Saturday, October 22, 2022

Diane Hastings: Some timely advice for STRS

Diane Hastings' speech to STRS Board

October 20, 2022

Friday, October 21, 2022

Joe Lupo on the October 2022 STRS Board meeting; he minces no words

From Joe Lupo

October 20, 2022
I have never watched, attended, worked or served on any Board that is as dysfunctional as the STRS Board. They have not yet figured out they are the governing body and thus the bosses...Neville and staff are not their bosses. Until I see some real change in future meetings and Board actions, I still believe the tail continues to wag the dog. Steve Foreman is a big disappointment and at this point in time hasn't shown me or anyone else that he can walk his talk. In fact, his performance thus far will hurt him and any other administrator that decides to run for the Board.
Let me be very pointed in saying we have got to get our s--t together and understand that any takedown of STRS will have to be by us. Thus we have to focus on those issues that will be nuclear by blowing things at STRS wide open as I pointed out in a recent Zoom meeting. It is gloves off here and now as we move forward. We have talked enough and it is now time to kick some a--. Yes, I am using street talk, where I got my battle training from. Bottom line: it is them or us. We don't have 30-plus years to make it happen. 
Joe Lupo is a retired administrator and founder and administrator of the 30,000 member  Facebook group Ohio STRS Member Only Forum (“MOF”).

Colleen Marshall's update on STRS' $5.3 billion loss as staff get bonuses; Robin Rayfield interviewed

NBC4 - Columbus

By Colleen Marshall
October 20, 2022

STRS Ohio in the News

October 21, 2022

Read it here: 

Just after giving out $10M in bonuses, teachers retirement system announces $5.3B in losses
Ohio retired teachers’ pension fund suffers $5.3 billion loss as staff get bonuses
And here:
Ohio retired teachers’ pension fund suffers $5.3 billion loss as staff get bonuses

Robin Rayfield to STRS Board: How do you intend to get back the money you paid in unearned bonus payments?

Robin Rayfield's speech to STRS Board

October 20, 2022

Good morning. My name is Robin Rayfield. I am a retired STRS member.

I hate to say I told you so, but in this case the comment is fitting. As I had previously stated, a delay in approving the bonuses paid to the investment staff was in order. Your board colleagues also asked that the bonuses not be approved until the audited numbers were available. As predicted, the actual values available so far indicate that the losses are far greater than estimated at the August meeting.

The truth is that the investment staff, STRS consultants, and everyone in the investment world knew that the valuations submitted for the bonus’s payments were too good to be true.

This action is typical and points to the problems with the STRS culture. The staff put their self-interests ahead of the membership. That is why they rushed the bonus payment issue, taking advantage of an accounting gimmick that delays the valuation of these assets. I repeat, the staff and consultants knew that they had not earned the bonuses that were paid. It is as bad as it sounds.

You ignored pleas from the members and your board colleagues to delay the bonus vote until the audited valuations of the alternative investments were available. Shame on the board members that approved these bonuses. You knew better.

Just because the staff asks you to support an issue does not give you a pass on your fiduciary duty. Thanks to board member Wade Steen we all know that ACA does not confirm the accuracy of the inputs, only the arithmetic. Garbage in yields garbage out. Your vote to pay unearned bonuses results in personal liability.

The current leadership at STRS is not looking out for the best interests of the retirement system. Remember, the liability rests with each of you. You need people that you can trust, not what you are receiving at present.

On behalf of the STRS members, I want to know how you intend to get back the money you paid in bonus payments that were unearned. Will the people that received this payment pay it back, will the management pay this money back, or do you intend to pay the money yourselves. That money should go to teachers. The money spent on bonus payments is for benefits, not made-up performance. I don’t care how you get it back, just get it back.

Dr. Robin Rayfield is Executive Director of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association and a strong advocate for teachers, retired and active.

Link: ORTA's video of the 10/20/2022 STRS Board meeting

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Bob Buerkle's speech to STRS with reminders of hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from teachers over the years

Bob Buerkle's speech to STRS Board

October 20, 2022

The Collaborative Role of the STRS Actuary

In order to project the expected profit margins for insurance companies, actuaries are responsible for pricing new products and determining the reserves that are needed to cover all demographic and investment risks.

The role of the STRS Actuary is similar but should not include the function of earning a profit, like what’s happened since 2013 and what also took place in 1994.  In these years STRS changed retirement rules that broke decades of pension promises, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from our retirees.

In 1994, STRS Director Herb Dyer, also an actuary, greatly reduced the pension formula and the interest rate being paid on retirement accounts known as the “Money Purchase Plan,” the original STRS Pension Plan. These changes resulted in an estimated $500 million dollar theft from approximately 115,000 inactive members who were entitled to benefit from this Plan. Those over 60 or retired under this plan were GRANDFATHERED!  Money Purchase was similar to a DC or 401(k) plan, except their accounts could only grow by the STRS interest rate assumption. Then Dyer responded to the wrong retiree’s pension question, stating the remaining STRS money, was not the members' anymore, but could be used as the STRS Board saw fit. Legislators forced Herb Dyer out.

In 2012, at the request of STRS Management, Sub. S.B. 342 passed and was implemented in 2013.  I believe S.B. 342 was carefully crafted in such a way as to disguise the future theft of another $600 to $700 million dollars on the backs of half of the pre-2012 retirees. This may be in addition to the known savings of the 2013 pension reform, which the STRS outside actuary projected would save/steal $15.7 billion dollars over the lifetimes of current and future retirees.  The 15.7 billion comes from raising teacher contributions now and reducing everyone’s current and future pension income later!  This is theft!

Instead of taking away promised retiree money, STRS Management could have devoted their time and energy to lobbying the legislature for the additional funding needed to deliver on the pension promises already made to members. The full 2.2% pension formulas are the same for OPERS, SERS and STRS but OPERS and SERS require only 30-years of service to retire with an unreduced formula and they also provide an annual COLA to their retirees, while STRS requires 35-years of service and no longer provides an annual COLA. What a lousy deal this is for teachers. But the STRS Employees, that we pay for, don’t have to worry about this, because they are all members of the OPERS System.                                   

Speeches at the October 2022 STRS Board meeting

October 20, 2022

The speeches may be heard here.
  1. Gerald Newsom
  2. Robin Rayfield
  3. Catherine Steinhauser
  4. Dean Dennis
  5. Sue Messenger
  6. Mary Binegar
  7. Suzanne Laird
  8. Bob Buerkle
  9. Edward (Mike) Mulcahy
  10. Diane Hastings

Suzanne Laird's Halloween speech to the STRS Board, October 20, 2022

Suzanne Laird to STRS Board 

October 20, 2022
Good Morning, Members of MY Board:
Wanna know what's really scary, in October, in Ohio?
At 275 E. Broad Street, you can play all sorts of frightening tricks, and still grab lots of treats!
You can trick active teachers into working longer for less.
You can trick retirees with a one-time, 3 percent COLA candy bar.
You can trick the public into believing your mission is to help teachers, while you steal all the goodies, and some zombies on the Board bob their heads like apples.
But who are the real vampires at STRS?
Well, since we must not use actual names, could it be the Head Jack O'Lantern, granted another raise by the zombies while the teachers of Ohio still suffer?What about our very own Voldemort, who continues to trick pre-Medicare retirees with a $450.00 a month premium and a $2,500.00 deductible; yet those retirees cannot even receive an annual physical without paying out of pocket when their doctor draws blood?
Are the real bloodsuckers the investment staff? They're certainly on a sugar-high, plugging their Teslas into the charging stations while working out at the on-site gym. What a sugar rush it must be, knowing full well that we could do better with an index fund, but you'll be rewarded with almost 10 million in treats!
I'm frightened, I'm frightened that no one here has the guts to cut unnecessary expenses, -- like the ghostly guards, extra ones hired just for Board meeting days, haunting us at every turn. That's creepy. Creepy, unnecessary, and downright insulting.
I'm begging, not for treats, but for what I and all Ohio teachers deserve: a secure and stable retirement.
I'm scared for the future of education in Ohio, and you should be, too.
I'm begging you to stop acting like zombies: speak up, and stop the bleeding.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Rudy Fichtenbaum examines the fallacy of STRS' mission statement in his 10/12/2022 speech at ORTA's 75th Anniversary celebration

Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Wright State University. He is an elected member of the STRS Ohio Board, filling a retiree seat since September 2021. He and Wade Steen have been outspoken Board members pushing for reform on behalf of both active and retired teachers, especially in their opposition to Board members who have followed the dictates of another group instead of advocating solely for the STRS stakeholders. As of September 1, 2022, there are three additional Board members who strongly support their efforts: Liz Jones (retired), Julie Sellers (active) and Steve Foreman (active). All three were elected to replace incumbents in the spring 2022 STRS Board election. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Robin Rayfield's Report on the September 2022 STRS Board meeting: who wants change and who doesn't

From the ORTA Newsletter

October 17, 2022

STRS met on September 15, 2022. The meeting was routine, for the most part. It did get a bit interesting near the end of the meeting when several of the ‘new board members’ made their presence known. In a series of motions, several board members attempted to address the lack of transparency at STRS. Although the motions were defeated (or tabled for discussion later) the point of interest that these motions demonstrated is that change at STRS is inevitable.  
The elections of three ‘reform minded’ candidates in May should have signaled to the STRS management and the remaining STRS board members, that the members are not satisfied with the status quo. Since the May 2022 election, however, the STRS management and the remaining six board members holding on to the current culture at STRS have ‘doubled down’ on keeping things the way they are at STRS. Matters that are simple and straightforward, such as increasing transparency should be non-controversial, but they are not. For example, one of the motions was to use the camera system in place at STRS to ‘live broadcast’ the meetings at STRS and then archive these broadcasts on the STRS website. Why would this be controversial? ORTA has broadcasted the meetings live through our YouTube channel or Facebook each month. We use an I Phone to accomplish this, and it is archived! This would allow active members that are teaching during the meeting to stay abreast of what is taking place at STRS. Another motion that was tabled was moving two meetings per year to a Saturday. This would also allow retirees that work after retirement (more common since the loss of our promised cola) and active teachers opportunities to virtually attend STRS board meetings. Again, why this would be opposed by the STRS management and board members is unclear to me. 
At any rate, the STRS board is comprised of two distinct groups:
a.   People that want meaningful change at STRS. This group includes the three people just elected to the board in May of 2022 (Steve Foreman, Julie Sellers, and Liz Jones, along with Dr. Rudy Fichtenbaum, and Wade Steen). 
b.   People that are 100% aligned with STRS management (Ms. Correthers, Ms. Harrington, Mr. Lard, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Roulston, Mr. Price) and want no changes at STRS. It appears that we have a situation like our country’s political status. 

Dr. Robin Rayfield is Executive Director of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association and a strong advocate for teachers, retired and active.

EdChoice Voucher Discussion
Bowling Green University is hosting a meeting to discuss Ed Choice Vouchers on Thursday, October 20th.
The discussion will feature:
Jeff Nichols Bowling Green School District Union President
Ginny Stewart Bowling Green School District Board member
Dan Heintz Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board member
William L. Phillis Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding Executive Director Dennis Willard Vouchers Hurt Ohio
To learn more and register click here.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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