Wednesday, February 28, 2007

We're so famous, we're infamous!

Does anyone remember that movie, The Three Amigos? About three movie stars, who were summoned to Mexico to battle a real life bad guy? He was referred to as "Infamous" so the dolts thought the was so famous as to be "infamous"?

No? Just me? Oh well.

Anyway, my publisher wrote a set of scathing editorials that published yesterday about our state's Attorney General. He basically calls for the AG to resign, because of the damage done to the state's insurance industry in the wake of his malicious comments.

In case you didn't know, people in South Mississippi are suing their insurance companies because of Hurricane Katrina-related damage. That includes Senator Trent Lott, who lost one of his houses. I think the main question is over whether the damage was caused by wind or water. And I also believe (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that the insurance companies are simply trying to uphold the contracts the homeowners agreed to in the first place.

Oh, and make a profit, naturally.

So, Mr. Hood, the AG, called all insurance companies "Robber Barons" and is encouraging the citizens to revolt against them. State Farm announced that after last week, they would write no new homeowners policies in this state - no matter where in the state you reside.

My boss is concerned that because State Farm is basically pulling out of the homeowners insurance industry in Mississippi, there will be less competition and prices will rise for everyone.

He also says that he doesn't blame the company for pulling out, given the attitude of the AG.

So, somehow, through the magic of the Internet, the editorial has gotten statewide coverage.

Our phones have been ringing off the hook. Our website has been overrun with hits. We're getting calls from PR firms, wanting permission to use the editorials in their work for the insurance industry.

We're the subject of talk radio shows.

I spent yesterday playing phone tag with the state's Insurance Commissioner, who was wanting to give me his two cents worth. He finally just emailed me today.

I guess it's catching people off guard that the only paper in the state with this viewpoint is a small weekly.

My boss said that he doesn't think he's the only one thinking like this, just the only one "obnoxious enough" (his words, not mine!) to say so in public.

He's thrilled. Naturally.

We have to walk a fine line around here - how do we stir up enough controversy to sell papers, but yet not enough to get ourselves sued? Thankfully, the AG is a public official, and he would have to meet a higher standard of proof - that we knowingly printed something untrue or damaging - before he could sue. And, as my boss says, "When you're an elected official, you have to put up with a certain amount of crap."

(This is the same man that, when our web hosting company had problems last month, ripped the check for their payment in half before he signed it, and sent it in with a note saying "This is your half payment for the half-a**** service you provided." Their comptroller called, and offered to give him January's service for free.)

So, much like the villan on Three Amigos, our little newspaper is becoming somewhat infamous.

Next, we'll be doing a song and dance number.

My little buttercup, has the sweetest smile…


Lissete said...

I love the ripped check bit! There are many a days that I feel like doing just that!

As for the insuarance thing. A ton of companies have pulled out of FL plus our rates went up by more than 100%! That's not including our Flood Ins. which is extra.

Valerie said...

rock on.
i think i'm in love!

doodlebugmom said...

Freedom of the press. Yeah!

I have not kept up on insurance issues in MS (my daughter will be headed to the coast in a couple weeks for Katrina relief). I did see that State Farm was pulling out of MS. Can't blame them after seeing some of the million dollar settlements people are recieving. And I agree with you, homeowners signed a contract for specific coverage, its up to them to know what the policy covers and doesn't.

Melissa said...

See, Lissete, that's exactly what my boss is afraid is going to happen. Except that basically everyone in Florida lives in a hurricane zone, and that isn't the case in Mississippi. He sees no reason that those of us who chose not to live on the coast should have to subsidize those who do.