Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15
Insurer's focus: repairs, not fees
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole. Although a home maintains its sinkhole history, the sinkhole issue will have been addressed. This preserves the dwelling for current and future owners.
Instead of simply writing checks to policyholders and their attorneys, we have demanded that sinkhole repairs be completed. We firmly believe that restoration of the property benefits the policyholder, neighbors and their community by maintaining property values.
A Tampa Bay Times article significantly mischaracterizes Citizens' actions in a sinkhole dispute with residents of Cloverplace, a condominium complex in Pinellas County.
Contrary to homeowners and their attorney, Citizens has been ready to make any repairs necessary if sinkhole damage has occurred. To date, however, there has been no sinkhole inspection of the properties in dispute.
In an effort to bring closure, Citizens in August 2017 offered to pay for an engineer, chosen by Cloverplace plaintiffs, to test the site. We further agreed to be bound by that engineer's findings and pay for all repairs, up to policy limits, from sinkhole activity discovered by those tests. Finally, we agreed to reasonable attorney fees. The offer was rejected by Corless Barfield Trial Group, which represents the policyholders.
This matter has not been resolved because Corless wants Citizens to write a check upfront for attorney fees and to the condo association without requiring repairs be made whether or not sinkhole activity is found. It would be totally irresponsible for Citizens to authorize payments for losses that have never been confirmed. Doing so would run counter to our fiduciary responsibility to our policyholders who need these funds when verified losses occur. For these reasons, we will be appealing the verdict.
Repairs, not attorney fees, should be the top priority.
Barry J. Gilway, president/CEO and executive director, Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
Legislature to public schools: Here's 47 cents
March 16, editorial
Recipe for failure
Public schools have been the main pillar upon which our democracy is built. They have traditionally taken in all children — even those who fail at private schools. With open arms they accept and celebrate the differences our diverse society presents to them. They are what has been cooking our melting pot for centuries.
Legislatures controlled by Democrats find these ideas noble and work to fund schools. Legislatures controlled by Republicans seem to see this as a liberal plot and seek to defund public schools. They are quick to fund all manner of private schools, which often have little or no oversight from the state. And they continue to spread the myth that public schools in general are failing while they go right on siphoning public money to private schools (what a Catch-22).
Tom Reid, Seminole
Using youths in personal agenda | March 13, letter
Wealth on both sides
Is anyone surprised that those of the right-wing persuasion see a bogeyman in Tom Steyer? I hope they see with equal clarity the menace known as the Koch brothers — Charles and David. Their insidious influence on our body politic has gone on for decades. They have spent millions if not billions to influence elections across the United States, even down to some local offices.
It's no longer amusing to hear those of mostly GOP orientation decry the few wealthy voices on the left while turning a blind eye to their own benefactors.
Suzanne Skubick, Palm Harbor
Constitution Revision Commission
End greyhound racing
Next week the Constitution Revision Commission will decide whether or not to place a phase-out of greyhound racing before voters in November. This issue is a personal one, having been involved with greyhound adoption and seeing firsthand how this industry treats dogs.
Dog racing is riddled with deaths, injuries and a major decline in revenue according to state records, so let it go. Let voters decide whether or not to hold on to this archaic industry responsible for so many lives lost. The time is now to rid our state of this vile and dying industry.
Carla Wilson, Winter Springs
Put gun limits on ballot
Most of the proposals under active consideration do not need the Constitution Revision Commission to see the light of day. They are supported by the government officials who appointed the members and who have the power to see that those issues are considered.
However, the issue of gun control needs the CRC desperately. Gun control is the issue of the day and commissioners must find a way to put it on the ballot.
The proposals to protect age limits and waiting periods from a constitutional challenge, and to ban assault weapons are welcome. However, we need more. We need to have meaningful background checks and mandatory waiting periods; we need to stop gun show and internet sale exemptions; and we need to ban AR-15-type weapons and restrict magazine clip size.
Mimi Osiason, Tampa
Don't add to clutter | March 16, commentary
Channel for voter input
I feel that there needs to be a viable alternative for citizens to address issues that the Legislature refuses to deal with. Many states have a provision for voter initiative that produces laws that can be amended rather than changing the Constitution. Florida needs to move in this direction.
Raymond Keller, Tarpon Springs