When your flood insurance falls short | Feb. 12, John Romano column
Owners: Take preventive steps
John Romano's column omits a key aspect of this story — these homes are likely to be flooded again and again unless preventive measures are taken to reduce the risk.
Taxpayer-subsidized flood insurance does provide critical rebuilding assistance to people whose homes have been damaged in a flood. Yet rebuilding these properties without incorporating more protective measures after a flood event traps homeowners in the cycle of "flood, rebuild and repeat." This cycle is not only a hardship for the impacted homeowners, but is also a burden on the taxpayer-backed National Flood Insurance Program, which is $25 billion in debt.
That's why owners of homes at high risk of flooding should take actions, like elevating their homes to satisfy local code requirements, to reduce their flood risk. This not only lowers their exposure, but the exposure to taxpayers who ultimately cover the NFIP's massive debt.
Additionally, these homeowners are not "left in the lurch," as Romano implies in his article. When required to elevate due to a substantial damage assessment, FEMA guarantees $33,000 to homeowners to help cover that cost, in addition to paying to repair the flood damages to the home. More assistance is available if needed in the form inexpensive loans.
Requiring flood-damaged homes to be better protected is not unfair, but what is unfair is expecting taxpayers to repeatedly pay to rebuild homes that will flood over and over.
Joel Scata, Chicago
The writer is a project attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Court rejects Florida's 'Docs vs. Glocks' law Feb. 17
Danger in the home
Bravo to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for determining that doctors can ask patients about gun ownership. This is a First Amendment issue for doctors who are trying to protect and safeguard the patients and families who may have firearms in their residences. Physicians realize people with guns in the home are three times more likely to die from homicide than those without guns at home.
Further, physicians know when a child or teen is killed by a firearm, the gun that killed them comes from their own home 72 percent of the time. And because between 6 and 14 percent of firearms-owning households with a child under 18 have an unlocked and loaded firearm, it is understandable why doctors want to ask about the accessibility of these firearms.
Joan Lund, Tampa
Trump punches back | Feb. 17
Public should fight back
Watching President Donald Trump rant about the "dishonest media" is like hearing a bad joke with no punch line, as his own lies are so frequent and obvious. It's nothing more than a distraction to divert attention from the very things he claims are "fake news," like the Russian oil deal he stands to profit from, the leaks coming from his own administration and his attempts to subvert the Constitution at every turn.
His latest press conference was wackier than any reality show, but when he starts calling the media the enemy of the American people, it's time for the people to stand up before government-controlled media becomes the next executive order on his agenda.
Dennis Bush, Tampa
Need for a free press
From President John Kennedy's administration to President Barrack Obama's, I have never experienced any anxiety about our country's future until now.
After watching President Donald Trump's alarming performance during his press conference, I feel he is totally unqualified for the presidency. His lack of respect for the press corps and the First Amendment is disturbing. His goal seems to be to delegitimize the press. Now more than ever, we need a free press to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.
Kenneth Henderson, Tarpon Springs
Trump's bizarre behavior
I found the president's behavior toward reporters Jake Turx and April Ryan to be appalling and reprehensible. Turx, in particular, asked a reasonable question concerning the increasing level of anti-Semitic activity in this country. Instead of giving a reasonable answer, the president complained the question was "complicated" (it wasn't), rudely told Turx to be quiet when the reporter attempted to further explain his question, and stated categorically that he was neither anti-Semitic nor racist, instead of answering the question.
The president's defensive response was rather bizarre, since Turx had already said that neither he nor his community considered the president antiSemitic. The president's avoidance of addressing the anti-Semitism issue, here and at other times, says to me that he doesn't want to offend those of his supporters who are anti-Semitic.
Diane Kornick, Clearwater
A long way to go | Feb. 19
Smaller may be better
I noticed in the pictures in this article, there were very few riders on each of the buses. This raises the question: Have the Hillsborough or Pinellas County transit authorities considered replacing these large, expensive, mostly empty buses with smaller, more cost-effective vehicles that could cover more routes in a shorter time and give more people access to the system?
The transit authorities should be open to purchasing smaller vehicles with lower maintenance costs, while promoting job growth with the additional drivers needed, to more adequately meet the demand for public transportation.
Bob Howard, St. Petersburg
Affordable Care Act
American lives at risk
Repeal with no reasonable replacement of the Affordable Care Act and the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency will kill more Americans than ISIS.
Lee Cook, Tampa