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SRQ DAILY Jan 28, 2017

"If jobs like these can be outsourced anywhere in the world, let's prepare our local students to land these opportunities right in our own backyard."

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Under The Hood]  Public Access Smartest Play
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

While spending taxpayer dollars on sports stadiums never comes without controversy, it's a safe bet Sarasota County Commissioners come through with $22.1 million in revenue to ensure the Atlanta Braves move spring training here. The county has the luxury of spending the least controversial funding source around: out-of-towners’ cash. Nothing proves quite so easy to expend for elected officials than money their own constituents never had to pay. Relying completely on tourist development taxes means commissioners can wither some scrutiny but that no voters will feel a pinch from building a stadium in West Villages.

That’s why as this game plays out, the critical calls may happen instead in North Port. While a City Commission discussion there this week ended with every elected official wearing a Braves jersey, it’s noteworthy the city, while responsible for just $4 million to $5 million in this deal, will seeking out funding that could be used on North Port citizen services rather than a facility for professional athletes who swing through town a couple months each year. It’s no coincidence the most important items on North Port’s “wish list” for coming negotiations don’t involve dollars but a public sense of ownership.

Mayor Linda Yates, whose political reputation has always been more spendthrift watchdog more corporate booster, made clear her chief concern will be “public access.”

Voters in North Port start out upset at long unrest around Warm Mineral Springs and that more tourism dollars don’t already get spent promoting Sarasota County’s most populous city. But the rabble aren’t unreasonable. North Port skews younger than most cities in the region but boasts fewer parks and recreation amenities than its neighbors. Census data shows 24.2 percent of North Port’s population is under age 18, compared to 16.8 percent in Sarasota, 6.1 percent in Venice and 2.9 percent in Longboat Key. Guess which of these communities has the worst access to parks and sporting facilities? And while Sarasotans with high school children can send kids to Booker, Riverview or Sarasota high schools—never mind Suncoast Polytechnical—North Port remains home to one high school.

That’s probably why Yates acted surprised when fancy color renderings put on display at a County Commission hearing Thursday didn’t get the same level of play at North Port City Hall. Drawings by Fawley-Bryant Architects show space at a proposed Braves facility for six practice fields and three diamond in addition to the main stadium, as well as room for six soccer fields, half of those in an area usable for grass parking during Braves games.

It would take the city many years and millions of dollars to create the sort of sports amenities the Braves could construct before Spring 2019.  Putting the city on the hook for $300,000 annually for 30 years would be a bargain for the town commission—so long as local kids sometimes get to play ball here as well.

If leadership with the Braves organization wants a streamlined discussion in the next few months, they should take heed and make public access when the Braves aren’t playing a central part of any contract. If this deal looks like one that only benefits those with a 404 area code, talks will turn choppy, and not the type of chop with which Braves fans will be able to chant along. Turning territorial could change the tenor of talks from a potential win-win into a multi-million-dollar misstep.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  Libraries: A Campus Linchpin
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

Since the beginning of humankind, we have shared stories. At first this happened through word of mouth, passing down our experiences to our kin, and then later through the written word. As literacy became the foundation of our society, writers took up their pens, and the printing press was invented, libraries were born to house the resulting stories and information for posterity.

Inevitably, newer and more efficient systems became the norm as the various revolutions, including the latest digital revolution, put the answers to every conceivable question (literally) at our fingertips. Which begs the question: With the ever-presence of the internet, what is the role of libraries in today’s society?

Ringling College of Art and Design this month opened the doors to a new, 46,000-square-foot “library of the future.” Over 200 students, faculty, and staff lined up from our previous library, the Verman Kimbrough Memorial Library, to the new Alfred R. Goldstein Library to pass 200 books in a ceremonial nod to our newest facility. The doors were then opened for students to go in and explore. Since that day, the students—millennials who were raised in front of screens of every size—have been excitedly exploring all of the nooks and crannies and bells and whistles that comprise their new library. Far beyond the impressive book and periodical collections of 65,000 volumes is the space dedicated to collaboration and brainstorming—essentially to “working out loud.” And, yes, working out loud means the former shushing that occurred in libraries is not happening in this one.

And this will be the role of the library on our campus and in our community. Yes, students and faculty can always ask Google or Alexa or Siri anything they want from any device anywhere. But this will be a space where they can work together, come together, research together and create together. And stumble upon a book or periodical they didn’t even think to look for. Or explore in depth a subject in a way Siri cannot possibly answer.

Through the progress of technology, millennials have come to expect and enjoy customized experiences from the brands and services they use. They want control over their user experience—from suggested playlists on Spotify to Coca-Cola labels that actually have their names on them. Taking that into consideration, we have to understand that libraries can no longer fall into the one-size-fits-all trap.

In the spirit of building a truly progressive library, we dedicated two floors to providing rooms and facilities in which users can move things around to create their optimal working conditions. They can talk to each other. And for those who want quiet time—well they have a glass enclosed third floor to keep out noise, filled with comfy chairs, a breathtaking terrace and quiet nooks. So this new library of the future now serves as not only an intellectual resource, it is also a student center, a student union if you will. I call it an “Intellectual Student Union.” What a concept. I wish my college library was like that.

We will always be introduced to newer, faster, more convenient ways of accessing information. But as a society, we need places to bring our ideas together and explore. This is the new and very old role of a library—and I look forward to the creativity that this facility will inspire on our campus.

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

[City Government]  The List of Lists
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

We may have David Letterman to thank for all of this, but have you ever wondered who, how and why publications keep churning out those “best” and “top” places lists? They must be popular because people keep making them.

Readers may have visited some of the places on the lists or the lists may help them decide where to go next. Real documentation may not be required to make these lists. We might call them well, kinda, maybe news, mostly opinions.

But, they are kind of fun, especially if your town makes the best list once in a while.

Over the past two years, Sarasota has been named to 30 different lists. In case you missed it, in 2015 we were named:

  • Best Small Cities in America—Conde Nast Traveler
  • #1 Great Place to Retire—Kiplinger
  • #6 on Best Small Cities Quality of Life—WalletHub.com
  • Nerdiest City—Movoto
  • #31 Best Places to Live—Livability.com
  • Best Spiced Rum (my personal favorite)—Caribbean Journal

And in 2016:

  • Best Food Cities in the USA—Conde Nast Traveler
  • Best Places to Start a Small Business—CNBC
  • Top Ten Happiest Sea Side Towns—Coastal Living
  • The “It” City in the Sunshine State—Houstonia Magazine
  • #12 America’s favorite towns—Travel and Leisure Readers Choice            

When these lists come up, locals just kind of smile and shrug their shoulders and say something like “we’ve been discovered”. But lately, since the local daily newspaper announced “the billion dollar building boom” on the front page of its Sunday edition, and listed all the new buildings under construction, people have humorously suggested we stop sharing these lists for a while.

But communities are a living, changing organism. So now, to deal with all of the expectations, challenges and opportunities being a best city region, it has been suggested that we create some new best lists, and that we strive to be on them in the future, for example:

New Future Lists to Create to Be On:

  • Best Public, Private Not-for-Profit Collaborators to Solve local challenges
  • Best local/regional innovators to manage increased traffic due to being on so many best lists
  • Best Adapters to protecting shorelines and adapting to rising Sea Levels
  • Best Innovators to bring quality affordable housing to the market place
  • Best Parks System in Florida
  • Top Arts and Cultural Center in Florida

For those who follow local government, the City Commission's recently adopted 2017-2020 strategic plan is focused on working to get us on the new lists we would like to see the city and region be on. You can find the Mayor and City Commissions recently adopted strategic plan on our website at: www.SarasotaFL.gov.

We look forward to working with all on continuing our community’s long standing tradition of working successfully in a collaborative fashion toward solving the latest big challenges together.

Thanks for taking the time to read this month’s updates. As always, if you have any ideas on this or any subject related to our community please do not hesitate to contact me at thomas.barwin@sarasotafl.gov

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. 

[Education]  Innovative Partners in Teaching and Learning
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

In two weeks, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County will launch a pilot Java Boot Camp at Booker High School as part of our College & Career Readiness Initiative. By the end of this AP Computer Science course, students will know Java programming language, concepts of objectoriented programming, knowledge of algorithms and data structures, how to apply newly acquired knowledge toward solving real-world problems in fields such as finance, biology, engineering and graphic design, and how to design mobile apps.

Why does this matter? For two-fold reasons:

First, as our world continues to accelerate at a rapid rate of change, so too, we need to accelerate innovative ways of teaching and learning to our students and teachers. It is no secret that the technological footprint of our 21st century world is growing, and learning the language of Java will open doors to high-demand, high-wage jobs. During the next 10 years, there will be 1 million more computing jobs than there are graduating students to fill them and 30 percent of jobs will require technology and coding skills. These facts have led to increased demand for coding classes that train students in logic, critical thinking and design. If jobs like these can be outsourced anywhere in the world, let’s prepare our local students to land these opportunities right in our own backyard. Even if a student decides to pursue another career pathway outside of programming, students who master the material in this course will be better prepared to address computational challenges wherever they might appear later in their careers.

Secondly, the profile of the teacher himself is unique. With a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, this technology entrepreneur founded and sold two tech companies, has offices in Silicon Valley, Bangladesh, India and Madison, Wisconsin, has been awarded seven patents and holds his teaching certificate. He has aligned himself with the Education Foundation because he shares our vision to empower students in our community to fulfill their potential and seize their future by fostering a lifelong love of learning, and we are excited invest in this endeavor. Moreover, while this pilot program will be limited to 15 students from Sarasota public schools, this course will also hold a few seats specifically for teachers who are interested in teaching this course later. Using this “train the trainer” model to help prepare more teachers for courses such as this increases our ability to scale this to more students while also maintaining the high quality and specialization it demands.

It is innovative partners like this that will help accelerate the Education Foundation’s ability to realize our vision and we are incredibly excited to offer this course within our College & Career Readiness Initiative. If you have specialized skills you’d also like to share, please contact us at January 2017 Jennifer Vigne Education Foundation of Sarasota County www.edfoundationsrq.org. Together, we can support our students and teachers in unique and innovative ways.

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[The Detail]  Tremendous!
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

A number of Sarasotans last week boarded planes for Washington, D.C. and converged with citizens from across the country for the Women’s March. The turnout was tremendous, the crowd focused and energized So tremendous, really, it was the best march ever! Clever signs were everywhere, like “I did Nazi see this coming” and “there will be hell toupee.” Those marching expressed concern about numerous issues, including women’s rights, human rights, immigration, education, environmental and economic policies. While we were marching in D.C., the largest march in Sarasota’s history took place here on the Bayfront. But let’s be fair. Our developer-friendly local GOP deserves a lot of credit. While it might not be in the national spotlight, our local GOP deserves such credit—really, tremendous credit—for the fabulous job they did to support Donald Trump and uphold party loyalty.

Sarasota’s GOP doesn’t like losers, okay? Losers are sad! In 2012, when Linda Long ran for Sarasota County’s Republican state committeewoman, she got the most votes. Long got 1,963 more votes. But there’s so much more to winning than getting the most votes. There’s loyalty! Long wasn’t loyal enough. Long didn’t sign one of the GOP loyalty oaths. She signed two, but two is for losers! You have to sign three loyalty oaths to win! Getting the most votes—9,249 votes—isn’t how you win. She knew the rules! The second place candidate won. Besides, there was probably massive voter fraud. It was only the Republicans in the city and on Siesta Key that voted for Long. Plus a lot of dead people. There should be an investigation!

Sarasota’s GOP has vision—tremendous vision! They chose Donald Trump to be their Statesman of the Year, not once, but twice—in 2012 and 2015. No one else has won their Statesman of the Year award twice. It’s a tremendous accomplishment. And with the local GOP’s experience in international deals, like our world class rowing facility, who better to give away Statesman of the Year awards?

Just like the Donald, Sarasota’s Republican County Commission knows how to make deals. Giving away public millions for the rowing facility and believing empty developer promises is something we should all thank them for! Developers who tell the public they are going to pay for things (like raise $20 million in private donations for the rowing facility), who then keep asking the state for more public money—they are just smart businessmen!

Sarasota’s GOP said of their 2015 Statesman of the Year: “Never before has this prestigious award been given to the same person twice, until now, and we do so because Donald Trump is a man who combines all the best attributes as a skilled leader, a visionary and a man of renowned business success, In the challenging times that we face, Trump has demonstrated that he has the solutions to put people back to work by creating new jobs and he has a vision of a strong America.”

Sarasota’s GOP has never met a developer they didn’t like. Tremendous!

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

[SCOOP ]  Dialogues of the Carmelites: Beyond the Stage

For the first time, the Sarasota Opera and the Sarasota Chapter of the Alliance Française will partner to present Dialogues of the Carmelites: Beyond the Stage on February 15at the Sarasota Opera House. The free program is designed to offer a literary, historical and musical view on Francis Poulenc’s opera Dialogues of the Carmelites which makes its Sarasota Opera debut on March 4. This is a free event but space is limited. To reserve your spot, contact Travis Rogers, Assistant Manager of Patron Services, at 941-366-8450, ext. 230 or at trogers@sarasotaopera.org. 

Sarasota Opera

[KUDOS]  HSSC 5% Community Giving Day

Whole Foods Market Sarasota hosted a 5% Community Giving Day to benefit the Humane Society County (HSSC) on January 24. Those who shopped at Whole Foods Market Sarasota donated 5% of the store’s total pretax sales to HSSC. Adoptable pets were on site  and available for adoption throughout the day.. Whole Foods created 5% Days to provide support to nonprofit organizations whose programs directly benefit the communities surrounding their stores and are held quarterly in each store.  

Whole Foods Market

[KUDOS]  SMH Offers New FDA-Approved Treatment

Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one of only two hospitals in Florida offering a new technique to clear potentially deadly blockages from the carotid arteries, the two major blood vessels in the neck that carry blood to the brain. Sarasota Vascular Surgeon Russell Samson, MD, who piloted the device at SMH, says the new endovascular procedure minimizes complications that may occur with current treatment options. Recently cleared by the FDA for the treatment of high-risk patients who have suffered symptoms of a warning stroke, TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) is performed through a small incision at the base of the neck and safely reverses blood flow away from the brain to protect it from dangerous bits of plaque and blood clots that can break away and cause strokes or heart attacks during standard treatments. 

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

[KUDOS]  Goodwill Exceeds Goal on SunTrust Bank Grant

For the past two years, Goodwill Manasota has offered financial resource classes to the community with generous support from SunTrust Bank. This year, its grant of $10,000 has helped 257 individuals, surpassing the program goal by 40%. The grant paid for a financial literacy coach for low and moderate income workers at external companies and organizations. Classes covered budgeting, debt reduction and provided tools and resources for  participants to make sound financial decisions. 

Goodwill Manasota


The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) will host its annual 5k race and 1-mile walk on March 1, at the Sport Complex on the campus of Lakewood Ranch High School. Students at LECOM’s Bradenton campus are raising funds for the Student Scholarship Fund, which assists them with the costs of their medical educations. LECOM has contributed to the giving spirit of Southwest Florida through student and faculty participation in dental screenings, health-related clinics such as Turning Points and the Good Samaritan Pharmacy. If you are interested in sponsoring the race or making an in-kind donation, please contact LECOM. Your contributions will permit LECOM to buy shirts for participants, prizes, timing services, first-aid equipment, tents and food for the participants. 

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine


[KUDOS]  2017 Tribute to Veteran's Service Award

Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) of the Suncoast are seeking nominations for distinguished local veterans for the 2017 Tribute to Veterans Service to Community Award. These awards go to veterans who inspire patriotism, provide service to others and offer hope to veterans. To be eligible, the veteran must either be on active duty, active in the Reserves or National Guard, honorably discharged from active duty or retired from any U.S. branch of military service. The veteran must also participate with distinction in a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) or a non-profit organization that provides support and services to veterans. 

Jewish Family & Children�s Service of Suncoast

[SCOOP]  Join Us For An Evening of Classic Art and Classical Music

The Perlman Music Program invites you to the opening reception of Summer Tunesin Watercolor by Russian-born artist Vladislav Yeliseyev featuring, performances by PMP Alumni violinists, Mariella Haubs and Hannah Tarley. The event highlights two different, yet compatible, artistic expressions by combining classical music with art. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of art will be donated to The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast. Admission is free to the public with limited seating. 

The 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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