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SRQ Daily Mar 11, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"No one asked these youths whether they wanted to be in this country. They had no choice. They grew up here and they came to love it, adopting it as their own. Now, some individuals are urging President Trump to terminate the DACA program and to deport them."

- Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida
 

[Under The Hood]  No. 1 with a Bullet
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Bullet votes will fly in Sarasota Tuesday. No, that's not a reason to believe violence will mar the city election, but an antiquated system for choosing at-large commissioners will once again make voters question if they should cast just one vote in a city election allowing them to vote for two.

The practice, referred to as bullet-voting, gets decried each cycle because many voters inevitably throw half their democratic power away. Sarasotans get the chance to select two of five city commissioners, but to vote for only one of eight candidates running would mean letting one seat be filled without your say. Good government types rightly decry this as a failure to fully participate in democracy. The problem with that argument, though, is bullet-voting is good politics.

Any candidate who votes for their opponent remains a fool. That seems obvious in a head-to-head election where only the top vote-getter earns any spoils. Yet, the truism seems less clear when a second-place finisher wins the same prize as the winner.

Since Sarasota adopted this election format in the ‘80s, nobody ever won a majority outright in the initial at-large city race, and unless there’s a cycle where only three or four candidates run, it’s unlikely to ever happen. On Tuesday, eight candidates for all practical purposes will run for three spots in the May runoff.

So campaigns eventually come to the realization that the best vote is the lonely vote. Four years ago, 20.51 percent of voters elected to vote for only one candidate out of six running. In the May runoff, 32.62 percent made the same decision and voted for only one of three candidates still in the race.

Of course, being the candidate with the most bullet votes doesn’t guarantee victory. Indeed, Commissioner Suzanne Atwell turned out to be top vote-getter in the May 2015 election by virtue of being second choice for most voters backing either of her opponents. Not every vote comes from die-hard supporters.

That said, voters who do feel passionately about one candidate would be wise to vote for him or her and no one else. Why? How will it feel to see your top choice come in fourth while a lukewarm candidate proceeds to the runoff on the strength of your second vote? Maybe you have two candidates you love equally, in which case, cast two votes, but know it’s quite likely only one candidate will proceed.

Does this churn your political science-loving insides? Don’t hate the candidate, hate the game. Campaigns exist for the sole purpose of getting individual candidates elected. Governing may be a team sport, but elections are solo exhibitions. The problem isn’t a pol encouraging you to cast one vote. It’s the ridiculous city charter provision that delivers two championships for a single event. Politicians who don’t account for the dynamics of this race do so at their own peril, like runners who insist on using outer lanes to go around curves while everyone else vies for the inside track.

Combining the contests for two seats changes the nature of debate. Candidates won’t sharpen their contrasts with one another, even in a community known for rigorous and rancorous debate, because they covet unserious voters’ second selections. A Charter Review Committee in 2010 recommended the city dispose of this system, but a long-disproven theory that this at-large system would empower minorities convinced the commission at the time to take no action.

This Tuesday, there will likely be three candidates who come out on top. Don’t be surprised to see No. 1 to get there with a bullet.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  Childhood Arrivals
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children and who have since obtained a high school degree, or who have been honorably discharged from the military, could register with the federal government in exchange for temporary relief from the possibility of deportation, the opportunity to attend college and a two-year renewable work permit.

No one better exemplifies the value of the DACA program than New College graduate José Manuel Godinez-Semperio. An Eagle Scout and valedictorian of his high school class, José came to the US from Mexico with his parents at age nine on a tourist visa. He stayed here with them when they did not return. After graduating from New College, he entered the Florida State University College of Law, graduated with honors and passed the bar exam on his first attempt in 2011. Each step presented new obstacles to overcome, yet José never misrepresented his status. He registered for the draft. When the DACA program was introduced in 2012, José registered. As a result of DACA, a Florida Supreme Court ruling and action by the Florida legislature, José has been able to practice as an attorney and to make a difference in our state.

The DACA program provided José and another 750,000 young people who grew up in the United States with legal status. It made it easier to get a driver’s license, a social security card and a college education. There are an equal number who were eligible but who did not sign up.

No one asked these youths whether they wanted to be in this country. They had no choice. They grew up here and they came to love it, adopting it as their own. Now, some individuals are urging President Trump to terminate the DACA program and to deport them. Especially at risk are those, like José, who registered with DACA, those who trusted our federal government with their contact and biometric data, the information needed to find and remove them from the United States.

What reason could there be for wanting to deport this group? They are not criminals—the DACA program excludes criminals. They have been educated here. Some have bravely served in the military. They have much to contribute.

Some think that retaining DACA is rewarding the parents who sneaked the childhood arrivals into the country. Since when did we start punishing individuals for the sins of their fathers? Others feel that these children are using up resources better reserved for real citizens. This is short-sighted. For the young, these so-called resources—health, education—are actually investments. Deport them and our society does not benefit from the investment. Still others think we should deny children without paperwork an education. This is even more wrong-headed. A country creates a permanent underclass at its peril. And it is illegal. In the Plyler v. Doe decision in June 1982, the US Supreme Court held that states can not constitutionally deny students public education on account of immigration status. The court found that any resources that might be saved from excluding undocumented children from public schools were far outweighed by the harms imposed on society at large from denying them an education.

Ours is a nation of immigrants. We have taken the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. And they have helped build a great nation. The US has by far the highest number of Nobel Prize winners in the world. A third are immigrants, and more are children of immigrants. All six American Nobel prize winners this year are immigrants.

The saddest thing, and it is one that should spike the blood pressure of all of us, is that in the conversation on DACA, no one is even talking about paths to permanent residency or to citizenship. There are some who feel that DACA was an example of executive overreach. That may well be, but it followed the failure to enact legislation aimed at giving residency to an even smaller group of talented caring people who believe in the American dream, a group whom we desperately need. The DACA program is a Band-Aid, no question, but it is a critical one.

President Trump has indicated a “soft spot” for DACA types. On another occasion, he has advanced a willingness to consider comprehensive immigration reform. Both impulses are to be applauded and to be encouraged. May he do the right thing. 

Dr. Donal O'Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

[From Gabriel Hament]  A Two-Generational Ticket
Gabriel Hament

As we consider the eight candidates for Sarasota City Commission who have waded into the fray, bravely submitting to our bi-annual electoral process, a distinct philosophical divide has emerged.

On the one hand we have STOP!, a small, cacophonous group of activists, attempting to sway city elections based on the obscure issue of Administrative Review. Administrative Review is a process wherein professional city planners evaluate a proposed site plan and determine if it meets the city code. If a site plan meets the code it must be permitted. STOP! wishes instead to revert to a process from the past involving four public hearings, and insists it is the absence of public hearings that has resulted in more cars, rush hour gridlock and offers the Vue as their example. So soon we forget the run-down Holiday Inn on that iconic lot which greeted us as we crossed the Ringling Causeway. Let's not discount the tremendous progress the city is making. 

In all fairness let's have a look then at an example of another project shepherded through the exact public hearing process this group champions. The Kanaya, a 16-story tower built at the entrance to the historic Laurel Park Neighborhood went through two years of public hearings, a long, involved public process and yet was permitted to be built according to the code in place at that time.

By creating a metaphorical vacuum at community forums and neighborhood meetings, this group has forced any discussion of the real challenges facing working families—affordable housing for one—to the remote periphery. If allowed their way in this election, meaningful consideration regarding the financial stability of working class people in our city will be sacrificed at the alter of this cohort's self serving concern for vehicular convenience and personal aesthetic.

I submit we cannot allow one small group's fantasy, an out of touch expectation of a suburban lifestyle—wide boulevards, unlimited surface parking, and sylvan quietude—to subvert our Sarasota's true identity as an exciting, robust urban city only now hitting its post-Great Recession stride.

I urge city voters to elect policymakers who will:

  • Work collaboratively to modify the building code to boost the stock of workforce housing so people who work in the city can live here too and avoid daily multi-hour commutes. 
  • Work more closely with our world-class colleges to convince our grads to make Sarasota home and insure the economic future of all our citizens, young and older in the city at-large. 

City voters must overcome the synthetic cynicism and fear of progress propagated by STOP! and its anointed candidates. We have the opportunity to make a choice (an important one) book-ended by this vast philosophical dichotomy. Tell them with your vote, we are moving forward, and we will not stop.

A notable trait great leaders exhibit is knowing when to step back and pass the baton to the next generation. In this spirit, I ask you to cast your vote on March 14 for a cross-generational ticket and send Patrick Gannon and Hagen Brody to the runoff.

Gabriel Hament, Sarasota. 



[KUDOS]  CreateSRQ Raises $200,000 for Education

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County hosted their createSRQ Gala Celebration on February 26 at Michael’s on the Bay at Selby Botanical Gardens. The signature fundraising event, previously known as Evening of Excellence for 21 years was re-branded in 2017 as CreateSRQ to highlight the exciting changes made to the student art competition, auction format and event location. Cocktails on the lawn set the stage for the evening with all top 25 art pieces on display and the high school artists available to discuss their work, their inspiration and the creative process with guests. The top five art pieces were part of a live auction that also included trips to Napa Valley and New York City. In all, over $200,000 was raised by The Education Foundation of Sarasota County to support their mission and education initiatives including academics, arts, college and career readiness, and technology and innovation. 

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[KUDOS]  Scully Wins with Flying Colors

On March 7, local mascots raced down Siesta Beach to promote Mote's 31st Annual Run for the Turtles 5k on April 1st. 2017 World Rowing Championships mascot, Scully the seabird, flew past the competition and won the race promoting Mote’s longest-standing fundraiser. All proceeds from this event support Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program, which coordinates conservation of endangered sea turtles along 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches. 

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

[SCOOP]  What's New at Selah Vie Boutique?

Selah Vie Boutique’s is expanding their inventory and want you to be apart of it. They are currently accepting high quality, good-condition furniture with pick-up provided. Selah Vie is also opening vendor spaces to local artisans showcasing their work. If you have a small business and would like to showcase your items in our boutique and benefit Selah Freedom with a portion of the proceeds, please contact retail@selahfreedom.com, for more information. 

Selah Vie Boutique

[KUDOS]  Goodwill Manasota Receives 2017 James E. Duffy Friend of Literacy Award

During the Literacy Council of Sarasota's 10th annual Literacy Matters Luncheon, Goodwill Manasota was honored with the 2017 James E. Duffy Friend of Literacy Award. The award, named for one of the nation's foremost literacy advocates and retired president of the ABC Television Network, recognizes people and organizations in the community that have demonstrated outstanding support to local literacy efforts. Goodwill's ongoing partnership with the Literacy Council of Sarasota and its sister organization, Manatee Reads! provides workplace English language and literacy classes on-site, where employees can better access the educational services they need for self-sufficiency, empowerment and the ability to thrive. Through thousands of hours of on-the-clock training and mentoring, Goodwill has demonstrated a powerful and long-term commitment to its employees' continuing education and well-being. 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP]  Career Edge Expands Internship Reimbursement Program

Through the generous support of the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, local workforce development non-profit CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, will be expanding its innovative Internship Reimbursement Program for 2017. The internship program incentivizes employers in high-demand industries to hire college interns in order for them to gain valuable work experience and exposes students to the workforce; while helping employers develop talent. Last year, CareerEdge funded approximately 90 students from 40 different organizations from Tampa Bay to Sarasota. 98% of students reported that the internship prepared them for the workforce, and 100% of the employers believe the internship program added value to their organization. This year, in addition to the college program, CareerEdge will pilot a high school internship initiative called Career Quest for 25 low-income rising high school juniors in Sarasota County. Students receive a paid summer internship with the potential to earn $1,000, plus career awareness and financial planning training.  

Career Edge

[KUDOS]  The Woman's Exchange Grants $20,000 to FST

The Woman’s Exchange granted $20,000 to graciously underwrite the Florida Studio Theatre’s 2016-2017 Winter Cabaret Season. This grant will be used to support the costs of all three productions of the Cabaret Series this season which includes the productions Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, Piano Men, and Older Than Dirt. Supporting FST for over 20 years, the Woman’s Exchange provides grants to support and enrich a variety of programs for local arts and cultural organizations in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Since its inception in 1962, the Woman’s Exchange has awarded more than $7.8 million in grants and scholarships. In the past two years alone, the Woman's Exchange awarded a total of $580,000 in grants and scholarships.  

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Opera Adds 12th Performance of Madama Butterfly

Due to overwhelming demand, Sarasota Opera has added a 12th performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on Sunday, March 12 at 7:30pm. Since the opera opened on February 11, every performance has been a sell-out with limited ticket availability for upcoming performances. Set in Japan around 1900, the story follows a young geisha Cio-Cio San, affectionately known as Madama Butterfly, who is swept off her feet by the American Naval Officer, B.F. Pinkerton. Leaving her with promises of returning one day, Butterfly waits faithfully for his return which comes three years later, but with unexpected disappointments and a tragic end. Filled with Puccini’s most expansive melodies, Madama Butterfly is at the top of a very short list of most performed and best loved operas of all time. 

Sarasota Opera

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: 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. 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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