Insurance companies the problem
While I agree that there are unscrupulous doctors bilking the personal injury protection system, and substandard attorneys using it, that is not the reason our insurance rates are so high. Insurance companies are the reason.
PIP was established because prior to that, an injury victim had to rely on the at-fault party's carrier to accept blame and pay for medical care. That was a joke as the carrier would always find a way to drag out the decision or just deny coverage. People were not getting treatment or were going to hospitals with no coverage.
PIP is also there for lost wages. A mother or father who truly can't work for a few weeks can have a devastating effect on a family. Without PIP they are going to be getting government assistance, which is a burden on all of us.
The percentage of accidents that are staged is infinitesimal. Of course it is wrong and should be stopped, but it is not driving up insurance rates.
The insurance companies used a similar argument about medical malpractice several years ago. Their slogan was "tell the lawyers enough is enough." Amendment 3 passed, and the rights of malpractice victims were severely limited. Have health care costs gone down? Yeah, right. Ask any doctor if his malpractice insurance premium has dropped. I can tell you the answer.
I am an attorney, and I agree that the PIP system is flawed. It needs to be tweaked. However, to eliminate it completely is a mistake. Governor, if you eliminate PIP, then please implement mandatory bodily injury coverage like most of the non-PIP states.
Thomas Parnell, Tampa
Fine earned; now pay up | Aug. 26, editorial
Church has beautified city
Contrary to your description of the Church of Scientology Flag building as an eyesore, it has looked beautiful since, with the concurrence of Clearwater officials, the church installed over $300,000 in landscaping in 2007.
Also, during the past five years, the Church of Scientology in Clearwater has paid $4.2 million in property taxes while at the same time completing massive construction, renovation and restoration of three landmark buildings, totaling almost a million square feet — the Oak Cove, the Fort Harrison and the Flag building. The church has further paid the city and county over $3 million in impact fees for improved city infrastructure, while also paying for all sidewalks and hardscaping that would otherwise have cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The economic downturn has taken its toll on other construction projects in Clearwater, but due to the church's continued expansion, its construction work has provided employment for many hundreds of local workers over the past five years.
As long as four years ago, city officials were aware of the sequence of renovations and construction. That the church did indeed follow through on everything the city was told the church would do, in the manner it said it would do it, is manifest in the fully restored buildings visible from City Hall.
Further, throughout all of these projects, the Church of Scientology's executives, construction staff and community relations staff have been in close communication with officials and the staff of the city of Clearwater. In just partial evidence of this is the average 1.3 inspections every single day for the last five years by the city on the church's construction projects. Indeed, so rapid and voluminous was our renovation and construction during the past four years that the church had to resort to hiring and paying for independent building inspectors to keep up with our construction, since the speed with which we needed inspections exceeded the resources of the city staff and therefore would have slowed down our construction. Even so, the church additionally paid all city permit fees which are meant to cover such inspections.
As for city beautification and what we've done to accomplish that, anyone driving through downtown can see our buildings for themselves. While they are at it, they might also want to drive past the Clearwater St. Petersburg Times building, taking note of its inoperable windmill, discolored and stained bunker-type walls, and overgrown landscaping. A good neighbor would have torn that eyesore down years ago.
Pat Harney, public affairs, Church of Scientology, Clearwater
Beyond Tampa Bay column | Aug. 26
This item reported that the National Labor Relations Board "has approved a new rule requiring private employers to prominently display posters telling workers about their right to form a union."
How can unelected bureaucrats tell private enterprise how to run their businesses? These are the same people telling Boeing it can't do business in South Carolina because it is a "right to work" state.
This is getting to smell like the executive branch catering to the unions that backed Barack Obama in the last election. This ruling will hopefully end up in the courts, because it is wrong.
Hal Gens Jr., Largo
Mexico: U.S. bears some blame for casino attack | Aug. 27
U.S. demand drives crime
If anything, President Felipe Calderon was too polite in placing blame on the United States for the horrendous violence in Mexico. These drug cartels are fighting over the illicit drugs that are being ingested by spoiled, self-indulgent, immature, relatively rich Americans.
Our "war on drugs" consists of throwing low-level dealers and users in jail while the wealthy druggies — actors, sports stars, hotshot Wall Street types, etc. — go on TV talk shows or write books about their "heroic fight" against addiction. Give me a break.
And, as Calderon points out, high-powered guns that the Mexican drug cartels are using are pouring over the border thanks to politicians and law enforcement officers who are falling all over themselves to appease the National Rifle Association.
Pete Wilford, Holiday
Rocky road, quick end | Aug. 24
Board deserves blame
I am disappointed with the leadership that the Pinellas County School Board showed in firing superintendent Julie Janssen.
I have watched this group week after week micromanage every move she made. Every time a group of angry parents appeared and attacked her decisions, the board backed down. Not all decisions are going to be popular. The board, obviously, lacks the backbone to tell the people no. Decisions should be made for the good of the entire student population and not just for a few disgruntled parents.
Janssen cares about teachers, support staffers and students. On the other hand, this board has a political agenda that is self-serving.
The county did not get into this mess overnight. Several board members have been there for a long time, and they deserve to carry some of the blame.
Kenneth Henderson, Tarpon Springs