CFO Alex Sink's Consumer eViews Newsletter

         Volume 5  Number 40  October 3, 2008

CONSUMER SERVICES HELPLINE 877-MY-FL-CFO

Following the lead of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the federal financial rescue legislation by a vote of 263-171 Friday afternoon, with this version gaining more support from both Democrats and Republicans than the earlier bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the newly printed legislation and stated that the measure was essential to "begin to shape the financial stability of our country and the economic security of our people."

President Bush signed the bill into law this afternoon.

Following the U.S. House of Representatives passage of the legislation, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink offered the following statement:

“During the past few days, I’ve met with dozens of homeowners and small business owners around the state who have had difficulty getting access to credit. I applaud today’s passage of crucial legislation that will help stabilize the economy and bring more certainty to our financial and credit markets. Although far from perfect, this bill allows the Treasury to modify mortgages to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, has the potential to open access to credit for the everyday needs of Floridians, and limits the amount of pay given to CEOs who have contributed to the current crisis.”


CFO Alex Sink and David Greene.
David Greene confers with Admiral Leroy Collins, Executive Director of the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
 
 
Left to right: Rear Admiral Leroy Collins, Executive Director of the Department of Veterans' Affairs; CFO Sink; Jane McConnaughhay; David Greene; Tammy Teston; Terry Butler; Lori Parham and

 

CFO SINK CREATES THE ‘SAFEGUARD OUR SENIORS’ TASK FORCE
Sink assembles diverse group to tackle solutions for protecting senior investors

Standing beside Mr. David Greene, an 81-year-old retired Army Master Sergeant and victim of annuity fraud, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that she has created the “Safeguard our Seniors” (SOS) Task Force to review and recommend solutions to better protect Florida seniors against financial fraud, with an immediate focus on annuity fraud. The task force includes senior advocacy, legal, investigative, consumer, regulatory and industry representatives.

“Every year, my department investigates hundreds of bad actors who prey upon Florida seniors, luring them into inappropriate investments and draining their hard-earned savings,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services (DFS). “I have created the ‘Safeguard Our Seniors’ Task Force to identify how our state can better protect seniors from these financial threats, starting with annuity fraud.”"Safeguard Our Seniors" Task Force
CONTINUED

CFO SINK TO MEET WITH SENIOR VICTIMS OF FINANCIAL FRAUD
Discussion to be followed by the first roundtable meeting of the Safeguard our Seniors Task Force

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink will be meeting with several senior victims of financial fraud on Monday, October 6, 2008, at the Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. These Florida seniors will share their stories and discuss possible solutions with CFO Sink to better protect seniors against financial fraud.

The discussion will start at 10:30 a.m. and conclude by 11:30 a.m. CFO Sink will then convene a meeting of the Safeguard our Seniors Task Force from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. to evaluate the current status of annuity fraud in Florida.


 

STILL TIME TO FILE FOR YOUR ECONOMIC STIMULUS PAYMENT

For those residents who still intend to receive an economic stimulus payment, the Oct. 15 deadline to file a 2007 income tax return is fast approaching.

And according to the Internal Revenue Service, there were
317,388 potential filers in Florida in mid-September who had not submitted a tax return to get the stimulus check.

Nationally, the IRS is alerting the estimated 4.3 million retirees and disabled veterans who may be eligible to receive a stimulus payment, but who normally don't file a tax return. It's also the deadline for the approximately 10 million people who earlier this year received extensions to file their 2007 income tax return.


 
Dr. Carmine Priore, Vice Mayor, Wellington and president of the Florida League of Cities.

CABINET RECOGNIZES FLORIDA CITY GOVERNMENT WEEK

The designation of Florida City Government Week, October 15 through 21, 2008,  provides an appropriate occasion for Floridians to recognize the significant role played by city government in the daily lives of all citizens by offering an opportunity to inform Florida citizens that through theirDr. Carmine Priore involvement, they can shape and influence local, state and national government sectors. The week also serves to recognize all municipal employees and officials for their dedication and commitment to local governments and urge all Floridians to join in this recognition of excellence and public service. CONTINUED
 
Ellen Wilcox, FDLE Special Agent is pictured with her husband, Dennis, her in-laws, Don and Alice Morris and Commissioner Gerald Bailey.  The second photo is Leigh Clark, FDLE Forensic Scientist and Commissioner Bailey.

 

SPECIAL AGENT ELLEN WILCOX IS 2007 FDLE SPECIAL AGENT OF THE YEAR

Special Agent Ellen Wilcox, in recognition of her devotion to duty, many accomplishments and exemplary service, was honored by FDLE as the 2007 FDLE Special Agent of the Year. Promoted to Special Agent in July, 1981, Wilcox regularly works with law enforcement agencies, regulatory agencies and industryEllen Wilcox organizations to identify strategies to combat mortgage fraud, is a member of several professional organizations such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and is a nationally-recognized expert in the field of mortgage fraud. She is recognized for her work as a case agent of a complex mortgage fraud investigation impacting Florida, as well as the nation, involving both brokers and lenders responsible for almost 200 fraudulent loans worth nearly $18 million.
CONTINUED
 
 
Leigh Clark, FDLE Forensic Scientist and Commissioner Bailey.

 

CRIME LABORATORY ANALYST LEIGH CLARK IS 2007 FDLE FORENSIC SCIENTIST OF THE YEAR

FDLE Crime Laboratory Analyst Leigh Clark, in recognition of her devotion to duty, many accomplishments and exemplary service, was honored as the 2007 FDLE Forensic Scientist of the Year for her extraordinary contributions to the protection of the citizens and visitors of the State of Florida.Leigh Clark

FDLE Crime Laboratory Analyst Leigh Clark volunteered to be the principal instructor of four Crime Lab Analyst Trainees and four Forensic Technologists and the new Biology/DNA section is now handling a large caseload which has assisted in cutting the state’s DNA backlog. The quality and comprehensiveness of the training provided to the Ft. Myers Regional Laboratory Biology/DNA section members was noted by inspectors as part of the accreditation of the lab, thanks to Leigh Clark. CONTINUED


 
Rosa Gomez, Commissioner’s Award recipient with are her sons, Master Sergeant Michael Turner, Khalid Turner, and Staff Sergeant Amin Turner and her brother, Gilbert Gomez and Commissioner Bailey

 

STAFF ASSISTANT ROSA GOMEZ IS 2007 FDLE COMMISSIONER’S AWARD WINNER

Rosa Gomez, in recognition of her devotion to duty, many accomplishments and exemplary service, was honored by FDLE as the 2007 Commissioner’s Award winner. Mrs. Gomez was appointed to her position in the department in December 2002, and since then has been an exemplary public servant, manning the front desk in the Headquarters building rotunda, requiring her to provide excellentRosa Gomez customer service to visitors and telephone callers and provide the first-line of building security. She has received numerous accolades for her pleasant demeanor and hospitality, demonstrated a continued commitment to duty, and provided enthusiastic assistance whenever requested. Mrs. Gomez has consistently exemplified FDLE’s values of Service, Integrity, Respect and Quality through her actions. CONTINUED

Below - Principal Kay Collins, students and teachers from Nims Middle School with CFO Sink, Governor Crist and Attorney General McCollum.

NIMS MIDDLE SCHOOL RECOGNIZED BY CABINET AND GOVERNOR

Nims was one of 25 Leon County schools that received more than $1.8 million for either earning an A or improving at least one letter grade on last year's FCAT test.  Through grit and  hard work, Nims was able to pull itself up from an F to a C.









Saving energy, saving money

Energy tips for Florida families - these actions represent ways to behave kindly toward Mother Earth, AND save money as well as energy.

Presented by CFO Alex Sink's science advisor Meg Lowman, Ph.D., on the faculty at New College of Florida. Dr. Lowman has written numerous award-winning books and is an expert on the rain forests of the world.

MAKE YOUR YARD FLORIDA FRIENDLY

Did you know that 50 percent of the potable water used in Florida is devoted to watering lawns and other landscapes? Florida is facing a serious water shortage as more people come to live in the state. You can reduce your water use if you convert your water-loving lawn into a Florida friendly landscape. This practice is called xeriscape. Although the word comes from two Greek words, today it has come to mean "water conservation through creative landscaping."

The fundamentals of xeriscape are easy to follow and implement. While the project can be as comprehensive as overhauling your entire lawn, it can be as simple as changing the plants you already use to include the beautiful native plants of your area. It is important to first identify the planting zone you live in - North, Central or South Florida.

Then you can identify the Florida-friendly plants, including Florida native plants, that will work in your yard or landscape design. Nearly 380 trees, palms, shrubs, flowers, groundcovers, grasses and vines are recommended by University of Florida/IFAS horticulture experts and are identified in the Florida-friendly plant database. The plants  included in the database are available at nurseries throughout Florida.

When you buy new plants, choose ones that don’t require much water. Instead of traditional fertilizers, consider using compost, manure or leaf mold. Mulch areas where you have planted to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Also you might consider a sprinkler system that includes an automatic irrigation/drip system to save water.


Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation

 

LEON COUNTY JUDGE ORDERS MD MEDICARE CHOICE INTO RECEIVERSHIP FOR PURPOSES OF LIQUIDATION

A Leon County Circuit Court judge late Monday ordered Tampa-based MD Medicare Choice (MDMC), a Medicare Advantage plan with more than 16,000 members in 23 Florida counties, placed into receivership for the purpose of liquidation. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) was named receiver, effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight, and will work closely with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Humana, which will provide replacement coverage effective Wednesday, October 1.

Judge P. Kevin Davey ordered the receivership after reviewing financial records showing that MDMC is financially insolvent and has no cash flow. The company already was under administrative supervision with the Office of Insurance Regulation, but fell into further financial hardship last week when its access to $27 million in reserves, invested in The Primary Fund of Reserve Management Corp., was frozen by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Our highest priority is to work with the appropriate agencies to ensure a smooth transition for policyholders,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who oversees DFS.
CONTINUED
 

 

 

 

LIFE INSURANCE: COVERAGE CAN SECURE YOUR FAMILY'S FUTURE

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) suggests that you review your life insurance policies to determine if your coverage is still appropriate for your situation.

The Basics

Life insurance helps secure your family’s financial future in the event of the death of you and/or your spouse. It also helps ensure that the estate that you’ve worked to build will be allocated to the beneficiaries you have chosen.

When purchasing life insurance, consider the financial responsibilities that your family will immediately inherit such as a mortgage or car loan. In addition, you’ll want to consider long-term goals such as your spouse’s retirement or your children’s education. If you decide that you need more coverage, determine whether you need term life insurance or a cash value policy.

Term insurance generally has lower premiums in the early years, but does not build up a cash value you can access. Cash value policies come in the form of whole life, universal life or variable life insurance. It’s important to know which type of policy you own, and how the benefits are paid if something happens to you and/or your spouse.

If you have questions about your current coverage, or about the type of policy to best fit your situation, contact your life insurance agent or the Florida Department of Financial Services at http://www.MyFloridaCFO.com/.
CONTINUED