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SRQ DAILY Dec 24, 2016

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"We live in such a fast-moving world. Successful companies and organizations are searching for the next game-changer—the product or service that breaks from the norm and cuts through the clutter."

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

[Under The Hood]  Opening Predictions Too Early?
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

In the spirit of the eternal election cycle, folks in Sarasota started speculation early on the coming City Commission race. Why not? With the first election on March 14 and a runoff around the corner in May, now seems as good a time as any to gauge the mood of the electorate. We already know Commissioner Susan Chapman filed for re-election and Commissioner Suzanne Atwell announced she will not. Three new candidates—Tahiti Park neighborhood leader Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, attorney Hagen Brody and businessman Martin Hyde—have all filed. And right before Christmas, former Commissioner Fredd Atkins threw in as well.

I regularly hear people ponder odds each of these candidates, but that’s hard to measure until a full roster of candidates becomes, and candidates can qualify as late as Jan. 13. That’s especially true with Sarasota’s peculiar at-large election. When it comes to the two citywide seats on the commission, voters get presented with a slew of candidates on a single ballot and the ability to vote for two. The three top vote-getters advance to a May 9 runoff, and the top two candidates in that vote get sworn into office days later. It’s different than how most elected officials get elected, including the three district commissioners who make up the rest of the City Commission.

What’s this mean for candidates? Atwell can testify this system rewards moderates. She got more votes than any candidate in city history four years ago by standing rhetorically between the neighbors-come-first platform of Chapman and the growth-prioritizing stances of third-place finisher Richard Dorfman. In other words, Atwell became every extremists’ second choice while picking up a swath of voters in between. But while Chapman finished second, she won the same prize. Many a Chapman supporter four years ago quickly noted the candidate, the top vote-getter that March, had the most enthusiastic support of the six who ran. It’s a riskier approach, but you can still win this type of election with supporters who elevate you above all others.

Chapman wants 2017 to be a year when issues like overdevelopment drive voters. The formation of STOP!, a group concerned how The Vue and similar construction will impact traffic and infrastructure, guarantees that view will be strongly voiced. Ahearn-Koch sits on the steering committee for STOP!, and could also benefit from that wave. But the arrival of two relative outsiders early shows some anti-government force in the air. Hyde is best known for criticizing City Hall. While Chapman won an initial ruling on a Sunshine case (the decision has been appealed), Hyde heavily critiqued the decision to fight the matter with taxpayer dollars instead of settling early. And Brody when he announced suggested he would lead the city to new positions on handling homelessness and would act different than board members today.

Atkins arrives with his own history. The longest-serving city commissioner in Sarasota history, he previously represented North Sarasota. After a county commission run, where he did well within the city limits despite losing county-wide, expect him to run on a mix of experience and a need for different perspectives at the dais.

But for everyone, the election dynamic makes this terrain hard to play. Candidates won’t benefit from running together; one candidate usually absorbs their fellow’s negatives but no positives. That’s probably why Ahearn-Koch, a Chapman ally who needs some of the incumbent’s voters to win, also reminds folks that when the two sat on the Planning Board, they did not vote in unison.

The winner will ultimately be decided by who motivates the largest coalition. Hyde wants a broad range of supporters from all age groups, a strategy with potential but that risks wasting time on unattainable votes. Ahearn-Koch, meanwhile, can attract reliable neighbors and perhaps colleagues in the business world from work with chambers and in public relations. Chapman and Brody boast ties in the legal world. Atkins has won office here before, but only representing part of the city; he needs all his county voters to stick with him now.

But the real question remains, what disruptive force waits in the wings? It’s unlikely only these five will appear on the ballot. Every person who enters the contest cuts into someone else’s base. So put the crystal ball away until at least late January. This race just got started.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

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

The close of the calendar year often brings up mixed emotions. It’s a time when we do our best to slow down and appreciate the simple things—the holiday lights, delicious foods reminding us of holidays past and the love and friendship of those who filled our year(s) with joy.

In short, it’s a time about tradition.

We live in such a fast-moving world. Successful companies and organizations are searching for the next game-changer—the product or service that breaks from the norm and cuts through the clutter. We actively work to deviate from traditional thinking.

As the president of one of the premiere art and design colleges, I have learned a bit about the importance of original thought, of creativity. But I also know the role that tradition plays in the creative process.

  • Tradition offers examples of the creative masters who came before us.
  • Tradition conjures emotion with our audiences.
  • Tradition shows us where we have been, so we can move forward.
  • Tradition is, essentially, the foundation on which we build.

As a community, we in Sarasota have traditions that bring us together. We congregate every December 31 to watch the Sarasota Pineapple Drop. We visit Selby Gardens to see its annual Lights in Bloom. We come together and connect with each other in celebration and appreciation of these traditions, and we want to share them with the up-and-coming generations.

But tradition doesn’t have to mean standing still or staying the same. As new people join our community, they add to existing traditions and bring their own. And their personal histories, coupled with ours, make us stronger and more multi-faceted.  More interesting.  More alive. More connected. They make us better.

Again this year, we partnered with PINC and AtLarge to bring the third annual PINC Conference to Sarasota. This new tradition for our region is a day of creativity and inspiration. PINC stands for people, ideas, nature, and creativity. Through the imaginative talks and conversations, this community learns what CAN be done when you think differently. It is becoming the newest highly anticipated yearly event. In fact, this year it completely sold out.

At the conference, I delivered remarks about creativity and what it takes to be a creative. And the very first step of the creative process is “Building a Foundation.” This is precisely what tradition does.

Our students at Ringling College are taught that the first answer usually is not the right one. This is because we want them to think “outside of the box.” But you first need a box in place to provide parameters that facilitate creative thinking. That’s why we do our research before we start a project—to inform our work and see what has been done and why. This requires a respect for tradition and the work that has come before.

There will always be a place for tradition in our rapidly changing world—both during the holiday season and throughout the entire year. So, this New Year’s Day, when we make resolutions to change and grow into better versions of ourselves, let’s consider how we might want to stay the same. Let’s explore which traditions and aspects of our lives we are proud of, and how we can make ourselves, and our communities, a better place by honoring these traditions and bringing new ones into the fold with open arms.

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

[City Government]  Merry Christmas Eve
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

I hope this Christmas Eve finds you warm and looking forward to the holiday weekend.

The festive Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year Holiday season is the time of year, which features community spirit far more than any other time of the year. 

The high holiday season is the time of year when our human need and desire to bond appears in full force. For many, the season is rich in memories and experiences with new ones added each year. It seems most people, including yours truly, are happiest when trying to bring joy, happiness and love to others, which is generally what the holidays are about.

Examples of this community spirit were abundant this month. This year’s Holiday Parade organizing baton was passed from the beloved Paul Thorpe (a.k.a. Mr. Downtown) to former City Commissioner Danny Bilyeu. The parade, which honored Paul for his past contributions, while welcoming Santa, appeared to draw record crowds and participants. Community spirit was alive and well. A special holiday thanks is warranted to Danny and all involved.

At Five Points Park, on St. Armand’s Circle and in Newtown, beautiful community Christmas tree lightings were heavily attended this year. Seeing kids being thrilled by the excitement of the holidays appeared equally thrilling to the many cool kids at heart around town who organized these heartfelt evenings.

And we can't overlook the annual holiday boat parade charity event organized to raise funds for the Suncoast Charities for Children. Once again this unique and colorful event was enjoyed by thousands. Another special holiday thank you goes out to Lucy Nicandri for her tireless efforts organizing the event, the team at The Marina Jack for all of their support of the event and the festive boaters who entered the competition.

Between major community events, amidst all the construction going on around town, our community has been chock full of holiday functions celebrating bonds between friends, colleagues and neighbors. And no doubt this weekend our churches, synagogues and temples will be well attended reminding us of the spiritual foundation of our holiday season.

As we begin this peak week of our high holiday season I would also like to give one more special holiday thanks to all the good, unheralded folks who are working during the holidays to keep our community safe and functioning while the rest of us are celebrating. To the folks in our police departments, fire departments and EMS, hospitals, utilities and public works, sanitation, media, airlines, transportation systems, hotels, and increasing numbers of stores and restaurants, thanks for doing what you do to help make our holidays possible.

As we look to the challenges and opportunities in 2017, whether it's better addressing chronic homelessness, figuring out how to best manage growth and traffic, how to protect our shorelines, navigation channels, beaches, parks and trees, or how to zone medical marijuana, redevelop the Bayfront, or city – county – and public private collaborations, I harbor the holidays-inspired hope that we collectively strive more than ever to keep the great community spirit and goodwill we enjoy and value during the high holidays going all year long.

Our country and the world are in need of community models that rely upon collaboration and problem solving, whenever possible, while minimizing conflict and automatic adversarial responses to almost every situation. We can only imagine how much better off the world could be.

The lessons of the holiday season suggest that the give and take of working together and in support of each other is much more rewarding and productive than some of practices which have become standard operating procedure in venues and spheres of government and business that appear to have lost the spirit of community, and perhaps forgotten the reality of our inter-dependence upon each other. 

On this holiday, on behalf of all of us at city hall, congratulations and thanks for a great 2016, and best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. Forward any thoughts you may have on this or related subjects to: thomas.barwin@sarasotagov.com  

[From Mary Dougherty-Slapp]  Commission Right to Reject Mulligan
Mary Dougherty-Slapp

Project Mulligan was aptly named.

The project was touted as an effort to lure a “corporate headquarters” to our area, reportedly bringing high-paying corporate jobs to Sarasota County. However, none of these jobs were to be related to operations (i.e. roofing jobs). Actually, the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County said Project Mulligan promised it would not compete for roofing jobs in the area, and the would-be firm was inundated with so much work that they would be showering subcontracting jobs to local roofers.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, let’s examine what we learned since last May.

Prior to submitting for economic incentive dollars from the state and county through the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, North American Roofing (the company we now know was behind the code name Mulligan) had already competed for a large local roofing job at Southgate Mall.

A recent permit search for Sarasota County shows 133 permits in Sarasota County for roofing jobs by the company.

So, while it is easy to say this was a “corporate headquarters,” one must complete the sentence. It’s a “corporate headquarters for a roofing contractor.” 

Currently, we are fortunate to have three roofing companies that have corporate headquarters in Sarasota County.

All three were started locally and grew without the help of taxpayer dollars. All three have hired local employees and weathered the worst of the recent recession. All three kept their doors open and retained their employed without the help of taxpayer dollars.

Florida’s economy is too dependent on construction, tourism and agriculture. To successfully diversify our economy, we must look outside these three areas to bring in quality-paying jobs and careers that will not be subject to fluctuations in real estate cycles or weather patterns.

While we agree “the tools necessary to do this are readily available for use in the right circumstances,” we don’t agree that using them to attract a roofing contractor to compete with successful local roofing firms is sound public policy.

We commend the Sarasota County Commission for directing the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County to collect and use data to make sound decisions for the local economy and for requiring sound criteria for making decisions on how incentives are used.

A mulligan is defined as a second chance to perform an action, usually after the first chance went wrong through bad luck or a blunder. Let’s take that Mulligan.

The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange has always been a supporter of economic growth, a vibrant economy, quality jobs, the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County and economic incentives. In this case, however, we stood with members of the roofing industry (who appeared before the commission in compelling numbers), including the State Roofing Association, to illustrate this was not a good use of taxpayer dollars. We live in a free market economy. We welcome any company to come to the community and grow and thrive just like other contractors in the area.

Mary Dougherty-Slapp, responding to the column "Stay Serious When Seeking Greater Good" column in the Jan. 17 edition of SRQ Daily. 

[KUDOS ]  Goodwill Spreads Holiday Cheer to Local Veterans

On December 13, Goodwill Manasota, in partnership with the Gail Baird Foundation, hosted a festive holiday lunch for more than 50 homeless veterans from Sarasota and Manatee counties. Jennifer Steube, wife of incoming State Senator Greg Steube, welcomed the veterans to the celebration which included a delicious lunch of hot turkey and fixings, gifts and educational information about housing, employment opportunities and area food banks. The Baird Foundation contributed cozy fleece jackets for all veterans in attendance along with Patriot Shoeboxes, which included a wide variety of toiletries, health items as well as non-perishable food items donated by Goodwill Ambassadors and members of the community.   

Goodwill Manasota

[KUDOS ]  Ameriprise Financial Supports YMCA Youth Shelter

Ameriprise Financial showed their generous support for the Sarasota YMCA’s Youth Shelter by gifting a $5,000 grant. These funds will provide vital direct–service staff and program support to engage homeless, runaway or at–risk youth and their families. The Y Youth Shelter provides temporary housing and safe care for Southwest Florida youth ages 10 to 17 who have run away, are experiencing family conflict or have been locked out of their homes. The Y Youth Shelter is available as a resource 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

Sarasota YMCA

[SCOOP ]  Real HousePets of Sarasota County

The Humane Society of Sarasota County’s Real HousePets of Sarasota County 2017 Calendar is now available. This is a perfect gift or stocking stuffer for the holiday season, and all proceeds benefit HSSC. The cover model and winner of the 5th Annual Real HousePets of Sarasota County Contest, Maxie the Maltese can be seen in the 2017 calendar, and the top 12 finalists each star as a pet of the month. Purchase a calendar today and delight in photos of pets acting like humans, witty pet biographies, fun pawlidays and more, all while supporting the area’s largest no-kill shelter.  

Humane Society of Sarasota County

[SCOOP ]  Hits and Home Runs

American Idol runner–up, Clark Beckham will headline the Sarasota Orchestra's Hits and Home Runs concert on May 12 and 13 at the Orioles’ Ed Smith Stadium. Following three years of early sell–outs, this year's Outdoor Pops has added a second concert night. As a finalist in Season 14 of American Idol, Beckham headlines the concert and will sing new arrangements composed for full orchestra including It’s a Man’s World (But it Would be Nothing Without a Woman or a Girl) by James Brown, Superstition by Stevie Wonder, God Bless the USA and a Beckham original. Beckham started singing in a gospel trio with his mother and father when he was 8 years old.  

Sarasota Orchestra

[KUDOS]  Wine Women & Shoes Raises Half A Million Dollars

Wine, Women & Shoes, one of Sarasota’s most notable charity events where philanthropic women and supporting men join together to sip, shop and dine for a common cause, raised over a half million dollars for Forty Carrots Family Center. “This is an incredibly fun event, but the services that it makes possible are extremely serious and vitally important to families in our community.  We are thrilled to be able to continue serving families in need regardless of their ability to pay,” said Michelle Kapreilian, Executive Director of Forty Carrots Family Center. The dollars raised will provide critical parenting education and mental health services throughout Sarasota and Manatee County to families that might otherwise not have access. Wine, Women & Shoes will take place in support of Forty Carrots Family Center next year November 9 – 11, 2017.  

Forty Carrots Family Center

[SCOOP ]  Pines of Sarasota Hires Janet Ginn

Pines of Sarasota Foundation announced the hiring of Janet Ginn, CFRE, as their Director of Development. Ginn brings with her a professional history of building relationships and meeting the family, financial and social needs of donors while building organizational sustainability. Her career has allowed her to assist individuals in 32 countries and the 50 United States serving as a guardian of philanthropy. “Throughout our 68 year history, Pines of Sarasota has been committed to serving this community. Today, in addition to skilled nursing and assisted living, Pines offers in and out–patient rehabilitation therapy, education for professionals and family members who are caring for those with dementia, a falls prevention program. As Director of Development on the foundation team, Janet will focus her considerable talent on raising funds so that we can continue to provide these services long into the future,” says Foundation President Estelle Crawford.  

Pines of Sarasota

[SCOOP]  PMP Celebration Concert

Join the Perlman Music Program for their Celebration Concert, the highlight of the Winter Residency at the Sarasota Opera House on January 5. This annual event celebrates the training and development of the PMP students throughout their 17-day residency featuring Itzhak Perlman conducting the PMP String Orchestra and Chorus Master Patrick Romano leading the PMP Chorus. Tickets are $40, $60 and $80 and are on sale now at the Sarasota Opera House Box Office (941-328-1300).  

Perlman Music Program

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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