National Flood Insurance Program
Hurricane season is already risky enough in Florida. However, it will become even riskier if Congress does not reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. While the effects of the program's expiration on homeowners are clear, congressional reauthorization of the NFIP does not seem imminent.
Beyond the risk to homeowners of losing flood insurance, even a temporary lapse of the NFIP would have major consequences in other economic sectors. Because virtually all lenders require prospective homeowners to purchase flood insurance when obtaining a mortgage, Florida's already-struggling housing market would grind to a screeching halt as private insurers raised premiums to ensure sufficient coverage.
Additionally, with the expiration of the NFIP, investors in private insurance companies offering flood protection will assume much more risk and could decide to sell their shares in these companies. This potential exit of private investors would threaten the financial stability of many private insurance companies throughout the state.
Matthew Weinstein, Longboat Key
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Zimmermans talk of love, hiding and money - June 19
Trial by media
I don't know if George Zimmerman is guilty of a crime or not, according to the law, but I don't see how he can get a fair trial if the media keeps conducting their own trial in the papers and on the television and radio.
Because of the involvement of outside influences that brought this case to national attention, turning it into a feeding frenzy, I don't know of any venue where Zimmerman can be tried without bias for a true verdict to be determined. Even in court appearances, Zimmerman is shackled as though already guilty.
It would be beneficial to all of us if this case could be decided without prejudice, but now I don't see how it can be.
Richard Valentine, Palm Harbor
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Now go after tailgaters - June 19, letter
Heed the 10 mph rule
As a retired police officer, I would like to add to the letter about tailgating. The rule of thumb is one car length behind the car in front of you for every 10 mph you are traveling. For example, if you are going 50 mph, you should be at least five car lengths behind the car in front of you. If you follow this simple rule, you should have plenty of time to stop in an emergency. Unfortunately, many people do not.
John Waitman, Palm Harbor
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Exec left trail of big bills - June 20
Traveling on public's dime
So Thomas Grady pockets a two-month, all-expenses-paid vacation and election campaign around Florida worth at least $10,000, and then they pay him $18,000 in "severance" for the privilege of paying his bills? And he says nobody could have done what he did any cheaper? How do you spell greed?
A Citizens Property Insurance board member said they "ought to be looking at the president's expense account." Why isn't that being done already? Sounds like Citizens doesn't need the public's money because it sure isn't spending it wisely.
Let's hope that Gov. Rick Scott doesn't reappoint Grady as commissioner on the Office of Financial Regulation, because he sure knows how to work the system and regulate others' finances to his own advantage.
David Hoover, St. Petersburg
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Property fee gimmick hits poorest - June 20, editorial
Taxes should cover services
Once we have a fire fee, will each property owner also be subject to police fees? How about a separate library fee? Or a fee for the parks?
These are city fees and should be covered by property taxes assessed by the city. If property taxes need to be raised to cover our city expenses, this should be done; separate city departments should not be able to charge for services that citizens expect to be covered by their property taxes.
Diane Nicola, St. Petersburg
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Testing has been key to improving schools - June 20, commentary
Testing and education
State Rep. Will Weatherford believes that testing has been key to improving schools. What he fails to contemplate is that all we know from these statistics is that 72 percent of fourth-graders can pass the test. What we don't know is what that means.
Could it mean that, like anyone trying to reach a goal - marathoner, dieter, real estate broker - they prepared by spending the majority of their time on a singular focus? In education, we might call this narrowing the curriculum or teaching to the test.
Each year in Florida, teachers, students and parents have been given a goal - sadly, this continues to be a moving target - and yes, together we seem to somehow move toward meeting it. But do these scores really mean that we have provided students with a "quality education" or that they have "developed the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy"? I guess time will tell.
I wonder how those who have never been educators can make such bold statements about what a test really shows. Would this be true if we measured all of those in political office by the same metric?
How about this? You are elected to the Florida House and given a test on your first day. At the end of the first year we give you another test to see if you have "improved." You are not sure of what score you will need, you are less sure about what questions we might ask, but what you are sure of is if you don't do well you will be removed from office. I wonder if this might change hearts and minds on what a test really measures and if it tells us any more about a politician than it does about a student's learning.
Kim Loy, Tampa
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Survey by NRA is shameless, effective - June 19
The April/May 2012 CharityWatch Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report lists the highestpaid charity executives in the United States.
Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association is No. 11 at $970,300. That is almost a million dollars. In one year. This, in itself, looks to me like a good reason to tell this organization to take a flying leap.
Seriously, how many members of the NRA will make this much money in their entire lifetime?
As a registered nonprofit organization, I'm sure the executive salaries of the NRA are publicly available. This would no doubt make for another lively article in your paper.
Pete Wilford, Holiday