Readers - Dec. 2004
Florida's Most Influential
This is in response to the recent article highlighting your list of the most influential people in Florida ["Influence, Baby!" November, FloridaTrend.com]. While I recognize that not everyone can be included in such an article, I find it very disappointing that in the world of politics not one African-American was included -- particularly in light of the fact that Florida is home to one of the fastest rising stars in the Democratic Party, Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek.
Heir to one of the most respected political legacies in Florida, Congressman Meek served with distinction in the state Legislature for eight years, was responsible for the "Arrive With 5" get-out-the-vote movement during the 2000 election and successfully led the class size reduction constitutional amendment effort. As a freshman in Congress, he has been named vice chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, chairman of the Democratic Black Caucus Annual Convention and serves on both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees (the only freshman to serve on Homeland Security). Additionally, Congressman Meek served as the state chairman of the John Kerry for President campaign in Florida.
I don't know who you were asking for their input, but I would venture a guess that if you asked either the president or the governor to name influential Floridians, even they would grudgingly put Kendrick Meek high on the list.
Political action chair
I was surprised to see that Mike Jackson, chairman and CEO of Florida's largest company, AutoNation, was not listed as one of your 174 most influential Floridians.
Mike has received numerous industry honors, including being voted Industry Leader of the Year by the Automotive Hall of Fame this year for the job he has done in revitalizing AutoNation and being the leading spokesman for the automotive retail segment.
In addition, he has served as chairman of the board of Jack & Jill Children's Center and is involved in Take Stock in Children and the United Way of Broward County.
Vice president of corporate communications
I am sad that you have omitted as one of the more influential and important Floridians the great Judy Drucker (Miami) of the Concert Association of Florida. Her contribution to the arts and culture of this state (as well as her influence) has gone unrecognized. However, I must admit I am partial -- Judy's my grandmother.
I appreciate Florida Trend and the people and issues of Florida, but I was surprised by the lack of hospitals and healthcare business professionals listed in your November issue. As you know, it is a big business in Florida and influences everyone.
William B. Harvard Jr.
President, Harvard Jolly Inc.
Prepaid College Plans
I enjoyed Florida Trend's wealth management tips in the October issue ["10 Moves to Make Now," FloridaTrend.com], but I surely take issue with how the article characterizes the fees charged by Florida's 529 plans.
Florida's 529 plans have had and still have some of the lowest fees in the country.
The Florida Prepaid College Plan charges a one-time $50 application fee. Our plan does not charge any annual or recurring fees of any kind. The Florida College Investment Plan charges a one-time $50 application fee and a low annual administration fee of just 75 cents per year for every $100 invested.
Because the Florida plans are not sold through outside stockbrokers, Floridians do not pay any commissions to invest in either one of the Florida 529 plans. Because there are no commissions paid, some brokers and many financial advisers do not recommend Florida's 529 plans to their clients. However, not paying commissions is one way that Florida's 529 plans have low fees, and that is good for Florida families.
Our state's 529 plans make saving for college easier and more affordable. I encourage Florida families to take a look at Florida's 529 plans and decide for themselves.
Stanley G. Tate
Chairman, Florida Prepaid College Board
Correction & Clarification
In our November issue, Trend repeated incorrect reports published elsewhere that House Speaker Johnnie Byrd had made a call to a supervisor at the Department of Children and Families' agency for the disabled. The call did not in fact come from Byrd, but rather from an aide in his Plant City office. The call requested that an individual, one of 15,000 on a waiting list, be included on a short list of "critical" disability cases that receive state aid. A subsequent inspector general's investigation found that Byrd had not engaged in improper conduct and that the DCF employee did not feel "pressured" by the call from Byrd's aide.