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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

Retirement plan must be reformed

In response to your articles about re-employed retirees, we at the State Teachers Retirement System agree that pension reform is needed and educators must work longer (“Set for life: The rising cost of public pensions,” June 21, 22, and 23).

In the past, as the Ohio legislature has made changes to the rules governing re-employed retirees, STRS Ohio has made adjustments to help ensure that re-employed retirees do not negatively affect the pension fund or the separate health-care fund. These past reforms include no longer providing primary health-care coverage to rehired retirees, and making the payout after a second retirement cost neutral to the system. Re-employed retirees and their employers also pay the same amount in contributions as do nonretirees.

More recently, our retirement board took the responsible step as system fiduciaries and adopted a plan in September, 2009, that proposes a number of changes to pension-plan design for Ohio's public educators. One of the plan's major components increases the service required for retirement to 35 years.

We look forward to our proposed pension-plan changes being included in future legislation and will continue to work with the Ohio Retirement Study Council, other legislators, and all stakeholder groups to bring about changes that will help ensure the sustainability of STRS Ohio for Ohio taxpayers who have chosen public education as their career.

Michael J. Nehf

Executive Director

State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio

Columbus

Who authorized the double dipping? The focus of your articles about double-dipping public officials and employees needs to lead back to whoever allowed the practice. Who approved the right for a public employee to “retire,” collect a pension, and then take the same or a similar job again?

And who in charge of the taxpayer-paid funds determined that 30 years on the job was full retirement? For those of us on Social Security, age 66 is full retirement. No matter how much a person earned while working, the maximum allowed per month at age 66 is $2,346.

Those politicians and government officials who approved the double-dipping and 30-year retirement packages need to be outed.

Carol Molnar

Wealdstone Road

Your three-part series and editorial “Nip the double dip,” June 21, about collecting a pension as a former teacher or public servant while returning to work in the same or similar position, thereby “double dipping,” make a great deal of sense.

But implying that the recipient of this double income is doing something unethical or immoral puts the blame for the practice in the wrong place.

Many people retire from a job in the private sector, collect a pension, and go to work for another employer doing much the same as they did before, and it's referred to as supplementary retirement income.

The blame doesn't lie with the retired teacher or civil servant; it's built into the rules of the state retirement system.

They aren't gaming the system, as you call it; they're taking advantage of stated policies of their employers. They likely feel that the retirement boards know what they're doing and approve of it. I suspect that not many of us, if faced with the same opportunity, would forgo one income or the other.

You made precisely the same arguments several years ago when Sandy Isenberg retired as a Lucas County commissioner and tried to return to public service in another capacity.

If you feel so strongly about it, your editorial campaign should be aimed at changing the rules, not at those who are playing by them.

William Treuhaft

Sylvania

While it is legal for retired public employees to “double dip” because they have earned it, is this practice really moral and ethical?

There are many who are out of work or underemployed and struggling just to put food on the table and pay the rent or mortgage in this economy, and they are qualified to fill these positions.

In a better economy, double dipping might not seem so bad. But in this economy, it is appalling.

Johanna Clark

Maumee

The tactics that members of the Lucas County Republican Party are using on each other are notable and have a familiar ring (“Stainbrook accuses GOP foes of scare tactics,” June 19).

Attempts to disenfranchise members by disrupting meetings, offering questionable amendments to stall and delay, intimidation, sending flyers to members warning they could be arrested for outstanding warrants — it's as if our local Republican Party is dirty-tricking itself.

Julia Kustra

Gunckel Boulevard

Former Ottawa Hills police officer Thomas White has convinced himself that the shooting of Michael McCloskey, Jr., was justified (“Ex-officer sentended to 10 years in shooting,” June 22). Now that his trial is over and he has been sentenced, no one, myself included, shares his opinion.

White really needs to admit that he made a very bad decision when Mr. McCloskey was shot while riding his motorcycle in May, 2009.

Mr. McCloskey will bear the consequences of that decision for the rest of his life. White will serve his sentence and have the opportunity to move on.

Mr. McCloskey is a strong man, and I am sure he will make something good of his life. White could make it a little easier by apologizing for his actions. Mr. McCloskey did nothing that warranted being shot in the back.

Sharon Tobian

Adella Street

After reading “Guessing your speed,” (editorial, June 14), I see that a tremendous money-saving opportunity exists for Ohio's two minor-league baseball teams.

Since each team already employs off-duty police officers at games, they would no longer need to waste money on expensive radar equipment to gauge the speed of pitches during baseball games.

Each team would just have to have one officer assigned the additional duty of judging the speed of each pitch.

For example, when a broadcaster wants a speed report he would push a button and a red light would go on to notify the officer. The officer would hold up a sign with the speed of the last pitch.

Because the teams would not have to spend money on radar anymore, they could lower ticket prices.

I also see increased employment opportunities for the radar lobbyists.

Tom Krajeski

Martin, Ohio

A Blade headline on June 19 stated: “Factory in B.G. to close; 100 workers to lose jobs.”

Two days earlier, a Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune's article stated: “The closing is expected to affect approximately 82 employees.”

The difference between 100 idled workers and 82 is 18 people. Depending on which news source you trust, either 18 additional people will remain employed or be unemployed.

Clearly, this is evidence of The Blade's tendency to rush to the worst-case scenario and exaggerate the severity of an issue.

This is the reason that I read my morning papers with a cup of coffee and a pound, rather than a grain, of salt.

Jeanne Berry

Bowling Green



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