Vote for the letter of the month
Letters to the editor offer a significant contribution to the discussion of public policy and life in Tampa Bay. To recognize some of that work by our most engaged readers, the Times will select a letter of the month and the writers will be recognized at the end of the year.
Help us choose from the nominations for letter of the month for February by visiting the website listed below by Friday. Read through the three letters and vote on the ballot at the bottom of the web page. We will choose the finalists each month based on relevance on topical issues, persuasiveness and writing style. The writer's opinion does not need to match the editorial board's opinion on the issue to be nominated. But clarity of thinking, brevity and a sense of humor certainly help.
To see the three February nominees and vote, go to www.tampabay.com/opinion.
Women slowly gain boardroom seats | Feb. 2
Progress, slow but sure
This article highlights an important issue facing not only our country, but the Tampa Bay area: a lack of gender diversity in the boardroom.
Today, women make up a majority of the U.S. population and represent 59 percent of the college-educated, entry-level workforce, yet they earn lower pay and fill fewer top positions than men.
This is especially true in the boardroom. Nationally, women hold just 19 percent of board seats at Fortune 1,000 companies.
Corporate boards should reflect the company and its community. Female leaders provide a different viewpoint, ask different questions, bring different experiences and provide different insights.
And it's good for business. According to the nonprofit organization Catalyst, companies with more women on boards had better financial results than those with fewer, including a 16 percent higher return on sales and a 26 percent higher return on invested capital.
Fortunately, some progress has been made. About 16.5 percent of the boardroom seats at Tampa Bay's largest public companies are held by women, which is a gain from about a year ago.
But there's still more work to be done.
Rhonda Mims, Tampa
The writer is senior vice president, chief public affairs officer with WellCare Health Plans Inc.
Level playing field on deposits | March 5, letter
Credit unions' free ride
I found the headline and content of this letter both laughable and self-serving. The government created an unlevel playing field when it gave credit unions tax-free status because they were to be nonprofits with a limited customer base. Now they are back asking the government for an even more unlevel playing field by letting them expand their powers by accepting public deposits such as those from local governments, school boards and universities.
Most banks pay as much as 40 percent in state and federal corporate income taxes; credit unions pay nothing. The letter writer misrepresented the facts, highlighting that credit unions pay typical employer taxes while failing to mention that, unlike any business in America, credit unions pay zero in state and federal corporate income taxes. Florida small businesses pay more in those corporate taxes and, in addition, pay sales, income and intangible taxes — none of which credit unions pay. In fact, a Florida family of four pays more in state and federal taxes than a billion-dollar credit union.
Why don't large credit unions pay taxes to support the needs of our state and nation, like the war on terror, defense needs, needs of our children and seniors, our transportation needs and all the other needs we have? Banks do.
It is the height of irony that the credit unions are asking the government to let them accept public deposits, which are the same tax revenues that they do not contribute. Why should the government create a more unlevel playing field by letting credit unions hold these tax revenues?
Until credit unions pay their fair share of taxes, the government should not pick winners and losers in the economy and credit unions shouldn't be able to accept taxpayers' public deposits.
Alex Sanchez, Tallahassee
The writer is president and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association.
Honor those who work hard
It astounds me when I hear politicians talking about continually raising the retirement age. Recently Sen. Marco Rubio made the comment that retirement age for him will be 68 and we will need to consider increasing that to 68.5. I would challenge Rubio to have a real job that he goes to for a full eight hours a day, five days a week or more, for 52 weeks a year, less vacation and sick time, and see if he feels that is a workable solution for the average person.
Think of those who work in construction, restaurants, hospitals, etc., and who do not sit behind a comfy desk making edicts about those who work hard every day. Many of these workers probably do not have a separate retirement fund, and they need to have the benefits available at a reasonable age through Medicare that we pay into.
If Congress would stop using that money, we would be able to honor people who actually work hard to provide us with services, instead of making them feel like it is never enough and you should work until you drop.
Lee Casteris, Tampa
President should extend a hand of cooperation | Feb. 28, commentary
Obstruction is rewarded
I want to make sure I get Marc Thiessen's advice straight. Republicans deliver unprecedented obstruction to the agenda of a thoughtful, popular and scandal-free president, and their "punishment" was electoral domination. But now Democrats risk their political life if they don't support the agenda of a xenophobic, unpopular, corruption-laden administration?
The goose and gander axiom comes to mind.
Steve Allison, Temple Terrace