Plan for next disaster with a national fund | June 1, commentary
Don't expect others to bail us out
In response to this op-ed, it is delusional to believe that leaders from 49 other states would willingly raise taxes on their own citizens to pay for Florida's hurricane risk. While Associated Industries of Florida agrees our state and the country should be better prepared financially for natural disasters, Florida's taxpayers are already saddled with underfunded government-run insurance entities. We don't need a new federal insurance program that promises to be self-funding but, in reality, will burden taxpayers everywhere with additional debt. We need real-world solutions that will cover our state and our citizens in the event of a major storm.
Floridians know how easy it is for political influences to interfere, resulting in government insurers that charge inappropriate and actuarially unsound rates. Through both Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, the state has placed a huge amount of risk on the backs of all Florida business owners, homeowners, renters, churches and charitable organizations while subsidizing a select group of homeowners at everyone else's expense.
Leaders of our state-run insurance entities are working to fix the issues facing the state as they realize the negative consequences associated with the current system. Cat Fund chief operating officer Jack Nicholson wants to "right-size" the fund. Tom Grady, Citizens interim president, is telling Florida consumers, "Don't buy my product" as the premium is essentially just a "down payment" on the actual cost of the policy.
Given the country's current unstable economic condition, Florida needs to wake up from its collective dream that the rest of the country is willing to bail us out. We need to accept the facts and begin to get our financial house in order before a devastating hurricane destroys our way of life.
Thomas C. Feeney III, president and CEO, Associated Industries of Florida
The valedictorian's trial | June 3
Ayushe Misra's story of her journey — from a secure home to a sudden calamity that resulted in her mother's death, her father's imprisonment and the collapse of all life supports for her and her sibling — was heart-rending to say the least.
How young Ayushe triumphed over these crises with resolve, maturity and focus on her future is most impressive and offers an object lesson for all of us, young and old.
Equally impressive is the generous and loving support she and her sibling received in their struggle from her family friends, teachers and others in this community. No doubt, they will excel in their academic pursuits and hopefully in rebuilding their family ties in the near future. What a wonderful model Ayushe presents for all of us.
Mukunda Rao, Tampa
Costly incarcerations | June 7
The cost is worth it
This article discusses the high cost, $1.4 billion, of keeping criminals in prison longer. I would rather pay for them to be in prison than have them on the streets. If the idea is to save $1.4 billion, there are other places to look.
One way is to alter the class size amendment of 2002. If we allow three to five more students in every class than the amendment permits, we will save Hillsborough County alone $61.2 million in teacher salaries and fees. If we average $20 million savings in every other county, we save $1.38 billion.
We must ask whether we would rather have more convicted criminals on the streets or a slight change in education. The extra three to five students will not make a difference in learning. Having an extra 36,678 criminals in public will make a difference with how people live.
Ian McConnell, Riverview
A rookie's role | June 7
Ray of light in the gloom
As I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a gloomy morning I slid my Times out of its rain-drenched plastic wrap and made a quick visual of the front page. Talk about instant sunshine. What I saw was a photo of a young man with an effervescent smile among a group of school-aged children. Upon arriving in the parking lot, I needed to find out the story behind the smile.
Low and behold, it was Buccaneers rookie defensive tackle Jordan Nix. If his contagious smile can illumine a dark and dreary morning, I cannot wait to see what he can do on the football field and in the community. Thanks for brightening my day, Jordan, and welcome to Tampa Bay.
Mia K. Sadler, St. Petersburg
The Bucs really dropped the ball allowing Bucs players/representatives to show up at an elementary school dressed as if they just got out of bed, slippers and all. One would think the team would want to show kids how to "dress for success." Opportunity missed.
Chris Fiser, Treasure Island
Who gets the credit?
Remember when gasoline prices were approaching $4 a gallon, and President Barack Obama and the Democrats were catching flak and being blamed? I just filled up for $3.24 — the lowest price I can remember in some time. Do the president and Democrats get the credit?
Gerald Goen, Tarpon Springs
Pomp and happenstance | June 7
Give us news, not links
On the front page of the local section is a photo from one of 15 or 20 high school graduations. Under the picture, the reader is told to go to either the Internet or Twitter (really? Twitter?) for more pictures and coverage. You've got to be kidding.
The lament the public hears from newspapers is that it's a digital world and people aren't getting their news from the paper anymore. Maybe if you printed the news, events and area happenings instead of referring your readers to the Internet or phones, we could get our news from the paper.
Laurel Harmon, St. Petersburg
Stop the killing
How many innocent people do our drone strikes have to kill before our leaders realize that this is murder? Our citizens would not tolerate even one innocent killed if the strikes were directed against the United States. Enough. No more killing of innocents.
Sidney Sistrunk, Clearwater