St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
TampaBay.com
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Ohio voucher case might affect state
  • Terrorism's trickle-down effect
  • U.S. tests for arsenic in playgrounds set
  • Panel on security may meet secretly, speaker says

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story
  • tampabay.com

    printer version

    Terrorism's trickle-down effect

    Higher insurance costs? Less privacy? Floridians could be touched in ways they never dreamed possible.

    By ALISA ULFERTS

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 26, 2001


    TALLAHASSEE -- Your homeowners insurance could go up. A librarian may peek over your shoulder when you log on to a public computer. And the state could pull the plug on public records you want if an agency says they are related to an investigation.

    Those are just some of the changes Floridians could see in the aftermath of the biggest terrorist attack in U.S. history.

    Gov. Jeb Bush and members of the Florida Cabinet discussed those changes Tuesday after hearing several reports on how Florida responded to this month's suicide hijacker attacks. A full report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on that response and where the state can improve is expected at the end of the week.

    Meanwhile, homeowners who think their rates are steady because they insure with a Florida-based company can think again, Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher said. Many Florida companies contracted with others to spread the risk, a practice known as reinsuring.

    But some of those second-tier companies are expected to have astronomical claims after the attack, Gallagher said. Although many of those companies have said the claims won't bankrupt them, the pressure of paying out so much could be felt as far away as the Sunshine State, he said.

    "Homeowners could be affected," Gallagher said. The state will know more in December, when companies begin negotiating policies for the new year, he said.

    Floridians who want to research insurance rates online, or just e-mail a friend, at a library may have to tell more about themselves than they're used to doing. Secretary of State Katherine Harris told Cabinet members her office was putting together a list of guidelines for libraries, including some protocol to follow when people use public access terminals.

    "Instead of just giving your first name, you may have to give your last name," Harris said after the meeting. Some of the suspected suicide hijackers may have used public libraries to access the Internet.

    Harris spokesman David Host said that department is answering questions libraries have on a case by case basis, but said a set of guidelines for beefing up security without compromising access to the library's holdings or patrons' privacy may come later.

    Another change Floridians could see is temporarily shutting access to public records to further a criminal investigation. Currently, all government records in Florida are public unless lawmakers pass a specific law exempting them.

    But state agencies have refused public records requests several times since the Sept. 11 attacks because they were asked by state or federal law enforcement to keep the documents confidential.

    The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, for example, after the attack asked all local agencies to stop processing records requests for driver histories. Federal agencies are looking at how several suspects in the attacks obtained Florida driver's licenses and ID cards.

    The ban was lifted a short time later, but the reason the agency gave for withholding the records was incorrect, Attorney General Robert Butterworth said after Tuesday's meeting.

    "What they cited was not the correct thing to be cited," Butterworth said. His staff is reviewing state law to determine whether it allows the kind of shutdown the department used.

    If they find it doesn't, Butterworth said he'd certainly provide his input if lawmakers decide they need to amend the public records law to allow agencies to close records during an investigation.

    "Highway Safety made a decision to to go along with the FBI and, you know, I don't blame them," Butterworth said.

    The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was asked not to release information about the 150 people who hold crop-dusting licenses, department spokesman Terry McElroy said.

    FDLE Commissioner James T. "Tim" Moore said he supported Florida's public records law but said withholding records was necessary, given the scope of the investigation into the terrorist attack.

    "I've got some concern in times like these when the news media is beating us to the door of people we want to talk to," Moore said.

    - Times staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan


    From the Times state desk