Raced to death | Feb. 16
Racing has excellent safety record
This article had one of the most sensationalist and misleading headlines I've ever seen in "Florida's Best Newspaper." Since I have raced my greyhounds at Derby Lane for over 20 years, and since it made the top of your "death" ranking, I would like to comment on the venue's statistics.
Derby Lane runs eight programs per week, with 15 races per program, for a total of 120 per week, or almost exactly 500 per month. With eight dogs in each race, the total comes to 4,000 entries per month, or 28,000 in the seven months covered in the story. Add in schooling races and the total rises to at least 30,000. Of that number, there were 12 deaths, and I'm not sure all of those were race-related. Even if they were, that amounts to a death rate of 0.04 percent (four one-hundredths of 1 percent), which is an incredibly good safety record. Yet it didn't even rate one sentence in the massively slanted article.
It should also be noted that the gaming camels would not even have gotten their noses under the tent if greyhound racing didn't provide a ready-made venue. And now they want to bite off the hand that enables them to feed.
Finally, the vast majority of retired greyhounds are either adopted or return to the farms. One hundred percent of mine get adopted through the excellent adoption programs that exist, both locally and nationally. This is possible because retirement is an ongoing process, with a limited number being retired at any one time. What do you think will happen if every racing greyhound is suddenly "retired" at the same time? Unfortunately, I think the answer is obvious.
The article may have done enormous — and needless — damage to both the greyhound racing industry and the greyhounds themselves.
Dick Adler, Lecanto
Hung out to dry in eye of the storm Feb. 21, Daniel Ruth column
Adjusters will be available
While amused at being referred to as a "pillar of empathy," I want to clear up some misconceptions in Daniel Ruth's column.
Florida's domestic insurance market has never been financially stronger. This is due to a combination of factors including comprehensive oversight by the Office of Insurance Regulation, a vigorous international reinsurance market and increasing financial reserve requirements placed upon Florida insurers by Demotech and other rating agencies.
It's also important to note that all insurance companies, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. included, hire independent adjusters to assist following a storm. Rest assured, if a hurricane hits, private carriers have strategies in place to augment in-house staff with that pool of qualified independent adjusters.
All jokes aside, I do believe Citizens has become a "kinder and gentler" company based on a number of consumer-friendly decisions we've made regarding sinkhole underwriting, mobile home coverage and improved customer service. As we again become the insurer of last resort, Florida's domestic carriers will play an increasingly vital role in protecting policyholders. They are up to the task.
Barry Gilway, president, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Tallahassee
Seeking sound alternatives
I am a Citizens policyholder and religiously follow stories in the Tampa Bay Times about the goings-on with that company. I agree with Daniel Ruth, who recognizes the sham that is being perpetuated on policyholders as Citizens promotes the shifting of policies to new and untested insurance companies. I just don't see it being in the best long-term interest of any Citizens policyholder to switch to these here-today-and-maybe-tomorrow companies. I will continue to refuse the take-out offers I receive, until I find a financially sound, mature and catastrophe-prepared alternative to Citizens.
Graham Houtz, St. Petersburg
As I and my wife (a former high school teacher) watched the Olympics on TV, we were impressed by how many athletes from dozens of different nations worldwide were able to converse in English. In contrast to what was true a generation ago in the United States, knowledge of at least one language other than English is no longer a requirement of secondary education — or, for that matter, entry into most liberal arts colleges.
Is this not a sad reflection on the arrogance of our nation and its educational establishment — including public school boards and the self-serving teachers' unions?
Porter H. Downey, Inverness
Fracking is a dangerous process of drilling to extract natural gas, a fossil fuel, from deep under the Earth's surface. Fracking requires millions of gallons of water and hundreds of chemicals, many carcinogenic, to lubricate the drill.
Although Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have stated we need to wean our addiction to fossil fuels, fracking continues in many states, poisoning the drinking water and causing massive amounts of deadly air pollution that is harming the health of nearby residents.
Florida Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, is sponsoring legislation that would make it even easier for Big Oil to frack in Florida. Sadly, drilling has already been approved for a well outside of Naples.
Last week the Wall Street Journal had a stunning revelation about Exxon chairman Ray Tillerson and former House Republican leader Dick Armey suing to keep fracking away from their personal estates in Texas, fearing harm to their property values! If the chairman of Exxon doesn't want fracking near his personal property in Texas, why would legislators welcome it here?
Ron Saff and Lynn Ringenberg, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Tampa