by Rick Boettger….
Our Monroe County government has decided not to lift a finger to try to reduce our exorbitant Citizen’s Property Insurance premiums. In brief, I proposed:
- That the County take over our hurricane coverage, just as the state took it over from private insurers in 2002.
- That our basis for doing it was following Citizen’s own mandate to “depopulate” its number of policies, that is, unload as many as possible.
- That we could use the same statutes and regulations already used, just amended to apply at the County level.
- That we already had in place an experienced cadre of County windstorm experts, working mostly for free in FIRM, Fair Insurance Rates for Monroe County.
I personally and formally made this presentation to the Commissioners and staff at the August meeting in Key West on their “Sounding Board.” They seemed not only interested but actually appreciative. I ended by saying this was almost surely my last act of public service, and it would be nice to be actually working with my government, as opposed to attacking it. The Sounding Board only allows that the Commissioners “may” choose county staff to follow up with the proposal.
Well, I was nicely fooled. Crickets. There is no follow-up, or even a recognition of my question as to what is happening. Unfortunately, there is nothing I or FIRM can do without the County’s having some sort of involvement, because it is at the County level that the insurance would be covered.
There is so much money at stake here. Remember, we have paid over 4 times as much in premiums in the last 20 years than we have received in claims. That means we could cut our premiums in half and the County would still be making double what it paid out.
And hold your horses, before you get caught up in how hard this would be, my main goal in this whole project is to just get the State’s and Citizen’s attention. I expected at some point the State would see they were “depopulating” their Golden Goose, and would talk us into staying by finally taking FIRMS’s actuarial calculations into account. That is, the County would have to do exactly NOTHING to save us, the voting citizenry, a boatload of money in overpriced insurance premiums. They would just have had to say, “Yes, Rick and FIRM, please research this issue for us.”
Folks, I really tried to use my friendliest wiles to get my government to help us out. I was nice. I appreciated their process at the meeting. I tempted them with the prediction that the county would have to create around 8 new jobs to handle the policies, and our windstorm Czar would likely be the highest paid county official (something interesting for Roman to do for a couple years, to jack up his retirement check, hint hint).
Well, sorry, it seems I’m stuck in pit bull mode as my cuddly kitten persona got nowhere.
So I think this is a sign for me to hang up my spurs. I want to thank the 1% of the citizenry that reads columns like mine and supports mine and other reporters’ efforts to use our First Amendment to protect We The People. It has been gratifying to have been able to reach you, my political/spiritual fellow-travelers, since I got locally active and writing in 2006. The biggest things I got done were keeping the cemetery open to biking through, getting all of the Commissioners who destroyed Stand Up for Animals nailed with fines from the Florida Commission on Ethics, and helping save the pines at Fort Zach. On the last, it was only the threat of a lawsuit that helped—just as, for windstorm, the mere possibility of Monroe opting out would, I feel sure, have reduced our premiums.
Finally, take this as my obituary as an activist and investigative journalist. My readers have been the smartest and most concerned citizens in the world, and it has been my honor to have had your attention and appreciation. Thank you. In lieu of flowers, please beg your County Commissioner to support research, perhaps through FIRM instead of me, on taking over our windstorm insurance.
I am grateful to Dennis Cooper and Naja and Arnaud Girard for starting and continuing the Blue Paper for my time here. They too have had great effects with their investigative reporting, but they also have done the hard work of putting a paper together and out into the world, an increasingly impossible task in today’s media world.
All I have had to do is write. I have had the overwhelming satisfaction of what Rachel Maddow describes below, in answer to a reporter’s question on what would she consider success in her new roles on MSNBC and elsewhere. He was looking for an answer like “critical acclaim” or “box office numbers.” She answered:
“This is gonna be a disappointing answer. But for me, success is doing work I am proud of. It’s about feeling like I am free to do what I want, and to talk about things that I think are important, and to contribute something that wouldn’t necessarily have been contributed had I not been the one working on it.”
They gave me what Rachel only now aspires to. Thank you, Dennis, Naja and Arnaud.