A different model for sinkhole risk | Jan. 3
Honest sinkhole work being done
I applaud the Times for its exceptional efforts in covering the issues surrounding the sinkhole phenomenon in our area, as well as exposing those who take advantage of others' misfortune. While the damage that sinkholes can cause is undeniable, the exploitation of the problem has caused the even bigger current explosion of claims. Still, if you live in Pasco or Hernando county, you are more likely to have your home damaged by a sinkhole than by a fire.
The series does a great job of describing the abuses of sinkhole insurance coverage, but it seems to stop short of recognizing that good, honest people are also filing legitimate sinkhole claims, with their only motivation being to get their home repaired and restore the value of their largest investment.
It also doesn't mention the good, honest engineers and stabilization companies that employ hundreds of local workers and contribute heavily to our communities. You mention the "shoddy work" of contractors hired by Citizens. While there may have been incidents of unsatisfactory work, I believe this to be a very small percentage of the hundreds of homes successfully repaired by legitimate, experienced, well-vetted contractors working for Citizens. As you pointed out, many of these subsequent payouts were the result of a well-planned, opportunistic legal strategy.
It is a shame that the fear of litigation has prompted many insurance companies to simply write a check rather than pay to repair confirmed sinkhole houses. A recent Senate report shows that 73 percent of sinkhole houses are not repaired. As you have pointed out, this is decimating neighborhoods, with property values dropping as much as 66 percent in these sinkhole areas. This serves as motivation for other homeowners to file claims in hopes of hitting this new sinkhole lottery.
Ron Broadrick, Land O'Lakes
Bypassing a broken Congress Jan. 6, editorial
Compare Obama to others
This editorial failed to put into perspective the recess appointments made by President Barack Obama compared with recent presidents. According to Wikipedia as of Dec. 8, 2011, Obama had made 28 recess appointments. President Bill Clinton made 139 in eight years; President George W. Bush made 171 in eight years. So the average number of recess appointments per year in office are as follows: Clinton, 17.4; Bush, 21.4; Obama, 9.3.
Although there is a hue and cry about Obama's recess appointments in today's highly charged political climate, by the numbers it appears that he has not abused this option to use when Congress thwarts appointments.
Jim Stewart, Spring Hill
Ends and means
This editorial defended President Barack Obama's bypassing of the Constitution and the established rules of the Congress in the appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the new consumer protection agency.
It would appear that your defense of this action is based solely on one principle: "the ends justify the means." Do you see that as the standard for any action taken by any politicians? How about ordinary people?
If so, who gets to define the "justify" part of that principle? In this case it was one man — the president. That strikes me as a rather dangerous precedent for the future of our republic.
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
Is Congress broken? Perhaps so, but an imperial executive branch is no answer and by far more dangerous.
The fact that the Republicans don't like Dodd-Frank is obvious, and the procedural steps they have taken (pro forma sessions) may be distasteful, but this government is, after all, one of checks and balances. The Constitution states that there can be no recess appointments when Congress is in session, and although the Democrats don't like it (at least not now — they did the same thing during the Bush administration), those are the facts.
Obama's recent recess appointments are not constitutional.
Frederic Stutzer, Largo
Experience of the world
As a supporter of President Barack Obama, I have enjoyed watching the GOP debates, usually with a side of popcorn. However, I find myself more and more tuning into what Jon Huntsman has to say, and how he says it. He talks like an adult with a mature message. But mostly, he has lived outside of the country and can speak fluent Chinese. It would be impressive to have a president (or perhaps secretary of state) who can speak directly to the emerging superpower in their native tongue and who understands the world outside of our own hemisphere.
Gone is the Cold War era of mutually assured destruction and aggressive dialogue. Today we are threatened by computer hacks who can bring down our grid with a stoke of the key. We need a president who understands world cultures.
Kristin Kronsnoble, Tampa
Bayshore called too shabby for RNC | Jan. 7
Take out the trash
Tampa's Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the City Council think that Bayshore Boulevard has too many warts to please the out-of-town media set to come here for the August Republican convention.
Never mind that Bayshore is one of the most spectacular city walkways in the country, with a view of the bay on one side and lines of McMansions on the other.
A little "lipstick and a prom dress" might help parts of Bayshore, but what about the sackcloth and ashes sported by much of the rest of downtown Tampa?
Either get one person to pick up a million pieces of trash and weeds between downtown and the Tampa Bay Times Forum, or get a million people to pick up just one piece.
Fred Jacobsen, Apollo Beach
Social agenda, not culture war Jan. 8, commentary
Turning back the clock
Please tell me David Brooks is kidding when he suggests a "wage subsidy" for men to make them "marriageable." Men already have a "wage subsidy" as reported by the Times in the same edition on Page 4P. Men make more, on average, than women.
The implication of Brooks' statement is that couples don't stay married because men don't make enough money. I would love to see the scientific research that backs up that assumption. In any case, this doesn't sound like an idea for the 21st century — more like the 18th.
Rebecca Johns, St. Petersburg