With the November election looming ever closer, one state legislator again sought to remind voters that Gov. Rick Scott is no friend to middle-class Floridians when it comes to getting tough on big electric utilities. Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, criticized the governor in a telephone briefing for the media this afternoon for his lack of action in letting big power companies like Duke Energy charge consumers and businesses high rates for electricity....
08/29/14 Working Life
Today's hand-wringing over greater wage inequality raises tough questions about the prospects for our economy. Is the once-enduring belief in the American Dream fading fast?
What better time but on a Labor Day weekend to realize the changes increasingly faced in the workplace — from the blurring of work and personal time to the shrinkage of benefits — are just a warmup act. Business experts say the pace of transformation at work will only accelerate ahead, whether we like it or not....
Does being a monopoly mean never having to say you're sorry?
That Big Bully image is certainly the growing public perception of Duke Energy Florida, the dominant electric utility in west-central Florida and — let us not forget — part of North Carolina-based Duke Energy, the biggest power company in the United States.
So it comes as a mild shock that Duke Energy Florida on Wednesday came so tantalizingly close to expressing a formal apology — and meaning it. ...
Who in their right mind would purchase expensive, personal services with minimal information about the provider and little if any idea of the price?
Well, we do that all the time as consumers (or patients) of the health care system.
Efforts to streamline health care and empower consumer decisions with better information are under way. But the task often feels like chipping away at an iceberg with a toothpick....
Some enterprising lawyer really should sue the state of Florida for misrepresentation. When it comes to energy resources, calling Florida "the Sunshine State" is as bogus as it gets.
Other slogans come to mind that more realistically capture Florida's energy image. How about "the Pushover State" for starters?
Fresh numbers are out comparing how each state relied at the start of this century on different fuels to generate electricity, and how that has changed today....
Middle East chaos. Stock market jitters. Ebola. It's been a rough week (month and year, too). But take heart. There are still plenty of positive steps under way making the Tampa Bay economy and business scene stronger, more innovative and more confident.
Here are 20 examples from 2014 so far, ranked from small to big.
20. Wolf of Wall Street: It's the real Wolf, Jordan Belfort, not the Leonardo DiCaprio character from the movie, coming to speak at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Sept. 15....
Consumer protection advocates this past week described not just the rising tide of old scams, but newer and more aggressive frauds hurting more people across the country and in the Tampa Bay area.
No wonder so many folks may want to disconnect their phones, unplug their Internet and never answer the front door again.
If deflecting scams were only that easy.
Yes, the top consumer complaints about ripoffs once again are dominated by the old standbys. Auto sales and repair complaints are No. 1 on the latest annual top 10 list unveiled this past week by national groups that track these problems. Right behind were gripes related to home improvement and construction, credit and debt matters, retail sales difficulties and utility billing disputes, among other concerns....
Customers can't stand Duke Energy, for good reason.
Just this past week, there was Duke claiming — with a straight face — to be championing the cause of poor people as it asked state regulators to gut energy-efficiency standards. This comes as other states elevate their own goals. Not part of Duke's presentation: It makes money generating power, not saving it.
Meanwhile, Duke continues to soak its Florida customers with higher rates to help pay for the nuclear plant it ruined and another it planned but never built....
These 10 Tampa Bay folks are on missions worthy of watching in the latter half of 2014. Why? Because they represent our growing crop of change agents. They are people pushing to make things better in this regional economy. They are pressing for better options via mass transportation, economic development and job creation. They are pioneering private business adoption of solar power or building an innovative national network of cancer research and treatment. Kudos to their courage and passion. None of this comes easy. The Tampa Bay area is far better off for their efforts....
Thanks to military interests based in Tampa, a real Iron Man suit may someday materialize for elite U.S. soldiers.
The U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base made a public call last year for prototypes of just such a suit. The project is called TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.
In the near term, the project wants to find better armor to protect soldiers still most vulnerable on their underarms and flanks. Longer term, SOCOM is pondering engine-powered, cooled exoskeleton-clad troops with Google Glass-style vision and advanced communications features....
07/03/14 Working Life
The good news for working women? There are more female CEOs running major global corporations, from IBM and GM to Yahoo. In Tampa Bay, women not only head big-name, successful businesses like Bloomin' Brands and HSN, but are in charge of all the major business incubators in this region.
This country could even be on the verge of its first female president.
The bad news for women? Workplace harassment remains far too common at both large corporations with household names like American Apparel and Goldman Sachs, and local companies ranging from a SunTrust bank branch to a surprising number of restaurants....
The costs of prematurely closing Crystal River 3 — Duke Energy's sole nuclear power plant in Florida — keep on rising.
Duke Energy recently agreed to a settlement that sent at least $55 million to eight minority owners of "CR3." That's the nuke plant Duke closed last year due to a bungled do-it-yourself repair job that the power company finally acknowledged last year would prove too expensive to fix. The bigger settlement sums are going to minority investors like Ocala and the Orlando Utilities Commission. But even smaller towns like Bushnell and Alachua, with small stakes in CR3, will be compensated....
Florida's OJ industry is under attack from all sides. It's in desperate need of a superhero. So it has called on experts to create one.
The Florida Department of Citrus wants to revamp its own cartoon character — a rotund "Captain Citrus" from Planet Orange — by paying about $1 million to Marvel Comics to conjure up a more compelling superhero and orange juice salesman.
Ever heard of the current Captain Citrus? Me neither. The department created him just three years ago to get the message of OJ nutrition into the classroom....
Our mission is to take the world on vacation.
Carnival Corp., Miami, the world's biggest cruise line company
• • •
Thinking of taking that Caribbean cruise someday? Act soon if you're contemplating a Carnival cruise out of Tampa (or other port of departure) because the super-cheap deals to the islands might be starting to dry up....
06/24/14 Economic Development
Florida's quality workforce ranks among the best in the country, making it one of the state's top selling points to businesses considering where to expand. Too bad Florida cannot say the same about its education, cost of doing business or not so friendly business attitude. All those factors help explain why the Sunshine State does not fare so well in CNBC's annual ranking of the best states for business. CNBC scored each state in 10 categories based on 56 measures of competitiveness using input from business groups, economic development experts, companies and the states themselves. The bad news? Florida came in at No. 20, while neighboring Georgia was No. 1. The good news? Florida gained 10 spots in the ranking from 2013....