Federal flood fix falls short | Oct. 30, editorial
Delay only adds to uncertainty
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 went into effect Oct. 1 without the required FEMA affordability study and could have a seriously adverse effect on many Florida homeowners and businesses, as has been well documented by a number of articles in the Tampa Bay Times.
Where were our governor, U.S. senators and representatives when this bill was in the formative stages? Where were they when the law went into effect without the required FEMA affordability study? None of this should ever have been allowed to happen.
Finally, where were our U.S. senators and representatives when the author of this flawed and harmful legislation, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., reached agreement with other congressional leaders to delay the rate hikes for four years and require FEMA to complete an affordability study before increasing flood insurance premiums in the future? A companion bill is expected to be filed by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. Sen. Bill Nelson at least expressed his approval of the delay agreement, but it appears that Sen. Marco Rubio is still testing the political winds.
In the 2014 and 2016 elections, the voters of Florida should remember what little concern these politicians showed for our interests in this matter.
Delaying implementation of this act for four years to complete an affordability study is the wrong solution for a number of reasons. It just creates more uncertainty for homeowners and businesses that could potentially be impacted. It does not consider actuary data to define the risk for flood zone areas. It makes no attempt to mitigate the impacts of future storms.
It would be instructive for FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to visit the Netherlands and see what can be done to prevent coastal flooding. In 1953 that nation had devastating coastal flooding from a major storm. In response to this catastrophe, the Dutch government built massive flood protection systems. Even though much of the Netherlands is below sea level, there has been no major flooding since then.
Dieter Weber, St. Petersburg
'I'm responsible | Oct. 31
Troubles run deeper
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is taking all the heat for a failed rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and that may or may not be entirely justified. But even assuming it is fully justified, it is only a website; it will be fixed. The provisions of the ACA that are so conveniently being ignored by the media will not be fixed.
Sebelius is not responsible for the thousands if not millions of policy cancellations; she is not responsible for the mammoth premium increases.
Sebelius may have been incompetent in managing the website preparation, but it wasn't an integrity issue; it was an honest failing or mistake. When President Barack Obama said you could keep your doctor or your insurance if you liked them, he wasn't just exaggerating; he was unequivocally lying, over and over again. Why is the media not beating up on him as they have on Sebelius?
Darrell W. Katz, Wimauma
Buck stops with her
The Affordable Care Act website debacle is inexcusable. In an interview on CNN and during the congressional hearing, Kathleen Sebelius looked like a deer caught in the headlights, unable to answer even the simplest of questions.
She's right: We should blame her, as it was/is her job to oversee implementation of the website. Whether this was a case of contractors overpromising and underdelivering, or a failure of HHS to oversee the project, the buck stops with Sebelius.
Not only is the website not working properly but now there are concerns about the security of personal information required to even access the website; and, for those who were able to log in and use the site, there are questions as to whether their data was sent to the insurance companies.
I'm not sure what's worse: Sebelius not resigning or President Barack Obama showing what seems to be another lack of leadership by not removing her.
Richard Ulrich, St. Petersburg
Staffer at USF draws reprimand | Oct. 31
Outrage. That is the word I associate with the "comparison" made by Timothy Weil in a recent USF "lecture." If that comparison had shown a rabbi or imam equaling a toilet, the lecturer would be run out of town. A letter of "counseling" is hogwash. He knew his example would be inflammatory and he deserves to be fired.
USF students also deserve an unbiased education that respects religion.
Jana Carpenter, Clearwater
Embarrassing for USF
As a USF alumnus I am disappointed and embarrassed to have read of this incident.
I am not a Catholic nor particularly religious, but it is hard for me to believe that a faculty member from one of Florida's leading academic institutions would resort to potty humor at an "academic conference." I don't believe that Timothy Weil "intended to show how people relate seemingly dissimilar things." Please tell him to place that excuse into the toilet on his "academic" slide.
I think his intent was to elicit the very response he got from the crowd. The point to his "exercise" was to bash Catholics and Christianity.
As for the opinion of USF Faculty Senate president Gregory Teague "that this was a gross misconstrual of what he was trying to say" — that is nonsense. Is it reasonable to believe that the USF lecturer can't articulate his thoughts clearly and that everyone but Weil misunderstood his point? Sounds like he should try another line of work.
Marc Wojcik, St. Petersburg