FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER TOM GALLAGHER'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Volume 3, Number 35, August 28, 2006
Preparedness is paramount to safety when a
Governor Bush and I are urging Floridians to secure their property, have
supplies such as food and water for at least 72 hours, and evacuate if
My hope is that residents in the Keys and those in mobile homes or in
flood-prone areas have already taken steps to successfully evacuate.
Following a storm, my first goal is to ensure your safety. As State Fire
Marshal, I help coordinate search and rescue efforts.
We deploy teams from our State Fire Marshal’s Office to help stranded or
wounded Floridians and help clear roadways of debris.
We also mobilize our sworn law enforcement with the Division of Insurance
Fraud to assist law enforcement efforts in preventing looting, price gouging
and other scams.
Some things you can do to protect yourself include:
If you use a generator for power,
remember to keep it outside and in a well-ventilated area because
generators produce carbon monoxide.
Beware of downed power lines, especially
near water – to avoid risk of electrocution.
If your house is damaged, shut
electricity off at the breakers.
Never drive through floodwaters or on
flooded roads. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek
higher ground. Water only two feet deep can sweep away most cars.
I will also be dispatching our consumer
response teams to impacted areas to assist with insurance claims and get
money for additional living expenses.
We are here to serve and we are here to help.
-- Tom Gallagher
FLORIDIANS TO PREPARE FOR ERNESTO
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief
financial officer and state fire marshal, is urging
residents and visitors throughout Florida to stay
alert to news regarding the path of Tropical Storm
Ernesto and to complete hurricane preparations.
“Our state’s experience over the past two years has
highlighted the urgency and importance of being
prepared,” Gallagher said. “Take steps now to make
sure your family and your home are ready.”
In the event of heavy storm damage,
Gallagher will oversee the fire and rescue operations at the state’s
Emergency Operations Center and deployment of staff to assist with rescue
The Department of Financial Services’
storm hotline, 1-800-22STORM, can assist residents in preparing for a storm
as well as dealing with damage after a storm. In addition, the department’s
website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com contains a
wealth of information to assist consumers in getting ready for a storm and
dealing with the potential aftermath. The website includes a Hurricane
Toolkit, an Insurance Checklist, and answers to common insurance questions.
Gallagher recommends property owners take
these actions before a storm:
• Monitor news for storm information and
• Buy the materials you need to secure your property and minimize your
losses. Cover your windows with shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles
into a garage or carport when possible. Grills and/or patio furniture
should be secured or moved inside.
• Keep materials such as plywood and plastic on hand in case you need to
make temporary repairs after a storm. Keep receipts for those repairs so
that your insurance company can reimburse you.
• Inventory your household items, including receipts, purchase dates and
serial numbers. Photograph or videotape your possessions. Keep copies of
this information and your insurance policies in a safe place and keep the
originals in a safe deposit box.
• Write down the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your
insurance company, which may differ from your agent’s contact information.
Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if
you are forced to evacuate your home.
• Be sure you know what your deductible is for hurricane losses.
In the event of damage, Gallagher recommends that you:
• Never use a generator indoors or in any
enclosed area including a garage, carport or sunroom.
• Avoid using candles and do not use a candle or lantern near a generator or
• Make emergency repairs to protect from further damage, document the damage
and repairs in writing, and with receipts and photos.
• Immediately report property damage to your insurance agent and company.
• Maintain copies of your household inventory and other documentation,
including photos. This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of
the destroyed property.
• Take precautions if the damage requires you to leave your home. Let your
agent or insurance company know your temporary forwarding address and phone
• Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed and reputable
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that
they are licensed by calling the department’s storm hotline at
• Be sure you understand how much a public insurance adjuster is charging
and what services are included before signing any contract.
For more hurricane preparation tips, visit
the Department of Financial Services’ web site at
www.MyFloridaCFO.com, and click on Hurricane Season 2006.
“Preparedness is the best defense – both for the storm and the aftermath
that could lure unlicensed adjusters and scam artists,” Gallagher said.
“But more important is to heed any evacuation orders – nothing is more
important than your and your family’s safety.”
Hurricane season continues until November 30.
$20 MILLION THROUGH MY SAFE FLORIDA HOME PROGRAM NOW
AVAILABLE TO NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS
Funds Are to Help Low-Income Floridians Strengthen
Their Homes against Hurricanes
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and the
Florida Hurricane Relief Fund are inviting non-profit organizations to help
low-income Floridians strengthen their homes against natural disasters
through the new My Safe Florida Home program. The program has been
developed by Gallagher’s office to help homes better withstand hurricane
damage and keep families safer.
The Volunteer Florida Foundation, which administers the
Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, is partnering with Gallagher’s office to
distribute up to $20 million to non-profit organizations to retrofit
low-income homes in eight counties, including Broward, Escambia, Lee,
Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Sarasota and Volusia. Through non-profit
organizations participating in the program, qualifying low-income Floridians
will be eligible for a free home inspection and financial assistance to
strengthen their homes.
“Partnering with faith- and community-based groups to
help fortify low-income homes in Florida is mission critical to protecting
families and reducing property losses,” said Gallagher, who oversees the My
Safe Florida Home program. “Through these partnerships, we will be able to
leverage resources and help thousands of Floridians before the end of this
Interested non-profit organizations can get involved by
responding to Volunteer Florida’s request for proposal posted at
www.FLAHurricaneFund.org. The deadline for non-profit organizations to
submit proposals for helping low-income homeowners fortify their houses is
Wednesday, September 6, 2006.
“In our long-term recovery work following the last two hurricane seasons, we
at the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund have learned the enormous value of
partnering with community and faith-based groups, organizations that know
their communities and are effective partners in accomplishing important
tasks,” said Liza McFadden, President of the Volunteer Florida Foundation.
“We are honored to expand our role to include mitigation work with the
Department of Financial Services to ensure Florida’s low-income residents
get the help they need to strengthen their homes.”
Funding for the non-profit program is possible because
of a $250 million appropriation by the Florida Legislature during the 2006
Session to create the Florida Comprehensive Hurricane Damage Mitigation
Program. The program has been coined the My Safe Florida Home Program and
was announced by Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and the Florida
Department of Financial Services last week. The Department of Financial
Services designated the Volunteer Florida Foundation this week to administer
the low-income portion of the program through its Florida Hurricane Relief
For more information on the overall mitigation program, go to
www.MySafeFloridaHome.com. For more information on the Florida Hurricane
Relief Fund, go to
REWARDS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE WITH $157.6 MILLION TO HIGH-PERFORMING SCHOOLS
Nearly 1,800 schools statewide receive school recognition funding
Governor Jeb Bush and state education leaders today announced $157.6 million
in funding to 1,799 Florida schools in recognition of academic achievement
and improvement during the 2005-2006 school year – more than five times the
number of schools and funding first rewarded in 1999. As part of the A+
School Recognition Program, schools that achieve an “A” based on the school
grading criteria or improve at least one grade from the previous year, are
awarded $100 per student. Since 1999, Florida has awarded more than $852.7
million in school recognition funding.
“Today, we reward the tireless efforts of students, parents, and educators
who are committed to achieving academic success,” said Governor Bush. “When
the standards for success are set high, we begin to fully recognize what our
students can accomplish.”
Governor Bush marked the announcement by presenting checks to Webb Middle
School in Tampa and Sadler Elementary in Orlando. Both schools received
recognition funds for academic success. Education Commissioner John L. Winn,
K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke, Ph.D., State Board of
Education Vice Chair T. Willard Fair and State Board of Education Members
Donna Callaway, Phoebe Raulerson and Kathleen Shanahan also visited schools
throughout the state to honor their achievement.
Recognition funds are allocated based on a joint decision by a
school-appointed committee of teachers and administrators. Funds can be used
by a school to purchase one-time faculty incentives such as educational
equipment, new technology, staff bonuses, or hiring temporary personnel to
assist in maintaining and improving student performance.
Florida schools earned a record number of “A” and “B” grades in 2006 – more
than any previous year. Since 1999, when the A+ Plan for Education was
implemented, schools have improved from only 515 schools earning an “A” or
“B” to 2,077 schools in 2006 – four times the number of high-performing
schools seven years ago and 234 more than last year (up from 1,843). Three
of every four Florida schools were considered high performing in 2006. At
the same time, the number of failing schools is on the decline, down to a
fourth of the number of failing schools in 1999. This year, there are 142
“D” and “F” schools compared to 677 schools seven years ago.
A++ Plan for Education
This year, the Florida Legislature approved Governor Bush’s A++ Plan for
Education to increase the rigor and relevance of Florida’s middle and high
schools. Middle school students will now be required to complete 12 core
academic courses (three each in English, math, science and social studies),
as well as one course in career and education planning, in order to be
promoted to high school. High school students are now required to complete
an additional math credit for graduation and choose a major area of
interest. These measures will better prepare students for postsecondary
education and the workforce.
Under the leadership of Governor Bush, funding for education has increased
69 percent or $7.7 billion, providing millions of Florida’s students with a
high-quality education. Governor Bush implemented higher standards and
developed an accountably system that has made a positive impact on improving
For Florida’s struggling schools, the Assistance Plus program provides
funding, resources and support to address areas of weakness. In addition,
failing schools receive school improvement facilitators, reading coaches,
technical assistance and assessments to monitor student progress. Schools
that have repeatedly failed will be required to take immediate action to
show improvement. In May, the State Board of Education approved measures
that require schools districts to take bold action to turn failing schools
around, such as restructuring the grade configuration of the school and
implementing new research-based curriculum programs. The Assistance Plus
program will help these schools achieve these goals.
To view a list of schools receiving recognition funding and amounts visit
PALM BEACH COUNTY
MAN CHARGED WITH THEFT OF MONEY BELONGING TO ASSISTED
Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer,
announced today that a Palm Beach County man is facing
felony charges for allegedly taking money that should
have gone toward the operation of a West Palm Beach
assisted living facility. The arrest stems from an
investigation by the Department of Financial Services’
Office of Fiscal Integrity.
Thomas Edward Kinsey, 63, surrendered on August 18 to
the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on the charges of
grand theft, second-degree, and filing a fraudulent
claim for unclaimed property, a third-degree felony. He
was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail and released
after posting a $5,000 bond. If convicted on the
charges, Kinsey faces up to 20 years in prison and a
“Our investigators determined this individual took money
that should have gone toward the care of medically needy
senior citizens,” said Gallagher, who oversees the
Department of Financial Services. “That is despicable,
and I commend our investigators for their diligent work
in this case.”
Kinsey allegedly filed a claim in excess of $4,500 for
unclaimed property belonging to the Mangonia Residence
Apartments, an assisted living facility located on
Australian Avenue, West Palm Beach. According to court
documents, Kinsey lost control of the facility in
November 1998 following a legal battle with his
then-business partners. Over the course of several years
after his ouster from the project, investigators said
Kinsey continued to receive commission checks from
laundry room vendors doing business with the Mangonia
Residence Apartments and ultimately deposited more than
$17,000 belonging to Mangonia Residence Apartments into
personal bank accounts in his and his spouse’s name.
Kinsey is already facing trial for his previous arrest
in May 2004 for the grand theft of $500,000 in grant
funds he received to build an assisted living facility
project he was developing on Haverhill Road in West Palm
Beach. That case was also investigated by the Office of
Consumer Services HelpLine (800) 342-2762