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Robert Trigaux

Antoinette: Gone but still breathing fire



Anybody who's spent more than a few years in the Tampa Bay tech community knows the name: Antoinette Rodriguez. She was an early organizer in what is now the well established Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF) and left the Tampa Bay area more than six years ago with a reputation of a take-no-prisoners style of stickin' it to the conventional business powers that be.

So it's really nostalgic to see Antoinette arise anew in a Business Week magazine's "My Take"  she wrote commenting on whether living on $250,000 is considered "wealthy" in high-priced Manhattan. Rodriguez -- who says she "grew up an impoverished (by U.S. standards) Puerto Rican girl in Bushwick/Bedford Stuyvesant, a part of Brooklyn, N.Y." -- wrote:

"When I read a Debate Room posting recently from a reader who said $250,000 per year is 'rich' and that, even in New York City, that amount should buy you a house and leave you with an extra $5,000 per month, I laughed and then seethed."

The short version: $250,000 is not rich for a family in Manhattan (she married a former executive of Tampa's Z-Tel Communications) with now 3-year-old Sofia and plenty of student loans left over. She says she does not accept or agree that people "who make more should pay incrementally more percentage-wise. It serves as a great disincentive" to business owners, investors, and those who create the jobs in America.

"We choose to live in New York City because of the great cultural and educational riches it offers and to be closer to our remaining family members in New York City and New Jersey. I was living in Tampa on September 11 and felt compelled to move to Battery Park City to do what I could to support the area."

Antoinette's remarks sparked more than a few pro and con responses from Business Week readers. No surprise there.

When Rodriguez lived in Tampa, she called for faster change here in a speech, telling the area's chamber of commerce community to become more aware of the digital technology revolution and to open the doors of power to others. Her best line:

"Why do chambers continue to only populate their leadership positions with older white male bankers?"

To give at least some credit to this area, things are changing. Power is being spread among more people. But definitely not fast enough for the likes of Ms. Rodriguez.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:22am]


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