This front-page article told a very unfortunate story of one family's experience with a reverse mortgage. That story, while very sad, is not the norm for reverse mortgage borrowers, most of whom report satisfaction with the product.
Reverse mortgages, like other mortgages or loans or other financial products, come with responsibilities. As the author correctly noted in the piece, all potential reverse mortgage borrowers must meet with a certified counselor to ensure that they understand the terms before they move forward.
In this case, the borrowers admit they signed paperwork without "paying much attention to the terms" and later went three years without fulfilling their responsibility of paying their homeowner's insurance.
In the event that borrowers find themselves in a tough situation where they are unable to meet the terms of their loan, the best thing to do is to contact the loan's servicer so that they can work with the lender to develop a solution. They can also contact a counselor for guidance.
Reverse mortgages are a useful and beneficial retirement financing tool for many Americans. And historically the Department of Housing and Urban Development has responsibly observed the experience of borrowers and made adjustments to improve the program.
The situation faced by these borrowers is much less likely to occur in the future as a result of the changes already implemented and soon to be implemented (limitations on up-front draws, financial assessment) as a result of the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013.
Comprehensive information about reverse mortgages, the borrowing process and changes to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program can be found at reversemortgage.org.
Peter Bell, president and CEO, National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, Washington, D.C.
Pot foes get billionaire ally | June 11
The Florida Sheriffs Association's explicit opposition to Amendment 2, the medical marijuana amendment, is troubling. First, there is the question of whether it is appropriate for law enforcement to heavily weigh in on a decision that voters will be asked to make and that will primarily affect Florida physicians and their patients.
Second, it appears the association's objections are being built on a platform of questionable allegations. It says virtually everyone will be able to have access to medical marijuana, yet the Florida Supreme Court has already ruled that the language of the amendment is clear: Medical cannabis will only be available to patients with debilitating diseases and conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis, among others.
The association presents scenarios that defy common sense, including kids having access to medical marijuana without their parents' consent and felons qualifying as caregivers. I don't have a crystal ball, but I am fully confident that the Florida Department of Health, whose task it would be to issue regulations if Amendment 2 were to pass, is fully capable of sensibly addressing these concerns.
Aggressive opposition to Amendment 2 based on the remote possibility of extremely unlikely scenarios could threaten the Florida Sheriffs Association's ability to act as a constructive partner in the process of building a safe and effective medical cannabis program if Florida voters were to approve this amendment.
As a former Fort Lauderdale police officer and former police chief of the city of Oviedo, I believe this is a decision that Florida voters should make based on the needs of patients and doctors, not the opinions of those whose most important concern should be preserving their ability to ensure order and public safety in our communities regardless of how Floridians vote in the fall.
Chuck Drago, Oviedo
Can anyone explain what right Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has to interfere in Florida's deliberations regarding Amendment 2? Legalizing medical marijuana is a matter for us Floridians to decide, not some out-of-state billionaire who thinks he can tell us now to vote by contributing $2.5 million to the opposition.
It is a dangerous development for our democracy that the Drug Free Florida Committee accepted this outside money.
George Meyers, St. Pete Beach
Gunman kills student at Ore. high school June 11
Keep spotlight on killings
Don't do it. Don't start putting high school and college shootings on Page 2. Do not allow the frequency of these crimes to make a horrific event mundane. It is the very frequency of this assault on our children that should become the front-page headline, each and every time, as in: "Nth school massacre of 2014."
Perhaps even run an annual total of children killed in the upper corner of the front page. This outrage should not be allowed to become ordinary; it needs to be in the public's face, unavoidable, even if it is "only" one as in the shooting in Oregon.
Suzette Feinstein, Tampa
Guns' terrible toll
It has been reported that the Portland, Ore., high school shooting is the 74th time since the Newtown, Conn., massacre that a gun has been discharged on a school campus and the fourth multiple shooting incident in America since June 5, following a shotgun attack at Seattle Pacific University, an armed assault on a Georgia courthouse, and the killing of two police officers and a Walmart shopper in Las Vegas.
So why are U.S. senators upset about the release of five combatants who we will likely never hear from again and who had no intelligence value in exchange for an American POW? Israel has set free hundreds of combatants in exchange for POWs. Why isn't the Senate focusing on an organization like the NRA that is responsible for creating a gun climate that is indirectly responsible for the slaughter of more Americans than all of the terrorist attacks in our country's history?
Bruce Peisner, Tampa
Video reveals boy was slapped | June 10
Our violent society
It might be my imagination, but I think we hear and read more stories more frequently about adults hurting, abusing and even killing children. One allegedly leaves a 2-year-old in a hot car for five hours after going in the house to get a charger. Another slaps an autistic boy on a bus. Thank goodness there was a camera documenting this act.
How did we get to be such a noncaring, violent society? Road rage stories pop up regularly. People are at their boiling points. But leave the kids out of it.
Larry Pugliese, Tampa
Gates fueled Core reform | June 9
Standards bring progress
I cannot see the logic in a political fight over the Common Core standards for public education. For all the years this country has had universally available public education, there have been significant differences in curriculum, expectations of student performance and results among all the states. When we were a rural, agrarian society, those differences might not have counted for much. In fact, the percentage of population attending school through completion was relatively small.
All that has changed. We are such a mobile society in the 21st century that it is rare indeed for even members of one generation of an extended family to live within a day's drive of each other. We move frequently, changing jobs and residences. Then children enroll in a new school. This situation demands standardization of achievement levels in high schools throughout the nation.
States that are resisting Common Core for political reasons are going to find themselves behind the educational curve; their high school graduates will have more difficulty than those in states with the Common Core standards when they try to gain entrance to colleges. This idea came from the states up, not from Washington, D.C., down.
When anything slips into the political arena, it becomes twisted and opaque, especially in today's polarized society. Huge amounts of time and energy were wasted on the "fluoride in the water" issue, as well as others that had no foundation in fact. Are we in for another huge waste of valuable time, money and energy defusing the anti-Common Core conspiracy theories, which also have no basis in fact?
Gilbert Evans, Brandon
Challenging, yes, but brilliant too | June 8
Cheers for 'Norma'
I have attended operas around the world — Rome, Florence, the Met, Tokyo — but I have never been so immersed in a performance as I was at the St. Petersburg Opera Co. presentation of Norma on June 6. It was truly a unique experience sitting 15 feet from center stage and being literally "in the face" of the singers. Bravo!
Mike Gray, Tampa