Questions raised on mortgage help | May 13
Play by the rules and end up losing
I was one of the 6,123 applications rejected for the Hardest Hit Fund Principal Reduction Program. I own a condo that I owe $230,000 on that is appraised at $140,000. I thought this program was perfect for me. For the past four years, I have worked a part-time job in order to keep my mortgage current and pay down my credit card debt.
After initially qualifying for the program, I spent the next six months sending in tax returns, bank statements, paychecks and any other documentation they asked for. My application was finally rejected because I made too much money. The reason: my part-time job. How ironic.
If I had not worked the part-time job, I would have been past due on the mortgage and would have qualified for the program. That's what I get for trying to do the right thing.
Tom Allen, St. Petersburg
Transit wishes | May 11
Develop the downtowns
Having worked with small businesses, I often advised owners that the key to profits was location, location and referral. However, that has changed dramatically. Profits are no longer the result of traffic count, direct mail, or even per-click ads, but of outstanding Internet presence, sophisticated supply chain concepts, and executing clearly defined value propositions. And if profits are no longer primarily dependent on physical space, will the leaders described in your article evolve their business models to mitigate traffic concerns?
Instead of contemplating elevated highways, wouldn't a great idea be to send commuters in the opposite direction, to scenic Florida downtowns still struggling with the recession aftermath?
My hometown is 20 minutes from the Suncoast Parkway and close to the rapidly growing bedroom communities of Trinity and Odessa. The town has a beautiful Main Street, is connected to the Gulf of Mexico, and reminds me of the original Silicon Valley downtowns my millennial son works in.
If an annual commute from West Pasco to metro Tampa is reduced by a half-hour, an employee will save $9,000 and 200 hours of drive time. And a relocating business that lowers its rent by $5 per square foot will increase its value by $22 per square foot.
A well-kept office in my hometown rents for less than $8 per square foot. There's plenty of free parking, great places to eat, a $14 million recreational facility, and a connection with nature along the Cotee River with easy access to the Gulf of Mexico and an 80-acre wildlife preserve. However, the town teeters and could use an innovative industry leader to step to the plate and invest in a homey, outlier community.
Mario Iezzoni, economic development director, New Port Richey
New utility power play for customers' money May 12, commentary
Public utility, private gains
The early cost recovery scam being used by the "public" utility companies is a total disaster for the consumers. Ultimately this is being done as a result of misguided deregulation that began in earnest in the 1980s. Public utilities became private utilities whose primary focus is profit for their investors, and of course riches for management. We long ago abandoned the original concept of public utilities whose primary focus was supposed to be service to their customers.
Utility companies were granted a monopoly and a guaranteed rate of return in exchange for providing dependable service at a reasonable cost. Their monopoly was not obtained as a result of competition, but by virtue of government grant.
Today they continue to have the monopoly even though they are essentially no longer regulated. They have issued annual reports proclaiming on the cover that their primary concern is the investor. Their primary concern is supposed to be for the customers. They clearly have lost sight of the original reason for their very existence.
Joe Crites, Clearwater
Dig into the numbers
I doubt I was alone in being taken aback by the size of the Hillsborough County Delinquent Tax List accompanying Monday's edition of the Times. The eight sections of the list totaled approximately 30,000 delinquent taxpayers. Presumably these individuals have received several delinquency notifications.
As an exercise in local government operations and public education, perhaps Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden could provide more information, such as: How much tax is in arrears, by length of delinquency; what are the prospects for collection; and what happens if the taxes prove to be uncollectible?
Fred Kalhammer, Sun City Center
Rubio says he's ready to be president May 12
There's work to be done
Sen. Marco Rubio posits that Republicans can offer "real people" more economic opportunity than the Democrats can, that he doesn't believe humans are causing climate change and, finally, that he is ready to be president.
If Rubio really wants to promote economic development, he should spend less time trying to undo the Affordable Care Act and investigating Benghazi and more time raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid to his 1 million poor constituents who have no access to health care other than the emergency room, and voting for badly needed but belated infrastructure programs that would actually create jobs and put "real people" to work.
Michael Brown, Tallahassee
Leaders, not personalities
Sen. Marco Rubio believes himself qualified to be president. He cites his nearly 14 years of public service and states he has clear ideas for how to move our country in the direction it needs to go. He does not spell out specifics about what these ideas are, and his public service consists of serving on Miami's City Commission and in the Florida Legislature. He is in his first term as a U.S. senator.
When did being president become about being a pretty face and talking points? Why do we no longer expect true leadership and proven experience from the person we hold up to the world as the leader of our nation?
If we continue to allow personalities to win elections because of a good speech and good looks, we end up with the government we deserve. It is time to look for statesmen willing to make tough decisions and put the good of the country above all else.
Janet Graber, St. Petersburg