MARCH 4, 2010 – 10:30 AM
OVERVIEW OF MEETING:
Boyd Cline, FURA Vice President and Steering Committee Member, called the meeting to order at 10:30 am. He welcomed the approximately 160 members in attendance. He recapped the onset of FURA, telling of the 10 founders first meeting on October 4, 2004 in which FURA was formed. It has been 5 years and 5 months for this journey to finally go to trial. Boyd said “we are here today because it is the right thing to do.” He said he felt confident in the end there will be a complete success. Boyd gave heartfelt thank you to the FURA members for their endless help and support. He also gave a sincere and great thank you to Bob Bezemek and his staff.
FURA Attorney Bob Bezemek thanked everyone for their attendance and introduced FURA Attorneys David Conway, John Varga and Esta Grill. Bob gave a full overview of the case from the onset to present.
DUE TO ATTORNEY/CLIENT PRIVILEGE, NO OTHER INFORMATION REGARDING THIS PORTION OF THE MEETING WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC
Barbara Thomas, FURA Treasurer and Steering Committee Member, 11:25am., addressed the meeting. She thanked the FURA members, retirees not part of the class certification, unions and organizations for their generous contributions. She recognized the Peralta Union and LAUSD retirees especially for their continued financial support. She said she and Vivien Oxley, FURA Assistant Treasurer and Steering Committee Member, have processed 22,962 checks and applauded Vivien for maintaining such an accurate mailing list. Barbara pointed out the FURA addressed envelops on the tables for members to take with them and return with donations.
Joan Jack, FURA Steering Committee Member, asked the attendees to please fill the large “Bear” container with the change from their wallets or pockets–all coins count. She also encouraged checks and paper money.
Carole Sarkisian-Bonard, FURA President, 11:32 am., addressed the meeting. Carole told the
attendees about the origin of FURA on October 4, 2004, a small group of about 10 retirees met to discuss the imposing of premiums on retirees. Next was a meeting at Starbucks with about 30 people. Then in November 2004, the first general meeting was held at the CRTA Hall with a full house. Carole remembered Santiago Wood telling about the Contra Costa case where the courts ruled in favor of the retirees’ vested rights. Any changes to retiree benefits must be negotiated with the individual retirees. The Contra Costa retirees were represented by attorney Robert J. Bezemek. Carole googled his name and found that he was “still alive and practicing” in Oakland. She emailed him and the connection began.
Carole thanked each Steering Committee member by name and asked them to stand for the group. Carole gave a special, and well deserved, thank you to Don Kisner, FURA Web-Master and Steering Committee Member for his dedication and superb contribution of creating and maintaining the FURA website. She gave recognition to the 100+ retirees who have passed away since the beginning of FURA and the “In Memoriam” page created by Don.
Carole said of the 3,500 retirees, there were only 9 retirees who chose to opt out of the Class Certification. She introduced members of the LAUSD retiree organization and thanked them for their contributions and attendance in Fresno. She gave an overview of FUSD benefits and the exclusion of dental and vision to retirees. She discussed Assembly Bill 528 and the 7000 series of the Education Code, the injustice, of allowing only certificated retirees to purchase dental coverage.
Lynn Freeman, FURA Steering Committee Member, joined Carole in the discussion of retirees having diminished benefits. The District will allow retirees who retired after 2009 to purchase vision but this offer is not extended to those who retired before 2009.
Discussion turned to the formation of FURA II, for retirees after April 17, 2006. Cathy Franzell, 298- 4606, firstname.lastname@example.org and others are organizing and preparing for action.
Glen Rathwick, FURA Steering Committee Member, gave a tremendous and heartfelt thank you to FURA President Carole Sarkisian-Bonard on behalf of the FURA Steering Committee, all the FURA members, and supporters for her expert, tireless and outstanding commitment to FURA. Her dedication, organizational skills, vast knowledge and endless personal consultations and help to retirees in need is unmatched! She, too, received a well deserved rousing applause and ovation.
Carole thanked the members and gave directions the Courthouse. She introduced Barbara Mendes, President CRTA, thanked her for the use of the CRTA Hall. Ms. Mendes invited retirees who are not members of CRTA to join and advised of an STRS seminar forthcoming. She said the STRS pension account is far more stable than reported in the newspaper. She wished FURA good luck for the trial, March 5, 2010.
Meeting adjourned at 11:59 a.m. FURA legal team and FURA Steering Committee members met with many retirees after the formal meeting to receive input and information.
FURA, Secretary and Steering Committee Member