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Legislature pushes higher insurance rates, even as risk of 'insurance taxes' plummets April 3

Citizens customers paying for hypothetical disaster

After reading the article about Senate bill 1770, it is apparent that lawmakers are either in the pocket of the insurance lobby or oblivious to the hardship that Citizens premiums have caused Florida homeowners. To base legislation on a hypothetical natural disaster is absurd.

Did the insurance lobbyists falsely convince you that Hurricane Sandy bankrupted New Jersey and New York from the "Big One"? Are we also overdue for hail so we should double vehicle insurance premiums?

For the thousands of homeowners who were dropped by State Farm having no choice but to be saddled with the astronomical Citizens rates, there was a small amount of comfort knowing that the Legislature limited premium increases to 10 percent annually. The alternative companies that Citizens has offered cannot even prove it could withstand a large event, leaving very little choice but to stay with Citizens.

Instead of representing the people who put you in office, you have chosen to accept the word of Citizens CEO Barry Gilway, that Citizens is now on the road to correcting its grossly mismanaged organization.

Obviously, you are not one of the thousands of homeowners who are "underpriced" by 90 percent with the threat of your insurance premiums doubling. I doubt you would accept this overinflated "tough medicine" if it came out of your pocket!

Lyndee Lindsey Dolan, Dunedin

Lean Times | March 17

One-size-fits-all career path doesn't fit women or men

I read Robert Trigaux's column about Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In with particular interest. Many years ago, as a young college graduate, I was recruited into the Procter & Gamble Management Training program, straight out of Florida State University. Even though my hiring was certainly unique at the time (female, nonbusiness degree), I was treated the same as everyone else, meaning that I was expected to perform but I was also trained and prepared to do so.

It was the best and worst job — the most supportive management I've ever known, but terribly boring (to me, anyway). Still, all these years later, I hold those years sacred because they taught me how to compete by being prepared and knowledgeable.

For P&G, and for me, it was never about being a woman. I knew, and they knew, I was just as capable, and in some cases more capable, than the men I worked with. There were no women to worry about.

I have read countless business books over the years with similar or divergent themes. Sandberg has plenty of wisdom to share, but the one thing that I always come back to is exactly what happened to me at P&G. I grew to realize that I wasn't interested in corporate life. Not their fault; it just didn't fit me.

After a couple of more very good jobs with recognizable brands, at least one of which I probably should have been fired from for challenging authority, I realized I had changed my mind about what I wanted to be, and I changed course to sail my own ship.

I became a small-business owner, where my successes and failures would be mine to own. I made that decision based on what I thought was best for my family and me, not for "all women." I rejected the common notion of success, weighed the consequential risks and rewards, and opted for my version of freedom — of thought, time, style, work hour time frames, etc. — over a steady paycheck.

I am all in favor of what Sandberg espouses, but only if that is what a woman wants. And let's face it, it takes time, or a high-earning spouse, to be able to afford the private in-home care I had or the privileges she has, in terms of child care. That is certainly not available to most women, nor to some two income households either. It's what I call an undeniable factor.

My thinking is more aligned with that of Erin Callan, former CFO of Lehman Brothers. Feminism means we get to choose. There is no "one way," and personally, I don't necessarily want to replicate men. We need the Alex Sinks of the world and, as she said, we need more women on powerful boards, too. But just because a woman chooses another direction, that does not mean she sold out, fell out or was tossed out. It just might well be her personal choice. And I'm pretty sure that's what Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug and all those other trailblazing women who were just ahead of me were fighting for. That we be given the opportunities that allow us to choose.

The overriding lesson I have learned from all my years in the working world is that to be successful you should spend time on figuring out who you are, what you want from life, and what you are willing to risk and sacrifice. Standardized tests can't and will never be able to measure that. If you start out and haven't figured it out, but are bright and hard working, business wins and losses will help smooth the rough edges and you'll learn as you go, using the other available tools (mentoring, reading, risk taking, losing fear, etc.).

My point is that the will to lead or succeed is highly personal and not a one-size-fits-all formula for every person, women included. Some people dream of this job or that job, but the right job is the one you want and are the architect of. No one else. Don't let anyone try to sell you otherwise.

Lisa Brock, Tampa

Brock is a principal of the public relations and marketing firm Brock Communications in Tampa.

Advance nuke fees finally get hearings March 28

Residents shouldn't pay bill for Progress Energy Florida

Professional lending institutions will not trust Progress Energy Florida with the money to build a new nuclear power plant in Levy County (too risky), so why should Floridians? The official "nonbinding" cost has more than tripled already, and Progress' notoriously expensive mismanagement of its Crystal River nuke plant has been well-documented in the Tampa Bay Times by Ivan Penn.

Progress Energy Florida could operate far more efficiently and cost-effectively by installing utility-scale Vanadium Redox Batteries at the substation level. This would also provide the necessary infrastructure for a build-out of distributed solar power, which would diversify the fuel mix with an abundant and cost-free fuel.

Experience has shown nuclear power to be uneconomical, unclean, unsafe and unnecessary. That's why Germany is closing all of its nuclear plants while forging ahead with energy efficiency and renewable energy. Florida should do likewise.

Thomas Eppes, Thonotosassa

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Readers' comments on business news 04/06/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 5, 2013 3:28pm]
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