Member REPORT - Colorado PERA

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Member REPORT - Colorado PERA Powered By Docstoc
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               Legislative                                               PERA and                                               PERA Life
               Update                                                    Social Security                                        Insurance

                        A publication for members of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association                      March 2009

                                              Member REPORT
       INSIDE                   Complex Issues Deserve Complete Analysis
                                You may have heard that some are calling for          Together these tools
PERA Myths
                                PERA to act now to address the impact of the          will allow PERA’s
Page 2
                                global market decline on the PERA portfolio.          Board of Trustees to
                                They want the Colorado General Assembly to            propose a complete
Board Election in May           pass legislation during the 2009 session to           package for the 2010
Page 6                          modify the current benefit structure of PERA.         legislation session
                                                                                      rather than taking
                                I’ve written here before about the importance         piecemeal approach
Retirees Give Back in           of PERA’s diversified portfolio and long-term
Retirement                                                                            that would lead
                                approach to investing and paying benefits.            to PERA returning
Page 7                          With all the noise in the media, I wanted you                                       Meredith Williams
                                                                                      annually to the General
                                to know why PERA believes it is in the best           Assembly to seek              Colorado PERA
Long-Term Care Update           interest of both its members and other state                                        Executive Director
                                                                                      legislation tweaking
Page 7                          taxpayers to work toward proposing legislation        particular aspects of
                                during the 2010 legislative session that              the system.
                                addresses the situation in a comprehensive
Schedule of Colorado            and effective manner.                                 Because the stakes are so high, it’s
PERA Meetings                                                                         imperative that we do everything
Page 8                             PERA needs a complete picture of                   in our power to get it right. The
                                   its assets before recommending any                 comprehensive proposal for legislative
                                   changes. Complete, audited information             action in 2010 will be based on
                                   on the value of all of PERA’s investments,         accurate calculations and on a complete
                                   including assets such as real estate and           picture of how the changes will impact
                                   private equity, will not be available until        PERA’s funded status and its members.
                                   the end of May, after the Legislature has
                                   adjourned for the year. This timing is         Some of you have written me to suggest
                                   normal for the receipt of this information     specific changes for improving PERA’s
                                   each year.                                     funded status. I appreciate
                                                                                  your input and want to let       Be sure to sign up
                                   PERA needs to have a complete picture          you know that every aspect
                                   of how any changes would impact its                                             for PERA Alerts and
                                                                                  of the PERA benefit program
                                   bottom line before recommending a                                               you’ll receive the
                                                                                  will be evaluated by PERA’s
                                   specific course of action. PERA’s actuaries                                     latest updates and
                                                                                  actuaries. This actuarial
                                   are currently “pricing” every component of     analysis will be used by         information so that you
                                   the benefit structure of PERA. This process    the PERA Board of Trustees       can make your voice
                                   will be concluded in the next several          to develop its legislative       heard. To sign up, go
                                   months and involves a comprehensive            proposal for 2010. As            to the Be Active in
                                   review of all of PERA’s 431,000 members’       these recommendations are        the Future of Your
                                   benefits owed going forward. To assist         finalized, we will be sharing    Retirement System
                                   the Board in determining which changes         them with you. I invite          link off the home page,
                                   to recommend, a sophisticated model is         your feedback at                 and click on Register
                                   being built to analyze the interaction and             for PERA Alerts.
                                   total impact of individual benefit changes
                                   on PERA’s funded status.
                                    PERA Myths
                                    Listed below are a few myths that have been                 Myth
                                    circulating through the grapevine about PERA.               Closing PERA and having new public employees
                                    We hope to put your mind at ease by giving you              join a 401(k)-type retirement plan would save
                                    the facts.                                                  Colorado’s public employers and taxpayers a
                                                                                                lot of money.
                                    PERA is a drain on Colorado taxpayers.                      Reality
                                                                                                Research has shown that defined benefit plans
                                                                                                are cost effective when compared to their
                                    In 2008, Colorado PERA paid over $2 billion in
                                                                                                401(k)-like sisters (see the National Institute on
                                    benefits to retirees who reside in Colorado. From
                                                                                                Retirement Security research page at
                                    these benefit payments, PERA withheld and remitted
    Did You Know?                   $43 million to the Colorado Department of Revenue
                                                                                        Arguments against defined
                                                                                                benefit plans like PERA do not account for the
    Members can use the PERA        for income taxes. The average retirement benefit is
                                                                                                potential future cost to society when retirement
    Alert system to write a         $2,658 per month and relatively modest when it’s
                                                                                                account balances are insufficient to last through
                                    understood that PERA serves as both a retirement
    letter to the editor of their                                                               retirement, especially in a state where no Social
                                    plan and a replacement for Social Security for
    local paper.                    most members. The PERA retirement benefit is an
                                                                                                Security safety net exists for public employees.

       Click on the Be Active       attractive part of public employers’ compensation           Myth
       in the Future of Your        packages and attracts high caliber employees who            Colorado PERA doesn’t respond to negative
                                    could make more money in the private sector.                or incorrect information in the media.
       Retirement System
       link off the home page.      Myth                                                        Reality
                                    The PERA Board is going to change benefits and I            Colorado PERA addresses factual errors in stories
       Click on the Legislative     won’t have enough time to plan my retirement. If            appearing in the media, communicates with
       Action Center icon in        I’m eligible, I should go ahead and retire in 2009          key reporters, and submits guest columns to
       the green box.               even if I’d planned on working longer.                      newspapers. Of course, PERA does not control the
                                                                                                content of newspapers, and our side of the story
       Scroll down and click on     Reality
                                                                                                may not always get told in the media no matter
                                    Only the Colorado General Assembly can change
       the Media Guide box.                                                                     what we do. PERA posts a wealth of information
                                    PERA benefit and contribution levels. While the
                                                                                                in the Latest News section of the Web site and we
       Search for your paper        PERA Board is scheduled to receive information from
                                                                                                encourage members to get PERA news directly
       in the drop-down             actuarial analysis in 2009 that probably will result
                                                                                                from this source.
       box under Colorado           in proposed legislation to the General Assembly
                                    during the 2010 session, any benefit structure
                                    recommendations made will be mindful of how
       Click on the Letter to       they might impact member behavior. Any new law
       the Editor link to write     changes will also have a future effective date. Plenty
       your e-mail.                 of advance notice of these changes will be given to
                                    the PERA membership so they can make
                                    an informed decision.

                                     Member Report
    Denver Main Office                      Westminster Office                Web site⁄e-mail                      Communications Director
    1300 Logan Street                       1120 W. 122nd Avenue                           Katie Kaufmanis
    Denver, CO 80203                        Westminster, CO 80234                                                  Editor⁄Writer
                                                                              Send forms and address changes to
    Denver Main Office Hours                Westminster Office Hours          PERA                                 Madalyn Knudsen
    (Mountain time)                         (Mountain time)                   PO Box 5800                          Staff Writers
    7:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m. Monday—Friday       Monday 7:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.        Denver, CO 80217-5800                Tina Cordova
                                            Tuesday 7:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.                                            Lisa Fedak
    Customer Service Center Hours           Wednesday 1:00 p.m.—4:30 p.m.     Send/e-mail comments to
    (Mountain time)                                                                                                Layout
                                            Thursday 7:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.      PERA Communications Division
    7:00 a.m.—5:30 p.m. Monday—Thursday                                                                            Cathy Heyer
                                            Friday 7:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m.        1300 Logan Street
    7:00 a.m.—4:30 p.m. Friday
                                                                              Denver, CO 80203-2386
    Phone                                                                                                          Brian Bandimere
    303-832-9550 or 1-800-759-7372 (PERA)

2     Colorado PERA Member Report • March 2009
Legislation Proposes to Consolidate State
DC Plans Under PERA
Senate Bill 09-66: Consolidation of State Defined        This bill was amended by the Senate
Contribution Plans Under PERA                            Appropriations Committee and is with the Senate.
Sen. Lois Tochtrop (Thornton) and Rep. Dianne
Primavera (Broomfield) introduced Senate Bill
09-66 that would consolidate the State’s defined
contribution (DC) plans under PERA.
As recommended by the Legislative Audit
Committee, this bill would transfer the
administration of the Public Officials’ and
Employees’ Defined Contribution (State DC plan),
and the State 457 Plan to PERA on July 1, 2009.
PERA staff has been involved in discussions with all
parties on this matter.
Under current law, certain members hired by the
State on or after January 1, 2006, have the option
of joining the PERA Defined Benefit (DB) Plan, the
PERA DC Plan, or the State DC plan, administered         Other Legislation Affecting PERA
by three providers: Great West, ICMA, and Hartford.      Senate Bill 09-157: CU Retirement Plan
Eligible new hires after the consolidation would         Eligibility PERA
choose between the PERA DB and PERA DC Plans.
                                                         Introduced by Sen. Paula Sandoval (Denver) and
As currently drafted, upon transfer to the PERA          Rep. Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (Longmont), this bill
DC Plan, current participants in the State DC plan       would apply to certain employees of the University
would keep their vesting schedule, which allows          of Colorado. It would allow new employees who
for immediate vesting in the employer portion of         are members of PERA, to choose to continue their
contributions. These grandfathered State DC plan         PERA membership or join the University’s Optional
participants would not be eligible to switch to the      Retirement Plan (ORP). This choice would be
PERA DB Plan in years two through five (also called      irrevocable. New employees who do not actively
the “pension mulligan”).                                 make a choice would be placed in the PERA plan.
After the effective date of transfer, all new DC         This bill has been passed by the Senate.
plan participants would be subject to the vesting
schedule of the PERA DC Plan, in which employer
contributions are vested over the initial five-year
period, and would be eligible to switch to the DB
Plan in years two through five.                          DPSRS Update
Senate Bill 09-66 also allows certain public officials   At the time this Member Report went to press,
and elected employees who were eligible to               Colorado PERA, the Denver Public Schools, and
participate in the State DC plan prior to January        the Denver Public Schools Retirement System
1, 2006, to elect to change between the PERA DC          (DPSRS) negotiations were continuing.
Plan and PERA’s DB Plan during the annual open
enrollment period.
If approved by the Legislature and signed into law
by the Governor, the administration of the State
of Colorado 457 Plan would also be transferred
to PERA on July 1, 2009. Great West Retirement
Services the current 457 Plan service provider,
would continue to administer the 457 Plan under
PERA’s oversight.
Questions should be directed to Suzanne Kubec,
State DC and 457 Plan Administrator,
at 303-866-3954.

                                                                                          Colorado PERA Member Report • March 2009   3
                           PERA and Social Security
                           Most PERA members do not pay into                                   Q. Do I need substantial earnings
                           the Social Security system while                                       to earn a Social Security
                           working for a PERA employer.                                             benefit?
                           However, many PERA members
                           may have had previous private                                              A. No. If you have $4,360 of
                           employment that was covered                                                Social Security-covered wages
                           by Social Security or are eligible                                         in 2009, you will earn four
                           for Social Security benefits as the                                        quarters toward the minimum
                           spouse or widow(er) of a worker                                            40 quarters (10 years) that
                           covered by Social Security. When                                           you need to qualify for a Social
                           Social Security was enacted in                                            Security benefit. The substantial
                           1935, it specifically excluded public                                   earnings requirement only applies
                           employees who were covered by their                                   to the WEP.
                           own pension systems.
                                                                                     Q. How much will the WEP reduction be in
                           Members who are counting on a future Social                  the Social Security benefit?
                           Security benefit to supplement their PERA benefit
                           might be surprised to learn that their expected           A. It depends on your individual situation, but
                           Social Security benefits may be reduced because of           in no case will the reduction be more than
                           their PERA membership. PERA benefits are never               $372 in 2009, nor more than one-half of your
                           reduced because the PERA retiree is also receiving a         PERA benefit amount. The reduction is less in
                           Social Security benefit.                                     many cases.

                           Social Security has two reductions that apply to          Q. I was planning on receiving my
                           Social Security benefits received by PERA retirees—          husband’s Social Security income of
                           the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the             $520 a month. I was shocked to learn
                           Government Pension Offset (GPO).                             that if he died I would actually only
                                                                                        receive $96 a month of his Social
                           The WEP applies to your Social Security benefit if           Security benefit because I’ll be a PERA
                           you paid into both Social Security and PERA. This is         retiree. When did this go into effect?
                           a formula Social Security uses to reduce the Social
                           Security benefit payable to you based on your             A. In 1983, the GPO went into effect, which can
                           earnings and payroll tax contributions to the Social         reduce or eliminate the Social Security benefit
                           Security system.                                             for spouses, divorced spouses, and surviving
                                                                                        spouses who also receive a pension based
                           The GPO applies to PERA retirees who also receive            on their own work that was not covered by
                           a Social Security spousal or widow(er) benefit and           Social Security, such as PERA. With the GPO,
                           it reduces the spousal Social Security benefit by            the amount of spouse’s divorced spouse’s or
     Refunded              two-thirds of the PERA benefit or in some cases, it          widow(er)’s Social Security benefit is reduced
     PERA                  reduces the spousal Social Security benefit entirely.        by two-thirds of the amount that the individual
     Accounts                                                                           earns from his or her PERA (or other non-Social
     It is PERA’s          Listed below are some commonly asked questions               Security) benefit.
     understanding         we receive about Social Security.
     that if you are                                                                 Q. Will I not be eligible for Medicare if I
                           Q. What does “substantial” earnings                          receive a reduced Social Security benefit
     eligible for a           mean?                                                     because I’m also receiving a PERA
     Social Security
                           A. “Substantial” earnings is the earnings threshold          benefit?
     benefit now or in
     the future, your         for Social Security-covered work that is required      A. You can still receive Medicare at age 65 based
     benefit with Social      to earn credits for future Social Security benefits.      upon the Social Security work record for you
     Security may             The 2009 threshold for substantial earnings               or your spouse even if you have a reduced or
                              is $19,800 per year. The substantial earnings             eliminated Social Security benefit.
     be reduced as a
                              amount is increased on an annual basis
     result of refunding      typically according to inflation. When a person
     your PERA                receives substantial earnings and pays the FICA
     account.                 tax under a Social Security employer, credits
                              are earned to qualify for a future Social
                              Security benefit.

4   Colorado PERA Member Report • March 2009
Q. If I’m not eligible for Social Security, will
   I not be eligible for Medicare?
A. Even though you may not have earned a Social
   Security benefit or qualify for a spousal Social
   Security benefit, you qualify for Medicare Part A
   (hospitalization coverage) at age 65 as long as
   you are or were married to someone who earned
   a Social Security benefit. In addition, all of the
   Medicare plans in the PERACare Health Benefits
   Program include inpatient hospitalization
   coverage for retirees and dependents who
   do not qualify for Medicare through Social
   Security covered work or marriage requirements.
   You do not pay any additional premium for
   this coverage.                                       Contact Social Security
Q. Is it true that I can avoid reducing my              Even though PERA staff members are
   Social Security benefit if I withdraw my             knowledgeable about the general provisions of WEP
   full PERA account when I retire instead              and the GPO, the Social Security Administration
   of taking monthly pension payments?                  determines how an individual’s Social Security
                                                        benefit will be affected. Call Social Security at
A. Although Social Security makes the final             1-800-772-1213 or TTY for the deaf and hard of
   determination on this, representatives from the      hearing at 1-800-325-0778.
   Social Security Administration have advised
   PERA that “cashing out” the account makes no         More Information
   difference. The Social Security benefit is subject     Read the PERA & Social Security brochure;
   to the adjustment, regardless of how you receive       download the PDF file or order the brochure
   payment of your PERA retirement funds.                 online at
                                                           Read the Social Security pamphlets #05-10007,
                                                           Government Pension Offset, and #05-10045,
                                                           The Windfall Elimination Provision.

    Windfall Elimination Provision                          Government Pension Offset
   Affects PERA members who do not contribute             Affects a PERA member who also receives a
   to Social Security.                                    Social Security spousal or widow(er) benefit.
   Does not apply to members who qualified for            Does not apply to PERA members who started
   a PERA retirement benefit before 1986.                 receiving a spousal Social Security benefit prior
                                                          to July 1, 1983.
   Reduces the earned Social Security benefit             Reduces the spousal Social Security benefit
   payable by using a formula that is based on            by two-thirds of the earned PERA benefit—it
   earnings and payroll tax contributions to the          may completely eliminate the Social Security
   Social Security system.                                benefit.
   No reduction if there are 30 or more years            Use the GPO Online Calculator to calculate
   of “substantial” Social Security earnings; the        your estimated Social Security spousal or
   reduction is lower if there are 21 to 29 years        widow(er) benefits— go to www.SocialSecurity.
   of substantial earnings.                              gov/gpo-wep.
    Use the WEP Online Calculator to estimate
    your Social Security benefit if you are
    affected by WEP—go to www.SocialSecurity.

                                                                                           Colorado PERA Member Report • March 2009   5
    PERA Life Insurance
    Open Enrollment April 1-May 31, 2009
                                                                                                                   Five Reasons to
    PERA offers                                               If you do not enroll during an annual open           Join PERA’s Life
    members a                                                 enrollment period, you may apply for coverage        Insurance Program
    voluntary group                                           at any time while you’re an active PERA
    decreasing-term                                           member, but evidence of insurability will            1. Accidental and
    life insurance plan                                       be required.                                            Dismemberment benefits
    administered by                                                                                                   are included in your
    Unum. During the                                       Coverage                                                   coverage.
    upcoming annual                                           Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D)
    open enrollment                                                                                                2. Coverage for spouses and
                                                              benefits are included in your coverage.                 dependent children at no
    period, members
    have the chance                                           Coverage for your spouse and dependent                  additional charge.
    to purchase this                                          children is included with your coverage
    insurance without                                                                                              3. Survivor financial
    evidence of                                               You may continue your life insurance coverage           counseling services
    insurability (evidence of good health). Members           if you leave PERA-covered employment and                are included with your
    can purchase 1, 2, 3, or 4 units of this insurance.       leave your member account at PERA.                      coverage.
    Enrollment                                                Your coverage will automatically continue if         4. Coverage may continue
                                                              you retire unless you cancel it in writing.             into retirement or after
       If you are not already enrolled for the
                                                              You may not begin coverage after you retire.            leaving PERA-covered
       maximum of 4 units, Unum will mail you an
       enrollment kit at the end of March.
                                                              You may purchase additional units of coverage
       You may enroll online if you have a PERA PIN.          (up to 4 units) if you are already enrolled.         5. Premium payments
                                                                                                                      through payroll
       You may also enroll by completing and               If you have any questions about the Life Insurance         deduction or automatic
       returning the paper enrollment forms to Unum        Program, you may call Unum toll-free at
                                                                                                                      deductions from your
       by May 31, 2009.                                    1-866-277-1649.
                                                                                                                      bank account.

    Upcoming Board Election in May
    In May 2009, Colorado PERA will hold an election       PERA members from the State and School
    for seats on the Board of Trustees for the following   Divisions will be sent ballots in early May. PERA
    positions:                                             retirees from the School, Local Government, and
                                                           Judicial Divisions will also be sent ballots in early
       Two State Division positions, including a           May. Returned ballots must be postmarked by
       Higher Education position                           May 31, 2009.
       Two School Division positions                       PERA will be holding elections for the seats
       One retiree position (to be elected by School,      currently held by Susan Beeman from the School
       Local Government, or Judicial Division retirees)    Division, M. Judy Chavez from the State Division
                                                           (Higher Education), Maryann Motza from the
    The Board of Trustees meets at least five times        State Division, Scott Noller from the School
    per year and is responsible for adopting the rules     Division, and Carole Wright, a retiree, all of whose
    and policies for the administration of PERA.           terms expire June 30, 2009.
    Elected Board members serve without pay, but are
    reimbursed for necessary expenses.

6    Colorado PERA Member Report • March 2009
Retirees Give Back in Retirement
Survey shows that 81 percent of PERA retirees volunteer in local communities
A new survey shows that even after retirement,        entities in Colorado, including school districts,
Colorado public employees remain committed to         the State, and local governments.
public service.
                                                      “These results quantify something we see every
The survey of 725 Colorado PERA retirees              day—PERA retirees remain committed to their
found that 81 percent said they participate in a      communities long after they leave their careers
volunteer activity at least once a month.             in public service,” said Colorado PERA Executive
                                                      Director Meredith Williams.
In many cases, those volunteer commitments                                                                            About This Survey
are extensive. More than one out of five of the
                                                                                                                      In late 2008, the PERA
retirees volunteer at least 16 hours per month,
more than a quarter volunteer for seven to 15                                                                         Board directed PERA staff
hours per month, and a third volunteer for one           As an active PERA member, what types of volunteering         to survey a statistically valid
to six hours a month.                                    and philanthropic activities do you do in addition to        sample of PERA retirees
                                                                                                                      to get input on the PERA
PERA retirees are most likely to volunteer at:           your regular work as a public employee? If you are
                                                                                                                      retiree health care program
                                                         involved in such activities, let us know! The Member
   A religious institution (34 percent)                                                                               called PERACare. As part
                                                         Report will soon feature Colorado PERA members who           of this survey, we included
   A local school (18 percent)                           give back to their communities through volunteerism.         a section on volunteerism to
   A group fighting a specific disease                   If you are one of these members, let us know so we can       gauge the level of volunteer
   (16 percent)                                          spotlight you and your good deeds!                           efforts performed by PERA
   Their retirement community (14 percent)               Write to:                                                    retirees in their communities.
   Local cultural institutions (14 percent)                                                                           These are the results of that
                                                         PERA Member Report Editor                                    portion of the PERACare
Among those who don’t volunteer, many cited              1300 Logan Street                                            Satisfaction Survey. The
the fact that they are caring for an elderly family      Denver, CO 80203-2386
                                                                                                                      survey data was analyzed by
member as the primary reason.                            E-mail:
                                                                                                                      Kuperschmidt Research on
PERA provides benefits for over 80,000 retirees,                                                                      behalf of PERA.
with nearly 90 percent still calling Colorado
home. These retirees previously worked for public

                                                                                            Long-Term Care
                                      In Memoriam                                           Update
                                      A long-time PERA Trustee, Frank                       At its meeting on November 21, 2008,
                                      Taulli, died on December 5, 2008.                     PERA’s Board of Trustees approved the
                                      Frank served on the PERA Board                        recommendation of its long-term care
                                      from 1977 to 1996 as a Trustee                        program manager to add MetLife as a new
                                      elected by School Division members.                   insurer beginning in 2009. MetLife is pleased
                                      During his 19 years on the Board,                     to have been selected, and is working closely
                                      Frank served as both chairman                         with PERA to develop a customized program
                                      and vice-chairman. Frank was an                       for PERA members and retirees. Members and
                                      elementary school principal in                        retirees interested in purchasing new policies
                                      Pueblo City School District 60 and                    with MetLife will have the opportunity to do
                                      had worked 40 years in public                         so later this year. Existing long-term care
                Frank Taulli          education before retiring.                            policies continue in force with current long-
                                                                                            term care insurers.

                                                                                                   Colorado PERA Member Report • March 2009             7
                                                                                                                                                                                                       U.S. POSTAGE
                                                                                                                                                                                                       DENVER, CO
                                                                                                                                                                                                      PERMIT NO. 45

5/17 (REV 3--09) 200M

    Schedule of Colorado PERA Meetings
                                                              MM_09:MemberReport 2/25/09 9:57 AM Page 1

    In January, all PERA members were mailed a schedule
    of PERA meetings that will be held from January                                                                                                                              Weather Conditions and
    through July 2009. The schedule is produced and                                                                                                                              PERA Meetings
    mailed twice a year to all active PERA members.
                                                                                                                                                                                 Inclement weather in your area on
                                                                                                          Schedule of Colorado PERA Meetings

    All PERA member meetings for the entire year are                                                                                                                             the date scheduled for a meeting,
                                                                                                                                                             January—July 2009

    available on the PERA Web site in order for members                                                                                                                          appointment, or workshop may require
    to better plan their attendance at meetings throughout                                                                                                                       Colorado PERA to cancel the scheduled
    the year. You may search for meetings in your area                                                                                                                           meeting. Please check PERA’s Web
    without having a PERA PIN.                                                                                                                                                   site under Latest News or call PERA’s
                                                                                                                       401(k) Meetings

                                                                                                                       Benefit Information Meetings

                                                                                                                       Group Workshops
                                                                                                                                                                                 Customer Service Center at 1-800-759-
                                                                                                                       PERACare Information Meetings

                                                                                                                       Purchasing Service Credit Workshops                       7372 or 303-832-9550 to find out the
                                                                                                                                                                                 status of the meeting.
                                                                                                                       Retirement Process Meetings

    “Bailout” is Word of the Year
    The American Dialect Society chose “bailout” as the word of the year at its annual
    convention in January. Words or phrases selected by the Society do not have to be brand-
    new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year. Other nominees for
    the 2008 word of the year include the following: Barack Obama, lipstick on a pig, change,
    shovel-ready, and game-changer.

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