Today's Letters: Home investment turns into a financial liability

Published April 27, 2007

House panel okays bill to raise insurance rates April 21, story 

I was in disbelief when I read that Rep. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, has drafted legislation (HB 1223) that would give private insurers "an easier time getting rate increases." Rep. Hays believes that "premiums are unrealistically low."

Under another provision of the bill "an effort would be launched to end competition from the state-created Citizens Property Insurance Corp."

Gov. Charlie Crist urged the legislators in January to ease the burden of soaring insurance premiums. That was three months ago. The legislators failed homeowners. They failed Gov. Crist. They are intent on not failing the interests of insurance.

Regardless of what the Florida Legislature ends up doing to ease property taxes, HB 1223 and SB 2366 (which is still in committee) could greatly nullify the "savings" we may otherwise have gained from January's special session. There was no rate relief.

With the high cost of maintaining residency in Florida, I used to think: "I don't want to stay, but I don't want to go." I'm having to rethink my attitude to: "I don't want to go, but I can't afford to stay." The thought saddens me. My other option will be to forgo homeownership and rent to avoid the direct impact of insurance.

I anticipate another rate increase from State Farm in July. As with most people, my income does not take the leaps and bounds that come with gas prices, insurance premiums and the costs of other volatile commodities.

My home is becoming a financial liability instead of a secure investment.

Ron Rae, Spring Hill


A connection?

Since Kevin McCarty took office as insurance commissioner in 2003, my homeowners' insurance premium has risen from $896 per year to $4,519 this year. My home, built in 1920, has withstood the weather for 87 years and 66 hurricanes without a claim.

Do the increased premiums have anything to do with McCarty's fundraising activities? As a voter and citizen of this state, I would appreciate a reply from the governor.

Phillip Strom, Dunedin


Low rates needed

With homeowners' insurance costs, wouldn't it be wonderful if Wal-Mart and Sam's Club started an insurance company? Maybe then, the retired could afford insurance.

Helen M. Smart, St. Petersburg


Remember the rights of states 

The art of the cop-out April 23, Roger Simon commentary

I was severely disappointed upon reading Roger Simon's column calling deference to states' rights the "Great Cop-Out." I was mostly disappointed by the fact that the chief political columnist of a respected online political journal could be so ignorant of the fact that the Constitution specifically enumerates certain powers for the president and Congress and leaves everything else to the states and the people in the Tenth Amendment. This amendment states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution ... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Simon makes flawed cases throughout the column, trumpeting his own supposedly clever question that he posed to Lamar Alexander about whether each state ought to control its nuclear weapons (in response to Alexander's deference to states' rights on gun control).

Apparently Simon is so ignorant of the Constitution that he doesn't understand that the military, which controls the country's nuclear weapons, is a national organization, as enumerated in the Constitution and that Congress can "raise and support armies."

The Constitution and the concept of federalism, both of which are dismissed by Simon as if they are merely fads from the past, enshrine the idealism that ought to lead all of our decisions as both states and a whole nation.

Matt Tucker, Clearwater


Not good protocol 

Commissioner criticized for EPC letter April 20, story

My position regarding the letter sent by Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita to lobby the Florida Legislature regarding the recent proposed Environmental Protection Commission legislation is clarified in this letter. I believe it is wrong for a member of the Board of County Commissioners to lobby the Legislature after an official vote by the BOCC majority (in this case, a supermajority) that is in direct opposition to that vote.

This is not good protocol and sends a mixed signal to the Legislature and public which we serve. As students and then as citizens, we are all taught to respect the will of the majority. Any private citizen may oppose that will, but it should be done in the role of private citizen, not while using the county letterhead and within the role of commissioner.

Commissioner Ferlita has said that she is not my subordinate. We should both be subordinate to the will of the board as a body and try to maintain a collegial atmosphere. All board members have ample opportunity to debate and vote their conscience in the public chambers where we meet. Every board member has every right to speak to the media regarding opposing viewpoints. However, it is clearly wrong to undermine the decisions of the BOCC before any and all elected bodies.

Perhaps it is not directly related to this point, but I cannot help but note that the vote on this legislation opened the dialogue, as I had hoped it would, that may lead to a more focused EPC with broadened responsibilities.

Brian Blair, Hillsborough County commissioner, Tampa


Reid should resign

It is appalling that the majority leader of the U.S. Senate would not only try to destroy the morale of our troops but also increase their level of danger. A political leader in his position should be aware of the detrimental effect of publicly announcing that he thinks we have lost in Iraq.

If Reid truly believed we have lost, there are many behind-the-scenes options to address the situation. His publicly stating we have lost is his attempt to play politics with our military. However, this further encourages the enemy in Iraq. What better way to increase morale and recruitment than to hear from the government of your opposition that you are now winning. We can only assume that the enemy will now fight harder and more intensely, emboldened by Reid's comments. It will be to their advantage now that they are aware that our leaders in Congress are ready to declare our loss.

I believe the word treason applies to providing aid and comfort to the enemy and demoralizing our troops. Reid should resign or be removed from office. When leaders put their political ambitions ahead of the security of the United States and our troops, we are put that much closer to another 9/11.

Alan Sayler, St. Petersburg


Reid is right 

The trouble with Harry April 26, David Broder column

I always enjoyed reading David Broder's articles because I thought he was not afraid of telling the truth or expressing his views. After I read his article about Sen. Harry Reid, my opinion has changed.

Sen. Reid had the courage to call a spade a spade when he said "the war in Iraq is lost." I believe that is the truth. Finally someone had the courage to say: "The emperor is not wearing any clothes."

Why is it that journalists whose job is to tell us the truth echo what the administration spins all the time? As Bill Moyers explained in his journal on PBS, if only journalists like Broder had done their job and reported the truth when, for example, Colin Powell was giving his now infamous speech in the U.N. Security Council about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we would not be in the bloody mess that we are in to day.

I expected more from David Broder.

Raghu Sarma, Odessa


Denigrating dogs 

Other developments April 25

I am appalled at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's rather flippant remark about Dick Cheney's accusation that the Democrats were pursuing a defeatist strategy in Iraq to win votes at home.

Reid dismissed the comment as "President Bush's 'attack dog' lashing out."

I believe he does a great disservice to attack dogs, who, after all, serve a useful purpose.

Jim Lyman, Lutz


Poor planning 

RV park residents get boot ... but no check April 23, story

These people losing their RV park are not the victims of greedy capitalists/landowners. They are the victims of their own poor financial planning.

Some have been paying rent there for 30 years? If that $50,000-$100,000 had gone into a mortgage, they would be sitting in their own homes with no fear of being kicked off someone else's land.

Pete Wilford, Holiday