Watch this video where Chuck Helle explains why he is a REAM member.
Thanks to all who helped with this year’s REAM Conference at Grand Casino Hinckley and thanks to all 107 of you who took the time and effort to attend. I have attended and been a part of 17 REAM Conventions/Conferences and the 2017 one was one of the best, if not the best. We had wonderful and informative speakers and entertainment. Joe Schmit’s address was outstanding and worth hearing again. Some commented that it is great to get together with former educators and meet new retired educators. Next September we are at Jackpot Junction in Morton and attendees will not have to face any smoke as the hotel and conference areas are smoke-free. Jackpot Junction will provide one $10 Free Play Coupon for each attendee. You do have to become an Express Club Member which costs nothing to join. Some of you joined the Express Club back in 2010 when we met at Jackpot Junction.
Lonnie Duberstein, Anita and I will be heading to Austin, Texas in early November at the invitation of the Association Member Benefits Advisors (AMBA). They call it “The AMBA Roundup”. It’s educational (we learn about all the AMBA benefits), social (we meet Presidents and Executive Directors from other states, and visit interesting spots in Austin), and at no cost to REAM. AMBA pays for their guests. AMBA provides benefits in 35 states. It’s also about how great Texas is as a state. The guest speaker is Jim Craig who played on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team that earned the Gold Medal. I believe Minnesota had several players on that team and the head coach was from Minnesota.
In February the Minnesota Legislature will be back in session. During the past two years no new public pension bill became law in Minnesota. There’s a good chance that will be true in 2018. The people who rate bonds could lower Minnesota’s bond rating if no action is taken in 2018. That may force some movement. Enjoy your 2% Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase from TRA and 1% COLA from PERA in January along with a 2% increase in Social Security.
Yesterday, in Rochester, I was able to spend the day with members of SEREAM. It was indeed an enjoyable event. For many years, the retired educators from numerous communities in Southeast Minnesota have hosted two conferences a year.
The day went by quickly and drew attention to many issues facing REAM members. Erin Parrish, Associate State Director for AARP, lead off the morning as she spoke about several issues of importance for the seniors. She spoke about efforts to decrease the tax liability on Social Security income, the effort to create a retirement savings plan for employees who do not currently have a plan at work, and the pending concerns about health care reform. Information about these issues, as well as several others, may be found at the website AARP.ORG
Angela Lunde, an Associate in Neurology with the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging, entertained and informed the audience as she spoke about the aging brain. She shared recent results from studies on brain growth and memory.
John Wicklund, TRA’s Chief Financial Officer, shared a PowerPoint presentation and handout about many topics of concern for TRA members. Topics included the very good investment year (just over 15%) from the State Board of Investment. This helps the fund but certainly does not take away from future concerns. He spoke about the 2017 legislative action/inaction, and that TRA is beginning to plan for the 2018 legislative session. (Many REAM Board members will be gathering before the TRA November 15th Board meeting to put together a statement for their consideration.)
Representative Gene Pelowski, from Winona, was very informative and thought provoking as he shared his thoughts on, “How Education Fails To Educate The Legislature On Its Needs.” His take-away message was; the best way to lobby is in person – and do it more than once!” I will add that REAM members need to get in touch with their elected officials, screen candidates for pension positions, and then be sure to vote!
Jay Furst, Editor of the Rochester Post Bulletin, spoke about a topic very much in the news this past year – “Fake News.” He clarified several instances in which news broadcasts or publications could be in error, but should not be considered fake.
Of course, Kay Morcomb, SEREAM President, had a few minutes in front of the group, as did I, Paul Ehrhard, REAM VP, as well as Chuck Hellie, REAM Executive Director. Our traditional entertainment was “Humor THAYER-apy,” shared by Edna Thayer. The coffee, juice, ice water and rolls were always available, and yes, the meal at lunch was very good.
The purpose of this message is to share with all of our members what can be accomplished by working together. By sharing the tasks and responsibilities great things can be done that benefit colleagues and friends.
I have had the pleasure of attending several SEREAM Conferences. I always appreciate the collaborative efforts from many members that are needed to make such events run smoothly. I am not going to specifically thank anyone, because I know that very deserving members would be missed, and I do not want to do that. So, I want to say thank-you to everyone involved for creating a very worthwhile, informative, and enjoyable Wednesday in October.
I do think the unique collection of many local units making up SEREAM have created a gem of an association! If, collectively, you had been a building staff, I would have liked to work with you.
Collectively, we really are better,