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SRQ DAILY Jan 23, 2016

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"Ah, Sarasota, I love that we have such a large intellectually curious populace."

- Dr. Larry Thompson, Ringling College of Art and Design

[The Detail]  PAC It In
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

The City Commission is being lobbied to put a new charter amendment to referendum. The issue? Moving City elections from March to November. At first glance, this can look like a good idea. Proponents argue that city elections in November will generate greater voter turnout, and they are correct. But the dynamics that will change include an influx of PAC money and more partisan, expensive races. These changes may do much more harm than good. Democrats who believe they have a lock on city elections ought to take a second look, because some of the most vocal and visible proponents of moving elections to November are Republicans.

While municipal elections held in the spring do have a lower voter turnout, spring elections guarantee city issues receive a clear focus. Moving city elections to November can result in “ballot fatigue”—a multiple page, lengthy ballot, confusing to voters and resulting in large under-votes. City issues can get lost in the November’s cacophony of political messaging, struggling to compete with national and state races for voter attention. Bombarding voters with important decisions all at one time may not be in the best interests of our civic life.  

Perhaps most important, city voters will have less bandwidth in November to identify and understand who is behind mailers and political messaging looking to influence their local votes, because there will be so many more campaigns knocking at their doors and stuffing their mailboxes. The most recent unsuccessful elected mayor effort was backed by the political PAC “It’s Time Sarasota,” registered in Tallahassee. David Ramba, known for his GOP PAC activity statewide, was the PAC’s treasurer, demonstrating that big money PACs are already knocking on the City’s door. Being able to operate in the crowded November elections will serve PAC interests, not City voters.

Democrats who assume their party will inevitably benefit from moving municipal races to November should take a close look at the local GOP’s success in winning local elections by influencing voters through PAC activity. Make no mistake, when it comes to ensuring successful local election outcomes through PAC activity, the local GOP has a huge advantage over the local Dems, which is why friends and beneficiaries of the local GOP machine are among the loudest voices for moving the elections to November.  Dark money was a significant factor in Republican Bridget Zeigler's school board win over Democrat Ken Marsh in 2014. It’s noteworthy that Mrs. Ziegler recently appeared on a local talk show advocating for city elections to be moved to November.

The City Commission would do well to direct those who want to move City elections to November to get out and gather signatures to put the issue to ballot, rather than take the unprecedented step of putting the issue on the ballot themselves. The November election dynamics, which favor PACs, may hurt our nonpartisan City races, making it harder for the “little guy” to run. When it comes to moving City elections to November, we must ask that eternal political question: who benefits?

Cathy Antunes serves on the boards of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations and Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government. 

[Government]  Lessons From America's Cities
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

Over the past century, all around the globe, more and more people have been moving to cities.  By 2050, demographers estimate that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in or very near a city they will identify with for much of their lives.

As life on the planet has evolved from our hunter-gatherer roots, to an agricultural orientation, through the industrial era to today’s technology-based economies, humans have migrated towards each other to survive and thrive. As much as we emphasize our personal and national independence, most of us are extremely dependent on others, many, many others. I smile with amazement in the checkout line at the grocery store when I think of all the people, places and actions that took place which allow me to schlep my groceries to my kitchen table. This thought can be replayed for almost every aspect of our material and spiritual life.

Perhaps now more than ever, humans require the talents, skills, dedication and efforts of each other to stay safe and healthy in order to enjoy our brief and miraculous time on earth.   Someone should write and widely publicize a Declaration of Inter-Dependence to remind us of this vital and humbling reality of modern life.

As we strive to adapt our cities to contemporary challenges, we do so knowing that cities are often where excitement, fun, creativity and employment opportunities thrive. City life is not for everybody, but cities are known as places where personal and business relationships often begin and are nurtured. Cities are where we often go to enjoy art, culture, sports, higher education, medical expertise and so much more. Cities are where diversity thrives and is increasingly welcomed.

But cities convey a bigger lesson and one which our nation and world would be wise to recognize.  

As we watch this year’s State Legislative session resume and as the 2016 presidential primaries begin one is reminded of the enormous difference in tone, approach and effectiveness between pragmatic local governments and our ideologically driven state and national governments.

Here and in most cities, local elected officials, staffs, boards and commissions are generally practical people who focus on problem solving. Sidewalks, pot holes, trash, water quality, safe buildings, storm clean up are non-partisan, non-ideological, day-to-day matters that need to be and are generally handled pretty well. We all generally want what is best for each other and to live our lives in a fair, safe, and equitable environment. Maybe because we are often face-to-face we all behave more reasonably and rationally, less influenced by money, campaign contributions and partisan ideology.   

As we again watch the Governor and State Legislature return to action, as the Presidential Candidates posture daily, often outrageously for campaign funds, votes and media attention, I wish they would think, behave and act more like our local officials. Less ideology and more practical, pragmatic problem solving skills and efforts would go a long way to maintain and improve the quality of life for all Americans. In fact recent surveys indicate that 72 percent of Americans have confidence in their local government, 62 percent have confidence in state government and only 19 percent have confidence in the federal congress.

We can always do better locally but perhaps it’s time for our partners at the state and federal governments to consider taking a page out of the local playbook. It's time our political systems move away from exploiting our differences and get back to making a difference. Our people and planet would surely appreciate it.

Tom Barwin is city manager for the City of Sarasota. 

[Higher Education]  The Importance of Lifelong Learning
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” —Henry Ford

Ringling College of Art and Design and the Lifelong Learning Academy recently announced that the two organizations had agreed to merge, effective June 1. The Lifelong Learning Academy (LLA) organization will become the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy (RCLLA) and be incorporated into Ringling College’s Continuing Studies and Special Programs (CSSP), a unit of the College’s Office of Academic Affairs. The current Executive Director of LLA, Janna Overstreet, will assume the role of Director of RCLLA.

The Lifelong Learning Academy, currently housed at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, will offer classes there until the June transition. The merger was precipitated by the Academy’s need for more space because of expanded programs; USF Sarasota-Manatee needs more classrooms to accommodate its incoming freshmen and sophomore classes. Ultimately, the RCLLA will be headquartered and most classes taught at the historic Sarasota High School currently under renovation.

So, what is lifelong learning and why is Ringling College interested?

Lifelong learning is the umbrella term for advanced adult education programs that allow students the opportunity to enjoy learning for the sake of learning—no tests, no grades—just the joy of learning. Those  enrolling in such programs tend to be passionate people who want intellectual and social stimulation. Sarasota is blessed to have a number of lifelong learning opportunities. The largest by far is the Lifelong Learning Academy with some 3,000 participants, but others in the community include Pierian Spring Academy and Sarasota Institute of Lifelong Learning (“SILL’) as well as programs at the Longboat Key Education Center and many more. People attend classes on all sorts of topics that are taught by experts who encourage participation and thoughtful discussion.

Ah, Sarasota, I love that we have such a large intellectually curious populace.

In addition to intellectual stimulation, medical research has demonstrated that adult lifelong learning can promote healthy minds, lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, lower blood pressure, increase physical mobility and reduce symptoms and incidence of depression or isolation because these classes provide purpose and meaning to people as they age.

The LLA, which will soon be part of Ringling College, was started 18 years ago by a group of retirees who needed more in their retirement years than golf, bridge, beaches or rest. Since that time, it has not stopped growing. Indeed, in the past three years, LLA has grown 40 percent in the number of participants through numerous courses and special programs, including Einstein Circle discussions and educational travel programs. Topics literally range from Architecture to Zoology.

Ringling College has always had a robust continuing studies program that focused on adult education in art. Those programs have been held on our campus and at Ringling College’s Longboat Key and Englewood Art Centers. This merger with Lifelong Learning Academy exponentially expands our offerings of the College.

With the future classes of the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy being held in the historic Sarasota High School, the building will not only have a world-class modern and contemporary art museum (Sarasota Museum of Art) but also a facility buzzing with people from the community taking a wide variety of classes. It was always our vision that the Sarasota Museum of Art would occupy a bit more than one-third of the historic building and the remaining would be dedicated to some form of continuing education. With the addition of the Lifelong Learning Academy, that vision will be realized when the historic high school reopens in 2017. It’s poetic, really. A building constructed in 1926 to educate the young will be repurposed to educated students of all ages through a plethora of engaging courses, programs, events and exhibitions. This is lifelong learning. This is Ringling College. This is Sarasota.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Design. 

[SRQ Women in Business]  Meet SkillSHARE, Our Speed Mentorship Program!

On Thursday, February 18 at 5pm, SRQ | The Magazine in collaboration with its Women in Business Leadership Circle, will host a first-time event for women professionals seeking mentorship and advice from some of Sarasota and Bradenton's most notable women. Join us for SkillSHARE, a speed mentor summit focused on management, entrepreneurship, philanthropic engagement, professional development and business growth. Open to young women looking to make connections, learn from industry movers and shakers and have their questions answered at the speed of life, this event will be as enlightening as it is fun. At SkillSHARE, the basics of mentorship will be concentrated into mini-sessions that encourage honest interactions and allow for spontaneous connection. Low commitment, this event is a way to meet like-minded professionals, network and get straight to your most burning questions about career development. Each participant will be paired with several mentors for mini-sessions. Lasting from 5-8 minutes, each mini-session is unstructured, allowing for conversation, guidance and direction from each mentor. Applications for participation are being accepted through February 10 and must be completed online. Participation is limited to 30 participants. To apply and learn more, visit SRQHEARMEROAR.COM. 

[SOON]  Royal Tea Service at Powel Crosley Estate

In February, the Sarasota-based catering firm Simply Gourmet will feature a traditional Royal English Tea Service on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons: February 2/3, 9/10, 16/17 and 23/24 at 2pm at the Powel Crosley Estate in Sarasota. Guests will enjoy such delicacies as Cassis Marinated Strawberry Parfait, Vanilla Cream Fruit Tartlets, Currant Scones/Devonshire Cream, Double Chocolate Triangles, Turkey/Sundried Tomato Pinwheels, Royal Tea Sandwich Medley and properly brewed cups of flavorful English tea. Tea will be served in the exclusive upstairs living area of the mansion overlooking the bay. Tickets are $32. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Crosley Foundation. For reservations call 941-225-9122. 

Simply Gourmet Caterers

[SCOOP]  Women & Medicine Event A Sold Out Success

The recent 4th Annual Women & Medicine Luncheon was sold-out with a waiting list and packed wall-to-wall with guests interested in recent trends and innovations in cancer care. The Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation along with the help of rockstar SMH Physicians Dr. James Fiorica, Dr. Ken Meredith, and Dr. Alissa Shulman, highlighted innovative healthcare advances and offerings that make our area the cutting edge location for the best in oncology treatment and options.  Chairs Charlie Ann Syprett and Deb Kabinoff were thrilled with the exceptional turnout, the support from the community and the engagement of the audience. Pre-luncheon, the Healthcare Foundation along with 14 other companies, organizations, and institutions offered an Exhibitor Showcase with all things health and wellness. 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation

[SOON]  The Humane Society of Sarasota County to Open Low-Cost Veterinary Clinic

The Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) will open its Animal Clinic in February. The Animal Clinic of the Humane Society of Sarasota County will be a low-cost, full service veterinary practice open to anyone looking for medical treatment for their pets. All proceeds from the Animal Clinic will benefit the shelter pets at HSSC. Located at 1090 North Tuttle Avenue in Sarasota (across the street from Ed Smith Stadium), the Animal Clinic’s services will include: preventive care, wellness exams, dental care, state of the digital x-rays, in-house diagnostics, pet food, pet supplies and much more. The clinic will be open to the public and there are no income requirements. Dr. Nicolas Caceres will serve as the Animal Clinic’s medical director. Dr. Caceres joined HSSC in May of 2012 and also has practiced in Critical and Emergency Medicine at a local emergency clinics. The clininc will begin accepting appointments on February 1.  

The Animal Clinic of the Humane Society of Sarasota County

[SCOOP]  Friendship Centers Receive Grant for Aging and Wellness Technology and Education

A $50,000 grant from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation will update and support technology for educational and wellness programs at the Friendship Centers in Sarasota and Venice. It will be used to purchase 32 laptop computers and 80 desktop computers. This funding will be leveraged with additional support from the Gulfcoast Community Foundation and a grant from Drs. Pat and Bob Gussin, in a collaborative effort to improve the quality of life and health for our aging population.  For more than four decades The Friendship Centers has served persons 50 and older with programs and services which include medical and dental clinics, activity centers, lifelong learning, meals at our centers and delivered to the homebound, caregiver support, adult day services, supportive aging services and volunteer opportunities. More than 1,000 volunteers give time valued more than $3 million annually.


Friendship Centers

[SOON]  Concert for Good

On Friday, February 19 at 6:30pm, Goodwill Manasota will present the “Concert for Good,” a musical performance at the First United Methodist Church in Sarasota. The concert, featuring Linda Bento-Rei on the flute/piccolo and Vytas J. Baksys on the piano, will feature “The Two Sides of Peter Schickele.” Traditionally, classical music has a more serious tone but this concert is based on the work of Peter Schickele, a composer and parodist who is known for his comedic stylings of more traditional music. ‘Concert for Good’ will feature classical music with a comedic touch and  will support Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through the power of work.  

Goodwill Manasota

[SOON]  Wine Walk to Ca' d' Zan

Experience the fourth annual Wine Walk to Ca’ d’Zan on Friday, April 1, 6-10PM. Taste fine wine and delight in delicious food pairings as you stroll along the drive to the mansion. Wrap up the evening beside Ca' d'Zan with live music and surprises. As part of the festivities purchase one of only 150 chance drawing tickets sold and you could win dinner on Ca' d'Zan Terrace for up to four people on the terrace of Ca' d'Zan, including a private tour of the mansion. Overlooking Sarasota Bay, the terrace is filled with stunning architectural details and provides an unparalleled panoramic view. Dinner and wine will be provided by Muse at The Ringling. This experience is valued at $4,500. Tickets for both the Wine Walk and the Chance Drawing are available online at the link below or by calling 941-358-3180.  The drawing will be held on Friday, April 1 at 9:45 pm at the Wine Walk to Ca' d'Zan event . 


The Ringling

[SCOOP]  PINC 2016 Announced

The date has been set for PINC.Sarasota 2016. This one-day, all-day event will be held at the Sarasota Opera House on December 8 with an entirely new roster of 16 international speakers, astounding intermezzos and culinary delights. PINC is an inspiring cascade of new ideas, great stories, and impressive visual presentations delivered by a superb selection of international speakers from every imaginable discipline.  

PINC Sarasota

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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