Volume 1, Number 12, March 22, 2004
HEALTH DECISIONS ARE IN YOUR HANDS
As we age, questions and concerns about our health are bound to arise. But for many Floridians, the prospect of getting checked for prostate or breast cancer, two of the leading cancers in men and women, can be frightening. The possibility of receiving bad news often leads individuals to delay being tested for this potentially deadly disease. However, studies continue to show that early detection can mean the difference between treatment and surgery, and sometimes between life and death. An estimated 30,000 American men lose their lives to prostate cancer each year, one death every twenty minutes. An additional 10,000 women, for a total of nearly 40,000, fall victim to breast cancer annually.
But personal stories often make a greater impact on us than statistics. Recently I was told of a friend who was required to undergo a physical exam to qualify for the purchase of life insurance. This individual had a history of prostate cancer in his family and had PSA tests done on a regular basis. PSA, a protein produced in the prostate, has proven to be an extremely useful marker for early detection of prostate cancer and in checking for disease progression and the effects of treatment. Following the exam, the man and his wife sought a second opinion. This time cancer was found, fortunately at an early stage with an excellent chance of recovery after treatment.
Early detection of breast cancer can also result in far
more successful treatments. A mammogram can detect breast cancer at its earliest
stage, when it is most treatable, up to two years before it is large enough to
be felt by a medical professional. More widespread use of mammography has been a
major contributor to recent improvements in the breast cancer survival rate.
FIRE SAFETY IN FLORIDA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The State Fire Marshal’s Office last week released the Florida Public Schools Annual Report FY 2002-2003. This is the first-ever annual report on the status of fire safety programs in Florida’s public schools.
Responsibility for gathering this information was transferred in 2002 from the Department of Education to the State Fire Marshal. Under the new law, set out in Chapter 1013 of Florida Statutes, each school district and the local fire marshal in each jurisdiction are required inspect each school during each school year, with the local fire marshal having authority to set and enforce deadlines for correction of violations. The school district is responsible for reporting the results of the dual inspections to the State Fire Marshal’s Office by June 30 of each year.
Ben Barron, Fire Protection Specialist for the Division's Bureau of Fire Prevention, discovers a gasoline-powered tractor inside a classroom.
In jurisdictions that lack fire safety inspection capability, the State Fire Marshal assumes the role of the local fire official. The law is intended to ensure that every public school, charter school and community college is inspected by an independent fire authority.
“I must say this first report is disappointing,” said Chief Financial Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal. “One school system reported inspecting less than half of its schools. Five other school systems reported that they inspected less than 70 percent of their schools, and many others reported inspecting less than 80 percent. Students deserve better odds.”
School districts must submit their current school year inspection reports by June 30. Gallagher has said that any school that does not submit an inspection report will face possible closure, and that schools in which life-threatening violations are allowed to persist will face the same prospect.
A summary of the findings and a database of violations cited at each inspected school are available at http://www.MyFloridaCFO.com/SFM/PublicSchoolsReports_FY_2002-03.htm. The summary lists the top three violations found in all schools in each county the schools that did not submit an inspection report.
“The State Fire Marshal’s Office stands ready to help school districts and local fire officials comply with these inspection requirements,” Gallagher said. “Our first priority must be to ensure a safe environment for students and teachers.”
GALLAGHER PROMOTES LEGISLATION TO PREVENT ID THEFT
CFO asks lawmakers to require proper disposal of consumer records
Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher unveiled a proposal to require financial institutions, brokerages, insurance companies and agencies to use greater care when they dispose of consumer records containing personal, financial and medical information.
In the past year, the Department of Financial Services has received several reports of sensitive information being disposed of along with everyday office trash in public dumpsters. Access to these kinds of documents creates the potential for identity theft, an increasingly widespread form of financial fraud. A survey by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that more than 27 million Americans became ID theft victims in the last five years, resulting in more than $5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses. The same survey determined that ID theft cost the financial services industry nearly $50 billion.
“If scam artists gain access to personal and financial information, they can wreak havoc with a consumer’s finances,” Gallagher said. “That’s why I’m urging state lawmakers to take steps to protect Florida consumers from the nation’s fastest growing crime.”
Senate bill 1624, sponsored by Sen. Jim Sebesta, along with the version sponsored by the House Commerce Committee, provides the Department of Financial Services, Office of Financial Regulation and Office of Insurance Regulation with the authority to set rules for the financial services industry in Florida for the proper destruction of records containing personal, financial and medical information.
In addition to promoting this legislation, Gallagher’s office has issued several consumer alerts warning consumers about the dangers of ID theft. The department has created an online resource on ID theft. Consumers can log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com and click the “ID Theft” banner to visit the site. Tips on avoiding this type of crime include shredding junk mail credit card offers, reviewing all bank and credit card records and checking credit reports at least once a year.
Monitoring financial account activity is also extremely important. According to the FTC, 52 percent of identity theft victims discovered they were victims by monitoring their accounts. More than 67 percent of victims reported that their credit card accounts were commandeered, representing the largest portion of respondents.
must be more than cautious to avoid identity theft scams – they must be
downright aggressive,” Gallagher said. “However, state lawmakers should ensure
consumers are protected against careless handling of their personal, financial
and medical information.
5 ARRESTED IN SCHEME THAT DEFRAUDED
HUNDREDS OF SENIORS