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SRQ DAILY Aug 9, 2014

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"In politics, as in many arenas, complacency can be one's own worst enemy. Whether you're a candidate or a voter, you can lose just as easily based on who doesn't show up as who does. "

- Kevin Cooper, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

[Chamber]  An Election of Primary Importance
Kevin Cooper, Kcooper@sarasotachamber.com

Perhaps nowhere in American democracy is the impact of absence more prevalent than at the ballot during a primary election.  Indeed, only 16.5 percent of registered voters in Sarasota County cast a ballot in the 2012 primary election.  That number pales in comparison to the 75.2 percent of voters who cast a ballot in the subsequent general election. 

Granted, the 2012 general election took place during a Presidential election cycle, Florida is a closed primary state, and the primary elections take place in August when any number of Sarasota residents are out of the area for any number of reasons.  However, understanding why something may have happened is far different than understanding the impact of it happening. 

In 2012, a Sarasota County Commissioner was almost, by default, determined as a result of the primary election.  Voters would only otherwise be able to vote for write-in candidates in the general election.  That means that the winner of the primary election would be the only name that would actually appear on the general election ballot.  Not surprisingly, that candidate took over 97% of the vote in the general election. 

While that same candidate won the primary in a relatively decisive fashion, in fact by over 17 percentage points, looking closely at the numbers one might concede that the race was closer than it appeared.  The winning candidate took the primary election by less than 2 percent of the registered voter count. 

Of course, because Florida is a closed primary state and a write-in candidate qualified for candidacy, only voters registered with the candidate’s party could cast their vote in the primary.  That party currently comprises nearly 43 percent of the registered voters in Sarasota County.  By that measure, the winning candidate won the race by less than 4 percent of the potential total vote.  That means that if 4 out of every 100 people that didn’t vote instead showed up and voted for the other candidate, Sarasota County could conceivably have a different County Commissioner.

To be clear, I happen to think that the winning candidate is doing a great job.  I say none of this to imply that he should have lost, or even might have if 100 percentof the eligible voters cast a ballot.  Instead, I say this in an attempt to illustrate the importance of voting in a primary election.  Primary elections are often overlooked as trivial, if acknowledged at all.  In Sarasota County, however, elected officials, both County Commission and otherwise, are often determined during the primary election.  If nothing else, the general election ballots can be significantly impacted by what takes place in August.

In politics, as in many arenas, complacency can be one’s own worst enemy.  Whether you’re a candidate or a voter, you can lose just as easily based on who doesn’t show up as who does. 

The 2014 primary election takes place on Tuesday, Aug. 26.  Early voting begins on Aug. 16 and ends on Aug. 23.  The deadline to register for absentee voting is Aug. 19.  For more information, visit SarasotaVotes.com.

SRQ Daily Columnist Kevin Cooper is the vice president for Public Policy and Sarasota Tomorrow Initiatives for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce 

[The Report]  A Little Lesson in Hospital History
Susan Nilon, susan.nilon@gmail.com

When I wrote about the “Push to privatize Sarasota Memorial Hospital,” two other media called it a rumor and insisted the public not worry.  I would like to share some history in the sale of another local not-for-profit hospital as reported by the Herald-Tribune back in 2004, the Bon Secour Hospital in Venice (now known as Venice Regional Bayfront Health.)

From April 8, 2004: "It's early in the process and we have made no decisions about a course of action," said Bon Secours spokeswoman Peggy Moseley in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon in response to widespread public speculation about a possible sale. “In the merger-and-acquisition game, potential players who talk publicly can find themselves quickly on the sidelines.”

“Bon Secours Health Systems had hoped the single-page statement released Tuesday by its corporate office in Maryland would stop "the nutzo rumors," as hospital board chairman Mick Gardner called speculation surrounding the hospital's future.” … “The memo did not say, or even imply, that the hospital, which Bon Secours bought in 1995, is for sale.”

In August 10, 2004: “Sold to HMA in Health Management Associates Inc., a publicly traded company based in Naples… Bon Secours said HMA, like the other contenders, agreed to keep it open as an acute care hospital, continue serving the poor and maintain existing services for at least five years.”

The question to be answered is if the sale of Sarasota Memorial Hospital has to be put to the voters on a referendum, what does is matter who is on the hospital board?  If you look at the hospital board as just a part of a strategy, you will begin to understand the mindset. 

The only way to start the process of selling a public hospital is by a vote of the hospital board to put it to a referendum.  Once it is on the ballot,  then the effort goes mainstream.  It is during that time that special interests groups will start to funnel money into PACs and start to change the conversation.  With ads hitting the airwaves and in the newspaper, the public will be inundated with information using a single slant—"Why it is better for Sarasota to sell the hospital to a private corporation.”  You tell enough people the same thing over and over and you can convince the majority of people who vote in that election to see things your way.  After all, how do you think a completely unknown hospital executive billionaire who jumps into politics before an election can win the governorship of Florida?

I spoke to enough people, from Tallahassee to Sarasota, to confirm what Jack Brill admitted to in order for me to feel that this is something the public should know.  HCA says it not true?  Now that is laughable that they were even considered credible.  What did you expect them to say?  “Yes, come on in.  Let me tell you our strategy!” And as for campaign donations, the challengers jumped into the race at the last minute.  The story broke soon after.  Do you think anyone would keep going on with the plan, or head back to the drawing board when every donation would be scrutinized?

The good thing is, the PAC that was set up to support a public hospital, “Save Our Community Hospital,” is not going away.  With over $70 thousand in reported donations as of today, they are here for the long haul to combat any effort to keep the only public hospital from Tampa to Port Charlotte remaining that way in Sarasota.

SRQ Daily Columnist Susan Nilon is the president of Florida Talk Radio and owner of WSRQ Radio. She hosts The Nilon Report on WSRQ Sarasota 1220AM/106.9FM weekdays 4pm-6pm. 

[Candidate Letters] 

Editor's Note: SRQ invited all candidates for Sarasota County Commission in Districts 2 and 4 to write about their candidacies in today's edition of SRQ Daily. All candidates in the Aug. 26 primary were asked to write letters but not all responded. Responses are below. 

[Candidate]  Paul Caragiulo, District 2

You’ve heard the one about the definition of politics? “Poly” means many and “ticks” are blood sucking parasites. Most people either nod or laugh when they hear that. I laughed the first time I heard that, but now after three years working the job, I promise you, it’s not funny. Yes, this from a guy who normally finds humor in almost anything.

Politics is serious business where every choice made could inevitably impact for better or worse someone’s quality of life. If the desire is to be universally liked, you will be disappointed, especially at the local level where every vote or action taken is as apt to be booed as applauded—not from a distance but by the neighbors, friends and associates who voted for you and by those who didn’t.

The Aug. 26 Primary Election marks my third run for office and my first run in a partisan race. To run as a Republican brings the defining characteristic of fiscal conservative. If you’ve followed budget hearings or budget items on the City Commission agenda you know I am line-by-line item diligent when it comes to spending the people’s money. My time monitoring the Legislative Session for the City Commission the past three years has given me valuable knowledge of our state’s budget and laws as well. But equally as important to Republican primary voters should be the nonpartisan lessons learned working as one of five brothers in a family business: patience in the debate and an ability to detach from a squabble in order to focus on the job at hand. As an employer, I’ve learned the importance to judge fairly, but hold accountable employees to do their job well, or hire someone who will.

In the complex workings of the County Commission, just as in business, the team must choose their battles wisely in the best interests of our community as a whole. To achieve what is best, it is vital that those you elect have the key skill set of knowing how to work together effectively, set aside the personal and have the ability to hold others and themselves accountable to implement public policy for the greater good.

Our Democracy places the power and responsibility to elect who does the governing in the hands of the voters, and on Aug. 26, the future of Sarasota County is yours to determine. My name is Paul Caragiulo, and I am asking for your vote.

Paul Caragiulo is a Republican candidate for Sarasota County Commission District 2 

[Candidate]  Alan Maio, District 4

Most of us choose to live in Sarasota County because of its overall quality of life. But a high quality of life does not just happen on its own. It’s more than sunshine and beaches, as great as those are.

It is the result of a series of good and sometimes tough decisions that set the table for what makes a high quality of life for the most people.

That requires leadership.

Our quality of life is derived from many areas. We need good schools, nice parks and open spaces, enjoyable, safe, affordable communities in which to live, an efficient transportation network and economic opportunity for everyone.

To accomplish these things requires County Commission leadership that will:

- Keep taxes low by constantly digging into the budget to find savings and efficiencies and questioning each new expenditure. As a trained accountant who has run several successful businesses, I am exceptionally well-prepared to do that.

- Create, along with my fellow County Commissioners and county staff, a comprehensive solution to our transportation challenges. This means looking into the future and planning for those needs. We cannot operate with our head in the ground, or on the thinking of 30 years ago, when it comes to transportation needs. We must plan ahead, consider all viable alternatives, and then fund them. As someone who has built many miles of road in Sarasota County, I deeply understand this.

- Ensure that regulations are in the overall public interest, not just special interests such as developers, environmentalists and anti-growth people. There is thoughtful, workable middle ground that encompasses the need to maintain pleasing, aesthetic open spaces and planning for transportation while allowing opportunities that are economically workable.

- Enable our children and grandchildren to have economic opportunities here. An unbalanced approach to growth can mean that our children that go to college cannot return to find good jobs. That is wrong and has happened too often. Economic opportunity is a bedrock principle of our country’s and county’s success.

Sometimes these objective compete with each other. That requires strong, effective, experienced, successful leadership to help guide the County Commission on a path that is a win for all residents.

That is the type of leadership I showed in starting, running and selling several successful businesses and the type of leadership I will bring to the Sarasota County Commission.

Alan Maio is a Republican candidate for Sarasota County Commission District 4 

[Candidate]  Lourdes Ramirez, District 4

I am running for county commission to defend county taxpayers from crony capitalism and to reign in the out-of-control growth machine that is threatening to destroy the Sarasota County that we cherish.    

Investopedia defines “crony capitalism” as, “instead of success being determined by a free market and the rule of law, the success of a business is dependent on the favoritism that is shown to it by the ruling government in the form of tax breaks, government grants, and other incentives”. 

As a business consultant who has created many business plans, mine always include a section to analyze the finances of a business to determine its success. If the company is failing, it should adjust its business plan or dissolve the business. I never would suggest that a business finding itself unprofitable,should abandon free market practices and turn to taxpayers for bailouts or handouts. Yet this has become a standard in some industries. Taxpayers are burdened with costs of government services provided to these private companies. Several examples occur in Sarasota County. The foremost is the proposed change to the existing fiscal neutrality policy in 2050, which stipulates that costs of additional local government services and infrastructure built or provided for new developments shall be funded by properties within those proposed new developments; additional government costs should not burden the existing taxpayers who live outside the new developments. 2050 is an optional overlay designed to allow smart growth amid conservation of natural resources and habitat.

Wanting to build cheaply outside of where infrastructure exists, developers are calling for severe changes. They tell our county government that they can’t afford to build unless they burden taxpayers during the early years of development, but hope they may become ‘fiscally neutral’ as much as decades later. A successful business in the true free market absorbs the cost of startup. Forcing this burden onto the county is not fair to taxpayers. We wind up with higher property taxes, reduced value for existing properties, reduced government services, inadequate roads, sprawl and a degraded environment. 

Currently, this commission provides these developers with incentives although analysts state Sarasota’s housing market is more than adequate for several decades and adding more will diminish the values of existing housing.  

With two open commission seats, voters have opportunities to begin to turn this around—I’m applying for the job to get that started—please vote for me.

Lourdes Ramirez is a Republican candidate for Sarasota County Commission District 4 

[SRQ BAL MASQUE]  Beneficiary Information: Suncoast Science Center

SRQ | The Magazine is pleased to be in partnership with the Suncoast Science Center for our premiere event, Bal Masqué, on Saturday, October 4th from 8pm-midnight at the Sarasota Opera House. When you purchase your ticket, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a beneficiary of your choice, such as the Suncoast Science Center. As a relatively new organization, the Suncoast Science Center focuses on creativity inherent in science, technology, engineering and math by providing hands-on research experience for people of all ages. We look forward to seeing you at our Bal Masqué fundraiser gala. 

Get Tickets

[SCOOP]  Polo Grill Celebrates Sandwich Month

August is National Sandwich month and all month long Polo Grill will create wonderful lunch sandwich specials for $10. Some of the savory sandwiches will include the classics such as Philly Cheese Steaks and Meatball Heroes, but also new and exciting sandwiches like the Short Rib Grilled Cheese or the Cajun Reuben that will make your mouth water. Polo Grill will create a different sandwich everyday which means the options are limitless.  

Polo Grill and Bar

[SCOOP]  Murray Homes Brings British West Indies Style To The Lake Club

Murray Homes, Sarasota-based luxury homebuilder, is celebrating its expansion into The Lake Club at Lakewood Ranch, as the eighth official builder in the exclusive community. An extensive market study was conducted to understand the style of homes people want and based on the research findings along with the Murray team insights, an elegant timeless island-style collection was created. The British West Indies style architecture creates a casual yet elegant open island style home and the first of these models is expected to be completed in the spring of 2015.  “We are excited to be selected as a home builder in The Lake Club and are committed to delivering exceptional homes in this prestigious community along with the exemplary customer service our clients have come to expect,” says Steve Murray, President of Murray Homes.   

Murray Homes

[SOON]  Morton's Grillin' & Chillin' Celebration of Brewing

Head to Morton’s Gourmet Market on August 16 from 4-6:30pm for the annual Celebration Of Brewing event. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon sampling  over 50 varieties of brews from around the world paired with “beer-friendly” cuisine by Morton’s “Grillin and Chillin” chefs  including Barbeque ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, Cuban Pork, Morton’s famous meatloaf and fresh seafood.  Auction and raffle proceeds will benefit the Morton Culinary Education Fund.  941-955-9856 for more details and reservations. 

Morton's Gourmet Market

[SCOOP]  ArtisTree Receives 10th Consecutive Safety Award

ArtisTree recently received its tenth consecutive Overall Safety Achievement Award from the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET).  As part of PLANET’s annual Safety Recognition Awards Program, the recogniition honors those companies with thorough, high-performing safety programs that create and maintain safe work environments in the green industry and is designed to recognize green industry companies that consistently demonstrate their commitment to safety. ArtisTree was evaluated on number of accidents, number of days that employees were away from work, and number of employee injuries and illnesses. In addition, a checklist was used to rate the company’s complete safety program.   


[SOON]  Seeing the Unseen Brings Contemporary Chinese Art to The Ringling

 From August 14 through February 28, The Ringling will explore contemporary Chinese art in the exhibition “Seeing the Unseen.”  The exhibition will feature photographic and video works by eight renowned Chinese artists including Cao Fei, Li Wei, Wang Qingsong, and Miao Xiaochun. Reflecting the artistic innovations of our media age, their works provide a fresh view of China’s rapidly changing socio-cultural landscape. These Chinese artists apply new concepts and technology to record and present inspiring moments veiled in daily life.  

The Ringling

[SCOOP]  The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast Welcomes 2 New Board Members

The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast (PMP/Suncoast) announces two new and distinguished members of the music organization’s Board of Trustees: Jan W. Pitchford and Brianne L. Reck, Ph.D.  Pitchford is Partner, Real Estate Practice Co-Administrator, with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP and specializes in commercial lending and residential transactions. Dr. Brianne L. Reck is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and also serves as Chair of Educational Leadership and Online Programs as well as the Executive Director and Senior Fellow at the USF S-M Center for PAInt (Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching). PMP/Suncoast hosts the winter residency of the Perlman Music Program, which provides valuable mentoring and performance opportunities for young string musicians and more than 20 free community events, as well as a year-round educational outreach program and emerging artists performance series. 

The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast

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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