Cracks in the system | Jan. 1
Sinkhole abuses cost everyone
I have not even made it the through the first page of this story and already feel kicked in the teeth by my fellow Floridians who have taken a personal financial gain from the lack of oversight and frivolous claims of property sinkhole insurance coverage. For these people to have financial gain at my premium expense is just unbearable to read. It appears as if their only intention was to pad their wallets with money at the expense of hardworking people like me who saw their premiums go from $500 a year in 2004 to $4,000 in 2005.
Basically they took advantage of a system with lack of oversight designed by our state politicians and sought after by lawyers. For these people to make the claim and then not do the right thing by making the necessary repairs is just downright robbery. I'm all for some kind of legislation being enacted to keep these people from making my premium rates go up. The American dream of owning a home is going down the drain because no one will be able to afford the mortgage payments after taxes and insurance are factored in.
Every year since 2005, we have seen our mortgage payments increase because of the shortage of escrow due to insurance premiums increasing. Well, now it is time to sell. The people who abuse the system belong behind bars. It seems most of these claims are nothing but normal settling of a home.
David Moore, Tampa
Texting, driving: Ban it | Dec. 31, editorial
Address officers' laptop use
I am a firm believer in the regulations concerning texting while driving, but perhaps we should also address: applying makeup while driving, eating while driving, letting the dog sit on your lap while driving, tuning the radio while driving, and anything else but driving.
Most of all, we need to address law enforcement using their laptops while driving. I have observed more than one deputy in the Tampa Bay area weaving and in one case actually running off the road onto the shoulder of I-75 while trying to type on the laptops that are mounted in almost every car. I understand they have important jobs to do, and that the information provided by the computer mounted next to the driver makes their jobs safer and easier. But it appears to me that the motorcycle officers do just fine pulling over to access their computers in their carryall.
I would hope that in the interest of public safety the agencies that employ this useful tool could come up with at least a voice-to-text and text-to-voice program before one of our dedicated officers is involved in a serious crash. We have lost too many officers in the line of duty, and their jobs are inherently dangerous enough, without adding unnecessary perils to them and the people they protect.
Jim Miller, Riverview
First get the facts
Your editorial would be stronger if it unpacked the statistics it cites from the U.S. Department of Transportation stating the number of fatalities from "distracted drivers." This lumps together people who are texting with those talking on cellphones and, for all we know, with those who have children in their cars, talkative passengers, or rap music on the radio. Should these latter be banned as well? Is cellphone use really as dangerous as texting?
One cannot seriously advocate legislation until and unless there is some precision in exactly what is causing these accidents. Merely citing "distracted drivers" is much too vague a basis for passing a law.
Eugene J. Fisher, Lecanto
Wrong path for state | Jan. 1, commentary
Limited vision in Florida
Bob Graham seems to think that the state can only pursue one venture at a time — that having casinos move into the state precludes doing anything else.
It's that type of limited vision that hampered Florida for years when, instead of looking to branch out in many directions, leaders tied their horse to the "three-legged stool."
Graham also tries to tie the failure of Amazon not locating to Florida in 1991 to what the state Legislature did in 2011.
He should, of course, be looking at what he, Bob Martinez and Lawton Chiles failed to do as governors from 1979 to 1998, rather than what happened 20 years later.
Tom Bennis, Sun City Center
Maddening silence in the lonely universe Jan. 2, commentary
Dangers of doing nothing
I had to chuckle at Charles Krauthammer's column — not because I disagree, but because he has been espousing conservative viewpoints for years.
First he expounds on the failure of "human hands" to control our destiny. Then he informs us that the "regulation of power" through politics is the solution, because "if we don't get politics right, everything else risks extinction."
What is politics if not the art of governing? How ironic coming from the man of the right. Thanks, Mr. Krauthammer, for recognizing that libertarian, antigovernment, do-nothing policies are downright dangerous.
Ann Haendel, St. Pete Beach
New day, lasting values | Jan. 1
For a better community
I'm disappointed and perplexed about your stated ambitions for the future of our community. You write, "Our biggest ambitions and accomplishments — modern mass transit, world-class museums and sports teams, great universities, thriving enterprises — can be realized only by drawing upon the talents and resources of the entire region."
Yes, I support many of these ambitions and see their merit. But if only our local media, and indeed our citizenry, valued above all else the welfare of individuals and families in the community, we might see real progress for the many instead of for the few. We have everything it takes to make the Tampa Bay area a model of health and well-being for the entire nation. It just takes the intention and the willingness.
Though I enjoy sports and museums, and I benefit from thriving businesses, I would vote to see additional funding go to child abuse prevention programs, domestic violence shelters and homeless aid rather than to new stadiums, corporate welfare and venues of entertainment.
The Times has a strong and prominent voice in the Tampa Bay area. I strongly urge the paper to lead the way to a better future for all citizens. This outcome — this lasting value, the well-being of all — is the strongest way to promote the talents and resources of the entire region. Please lead the way to a more progressive and ethical community.
Douglas Bonar, Pinellas Park