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CSU-ERFA News & Views

Please note that the summaries of news items posted on this page do not necessarily represent the official positions of CSU-ERFA or its affiliates.  Links contained within the summaries may take you to the original news sources.  CSU-ERFA is not responsible for the content of linked articles and cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of those articles.

November 2014

Q. How many retirees does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Only one, but it might take him or her two or three days. ~Author unknown.

The November 2014 issue of the CSU-ERFA newsletter, the Reporter, is now available online.

This edition includes a number of articles of interest to CSU retirees, including an update on health care issues such as long-term care options, and an update on the CVS Caremark generic drug program provided by our Health Benefits Committee Chair David Wagner (Sacramento).  John Kilgour (East Bay) has written an interesting article on pension obligation bonds (POBs), and several other timely articles.




October 2014

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

The search for a new Executive Director for CSU-ERFA has begun.  As many of you already know, current CSU-ERFA Executive Director Don Cameron recently announced his intention to retire from his position at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, 2015.

In accordance with CSU-ERFA By-Laws our president, Barbara Sinclair, has appointed a search committee to find a suitable candidate to fill the position of Executive Director beginning on July 1, 2015.  In addition to President Barbara Sinclair, the search committee includes Bill Blischke, David Elliott, Harold Goldwhite, and Mark Shapiro.  Don Cameron serves on the committee as a non-voting ex-officio member.

Those who may be interested in applying for the position should download the vacancy announcement, which includes a description of the duties involved, the required qualifications, the compensation, and instructions for applying for the position.





September 2014

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

The September 2014 issue of the CSU-ERFA newsletter, the Reporter, now is available online.  This issue contains a number of very interesting articles of interest to members and all CSU retirees, including an analysis of upcoming ballot propositions, health care information, and an interesting article on economical vacation opportunities in southeastern British Columbia among others.  The pdf version of this issue can be downloaded here.

(The Sept. 2014 Reporter includes two web-only extras, a more complete version of the Frugal Ferper's article on Vacationing in Southeastern British Columbia that includes additional pictures and useful web links.  And, a web-exclusive article on a self-administered test for dementia.)


You probably have heard that Medicare does not provide long-term-care (LTC) benefits.  While that is true in general, there are some exceptions where Medicare does provide limited LTC benefits.  Juanita Barrena, a member of the CSU-ERFA Health Benefits Committee, recently prepared a detailed summary of the LTC benefits that are provided by Medicare for people who meet the appropriate criteria.  A copy of this article can be downloaded here.




August 2014

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

CSU-ERFA Grant Reports: We have received two year-end grant reports from recipients of past CSU-ERFA Grant Awards:

Julia M. Allen, Phd,  SSU, Cycle 2012 2013 ERFA-Grants Research Recipient submitted the following report.

Passionate Commitments: The Lives of Anna Rochester and Grace Hutchins by Julia M. Allen is a dual biography of two twentieth-century American women whose love for each other fueled their work to create an egalitarian world.

Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester, life partners and heirs to significant wealth, developed their rhetorical skills and political acumen in early twentieth-century women's organizations. Committed to social transformation, they lived together frugally while devoting themselves to several organizations in succession, including the Episcopal Church and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, as they searched for a place where their efforts were welcomed and where they could address the root causes of social inequities. In 1927, they joined the Communist Party USA. They helped to build the Labor Research Association where they engaged in research and wrote books, pamphlets, and articles arguing for gender and racial equality and economic justice.

Although they lived in an era when same sex partnerships were often indivisible from independent incomes, Hutchins and Rochester encouraged Americans of all classes to join in efforts to overturn an economic system that fixed women in dependency and pitted men and women against each other in the workplace. They merged feminist discourse with Marxist Leninist discourse in order to create a new amalgam offering a platform for working class writers and speakers, especially women. Even beset by FBI harassment and surveillance during the 1950s, they celebrated the work of other women who broke with convention in their personal and public lives. While today their lives may appear rife with contradictions, a close examination of their work reveals a unity of purpose that was visionary in the context of their times.

Passionate Commitments examines the personal and public writings of Rochester and Hutchins to reveal under-reported challenges to capitalism as well as little-known efforts to strengthen feminism during their time. Through an investigation of their lives and writings, this biography charts the underpinnings of American Cold War fears and the influence of sexology on political movements in mid-twentieth-century America.

Passionate Commitments won the 2014 Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Non-Fiction presented by the Publishing Triangle.  The award ceremony took place in New York on April 24, 2014.

For more information go to: : http://www.sunypress.edu/p-5669-passionate-commitments.aspx. Or visit Julia M. Allen’s website at: http://passionatecommitments.weebly.com/.


Elizabeth Kennday-Corathers, PhD, CSULB, Cycle 2012 2013 ERFA-Grants Research Recipient submitted the following report:

Title of your Research: The Repository of Wonders, A Multi-faceted, Collaborative Art Installation

The Repository of Wonders is modeled on the 19th-century profitable ‘dime museum’ that packaged entertainment with education for the masses. The installation examines the way in which objects can be promoted as “worthy” when presented as significant via labeling and hyperbolic advertisement, and is re-configured for specific venues consisting of artifacts, photographs, brochures, didactic materials and performances. Utilizing the original dime museum practice of creating fake relics and fabricated provenances for their objects, labels are written with some basis of historical research woven into the otherwise fictitious history; the burden is upon the viewer to sort fact from fiction.

One of the major sub-theme, in this project, explores the emergence of the strong, academic and/or free-spirited feminine persona (i.e., Anne Brigman, Gertrude Bell, Isadora Duncan, Alexandra David-Néel) at the turn of the century through the creation of administrative and curatorial staff that found and run the museum. Their depiction is shaped through journals, letters and photographs. Kennday-Corathers was largely responsible in this collaboration for the development of the characters created for the project and their depiction through photographic tableaux.

Tableaux Samples:  Each tableau relates to a character and her story in the Repository of Wonders.


Suffragette Movement  


Plein Air Painting


  After Isadora Duncan

The project has enjoyed great success regionally in Nova Scotia and internationally through social media.  The Repository of Wonders won a coveted spot in the Creative Nova Scotia Gala Awards in October 2013, and has been approached with the possibility of a book based on the installation (scheduled to begin following the July 2014 exhibition)

The grant received from the CSU-ERFA Foundation was invaluable to this endeavor.  Creation of the tableaux was continued through March 2014. All materials for the installation were assembled for the exhibition at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts.  The Canadian Arts Council furnished additional funding for framing of the printed imagery.

For more information see Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Repository-of-Wonders/336327850560) loosely entitled Contemporaries of The Repository of Wonders, featuring innovative and adventurous women of the era.


The open enrollment period for CalPERS health plans begins on September 15, 2014 and runs through October 10, 2014.  During this period you may change from you current health plan to one of the other plans offered in your area.  If you wish to remain in your current plan, you do not need to do anything.

You already should have received a personalized packet from CalPERS outlining your current coverage and the options available to you if you wish to switch to a different plan.  If you haven't received this packet, call CalPERS at 1-888-225-7377 to request your packet.

Those of you enrolled in PERS Choice, PERS Select, or PERSCare Supplement to Medicare Plans also will receive updated information about your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage from CVS/Caremark.

Remember that if you wish to continue your current coverage, no action is needed on your part.

(UPDATE: we have learned that some packets were being mailed out late, so wait until the first week in September before contacting CalPERS if you haven't received a packet!)


CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation Receives a Third Challenge Grant:

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation recently received a third $500 challenge grant from a CSU-ERFA member.  The donor will match all individual donations received by the foundation through December 30, 2014 up to a total of $500.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides competitive grants to CSU-ERFA members to support their research and scholarly activities.  Donations in any amount from both CSU-ERFA members and the general public are welcomed.  Donations to the foundation generally are deductible from state and federal income taxes.

You may donate by sending a check to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.

CSU-ERFA members also have the option of setting up a regular monthly donation to the foundation from their CalPERS pension warrant. 

In either case, please download and fill out our donation agreement form.



July 2014

Retire from work, but not from life.  ~M.K. Soni

CalPERS released preliminary investment results for the 2013-14 fiscal year today (7/14/2014).  According to the news release, CalPERS investments grew by 18.4% during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014.  This rate of return was significantly higher than the 7.5% discount rate that CalPERS uses to estimate future earnings.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with pension fund accounting, the discount rate is the rate of return needed to ensure that all current and future pension obligations can be met.  For the past 20 years CalPERS investment returns have averaged 8.5%, which is 13% higher than the assumed 7.5% discount rate; and, since 1988 CalPERS investment returns have averaged 8.9%, which is almost 19% above the discount rate.


The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation Board recently voted to make $5,000 available to the CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Committee for the 2014-15 Grant Awards cycle.  CSU-ERFA members may apply for grant awards to support their research, scholarly, or creative activities.  Typically one to four grant awards are made each cycle, and grants usually range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000.00 though occasionally larger amounts are awarded.

If you are interested in applying please click the following link for guidelines and application forms: http://csuerfa.org/services.html#Grant_Awards_Program

If you are not currently a member of CSU-ERFA, you may submit a grant application together with a CSU-ERFA membership application.







June 2014

O, blest retirement! friend to life's decline -
How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease!
~Oliver Goldsmith



The CalPERS Pension and Health Benefits committee recently recommended new Health Premium Rates for 2015 to the full CalPERS Board, and the Board has approved those recommendations.

Many members who are in CalPERS Basic HMO or PPO plans will see small decreases in premiums averaging roughly -3%, and most others in basic plans will see only small increases.

However, all CSU annuitants who are in Medicare HMO (Medicare Advantage) plans will see increases. These will range from 0.18% for Kaiser CA plans to 38.32% for United Healthcare plans. (Note that these rates are reduced by the CSU monthly employer contribution.)

CSU annuitants who are in PPO supplement to Medicare Plans (PERS Choice, PERS Select, and PERSCare) also will see increases.  These will range from 10.49% to 12.65%. (Note that these rates are reduced by the CSU monthly employer contribution.)

The following link will take you to a table comparing both basic and Medicare HMO rates before the employer contribution.


The following link will take you to a table comparing both basic and Medicare PPO rates before the employer contribution.






May 2014

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


Seniors should be aware of the following scam.

 ....The scam consists of a recorded message advising callers that if they are sixty years of age or older they are eligible for the "national senior assistance program." The message states, "Sixty years old or older, you now qualify for the new national senior assistance to receive $3,000 in free grocery savings certificates."

The program consists of not only getting $3000 in free grocery savings certificates, but a complimentary medical alert device as well. Of course, personal information is required to “process” the certificates and device, which never arrive. ..... If you receive one of these robo-calls, just hang up. It is a scam designed to steal your personal information.

This is just one of many scams aimed at seniors.  Additional information on how seniors can avoid being scammed is available on this FBI website.


The May 2014 issue of the Reporter, the CSU-ERFA newsletter is now available online.  This 12-page issue of the association's newsletter contains many articles of interest to CSU retirees, and others of interest to all retirees.  Click here to download.


Possible Interruption of Kaiser Pharmacies in Southern California

CalPERS has learned the Guild for Professional Pharmacists, which represents pharmacists throughout the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Region, informed Kaiser of a possible work stoppage starting Monday, May 19, 2014 (Ed. Note: News reports indicate that the planned strike has been postponed until June 2, 2014 while negotiations continue). If work is stopped, it would affect Kaiser Southern CA members who have prescriptions pending, are calling in new prescriptions/refills, or who might walk in with a new prescription/refill. Currently, CalPERS has approximately 167,000 Kaiser members enrolled in the Southern California region including Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties.
Kaiser is planning to reach out to members by telephone and email about options if the work stops.
Here is some additional important information for Kaiser members in the impacted area if work is stopped:
•       Hospital pharmacies will be open to provide pharmacy services for hospitalized patients
•       Kaiser medical facilities will remain open
•       Appointments and treatment will not be interrupted
•       Members can fill new prescriptions and urgent refills at CVS, Ralphs, Rite Aid, Target, Vons, Walgreens, and Walmart during the work stoppage.
•       Members who receive new prescriptions will be notified by a Kaiser employee of the nearest local pharmacies

(Editor's Note:  This issue may be resolved before any actual work action takes place.  We will keep you advised of the situation.)




April 2014

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


The following information is being posted at the request of CalPERS (emphasis added).  Note that this affects approximately 31,000 people who currently receive CalPERS Purchasing Power Protection Adjustments.  Other CalPERS annuitants are not affected.

COLA and PPA Adjustments
On May 1, the annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) and Purchasing Power Protection Allowance (PPPA) adjustments will be reflected in retiree checks.  This will be the first year where the COLA outpaced inflation. Because the COLA outpaced inflation, the PPPA benefit will be reduced accordingly for those retirees who are entitled to PPPA, approximately 32,000.   In addition, retirees may see a further decrease in their PPPA because of previous overstating of PPPA amounts in prior years when the timing of the adjustments was not coordinated.  This could result in a retiree’s total retirement allowance being reduced, despite the increase in COLA.  We estimate that approximately 9,000 (28%) individuals will have a reduction in PPPA but will still see a net increase to their gross retirement allowance due to the corresponding COLA increase.  Approximately 23,000 (72%) individuals will see an overall decrease to their retirement allowance, however, nearly all of those will have an impact of less than $20.  It is important to note that any decrease in PPPA due to previous overstatements will occur only one-time this year.  We are working with our retiree associations to inform our members about these adjustments.  All impacted retirees will also receive a notification from CalPERS explaining the change prior to receiving their May 1 check.


The Sacramento Bee reported today (April 9, 2014) that CalPERS has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit alleging the that the CalPERS Board failed to act in the best interests of members when it voted to raise rates on CalPERS Long-Term Care policyholders.

CalPERS argued in its demurrer that while it promised not to raise rates based on the age or health of the policyholder, it did say that rates could be raised on an "issue-age basis for all similar coverage."  CalPERS also claimed that it is immune from such lawsuits.





March 2014

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


The Sacramento Business Journal reported on March 11, 2014 that the CalPERS Long-Term Care Program will mail letters to approximately 44,000 participants next month that will outline forthcoming rate increases.  These letters will be sent to people who have policies that offer lifetime coverage with inflation protection.

Those who receive these letters will have until May 9, 2014 to choose their options.  These options include converting to a limited term policy, paying an 85% over the next two years, or paying a 5% increase in 2015 and delaying the remaining 80% until 2016.


The CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Committee has announced that they will begin accepting applications for the CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Program for 2014-2015 on May 19, 2014.  The deadline for submitting applications is December 18, 2014.

More details about the program and links to program guidelines and application forms can be found on our Member Services page. (Note these guidelines and forms will be updated for the 2014-15 cycle shortly.)

Typically, about four grants are awarded each year.  It is expected that about $4,000 in total will be available for the 2014-15 cycle.





February 2014

Don't play too much golf.  Two rounds a day are plenty.  ~Harry Vardon

The CSU-ERFA Foundation Grants Committee has approved the award of three research grants from the 2013-2014 cycle.

Prof. Daniel Kessner (CSU Northridge) has been funded for a project that will result in a CD of recent musical works. The impetus comes from performances at a European festival, which has been named after him, the first ever “Festival Kessner, October 2013, by Conservatorio de Musica do Porto, Portugal. Recordings are being scheduled for April 2014.

Prof. Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill (CSU Fresno) has been funded for a project to investigate the history of 109 orphan boys between ages of eight to twelve years who were brought from orphanages in the Middle East region to Canada during the 1920s and placed on a farm/orphanage at Georgetown, Ontario to be trained as farm workers, as well as 40 girls and young women were brought for domestic labor in Toronto between 1920s and 1930s.

Prof. Robert G. Fowler (San Jose State University) has been funded for a study involving the characterization of a mutation in a gene that encodes an unusual DNA polymerase called DinB or DNA polymerase 1V. These are enzymes that catalyze the vital function of copying the DNA of a genome when a cell divides using the old, established DNA as a template. In humans, there are trillions of cell divisions and multiple forms of DNA polymerase to carry out copying of genetic material, but it is difficult and complicated to study the duplication of genetic material in complicated organisms such as humans. Simpler organisms are used to study this process, such as the utilization of the well-known bacterium, Escherichiacoli, which have a similar DNA polymerase, DinB, to one found in humans and other animals, and that can be involved in various forms of cancer. In this research, a mutation in the E. coli dinB gene that produces a mutant DNA polymerase that causes cells to be killed by UV light will be examined. The study specifically will research how this lethal activity occurs.

The 2013-14 grants committee consisted of Sally Hurtado de Lopez, chair, and members Judith Hunt, Beatrice Pressley, and Marshelle Thobaben.


Nominations are sought for the retiree member of the CSU Statewide Academic Senate.

All CSU faculty retirees are eligible to be selected as the CSU faculty retiree member of the Statewide Academic Senate.  Nominations are due by March 21st. The term is for three years, starting July 1st. 

Membership in the CSU Academic Senate (ASCSU) includes two senators from each campus plus an additional senator from each of the seven largest campuses. To these numbers are added the past chair if he or she is not an elected member; the chancellor or his representative, currently executive vice chancellor Ephraim Smith; and “one emerita/emeritus selected by the CSU Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association,” currently Dr. Harold Goldwhite, emeritus professor of chemistryand biochemistry at Cal State LA.

The selection committee consists of Profs. Barbara Sinclair, President of CSU-ERFA, two members of the CSU-ERFA Executive Committee, William Blischke of Dominguez Hills and Alan Wade of Sacramento, and Dr. Don Cameron, CSU-ERFA executive director, who serves as non-voting staff to the committee.

Nominations should include the following:

1. a statement from the nominee that he or she is a CSU faculty retiree, will serve the three year term as the retiree member of the CSU Statewide Academic Senate if selected, and is aware that he or she will be invited to prepare reports for CSU-ERFA on issues of special interest to the senate and the CSU (such reports may appear in The Reporter)

2. a brief summary of the nominee's resume, including educational background, academic or administrative service or both at a CSU campus or the system administrative office, and experience in academic governance whether ata CSU campus or at the systemwide level or both

 3. a statement from the nominator or the nominee describing why the nominee would be an appropriate choice as the person to serve as the faculty retiree on the CSU academic senate

4. the nominee should provide at least three references at the time of nomination. The nominee is free to send any other material that he or she believes would be of value to the committee making the selection.

Nominations, which are due by March 21, 2014 should be sent to

The Retiree Center
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8339


CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation Receives Second Challenge Grant:

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation recently received a second $500 challenge grant from a CSU-ERFA member.  The donor will match all individual donations received by the foundation through June 30, 2014 up to a total of $500.  This follows the successful completion of its first $500 challenge.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides competitive grants to CSU-ERFA members to support their research and scholarly activities.  Donations in any amount from both CSU-ERFA members and the general public are welcomed.  Donations to the foundation generally are deductible from state and federal income taxes.

You may donate by sending a check to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.

CSU-ERFA members also have the option of setting up a regular monthly donation to the foundation from their CalPERS pension warrant.  If you wish to do that send a letter indicating the amount you want to donate each month (it must be a full dollar amount with a minimum of $1 per month) to CSU-ERFA at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.


The Sacramento Bee reported today (Feb. 4, 2014) that the California Public Policy Center, a Tustin-based conservative group, has launched an online database with detailed pension information from 37 California public pension funds for 2012.  The data, includes not only the name of the pension recipient, but also the agency from which the person retired and the number of years of service in addition to the amount of the retiree's pension benefit.

Concerns have been raised by CSU-ERFA and other retiree groups that detailed pension information such as that included in the California Public Policy Center database makes elderly pensioners vulnerable to identity theft and other scams.




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