Beware of moneyed interests posing as grass-roots groups

Letters to the Editor
Published August 14, 2006

Re: Lawyerly PR: Take pig, add lipstick, Aug. 7.

The gist of this article is poking fun at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America for changing its name to "American Association for Justice."

The great irony in this article is that it was written by a hack from the "California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse." Talk about a pig!

Who is this group? A Google search found the following from the summary of a report by Carl Deal, a journalist, and Joanne Doroshow, an attorney:

"While CALAs (Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse groups) masquerade as grass-roots citizens groups spontaneously manifesting citizen anger against so-called 'lawsuit abuse' in their states, this report shows the CALAs to be part of a national corporate-backed network of front groups that receive substantial financial and strategic assistance from ATRA (American Tort Reform Association, co-founded in 1986 by the American Medical Association and the American Council of Engineering Companies, and now supported by a long list of corporations from 3M to Wyeth), APCO, (a major public relations firm with specialized services for organizing 'grass-roots' influence campaigns) and some of America's biggest corporations."

So CALAs are nothing more than lobbying front groups for the insurance industry, tobacco industry, pharmaceutical industry and host of other business.

I encourage you before you publish such rubbish to make sure you are not a vehicle for the lipstick-wearing pig known as Big Business who has a monetary stake in the ideas the St. Petersburg Times disseminates.

J. Steele Olmstead Esq., Tampa

A sickening insurance assault

I am physically ill and actually feel assaulted by the state of Florida! I, like a good majority of Pinellas County's "older" homeowners, have been canceled by my insurance carrier of 20 some years (with no claims made).

I was just given the cost of my new policy with Citizens of $4,978. The company also requires a home inspection costing an additional $65. But that's not all. No credit cards accepted, no monthly payments, thank you, and no quarterly payments.

The state is just going to rape me for half the cost upfront. That's $2,500, and the balance in 60 days. I dare say most people I know can't just whip out a check for $2,500.

It's no wonder I see For Sale signs up everywhere. People are going to lose their homes if they can't sell. We will have people sleeping in their cars!

I am appalled that our state is in such a disarray and has not yet solved this debacle. I will be writing to our representatives in Tallahassee and urge all of Pinellas to do the same. There has to be an end to this!

Gail Rubinsky, St. Petersburg

Accounting and economic convenience

Progress Energy profits surged 770 percent over the same period a year ago, that is 7.7 times, and yet we get a sharp rate increase. Why? Because, the $87,000,000 profit goes to offset losses in other states.

This is strange, when major insurance companies, despite record overall profits, do not use earnings in other states to offset any Florida losses. Instead, they cancel policies and double the rates. It is maddening, trying to find a solvent company to provide adequate coverage at anywhere near a reasonable cost.

I moved to Florida 3½ years ago. Although my Michigan home had twice the market value of my new Florida home, with property taxes, home insurance, and auto insurance, my annual expenses are more than double those in Michigan! Florida, a "great" place to live, especially if one is a retired senior living on a fixed income!

Fred Miller, Hernando

Support troops by bringing them home

Re: To Iraq and back for troops' pride, Aug. 11.

There is a major problem with Beverly Young's shirt. "Support the Troops - Defending our Freedom." It bears a very superficial slogan. It implies, as the Bush team does, that if one opposes the war in Iraq that one does not support the troops. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If Beverly Young indeed supports the troops, and I believe that she does, she should be using her influence and that of her husband, Rep. C.W. Bill Young, to get them out of Iraq in the near future.

Anyone who does not do all that they can to end this hell into which the Bush team has sent our young men and women is misguided. We must avoid the "Charge of the Light Brigade" mentality: "Ours is not to reason why, Ours is but to do and die."

David A. Cimino Sr., St. Petersburg

What would Lamont liberals fight for?

I would like to ask one question of the Ned Lamont wing of the Democratic Party: Is there something, or anyone, that you would put your life and family at risk to fight against (other than the Bush presidency)?

Is your personal comfort and secular orthodoxy so controlling that you cannot see that there are groups with whom you cannot negotiate to your advantage, cannot appease? I have made the uncomfortable choice that we must identify and fight Islamic haters where they are and not in our country. Is this so hard to understand?

This wing of the Democratic Party must make the Jewish liberals nervous. Do you think the Lamont wing will support Israel in its struggles to maintain its nationhood? (If you, do read the blogs. Their anti-Zionist content is scary.)

This election will give us a dramatic look at how far the American dream has fallen. Are we so in love with our comfort that we will surrender to Islamic haters?

James Anderson, Palm Harbor

The sense of a designed world

Re: A victory for science, and sense, editorial, Aug. 7.

Even 5-year-olds know that a sand castle or tree fort was designed and made by someone. But then they enter a place of learning, and we try to brainwash (oops! - teach) them that much more complex things like DNA and the human body were not designed or made but came into being through the magic of natural selection (loss of information) and mutation (damage of information).

And even though we instruct that child not to believe in fairy tales, we as adults abandon that common sense and hold firmly to the notion that frogs turn into princes, and molecules turn into mankind and microprocessors.

What is so scary about admitting that the myriad of plant and animal forms with all of their peculiarities seem to be designed? Evidently, that kind of common sense is no longer allowed in the classroom.

Gary Ripple, St. Petersburg

Whiny Keillor should wise up

Garrison Keillor is an engaging writer, especially when he is in a fantasy mood. But when he is in a whining mood, as in his Aug. 10 column (What a 64-year-old guy believes in), he loses me.

He is put off with people at his birthday party who are encouraging him to enjoy himself in their company. Instead he only wants to review his disappointments with his life. He focuses on his lack of control over people (his children), and events (baseball games). He sees life as "one disappointment after another." At age 64, he wishes to be 43. What for - to live those 21 years of frustration again?!

I am well past 64. Life, as I see it, is one opportunity after another. Every day is an opportunity for learning, for teaching, for finding some humor. Of course there are disappointments and frustrations, but they are only background for the foreground of living.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz


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