1. Letters to the Editor

Wednesday's letters: Making a difference for children

Published May 28, 2013

She speaks her mind | May 26, Perspective

Making a difference for children

Rochelle Koff's article profiling Venice state Sen. Nancy Detert is right on target. When it comes to passion and persuasion, especially in addressing the needs of Florida's foster children and youth, Detert is a true champion.

Making stump speeches about the importance of children is easy, but making a real difference in their lives is quite another matter. Effective leadership requires learning about a problem, listening to the voices of those affected, and taking steps to rectify the problem in a meaningful way.

That is the path Detert is paving so our foster youth can be safer, more secure, and able to succeed in their educational, emotional and economic futures.

On behalf of Florida's 9,000-plus Guardian ad Litem volunteers, our professional staff, and the tens of thousands of abused, neglected and abandoned young people we serve, we express our sincere gratitude to Sen. Nancy Detert for her spirit and spunk.

Alan F. Abramowitz, executive director, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, Tallahassee

Lawmakers zero in on insurer | May 25

Deal needs investigating

Kudos to Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford for requesting that a committee review the laws governing Citizens Property Insurance Corp. in light of the recent takeout agreement between Citizens and Heritage Property and Casualty Insurance Co. What the committee will find is two organizations trying to circumvent the law.

Chapter 627.3511 of Florida Statutes governs the depopulation of Citizens and limits takeout bonuses to no more than $100 per policy. The agreement reached between Citizens and Heritage will transfer on average $866 per policy from Citizens to Heritage.

Both organizations will tell you they are not paying a takeout bonus because they believe they have cleverly crafted a two-pronged approach. The first part involves a backdated reinsurance agreement in which Citizens pays Heritage $52 million for a reinsurance treaty that does not transfer any significant risk; the second part is a non-bonus-paying assumption of 60,000 policies by Heritage from Citizens. In their own words, each step is an integral and critical element for the depopulation, meaning these aren't separate and distinct transactions and one won't happen without the other.

In addition to reviewing the laws governing Citizens, a review is needed to determine if the leadership of Citizens and Heritage are competent and trustworthy to run an insurance company in the state of Florida.

B.L. Miller, Lutz

Residency claims sketchy | May 24

Crossing the lines

I read with amusement the fussy article regarding the residency of St. Petersburg City Council candidates. In the United States we have freedoms, including the freedom to declare where our residency is without any government oversight of where we "brush our teeth in the morning." It's not your business to ask; we don't live in a police state.

If you want to focus on the technicalities, however, keep in mind that the rules were changed on these qualified candidates — it is not the candidates manipulating the rules. It is now apparent that we have a broken process that changes district boundaries within 12 months of an election yet demands continuous residency in that period. The City Council needs to amend the charter to prevent this from happening again because it is an affront to the democratic process.

Arlin Briley, St. Petersburg

For troops, final details are '100 percent perfect' | May 26

The respect they deserve

My sincere thanks for the absolutely marvelous article about the really wonderful care our servicemen and women receive before their final resting place. They deserve all that and more. I am sure the families are reassured by the respect and care taken with their loved ones.

This is a must-read article for everyone, especially schoolchildren, so they can appreciate the true sacrifices made by these men and women. Please publish more in the same vein focusing on care given to those who have survived.

Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg

Police perk under scrutiny | May 26

Public gets the perk

When considering the cost of allowing police officers to drive their patrol cars to and from their homes, I hope the St. Petersburg City Council will take into consideration the extra benefits to the citizens of such an arrangement. The term "perk" seems a bit of a misnomer in this situation.

If, as Chief Chuck Harmon points out, the officers spend an additional 40 minutes each shift on the street as a result of this; and if, as Detective Mark Marland points out, it allows officers to respond to major emergencies more quickly; and if, as the mayor points out, this policy has helped in recruitment and in reducing attrition, then careful consideration is called for before eliminating this practice.

Furthermore, the mere presence of patrol vehicles on the streets and highways, regardless of the county they represent, makes drivers more aware of their own driving behavior. Plus, the neighborhoods benefit from the visibility of having the police cars parked in the driveways. The "perk," it seems, is to the public.

Barbara Hartwell, St. Petersburg

Map it and track it

So St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon says it's impossible to provide a cost for officers taking their police cars home, adding "there is just not any way to track it."


Try MapQuest, Chief Harmon. You know where the officer works and you know where the officer lives. The cost to the city is mileage, either just for fuel or fuel plus depreciation. It's really quite simple.

Henry Kempf, New Port Richey

Brothers in arms disagree May 26, Perspective

Service distinction

While your headline "Brothers in arms disagree" is technically accurate — Jeffrey and Ted Nugent are brothers, both members of the NRA, and they disagree on certain gun legislation — I disagree with your use of the headlined phrase.

A quick check of many dictionary sites indicates that "brothers in arms" is most usually defined or understood as fellow members of the military. Jeffrey served honorably as an Army officer. Choose whatever story you want to believe about Ted not serving, but the fact is he received multiple deferments and never served our country in the military.

Paul S. Cooper, St. Petersburg