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Published: Tuesday, 10/26/2010

Clarifying early retirement

It's important to clarify comments about the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System's early retirement incentive program and plan design recommendations relating to the cost-of-living adjustment (“Offer city workers early retirement,” op-ed column, Oct. 17).

Ohio law provides for the early-retirement program as an option to public employers to reduce expenses. Currently, 66 of the system's approximately 3,700 employers participate in it.

No plan design legislation is pending before the Ohio General Assembly, a scenario mentioned by Toledo City Council member D. Michael Collins in his op-ed column.

OPERS' board of trustees has recommended to the General Assembly, among other proposed changes to strengthen the pension fund and maintain health-care funding, that future cost-of-living adjustments for retired members be tied to the Consumer Price Index based upon a tiered transition plan.

Without a final bill or effective date this year, there would not be a Dec. 31 deadline before which public employees need to retire to secure the current cost-of-living adjustment.

OPERS continues to work with the Ohio Retirement Study Council and General Assembly to introduce this legislation as soon as possible to provide retiree benefits for years to come.

Chris DeRose

Chief Executive Officer

Ohio Public Employees Retirement System

Columbus

Goal: Satisfy energy customers

We agree with part of your Oct. 24 editorial “Turning up the heat.” As you say, no company knowingly using deceptive practices should do business in Ohio.

However, you wrongly and rashly cite Just Energy as one such company, without having spoken with anyone from Just Energy or having heard all of the facts.

Complaints before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio represent a fraction of 1 percent of our customer sales. When customers are dissatisfied, we take quick action to make it right.

After we learned that a handful of salespeople had chosen to violate our standards, we terminated them. Meeting and exceeding customer expectations are critical to us.

Using isolated incidents as the basis for denying a firm the right to do business defies common sense. We provide jobs for more than 200 Ohioans at a time of double-digit unemployment. We have had a $5 million economic impact throughout the state in the past year alone. We continue to cooperate with PUCO, and a full accounting of the facts shows that we work hard to do the right thing by our customers.

Ken Hartwick

CEO & President

Just Energy

Chicago

Looking for a report on unions

Your Oct. 23 article “Well-financed chamber flexes political muscle; Secret donors help fund business lobby's campaigns” reported how much money the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives to the Republican Party to elect the candidates it supports.

Some comments in the article are debatable.

I look forward to an article about the money unions give the Democratic Party to support its candidates.

Robert Romick

Claredale Road

Social Security is broken; fix it

I have seen attack ads against candidates who say that Social Security is broken and needs fixing.

I retired 24 years ago and I recovered what I had paid into Social Security within two years. My benefits for the past 22 years have been funded by younger workers who think they are putting away money for their retirement.

They are paying for mine.

In the 75 years since Social Security was introduced, it has never been actuarially sound. Members of Congress, who have the responsibility to fix it, knew they would have to raise contributions, reduce benefits, or delay retirement age, or maybe all three.

Although we have had Democratic control of Congress most of that time, neither party has had the courage to place fixing the problem ahead of getting re-elected.

Americans' retirement is headed down the same road as the rest of the federal government: toward bankruptcy.

Vote for someone who will recognize the problem and has the courage to try to fix it.

Robert J. Miner

Whispering Pines Drive

RGP must widen search for leader

It was disturbing to read that the search team of the Regional Growth Partnership is not interested in a national or professional search for a new executive director or chief executive officer (“Regional Growth Partnership: Agency seeks CEO, but nixes U.S. search,” Oct. 21).

Part of the difficulty is that the search team has a lack of sensitivity of appreciation for diversity: race, gender, experience, education, etc.

Northwest Ohio area residents expect and should have the best person available to manage this agency. The post is key to advancing the RGP and enabling it to be a major player in economic-development initiatives.

We must stop the trend of businesses leaving Toledo and northwest Ohio. If we expect better and greater results for our future, let's not settle for what we've had in the past.

Bernard P. Culp

Richards Road

Domestic violence is not a disease

The Toledo Area Take Back the Night Collective is concerned about Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates' characterization of domestic violence as a disease (“Lucas Co. sweep targets domestic violence; 51 suspects jailed during day-long effort,” Oct. 14).

We know that Ms. Bates' intention is to hold batterers accountable, and that she did not intend to place blame and responsibility for prevention on the shoulders of women who are being abused. However, domestic violence is not a disease such as breast cancer or heart disease that women need to be aware of.

Domestic violence is a crime whose perpetrators need to be held responsible for their actions.

For women to be safe and to reduce domestic violence, our courts, our criminal justice system, and our community must stop placing responsibility for prevention on victims and work toward reducing violence against women.

The Take Back the Night Collective works with area domestic violence prevention agencies to organize an annual rally and educational event.

Women are empowered to speak out against domestic violence and sexual abuse, and men are educated about how they can become part of the solution.

It is our hope that Prosecutor Bates, the courts, advocates, and activists will continue to strive for better ways to serve victims and to prosecute domestic violence cases.

Sharon Barnes

Maumee

Common folk try to reclaim U.S.

In her Oct. 21 op-ed column, “‘No compromise' is no way to approach problems,” Marilou Johanek blames the Democratic Congress' inability to implement President Obama's far-left agenda on the militant energy of the Tea Party movement.

Ms. Johanek exposed her ignorance of Tea Partiers by describing them as misinformed, angry men and despairing women.

Tea Partiers are informed, and are rightfully fearful of the aggressively partisan Obama-Pelosi-Reid cabal that is overreaching and destroying America.

Patriots overwhelmingly reject the President and his decadent agenda.

These are not baseless imaginings by paranoid fatalists or pompous elitists.

They are a pledge from millions of everyday Americans to reclaim our government this November.

Gary Stechschulte

Perrysburg



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