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To cut premiums, we need options

I constantly read how the insurance companies in Florida say what they need in premium increases to stay in business. Well, people, believe me - the consumers are the ones getting the business. Not one hurricane this year, but did our insurance rates go down 100 to 150 percent as they went up the last two years?

Everyone knows the answer to that question: a resounding ''no.''

I have a question that all the homeowners in Florida can ask their insurance company. If your home has a replacement cost of $150,000 but your mortgage balance is only, say, $50,000, ask your agent why you cannot carry insurance for just the $50,000. If the home is destroyed, then the mortgage company gets paid off and you still own the land. Your agent will tell you that you have to carry replacement value insurance on your home. How do you like being dictated to by the insurance do-gooders?

What happened to our rights? Shouldn't we have the option and the right to carry the amount of insurance on our homes that we want, as long as enough insurance is maintained to pay off the mortgage balance? If your agent tells you it's the law, then maybe the laws should be changed to accommodate the will of the majority.

Sam Sentner, Port Richey

Teaching to the test is wrong and must go, guest column Dec. 4

FCAT is needed for accountability

I guess one thing the writer didn't teach his students was conciseness in writing. But that's another issue.

The main point of the "teaching to the test is wrong" advocates is that if we teach to the test, that's all students learn. That simply is not true.

As long as we have the FCAT or things like it, teachers will teach to the test to some degree. That's just to be expected. But the next step in the "teaching to the test must go" argument is that the test itself must go. This overlooks the unmistakable fact that public education, especially that without definite standards of learning and accountability, is abysmal.

You know, just about the only profession that doesn't want accountability is the teaching profession. Comments in the "Teaching to the test is wrong and must go" vein should be interpreted that way.

Ernest Lane, Trinity

Teaching to the test is wrong and must go, guest column Dec. 4

FCAT is hurting, not helping kids

I guess former Citrus County Teacher of the Year Greg Biance missed Gov. Jeb Bush's interview when he said, "Teaching to the FCAT is a myth." Well, it is not a myth, and I agree with everything Mr. Biance said.

I am only sorry quality teachers like him are leaving the profession because of the simplistic solutions politicians like the Bush brothers have forced upon education. Best wishes to you, Greg.

Jean McNary, Dade City

Careless tenants burden landlords

One of your letter writers states:

What renters would like is for the landlord to take care of a problem immediately, as if it were his own family and his own home. Forget about the punishing fines.

It might help landlords to think in terms of dollars. Find the problem and fix it properly before you rent. It will be cheaper in the long run.

To landlords who apparently buy up cheap properties thinking of big profits and then do not pay for the upkeep, I have one suggestion: sell. There are less expensive ways to invest your money and not be hurting other people.

This writer does not mention the extensive damage caused by many renters. In one home I rented out, the tenants caused over $7,000 in damage in one year. It was needless, preventable damage.

In another rental, my tenants left about $2,000 in damage and moved without letting anyone know they were moving. (Turns out they were running from the police.) In both of these cases, the families had moved into an immaculate, well-kept home. The damage and filth left behind was caused by them.

Landlords would do more and help more if tenants treated the place as if they had paid for it themselves. Experience has shown me that for many renters, because they don't own it, they don't care about it, nor do they usually take care of it. This is a shame for the small percentage who do take care of the home they rent. The larger percentage of renters have made landlords not as willing to invest a lot in repairs. We generally need the rental income, and when renters damage the home and leave it filthy, we end up behind on our own bills trying to keep up with the expenses of maintaining homes for other people.

Denise Blackford, New Port Richey

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