CITIZENS, CONSUMER GROUPS & ROBIN HOOD!

 

Something extremely unusual, maybe even exceptional, happened last week.

At least one major daily published two side-by-side opinion pieces on Citizens.  While that part isn’t so unusual, what’s extremely rare is that even though they were each written by groups that are often opponents, both authors expressed virtually the same opinion, namely…

CITIZENS SUBSIDIES NEED TO END & ITS RATES NEED TO RISE!

The Florida Wildlife Federation and R Street a conservative think tank both partially opined that Citizens subsidies amount to robbing from the poor to give to the rich–Robin Hood in reverse.

I thought about the implications for some consumer groups that claim to camp in Nottingham’s forest–groups like the Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN) or Policyholders of Florida (POF).

While you’ve often heard me say they both front for trial lawyers and PA’s, these tandem op-eds illustrate my contention far better than I ever could.

In fairness, POF was founded by one of Florida’s top sinkhole law firms–it’s head is also founder of Florida’s leading public adjuster advocacy group and, Sean Shaw works there–no use trying to hide what they’re all about.

FCAN is a different matter–along with the perennial presence of  trial lawyers (The Florida Justice Association) its board used to feature an environmental group or two.  But, while FCAN occasionally waves a protest sign about, say…local river pollution, it nonetheless appears to ignore major environmental issues whenever they come in conflict with trial lawyer pocketbooks.

FCAN’s website says it “…seeks to empower consumers to fight back on … the environment…” But, in real life it ignores the Wildlife Federation’s conclusion that Citizens rate structure amounts to  “…support for reckless development in the most hazardous and environmentally significant areas…” and “…promotes loss of undeveloped coastal habitats that help reduce inland storm damage”.

In the same newspaper as the tandem op-eds, and only a few pages away, was an article titled “Penthouses Sell Out in Two Hours”.

It should’ve been titled “Reverse Robin Hood Strikes Again!”

It describes how a new Miami Beach development called the Canyon Ranch with 580 “artfully designed…residences…surrounded by a wellness spa, spread across three blue glass towers with a 150 suite hotel on the lower floors” is ready for occupancy.  And, get this…in the middle of a recession and real estate decline it’s…”completely sold out!”

While folks who can’t even afford property pay assessments promoted by FCAN, the sales director at Canyon Ranch brags that his residents “…placed their names on a waiting list…quickly signed contracts, sometimes sight unseen”  for “spectacular” homes priced at $1,000 a square foot.  He said it was because “All of the buyers already owned homes at Canyon Ranch and were so enthused with the luxury…they couldn’t wait to purchase again.”

The irony is mind numbing.

Canyon Ranch occupants reside in Citizens designated high risk areas and pay less for insurance because someone who earns less and lives elsewhere is forced to pay more.  And…

…they are all beneficiaries of the positions taken by FCAN, and to a less ironic extent, by POF.

Keep in mind, it’s not coastal vs. inland–in all but one county, the majority of households are supporting the minority who live on the coast.

Why wouldn’t FCAN or POF at least have a position on the unfairness of this subsidy?  What kind of consumer group wouldn’t have a mention in its platform, one statement, one word of objection about such an egregious redirection of working class earnings?

Though I’m sure they don’t care for me very much, I respect both Sean Shaw and Bill Newton, the heads of POF and FCAN respectively, and promise to publish every word of any response I receive from either of the two gentlemen.

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