Citizens' watchdogs out | Oct. 17
Citizens using best practices to battle fraud
Corporate integrity is paramount at Citizens, so I was very disappointed to read this Times article. It completely mischaracterized the realignment of our internal fraud investigation function.
Our corporate integrity functions have not been eliminated. They have been realigned under other business units to ensure we are following corporate best practices for investigating allegations of potential employee fraud or misconduct. These changes will better define, strengthen and streamline our corporate integrity review procedures, enabling us to more proactively identify, investigate and deter potential internal fraud and policy violations.
A comprehensive review showed that the former Office of Corporate Integrity lacked financial forensics experts who could identify and initiate investigations of potential internal fraud or policy violations. Most complaints investigated by OCI also turned out to be workplace complaints and employee performance issues more appropriately handled by management and Employee Relations.
Citizens is advertising and searching aggressively for the best forensic accountant candidates, who, once hired, will join the Office of Internal Audit as part of a fully fledged internal fraud prevention and detection program reporting directly to the Citizens Board of Governors. This will ensure objectivity and insulate investigators from any potential for reprisal.
The Citizens ethics officer, a position filled by an attorney in our legal department, will process all ethics policy violation reports and assign them to the appropriate unit. Internal fraud reports will be assigned to the OIA. Workplace and performance-related complaints will be forwarded to Employee Relations.
Absorbing the OCI functions into business units with relevant expertise and experience aligns Citizens with business' best practices, strengthening our corporate integrity policies and procedures. Hiring forensic accountants will add a crucial missing component to help Citizens proactively identify and mitigate the potential for internal fraud and ethics violations. The ultimate result will be more efficient and effective corporate integrity review procedures.
Barry Gilway, president/CEO and executive director, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Tallahassee
Candidates' answers needed
In Florida, climate change and sea level rise is here, now, and very real. Sea level rose 8-9 inches in Florida over the past 100 years, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects another 9-24 inches of sea level rise by 2060.
We are already feeling the impacts of sea level rise, including more flooding, saltwater intrusion into drinking water wells, warmer and more acidic oceans, and more frequent and intense storms. Cities and counties are looking at billions of dollars in expenditures to deal with the rising waters.
On Oct. 11, more than 120 Floridians with sea level rise expertise — scientists, engineers, city and county officials and others — sent a letter to the presidential candidates urging them to discuss how they will address rising sea levels that threaten the state.
With 40 percent of the population and housing units at risk from sea level rise here in Florida, we deserve to know how President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would help local communities deal with sea level rise and other consequences of climate change.
I urge both candidates to address this issue as they campaign in Florida, especially at the Boca Raton presidential debate next week.
Jamie Picard, Tampa
Incumbents are best bet | Oct. 13
Followers, not leaders
What was the Times thinking in recommending four incumbent Republican congressional candidates because of their experience? Experience in what? Voting no to any plan that would help create jobs, improve the economy and reduce the deficit? That mysterious monkey in St. Petersburg could do a better job.
They blindly followed party leaders who publicly stated that their main job was not to help the recovery and get people back to work, but to make sure President Barack Obama didn't get a second term.
Bill Hammond, Clearwater
Righting a wrong
I understand that the Tampa Bay Times is an extremely liberal newspaper, but couldn't you at least find a conservative view to balance your columns? It is very frustrating to have to read such one-sided views day in, day out. I know I don't just speak for myself when I ask you to start reporting for the entire Tampa Bay region and not just the far left.
Jennifer Little, Largo
It doesn't limit abortion
Pro-choice spokeswoman Sandra Fluke recently appeared in an ad that attempts to mislead voters on the facts of Amendment 6, claiming that it would deny women access to basic health care and put politicians between a woman and her doctor.
In truth, the purpose of Amendment 6 does neither and has, instead, a very focused purpose: outlaw the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and open the door for legislation that would strengthen parents' rights to be participants in the most personal health care decisions their children can face.
Contrary to Fluke's ad, Amendment 6 does not limit women's access to an abortion nor does it bring politicians into health care decisions. Rather, it aligns Florida law with current federal law, and ensures that no taxpayer money will ever go toward funding voluntary abortions, a position that 72 percent of Americans support, whether pro-life or pro-choice.
Austin Cline, Plant City