State still needs insurance reform
Earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed Senate Bill 2044, delivering a crushing blow to the state's ability to effectively manage the financial impact of future catastrophic storms.
SB 2044 sought to reform Florida's insurance marketplace, and in particular, Florida's Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Think for a moment about Citizens — now the third largest property underwriter in the nation — having to operate in an environment that includes woefully undercapitalized domestic insurance companies, a wholly inadequate rate structure, and mandated policies that invite fraud.
Not only would SB 2044 have helped to correct these vulnerabilities, the proposed measures also would have helped to stabilize the property insurance market and protect the average Floridian from having to pay increased assessments to make up "gaps" in Citizens' funding.
Equally important, the bill sought to mandate that insurance companies increase their financial capability to pay legitimate claims. The majority of property insurers reported losing money in Florida's recent hurricane seasons, and some insurance companies failed entirely. Even with no hurricanes (so far) in 2010, Citizens has already been forced to pick up tens of thousands of policies from failed companies.
SB 2044 also included requirements that Floridians file claims within a reasonable time — three years versus the current five, and that full payment be made from the insurance company only upon proof of repair, a change from the current system in which a check is automatically cut without having to prove repairs were actually made.
I'm not in the insurance business and have no ties to claim companies, agencies or underwriters. I have absolutely nothing to gain from supporting the passage of SB 2044. Instead, as chairman of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors, my focus is on what's right for the fiscal health of Citizens and all the people in Florida.
Knowing that it's only a matter of time until storm clouds are brewing, for the common good, this legislation needs to remain on the radar.
James R. Malone, chairman, Board of Governors for Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
The Moynihan future | June 6
Reverse erosion of marriage
This article describes out-of-wedlock births as a problem faced by the African-American community. But unwed motherhood is a problem of class rather than race. All working-class groups are severely affected. More than half of all new American mothers without a college degree are unmarried, according to an article on joblessness that you published May 23 (This jobless era will transform us).
The percentage of children born to unwed mothers in America has gone from 5 percent in 1960 to 41 percent in 2008. The most recent statistics from the Pew Research Center released May 6 show that the rate in 2008 was 72 percent for blacks, 53 percent for Hispanics, and 29 percent for whites. More than half of the children of Hispanics, our fastest-growing group, are born out of wedlock. The rate for whites today is greater than the 25 percent rate for blacks in 1965 that so upset Daniel Moynihan.
According to your May 23 article, "a large body of research shows that one of the worst things for children, in the long run, is an unstable family." The instability heightens the risks of "mental health problems, troubles at school, teenage delinquency and so on."
We need to do something to fix this. Because of the enormity of the problem, there is no painless solution. The likely source of the problem is change in the institution of marriage. There needs to be far less tolerance of single mothers. We must tighten the rules on divorce. Marriage must return to putting children first, not the adult partners. The real purpose of marriage is to control heterosexual behavior for the benefit of the next generation. Currently marriage is exerting insufficient control.
Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg
Schools, community colleges must team up June 6, Perspective story
The need to be prepared
I enjoyed reading this article. The problem with high school students being ill prepared needs to be addressed. I was an example of one of those students. I graduated in 1996 and immediately enrolled at St. Petersburg Junior College. It came as a shock to me that I was so far behind college level. I quickly found that I too needed remedial classes in grammar and math.
I'm am so thankful that there were college professors willing to teach at the remedial level. It took me several years to earn an associate's degree in nursing. Finally, at the age of 31 I received my bachelor's degree in nursing from St. Petersburg College.
I had no idea I was ill prepared for college. I strongly believe if I had known the requirements for college-level classes, I would have made more of an effort to meet their standards in high school. I too agree that preparation for college should start with middle school students. Early awareness is the key to better success.
Andrea Derrick, Tarpon Springs
College degree density | June 6
The chart of "college degree density" accompanying Bill Maxwell's excellent article is meaningless. A graduates-per-square-mile calculation takes no account of the overall population density of each city. That is an elementary statistical error.
Clay Harris, Tampa
It's not party, but power that corrupts June 6, Howard Troxler column
Make them accountable
Howard Troxler was so right in this column. He very ably pointed out that it isn't one party or the other. It's both.
We in this country and state have certainly seen this happen for a long time. Money talks! We citizens have got to hold all politicians accountable in order to improve our system of government.
There can be no more money laundering such as has happened here in Florida with Charlie Crist and Jim Greer. No more money laundering at the federal level either as so often happens through such conduits as unions, SEIU, ACORN, and who knows whom else.
It's time for voters to take action by becoming better informed about what's going on at both the state and the federal levels. They need to take an active role and question those running for office about their connections. And if they hem and haw or refuse to answer, don't vote for them.
As for incumbents, we can start off by voting every incumbent out who doesn't live up to the standards our Founding Fathers laid out in our Constitution and in other actions they took!
Doris Houdesheldt, St. Petersburg
Haiti's people hold on | June 6
Shining a needed light
Thank you. Thank you that in the midst of unending tragedies surrounding us you bring Haiti back to the front — if just for a moment.
This is a deciding time for Haiti, and the Haitians cannot do it alone. America, we do have enough love to go around. We cannot out-give God. We will be blessed for helping.
Eva DeHart, For Haiti, with Love (www.forhaitiwithlove.org), Palm Harbor