Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Politics

Hillsborough commissioners call out two major local business organizations for lack of diversity

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners called out two prominent local business organizations Wednesday, citing a lack of diversity among their leadership.

The Tampa Bay Partnership, a coalition of business leaders, needs more African-American representation, said Commissioner Les Miller, the board’s lone black member. The organization’s council of governors, he pointed out, has one black member out of 22.

Visit Tampa Bay, a nonprofit the county pays for tourism marketing, could use more women, said Commissioner Pat Kemp. There are two women on the board of directors, a panel with 26 members, she noted.

In both instances, Miller and Kemp said the organizations were not representative of the communities they serve.

"I’m saying this because the work that you’re doing must be inclusive of the people throughout this entire county," Miller said. "I don’t feel that you have the total segment of the community sitting there, working with you to talk about the issues that are facing this entire community, this entire county right now."

Leaders of various local organizations often update Hillsborough County commissioners during the board’s semi-monthly meeting. They are usually thanked and excused without sparking much response from commissioners.

But not Wednesday. Tampa Bay Partnership president and CEO Rick Homans and his staff presented the organization’s 2018 Regional Competitiveness Report, a stark statistical analysis of the area’s strengths and shortcomings.

Among the findings: Hillsborough isn’t keeping or attracting enough talented workers, there’s an education gap, labor force participation is low, many earn wages at the poverty level and transit options don’t match the size of the community.

It was after the presentation that Miller voiced his concerns.

Homans acknowledged the lack of diversity on the organization’s leadership teams. The council of governors is an exclusive group of the region’s top business executives and requires a $50,000 membership fee. The leadership council costs $25,000 to join. Of its 21 members, Miller could identify only one black person.

"Quite frankly, we are actively seeking a diverse representation on that board," Homans said. He added that the organization reached out to many diverse voices to put together its competitiveness report.

Miller wasn’t sold. Commissioner Victor Crist agreed, saying that inclusive input "plays directly into the problems that we need to solve here."

Visit Tampa Bay president and chief executive Santiago Corrada came to Wednesday’s meeting to announce record tourism numbers, which puts the county on pace to pass for the first time $30 million in hotel bed tax collections. His presentation all but earned him high-fives from most of the commission.

But when Kemp questioned the lack of females on his advisory board, Corrada agreed it was a problem. He noted that of the two women on the board, one is leaving and one is retiring.

"We’ve been focused on it," Corrada said. "We will continue to focus because you’re absolutely right, that’s one of the instances where we need to improve."

Keeping with the theme, commissioners also voted 6-0 to ask the county’s Commission on the Status of Women to work with the county attorney’s office to review Hillsborough’s sexual harassment policies.

The request came from Commissioner Sandy Murman in direct response to the highly publicized sexual harassment and sexual assault scandals by men in Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and workplaces across the country.

Contact Steve Contorno at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433. Follow @scontorno.

Comments
At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

ST. PETERSBURG — Linda and Jack Miller braved the humidity at Demens Landing on Wednesday night for a simple reason:"Treason," said Linda Miller, 66.The St. Petersburg couple joined more than 100 protesters toting signs, pins and megaphones at the "T...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

During the summer of 2012, Cody Wilson hung around J&J, a car-repair shop run by two "goofy" guys in their late 20s. The Austin warehouse was crowded with engine blocks, car parts and Pelican boxes that never seemed to have been opened, but the 24-ye...
Published: 07/18/18
‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

WASHINGTON - For nearly five years, the young Russian political-science student was an unusual fixture at the most important events of the U.S. conservative movement.Maria Butina, who was indicted this week on charges of being a covert Russian agent,...
Published: 07/18/18
PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin made inaccurate statements to the media following their one-on-one talks in Helsinki about election meddling, global terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.Here’s a rundown of our fact-checks.Trump:...
Published: 07/17/18
Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

JOHANNESBURG — Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday took aim at "strongman politics" in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in an imp...
Published: 07/17/18
Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Hypocrisy, thy name is Rick Scott.And, yes, I owe Shakespeare an apology.But I think Florida’s governor owes all of us an apology.This isn’t about one man’s opinion, and it isn’t about philosophical differences. This is about a politician who is publ...
Published: 07/17/18
Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

HELSINKI — Standing next to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trump’s benefit and seemed to accept Putin’s i...
Published: 07/16/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Hunter, Murphy speak to Democratic ClubThe Trinity Democratic Club will host candidates Chris Hunter (running for U.S. Congress in District 12) and Amanda Murphy (running for state Senate in District 16) as guest speakers at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. ...
Published: 07/16/18
Giant pork pile awaits Americans as trade wars risk exports

Giant pork pile awaits Americans as trade wars risk exports

Donald Trump’s trade wars are making pork a bargain.American production is poised to reach an all-time high this year, and output is forecast to surge again in 2019. The supply boom comes as tariffs from China and Mexico threaten to curb export deman...
Published: 07/16/18
Sacha Baron Cohen still knows how to punk America, but his new show erodes what little trust we have left

Sacha Baron Cohen still knows how to punk America, but his new show erodes what little trust we have left

Sacha Baron Cohen’s return to incognito trickery is, in current conditions, a little like pouring rubbing alcohol into the nation’s open wounds.Employing the same ingenious commitment and subterfuge that made him famous in the guise of Ali G., Borat ...
Published: 07/15/18