Thursday, January 18, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Thursday's letters: Property owners put in peril

Citizens insurance | April 1

Property owners put in peril

Two bills in the Florida Legislature, SB 1672 and HB 1109, could wreak havoc on Citizens Property insurance policyholders if they pass and are signed into law by the governor. Both bills open the Citizens Clearinghouse Program to surplus lines insurers starting on Jan. 1. Surplus lines companies are currently prohibited from being part of the clearinghouse.

The clearinghouse was created in 2013 to allow authorized insurers to compete with Citizens for policies. Allowing surplus lines insurers to participate is a dangerous step that could lead to financial ruin for seniors, families or others struggling to with high insurance premiums.

Surplus lines companies, which are not regulated by the state, can raise rates at will. These companies often entice homeowners into signing with them by offering a low "teaser" premium for the first year, and then rapidly increasing that premium during subsequent renewal periods.

Year after year I and some like-minded colleagues fought back at those attempts to open the insurance market to these dangerous insurers. It is terribly disturbing to once again see the governor and some legislators, in their drive to depopulate Citizens, doing all they can to push people into the dangerous and unregulated territory of surplus lines companies.

Mike Fasano, Pasco County tax collector, New Port Richey

Bill to help springs advances | April 23

No stalling on springs

I am dismayed by House leader Will Weatherford's foot-dragging on measures needed to protect Florida's natural springs.

The springs are part of our heritage, and are becoming endangered to the point that pollution may alter this precious resource forever. Weatherford should embrace the bipartisan Senate bill that seeks to reverse the decades of neglect that have taken place, rather than relegate it to the back burner, as he apparently has done.

Last week, I made a first ever visit to Rainbow Springs State Park, and it was delightful to see people of all ages enjoying the clear, cool water: swimmers, kayakers, fishing boats and people floating downstream on inner tubes.

Locals are proud of their resource, but concerned for its long term health. Is it too much to begin to take the steps necessary to leave clean water to future generations?

Joe Griffin, Tampa

Engineering plan may be costly | April 21

Keep FAMU-FSU college

As a graduate of Lakewood High's Center for Advanced Technologies and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, I was disheartened to read that the Florida Senate has proposed funding to initiate the separation of the jointly managed college. I propose the following key points to consider:

(1) FAMU has played a leading role in the national production of underrepresented minority engineers and STEM leaders. FAMU was the leading baccalaureate origin institution for African-American doctorates in the Natural Sciences and Engineering in the nation over the period from 2002 to 2006.

Furthermore, as of 2011-12, the College of Engineering ranks No. 8 in the nation in bachelor's degrees awarded to black students. Any potential interruption in the output of STEM professionals must receive scrutiny on a national stage.

(2) Instability in FAMU's leadership has played a role in the declining FAMU enrollment at the College of Engineering. However, this is an opportunity for FAMU to reconstitute and refocus the student balance it had in the late 1990s (more than 40 percent of engineering students) compared to now (less than 19 percent of engineering students).

Perhaps revisiting FAMU's national recruiting practices and reforging relationships with corporate sponsors would be helpful. Continuing to form stronger ties between the College of Engineering and both central administrations is key to long-term stability.

(3) Nonetheless, the leaders of the college have said the joint administration and management of the College of Engineering is improving and at an "all-time high." A new school slogan has been adopted: "Two Universities, One College, Twice the Opportunities." To interrupt such documented progress by an external proposal could lead to deleterious consequences.

These past few years have been a period of unprecedented challenge for Florida's only public historically black university. But in my heart I believe that — with newly minted president Elmira Mangum — FAMU can resume its leadership role in the education of the next generation of engineers — one student, one dream at a time — within the framework of the College of Engineering and in a manner consistent with its motto: "Excellence With Caring."

Anton F. Thomas, Clermont-Ferrand, France

Ideological circus comes to town | April 20

Common Core conundrum

May I humbly suggest that those on both sides of the debate about Common Core read an essay written many years ago by Dorothy Sayers titled "The Lost Tools of Learning." Here is the concluding paragraph:

"What use is it to pile task on task and prolong the days of labor, if at the close the chief object is left unattained? It is not the fault of the teachers — they work only too hard already. The combined folly of a civilization that has forgotten its own roots is forcing them to shore up the tottering weight of an educational structure that is built upon sand. They are doing for their pupils the work which the pupils themselves ought to do. For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain."

Donald Cunningham, St. Petersburg

In brewery bill, size matters | April 21

Boon for beer companies

So this bill would force the 2,000 kegs per year micro-breweries to sell their sealed brew to a distributor first and then buy it back before they can sell their own product? That's like paying a grass cutting service for a lawn that you mow yourself. The purpose of the bill is said to protect the consumers, but the only thing this protects are the distributors and big beer companies.

William Shumaker, Tampa

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Friday’s letters: Help for boaters against modern-day ‘pirates’

Marine towing and salvageHelp against modern-day piracyAs an avid recreational boat owner and sixth-generation Floridian, I know there’s no better way to enjoy our state’s spectacular waters than taking your boat out. Unfortunately, the fun of boatin...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: All Americans need health care

Doctor: Trump got perfect score on cognitive test | Jan. 17All Americans need health carePresident Donald Trump’s extensive health exam has apparently declared him physically fit for office. As I was reading about the battery of tests he received...
Published: 01/17/18

Wednesday’s letters: St. Petersburg’s culture, vibrancy impresses

St. PetersburgImpressive culture and vibrancyI recently visited Tampa Bay and celebrated New Year’s weekend in downtown St. Petersburg. I was awestruck by what I encountered and experienced. It has been several years since I last visited, and the tra...
Published: 01/16/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Jan. 19

Re: Walking leads to shocking catalogue of trash | Jan. 12 column Bring back anti-littering campaignJust came back from the beautiful, clean city of Singapore, where there is a $1,000 fine, plus community service for littering. I think a presiden...
Published: 01/16/18
Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

Tuesday’s letters: Trump’s accomplishments unheralded

President Donald TrumpAchievements go unrecognizedAre Americans even aware that our economy is healthier and growing much faster, that ISIS has been defeated and lost their territory, that China and other countries are buying more American goods and ...
Published: 01/16/18

Monday’s letters: Don’t be fooled by drilling turnaround

Deal blocks drilling off Fla. | Jan. 10Don’t be fooled by turnaroundWhile I am very grateful that Florida has been taken off the table regarding offshore oil drilling, it is clear this is a political move to champion Gov. Rick Scott as he conside...
Published: 01/14/18

Sunday’s letters: Left wing late to the #MeToo cause

#MeTooDemocrats come late to the causeThe Times devoted an entire page to the #MeToo issues on Sunday. The ironies here for longtime observers are nearly boundless. Twenty years ago, folks like myself were called "prudes" and worse because we found P...
Published: 01/13/18

Saturday’s letters: A wall of towers isn’t progress

Skyline takes shape | Jan. 7A wall of towers isn’t progressFirst of all, once the 17 projects currently under way are completed, there will be no "skyline." There will be a wall of buildings blotting out the sun and sky. St. Petersburg has become...
Published: 01/12/18

Friday’s letters:

Gang raped at 17. Getting help at 65 | Jan. 7Help available for assault victimsEach sexual assault survivor has a unique story to tell, and Evelyn Robinson’s experience illustrates many of the emotions, and society stigmas, faced by survivors.Sex...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/11/18

Thursday’s letters: Opioid bill could do more harm than good

Opioid bill opponents line up | Jan. 6Bill’s potential to harm patientsLegislators are proposing putting more restrictions on physicians’ ability to prescribe pain medications. Yes, the addiction problem is a serious one, and the law seems well-i...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/10/18