Uber and Lyft denied free markets

Even better, the driver was a delightful man who knew how to carry on a conversation using flawless English, with just a slight Sudanese accent. His name was Abbas. He came to the U.S. as a political refugee from Sudan 10 years ago. When he arrived, he had little more than the shirt on his back. A decade later, he has a college education, owns a fleet of 10 cars and employs over a dozen people.

Protecting the candle makers

Published in the Tampa Tribune, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Chris Ingram

I frequently travel on business to Jacksonville and have used local cabs to get to and from the airport. On a recent trip, the cab I was dispatched can only be described as less-than-suitable. It was old, smelled like cigarette smoke, the air conditioning didn’t work, and I had to dig between seat cushions, assorted crumbs and trash to find a broken seat-belt locking mechanism.

After picking me up, the driver asked if I minded if he stopped for a second to pick up some items that someone had left out with their garbage. He collected his new-found treasures and placed them in the trunk on top of my suitcase.

My prior experiences with cabs in Jacksonville haven’t been much better, and my occasional cab encounters in Tampa have been similar.

Last week in Jacksonville, I tried Uber. My car showed up early. It was a late-model sedan. It was clean. Everything from the power windows, air conditioning and seat belts all worked.

Uber
Photo: Uber’s ap allows customers to place their ride request.

Even better, the driver was a delightful man who knew how to carry on a conversation using flawless English, with just a slight Sudanese accent. His name was Abbas. He came to the U.S. as a political refugee from Sudan 10 years ago. When he arrived, he had little more than the shirt on his back. A decade later, he has a college education, owns a fleet of 10 cars and employs over a dozen people.

Abbas is an American success story with deep lessons about the value of a good education, picking yourself up from nothing and turning yourself into something, through hard work and determination.

He has learned a lot about American government and burdensome regulations by helping with Uber’s fight in Tallahassee to break the monopoly that traditional cabs have in most markets.

Hillsborough County is one of those markets. In fact, we’re one of the worst — (Click here to read the column in today’s Tampa Tribune).

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.

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Gasparilla photos

Pictures by Chris Ingram of Gasparilla 2014.

My wife and I took the girls down to Gasparilla for the first time this year. Fortunately we were in the safe(r) confines of the City of Tampa’s tent that didn’t require fighting the crowds as much. We all had a great time. Some of my favorite pictures are attached.

Chris

Click on any photo to enlarge.

All photos copyright 2014 411 Communications.

Sheriff Gee helps get things started.
Sheriff Gee helps get things started.
My Bay News 9 counterpart Ana Cruz tosses beads from a TPD cruiser  driven by Chief Castor.
My Bay News 9 counterpart, Ana Cruz, tosses beads from a TPD cruiser driven by Chief Castor.

 

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IMG_0735 My girls waiting for the parade to start.
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Stop action/blurr photo I took getting bored watching the FHP cycles drive up and down the parade route for what seemed like 20 minutes after the parade started.
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Casey with “Buccaneer Bob” Martinez — Florida’s former governor.
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Bucs cheerleaders.
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Mayor Bob (thanks for standing up to the pirates!)
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Conservative radio host (and Rough Rider) Bill Bunkley.
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Scariest pirate of the day (and my favorite pic).
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Me and all my girls with Mayor Bob. Thanks for the invite Mr. Mayor!
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Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda.

Continue reading “Gasparilla photos”

Hillsborough schools getting it right by changing with the times

While the district is frequently in the news for what goes wrong at its schools, the district deserves kudos for its efforts to prepare our students for the global economy — particularly as it relates to new technology.

Students in 27 of the county’s 44 high schools are now offered the opportunity to earn certificates. Those certificates show a student’s proficiency in programs such as Photoshop or Excel. Certificates are offered for Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Microsoft, Quickbooks and the COMPTIA A+ products. Last year 3,040 information technology-related industry certifications were awarded to Hillsborough students.

By Chris Ingram

Hillsborough County residents pay more in taxes to fund the county’s school system, which has a budget of $2.8 billion, than they do to run every other department or agency in the county combined.

The Hillsborough school system is the largest employer in the county, with more than 25,000 employees, of which nearly 16,000 are teachers. The system is the third largest in Florida and the ninth largest in the country with over 202,000 students (for comparison, the city of Tampa has about 350,000 residents).

Of those students, nearly 60 percent are eligible for free and reduced lunches. At last count, there were 168 languages spoken by students attending the county’s schools, which has a graduation rate of 82 percent.

The challenges of the Hillsborough school district are immense. The number of students, and the diversity of the population, adds to the enormity of those challenges.

While the district is frequently in the news for what goes wrong at its schools, the district deserves Continue reading “Hillsborough schools getting it right by changing with the times”

A year after Tampa, can the GOP fix itself with a third party?

Unfortunately for the GOP, there is truth to both concerns, and the present dichotomy between these two views from within the party is unenviable.

The problem is compounded by the fact that millions of people are abandoning the Republicans (as well as the Democrats), preferring instead to register with no-party affiliation.

So what is the GOP to do?

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune, August 27, 2013

One year ago, the GOP convention came to town, albeit delayed for a day because of sensitivities to what Tropical Storm Isaac, brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, might do.

As Isaac passed and the party began to convene, Republicans began what they thought was the last leg of their road to retake the White House. The convention ended up being a seemingly seamless and perfectly choreographed affair — unless you consider the Isaac issue, Clint Eastwood’s performance with “Obama’s chair,” or the fact that the assembled delegates on the convention floor looked whiter than a bowl of cottage cheese.

Mitt Romney left the convention without much movement in the polls, and days later, the Democrats met in Charlotte, where they held one of their most successful conventions in recent times.

The hopes of Republican voters jumped after the first debate, but Romney couldn’t sustain the enthusiasm and lost big to Obama on Election Day.

Caption: Delegates cheer for Mitt Romney at the Republican Convention in Tampa last year.
Caption: Delegates cheer for Mitt Romney at the Republican Convention in Tampa last year.

For the GOP, the Tampa convention and the Romney campaign with the flaws that came with the candidate are now mere asterisks in the annals of party history. The question is, what have we learned since, and when will the party change?

Since the election, the most common comments I hear about the party contain one of two views, one being Continue reading “A year after Tampa, can the GOP fix itself with a third party?”

Jonny Torres’ real record and his pal John Morgan

Torres’ campaign platform centers around his concern with what he believes is over-representation of northeast Florida by the executive board members of the YRs. “With Florida being one of the largest states in the continental U.S., it’s unfortunate that half of the board members are from the northeastern region of the state,” Torres stated in a press release announcing his candidacy posted on the TBYR website. This is apparently the big ill of the GOPs ways that causes it to lose elections; having someone from Tampa as FFYR chair is apparently going to fix the GOP’s election woes – whatever you say Jonny!

By Chris Ingram

Florida Young Republicans can do better than this political wanna-be

Just when you thought it was safe to call yourself a Republican again, little Jonny Torres enters the room to remind you of the slime of the Jim Greer days.

Granted, Jonny Torres is by no means a household name and you probably wouldn’t recognize him in a one-man lineup, but he’s got some greasy Greer qualities nonetheless. Torres is actually nothing more than an unknown wannabe and poser in Florida political circles — those “circles” being limited to the Tampa Bay Young Republicans organization where he serves as the club’s chairman. In an attempt to make a name for himself, Torres is challenging Peret Pass for chair of the parent group of the TBYRs, the Florida Federation of Young Republicans at the organization’s annual meeting in Orlando this weekend.

Jonny Torres and friends. Photo courtesy Jonny Torres
Jonny Torres and friends. Photo courtesy Jonny Torres

Torres’ campaign platform centers around his concern with what he believes is over-representation of northeast Florida by the executive board members of the YRs. “With Florida being one of the largest states in the continental U.S., it’s unfortunate that half of the board members are from the northeastern region of the state,” Torres stated in a press release  announcing his candidacy posted on the TBYR website. This is apparently the big ill of the GOPs ways that causes it to lose elections; having someone from Tampa as FFYR chair is apparently going to fix the GOP’s election woes   – whatever you say Jonny!

In his campaign materials attacking his opponents for where they hail from, Jon-boy fails to acknowledge what should be bigger concerns to the voting members of the Florida Young Republicans organization. Namely, Torres’ arrest Continue reading “Jonny Torres’ real record and his pal John Morgan”

Reflections by Florida’s senior Republican statesman

The “other side,” as Martinez refers to the Democrats, is very adept at playing politics with important issues. He points to the sequester as a prime example. Initiated by Democrats, they then turned around and pointed the finger at the Republican-controlled House of Representatives as being the villains for the forced spending cuts — which Martinez accurately points out are just cuts in the rate of growth, not really cuts in total spending, which continues to increase.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune

After serving as mayor of Tampa for six years, Bob Martinez resigned to run for governor in 1986. The former Democrat became Florida’s first Republican governor in 16 years but lost his re-election bid four years later following the state’s controversial attempt at implementing a tax on services — a measure the Legislature passed but quickly repealed.

He later served for nearly two years as the nation’s “Drug Czar” under President George H.W. Bush. Since then, Martinez, who has always maintained residency in Tampa, has kept an active but mostly behind the scenes profile in Florida political circles.

I recently sat down with the former governor in the offices of the law firm where he works as a lobbyist to talk about his life in politics, his legacy and issues facing the Republican Party and the country.

We start out talking about the national political environment and the major issues facing our country — most notably the national debt and government spending.

“Since the federal government doesn’t have to balance the budget, they have the ability to just kick the can. Every time they kick the can, after a while voters stop listening,” he says.

Economic and budgetary issues are hard to explain, and are far removed from people’s lives — or so they think, Martinez says. Explaining them is “… complicated because there is no sound-bite answer.”

The “other side,” as Martinez refers to the Democrats, is very Continue reading “Reflections by Florida’s senior Republican statesman”

Gasparilla 2013

By Chris Ingram

My wife Amy and I lost our Gasparilla virginity yesterday. Neither of us being fans of big drunken crowds had since avoided the festivities on Bayshore like the plague. Last year we were invited to attend Mayor Buckhorn’s tent but couldn’t go. Invited again this year, we left the kids with friends and made our way down to Bayshore to attend the annual event. We had a good time people watching. Some photos of the festivities are shown below. Gasparilla wasn’t on our “bucket list” but at least we can now say we’ve done it.

Click any photo to enlarge.

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Continue reading “Gasparilla 2013”