Thursday, June 21, 2018
Business

State financial chief switches jobs to run Citizens Property Insurance

TALLAHASSEE — Tom Grady will step down from his position as head of Florida's Office of Financial Regulation next week to take on what might be the state's largest financial liability: Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Grady was named interim president of Citizens this week, and, in a letter to his staff at OFR, he said he may end up filling the position permanently.

Grady was asked this week by Carlos Lacasa, the Citizens board chairman, to head up the state-run insurer after the departure of president Scott Wallace. He made a spur-of-the-moment decision to accept the position.

"I love working at the OFR," wrote Grady, who worked as a securities attorney in Naples before taking the reins at the financial regulations agency last year. "But I am eager to serve in a different capacity in another area of the financial services industry, one where stability and rationality are necessary conditions to a sustained economic recovery."

Grady, 53, is a friend of Gov. Rick Scott and has served as a prominent fundraiser for the Republican Party.

He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2008 and backed a few controversial bills during his single term. He was behind a measure to allow banks to foreclose on homes without going to court, a move that homeowner activists have decried. That bill died before becoming law.

With 1.5 million policies and more than $500 billion in maximum exposure, Citizens has launched a bold and controversial risk-reduction effort of its own.

The insurer has raised premiums on sinkhole coverage, required roof inspections for old homes and launched a statewide reinspection program for homes receiving wind-mitigation discounts.

In January, the company scrapped wind coverage for homes worth more than $1 million. Disgruntled policyholders have complained, filed lawsuits, and even produced protest songs against the so-called insurer of last resort.

Grady said he "applaud(s) the board's courage and initiatives," and indicated he planned to continue with Citizens' plan to slash risk.

"Mr. Grady has graciously agreed to step in on short notice and lead the administration on an interim basis while we implement initiatives aimed at reducing the size and exposure of Citizens," Lacasa said in a statement.

Grady will have to adjust quickly. Hurricane season begins in fewer than 90 days, and Florida's six-year storm-free streak has many anxious that the odds of a direct hit are on the rise.

The OFR will soon name an interim director, an agency spokeswoman said. Grady, who pushed to crack down on fraud at banks and financial services companies during six months at the OFR, is the latest in a string of Florida agency heads to leave their posts this year.

Grady's colorful goodbye letter to his OFR staff may offer some insight into how he plans to run the behemoth Citizens.

"Question everything," he wrote. "Make decisions. Think different. Be heard. But most of all, suck the marrow out of life, inside and outside the office, and make your one shot on earth count."

Comments
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Updated: 4 hours ago
WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

Mike Piper has traveled to Las Vegas and Miami and enjoyed the fun, daytime, party pool scene that the two cities have to offer.Now he aims to bring that same atmosphere to Tampa with a new dining and hang out spot. WTR Pool & Grill opened on Sunday ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Grace Family Church gives thrift stores an upgrade in South Tampa

Grace Family Church gives thrift stores an upgrade in South Tampa

A new resale store has made its way to South Tampa. Grace Family Church recently opened Vintage Etc., to provide affordable, quality merchandise to the community and continue its outreach to help families in need in a loving Christian environment. "W...
Updated: 6 hours ago
2.4 million Floridians expected to travel for Fourth of July

2.4 million Floridians expected to travel for Fourth of July

Summer has officially started and so have summer travel plans. About 2.4 million Floridians are expected to travel for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, up 6.3 percent from last year, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group."We are already seeing a b...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Taylor Morrison builds in Wesley Chapel

Taylor Morrison builds in Wesley Chapel

Taylor Morrison will build a new subdivision off of Boyette Road between Wesley Chapel Boulevard and Overpass Road.The builder and developer recently broke ground on Chapel Chase, set on approximately 40 acres just north of New Tampa in Pasco County....
Updated: 6 hours ago
Grain and Berry Cafe to bring its healthy menu to USF area

Grain and Berry Cafe to bring its healthy menu to USF area

Grain & Berry Cafe opened in Palm Harbor, and now the healthy eatery is rapidly expanding throughout the Tampa Bay area.The healthy eatery opened a new location on E Fowler Ave near the University of South Florida in May, just 10 months after opening...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Supreme Court: Online shoppers can be forced to pay sales tax

Supreme Court: Online shoppers can be forced to pay sales tax

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says states can force online shoppers to pay sales tax.The 5-4 ruling Thursday is a win for states, who said they were losing out on billions of dollars annually under two decades-old Supreme Court decisions that impact...
Updated: 7 hours ago