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SRQ DAILY Aug 31, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Labor Day 2019 may not be the best day for one of those traditional picnics, but it will be a great reminder of how we all can and do work together"

- Tom Barwin, Sarasota City Manager
 

[Under The Hood]  Opportunity Exists Yet For Better Representation
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Sarasota County Commissioners this week decided to redistrict ahead of 2020 elections. Now, citizens need to accept this will happen. It doesn’t matter if most people oppose this direction (they do) or if it’s based on terribly flawed logic (it is). Commissioners always had discretion to take this step, and they have.

Still, citizens would be wise to hold commissioners to their word on a few things. Those include commitments to a process based on transparent discussion and sound data. And a look at numbers so far actually suggests interesting hopes for supporters of single-member districts.

Consultant Kurt Spitzer on Tuesday presented commissioners with preliminary data on racial, ethnic and geographic breakdowns in Sarasota’s five existing commission districts. If individuals could see through their white, hot rage that Spitzer had been paid thousands of dollars to collect this data at all, they might notice a plan to fabricate the county in a way that favors Republican candidates will be harder than it sounds.

Spitzer also noted during redistricting efforts he previously worked on prioritized minority representation. That likely caught the ear of the gerrymandering obsessed, as an unholy alliance between minority advocates and Republican cartographers has been used to create voter sinks and load traditionally Democratic voters into sprawling districts. This in turn makes it harder for Democrats to win majorities in legislative chambers, even in 50-50 states like Florida.

But remember, Sarasota County doesn’t have 40 or 120 or 435 county commission districts. It has five. Democratic partisans supporting single-member voting saw a chance to finally win a seat north of Bee Ridge Road. Spitzer’s approach—and the data he has collected thus far—actually show a commitment to the same goal.

District 1 already shows a naturally high concentration of black and Hispanic voters.

Hopes of making two competitive districts may get dashed in coming months, but it seems Spitzer sees value in guaranteeing minority representation.

Weeks ago, I suggested the most obvious motive for redistricting was a “Mike Moran Protection Plan,” tailoring a seat to protect a GOP incumbent. But that honestly would require shifting minority voters away from a district where the population is too low already. Where The Votes Are analyses of past elections show voters in District 1 already favor Democrats. In 2018, they favored Andrew Gillum over Ron DeSantis, Ruta Jouniari or Christian Ziegler and Wesley Beggs over Alan Maio, despite none of those Democrats winning countywide.

Commissioners also stressed better representation in south county, and Spitzer’s numbers show the real action may happen around Districts 3 and 5. This won’t be a partisan battle; the GOP has an unbreakable hold south of Clark Road. But these districts have too many people, and some must get shifted into already-red District 4. Spitzer made very clear that if commissioners do re-district, they should shoot for near-identical sizes od constituencies. 

In Commissioner Nancy Detert’s District 3, almost 5,000 voters must be shed. In the District 5 seat being vacated by Commissioner Charles Hines, there’s a more than 6,000 voters that must be kicked out to balance districts.

As for the transparency commitment, commissioners also encouraged citizens to submit their own proposals and craft their own fair maps. Notably, such a map is what ultimately replaced the broken one the Legislature drew for Senate and Congressional seats, though that notably took a years-long court battle.

Maybe I’m a Pollyanna, and commissioners will brazenly shift direction, but they will have to do so in full view after committing to fairness and transparency—and maybe maps that live beyond the 2020 census.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group.

  

Graphic by Kurt Spitzer and Associates courtesy Sarasota County.

[City]  Laboring on Labor Day 2019
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

Growing up in the Detroit area, Labor Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. Besides the burgers, hotdogs and an extra play day for kids, I always sensed the parades, picnics and rallies we experienced, brought a real sense of pride, dignity and solidarity to those who worked so hard in often thankless jobs.

But times have changed, and union membership has shrunk from its peak of 35 percent of the workforce to just over 10 percent today. Nonetheless, surveys indicate Americans remain among the hardest working people in the world. And it shows. Generally speaking, our society functions very well. It's interesting, as a country we pride ourselves on our independence, both national and individual, but in reality, we are as inter-dependent as ever. And there may not be a better example of our inter-dependence than how we collectively respond to emergencies like Hurricane Dorian.

Although we're coming into a holiday weekend and potentially very dangerous weather, truck drivers are working overtime to deliver fuel and re-stock our markets in threatened areas, and store clerks will be there to serve the public as long as it is safe. Electrical crews are pre-positioning to restore power as quickly as possible wherever it gets knocked out. Our school leaders and volunteers are on standby and ready to open 11 shelters this weekend, if necessary, for those who may have to evacuate from older homes, trailers, college dormitories, low lying areas or from other parts of the state. Our hospitals will remain staffed.

Locally, our police, fire, EMS, road and tree crews, water and wastewater utilities will be on duty 24/7 to do all they can to respond effectively to whatever Dorian throws at us. And our city and county emergency operation centers have been activated and our public information teams will be active and communicating with the public until the threat is over.

As with all weather events, we hope for the best, but we will be ready for the worst. In terms of the best way for you and your extended family to monitor what we expect and how to react, I would strongly suggest you and yours tap into our city and county social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, along with monitoring events through local media.

It looks like Labor Day 2019 may not be the best day for one of those traditional picnics, but it will be a great reminder of how we all can and do work together to do what needs to be done. And maybe, just maybe, we'll experience a moment or two of solidarity. As I recall, it's a pretty good feeling.

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. 

Photo courtesy City of Sarasota: City Manager Tom Barwin, center, speaks with emergency officials about prep for Hurricane Dorian.

[On Storms]  Hurricane Activity Reminds Us To Be Prepared
Edward McCrane Jr.

While we were implementing changes and improvements from the Hurricane Irma After Action Report last year, we watched Hurricane Michael pass  dangerously close to our coast and devastated several counties in the Florida panhandle. In less than 72 hours, Michael grew from a weak tropical depression to a 155-mph, Category 4 hurricane, pushing as much as 15-feet of storm surge into vulnerable coastal counties.

We do not know what the 2019 Atlantic hurricanes have in store for our coast, but everyone should have a plan and prepare now. Since we’ve updated our procedures, we have been working with media partners to ensure all residents are informed and better prepared for the next hurricane. Key changes include implementation of a transportation dependent plan providing transportation to hurricane evacuation centers, hurricane evacuation centers opening at the same time and all evacuation centers being pet-friendly.

Your first step for storm preparation and storm information should be to visit Sarasota County’s website: scgov.net/beprepared. This updated hurricane preparedness page will provide you links to information about preparations for your family, home, neighborhood and business, public service announcement videos and a digital version of the disaster planning guide. People who are medically dependent and need assistance during a storm are encouraged to apply to the medical needs program. The easiest and quickest way to apply is online at scgov.net/beprepared. The instructions on the medical needs program page will provide a link to the medically dependent person online application. All registered medically dependent persons must make every effort to bring a caregiver to the designated medically-dependent evacuation center. Medically dependent persons are permitted to bring a spouse/significant other and dependents with you in addition to your caregiver.

Whether to stay or evacuate for a hurricane depends on which evacuation level you live in and the type of home you reside in. As the hurricane approaches, Sarasota County Emergency Management will issue evacuation orders by level and geographical area depending on the intensity of the storm and the expected height of storm tide and surge.

You can also visit the county’s website to check if you home is in an evacuation level. Even if you don’t live in an evacuation level, you must evacuate if you live in a mobile home, recreational vehicle or boat located anywhere in the county. Your home may not be safe during a major hurricane if it wasn’t constructed to meet the Florida building codes.  If you haven’t done a wind inspection on your house, or if you don’t have storm shutters, it may not be safe to stay.

If you do have to evacuate you should first try to stay with friends or family who live in a safe, prepared home outside of the evacuation area. For those who cannot leave the area, emergency management will be coordinating with the Sarasota County School District for the opening of hurricane evacuation centers. Evacuation centers will be located within schools and will be announced through the media and the county’s website.

Evacuation centers are considered a last resort and evacuees are expected to bring all their disaster supplies, bedding and comfort items with them. Pets will be allowed at all evacuation centers; however, owners are responsible to ensure that they have the appropriate crate, leash and supplies. Pets must also be current on all vaccinations.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving to an evacuation center, or if you do not own a vehicle, you can take advantage of the new transportation dependent plan managed by Sarasota Count Area Transit (SCAT).

If you will need this service, please register in advance because registrations will cease when landfall is expected within 60 hours. It is also important to be registered for the Sarasota County Code Red telephone notification system.

The CodeRED system allows you to receive calls, email alerts or text messages in the event of an emergency that could impact your neighborhood or your business.  Alerts include water or sewer interruptions, missing person alerts and major traffic detours, among others. Weather warning service will automatically notify those registered of tornado, flash flood and severe thunderstorms just minutes after an alert is issued by the National Weather Service. Code Red Weather Warning is an opt-in only service and is available for free.

Sarasota County Emergency Management will keep residents informed as storms approach and residents can count on us for help after a storm passes. But residents need to be prepared and self-sufficient until we can respond.

Being prepared is the best way to make sure your family is ready for any disaster. Remember, “The First 72 are on you!”

Edward McCrane Jr. is the Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief. For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the county’s website at scgov.net/beprepared or call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000. 

National Hurricane Center projections for Hurricane Dorian, as of 2 p.m. Friday.



[KUDOS]  Ringling Volunteer Recognized as Florida Association of Museums 2019 Outstanding Volunteer

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is proud to announce that museum volunteer Debra Short has been selected by the Florida Association of Museums to receive their 2019 Outstanding Volunteer Award. Short joined the museum’s volunteer corps in 2013 and currently dedicates time to 6 different assignments including serving as a Ringling Ambassador, Co-Chair of the Volunteer Services Advisory Council (VSAC), Special Events Volunteer, Education Department Assistant, Special Events, and Youth and Family Programs Volunteer. 

Ringling Museum of Art

[SCOOP]  Girls Inc. Flips the Switch on Largest Solar Array in Sarasota County

This month, Girls Inc. activated the largest private canopy of solar panels in Sarasota County. Their facilities now operate fully on renewable energy, and the switch will save the organization more than $20,000 in utility expenses each year. The project was conceptualized and funded by a $575,000 investment from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. The new array includes 564 solar panels and will produce on average 300,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. The solar installation and curriculum outcomes were so notable, Girl Inc.’s national affiliate has shown interest in replicating the project at other locations across the country. For the girls, a new generation of environmentalists will challenge the status quo. 

Girls Inc.

[SCOOP]  Key Chorale Announces New Director of Community Engagement

Key Chorale has hired Johnette Cappadona for the newly created position of Director of Community Engagement. Cappadona comes to Key Chorale with a long history of arts management and development work to her credit. She was Director of Patron Services with her hometown Austin Symphony Orchestra for 18 years. Three years ago, Cappadona started her own business, SRQ Special Projects, and has worked for many local nonprofits helping them with development and fundraising and will continue to do so in addition to her new role with Key Chorale.  

Key Chorale

[SCOOP]  Coastal Orthopedics Donates Computers to Boys and Girls Clubs of Manatee County

The full-service practice Coastal Orthopedics recently donated 16 Dell Precision M4500 laptops and corresponding equipment to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, an afterschool and summer program that offers hope and opportunity to every child in the community. The laptops and computer equipment will be used in the nonprofit’s teen center at the Palmetto Boys and Girls Club, which serves about 40-50 students daily. With five locations, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County reaches more than 3,000 youth annually. The nonprofit offers programs for academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles and has been serving the community for over 73 years. 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County

[SCOOP]  First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon Fit2Run Pizza & Fun Run

Celebrating the 14th Annual First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon, Relay, 10K and newly added 5K, October 19-20, 2019, Life Time, the premier healthy lifestyle brand, is partnering with race sponsor Fit2Run to host a special Pizza & Fun Run on Thursday, September 5 at 6pm. Life Time will be sponsoring free pizza along with a ticketed raffle drawing for one free entry each into the Half Marathon, Relay, 10K and 5K, as well as other Fit2Run prizes (must be present to win). All proceeds will be donated to Girls on the Run Greater Tampa Bay to support and help grow its Sarasota and Manatee after-school training programs. 

Sarasota Half Marathon

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Results & New Date For 2020

This year’s 35th Annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix had 68 race teams compete from around the world, a significant increase from an average of 30 race teams participating over the last several years, thanks to Powerboat P1 and the Offshore Powerboat Association partnering on a new six-race offshore series this season. This produced hugely positive results for both the sport of powerboat racing and the impact that the Festival continues to have on the local economy and Suncoast Charities for Children. Visit Sarasota County reported in their economic impact report that the 2019 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix generated an estimated economic impact of $29.6 Million and a direct total impact of $17.9 Million in expenditures. Next year’s Festival will be held June 20-28 with the Grand Prix Race taking place on Sunday, June 28. 

Suncoast Charities for Children

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

Copyright © 2019 by SRQ Media Group, 331 South Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.
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