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SRQ DAILY Mar 14, 2015

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"When the County is to able refinance general fund debt obligations at a lower rate, it reduces some of the amount that would otherwise have come out of the general fund to pay debt service. "

- Kevin Cooper. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

[The Report]  Nonpartisan Doesn't Mean Non-Biased
Susan Nilon, susan.nilon@gmail.com

I wrote about non-partisan elections last month and the value of political parties in the effort to help get a candidate elected.  Since then, members of Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations have made a point to come up to me to address this issue.  As if my opinion was a personal affront to their organization, they argued the merits of no party interference.  As they stood there wearing their candidate buttons and T-shirts telling me who they support, they made sure to let me know they were “not a political organization.”  They were “an issue-oriented organization.”  At least they were wearing their bias.

One candidate decided to take me on publicly and make it her platform to demand political parties not get involved in the current city election.  Personally, I thought it was a terrible waste of press.  I am sure the public would rather hear about her vision than her upset over the Democratic Party’s involvement.  I reminded people who thought I was wrong that no one complained when the Democratic Party helped three of the five current commissioners get elected in the last two elections.

In fact, the last city election cycle proved pretty tough for the nonpolitical party duo, Jessie Biter and Rich Swier Jr., when the focus was on them and all of the money they raised to support their candidate of choice.  “Stay out of the city elections” was the message cried out day after day.  And yet, their effort had merit – getting out the youth vote.

And while the Republican Party officially stayed out of the race, Christian Ziegler, Republican Party Committeeman, was unyielding in his emails listing who the Republicans were on the ticket. 

One person, one vote.  I would like to think that is all this is about.  But the truth is, getting that person to the polls is the hardest thing we ever do.  Asking a person to cast an educated vote…well that is a whole other conversation.  If a party, or a neighborhood organization, or a group of entrepreneurs, can motivate people to get to the polls, why would you fight that effort?

Now the election has passed and the top candidates are on to the runoff.  The candidate who challenged me came in second.  During her campaign she pledged not to accept political party support and called on her opponent to denounce the Democratic support that was given. Her supporters went before the city commission to state their intended effort to change the city charter to prevent political party involvement in the future.  The question is now, will she stick to her guns or will she go back on her word and welcome the political party support she has been fighting since her campaign began?

If we really want to come together as a community, we need to stop alienating those that want to get involved.  If you want a better Sarasota, we need to stop fighting each other on things that really shouldn’t matter.  No one is getting crowned, and no one is superior when it comes to their vision of the city.  Every idea each candidate presented has merit.  If you think that the most important argument in this election is to keep people from getting involved, then you are not a visionary, you are an elitist.  

Running in a non-partisan race does not make you non-biased towards a political ideology.  And insisting political parties do not get involved will only push them further in the dark.  Let’s keep them out in the sunshine where they belong.  

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. Email her at susan@sarasotatalkradio.com.

[Chamber]  Benefits of Effective Debt Management
Kevin Cooper, Kcooper@sarasotachamber.com

By Florida law, Sarasota County must submit a balanced budget on an annual basis. Because of that, and because many of the projects the County pursues require significant financial commitment, without the option to utilize debt financing the County would find itself struggling to keep up with current needs. The local government doesn’t have a credit card with which to make purchases, but it does have the ability to issue bonds and obtain loans.

Government debt financing works much like how individual debt financing works, a borrower is able to make large purchases by committing future revenue streams plus interest. A mortgage, car loan and/or a credit card are common examples of individual debt financing.  Government, as it utilizes debt financing, behaves much like its constituents in that it doesn’t always have to save to spend but, instead, can sometimes borrow to spend. 

Roughly 15 percent ($171,669,710) of the County’s nearly $1.15-billion annual budget is committed to satisfy principal and interest payments on bonds, commercial paper and other debt. It’s important to note a significant amount of the budget is comprised of internal fund transfers (i.e., moving money around), so the percentage of annual revenues committed to debt is much higher when backing out transferred funds. 

Perhaps thankfully, because debt service comprises such a considerable amount of its annual expenditures, the County Commission has approved a debt management policy which provides guidelines for staff in regards to managing the County’s debt. One of these guidelines is that, if bonds can be refinanced at a lower rate such that the net present value savings is at least 5 percent of the bonds being refunded, then staff needs to explore the opportunities to refinance that debt.

This may sound complicated, but it is pretty straightforward: as an example, if the County owes $20 million on a bond, then staff should pursue refinancing that bond if the savings are at least $1 million (i.e., 5 percent of the $20 million).

When the County is to able refinance general fund debt obligations at a lower rate, it reduces some of the amount that would otherwise have come out of the general fund to pay debt service. Any savings in debt service benefits the general fund, and reduces some of the financial pressure to raise millage. Put another way, it frees up funds in the general fund to use for other things. For surtax and utilities debt obligations, the benefit of refinancing is to accelerate some of the projects for the benefit of the public as more funding is made available.

The public should be aware that, since 2007, the County has saved approximately $70 million in total net present value and future savings through debt restructurings. Much of the County’s ability to refinance at favorable rates is due to its positive credit rating and sound fiscal policies.  Because of their efforts, County staff has been able to keep up with current projects and add some additional expenditures all without burdening citizens with tax increases.  

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

[SCOOP]  Max Erhman's Urbanite Theatre Mural

Max Ehrman, mural artist extraordinaire, will be returning to Sarasota to grace a wall for the new Urbanite theatre with his brilliant designs. SRQ Media takes special interest in Ehrman's work as we are proud to have one of his murals painted on an exterior wall of our corporate offices.The mural will energize a blank wall on Second Street with captivating art that carries the eye from ground level rising up along the wall to point in the direction of Urbanite. Founding Member of Urbanite Theatre, Harry Lipstein commissioned Ehrman to create a mural both hip and friendly that reflects Urbanite’s values.  “The essence of theater is "Truth" and the core of "Truth" is "Love". The Urbanite was founded on the principal that live theater is dependent on truthful acting and a relevant story”, said Lipstein. Ehrman’s design concept revolves around the Urbanite logo and incorporates a dynamic use of color and organic shapes to represent life, love, and color harmony. Urbanite Theatre’s mission is to bring compelling, intimate live theater experiences to downtown Sarasota with a commitment to fresh works, burgeoning playwrights, and actor-driven productions and exciting, contemporary playgoing opportunities. A native of Naples, Fl.,  currently living in San Francisco, Max Erhman’s work has been published nationally and internationally. Check out his designs at maxehrman.com. 

Urbanite Theatre

[SOON]  Ringling's Fresh Take on Food Offerings

The Ringling will have a fresh take on food offerings starting on July 1. Tableseide Restaurant Group, the management company behind Libby’s, Louies Modern, The Francis and Modern Events, will assume operations over all of the food and beverage operations at The Ringling including Treviso, the Banyan Café, the Visitor Pavilion Café and catering for The Ringling.  “We are very thankful for the excellent years of food service that GSI has provided at The Ringling,” Steven High, executive director of The Ringling said. “We are excited to welcome Tableseide as The Ringling’s food service provider to provide some local Sarasota-flavor to our visitors’ experience at the Museum.” 

The Ringling

[SCOOP]  Memorial Fund Created for Cat Depot Caped Crusader Spokespurrson

With heavy hearts, Cat Depot recently said goodbye to their caped crusader, Mighty Lou, "spokespurrson" for special needs cats, and best friend. His mighty spirit will remain alive in the hearts of everyone whose lives he touched. The Mighty Lou Memorial Fund has been established in his memory to carry on his mission of helping special needs cats and the Friends Like Me program at Cat Depot. And, a room at Cat Depot will be dedicated in Mighty Lou's honor. Friends Like Me is a Cat Depot Program to provide emergency medical care and treatment to Cat Depot cats and kittens who are sick, injured or have chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. Mighty Lou was a special needs cat with diabetes. With the help of his doting mom, he was able to overcome his disabilities, and he became the "spokespurrson" for Cat Depot’s Friends Like Me program. Mighty Lou was an internet sensation and local celebrity with his own Facebook page and weekly blog.  

Cat Depot

[SCOOP]  Morton's Irish Feast

Let Morton's Gourmet Market help you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in true Irish style. Featuring fully-prepared and ready to go favorites including corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, Irish Lamb stew, baked Codfish with Irish Cheese crust, and authentic soda bread, Morton's is your one-stop shop for a lucky St. Pat's feast.  Stop by the market's cheese counter for Irish Cheddar, Dubliner, Cahill Porter and many more.  

Morton's Gourmet Market

[SCOOP]  Exciting Changes For 2015 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival

The  2015 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival recently unveiled a new name and logo, and plans for two full days of powerboat racing on July 4th and 5th off Lido Beach with televised coverage on CBS Sports Network. This year's race format will include racers from around the world and offer a more "spectator friendly" venue with race team classes running together at one time, a live stream broadcast, an expanded VIP area on Lido Beach, and a race awards area on Lido Beach (July 5th) so that fans can now be a part of the celebration.  Festival Director Lucy Nicandri stated, "Suncoast Charities for Children produces the Grand Prix Festival, which last year yielded at $26 Million dollar economic impact and over 15,900 room nights.  89.1% of attendees surveyed last year indicated they came to Sarasota over the July 4th holiday because of the Festival and race events.  With inclusion of televised coverage showcasing this year's Festival and Sarasota around the world, we hope to boost that economic impact number even higher this year while at the same time provide a net increase of money raised for the charity that serves local special needs children, teens, and adults in the Sarasota area."  

Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival

[COCO TELE TOP TIPS]  5 Rebrand Requirements from Joe Grano, President & Founder, Next-Mark

1. Define your mission. If there's one  thing businesses often forget, it's how to sum up their offerings in 20 words or less. Take the time to define, or redefine, your mission and use that as your develop your new brand. 2. Remember your identity. As the times change, so does corporate design. But instead of jumping on every change or trend, let your creative team explore design options that work for your brand now and 10 years from now. Stay practical and true to your company's personality, and don't be persuaded by what's hot this week. 3. Start from the inside out: A new look can be confusing for employees, so it's important to make sure your team understands why the rebrand happened, and what the new look and feel means. Take the time to educate every department on how the rebrand affects their day-to-day work, and what they can do to help consumers understand the changes. 4. 10 seconds until launch. The launch of your rebrand can be daunting, but taking the time to develop a project plan, budget and timeline will pay dividends at the time of the launch. If possible, a general rule of thumb is to launch the entire rebrand simultaneously so there is little to no confusion about what is old and what is new. There will always be backlash from confused customers, but a fresh look is best achieved when everything is released at once. 5. Tell everybody! Your rebrand shouldn't be something you try to hide. Be proud of your company's new look and share your enthusiasm with the world. Use your social channels, website and even newsletters to encourage consumers to explore your new logo, colors, website, collateral, etc.  


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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