Head of RPEA resigns with scorching letter - Must Read Alaska
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Head of RPEA resigns with scorching letter

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The head of the Retired Public Employees of Alaska announced her retirement, effective Aug. 1, with a letter criticizing several members of the executive board, particularly the board secretary, Stephanie Rhoades.

Sharon Hoffbeck, who has served as RPEA president in an volunteer position for the past nine years, has a strong record of defending the rights of public employment retirees, including fighting to stop the diminishment of retiree health care benefits. A lawsuit she initiated against the state is expected go to trial at the end of August. Her resignation could imperil that lawsuit, which is fighting to save the medical benefits of retirees.

Hoffbeck said that the office manager and medical information committee director are also resigning due to the hostile environment she says has been created in the workplace by Rhoades.

Sources say that Rhoades, a former judge who has been on the board for about a year, has been constantly harassing Hoffbeck in what appears to be an attempt to force her out of the organization.

“It’s been pure hell since Stephanie came on the board,” said a MRAK source, who concurred with Hoffbeck’s assessment of the situation.

“There are several on the executive board who have allowed themselves to become convinced by the board secretary, Stephanie Rhoades, that my management style is not in the best interests of RPEA members and by extension, all retirees. She seems to disregard or ignore the many achievements under my leadership such as the completely successful DVA lawsuit, the establishment of the Retiree Health Plan Advisory Board, the hiring of an accounting firm to help assure fiscal responsibility rather than depending on volunteers who have been elected but may not have the appropriate skills, and the medical diminishment lawsuit that is currently set for trial at the end of August. Her complete resistance to my leadership has created a very hostile environment that I am no longer willing to endure,” Hoffbeck wrote.

“I expect you will hear varying stories from other sources that differ from my explanation. I leave you to draw your own conclusions based on your own experience with RPEA while I was the president,” Hoffbeck continued.

“There is still much to be done to resist and fight the state’s plan to reduce our retiree medical benefits as much as possible. I plan to continue to be involved in helping prevent this ever-increasing loss of retiree benefits, just not as president of RPEA,” she wrote.

The organization represents the interests of not only state retirees, but municipal and school district retirees statewide. The organization has about 5,000 members who pay about $35 a year to keep the organization going.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Thank you Sharon for your service, you’ve done a great job considering the challenges. I’ll remember Rhoades’ name on our next vote .

  • 2 things.
    Stephanie sounds like a Karen.
    We do need to reduce ALL benefits for the “trough eaters” aka state workers – otherwise we will be bankrupt as a state.

    • True. In order to fund cushy retirements for state workers, you will have to forfeit your future PFDs. But don’t worry, the private sector will keep soldiering on (if not completely killed off by the next lock-downs).

      • Excuse me! We have worked many years and paid into this retirement plan. What have people on Medicaid paid into what they have given to them.

        I am a very strong conservative but after working 30 years and paying into the retirement system and then to have it taken away is not what I consider a very reasonable and fair solution.

        Why don’t we cut out other programs that are draining the State, but do not take from us who have paid for these benefits.

        • But it’s not being taken away is it? It’s being reduced, to something more akin to what the rest of us get?

    • Exactly.

    • What’s a Karen sound like? The ones I know talk like the rest of us.

    • Good luck finding someone to plow your road, your airport’s runways, someone to respond to your collision, make sure your favorite restaurant isn’t a botulism lab, process your landed property transfers, record your will, etc.

      Most folks I know who resent state employees retirements don’t know these things:

      1. The pension system is dead in state employment except for those who were hired a long time ago. Most state retirees pay for all or most of their health insurance.
      2. Most state employees can make a lot more money in private employment. Service is a sacrifice for most.
      3. The state taxes you pay are so minimal as to call them almost non-existent. If you’re paying a property or sales tax, better go talk to your local government.

      Sorry if you have spent a career in a low or non skill job, or made poor investment or career decisions.

      Public employees are everyone’s favorite scapegoat. Few know how much they receive from the state gov’t (even their local gov’ts get state grants…FDs, EMTs, schools, etc.) and so many want everything for free. Crybabies

      • Sounds on-par with “Ve vill shoot vone hostage every hour until our demands are met”.

        “Public employees are everyone’s favorite scapegoat.” Bankrupt California has entered the commenting section…

        Schools..?? Seriously?? Alaska teachers are in the top 10 for pay, YET Alaska is 48th in best schools. Sounds like a crappy return on investment.

        Thank you, you are part of the reason why Alaskans are looking a $525 PFD checks this year.

        • Listen to the cries about losing their health insurance. Doesn’t everyone who turns 65 go immediately on to Uncle Sugars Medicare/ Medicaid? Sounds like some serious fat for the state to trim from the fat-filled budget.

          • Yes you go on Medicare at 65 but it is only Hospital and you must pay for the added medical and RX.

            I am not a Teacher but support staff for a School District with 30 years worth of contribution to the retirement plan. You are all thinking that the medical benefits are free to the State retired employee’s but you would be wrong. If you want medical, eyes, and hearing you pay a fee every month for this.

      • Yeah we can privatize snow removal and such through contract and bid process, for work zones. Better return on investment and less state titty babies.

      • The truth is good enough. Anyone hired before 2006 is in a defined benefit pension system, even those with a break in service. Your initial date of hire into a PERS/TRS eligible position determines the tier you’re in. Those with a DOH in 2006 and earlier have state paid health insurance, though the employee has to pay for DVA and has a 20% co-pay. All must enroll in Medicare at 65 and Medicare becomes the primary insurer. Even with PERS as a supplemental insurance, it has become difficult to see a primary care doctor because so many will not bill Medicare.

        Most State employees do work that isn’t done in the private sector. The skills that get you $100K and a blue suit with the State gets you $10/hr. and a blue vest in the private sector; you’re an entry level employee. The only exception is degreed or credentialed professionals and those jobs are scarce, competitive, and not nearly as secure as State jobs.

        In the trades and crafts a tradesman working construction can make significantly more per hour than the State pays for O&M work; the State contracts for almost all construction. That said, a State employee is going to get his 2080 hours minimum unless he’s seasonal or temporary, and the construction guy is lucky to get much over 1000 hrs except in boom times.

        You can qualify for the entry level of most State job classes in the clerical, administrative, and professional class series with a HS diploma or a GED and a year of work experience. A general college degree will get you to the technical or low-level supervisory positions to start. You can then work your way up with no additional education all the way to the top of most class series, though the very top levels may require additional education or certification. The HS Diploma or GED will get you $10 – $12/hr. and minimal if any benefits in service, retail, or hospitality. It gets you two to three times that much with full benefits with the State.

        And finally, since Walker every man, woman, and child has been paying significant State taxes in the form of diminished PFDs. Every Alaskan’s PFD has been dramatically reduced to support the unionized public employee racket, the education racket, the healthcare racket, and the welfare racket. Alaskans not beneficiaries of those rackets don’t matter.

    • You are so misinformed on state workers.

  • Sounds like a concentrated effort needs to be made by public employees retirees to send Ms. Rhoades packing.

  • Stephanie Rhoades was the most disliked and uncooperative District Ct judge of around 14 of them in the Anchorage area. She refused to carry her fair share of the case load she was assigned. She was a constant complainer that nobody wanted to be around. So it is no surprise that she has continued her decisive behavior while serving as secretary of RPEA.

  • How does one get on this board? Who put Ms. Rhoades in that position?

  • Stephanie Rhoades. She got her first major brownie points as an assistant DA prosecuting the Operation Rescue participants who saved a confirmed human life in 1988 in Anchorage by blocking abortion clinic doors while counselors offered the women showing up that morning for abortions with financed alternatives, including adoption. The Defense of Necessity (trespass being a lesser evil than even legalized homicide) was the legal defense, but the courts would not have it, and threatened the defense not to even utter those words in the presence of the jury. Her performance for the Forces of Death and Mayhem secured her a future of favor and increasing opportunity for The Beast. Watch this one: the next Tony Knowles might well place her on the Alaska Supreme Court.

  • Public employee union……
    I wonder who they endorsed 2008 ?
    Who was it that gave us affordable health care act?
    Since this happened It’s painful to even use my union provided insurance

  • Jealousy and power make for much evil among humans. I feel your immense pain.
    Thank you so very much, Mrs. Hoffbeck, for all of your hard work and concern for retirees.

  • I was appointed to the RPEA board as the Communications Director by Mrs. Sharon Hoffbeck in June of 2020. I originally was not real excited about it, but grew to love the organization and how it supported our retired public employees. I was proud of my job and the positive direction of the board, until replaced this last election. I cannot thank Sharon Hoffbeck, Brad Owens and Kris Warren enough, for their leadership and constructive work for the direction of RPEA.
    However, the destructive and often lunatic rantings of Ms. Stephanie Rhodes, were a vile and troublesome insight to a person with NO other issue than to wage war with those that didn’t agree with her. I find it horrifying that her outbursts and attacks are going to terminate a successful group of people who want to work for the good of our organization. Ms. Rhodes acts like a vindictive child when she doesn’t get her way and disrupts the meetings of the RPEA Board.
    I would fully support Mrs. Hoffbeck’s return to the board and ask Ms. Rhodes to immediately resign as RPEA secretary. The future of the RPEA Board’s survival and positive benefits for the RPEA membership depends on this immediate action.

    Respectfully,
    Duncan L. Shackelford
    Retired Teacher

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