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SRQ DAILY May 9, 2015

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"There is perhaps no greater asset than the next generation. "

- Kevin Cooper. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

[The Report]  Is The City Being Served?
Susan Nilon, susan.nilon@gmail.com

In just three days will be the election for the City of Sarasota.  In what feels like an eternity, we will finally see who has risen above the mud and muck to claim the win for both city commission seats.  For those of you who have not cast your vote yet, I would like to ask you to consider a few things before you go into the voting booth.

Sarasota is caught in a “Jekyll and Hyde” identity crisis when it comes not only to how the world sees us but also how we see ourselves. We are seen as an affluent tourist town who can brag about our restaurants, theaters and beautiful beaches, but also a place that is indifferent to its working class, ignorant of its poor and angry towards its homeless. Divided between those who work for the benefit of the downtrodden versus those who fear that if we provide for the needs of the unfortunate we invite more to come, we find ourselves still trying to shake off being labeled as “The Meanest City.”

While it appears to be an equal divide among our people, it is wrong to assume that it is.  Far more people work to help the poor and homeless in this town than there are people who just want the problem to go away.  But we are not judged for the people doing the work; we are judged by what is reflected at City Hall. 

What the world sees is that in the past six years, City Hall has fought the issues of homelessness by removing park benches and picnic tables, making it illegal to panhandle, feed the poor in public, sleep on the streets or loiter too long in one place. We create barriers that force the homeless from one part of the city to another and offer them bus tickets to anywhere else but Sarasota. And the loudest message sent out is that we will not build a shelter to house the homeless. A public relations nightmare, but also the truth. No matter how many people we actually have in the community working to help the poor, our city commission defines who we are. We do have real problems and helping the homeless is not easy to do. But when you pull back and skim the horizon, you see why we deserve that label.

In addition, we have done even worse in preventing more people from becoming homeless. With no opportunity to affordably live in this city, workers at minimum wage are forced to live elsewhere. They clog the roads with long drives as we force them to spend hours in their cars and large portions of their small paychecks to have the opportunity to feed their family and put a roof over their head. City Hall allows our unforgiving codes to prevent investors to provide housing that would let our service industry live within reasonable distance of their place of work. They lack the vision of infill by not changing the codes that allow blighted commercial districts to become new neighborhoods with multipurpose dwellings. Yet they complain about endless traffic and pat themselves on the back for being a commission of neighborhoods.

When you go to the polls Tuesday, consider this: Good governance is equitable and inclusive. All groups, particularly the most vulnerable, should have opportunities to participate in a process not limited to those who can afford the time to show up at City Hall. For government is not the gathering of resumes and the process is actually having equal opportunity to call Sarasota your home.  

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]  Creating a Career By Starting A Business
Kevin Cooper, Kcooper@sarasotachamber.com

At the recent county-wide State of Jobs Conference, 30 percent of high school students polled said they’d like to start their own business and, in effect, work for themselves. A program new to our community will help prepare them to do just that.

From a business perspective, success can sometimes be painfully simple: identify your most important asset and invest in it in a way that produces a unique and valuable outcome for everyone involved. From a community perspective, there is perhaps no greater asset than the next generation. With that understanding, Leadership Sarasota, a program of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, has partnered with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) to bring the Academy’s decade-long success to the Sarasota Area.

The YEA! program is a groundbreaking and exciting year-long educational, immersive experience that transforms middle and high school students into real, confident entrepreneurs. Throughout the process, participants are tasked with the creation of a business from inception to fully operable. Sarasota students will get actual experience in developing business ideas, writing business plans, conducting market research, pitching plans to panels of investors and literally launching and running their own real, legal, fully-formed companies and social movements. From registering DBAs to filing tax returns, YEA! students literally do everything an adult would who is starting their own business.

YEA! began with a single class at the University of Rochester in 2004 and is now equipping fledgling entrepreneurs in 89 locations across 30 states. Sarasota marks only the 9th Florida-based YEA! partnership and the Chamber program will add Sarasota’s locally-grown, talented youth to nearly 1,400 students that have graduated from the program and launched over 1,000 enterprises. Through helping students embrace their entrepreneurial passion, energy, creativity and talents, the Chamber and YEA! strive to equip greater Sarasota’s youth to become job seekers as well as job creators.

As students in the program meet weekly for three hours at the State College of Florida over 30 weeks, YEA! injects an innovative applied academic approach to bolster the already strong foundation being created in the Sarasota school system. YEA! participants learn as much about self-esteem, personal potential and leadership skills as they do about budgeting, planning and production.  However, the real key to success is when the program unlocks a student’s potential by having them work directly with business leaders in the community in a way that turns theory into application, a test into a transaction.

A Texas YEA! graduate recently auditioned for ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, another was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America, and yet another has completed a nearly $1 million round of investments for use in a manufacturing and distribution system in his most recent business.  Of course, the mission isn’t about television exposure, venture capital or the next big thing.  The Sarasota YEA! mission is clear: help students view entrepreneurship and social innovation as synonymous with success and freedom.

It is the desire of many to see the generation that follows both do better and feel safer than they themselves were able.  By investing in middle and high school students in a new way that harnesses talents and creates a valuable outcome for the school system, parents, business and most importantly the students, Sarasota’s future success might just be as simple as YEA! 

For more information about the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, interested students and parents can contact Barb Hines at bhines@sarasotachamber.com. 

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

[Candidate]  Serious About Public Service
Eileen Normile

There has been a lot of noise lately.  A lot of untruths.  Half truths.  And outright nonsense.  Let’s stick to the facts.

My name is Eileen Normile. I moved to Sarasota after a career as a criminal prosecutor. I have been president of my homeowners association, chair of the Police Advisory Panel and a member of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association.   I have been an active civic participant in city politics for years—a speaker at forums, an advocate at City and County Commission meetings and a contributor to newspaper opinion articles.  I was chosen—out of a field of 10 applicants—for appointment to the City Commission last November based on my significant civic involvement.

I am proud of what we have accomplished on the City Commission in the past five months. The dysfunctional gridlock is over. Among other things, we are spearheading an innovative program to help the homeless and—in my personal initiative—we are finally getting serious about traffic and transportation in a series of Traffic Summits that will continue into the summer and beyond. As I am not beholden to any person, group or faction, I study every issue and vote independently. My voting record proves that. 

I put myself, my family and my volunteers through this grueling election campaign because I believe in this city. I’d like to think the City believes in me. I am gratified to say that 80 percent of our campaign donors are city residents versus 43 percent for my opponent. 

When I was sworn in as a prosecutor—and more recently as a City Commissioner—I swore to uphold the laws of the City, the State and the U.S. Constitution and to faithfully and honestly serve the citizens of Sarasota. That is how I have lived my life.  I do not take oaths lightly. 

Eileen Normile is a candidate for Sarasota City Commission District 2

[From Gretchen Serrie]  Partisanship Poisons Commission Contest
Gretchen Serrie

When Mollie Cardamone, Dick Clapp and I appeared together before the City Commission two months ago, we started out: “Before you sit a Republican, an Independent and a Democrat.  I’ll bet you’re not sure which is which. Yet, we all have been volunteers together for campaigns of city commission candidates who are Republicans and others who are Democrats.  That’s because we agree, as do many citizens and voters, on a great many city issues. City issues are not national or state partisan issues. And we agree adamantly that, per our city charter and state statutes that support it, City Commission races must be nonpartisan.”

At the federal level, elected officials can’t work across the aisles, nor at the state level, and locally there has not been  a Democrat or Independent elected to the County Commission in 60 years. But in our nonpartisan city, we always elect a healthy mix of persons of all political persuasions. In November, the City Commission reflected their commitment to nonpartisan choices when filling the vacancies on the Commission. For that they should be applauded mightily, not pilloried and punished, as they have been by their party.

Much to my dismay, the political party I belong to, the Democratic Party, publicly proclaimed a decision to turn this election partisan. And it has been alarmingly so. One has only to look at the final financial reports of all four candidates to see how winning has become more important than issues and qualifications, and how outside monies are affecting an election in our small city.

The percent of contributions going to candidates Liz Alpert and Shelli Freeland Eddie from special interest PACs and their (my) political party is stunning. Only 43 percent of Alpert’s contributions come from city residents, and even less (20 percent) for D3 candidate Eddie. By contrast, 65 percent of Stan Zimmerman’s contributions come from city residents and an exemplary 80 percent of Eileen Normile’s contributions come from city residents. I will vote for the candidate whose support comes from city residents, not outside interests.

I am a proud Democrat and I join proud Republicans and Independents in supporting Normile. If I lived in District 3, I would be supporting Zimmerman. We currently have a high functioning Commission, such as we have not enjoyed for several years. We have commissioners who are committed to hard work and then intelligent action on the issues of concern to this city, and dedicated to thinking large and long range.  

We’ve just learned how ugly partisan elections become. We can continue on this path and make our elections even worse or we can realize a city commission is essentially neighbors elected to represent neighbors. The political parties of those neighbors do not matter. Commissioners are here to do the city's business—find solutions to city issues, almost all of which are nonpartisan, but which are vital to the quality of life of all of us and to the way we, as citizens with diverse backgrounds, experiences and beliefs, can interact effectively and productively.  

Gretchen Serrie, Sarasota

[From Lynn Robbins]  Support Outstanding Leaders
Lynn Robbins

We would all agree that selecting the best qualified city commissioners will affect the future and direction we are led. It is challenging to get good leaders to run for office, when it is so contentious and they have to declare their financials. I found an outstanding candidate when I served on the citizens advisory board to select our chief of police. Eileen Normile! She was so impressive in her thought and analysis that I asked her to run for office. I felt she would be an outstanding leader.  She has served as our appointed commissioner for five months and our commission is accomplishing a great deal. 

Eileen fought against a come-as-you-are homeless shelter in downtown and supports the Housing First model which gives people the support and monitoring to get off the streets. She also approved the Tom Barwin proposal on the homeless.

Eileen Normile created the first-of-its-kind Traffic Summit to bring the city, county and state together to solve our traffic mess. 

She is an independent thinker.  As a former prosecutor, she thoroughly researches issues and comes to her own conclusions.

Eileen is a fiscal conservative, with a good head for business. I trust her to make good decisions in a logical and thoughtful way and from serving for 5 months as our commissioner, she understands the complexity of our city's challenges and real work is getting done.

Eileen Normile was president of her own neighborhood association and we can count on her to protect our neighborhoods as well. Is this not the candidate that you would vote to continue her leadership for us?  Your vote is important; one city candidate only won by 14 votes. Please vote. This is a very important election for our future. 

Lynn Robbins, Sarasota

[SCOOP]  Mother's Day Precious Metal Prints at Treat Boutique

Looking for a special gift for Mom this Mother's Day?  Stop by Treat Boutique in Burns Court, Sarasota for a personalized piece of jewlery she will treasure forever. Precious Metal Prints feature a fingerprint (or pet nose print for fur-baby Moms) on one side and initials on the other side of a charm hand-finished in silver or goldCrafted individually in Knoxville Tennessee, these heirloom quality treasures make great gifts that can be worn in many forms. 

Treat Boutique

[SCOOP]  Goodwill & Cool Today Provide Jobs for Veterans

Cool Today has partnered with Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program for a pilot program that will assist veterans looking for positions within trade industries. Cool Today will hire veterans referred by Goodwill Manasota – even those without experience – and will assist with schooling and on-the-job training. The “Vet to Tech” program began in 2014; interested veterans are welcome to apply with Cool Today at 941-921-5581. Veterans are also encouraged to visit Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program office at 8490 Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota for free case management services.  In addition to the “Vet to Tech” pilot program, Cool Today and DiDomenico have supported Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program through financial contributions, including to the Special Emergency Resources for Veterans (SERV) Initiative fund, which helps veterans in times of immediate need. For their partnership and support of Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through the power of work, DiDomenico and Cool Today were recognized during Goodwill’s recent Ambassador Recognition Luncheon as the organization’s “Employment Impact Partner of the Year.”  Photo by Cliff Roles


Goodwill Manasota

[SOON]  From Showers to Flowers

Don your most colorful Spring Couture and head to this fresh new event filled with parasols and petals at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Join your friends on May 15 for a lovely garden luncheon by the bay, Mother & Daughter Fashion show and champagne chance-drawing for 2  wonderful prize packages. Proceeds will benefit the Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center-the Campus for Caring, which provides support and shelter to local agencies so they can focus on the services that they provide for their clients. Tickets are $95.  Call 941-365-4545 to purchase yours today.  Reservations are required by May 13.  

Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center

[SCOOP]  Michael's Wine Cellar May Wine Tastings

Michael’s Wine Cellar is host to a variety of wine dinners and tasting events throughout the year. This May, the popular venue offers wine tasting events complete with visiting winemakers, proprietors and additional guest hosts visiting Sarasota directly from wineries across the country. The May Open House Wine Tasting, a casual, walk-about tasting in Michael’s Wine Cellar, will be offered from 2-4 pm on Saturday, May 9. Guests have an opportunity to taste dozens of international wines and admission is $10 per person. An Evening with Domaine Serene hosted by Brand Ambassador Angie Cheatham and Augustan Wine Imports representative Robin Stephenson will be held at 6pm on Wednesday, May 13. Featured Domaine Serene wines from Willamette Valley, Oregon, will include the 2012 Rosé, "Evenstad Reserve" Chardonnay, "Yamhill Cuvee" Pinot Noir and "Evenstad Reserve" Pinot Noir. Admission is $25 per person. Admission to each event includes tastes of the featured wines as well as light hors d'oeuvres.  Space is limited and reservations are required.  

Michael's Wine Cellar

[SOON]  Hand-made Creations from Nature

Whether you’re jotting down notes or keeping an account of your most intimate thoughts, it’s always smart to keep a notebook on hand…especially a hand-painted botanical journal that you made yourself.  Head to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for a fun-filled 2-day workshop on May 20 and 21 with papermaking expert, Sandy Frick.  Sign up now for this fun and creative adventure—you never know when you’ll want to document your next source of inspiration. 

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

[SCOOP]  All Faiths Food Bank's 4-Star Rating From Charity Navigator

For the second year in a row, All Faiths Food Bank has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for its sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency. In the past year, All Faiths Food Bank has continued to fulfill the rigorous requirements necessary to receive this top distinction from Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator.  John P. Dugan, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Charity Navigator wrote: “A consecutive 4-star rating means that All Faiths Food Bank outperforms most (81%) other charities in America. This “exceptional” designation from Charity Navigator differentiates All Faiths Food Bank from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”  To make a gift to help feed the 21,000 children in Sarasota that face hunger during the summer more than other time of the year call 941-379-6333.  

All Faith's Food Bank

[SCOOP]  Cafe L'Europe Welcomes Chef Jonathan DeRue As Executive Chef.

Cafe L'Europe welcomes Chef Jonathan DeRue to it's culinary team as Executive Chef. Born and raised in Rochester, NY , DeRue comes to Cafe L'Europe with over 18 years of cooking experience.  He has worked under 2 certified Master Chefs and  his culinary studies have taken him to Colorado, St. Thomas, Charleston, SC, Ithaca, NY and Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester NY. DeRue has lived in Florida for the past 3 years, has recently gotten married, and is an avid golfer and beach goer. 

Cafe L'Europe

[SCOOP]  Gulf Coast Community Foundation's Invest in Incredible Consultants
Gulf Coast Community Foundation has selected a new cohort of professional consultants to serve local nonprofit organizations through its Invest in Incredible governance and capacity building program. The consultants recently completed a three-day training offered by BoardSource, the national expert in board governance, and are prepared to work with area nonprofits. The group comprises diverse professionals from both for-profit and nonprofit backgrounds in fundraising, strategic planning, financial analysis, organizational development, and marketing. The Invest in Incredible consultants include: Rosemary Bowler, Nicole Coudal, Carlos de Quesada, Nathalie deWolf, Marcia Heath, Laurie Huebner, Stephanie Kempton, Tracy Knight, Scott Levine, Christie Lewis Nolan, John Ramsey, Denise Roberts, James Rollo, Amy Sankes, Betsy Steiner, and Liz Wooten Reschke. “The best investment we can make into nonprofit organizations is to help them strengthen their board governance and internal capacity,” said Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “We look forward to sending these talented consultants into the community to investing in the incredible work of our nonprofit partners.” To learn more about Invest in Incredible and how a consultant could benefit your nonprofit organization, visit GulfCoastCF.org/resources.php.

Gulf Cost Community Foundation

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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