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SRQ DAILY Mar 28, 2015

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition



[The Detail]  Squaring Off
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

Sarasota County is threatening (again) to move their offices out of downtown Sarasota. Strained relations from a City-County impasse over a $2 million property have become an issue in the City Commission race, with some candidates calling for kumbaya with the County.    

In 2003, Former County Administrator Jim Ley made noise about moving County offices out of downtown, declaring his interest in the abandoned Arthur Andersen offices off Fruitville near Interstate-75.  In the wake of Ley’s threat to move the County seat, the City and County signed a Memorandum of Understanding which outlines concessions from the City to ensure the County remains in downtown Sarasota.  After nearly a decade of inaction, the County resurrected the agreement last year, demanding the City surrender the deed to an empty lot worth $2 million near the police station on Ringling Boulevard, saying the City is obligated to do so under the 2003 MOU.  

The thing is, that MOU is legally worthless. City Attorney Robert Fournier has written a 14-page memo on the history and enforceability of the MOU. Fournier describes how Jim Ley “skillfully exploited the panic he had engendered by his announcement to the County’s benefit and the City’s detriment.” Regarding commitments to the City of Sarasota, the “County was totally unwilling to let its obligation to remain downtown be quantified in the context of an inter-local agreement in such a way that it would be possible to determine, if necessary, whether the agreement was being adhered to by the County or was being violated.”  The MOU lacks the specificity necessary to make it binding, and County efforts to  enforce the MOU would have the City make concessions absent County guarantees in return. Yes, relations are strained, because the County is looking to take advantage of the City.

The County has a history of undermining the City of Sarasota. The City permitted the County to negotiate the purchase of three lots adjacent to Payne Park on our behalf, and the City wound up paying $2 million over market value. The County divested itself of funding City parks, then lavished millions on the rowing facility. The County worked to game financial standards and have the City issue $50-80 million in stadium bonds and rely on the County funding to pay bondholders. The list goes on.

Recently we saw how this City Commission has the backbone to say “No” to selling public land at half price to Benderson Development, unlike the County, which agreed to sell a parcel near the celery fields to Benderson for between a third and half of its value. Which Commission is looking out for us? 

Candidates who appear unaware of important ways the County has undermined the City concern me. Stan Zimmerman has reported for years on these events. Eileen Normile was the only candidate at a recent forum (Stan couldn’t attend) who explained why the City is declining to give the County the deed to a lot on Ringling Boulevard, who called for improved communication and protecting City interests.  We need this kind of leadership at the City Commission table. 

SRQ Daily columnist Cathy Antunes serves on the boards of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations and Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government. She blogs on local politics at www.thedetail.net

[Chamber]  Here We Grow Again, Modestly
Kevin Cooper, Kcooper@sarasotachamber.com

As local, state and national communities continue to emerge from the Great Recession, gand wade through a slow recovery, the interests of the greater Sarasota community have, to a degree, shifted from jobs and the economy to growth and development. It is a not uncommon cyclical shift that occurs as the economy and development tend to follow similar patterns. For residents, growth is sometimes measured by drive time and/or perceived encroachments of new development. However, growth is most sensibly measured by the population.   

Growth is typically best measured as a rate when contemplating its current state. This is particularly true when comparing growth across geographic areas where populations can vary greatly. 

This method is often applied, for example, when viewing the stock market. How does one compare the performance of a $100 stock versus a $0.50 stock?  What if you invested $100 in each? With the first, you would have one share; with the second, you would have 200 shares.  How would you compare the change if each stock were to grow in value by $1? Your first purchase would net a $1 gain (1 share X $1), but your second purchase would have netted $200 (200 shares X $1). The first stock grew at a rate of 1 percent, while the second grew at a rate of 200 percent. Understanding the rate of growth is paramount to understanding the impact of growth, whether it relates to your stock portfolio or the size of your community.

Based on U.S. Census data, the 10-year growth rate for Sarasota County, between 2003 and 2013 was 13.12 percent.  While that time period includes the Great Recession, it also includes a significant housing boom that occurred in the mid-2000s. On average, though, the community grew at a rate of about 1.3 percent per-year. In a vacuum, one would have no way of knowing the comparative value of that rate. However, if one looks at a neighboring community and/or the state as a whole, perhaps that rate would be given context. Between 2003 and 2013, Manatee County grew at a rate of nearly 2 percent per year. That’s almost 50 percent faster than Sarasota. During that same period, Florida great at a rate of just over 1.5 percent per year, which is around 15 percent greater.

It’s likely also worth understanding how a community grows. In 2013, in Sarasota County, the number of deaths outpaced the number of births by nearly 6 people per 1,000. That means that the internal population saw an annual net decrease of around 2,300 people. In a comparative sense, Manatee County saw its net internal population drop by a nominal figure (0.3 per 1,000) and the state of Florida saw an internal net gain of around 1.8 people per 1,000.  What that means is that Sarasota’s growth is, in a sense, totally predicated on migration.  Moreover, Sarasota is reliant on migration in order to ensure that the community doesn’t stagnate or decline. 

Growth is the inevitable indication of a desirable community. Given the fact that Sarasota’s net internal decline has increased over the last 10-years, while at the same time continuing to grow, it would appear that the area is becoming increasingly more desirable.   

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

[From Roxie Jerde]  Setting Pace for Literacy
Roxie Jerde

Early success in education is the key component of a future grounded in possibilities, hope and economic self-sufficiency.

The fact is that too many children are entering kindergarten already behind. Too many young children are missing too many days of school. And too many children are losing ground academically over the summer.

But in Sarasota, we are setting the pace for success in early literacy. We just received an exciting call from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, congratulating Sarasota with the Pacesetter Award for making “measurable progress” on summer learning loss outcomes. 

As president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, this national recognition affirms what we are already so proud of. Working together, we can achieve great things, and each person has a role in making great things happen.  Together with The Patterson Foundation, local philanthropists such as Joe and Mary Kay Henson, incredible school administrators like Dr. Barbara Shirley, armies of volunteer mentors and tutors, well-established nonprofit organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, Girls Inc. and others, we are working not as many—but as one with a unified goal of success in education for at-risk students. 

The bottom line is that we are changing lives. And this is only the beginning.

The Community Foundation is concentrating our efforts in four Title One Schools in Sarasota—Alta Vista Elementary, Gocio Elementary, Tuttle Elementary and Emma E. Booker Elementary. Each has seen a reduction in chronic absenteeism, a significant improvement in the school readiness of students attending pre-K programs, and a rise of students attending summer learning programs to improve overall reading levels and prevent summer slide. 

Here’s just one of many examples of success. Last summer, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading efforts inspired a new summer literacy program through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County in partnership with the Community Foundation called the Great Futures Academy.  One hundred percent of the 60 students who participated in this 11-week summer program did not experience any summer learning loss, and many actually improved in reading proficiency. These results are impressive, but in real terms, they mean students began the new school year prepared for success instead of prepared for catch up that may be difficult to achieve.

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Communities Network, of which we are a part, includes 2,100 local organizations at work in 41 states and is dedicated to narrowing the gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers.  Along with all of Sarasota’s other incredible distinctions, we should share community pride in setting the pace.

There is work for all of us, and we look forward to our community continuing to lead the way, meaning new possibilities for students and for our future.  

Roxie Jerde is president of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

[Candidate]  Leadership Matters
Liz Alpert

Since I began my campaign for Sarasota City Commissioner, District 2, my primary goal was to provide strong, balanced leadership to solve some of the big issues facing our community. To that end, it was important to me to listen to voters and identify their greatest concerns and aspirations. Through hundreds of personal conversations, one thing has become clear: solving the homeless crisis in our city streets in a constructive, meaningful and decisive manner is a top priority for voters.

In addition, the fractured relationship between the City and County Commissions, the approach to growth and cost overruns on city projects are some of the challenges that confront and most concern our residents and business owners. As your next City Commissioner, I pledge to confront these pressing issues head-on with creativity, determination and discipline because the residents of Sarasota expect as much.

My professional career has been dedicated to building consensus, solving problems and getting things done. I am a small business owner and practicing family law attorney. On a daily basis, I deal with people who have emotionally-charged conflicting interests. I work really hard to find win/win solutions to resolve their conflicts while still being an advocate for my client. I will bring those much-needed skills to the city commission. 

As a volunteer in our community, I was a member of Sarasota’s Human Relations Board helping educate the community through community presentations and other means about the non-discrimination ordinance. I served on the board of my condominium association, where as president, I facilitated consensus of the owners regarding passing a special assessment to renovate the entire first floor of our 40-year-old building.

Prior to returning to Sarasota in 2002, I volunteered on Tampa’s Architectural Review Commission where I became passionate about historic preservation and implementing smart growth principles—knowledge that I look forward to leveraging on the city commission.

Whether working on issues of homelessness, smart growth or historic preservation, the one critical tool we must have as a community is a City Commission that is committed to working constructively and proactively—within its own body—with the County Commission, and with our residents on the issues critical to us all.  

Liz Alpert is a candidate for Sarasota City Commission District 2, and is responding to David Sell�s letter in the March 21 edition of SRQ Daily

[SOON]  Paint The Town Blue In April
Following the tragic death of her grandson at the hand’s of his mother’s abusive boyfriend in 1989, a Virginia grandmother began a movement to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect.  Since that time, the blue ribbon has become the symbol nationwide for child abuse prevention. 
In 2005, Child Protection Center launched a local campaign to blanket Sarasota and DeSoto Counties in blue to promote awareness of the tragic epidemic of child abuse.  By “Painting the Town Blue” throughout the month of April, we hope to provide a visual reminder of the need for child protection in our community. CPC is looking forward to another year of fantastic community and awareness events and invites you to get involved in the #PaintSRQBlue Campaigns. You can post videos, photos, and art to social media including Facebook, Twitter (@CPCSRQ) and Instagram with #PaintSRQBlue. Invite friends to “Like” your posts and those the most number of “Likes” will be entered into a drawing for a 2-night stay at the Sarasota Hyatt. Area businesses are invited to create blue window displays. Each participating business can proudly hang a Butterfly decal and post pictures on social media with #PaintSRQBlue.

Child Protection Center

[SOON]  Honor Flight Fans Seek Funds to Fly 80 Local World War II Veterans to Visit Washington, DC War Memorials on June 23

Local Sarasota residents are working with Honor Flight® of West Central Florida (HFWCF) to raise donations to finance ‘Mission 22’ – an all expense-paid day for 80 World War II Veterans in our area to visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C on June 23, 2015. With 300+ local World War II Veterans averaging 91 years of age on the Honor Flight waiting list, time is of the essence to ensure the heroes whose sacrifice gave us a lifetime of freedom get to enjoy a day dedicated to honoring them.  Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to flying Veterans to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at the memorials built to honor their service to the nation. Top priority is given to World War II survivors, along with other Veterans who may be terminally ill.  Donations may be made through the Honor Flight West Central Florida website (hyperlink http://www.honorflightwcf.org/donate-today.html) or by mailed check to Honor Flight of West Central Florida, P.O. Box 55661, St. Petersburg, FL 33732. Please make sure to specify ‘Mission 22’ in your donation or via email to info@honorflightwcf.org. To nominate a Veteran for Honor Flight and for additional information on local Honor Flight Mission 22 fundraisers or ways to help, please contact  Britt Riner at brittriner@gmail.com or Melissa Fox-Howard at mfox80@hotmail.com. HFWCF was established in late 2010 as an official Regional Hub of the National Honor Flight Network and has flown 1,415 Veterans to D.C. to see their Memorials and Honored 27 Veterans at home who are unable n to travel. 

Honor Flight -Mission 22

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Opera Request for Submission for New Youth Opera

Sarasota Opera invites composers to submit works for a new opera for possible production in November 2017 by the Sarasota Youth Opera program, one of the most comprehensive programs in the United States. This invitation is open to any living composer and librettist, of any age, who are United States citizens. Submission deadline is Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at 5pm. “Sarasota Opera is dedicated to performing classic works of opera in a manner that is true to the composer’s intentions,” says Maestro Victor DeRenzi, Artistic and Principal Conductor. “In the years that we have been doing productions with our Youth Opera, I have found there are few works of substantial musical value for young people to perform. In our desire to increase the repertoire we are looking for music that is rooted in the classic music style, reflecting how that music is written today without the influence of other genres such musical theater, jazz or other popular idioms.” Follow the link below for more information and to download a submission form. 

Sarasota Opera

[SOON]  Gulf Coast Good Academy

The Gulf Coast Good Academy is a free, two-part training for nonprofit organizations that want to take full advantage of the the citizen philanthropy portal Gulf Coast Good. The upcoming Academy will be held on April 8 and 15 at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and feature breakfast, networking and training from 8-11am. Seating is limited and registration is required. Home to both a volunteer recruitment website, YoudBePerfectForThis.org, and a charitable crowdfunding website, GulfCoastGives.org, Gulf Coast Good is an online tool to connect community organizations in our region to the human and financial capital they need to achieve their missions. Nonprofit professionals participating in the Gulf Coast Good Academy will receive a technical overview of GulfCoastGives.org and YoudBePerfectForThis.org, marketing and communication best practices for online campaigns, and the opportunity to learn from their nonprofit peers. More than 60 charitable organizations have participated in the Gulf Coast Good Academy 

Gulf Coast Good Academy

[SOON]  Blalock Walters, P.A. To Host a Community Blood Drive With Soothe Rx
Blalock Walters, P.A.will co-host a community blood drive with Soothe Personalized Medicine Rx from 10am to 3pm on Wednesday, April 1, at 1003 8th Avenue West in Bradenton,  Soothe’s new company headquarters.  The blood drive will benefit SunCoast Blood Bank, who provides 100% of donated blood to local hospitals and medical centers.  All blood donors will receive a t-shirt and earn points to redeem for valuable merchandise and gift cards from the blood bank’s online donor rewards store. “The need for blood products peaks this time of year and it's a challenge to make sure that we have an adequate supply for the hospitals and patients we serve,” said Jayne Giroux, SunCoast Blood Bank Director of Community Development.  “You never know when you or someone you love will need this lifesaving gift, and we are very grateful to for community partners like Blalock Walters and Soothe Personalized Medicine Rx.”

SunCoast Blood Bank

[ SCOOP]  Dura Supreme Cabinetry's New Bathroom Furniture Collection



From master baths to powder rooms, the bathroom is one of the most popular rooms to remodel because the results can be so dramatic.   Now you can create an entire collection of coordinated bath cabinetry with Dura Supreme’s new bath furniture program.  With six unique styles to choose from, each with coordinating linen cabinets and mirrors, your design can be personalized with any number of door style, wood species and finish options, and custom sized to fit your space perfectly. There are many new features available with the introduction of Dura Supreme’s new Bathroom Furniture Collection including plumbing drawers that optimize the space under the bathroom sink. New designs for decorative turned posts, bun feet and, decorative toe options offer more unique ways to personalize your bathroom. 

Dura Supreme Cabinetry

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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