Spring 2017 E-Advocate







Winter, 2017

Marilyn Warner

Even though the 2016 elections are behind us, there is still a tremendous amount of discussion about the process and the results. At the FEA Governance Board, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, NEA Board and AFT Retiree Committee meetings, the message has been the same:  it is time to move on. It is important that we continue our involvement and now start looking ahead to 2018.


Look at some of the issues, what the future holds, and how we can help facilitate the changes that must be made.


In 2018, many Members of Congress and 34 state Governors will be elected. These are the people who will take us into the next decade and we must be ever vigilant in making sure that our voices are heard by potential candidates.  They need to know our opinions on Social Security, Medicare and education, to name a few.  We need a seat at the table because we are the ones who will be affected by the decisions that are made.


As I write this, President Elect Trump is nominating Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.  Unfortunately, she is no friend of public education. She is a strong proponent of vouchers and charter schools; she has had no personal interaction with public schools having attended and sending her children to private schools.  As we know, charter schools receive their funding at the expense of public education.  We must do all we can to not let this happen.


Today there is a pushback with the unions.  As retirees, we especially know how valuable unions are to ensure that educators are treated fairly.  We cannot let the new administration destroy what we have worked so hard to build. 


In Florida, the legislative sessions begin on March 7 at noon.  One issue that we can expect to rear its ugly head again is guns on campuses.  How often have we heard about mass shootings lately?  College presidents and law enforcement officers have repeatedly said that this is a bad idea.  Is anyone listening?


All of this sounds like doom and gloom.  What can we do?  We need to take a positive approach and be proactive. We must keep ourselves informed about the issues and keep in touch with our representatives on both state and national levels.  Email, write, call and visit your Congress members and legislators.  Educators are respected members of communities and, as such, we need to be visible and speak to our friends and families about the issues.  We need to continue our support of educators who are facing the harsh realities of what may happen. We can volunteer on campaigns and support the candidates who support us.  We must be involved and take a positive stand.


Mohandas Gandhi said:  “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”  We can help implement the changes we need. The future of ourselves, our children and our grandchildren will depend on our actions.


Mattie C. Johnson

As FEA-Retired Vice President one of the charges is that of collecting and tallying the number of volunteer hours of retired members throughout the state for the year.  The final tally is presented at the FEA Delegate Assembly held in October to show the magnitude of the retired members and the effect they have on helping the active educators.

In an effort to give a FEA-Retired Lifetime membership to a FEA member tickets are available for sale.  The tickets are distributed by me in January to all FEA-Retired local presidents to sell. The person winning the FEA-Retired Lifetime membership will be announced at the FEA Delegate Assembly.

I have been involved in the NEA-Retired Florida M.O.R.E. (mobilize, organize, recruit, engage) Program. 

I serve as the FEA-Retired Silent Auction Chairperson collecting items that are auctioned at the FEA Delegate Assembly in October.  The proceeds of the Silent Auction go toward education grants that are distributed by the FEA-Retired Districts.

Remember as retirees we continue our involvement in the schools and our communities.

President Marilyn Warner 1Marilyn@tampabay.rr.com
Vice-President Mattie Johnson maajohnson@cfl.rr.com
Secretary Daneen Regn cdreg@comcast.net
Past President Vivian Silbiger vbsls@bellsouth.net
Staff Liaison Renita Bates   renita.bates@floridaea.com
District 1 Director Bonnie Smith LSUtigress@cox.net
District 2 Director Janice Whitty WhittyJ1@comcast.net
District 3 Director Charles Moskowitz chmoee@gmail.com
District 4 Director Sandy Rushlow  ladyrush19@aol.com
District 5 Director Allin Turner Aturn44@verizon.net
District 6 Director Sheila Cootes scootes@earthlink.net
District 7 Director Rhea McKinney Rhea.McKinney@polkteacher.com
District 8 Director Vanessa Tillman vanessatill@bellsouth.net
District 9 Director Leah Allen leah82165@gmail.com
District 10 Director Gerry Tiziani gtiz5555@aol.com


Each year, FEA-Retired presents Innovative Grant Awards to active educators to help them in their classrooms and allow them to do a project that they otherwise might not be able to do.  We are pleased to offer 20 grants yearly, two per each of our established districts.  We raise the money through the sale of our raffle tickets for a lifetime membership and our Silent Auction held at the Delegate Assembly. Congratulations to the 2016 winners:


District 1        Mary Elizabeth Duron and Amy Wombie

District 2        Sarah Parsons and Penny Turner

District 3        Candance Jordan and Kayleen Hernandez-Garay

District 5        Michele John and Lisa Johnson

District 6        Stephanie Whiote and Barbara Wilcox

District 7        Terri Stevens and Lynda Taylor

District 8        Sandra Southerly and Jacqueline Harris

District 9        Brenda Carlson and Vicki Santini

District 10      Jacqueline Torres-Quinones and Joan Roman


This year a special award in memory of Patti Lochner was presented in District 9 to Melissa Roof.  The money for this award was donated by FEA-Retired members specifically for this purpose.



Artie Leichner, UTD-Retired


Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (TX-03) introduced legislation that he believes will permanently save Social Security. When he introduced the legislation he said:


“For years I've talked about the need to fix Social Security so that our children and grandchildren can count on it to be there for them just like it’s there for today’s seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said Johnson. “My commonsense plan is the start of a fact-based conversation about how we do just that. I urge my colleagues to also put pen to paper and offer their ideas about how they would save Social Security for generations to come. Americans want, need and deserve for us to finally come up with a solution to saving this important program.” It sounds good, but like everything else, “the devil is in the details.” Obviously, they/we are concerned about the trust fund running out of money. This is a general summary of Congressman Johnson’s Bill:


  • “Modernizing how benefits are calculated to increase benefits for lower income workers while slowing the growth of benefits for higher income workers.
  • Gradually updating the full retirement age at which workers can claim benefits. The new retirement age better reflects Americans’ longer life expectancy while maintaining the age for early retirement.
  • Ensures benefits keep up with changes in the economy by using a more accurate measure of inflation for the annual cost-of-living-adjustment.
  • Protecting the most vulnerable Americans by increasing benefits for lower-income earners and raising the minimum benefit for those who earned less over the course of long careers.
  • Promoting flexibility and choice for workers by eliminating the Retirement Earnings Test for everyone. This allows workers to receive benefits—without a penalty—while they are working, or fully delay retirement and wait to receive benefits. For those who delay claiming benefits, they can receive increases in a partial lump sum or add it all to their monthly check.
  • Encouraging saving for retirement by phasing out Social Security’s tax on benefits for workers who continue to receive income after they retire or stop working due to a disability.
  • Targeting benefits for those most in need by limiting the size of benefits for spouses and children of high-income earners.
  • Treating all workers fairly when their Social Security benefits are calculated by using the same, proportional formula that looks at all of an individual’s earnings over the course of his or her career”. According to NPR’s Morning Edition, the “plan would make sure the long-term funding gap for Social Security is cut for everybody by decreasing the annual cost-of-living adjustment and raise the retirement age for citizens under the age of 50. Under Johnson's plan, a middle-class 65-year-old claiming benefits in 2030 — one with average annual earnings of about $49,000 over 30 years of covered employment — would experience a 17 percent benefit cut.”


Another confusing but enlightening discussion can be found in the Mother Jones article “Sam Johnson Wants to Cut Your Social Security Benefits.”


This article has a lot of charts and details, but this example shows how big the change could be, as well as how it can affect current retirees.


“Roughly speaking, people with extremely low average earnings over their working lives would see their benefits rise. That's good! Unfortunately, everyone with an average lifetime income over $22,000 would see their benefits slashed—in some cases by a lot. An income of $60,000 is not exactly a king's ransom, but nonetheless Johnson would cut benefits for these folks by a third.


“As usual with these plans, a lot of its provisions are phased in gradually over time. But unlike most of these plans, some of them start to kick in right away. This means that even people who are already retired would suffer benefit cuts. For example, Johnson's plan reduces the annual cost-of-living increase—and eliminates it entirely for anyone earning over $85,000—beginning in 2018.”


People are expecting change, despite assurances from candidate Trump that he would not touch Medicare or Social Security. A great description of the upcoming contest between Congress and the president-elect is in this op-ed piece. In any event be as informed as possible.



Short Notes

The FEA-Retired Leadership Training, as part of the Florida M.O.R.E. Program, will be held on March 2, 2017, at the Orlando CTA office.  The presidents, membership chairs, and one activist from each local will be invited to attend.  Additional information will follow.


At the April FEA-Retired Executive Board meeting, we will be electing an FEA-Retired representative to the FEA Governance Board. This is for a one-year period to fill a vacancy due to the death of Patti Lochner. All FEA-Retired members are eligible to run.  Please contact Marilyn Warner for information.


We are now collecting items for the Silent Auction, which we hold at the FEA Delegate Assembly.  Money raised helps fund our Innovative Grant Program.  Please donate new or gently used items.  Items are stored at the Orange CTA office.  Local presidents or district directors can bring your donations when they attend our meetings or items can be brought directly to the Silent Auction in Orlando.


For information about contacting your national, state and local elected official, go to http://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

Six Little Life Wisdoms

Once all villagers during a drought decided to pray for rain.  On the day of the prayer, all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella. That’s faith.

When you throw a baby in the air, she laughs because she knows you will catch her. That’s trust.

Every night we go to bed, without any insurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarm to wake up. That’s hope.

We plan big things for the New Year in spite of zero knowledge of the future. That’s confidence.

We see the world suffering, but still get married and have children. That’s love.

On an old man’s shirt was written a sentence : “I am not really 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years experience.” That’s attitude.

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