Whose side is state on? Hint: It's not yours | Nov. 28
I just finished reading this column by Howard Troxler. Using his word, my reaction should have been, "Unbelievable!" But at my age, I have listened to incalculable numbers of broken and unfulfilled promises made by politicians eager to get elected or re-elected. Promises like lowering property taxes and fixing the "broken" Florida insurance industry, promises that will never be kept and are all too soon forgotten by the capricious electorate.
Instead, my reaction, borne from the ashes of hope and idealism, is a sort of pessimistic paranoia. I asked myself, "What is the Florida Legislature's purpose; what's in it for them?" Are the lawmakers seriously trying to force about half of Florida's population to leave the state? Don't they see the big picture? It's not just homeowners who will be forced out, but renters who cannot afford huge rent increases that must be passed on due to their landlords' double-digit (or greater) insurance rate hikes.
Seniors on fixed incomes who oftentimes have to choose between medicine and food will have no option: They'll have to leave. Likewise, low-income families and just about everybody else with a mortgage. How many of us could afford to stay if our mortgage suddenly increased two or three hundred dollars a month or more?
Can any of us be naive enough to think that the Legislature is that far out of touch with what's happening? After all, if the president and Congress of the United States can be so deferential to the big oil companies, why wouldn't the Florida Legislature roll over for the insurance industry? And here's where the paranoia sets in. Is it just outrageous, unmitigated, uncontrollable greed, or could it be a more subtle, perhaps even sinister plot?
Everett Melnick, St. Petersburg
Whose side is state on? Hint: It's not yours
Politicians seem to serve only themselves
Howard Troxler's column on Nov. 28 says exactly how we all feel. The legislators are not working for the people but for their own means and pockets. When they pass bills that may encourage higher premiums for homeowners and put more money in the CEOs' purses, that exemplifies what these politicians truly think.
It's all about a vote and how much money can go in these politicians' pouches. I'm a homeowner and a Realtor, and I see what is happening in the real estate market. I hope and pray that the people of Florida get up and riot against all these insurance companies and let our voices be heard.
Deme Varidin, St. Petersburg
Whose side is state on? Hint: It's not yours
An insane situation
After reading Howard Troxler's column, I was pleased to see someone else talking out against Citizens Property Insurance and the unfair Legislature that is attacking homeowners across the state.
I also need to point out that while Citizens claimed an average hike of only 23 percent last year, many homeowners I know (including myself) had our insurance triple (yes, that is 300 percent) in the last year. The fear now comes that with this new increase, many of us will lose our homes because mortgages require insurance. Many of my fellow teachers and I took loans out to pay the increase last year. What are we to do now?
Current insurance on a home that was purchased for $86,000 just three years ago is more than $4,000 a year (for a teacher with less than 10 years' experience, that is two months' take home pay).
When we lose our homes, who will teach your kids? We all know that we did not go into teaching expecting to be rich, but losing our homes because of insurance rates is absurd. We can only hope that somewhere, someone will stand up and stop this insanity. Thank you, Mr. Troxler!
Meredith McGlamery, Holiday
Where did money go?
So Citizens Property Insurance can raise its rates another 25 percent in January and then again another 50-plus percent in March. I also heard that those of us fortunate enough not to have to use Citizens are going to be charged an extra 2 percent to help Citizens make up the "shortage."
Since we're all bearing this burden, then we should all reap some of the outrageous profits from the years past when we were lucky enough to side-step heavy hurricane damage. I would like a public accounting of where all that money went. It sure wasn't sent to longtime faithful customers as rebates!
I am a single woman in my early 50s, working full time. I have a small older home, less than 1,000 square feet, in a nonevacuation, non-flood zone here in Pinellas County. Pretty soon, I'm not going to be able to afford my own mortgage, and I make decent money for a Florida wage earner.
When is the common man (or woman) going to get some relief from this insanity? At this point, I can't afford to move, and I can't afford to stay. What's next, higher utility bills? Oh wait, that's already happened, too. I'm not asking to live in the lap of luxury. I just want to survive day to day.
Nancy Evans, St. Petersburg
It's a shame that the homeowners insurance crisis in Florida and particularly in Pasco County where I live has gotten so bad, but it's easy to understand why. It's popular to blame the "greedy insurance companies," when in fact the insurance companies are the solution, not the problem. Sadly, many politicians either don't fully understand the issue or lack the backbone to go against the prevailing tide and state the truth. True reform will be difficult and involve hard choices.
Insurance companies are leaving Florida because it's not profitable. That is partly Mother Nature's fault, but it's also because our arcane Florida insurance regulations make the insurers want to flee.
Reform is complicated. It involves closing the legal loophole where you can claim a sinkhole exists and sue for a new house because of shoddy construction. It includes raising the deductibles much higher. And - sorry - it includes recognizing that if you own a beachfront house or move into a sinkhole area you are going to have to shoulder more of the burden than you have in the past.
None of this plays well in the street, or gets you re-elected. So, sadly, my prediction is that when the Legislature finally acts it will just be more of the same bad policy that got us here in the first place.
Stephen Tenberg, Wesley Chapel
A happy traveler
Traveling this past Thanksgiving holiday from Tampa International Airport truly opened my eyes to the amazing capability of this country's transportation system.
Never have I seen mountains of people and baggage transported so swiftly - and politely - as I experienced this past holiday. Starting with the remote parking shuttle drivers at Tampa International and then including porters, cleaners, bartenders, retail clerks, security, flight attendants and pilots, all performed their jobs to the best of their ability. I particularly noticed a great deal of sincerity from each of them, for me, the traveler, and I want to thank them for this.
I've always taken this great system for granted, never truly thinking about all that it takes to orchestrate such an astonishing feat! Clearly, the key element is the American worker. It is with a great amount of pride I thank each and every one of the airport workers in Tampa, Atlanta and Hartford, Conn., for their superior performance in helping me to be with my family for Thanksgiving.
Russell Case, Largo