Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Town Hall Meeting

Last night, I had the opportunity to attend the town hall meeting at the MCC church in Seminole Heights. The meeting, as discussed earlier, was in response to BOCC's recent "neutrality" statement on gay rights which led to the dismantling of a public library book display on that topic. The initative was led by Ronda Storms - no fan of the library during her tenure.

Anyway I feel rather strongly about this issue and am offended by the BOCC actions for three reasons:

1. The county should not mandate what a library can and can not display - from my perspective, this is a clear civil rights violation
2. The county is short sighted in making plans for the future of our community. Data has demonstrated that areas with a welcomed gay population also have a large creative class, driving a high innovation, high economic growth area. In other words, an anti-gay image threatens the future talent pool and economic growth of our area.
3. Gay Rights and Discrimination - it seems as though our society awards rights to one group only to find another group upon which to discriminate against. Seperate is not equal.

The meeting last night was VERY WELL attended - apparently some estimates are in the range of 700 people. I was in the main room which was was packed - forcing the church to set up numerous small rooms with audio to handle the hundreds of extra people. Not only was the meeting well attended in terms of sheer numbers, but also in terms of credible supporters. For instance, City Council women Linda Saul-Sena was there, as well as former county commision chairmen, Pat Frank. Furthermore, a representative of the ACLU was in attendance along with the attorney who handled the human rights ordinance in 1990. Other Tampa notables included Joe Redner.

Attendees were very enthusiastic - lots of applause and standing ovations for speakers. What was most impressive about the meeting though was the ORGANIZATION. Equity of Florida has thought this through - after a general short pep rally the moderator had the room divide into break-out groups including - Art, Business, Direct Action, Legal, Librarian/Education, and Meet-Up/Long Term.

I attended the Business group since I didn't really fit well anywhere else and feel that I understand the economic arguments of why the BOCC decision is wrong. Furthermore, I also feel strongly that the gay community must be careful in crafting their campaign to fight this - I have outlined three issues above and only one of those issues applies directly to the gay community. In other words, this is a chance for many people in the community to rally around a single issue but if the campaign is driven by a gay pride marketing strategy you stand to lose numerous would be supporters who might not get passionate about gay pride but would certainly be passionate about civil liberties or future economic impacts. You have to craft a campaign that markets to the non-gay community and keeps the focus on all three important issues. The economic impact arguement (articulated best by Richard Florida) is probably the easiest thing to get behind for most people. You don't have to be gay to be outraged.

Anyway, the business meeting went well with people offering suggestions including a buycott of gay and gay friendly businesses, a display of company non-discrimination statements that include sexual orientation, and contacting the NFL to discuss whether a superbowl should be played in a town so unfriendly to the gay community.

After the breakout sessions, the group came together again to share ideas. The art community will sponsor a number of gay readings and book discussions at the public library, as well as a gay family portrait studio with the prints to go on display at the public library. The librarian group supported these measures. Furthermore, the direct action group will be sponsoring a number of protests and also suggested contacting the Human Relations Board of Tampa and the Human Rights Board of Hillsborough County to lodge a complaint.

One of the most interesting aspects of all of this is that the city and the county do not agree. Pam Iorio and at least some members of the city council are supportive of the gay community and Iorio has come out against this initiative previously, while Saul-Sena spoke out last night. Therefore, it is important to seek positive resolve without punishing the city itself (e.g. losing the superbowl). In addition, this could make for some interesting political battles as we move on.

Finally, the Equality Florida group is interested in getting another Human Rights ammendment passed in the county that would inlude Sexual Orientation in non-discrimination policies.

The Creative Class

In Richard Florida's book, The Rise of the Creative Class, the author demonstrates how an increased investment in research and development within industry and academia during the early 2oth century fueled the rise of a creative class in the United States. While still unorganized and largely unrecognized, this growing group shares similar values and goals. Furthermore, the creative class spans art, science, music, and other information fields.

To get a sense of how the creative class spans different fields but centers around basic types of people, author Richard Florida compares Andy Warhol to Thomas Edison, noting how similar their workstyles were and, possibly, their personalities. Both Warhol and Edison amassed a large amount of work and inspired others to create a number of items as well. Both Warhol and Edison designed large creative spaces - Warhol had the Factory and Edison had his New Jersey Labs. Both Warhol and Edison allowed people to work on their own projects, collaborate on their projects, and found time to indepently explore their creations as well.

In other words, "creative" is used here to refer to a unique way of organizing, synthesizing, and reorganizing patterns and data. Most importantly, the creative class flocks together. Dating back to the rise of Silicon Valley, Richard Florida details how creative groups come together and thrive off of each other in seeminly unrelated industries such as music and software design. The first example of this is the proximity and timing of the rise of Silicon Valley to not only Stanford University but also to the hippie districts of the late 60s. Gifted hippies (Jobs, Wozniak, the Homebrew Club) were able to find work and a creative outlet in the early computer companies, coexisting with the aging eccentric engineers. This pattern is repeated throughout the U.S. in Seattle (Nirvana/Microsoft), Austin (South by Southwest Festival/Linkletter/Dell), and other locations. The main point is that creativity breeds creativity and creativity attracts creativity, not because all the creative people are doing the same thing, but because all the creative people need the same type of environment and share similar life goals.

The rise of the creative class correlates with the decline of the working class and the rise of the service class (which provide many services to the creative class) creative class. This may sound elitist but Florida also argues that it is imperative to better train individuals to move into the economic creative class or to readily apply service skills to gain sucess.

Another major mark of the creative class is that growing numbers "front-load" their careers - long periods of education and hard work (post-docs, residincies, assistant professorships, numerous albums, constant touring) while deferring marriage and children. This has altered the traditional workplace and leads to the shift from the vertical corporate ladder to the horizontal division of labor (discussed below) and also allows an individual to establish early credibility allowing greater influence later in life with less work geared simply at getting your feet grounded and more on creating, flexibility, synthesizing, training/teaching others, and reflecting. (the tenured professor).

The idea of the creative class ties in perfectly with Leavitt's ideas of information leverage (the doctor and real estate agent in Freakonmics) and helps explain the technological advances discussed in Friedman's technodeterminist work, the World is Flat. Furthermore, Florida's Creative Class takes the much discussed knowledge/information based economy and posits that the creative class is what generates, drives, and manages the growing knowledge economy.

The Creative Class is also changing work environments (1. vertical division is replaced with horizontal division of labor, 2. people identify with their occupation/profession, not their company, and 3. greater assumed risk by the individual) and management styles (1. creative work is not repetitive, 2. it goes on inside people's head so a lot of it is not observable, 3. creative people tend to rebel at efforts to manage them systematically).
For these reasons, soft control has become a more common management tactic, marked by a system of peer recognition and competitive peer pressure. Certainly this is demonstrated in academia through the peer reviewed system and in music through magazines, blogs, club bookings, record contracts, and influential scenters - and of course market forces.

The divisions between work and life are dissovling for the creative class - creativity is not turned on at particular times or hours - the compartmentalization of labor has grown fuzzy. The potential downside to this is that we are becoming workaholics - but, as Florida points out, we are also saving ourselves from lives doomed at watching a clock, counting the seconds to clocking out.

Richard Florida's most important contributions may come in the 4th section of his manuscript in which he suggests that the cities that will thrive in the future will be those that maintain and nurture a creative class, becoming a Creative Center. He goes on to suggest that how we decide to live and work will be partly dictated by our desire to be in a Creative Center. Florida notes that the creative class are high salary earners and make significant economic contributions. Therefore, he observes, the creative centers are economic winners - with "high concentrations of Creative Class people, they have high concentrations of creative economic outcomes, in the form of innovations and high-tech industry growth. They also show strong signs of overall regional vitality such as increases in employment and population" (this goes well with Friedman's arguments concerning the shifting patterns in employment - new job titles created with job innovation). These Creative Centers, the author continues, are not thriving for traditional reasons - such as access to natural resources and transportation routes - instead they thrive from creative capital where artistic, cultural, technological, and economic creativity thrive. Over the 20th centruy, the cities that have grown the most economically have also had the highest density of human capital (as measured by education level) - corporations and firms come to these places to get access to the talent pool. In other words, economic growth is driven by where creative people choose to locate.

Furthermore, Florida goes on to note that creative people of all types flock to locations that breed further creativity. Many creative people, argues Florida, need an open environment that is tolerant of new ideas and maintains a social space for creativity to thrive. Therefore, many creative people may access how tolerant and diverse a location is before settling there. One proxy for this is the "gay index" - or how welcoming a particular community is to the gay population. As a matter of fact, economic growth and high density of high-tech/innovative fields orrelates very well with the gay index. It does not mean that most people in high tech are gay, it just means that high tech people are going to be more likely to settle in a place that is also attractive to members of the gay community. A similar correlation is demonstrated with the "bohemian index" - a measure of openenss to new ideas.

From these correlations, the author develops his three Ts of success for a region - technology, talent, and tolerance. Between 1990 and 2003, those regions with the highest ratings in each of those stats also had the highest economic growth.

In the final section of "The Creative Class" Richard Florida demonstrates how Austin, TX and Dublin, Ireland have sucessfully applied the three Ts to become leading areas of creativity and growth.

Richard Florida's Site
Creative TampaBay
Buy it at Amazon

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Emergency Town Hall Meeting

This is from the seminole heights blog - I have just cut and pasted in order to spread the word

Emergency Town Hall Meeting

I received this via email. An important event in Seminole Heights addressing an significant injustice countywide. See Ernest Hooper's article on the controversy.

Attend the Emergency Town Hall Meeting in Tampa - 6:30 PM Monday, June 20th. See below for directions and spread the word to others in Tampa. In an outrageous act of bigotry, the Hillsborough County Commission voted yesterday to bar county agencies from recognizing or participating in Gay Pride Month or any events that portray gay people in a positive light. Our help is needed!

Now we are hearing about similar censorship efforts being launched in other counties.

The policy is an attack on gay people, an insult to the entire community and a national embarrassment for our state. This policy is discriminatory and will must challenge it.

The commission’s actions came on the heels of a dispute regarding the removal of a display at the West Gate Regional Library highlighting gay and lesbian literature. The display was created in recognition of Gay Pride month.

Out of hundreds of library visitors, only three people complained about the content of the main-lobby display over the course of several days. The county’s chief librarian, Jean Peters, visited the library and demanded the display be removed. When the removal of the books sparked an outcry, the library allowed a much smaller display to be shown in the back of the library.

Commissioner Ronda Storms, a longtime anti-gay antagonist, introduced the policy. And despite the dozens of us who crowded the chambers in opposition, the Commission passed the proposal. It prevents Hillsborough county agencies from giving equal recognition to local events that present gay people in a positive light, including Gay Pride Month. To make things even worse, the commission went on to vote 6-1 to prevent the new policy from being repealed except by a super majority vote of the commission following a public hearing.

Before casting the only "No" vote, Commissioner Kathy Castor stated "Government should not be in the business of promoting discrimination."

An Emergency Town Hall Meeting will be held this Monday, June 20th at 6:30 PM. The location is the MCC Church at 408 E Cayuga Street in Tampa. Take I-275 to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exit and head west 1/10 mile. Turn right onto North Seminole Ave. and go 1/3 mile to E. Cayuga, MCC is on the right.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Health Courts

Two recent amendments passed by Florida voters allow the State to make significant modifications in medical liability practices and reform that will pave the way for the future of malpractice policy within this country. Florida is at an important cross-roads in malpractice reform where we have the opportunity to be a leader in policy change and health care delivery, or simply another band-aid on the stump of an amputated limb.

First, I will review two Amendments which allow these changes and second I will introduce a policy proposal that can be adopted using the current laws, infrastructure, and resources available to our state.

In November, Florida voters passed two significant amendments that will affect the future of health care delivery and medical liability within the state. First, Amendment 3 is a self-executing item that limits compensation. More specifically, Amendment 3 states that an injured claimant is entitled to 70% of the first $250,000 of non-economic damages and entitled to 90% of any recovered damages over $250,000. This is virtually a non-economic damages cap of $250,000. Amendment 8 (SB 940) is even more significant. Originally, the Florida Bar Association proposed Amendment 8 as a vague “3 strikes your out” proposal. However, after the Amendment passed in November, a state court barred the passage of the legislation until the impact on the state could be further reviewed. The potential problem was that some medical specialties face a high frequency of litigation simply because they are in fields of high risk or frequent negative health outcomes. Thus, it was possible that a broad interpretation of the 3 strikes and your out law would mean that any physician with 3 malpractice settlements on their record could lose their Florida license. In addition, it was feared that there would be a trend to lose physicians, both practicing and training, from the State out of fear of the law and from the burden of rising malpractice insurance premiums. The Florida Medical Association lobbied the state congress to make modifications to this Amendment that would allow it to become a practical law that would not decrease the quality of health care in the state of Florida.

A panel was assembled in the winter and spring of 2005 that made recommendations to the state House of Representatives. Finally, the House followed many of these recommendations and a final Amendment was passed that modified the original legislation into a law that would not cause a significant burden on Florida citizens. The new law is not retroactive. Therefore, only new “strikes” that occur after November 3, 2004 will be counted against physicians. Furthermore, a professional board of physicians, health care administrators, and legal officials was created to review malpractice litigation in order to determine whether a particular suit or settlement should count as a “strike”. This board has the expertise to understand whether or not the malpractice was due to negligence and poor doctoring, or if it was a result of a greater systemic problem out of the physician’s control or not due to physician error directly.

These two Amendments should be welcomed by the both the legal and medical community, as well as by patients, and but not in the current way in which the Amendments are executed. If we do not continue pursuits of additional malpractice reform, Florida physicians may not see a decrease in malpractice premiums and patient’s may not be able to obtain just representation in the case of negligent injury. However, we are fortunate that the actions required by the Amendments and the language of the two laws allow us to make modifications in other aspects of our medical liability decisions that will lead to a reduction in insurance premiums in the long run, an ability for patients to pursue medical malpractice claims, and a reduction in frivolous lawsuits and out of proportional jury awards.

The major concern cited by opponents to the non-economic damages cap is that attorneys will be unable to take on malpractice cases due to the high cost by the law firm in gathering expert witnesses and investing the claim. Therefore, attorneys will be unable to take on the majority of liability claims due to the potential loss of their investment. Florida is not the first state to pass non-economic damage caps on malpractice jury awards. In 1975, California passed a cap of $250,000. However, the state continued to witness double-digit rate increases until the MIRCA was passed which significantly altered how insurance agencies could set premiums for physician liability coverage. In other words, the non-economic damages cap did nothing to halt rising malpractice insurance premiums – only insurance reform was able to do that. However, this paper is not necessarily suggesting insurance reform because it will not be necessary if we pursue the alternative discussed below. Other states have also experimented with non-economic damage caps including Missouri and Texas. The Missouri non-economic damages cap was set in 1986 at $350,000 and was adjusted for inflation in 2003 to $557,000. The cap resulted in a reduction in claims by 14% by 2003. However, one has to wonder if this drop in claims was due to even more low income individuals finding it impossible to obtain representation to pursue their claims. Correlating with this drop in claims and the cap, the state also observed a reduction in payouts by 21%. Interestingly, during this same period, malpractice insurance premiums increased by 121% in the state of Missouri. Data from California and Missouri suggests that non-economic damages caps do not translate to lower malpractice premium rates – a common stated reason for medical community support for such caps.

It is also important to note that only 2% of patients injured by negligent care ever file a malpractice claim and the current malpractice system only compensates 1 in 14 people. These low odds and the lack of precedent cause attorneys to adopt a strategy of swamping the courts with malpractice claims, 4 out of 5 of which are found to be invalid. A system of standards for awards and for care would greatly reduce frivolous suits and would allow attorneys, patients, and physicians to modify their practices and behavior accordingly.

There is a solution to these problems that would be in complete alignment with Amendment 3 and Amendment 8. The Progressive Policy Institute, among others, proposes a system of health courts for liability claims and written standards of liability settlement that would function similar to the workers compensation claims process operated by the Board of Labor.

The most striking and revolutionary changes that would follow the health court system would be a shift from designating blame to a particular physician into assigning a process of blame to a team, group, or institution. Furthermore, and maybe most controversial, the system would end jury awards for malpractice and would rely on written standards to dispense benefits.

The basic tenants of the Progressive Policy Institute proposed Health Court system include (1) replacing civil courts with health courts to hear liability claims (similar to specialized tax courts), (2)creating a written standard of accelerated compensation events (ACEs) of common medical mistakes and errors (e.g. bleeding after colon surgery requiring an additional surgery) that would detail a benefit schedule that could be included with lost wages and direct economic damages, (3) ability for patients to directly file liability claims with the health care provider or hospital, (4) a local board that would review injury claims and determine if they meet ACE designation or if they require further judafication, (5) a system of state and federal health care boards with mixed funding at each level, (6) the establishment of additional ACEs and benefit standards determined by written case law (7) experts will be paid and obtained by the court and board, not by the attorneys from either side, (8)the ability to monitor truly negligent hospitals and institutions over time and (9) use of evidence based medicine to establish a standards board for practicing physicians.

The benefits of this system are that physicians will have a clear idea of what constitutes malpractice and liable behavior because their will be a written set of standards developed from court rulings. This will decrease overall health care expenses by decreasing the practice of “defensive medicine” which is common among physicians (an over abundance of tests are ordered to cover liability). Furthermore, all patients will have access and ability to pursue injury claims in a similar manner in which they already pursue worker’s compensation claims. In addition, the hiring of experts by the court will reduce attorney fees significantly making it easier for low-income individuals to obtain representation. Also, juries should not be in the business of deciding law, they should be focused on deciding fact. However, the unclear precedents in current malpractice suits make it so that the jury focuses their efforts on deciding law since there are no clear standards of care. It is quite possible that two people suffering identical injuries will receive very different awards simply based on the jury they receive. A physician faces the same fate at the mercy of an assembled jury. Health Courts remove juries from these decisions and allow clear expectations and standards to develop over time.

The Progressive Policy Institute has also outlined a number of potential objections to this system. The objections will likely come from attorneys for two reasons – (1) citizens have the right to a jury trial and (2) malpractice attorneys could suffer decreased compensation and less demand for services. However, the workers compensation model is ideal for demonstrating that it is possible to settle liability claims without a jury. Furthermore, if only 2% of malpractice injury claims are pursued at present, and only 1 in 14 of those receive an award, attorneys may be able to find compensation simply by the increased frequency of malpractice cases they will be able to take on.

One other potential problem is that large jury awards have been significant for increasing reform in other industries. For example, tobacco lawsuits resulted in billions of dollars in jury awards that threatened tobacco companies and resulted in significant modifications within their industry and an increase in positive health outcomes among the community. However, the large jury awards are not useful in altering physician behavior or hospital practices. Since there are no clear standards in place, it is not possible that a systematic practice of negligent and liable behavior is occurring. In other words, there is no behavior to deter by these awards. As a matter of fact, the large awards are linked to increased health care costs due to the practice of defensive medicine and high insurance rates.

Most importantly, Florida is an ideal state for launching a Health Court system. The November 2004 elections demonstrates that our citizens are ready to discuss and reform medical liability. Furthermore, the will of the voters, as outlined in Amendment 3 and Amendment 8, can be followed with a state Health Court system. First of all, funding for the state Health court could come from minor insurance reform – but not in the manner that might be expected. By enacting a short-term 1% increase in malpractice premiums, a much larger decrease could be expected in the following years. The 1% increase can be used to set up a state Health court, as well as local boards that create ACEs and review claims. Once the system is launched, necessary attorney fees will drastically decrease as neutral experts are hired by the state, not the legal team. In this scenario, injured claimants would certainly recover 30%, or more, of their first $250,000 in non-economic damages. Furthermore, a state board would be created with the ability to monitor negligence and malpractice among individual physicians and hospitals. Thus, the language of Amendment 3 and Amendment 8 would dually be followed. It is possible that even with the significant reduction in attorney’s fees and the elimination of unfair jury awards, malpractice premiums may not decrease. At that point, the state should explore insurance reform, similar to the MIRCA in California to ensure that we maintain a population of specialist physicians in the state. In the immediate future, a state Health Court would allow us to address numerous problems now posed to us by the liability crisis. Furthermore, we would create the necessary infrastructure that goes beyond putting a band-aid on a gushing wound, allowing us to plan for adequate delivery of health care services now and in the future.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I was able to finish another book on my Summer Reading List (see below) over the weekend. This time it was Thomas Friedman’s work, the NY Times Bestseller – The World is Flat. In college I, as I’m sure many of you did, encountered Friedman on a number of occasions (Beirut to Jeruselum for example) and have continued to read his pieces in the Times. The book, as can be expected, was basically an articulated and comprehensive summary of many of the ideas expressed in his columns and previous books. However, in this manuscript, those ideas are unified to create a well formed argument concerning globalization, American economy, quality of life, and international relations. I’ve written a short review of the book below - but I suggest you buy it and read it, the anecdotes are entertaining and writing makes for easy and enjoyable reading.

In The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman argues that the rate of globalization has increased tremendously since the year 2000, fueled by technological advances and political reform. Furthermore, his major thesis is that the United State must begin making serious changes to its policies, work force, and education system in order to remain competitive in a new economic and global environment.

First, Friedman outlines 3 major phases of Globalization both chronologically and methodologically. He suggests that the first phase of Globalization took place before the Industrial Revolution, during the period of exploration by Columbus and others and religious crusades to other countries. The author suggests that this phase of globalization was driven by countries and muscle and resulted in the shrinkage of the world from large to medium. In the second phase, we shrunk from medium to small due to global integration of multinational corporations. However, the author emphasizes the current phase of globalization (Globalization 3.0) in which individuals drive the shrinking of the world through technological advances and technological infrastructure. This period, argues Freidman is critical because it allows individuals from anywhere in the world to compete globally through equal access to the internet, computers, and other technology services. In other words, the playing field has been leveled globally and the world is flat.

Early in the manuscript, Friedman outlines the 10 major innovations, inventions, or advances that have allowed the flattening of the world. These include: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the invention and public release of the Netscape browser, Open source software, the Windows operating system, outsourcing, offshoring, supply chaining, insourcing, and PDAs/cellphones.

Throughout the early portion of the book, the author makes his case for why each of these innovations was so significant. The Berlin Wall opened up a new market, a new community of hungry and ready workers and consumers. The release of Netscape allowed people to easily access data without understanding the nuances of computer technology and http file transfer. Open source software allows individuals to modify and change software to fit their needs and allows exponential and mass changes to take-hold and increase the efficacy of software programs. The Windows OS helped make computers easy to use for all populations and individuals. Outsourcing, and this is critical, reshapes the American economy, allowing American companies to invest more money in research and development, creating new jobs that did not previously exist in our country. Offshoring allows opportunities for people in India, South Korea, China and other locations and also provides low status American jobs to individuals in areas where the jobs are higher status – providing them with educational and advancement opportunities. Furthermore, offshoring changes the PATTERN of jobs (not the number) in all involved countries and in the country doing the offshoring requires upskilling or retraining of workers for new jobs that are created or not yet invented. Supply chaining allows goods to be moved rapidly and cheaply over large geographical distances and also may play a role in social interactions and cooperation between countries (discussed below). Insourcing generates new jobs that did not exist previously in established countries and allows organizations to increase their efficacy and redefine their role. UPS is the best example of this, argues Friedman, since they now come into a company and take over operation from warehousing to transport and ordering, allowing the company to focus on design, creation, research, and development. In-forming represents the easy access to information and knowledge via the internet and internet search engines such as Google. This makes all knowledge accessible to all people and goes hand in hand with the final significant innovation, the development and spread of PDAs and cellphones. These devices empower individuals to carry knowledge and to create media and act as journalists and archivers of their environment with relatively little expense.

Much of these changes, suggests Friedman were driven by the Dot-Com Boom of the mid to late 90s, most notably, the overinvestment in fiber optic cable which allows those in Bangalore to have high speed internet access and communicate and share data in real time all over the world.

The author also suggests that these technologies converged during the year 2000 to drive a global revolution in economics and market forces.

In the first half of his work, Friedman lays out and supports his case for rapid individual and technology driven globalization after the year 2000. In the second half of the book, Friedman suggests ways in which the United States can craft policy to adjust and prosper in this new climate. Many of the arguments made in the second half of this book go hand in hand with Richard Florida’s arguments concerning the rise of the creative class, the competition for that class and the knowledge-driven economy of the future. Friedman suggests major overhauls in American education, including subsidized 2 year college programs and significant incentives for corporate job training allowing employees to become “always employable” in the event of a layoff. Friedman even delves into international relations and suggests that the reliance on supply chaining is directly correlated with cross-country relationships (positing that countries involved in the intricate Dell computer supply chain are least likely to be counterparts in a war or skirmish) and suggests that economic stability is the major way to maintain peace between tense areas such as Pakistan/India and China/Taiwan.

Overall, there is a bit of “the sky is falling” feel to the book, however, Friedman articulates something that everyone kinda knows already – the world changed a lot over the past few years the jobs of my generation and my kids generation won’t look anything like the jobs of our parents or their parents. I think Friedman has gotten it right – we are in the middle of an economic revolution that will change the world even more greatly than the Industrial Revolution and will allow the potential for corporation and innovation between countries or conflict and war for energy, resources, and jobs. American policy must be greatly altered to recognize our role in this global marketplace or our protectionist and isolationist past will lead to an economic downturn and decreased quality of life in the future.

Amazon.com The World Is Flat

NY TIMES Thomas Friedman Column

Tampa, Young Adults, and the Creative Class

In this little essay, I would like to review some major findings of a study titled "The Young and Restless" and present a few ideas regarding how we can make Tampa's creative class more competitive in a knowledge based economy.

The Creative TampaBay site has a study available online that assesses the views of 25-34 year olds regarding the city.

Creative TampaBay is in-tune with Richard Florida's ideas regarding the creative class and the future of a knowledge based economy. Therefore, they argue, it is important to attract educated 25-34 year olds to the city because it is during this period that these individuals will start a career and meet a mate (forminig roots) making it more likely that they will stay in that place for most of their adult life. The views expressed in Creative TampaBay's Young and Restless study are not encouraging regarding the present but are slightly encouraging regarding the potential of the future.

Out of the top 50 metropolitan areas, tampa is in the bottom 5 for educational attainment of the 25-34 year old group (25% with a 4 year degree) and and #47 in percent of population between 25-34 (12.7%). Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Atlanta do much better than Tampa in almost every category regarding education and number of 25-34 year olds in the city or moving to the city and only Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton are ranked lower in percent of population between 25-34 among the largest 50 metro areas. Raleigh-Durham (45%), Atlanta (38%), Charlotte and Nashville (33%) boast a much higher proportion of college educated individuals compared to Tampa Bay's 25%. Furthermore, Tampa has only 0.022% of the total market share of college educated workers, while Atlanta ranks number 1 with 0.8%. Overall, Las Vegas and Austin, TX rank highest in almost every category concerning young adult growth (but Las Vegas ranks lowest in college education at 16% - however, it also had the greatest increase (101%) in college educated individuals between 1990 and 2000)

The 50 largest metropolitan areas account for 58% of the U.S. population, with 2.2 million residents of the Tampa Bay area (303,000 young adults between 25 and 34 years of age). The Tampa Bay area has 56,000 fewer young adults than it would have if it was in the middle of 50 largest metropolitan areas. THe population of young adults decreased across all of the US between 1990 and 2000 as the whole population aged. Slightly encouraging, the decline in population of young adults in the Tampa Bay area was less (-7.7%) than the national average (-8.3%), however, in absolute terms, the number declined from 328,000 to 303,000 25-34 year olds within the region and other Southern Regions, such as Atlanta and Raleigh Durham saw significant increases in their young adult populations during this period of over 20%. Overall population growth (16%) of the area was greater than the national average (14%) between 1990 adn 2000 but did not come close to other Southern metropolitan areas such as Atlanta (39%), Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (39%), Charlotte (29%), Nashville (25%), and Jacksonville (21%).

Richard Florida also writes that increased tolerance is a key ingredient to attracting and competing for the creative class. One measure of tolerance is diversity, however, Tampa also ranks low in diversity with 80% of the 25-34 year olds labeled as "white" (national average is 70%). However, between 1990 and 2000 the number of African-Americans increased by 7%, the number of Asian Americans increased by 68% and the number of Hispanics increased by 101%. Currently, other Southern regions are made up by a more diverse group of 25-34 year olds, including Atlanta (60% white), Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (67% white), H ouston (59%), New Orleans (58%), and Memphis (51%).

It isn't rocket science to figure out where our problems originate. First of all, you have to tolerate diversity to compete for the creative class. This does NOT just mean skin color and race - it means religious diversity, homosexual rights, tatoos, funny hair, and different styles of dress. While living in Ann Arbor, MI a few years back, a friend visiting from Tampa remarked to me how "everyone here looks like a scene kid" - what he was really saying was that a lot more people feel open to express themselves as individuals even while carrying $50K+ per year salaries. In addition, this area is not very inviting to outsiders - there is a strong good ole boy (and girl) network within the state and county (Palma Ceia CC, the Yacht Club, etc0 that still drives politics and change. If Tampa wants to attract innovative young minds and keep innovative young minds in the region, we have to allow INNOVATION and creativity. There needs to be a systamatic change in the way young people are treated in this region and a renewed respect for individuals with job titles and job training reflective of an oncoming knowledge economy driven by the creative class. Job titles are going to change drastically and what we do in our work is shifting as well - many of us produce and manage ideas now and it takes understanding from the community to allow room for these individuals and changes to take place. While I love living in a real city (Tampa) compared to Ann Arbor-Detroit, I must admit it was always easier to explain myself to the average person up north than it is here.
Next, as the Creative TampaBay report notes, we HAVE to improve downtown. While it is nice that the new Tampa Museum of Art is going to go into the existing old federal courthouse, we have to see the failures of this as well. Iorio's riverwalk plans were significant in that they allowed non-luxury, non-residential development to take place in an area overly focused on high-income POTENTIAL residents. We are setting ourselves up for another bust if we continue to push residential property growth without the necessary infrastructure and cultural resources there to support an influx of residents. If you have enough money to spend on a $300,000 plus condo in downtown you might also have enough disposable income to spend at coffee shops, movies, plays, shopping, etc - we have to ensure that those resources are in place in order to ensure that residents really do move in to these new homes. In other words, I feel that downtown must be developed but we can't simply force the issue by encouraging developers to make realestate investment (this is only part of the puzzle). We have to first change our approach and perspective on the creative class, then increase the resources for those individuals while also developing places to live and 'take root' as well.
This leads to my next point - we must focus the real estate development past the direct downtown area into places like Tampa Heights and Seminole Heights. There are existing beautiful neighborhoods within those regions that could be improved upon by focused efforts that have started and stalled on a number of occassions. However, we can't simply commit a blind gentrification. The creative class is sensitive to the residents of these areas who have owned and lived in their homes for many decades. It is NOT appropriate to force these residents to sell their home because the low price they would receive before redevelopment is unlikely to cover the price of a new home in another location. A similar tactic was undertaken, contrversially, by the former Mayor Dick Greco in the late 1990s and can not be tolerated in 2005.
Finally, the city must brand and market itself with greater exuberance. We need to specifically identify potential young adult migrants and migrant populations from national college areas and other metros with a high influx new residents (such as NYC). The image of Florida among many young adults in the North is of a backwards and socially unprogressive area, unwelcoming to new ideas and new people. What are we going to do in order to drive Tampa into the next phase of the knowledge based economy?

Thursday, June 09, 2005


This is the last paragraph from a recent Kristof commentary in the NY Times regarding Bush's lack of action to halt the ongoing genocide in the Sudan:

"Mr. Bush values a frozen embryo. But he hasn't mustered much compassion for an entire population of terrorized widows and orphans. And he is cementing in place the very hopelessness he dreads, by continuing to avert his eyes from the first genocide of the 21st century."

The whole article can be found here...

Duane Hanson

Duane Hanson - Portraits from the Heartland is currently at Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art.
Duane Hanson created life-like sculptures of ordinary people doing ordinary things but did so with amazing attention to detail, including the skin, clothes, and props. This exhibit is definitely worth checking out, especially if you haven't been down to Ringling previously.

The Ringling estate, which sits right on the water, is enormous and now contains his large Baroque art collection, a performing arts center, a rose garden, and an excellent circus museum with many original props, outfits, train cars, and memrobilia. Plus, its free for all Florida Students and Florida Teachers.

Dream State

Last weekend I knocked off the first book on my self created summer reading list (see below) - Dream State by Diane Roberts. You may be familiar with Diane Roberts - she writes for the St. Pete Times occassionally and also can be heard on NPR (all things considered and the sunday weekend edition show).

Anyway, if you are interested in Florida history the book is worth going through. The French, not Spanish influence on early America, the legacy of corruption, the stories of Confederate family members, the laregely Agricultural history of this state, and the persistance of the Democratic party to hold office (even after turn of the century changes in the democratic party) are all main points. While the voice of Roberts is likable in this book, she can also be a little frustrating at times in her lack of organized presentation (only roughly chronological) and overarching theme/backbone.

The book can best be described as a person who goes to an all you can eat buffet with really good food - they are bloated, full, and excited to tell you about this buffet but they simply vomit on the page spewing chunks of their meal everywhere. You are left to sift through the chunks and in the process find the remains of an excellent meal that you wouldn't mind consuming yourself.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


"They’ve got a legacy to write for themselves. Not since the early 80’s when Dr. J’s 76ers won one championship and no more has an NBA champion failed to win another championship within the next four seasons."

Celizic - MSNBC.COM 6/7/05