for 2021, there will be fewer dollars being paid to STRS. Fewer teachers means lower payments to STRS.
Unfortunately, the management of STRS believes that the system is for the benefit of the associates, and not the retirees.
I retired in 1989. Since my retirement, the COLA for retirees has been suspended until 2021. To the best of my knowledge, STRS has never suspended associate compensation. I am now 83, and am no longer able to work, but have become very frustrated to see multiple employees paid in excess of $200,000. At least one associate makes in excess of $600,000 provided from Freedom of Information Request.
You have established a website to publish the salaries of all state agencies. STRS refuses to participate in this service. They operate in a secret world in many ways. The meetings are not video streamed, even after many requests for this service. My local church has less than 100 active attendance, and yet streams the service every Sunday. The most recent meeting was on the internet to comply with the Ohio Sunshine Law, but images were not available and it was extremely difficult to follow all of the actions. Many of the supporting documents were not shared.
I understand that STRS Ohio is probably not your highest priority, but we have a major problem. It is best described by an old television program: I’ve got a Secret!!
Please help our plea to assist with the efforts to DRAIN THE SEWER on East Broad Street.Sincerely,
John Bos
Elida, Ohio

John Bos to STRS Board: Please remember that the system exists for retirees, and NOT FOR STRS ASSOCIATES.

John Bos' message to STRS Board
June 9, 2020
Good Afternoon STRS Board Members,
I am writing to you prior to the June, STRS Board meeting to discuss you vote for the 2021 Budget.   I retired in 1989 and worked until 2000 doing various jobs that I greatly enjoyed.  Most were not high paying, but allowed me to serve others and make a few extra dollars.  Yes, that did not do much to improve my social security, but it supplemented my STRS Retirement.  As you are all aware, the COLA was suspended, reinstated for 1 year, again suspended until consideration next summer.  I am now 83 years old and can no longer continue working.

During the past 31 years I have observed continual increases in the STRS associates wages.  To the best of my knowledge they have never been denied an increase in pay.   I also notice that the STATE OF OHIO is proposing MASSIVE CUTS in employee pay and benefits.  Governor Dewine has asked all Ohio State Departments to operate on a significant reduced budget.  As I write this email, these numbers are being reviewed by all departments.

STRS is not a direct Ohio Department, but it is certainly not in your best interest to grant ANY PAY INCREASE to associates while the STATE OF OHIO is being forced to make cuts that will affect everyone living within the state.  You frankly will develop significant public reaction, not only from the deprived retirees, but from the boards of education, other state agencies, and the general public.  Mr. Wade Steen, a representative of Governor Dewine expressed his opinion clearly during the May budget discussion.  Thank you Mr. Steen for representing the governor position accurately. 

Please also be aware that the state budget reductions will reduce the amount of revenue that the retirement system will receive from active teachers:  Fewer teachers means fewer dollars!  Please remember that the system exists for retirees, and NOT FOR STRS ASSOCIATES.

Thank you for considering my position.

John Bos
Elida, Ohio 

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Dean Dennis to STRS Board: You'll keep your promises to STRS staff, but not to retirees?

Dean Dennis' message to STRS Board
June 7, 2020
Subject: STRS Staff Increases
STRS Board Members,
STRS Fiduciaries, as you ponder your vote regarding staff salary increases, please consider that most  STRS employees salaries and "salary incentives" are over six-figures.  How does that look to the average STRS retiree?  From watching the May 2020, video conference STRS Board Meeting, I know the Board is split on this issue.  I jotted down a quote from one Board member who was defending the STRS Employee raises, the quote was, "pensions operate to pay benefits expected."  I thought, for members too?
The average STRS Retiree draws a pension around $45,000.00.  They were promised a COLA around $900.00 (many were promised around $1,350 but board members lobbied the legislature to decrease the COLA from 3% to 2%, now it's been zero for 4 years).  The STRS message to retirees seems to be, we can afford increases for  STRS staff, but not for retirees.  We'll keep our promises to STRS staff, but not to retirees.  Mixed messages do breed problems.
The Corona-virus message that, "we're all in this together," is interesting.  It implies during an emergency, let's all sacrifice together.  Contrast the Corona-virus message, to the message STRS is sending to retirees, as STRS investments average earning over 10% over the last 10-year-period, and nearly 8.5% over the last 30-year-period.  The message being: we have designated you to be the sacrificial generation that dies off without receiving promised COLA's so that we might be able to balance our books faster for future retirees. 
Please keep this equation in your mind:  Granting Staff Increases = Granting Retirees COLA
Dean Dennis
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