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SRQ DAILY Sep 24, 2016

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"Like the original moon shot, like a championship sports team, like everything worth doing, community building requires the best efforts of everybody involved. "

- Tom Barwin, Sarasota City Manager

[Under The Hood]  Awakening Millennial Voters
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Note: Jacob Ogles will lead a detailed analysis of the Aug. 30 election results at SRQ’s Where The Votes Are, on Tuesday. Doors open at 7:45am, with the presentation at 8am. The event will be held at 331 South Pineapple Ave., Sarasota.

As workforce development becomes an overriding topic du jour for the Gulf Coast’s business leaders, young professionals get cited as a coveted asset. To get skilled workers in their 20s engaged in regional commerce, experts hope, will keep talent from leaving the region. However, voter statistics show those 20-somethings that are here remain disengaged in local politics, a bad sign for the future.

Scrutinizing returns for the August 30 primary, when voters in both parties could weigh in on US and Florida Senate contests and where all voters in Sarasota County could vote in an important School Board race, voters in their 20s underperformed every other age demographic. Only 1,622 voters ages 20 to 29 cast ballots, a turnout of less than 5.6 percent. In comparison, 22,205 voters in their 70s participated, a turnout greater than 41.9 percent. That’s right. For every 20-something voter, there were almost 14 voters in their 70s.  Poring over election returns here for the past seven years, the same depressing story repeats itself each time. Sure, young voters come out for presidential contests, but to convince voters to care about a Congressional primary, much less a hospital board election, seems impossible even if you put a Pokémon in every booth.

The easy thing to do is blame young people. They aren’t diligent and didn’t take civics classes, and they choose to stay at home instead of taking a few minutes to vote. Why, if they just stopped complaining on social media, they could make a difference. And can’t they take those ear buds out while they run on our roads? I’m driving here.

But lecturing Millennials sounds as condescending as it is. It also ignores the deeper issue, that these voters potentially may living with the consequences of elections for decades longer than seniors, but they don't plan on it. Young professionals don’t believe they will stay on the Gulf Coast for that long.

Consider our turnout among registered voters age 100 or older nearly doubled that of those under 30. Yes, 10.11 percent of Centenarians came out for the primary. It's not a big group, but those 36 voters represent a voter block bigger than some precincts. These voters expect to live the rest of their lives in this community. So do voters in their 90s, 80s and 70s, and all of these age groups turned out at rates greater than 30 percent. You can retire to the Suncoast and spend the rest of your days here, and tens of thousands of voters do.

Meanwhile, college graduates can find internships and even entry-level positions on the Gulf Coast, but the best paid among them have trouble finding apartments that rent for less than $2,000, as a Young Professionals Group survey recently discovered. And as YPG Government Issues chair Robert Young recently told me, if you are constantly looking for a place to move that’s in your price range, it’s just as easy to look in Tampa or St. Pete. Or Austin. Or Seattle. It’s difficult to move up a professional ladder in Sarasota. For many, it’s easier to find a better job in another market than to attain a meaningful promotion at their current place of work.

Getting young voters engaged has built-in challenges here. Sarasota County has 151,764 registered voters over the age of 60, more than half. That’s bigger than any political party, so young people already feel outnumbered. But if they can see a future for themselves on the Gulf Coast, they are more likely to try and shape it.

 Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor of SRQ Media Group. 

[City Government]  JFK and the Janitor
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

In 1961, President Kennedy was touring NASA headquarters when he asked a space center employee mopping the floor “What is your job?" Without hesitation, the employee responded “My job is to help put a man on the moon.” It's no wonder our goal to get to the moon in ten years was accomplished. 

Kennedy announcing our moon landing goal, the flash of rockets and Neil Armstrong bobbing onto the surface of the moon in 1969, remain the breath taking visuals we've all seen. Although authentic leaders and heroes can be vital to pushing boundaries, it also took thousands of others performing millions of mission supportive actions, including those of the janitor, to successfully get Armstrong to the moon and back.    

The Kennedy and the Janitor story highlights the undervalued and often overlooked power of not only goals, but teamwork and the many, many indiscernible acts of quiet, dedicated people going about their work, that resulted in “one giant leap for mankind.”

The commitment to appropriate goals and teamwork to achieve them adds difference making value to almost any endeavor worth doing in any field. 

As some of you may know, my youngest son Connor plays professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles. He tells me that the biggest lesson he has learned from competitive sports is that great players and a little luck are helpful, but real teamwork, team spirit and team chemistry is the difference maker.  

On Connor's championship teams, the DNA of teamwork flowed through all involved. As he tells it, from the equipment manager to the cafeteria staff, groundskeepers, trainers, players, coaches, front office staff, secretaries and even facility security, mission-oriented teamwork was the magic. Giving your personal best, teamwork and unity of purpose is the combination that leads teams to championships and satisfaction. 

Our moon shot from City Hall, which is our team effort, is designed to partner and work with everyone we can toward building one of America's great “quality of life” cities. A community which is safe, attractive, enjoyable, diverse, accessible, economically viable and sustainable, with lots of quality choices of things to do for all, is work worth doing.

In partnership with our residents, we're striving to build and maintain the infrastructure, the space, the place and spirit where our residents and each and every organization in town can pursue their mission, their dreams, their passion, their loves, their repose and/or their moon shot. 

To help deliver, the City Commission last Monday gave final approval to next year’s city spending plan of $206 million. They've added some resources to deal with our growth and evolution with small supplements to our planning, sanitation, landscaping, recreation, police, finance, utilities and city management efforts. Activity, interest and aspirations for our city have been picking up momentum during this era of record growth and we are positioning to take advantage of it.      

But like the original moon shot, like a championship sports team, like everything worth doing, community building requires the best efforts of everybody involved.   

So, if a President visits our beloved corner of spaceship Earth, and asks a city staffer or citizen for that matter, “What is your role here?” I hope your role and potential as a fellow team and  community builder comes to mind.

Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s column. Forward any thoughts you may have on this or related subjects to: thomas.barwin@sarasotagov.com.

Tom Barwin is Sarasota city manager. 

[The Detail]  Man on a Mission
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

Mike Consentino is a man on a mission.

It’s a precious thing, being able to drive along the Gulf of Mexico. Precious to be able to take in an unobstructed view of the Gulf lapping up on the pristine quartz Siesta Key sand. Mike Cosentino calls Beach Road “the prettiest 400-yard drive in the state of Florida.” A friend of mine with a disability calls Beach Road the “honey spot” on Siesta Key because of its beauty, but also because it provides her with easy access to that beauty. Locals refer to the area near Beach Road as “sunset point” due to its particularly fine sunset vista.  

Why would something so valuable to our community be given away?

This past May, the County Commission did just that. They decided to “vacate” public ownership of a portion of Beach Road. The Commission chose to do this in spite of clear language in the Comprehensive Plan prohibiting such moves. County Park Policy 1.1.13 states: “The County shall not vacate road segments on waterfronts along any creek, river, lake bay or gulf access point and shall encourage right-of-way use of these areas for coastal beach and bay access.”

Cosentino says when he saw in a local paper that the Commission was going to take up this issue at their May 5 meeting, he didn’t think it necessary to attend, because he felt there was no way they would do such a thing.

Once the County Commission voted to give away this public resource, Consentino took action. He created the movement and organization Reopen Beach Road, and enlisted the aid of numerous local businesses. A lawsuit was filed to rescind the Beach Road giveaway, asserting that the vote is invalid because it violates the Sarasota Comprehensive plan. Consentino’s team also created charter amendment petitions to protect public waterfront access. The park policy language in Sarasota’s Comprehensive plan ought to be enough protection, yet the County Commission clearly believes they have the power to ignore it.  

But if Sarasota voters sign the petition and approve Cosentino’s charter amendment via referendum, the same protective language would become a part of the Sarasota County Charter, giving the public’s waterfront access greater protection.  

You see, the County Commission can ignore or change the Comprehensive Plan. But the County Commission cannot change the Sarasota County Charter. Only the voters can do that. Given this recent move to give away Beach Road, voters may agree with Cosentino that public access and ownership of waterfront roads is best safeguarded by the voters in our County Charter, and not by the County Commission in the Comp Plan.

Maybe when he’s done with this project, Consentino can run for County Commission.

Cathy Antunes serves on the board of Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government. 

[Higher Education]  Gratitude for our Veterans, Today and Every Day
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

This month was monumental. We took time as a nation to recognize 15 years since the tragedy that took place on September 11. Moments like these bring up memories and evoke emotions—particularly those of remembrance, compassion, community and gratitude. We are thankful for our freedoms, our comforts and our safety. And most of all, we are grateful for the Americans who make these luxuries a possibility, the brave members of the United States Armed Forces.

Ringling College of Art and Design is proud of our 22 student veterans and 42 students of veteran families. We are forever thankful for their service to their country and their fellow Americans. They have made undeniable sacrifices in support of the nation, and it is critical that we aid in their transitions from military service to campus life to professional life and beyond. It is important that we, as a campus and community, take the time to express our appreciation and recognize the sacrifices our veterans have made for us and for the greater good.

As an art and design school, we strive to instill in our students the importance of diversity of thought and perspective. Our veteran students and dependents bring to our student body significant life experiences that shape the way they approach creativity. We believe this perspective also informs and shapes the studio work of their fellow classmates, faculty and staff.

And this isn’t a new concept for Ringling College. In fact, in 1947, the then-Ringling School became the first college in Florida to be certified for the G.I. Bill, following World War II. Today, the post-9/11 G.I. Bill will pay a certain portion of the tuition and fees to empower our veterans to obtain an education and transition into a successful civilian life. Furthermore, Ringling College and many other institutions participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to provide even more funds to veterans in need. 

We invite our students, faculty and staff to create work that empowers and honors our veterans. Our Film faculty member, Mark Parry, created an award-winning documentary, Veterans of Color, shot on campus with the help of students. Our student television channel, ART Network, last year produced a Telly award-winning segment from about the making of this documentary for WEDU Arts Plus. Our Illustration department hosts an annual exhibition, Veteran’s Show, which invites veterans to have their portraits done by Ringling College Illustration faculty and students. This project was created by an Illustration student, and these portraits then comprise an exhibition in their honor.

Our veterans sacrifice their lives and their livelihoods to secure our futures and that of our children and children’s children. They shape our lives in ways we don’t always know, and they shape our communities. In turn, it is incumbent that we help achieve their dreams and pave the way for their future success. Veterans of the Sarasota and Manatee communities, we thank you today, and every day, for your service and your sacrifice.  

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

[SCOOP]  T. Gergianos and American Fox

On October 3, American Fox founder Karlenn Peluso and local retailer Tatyana Georgiano, owner of T.Georgiano's will launch a collaboration of revival vintage clothing design. T.Georgianos will be the exclusive retailer for American Fox, an American-cool clothing and accessories line which features fashion-forward, effortless fashion for the ageless woman on the go. Don't worry guys; they will have select pieces for you too. Grab a custom vintage flannel with your favorite rock band at the American Fox Pop Up Shop.  

T. Georgianos

[SCOOP]  Luncheon Bling

Time to break out the bling. Ladies, grab your diamonds, glitter and most bedazzled looks and head to Passion with a Purpose at Michael’s on East for a glittery luncheon celebrating To Inform Families First’s (TIFF) 10th Anniversary. Tickets start at $75, and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Proceeds go towards helping the advocacy and education of helping families through the TIFF's Initiative.  


[SCOOP]  FST Children's Theatre Series

Creating theatre for the whole family, Florida Studio Theatre announced its 2016-17 inaugural Children’s Theatre Series. This four show subscription series begins with the touching tale of The Velveteen Rabbit, followed by the festive variety show, Deck the Halls! Then comes the inventive Alice With a Twist and the series concludes with the imaginative anthology, The Dragon vs. The Hiccups & Other Winning Plays. Subscribers can see all four shows for only $20. 

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP]  New Venues for Thunder by the Bay

Suncoast Charities for Children have announced new venue locations for this year’s Thunder by the Bay scheduled for January 5–8, 2017. Locations include Ancient Oak Gun Club, Gulf Gate Village and the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch. Events like Thunder By The Bay, produced by Suncoast Charities for Children are free to the public.  

Thunder By The Bay

[SCOOP]  Anne Rollings appointed to SCS Charitable Foundation Board

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Charitable Foundation, Inc. has added Anne Rollings to its Board of Directors. Anne is in charge of business development andcorporate office operations for Gecko’s Hospitality Group. The mission of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Charitable Foundation, Inc. is to assist individual employees of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office who are experiencing extraordinary personal or family need.   

SCS Charitable Foundation

[KUDOS]  Firkins Cares Art Day

Natalie Palumbo, a Motion Design Major at Ringling College of Art & Design, taught students at The GAP School how to paint the Firkins Cares Heart. Firkins Automotive Group helped sponsor the day and provided aprons and buttons for the students. Natalie has a strong bond with her brother Anthony who has low verbal autism and has contributed her art talents to various organizations serving special needs children. The GAP school is one of Sarasota’s premier K-12 social skills, sensory integration and bully free schools 

The Gap School

[SCOOP]  Goodwill Employment 4.0 Seminar

Goodwill Manasota and M.E. Wilson will present a discussion on October 5, featuring a panel of experts in the field of Florida workers’ compensation, to help local business professionals navigate the pending changes in compensation rates. This is the first of Goodwill’s Employment 4.0 Workshops, a series of four seminars focusing on helping area employers and employees. In addition to information relating to the workers’ compensation rate increase, expert panelists will also address the impact of the cases that were overturned by the Florida legislature. Questions relating to law, claims handling, hiring, firing and more will also be answered.  

Goodwill Manasota

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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