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FOR MANY, PIP COVERAGE IS A NEEDLESS EXPENSE

Required coverage benefits all drivers and Watch health costs soar if no-fault goes - Aug. 6, commentary

The columns by Sue Brody and Dan Tarantin have a "the sky is falling" air to them.

Reinstatement of no-fault insurance in its present form is simply wrong. For those of us who have adequate medical insurance it is duplicative and unnecessary.

I am a retiree on a fixed income and have Medicare and a Medicare supplemental insurance plan that I choose to purchase and for which I pay premiums. To force me to also continue to purchase personal injury protection - especially when my taxes and homeowners insurance premiums continue to escalate - is simply the wrong action for the Legislature to take.

If the state and the supporters of no-fault auto insurance absolutely must reinstate all or portions of the soon-to-expire law, at least allow those persons who can provide proof of adequate medical and personal injury insurance to opt out of the current requirement to purchase PIP.

To do anything less will once again demonstrate the lobbying powers of the insurance industry and their allies in the medical profession.

Charles Peters, Seminole

Required coverage benefits all drivers and Watch health costs soar if no-fault goes - Aug. 6, commentary

No-fault is a waste

I find it interesting that these two opinion pieces supporting personal injury protection automobile insurance, also known as PIP or no-fault, are the positions of two people who are president and CEO from institutions that could possibility lose the most financially if PIP was allowed to expire Oct. 1. Both writers state how the health care and the insurance industries would suffer from the loss of no-fault.

As a responsible person who maintains insurance on my vehicles as well as my health, I see the ending of PIP as a benefit to me personally. As an individual living on a fixed income who must budget for ever-increasing premiums, I believe that any money saved by eliminating PIP would be greater than any corresponding justifiable increases.

I do understand that, for whatever reason, there are people who choose not to carry health or auto insurance. I am a proponent of "healing the sick, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked" but feel that as far as PIP is concerned, I am only enriching the corporation.

I understand why I pay for hurricane coverage here in Florida, but not why I would have to carry ice-storm insurance if it was mandated. Why should I be required to carry no-fault insurance if I do not want or need it?

Thomas R. Moore Jr., Hernando

No reason to rush

The Times ran two op-ed articles favoring re-enactment of personal injury protection, or PIP, auto insurance during the upcoming the special session of the Legislature. As a consumer advocate, I have to disagree. There is no need to rush such an important matter.

While Florida Consumer Action Network supports lower health care costs, I feel the cost to consumers of PIP "reforms" would be higher than waiting until the regular session.

The hospitals and doctors are being used like pawns by the insurance companies to get what they want in auto insurance. Insurers want to take away consumer rights and benefits and are holding our auto insurance hostage.

Insurers want to impose fee schedules that will limit consumer access to coverage. The real solution to PIP fraud is going after the crooks, not cutting benefits.

Insurance companies say everything will be wonderful if we just eliminate PIP. Let's call their bluff and find out the truth.

Bill Newton, executive director, Florida Consumer Action Network, Tampa

In the hands of grand jury now Aug. 2, editorial

Credibility shattered

As the grand jury works to determine the truth of the land deal between Pinellas County and Property Appraiser Jim Smith, one very significant fact has largely gone unreported. All elected officials in Pinellas County - every mayor and council member - have lost credibility with the citizens they represent. While the integrity of Pinellas County government is clearly at stake, the county also encompasses 24 municipal governments that stretch from the St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs, and each relies on the purported fair and equitable property value roll produced by the Property Appraiser's Office.

Yet the actions of this elected property appraiser and the elected county commissioners have compromised us all. Our credibility with taxpayers in our communities is shattered at the exact same time when it is most important that we actively, and with standing, participate in the ongoing debate about needed property tax reforms. Our ability to address the significant tax inequities of nonhomesteaded and business properties in our community has been taken away. The opportunity to speak to the merits and/or the unintended consequences of the proposed constitutional property tax amendment to be voted on next January has been forfeited.

How, under this dark cloud, can any of us effectively defend the taxes we levy or the public monies we spend?

Bob Hackworth, mayor, city of Dunedin

Don't blame Churuti

I am a retired Pinellas County employee whose department had occasional interaction with the County Attorney's Office. County Attorney Susan Churuti impressed me as a brilliant person, astute in legal matters, and one who was friendly and kind to whomever she encountered.

I cannot conceive of her taking any action not in accordance with the law, as I feel her character is impeccable. I believe that if any fault is found in the purchase transaction, the blame needs to be assigned elsewhere.

For a good number of years, Pinellas County has enjoyed great respect for its good governmental practices, and it is hoped that once this matter is cleared up, it will maintain its high-quality status.

Norma Grant, Clearwater

Crumbling infrastructure leaves a nation terrorized - Aug. 5, letter

It's not the war

I knew I would be seeing mindless letters raging about how the war in Iraq lead to the Minnesota bridge collapse. It is so ridiculous, it is scary.

The bridge that collapsed was deemed unsafe way back in the '90s, when Bill Clinton was too busy having affairs to worry about the infrastructure of this country. Most old and unsafe buildings and structures take decades to get that way, and, if anything, the people of Minnesota are to blame for their own state's decline.

Michelle Keller, Largo

Minneapolis bridge collapse

No glory in repairs

The reason our bridges are in disrepair and falling down is simple: Politicians do not want to spend money maintaining existing bridges. They want to build new ones plastered with their names.

I seem to recall our own "Bo's bridge" to nowhere up in the Florida Panhandle.

Pete Wilford, Holiday

Photos don't help

Isn't that wonderful that President Bush and Laura Bush spent all that money to fly their big planes to Minneapolis just to get their pictures taken. Bush in a hard hat: Give me a break!

Why didn't they send the equivalent of what it cost to fly there in their luxury planes to the disaster relief organizations in Minneapolis, which could have better used it for relief?

Imagine what it cost just for security for them to be there. The whole thing is just as bogus as the trips to New Orleans, which is still a disaster area. It hasn't changed one bit thanks to all the photo-ops there.

Why do politicians think that we are so stupid that we actually believe that their presence at these places is anything other than bad politics?

Bob Garton Sr., Largo

Sweeping energy bill wins House approval - Aug. 5, story

Foolish tax

Does anyone see the reality of the following statement as taken from this Sunday story? "The House last night also passed, 221-189, a companion tax package, totaling nearly $16-billion, that targets the oil and gas industry."

Are we to believe for a moment that the oil and gas industry will absorb even a penny of this tax? No. You and I are going to pay for this at the pump.

The feds and the state already extort some 50 cents per gallon in "taxes" to build and maintain roads and bridges - just tell that to the people of Minnesota.

If we really want to solve the energy issue, we are going to have to face some hard facts. We need more domestic energy output: nuclear power, domestic drilling in the gulf and Alaska, and more refineries. Wind, solar, ethanol and corporate taxes may sound warm and fuzzy, but they won't put a dent in the domestic demand for fuel.

So what can we do? First help your representatives, like Kathy Castor, realize that you can see beyond the smoke screen, and urge them to defeat this legislation. Second answer: term limits.

John J. Durning III, Tampa

5 years for rogue driver Aug. 5, story

Throw away the key

Am I the only one who sees something very wrong with this picture? Michael Francis Wiley is listed as having amassed 22 misdemeanors and 24 felony convictions in 22 years. If he was convicted, why wasn't he kept in jail after his first felony conviction?

And now, with a rap sheet that reads like a second cousin of the Sopranos, why is he getting only a five-year sentence? Why do they not throw away the key? Or are the judges waiting for him to drive again and kill someone this time?

Carolyn Gold, Clearwater

Of necessary things

As a graduate of St. Petersburg High's fine theater program, and a recent graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, I read Matt Petit's letter (Appreciate the value of the arts, July 31) bemoaning cuts to art funding with great sympathy. But it is a letter written in response to that piece that prompts me to write.

That letter, printed Aug. 4, asserts that arts are often cut in times of budget crises because they "are not a basic necessity." I could argue against that, and say that it is our literature, our music, our drama, our painting, the tools we use to express the whole gamut of human experience, that make us what we are, for to live without these things would surely starve the soul.

But I won't. Because in essence, the letter writer is right. Arts are not strictly necessary for physical survival, or the economic well-being of our society.

But then neither are sports.

Cari Jacobs, St. Petersburg

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