Vote for October's Letter of the Month at www.tampabay.com/opinion.
No fair deal in lowland | Nov. 4
Flood claim maps can mislead
This article about flooding in the Shore Acres neighborhood of St. Petersburg raises the issue of how misleading the statistics are in the flood insurance program.
Our house is shown on the map as one of those with repeated losses. In fact, the paperwork provided by FEMA shows two losses about 30 years ago totaling less than $5,000 combined. One was for the no-name storm of June 18, 1982, in the amount of $1,086.61, and the other was for Aug. 31, 1985, in the amount of $3,739.40.
We bought the house five years later, in 1990. Since then, a low-level Florida room on the back of the house was replaced by an elevated living room, and the front carport was replaced with a two-car garage and new entrance. We have had no flooding or losses since owning the house. We get about 6 inches of water at the street end of the driveway during some downpours. Nonetheless, our house appears with a bad boy marker on the flood history map.
Richard E. Oliver, St. Petersburg
No fair deal in lowland | Nov. 4
Paying for federal failure
Thank you for the excellent article showing the truth about flood insurance. The facts reveal the catastrophic losses that FEMA has incurred are largely the result of the failure of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to adequately maintain a system of dikes in New Orleans. Those losses should be funded by the Corps, not by a small number of homeowners across the country.
The Biggert-Waters Act was written by people either ignorant of the issues or who have hidden agendas. For any Florida politician to have voted for a bill involving flood insurance without completely understanding it is unconscionable.
I am fine with paying for flood insurance based on actual risk of loss, but not in subsidizing failures by governmental agencies. I am furious that FEMA officials try to sway public sentiment against waterfront communities by making false statements. Clearly, your article underscores that historic flood insurance premiums are too high, and are certainly not subsidized.
Other ways FEMA is stealthily raising money is by requiring policies based on replacement costs that sometimes far exceed the actual costs, so they get higher premiums, and by the federal government forcing lenders to require flood insurance on every structure. I have commercial clients who have been required to purchase flood insurance on leaky old storage sheds that are useful only in storing garden tools. Some have been forced to demolish the buildings because the annual premiums were higher than value of the building.
The government should immediately allow lenders to require insurance only on principal structures, to waive flood insurance if the value of the lot exceeds the loan amount, and to accept private flood insurance.
Linwood Gilbert, St. Petersburg
CIA drones kill leader of Taliban in Pakistan Nov. 2
A president's responsibility
The president is charged defending Americans from murderous attacks by enemies such as al-Qaida. It would be wonderful if this could be done without the use of force, but just as it is sometimes necessary for our local police to use deadly force, there are times when the president has no choice.
Al-Qaida and its allies have made it clear that they will use every weapon available to attack us. Although the danger to you and me may be remote, it is real and we would be foolish to ignore it. The use of drones is practical when the alternative is indiscriminate bombing.
Although innocent people may occasionally die as a result of these efforts to destroy the enemy, the president is using the best tool available to him. As long as the people of Pakistan support these terrorists and allow them to live openly among them, they share responsibility and risk injury or death.
Thomas W. McCarthy, Spring Hill
Big step for rail across the bay | Nov. 1
Plan connects the county
A letter writer recently penned the comment: "Light rail is no better than the connecting transportation at either end." He is exactly right, which is why the foundation of the Greenlight Pinellas Plan (greenlightpinellas.com) is first and foremost a vastly improved bus network that will connect the entire county to all major transit corridors and the light rail spine. It will also feature park-and-ride lots and greater options for cyclists and pedestrians to connect to transit.
Pinellas residents should visit the Greenlight Pinellas website so they can see and learn about the latest plans for improving transit. Those plans detail what will happen if voters approve a funding change for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, from the current property tax to a 1 percent sales tax in November 2014. They also detail what will happen if the funding change is not approved.
Bob Lasher, PSTA, St. Petersburg
No more | Nov. 5
Bullying must stop
Congratulations to Tom Jones for his piece on hazing and bullying in sports. He expressed my thoughts perfectly. This behavior must stop in all sports and at all levels. His article should have appeared on the front page.
Randy Nelson, Tampa
New standards guide students to success Nov. 4, commentary
Thinking about standards
So, the Common Core standards are designed to teach students to reason and analyze. No wonder there is an uproar. What could more dangerous than teaching children to think?
Ed Bradley, Valrico
Electricity rates climbing | Nov. 5
Power to the people
Here we go again: another rate increase approved by the Public Service Commission. I've been in Florida over 40 years and have never seen the commission do anything to serve the public. It's time that we get real and name it the "Utility Service Commission."
Leroy McCloud, St. Petersburg