Citizens deal lessens risk | May 28, commentary
Deal is simply corporate welfare
I read with interest Citizens' president Barry Gilway's article. It is unfortunate that it is nothing more than a reiteration of the talking points that Citizens has been using since the sweetheart deal with Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co. came to light.
The Heritage deal is nothing but corporate welfare. For a company that has only been in existence for less than a year to get more than $50 million is unbelievable at best, and unconscionable at worst. Some 60,000 potential customers are being handed over to a start-up company while that very same company is being subsidized. If the argument is that Heritage is not solvent enough to take the policies without being given $52 million, then perhaps it is not fiscally strong enough to assume any policies in our state.
Citizens has a healthy surplus, $6.3 billion and growing. Citizens has the ability to access funds to handle a 1-in-50-year storm. I can assure you Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co. does not without being granted this corporate welfare plan.
I don't see the wisdom of giving away $50 million-plus of that surplus. Doing so only imperils Citizens' ability to cover its exposure, especially considering that Heritage will no doubt pick the best policies, leaving the more challenging or greater exposure policies in Citizens' hands.
I believe Citizens is inviting trouble. Additionally, if Heritage were to go belly up, those who were "taken out" would most likely return to Citizens, no doubt at higher premiums.
I call on Gov. Rick Scott to put an end to this fiasco in the making. There are only two potential outcomes to this. Either Heritage does remarkably well and is successful by using taxpayer money, or the grand scheme fails and Citizens is out $52 million. Both ways, Citizens' surplus has been reduced, the taxpayers and policyholders are out $52 million and Heritage received one of the biggest corporate welfare schemes ever devised in Florida's history.
State Rep. Mike Fasano, District 36, New Port Richey
Cancer center 'seal' raises concern | May 27
Put patients' interests first
The legislation creating this award holds that the goal is to encourage excellent cancer care.
The gist of the article however, points to the conflict between nonprofit and for-profit cancer treatment centers and their competition in obtaining state funding.
The awards will be bestowed on facilities that meet certain quality standards, which have yet to be developed, by a new committee yet to be announced.
It is imperative that this committee include among its members patients, survivors and caregivers. Too often such committees are composed of accountants, attorneys and medical administrators, whose focus can be on other than excellence of patient care.
When the marketing orientation takes precedence, and the defense against potential lawsuits is in second place, attention to patient care is often overlooked.
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
Don't add to pier confusion | May 29, editorial
Make it self-supporting
The taxpayers are speaking loudly that they do not want the Lens. We really do not know exactly what we do want. But we don't want the Lens and we don't want the City Council telling us that we have to choose one of their ideas.
Why don't we clear the old pier and see what the private sector is willing to support? We want something that supports itself and does not increase our property taxes every year.
I'd like to see the beach area fixed up so winter visitors have a nice place to sit in the sun. I'd like to see restaurants on barges tied to the new pier with food that is not manufactured. We can have a Ferris wheel with enclosed seating. We want something that is fun and makes us want to come back often.
Gloria Julius, St. Petersburg
Pinellas County's needs
Although Pinellas County residents would pay for part of a new St. Petersburg pier, most of us have no voice as to whether it is built.
When downtown St. Petersburg needed to attract tourists in the '70s, a pier made sense. But now the vibrant downtown stands on its own and attracts people with food, entertainment and museums. It is vibrant in the absence of a functioning pier.
Pinellas County should spend its funds where they are needed, not on an unneeded tourist attraction.
Lynn Bosco, Clearwater
Attraction, not art
I have lived in this area for almost three years and watched the process of a new design for the pier. I find it hard to look at the Lens and think of it as a place for families and fun. It looks like an art project. I realize downtown St. Petersburg is very much an arts and cultural center, but we need families to support a pier.
I wonder if a pier design like the Santa Monica Pier in California was ever considered. A new and modern update of this type of pier would give everyone a great experience.
Mike Meltzer, St. Petersburg
Texting ban makes Florida roads safer May 29, editorial
Law doesn't go far enough
Making texting while driving a secondary offense is an unacceptable solution to a very serious problem. They did the same thing when they originally passed the law regarding seat belts. Later it was changed and made a primary offense.
Why not do it right the first time with texting while driving? It is only a matter of time before the law will be changed and it will be made a primary offense.
Dan Ward, Zephyrhills
Glitz, and little else | May 20
I think Eric Deggans' review of Behind the Candelabra was right on target. My wife and I watched it, hoping for some insight into this very talented showman and musician. Unfortunately, the movie fell very short of that.
There is a much better movie that looks into the life of a great American musician who lives in a time in which he must hide his sexual orientation. That is De-Lovely from 2004, which stars Kevin Kline as Cole Porter.
Behind the Candelabra was character assassination. Too many of the scenes were prurient. I can't recall a movie that delved into the bedroom of a celebrity or any real person with such callousness.
Robert DiGiovanni, Seminole