SRQ Daily Mar 20, 2017
Monday Business Edition
"We do things big in Sarasota."
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall filled to the brim Saturday not with patrons but rather with constituents for a town hall meeting hosted by US Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. According to Buchanan’s office, a capacity crowd of roughly 1,750 filled the venue, while an overflow crowd of 800 listened outside through loudspeakers set up by the congressman. “We do things big in Sarasota,” Buchanan told the audience.
This comes weeks after a US Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, held a similar packed event at the Englewood Event Center on March 6. And the events follow numerous raucous events held throughout the nation in the months since the election of Donald Trump.
Questions at Buchanan’s event largely centered around the ongoing healthcare debate, while much of Rooney’s centered on Social Security and intelligence issues. Through Saturday's event, attendees regularly leveled criticism at the new administration, but also resented concerns both about the burdens of the Affordable Care Act and potential consequences of repeal. “I want to do what’s best for America, not what’s best for one party or the other,” Buchanan said. “You can’t represent someone if you don’t listen to them.” The Rooney event became confrontational at times, with audience members demanding protection for Medicare and Social Security and Rooney defensively saying there needed to be a budget study. “When someone says nothing is wrong with Social Security and Medicare, and they are totally sustainable forever and ever, they are lying to you,” Rooney told constituents. Rooney, who held his meeting after Trump made a high-profile accusation that former President Obama had tapped his phone at Trump Tower during the campaign, also heard both from constituents demanding an investigation of Obama and those dismissing the Trump accusation as made-up nonsense. Rooney, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, at the time promised to raise the issue with FBI leadership and look at things in a bipartisan manner.
But the lingering political question in the region remains whether the massive turnout and high emotion at town halls indicates a desire for change in political leadership. Frank Alcock, New College of Florida professor who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate last year as a Democrat, says frustration among Democrats is as great as he’s ever seen during 14 years on the Gulf Coast. “It may surpass what happened with the Tea Party in 2010,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of people coming out of the woodwork who we have never seen before. The question is, can it be sustained or even built upon, and can this energy be organized effectively?”
But Christian Ziegler, Republican state committeeman for Sarasota County, says the anger on the left comes from political impotence. “The fight for relevance is driving the turnout and emotion,” he says. “After losing over 1,000 state and federal seats to the Republican Party under Obama’s eight years and with the White House, US House and US Senate under Republican control, the Left's only move now is to attempt to obstruct by protest. Unfortunately for them, their behavior, including in Sarasota, further showcases their extremism.”
Of course, neither Buchanan nor Rooney seem to be in dangerous territory to seek re-election. Buchanan carried his district, Florida’s 16th, with 59.8 percent of the vote, and, for that matter, Trump won the district with 53.7 percent. Rooney won Florida’s 17th district with 61.8 percent of the vote, and Trump took the district with 62.2 percent. Both incumbents also were running for the first time in district boundaries redrawn following court rulings. Alcock concedes that as long the incumbents seek re-election in 2018, Democrats would have a tough time unseating them despite outcry on the left right now. But there is still no baseline to test how voters behave without a high-profile, high-stakes presidential election going on. “In a year with nothing special going on, (Buchanan’s district is maybe R+4, but a lot of things are going to all that in different directions,” Alcock says. Ziegler, though, suggests the polarizing behavior of left-wing protestors will force the party further from mainstream views in the district and make it more difficult for Democrats to win, including in Sarasota. Protests “move them more and more from the center," he says, "and will hurt them at the ballot box for years to come.”
Photo courtesy of the Office of Vern Buchanan: More than 1,700 constituents fill a Town Hall meeting at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Sarasota Opera will unveil its new artist housing—the Steinwachs Artist Residences—this Tuesday, March 21. Located at 1444 Boulevard of the Arts and developed by Dr. Mark Kauffman and partners, Rosemary Square will include retail, office space and condominium units. Sarasota Opera has purchased 30 units (16 three-bedroom, 8 two-bedroom and 6 one-bedroom apartments) in the new development which will serve to house artists and members of the artistic staff during the company’s fall and winter seasons. This new building has allowed the company to increase its available housing from 43 to 70 company members. Sarasota Opera sold its 16 unit Ringling Terrace Apartments in May of 2015 for $3 million and successfully fundraised the remaining $2.5 million to cover the balance of the costs.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has released its 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, a roadmap for success that will aid the agency over the next four years. During his first term, Sheriff Knight launched the agency's first comprehensive strategic plan in order to develop strategies that would enhance the quality of life in Sarasota County, reduce crime and guide members toward effective and progressive practices. The 2017-2021 plan's development began in August 2016 with a citizen advisory group participating in facilitated discussions to answer questions about their expectations of the sheriff's office and pressing community issues. The group included several key stakeholders from various organizations as well as teens from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. Simultaneously, an internal advisory group comprised of 22 members from throughout the agency convened to develop the strategic plan. The agency's command staff served as a governance body to review, refine and approve the recommendations of the internal and citizen advisory groups. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office 2016 Annual Report has also been made available online. The publication provides an overview of important local issues such as crime statistics, the budget, strategies for combating opiate addiction, and creating alternatives in the correctional setting. It also reviews the agency's Administrative, Law Enforcement and Courts and Corrections divisions, their varied responsibilities and how each serves the citizens of Sarasota County. The report summarizes key activities throughout 2016, Sheriff Knight's eighth year in office.
Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources Director Sarabeth Kalajian was recently appointed to the State Library Council, which serves as the advisory board for the Florida Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services. In this role, Kalajian will be responsible for assisting the division in the development of statewide information services for Florida citizens. The nine-member council includes representatives from the public, academia, special and multi-type cooperative libraries.
The Kingston Trio always provides a wonderful trip through a musical genre that is adored by millions. You’ll be sure to enjoy their beautiful harmonies, simple-yet-meaningful songs, and top-notch musicianship. Tickets are $54. For more information please visit https://venicestage.com/portfolio/the-kingston-trio/
Venice Theatre, 140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice
The complex issue of global warming has heated up in recent years as the public seeks clarity. While some contend we’re creating a problem where none exists, others believe we’re ignoring a calamity that will destroy us. Princeton’s Professor Michael Oppenheimer will lead an enlightening exploration from the scientists’ perspective, providing the facts we need to make our opinions informed. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 the day of the event. www.fogartyville.org
Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, 3975 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota
The Women’s Resource Center of Sarasota is hosting their annual Renaissance Legacy Luncheon at Michael’s on East on March 21. Join them in honoring Betty Schoenbaum who has contributed to the Women’s Resource Center’s Legacy Scholarship for the past 30 years and celebrate the expansion of WRC resources and services through the 2017 merger between the Manatee County and Sarasota County centers.
Michaelís on East , 1212 S East Ave. Sarasota, FL 34239
Join the Sarasota World Affairs Council for the next installment of their 2016–2017 lecture series, featuring John Cassara, Federal Government Intelligence and Law Enforcement Officer who is considered an expert in anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, particularly in the Middle East. Cassara will describe how the money trail links terrorists in a documented web of complicity, giving authorities the information needed to neutralize terrorist networks. Each SWAC lecture is followed by a member's wine and cheese reception on Sarasota Bay where attendees speak face–to–face to those working directly in the field of international affairs.
Sainer Auditorium, New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Rd. Sarasota, FL 34243
Offering a sumptuous menu of European specialties sure to please the palate, the evening will also feature live entertainment and silent and live auctions. Tickets and info at www.sarasotagardenclub.org.
Sarasota Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota
The story involves an ordinary city teen transplanted into a conservative small town where dancing is forbidden and rock and roll is demonized. With original songs by Kenny Loggins,Tom Snow, Dean Pitchford, Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar and Jim Steinmen, this show is a multiple Tony Award winner. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit http://www.theplayers.org/shows/2016-2017-broadway-series/
The Players Theatre of Sarasota, 838 N. Tamiami Trl., Sarasota
Shop for jewelry, designer clothing, art, collectibles, furniture, housewares and more. Proceeds benefit the Sarasota Orchestra and its Youth Orchestra program. March 23, 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., March 24 – 26, 10 :00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. More info at www.SOFriends.org/Paris.
Sarasota-Bradenton Commerce Center, 7246 E. 16th St., Bradenton
Created by famed dance company Pilobolus, Shadowland By Pilobolus tells the story of a teenage girl, longing for independence, who sleeps, only to wake to something incredible lurking behind her bedroom wall – her shadow. Legendary modern dance is combined with high–energy, fast–paced multimedia, merging front-of-screen choreography with projected images to create a narrative with the fluid logic of a dream, powered by the grace of an acrobatic dance, which evinces surprise and joyous delight in a way that is uniquely Pilobolus.
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34236
Originally formed in 1994, The Strangeways deliver a groove-laden mix of ska, reggae, dancehall and rock steady the way it's meant to be served: with a full brass section, courtesy of trumpeter Will Haynes, trombonist Bruce Glasberg and saxophonist Patrick Lynch. Bassist and lead songwriter Jason Nwagbaraocha is also backed up by guitarist Tony Shepperd, drummer Dan “Duckie” Garrido and keyboardists Clyde “Supa C” Pinder, with nearly every member contributing to the vocal duties in some way. The Strangeways are always willing and able to get their hometown dance floors jump’n'. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Full Belly Stuffed Burgers will provide food. www.fogartyville.org
Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct., Sarasota
Experience art in a whole new light at Art in the Dark on March 24 at Michael’s on East. Enjoy an evening of dining, dancing and auctions presented by Lighthouse of Manasota.
Michaelís on East, 1212 S East Ave. Sarasota, FL 34239
Guitarist Marc Mannino Quintet with George Mancini, trombone, John Miller, bass, Bob Lunergan, drums and vocalist Shari Morningstar. For more information please visit www.jazzclubfsarasota.org/calendar-of-events
Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, 3975 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota
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