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SRQ DAILY Jun 6, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"This is a generational moment and a chance for true transformation if we embrace it."

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County
 

[Community]  Standing in Solidarity, Leading with Empathy
Nelle S. Miller and Roxie Jerde

As we watch our nation grapple with crises on two fronts — one stemming from COVID-19, the other from timeworn injustices — we feel and recognize a powerful, urgent calling for action in these trying moments. Many of us are heartbroken and angry about the circumstances that have propelled the very raw and emotional conversations and protests taking part here at home and across our country right now.

While we can never fully understand the daily realities and challenges faced by our communities of color, we recognize that our current crises have only exacerbated longstanding social and economic inequalities that expose our previous “normal” as anything but, a normal that shapes destinies based on differences rather than similarities. We believe our community can — and should — rise above this sentiment to reach new, bolder horizons.

Make no mistake: what it takes to make long-lasting change can create confusion and make for uncomfortable feelings, but lasting transformation is possible. It’s up to all of us to share this responsibility and transform current inequities into sustainable solutions.

In the face of crisis, though, we are far from powerless.

As a community connector and partner, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County is fully committed to bringing individuals and organizations together to improve the lives of all people. We believe the strength of our community stems from its diversity and only together can we address issues and create opportunities so every person can achieve their full potential. For several years, we have invested in communities of great need to address systemic issues based in poverty that affect health, education, and access to an equitable community. Though we have made considerable progress, our work is far from over — it is beginning anew.

For the last year, our Board of Directors led a review of our grantmaking, outreach, communications, internal operations, staffing and board makeup to examine inherent biases we may not be aware of to ensure the Community Foundation can help support a community we all want to live in. Though an intentional process, this has not been one without its own issues and uneasy moments. To challenge ourselves to hold to disparate ideas of the world we know and the one we can imagine takes courage, and this moment of crisis undoubtedly calls for each of us to muster that same courage and bravery to move forward together.

If we truly hope to live up to these principles, we must become comfortable with the idea of facing uncomfortable realities while leading unequivocally with empathy. We must also be mindful to avoid silencing voices that do not share our own judgements and notions of morality. The shared sorrow and anger felt by millions of Americans is very real and very deep-rooted and should not be marginalized. Now more than ever, staying informed, connected, and active is paramount to ensure each one of us can thrive safely and freely.

We ask our entire community to join in solidarity and open your ears, hearts and minds to the experiences of those around you to build a community that embraces all perspectives, all voices, all people. Let us not miss this opportunity to rally and affirm our spirit of cohesion to break down the barriers of systemic and institutionalized racism. While change of this magnitude inevitably will require time to fully permeate our communities, the time is now to shed off all that divides us and embrace all that unites us. Now is the time for equality and compassion to shine.

We don’t have the map designed for how Sarasota County and our region will move along this path, but we are here to chart the course, together.

Now is the time.

Nelle S. Miller is board chair, and Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[On County]  If You Want Transparency, Six is Better Than One.
Paul Caragiulo

Humans are a curious lot. We like to know things about others. What is more regarding political candidates, it seems people prefer to know more than less. It can help us to understand how you operate, what motivates you and where your interests lie. One of the many ways we learn more about you is to look at the financial disclosure that the law requires a candidate or official to file, which is available for anyone to inspect.

More importantly, it helps us to identify potential conflicts that may come up with the issues you support, the votes you cast and the actions you take. This ability to identify potential conflicts is essential for the conduct of public policy. From time to time, citizens make requests for officials to recuse themselves from action on specific issues. However, the law is quite specific regarding recusal. You can find it in Chapter 112 of our state statutes. It states: A state public officer may not vote on any matter that the officer knows would insure his or her special private gain or loss., but how the public know if a candidate or official has a financial interest that may require recusal?

When I first ran for city commission, I of course had to complete the required “STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS,” commonly known as the “form 1.” If you are elected, you must continue to file a form 1 every year. The form 1 is the simplest financial disclosure for candidates and public officials in Florida. Along with city commissioners and city commission candidates, some advisory board members as well as some state, county and local bureaucrats are required to complete this form. The form 1 is no big deal, it takes a few minutes to complete but because of its simplicity, it does not tell you much. Hence, it is not highly effective for identifying potential voting conflicts.

A few years later, I ran for the county commission. Naturally, a state disclosure form was required, however it was one I had never seen nor heard of before and that form is an entirely different specimen. Along with county commissioners and candidates for county commission, it is the form that members of the legislature, cabinet members and constitutional officers file. The document is known as the “form 6” and bears the title, “FULL AND PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS.” The title is a completely accurate one. Oh yes, it is full and it is public. It also can be, for some, a giant pain in the you-know-what. Depending on your level of organization, access of information and your assets, it can take hours and even days. Like many others I know, every June, when I was presented with one, I probably muttered some form of expletive under my breath, or perhaps not under breath.

I have heard many times from certain individuals the form is one of the things that prevents them from engaging in the political process. Well, that may indeed be true but so be it. I say it is worth it since the disclosure can provide the information needed to ask relevant questions. So, it led me to ask the question, if county commissioners and candidates must file this document then why would city commissioners and candidates not have to? After all, it is essentially the same job with the same authority and responsibilities, just with different jurisdictions.

When you run for office and certainly while you are serving, you should know that you relinquish a large part of your privacy. That is just the way it is. That is why our President, or any other elected official, will get no sympathy from me regarding disclosure of their financial interests. We live in the Sunshine State and place a huge premium on transparency. I hope the state legislature will take up this issue and expand the requirement for disclosure. It seems like something that is easy to correct. 

Paul Caraigiulo is a former Sarasota city and county commissioner. 

[Education]  We Have Met the Enemy and It is Us
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

We seem to have made a real mess of ourselves.

The images of our country as a strong and unified nation seem like a distant mirage as we battle a deadly novel coronavirus while also combatting an even deadlier enemy–US, divided.

One ultimately will meet its demise when science advances a vaccine to destroy its ability to spread the contagion while the other will meet its fate only when our souls are laid bare and love for one another triumphs.

I’m not naïve enough to think that any one of us singularly can solve this problem, and frankly, we probably won’t achieve this utopia until we reach the gates of heaven.

But the current strife does call us to accept the incumbent responsibility to be kind, compassionate, accepting leaders — positive role models who embody love for humanity, decency and respect for every person and demonstrate a commitment to eradicate inequities and racism, once and for all.

The writers of the Declaration of Independence asserted that the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness belong to each and every one of us, not just some of us. 

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “We must educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

The recognition that a republic “for the people and by the people” requires an educated people is imbedded in our nation’s founding documents.

However, as we’ve learned through history, our country has made a slow progression to a more inclusive definition of “we, the people.” In our nation’s early years, the famous words were hollow, ignorant at best and egregious at worst, considering that the eloquent Jefferson who penned the phrase was himself the owner of slaves. It would take amendments and court decisions to arrive at a more inclusive but still imperfect union.

Education and opportunity are imperative if we are to achieve these rights for all and produce an enlightened public that values justice, respect and trust that optimizes human potential, not destroys it. 

We, individually and collectively as members of our community, are the only ones who ultimately can leverage our energies and broaden our understandings to create an environment in which people from all walks of life can live together harmoniously. When we open the portal to envisioning what can be, and what we know what should be, that is when transformation can begin.

This is a generational moment and a chance for true transformation if we embrace it. It will require courageous conversations, profound recognition of our own iniquities, and resolute determination to live out the words we speak when pledging allegiance to our flag, our country and to each other:

We are “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[On Volunteers]  Move Over for Rover

In this time when so many of our social rituals have changed to accommodate the new rules of a global pandemic, one thing remains a constant: the need to remember to always use your powers of observation and offer a comfortable “physical distance” around a guide dog and his human handler when they are out in a public setting. Guide dogs are the eyes of their handler — they are trained to lead the way safely and securely. But we can’t expect guide dogs to understand the current physical distancing practice of maintaining six-foot clearances. 

Guide dogs are trained to be decision makers. Even under stressful situations the intent of the dogs’ presence is to protect their handlers from harmful situations involving clearances around obstacles and navigating over dangerous under footings. When another party is in too close proximity, it can distract the dog from its tasks. Just as we humans like our space, guide dogs need space as well to perform their duties.

Our wonderful guide dogs are specifically trained to make safe choices in public settings. This includes on stairways, elevators, and escalators; in supermarket aisles; around restaurant tables and along sidewalks. The long-standing message of being a careful observer applies when you are in the same vicinity as the guide dog team — especially when locating, entering or exiting doorways. Remember that the dog knows to lead his handler with safe clearance, but he does not know how to create a six-foot gap.

I believe the guide dog’s presence should tell the story and that we humans must observe and react with care. The responsibility for recommended physical spacing in the presence of a working team should fall to the sighted party. Please decide when it is necessary to make the adjustment for six feet of distance between you, and do it in a casual manner. When you see a guide dog team approaching, be observant and add a small amount of space between you as needed. There is no reason for exaggeration, but it’s easy to add a little physical separation to comply with safety practices. A slight movement one way or another will help a lot. We each do it every day in our people-to-people encounters. 

And please do this with subtlety and tact. The blind person approaching you does not want to feel awkward or to be put on the spot. Nor do they want to be given preferential treatment. Blindness in and of itself can be the cause of social isolation and often results in loneliness and distancing from life and human interaction. We are in no way suggesting that you avoid engaging with a visually impaired person--just not when that can interfere with their safety and health.  

We are all having to make adjustments to adhere to the new protocols and safety measures designed to flatten the curve of Covid-19 in our daily lives. Thank you for being sensitive about giving our life-changing guide dogs a little more space in theirs.

Titus Herman is the CEO of Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, a national nonprofit that trains guide and service dogs for people with vision loss and veterans with disabilities. 



[Competition]  Venice in the Running for USA Today Award

Venice is in the running for USA Today’s 10 Best category for favorite coastal small town in America. You can vote for Venice here: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-coastal-small-town/venice-florida/ Vote for your favorite once per day until polls close on Monday, June 29 at noon ET. The 10 winning small towns will be announced on Friday, July 10. 

Click to vote for Venice, Florida.

[Re-Openings]  Florida Railroad Museum Reopening June 6th

Train rides starting tomorrow, Saturday June 6th and operates every Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 2pm. As with every summer, the museum will still be offering its Kids Ride Free all Summer special, with up to 3 free kids (under 12 years old) per adult ticket (adults are 12 years old and older). Beat the summertime/Covid-19 blues and come out and enjoy a SAFE and relaxing train ride. The train will feature two enclosed AC coaches and two open air coaches to best meet your needs. Guests are free to move about the train.

Precautions will take place based on state, county and CDC guidelines, with extra cleaning between and during each trip, limited capacity and social distancing.

The museum’s Model Railroad display car will also be open on weekends featuring Thomas and Friends. In addition to general admission train rides, the museum will also be offering the following: Locomotive rental, drive a railroad diesel locomotive, caboose charters, have your own private car for your own private party, locomotive cab rides, or ride shotgun with the engineer.

While the museum’s ticket office / gift shop will be open, it is recommended that tickets are purchased online at www.FloridaRailroad.com and any at site purchases be made via credit card. 

Click for more info.

[Radio Station]  African American Takeover Day at Sarasota's Community Radio Station

WSLR 96.5, Sarasota’s community radio station, will be pre-empting regular programming for most of the day on Saturday, June 6th, building on a block of existing African American programming to let black voices in our community be heard. Listeners interested in being part of the conversation can call or text 941-954-8636. Some of the programming will also be livestreamed on WSLR’s Facebook and YouTube channel.

The full schedule of programming appears below.

7am – 9am – Saturday Morning Gospel Beat with Jonah Ray

9am – 9:30am – Town Talk Tampa Bay – Host Sharon Folta will interview Demetrius Jifunza, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

9:30am – 11am – Radio Reset - Hosted by Sharon Folta, this show celebrates female voices in music, verse, activism and community from Sarasota and beyond

11am -12pm – The Willingness to Change –-A 23 year old’s perspective of the world as he understands it, and as it understands him. Host: Daje Austrie

12pm – 1pm – Raising Strong Black Men in Today's World – Sharon Folta will host a conversation with Renee Gilmore, host of 'Empowering Voices' on ABC 7 and Jonah Ray, host of Saturday Morning Gospel Beat on WSLR, about raising Black male children and being a young Black man in America.

1pm – 2pm – Hard Knock Radio – Hosts Davey D and Anita Johnson give voice to issues ignored by the mainstream while planting seeds for social change. The show focuses on issues relevant to youth and the disenfranchised.

2-2:30pm – Critical Times – Special coverage of local protests

2:30pm – 4pm: Critical Times: Being a Black Man in America with host Perette Cannady and special guests Dr. Karl Lewis DDS , Michael Harris Pro Golfer 1996-2003, Ed Lewis Co-Founder of Essence Magazine and John Sims, local artist and educator. 

4pm – 4:30pm: Making Contact – Features Dr. Ibram Kendi on the History of Race in America

4:30pm – 5:30pm: Ask Dr. Lisa –Special guest will be Dr. Jewel Crawford a medical doctor and social justice activist. Dr. Crawford brings excellent expertise from CDC, social determinants of health research, etc. This program will be livestreamed on the WSLR Facebook and YouTube channel and audience members can ask questions or make comments in the live chat.

5:30pm-7pm: It’s a Family Affair. Celebrating Black Joy - Music and Musings with Dr. Queen Zabriskie and family.

7-9pm: Sounds of Freedom - Brian Jones will host a special show with jazz aficionado Lawrence F. Jones discussing the history of protest jazz.

9pm-11pm: DJ Karim Manning will play a live set of classic soul, funk and hip hop music, then perform some live hip hop and human beat boxing finish the set. Karim has been DJing and composing music for over 20 years and has deep roots in hip hop music and culture. He recently started teaching digital music at Booker Middle and Booker High School and loves teaching young black and Latino youth about the true history of America and our battles with oppression as people of color. 

[Health Update]  Citywide Public Health Emergency Extended Through June 12

The City of Sarasota has extended its declaration of a local citywide public health emergency through June 12 following a weekly review, as required by the City Charter, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City’s Parks and Recreation District also announced several reopenings: Doubles tennis play will be allowed at Payne Park Tennis Center and other outdoor tennis courts in the City starting Monday, June 8. All playgrounds and basketball courts at City parks will reopen Tuesday, June 9. Indoor pickleball courts at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex will reopen June 19 and will be available to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Robert L. Taylor Community Complex fitness center will reopen beginning July 6. Fitness hours will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The athletic field at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex will remain closed while the state continues to operate a walk-up COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot.

The emergency order issued Friday by City Manager Tom Barwin, in consultation with Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and City Attorney Robert Fournier, also allows several City advisory boards to resume meetings beginning on the following dates: Historic Preservation Board – July 14, Newtown Community Redevelopment Area Advisory Board - June 25, Planning Board – Aug. 12, Public Art Committee – July 8.

The Development Review Committee will meet July 1. Subsequent DRC meetings will be as provided in subsequent emergency orders.

Certain development approval applications may now be filed under Friday’s emergency order. The order also strongly urges the public to wear protective masks when leaving home, including in common areas of condominium and apartment buildings, and to acquire protective masks if they have not already.

Partial street closures to help local restaurants and retail establishments impacted by COVID-19 will be in effect from 3 p.m. to midnight this Friday, June 5, and Saturday, June 6, on the following downtown streets: Main Street, from Palm Avenue to Mira Mar Court, State Street, from the State Street Garage to Lemon Avenue, Lemon Avenue, from Main Street to State Street.

Although City buildings remain closed to the public, most City operations and services are still available. The public can conduct City business either online via www.SarasotaFL.gov or by phone at 941-263-6000. 

[Virtual Town Hall]  Manatee County Residents Invited to Virtual Hurricane Prep Town Hall Series

In an effort to reach Manatee County residents with important preparation information for the 2020 Hurricane Season, Manatee County will host seven virtual town hall meetings this month.

Each of Manatee County's seven County Commissioners will host a video conference with Emergency Management Chief Steve Litschauer and Public Safety Director Jacob Saur. After officials review the year's most important messages, telephone lines will be open for questions from those on the line.

During the virtual town hall, Director Saur and Chief Litschauer will cover the following: Learning the strength of your home and whether it's in an evacuation zone using Manatee County's online tools for help. Making an evacuation plan NOW. If you're in an evacuation zone or mobile home, scout out several options where you can stay when severe weather approaches. Go tens of miles, not hundreds, to find a safer location to ride out the storm.

In normal conditions public shelters can be crowded, noisy, cold and uncomfortable. If evacuation orders are given and public shelters open, they will keep you safe from the elements but there for those who come to shelters, there is no guarantee against the spread of germs and sickness. Public shelters MUST be your last resort in 2020.

Knowing when to dial 911: for emergencies only. Call 311 for general information and questions throughout the year. If you're not sure whether your situation is truly an emergency, call 911.

The virtual town hall is scheduled as follows:

District 3 Commissioner Stephen Jonsson
Wed. June 10, 1 p.m.

District 2 Commissioner Reggie Bellamy
Thurs. June 11, 5 p.m.

District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh
Mon. June 15, 1 p.m.

District 1 Commissioner Priscilla Trace
Mon., June 15, 3 p.m.

At-large Commissioner/Commission Chair Betsy Benac
Wed. June 17, 1 p.m.

At-large Commissioner Carol Whitmore
Mon. June 22, 6 p.m.

District 4 Commissioner Misty Servia
Thurs., June 25, 6 p.m. 

[Store Reopening ]  Music Go Round Bradenton Re-Opens

Music Go Round, Bradenton announces they are back to full service buying and selling used musical instruments and gear in the Oneco Square Shopping Center at 5108 15th St. East, Bradenton.“We are very thankful for our on-line business, but it is nice to start seeing our customers again,” said Melinda Setchel, Owner at Music Go Round, Bradenton. When shopping for instruments, it is almost imperative that musicians be able to try them out in person. While they can be successful purchasing on-line, there is no substitute for handling the instrument and hearing how it sounds in person.  There is a comfort level that can only be reached when they can go in the store and try out the gear. The staff are glad to be back as well, and no one missed a pay check during the six weeks the store was closed to the public.  “Fortunately, we were able to continue to pay our staff while closed.  That was difficult as a small business, but we felt it was important to help take care of our staff,” said David Setchel, Owner.    

Click for more info.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: 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.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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