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SRQ DAILY Apr 29, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"It may be too late to save my neighborhood but there's still time to save our City."

- Diana Hamilton, Laurel Park resident

[Higher Education]  And We're Rolling!
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

The first official day of summer may be weeks away, but things are already heating up at Ringling College for film students, filmmakers, and movie lovers everywhere.

Just last week, I had the pleasure of discussing the recent inauguration of Ringling Studios, our new state-of-the-art facility that allows students to work with a wide range of top filmmakers on their film projects, in a guest column for the Herald-Tribune. Well, believe it or not, a lot has happened in that one short week.

Today I’m delighted to share with the SRQ Daily audience two new developments which will undoubtedly benefit our community of film students, supporters, and the Sarasota region in general. Not only are we a principal participant in the exciting Sunscreen Film Festival, presented by the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Society, which started this week, but I’m especially  pleased to announce that the Head of the Ringling College Film Program, Bradley Battersby, was named the 2017 Mentor of the Year by Variety magazine.

I honestly can’t say I’m surprised. Throughout his time at the College, Mr. Battersby has built a collaborative environment of creative filmmaking experimentation that allows our students to flex their storytelling muscles while developing professional level production expertise. Under his purview, the Ringling College Film Program—just a decade in the making—has already been nationally ranked and recognized, currently #16 by the Hollywood Reporter.  

A brand-new professional production complex is being constructed to amplify our curriculum. Soundstage A, the first building of this three building complex, had its ribbon cutting on April 3, 2017.  Not only were Ringling College students and employees present for this occasion but also city and county officials such as County Commissioner Nancy Detert. The most talked about participant, however, was Antoine Fuqua, the world-renowned director of such blockbuster movies as The Magnificent Seven, Training Day, and The Replacement Killers, to name a few.  As a result of our partnership with David Shapiro of Semkhor Productions, the College’s film program, under Brad’s leadership, launched the innovative Ringling College Studio Lab which has created a whole new way to teach filmmaking to college students and granted exposure to some of the biggest names in the Film business.

Hats off to Mr. Battersby on this singular recognition by the preeminent magazine covering the motion-picture industry. As much as this award is a huge accomplishment for Bradley, it is even more of a huge win for Ringling College and, most importantly, our students.

Secondly, this week we partnered with the Sunscreen Film Festival, which premiered the first three episodes of Sugar, a web series collaboration between actor, writer, and director Dylan McDermott and Ringling College Film students.

The Sunscreen Documentary feature selection, Finding Babel, will also premiere in Sarasota at our newly constructed Soundstage A at Ringling Studios on Sunday. This remarkable film follows the life and work of Isaac Babel, best known as the author of Red Cavalry, one of the true masterpieces of modern Russian literature. On top of that, renowned filmmaker Steve Michelson is working with Ringling College’s Studio Lab to create several new and compelling online courses in filmmaking. We’re looking forward to climbing even higher in the rankings as our film programs come into full bloom.

It goes without saying – we have a lot going on at Ringling College. And hold on to your hats, because there’s definitely more to come. As the rest of the Ringling Studios facility opens this summer and fall, we look forward to the work that will spring forth. Because that’s truly why we do what we do—to educate and prepare new artists and designers, the future creative leaders of tomorrow, and to enfold members of our incredible Sarasota-Manatee Community. Without a doubt, our award-winning Film program will continue to do just that. Summer may not officially be here yet, but you can already feel the creative heat of a driving passion for filmmaking on campus!

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

[The Detail]  Hyde Uncut
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

The impact of dark money has been seen in our County and School Board races, but not nearly as much in the Sarasota City Commission races. Martin Hyde is running for one of the two “At-Large” Commission seats, and he personally donated $4,000 to the political action committee called “Making a Better Tomorrow.” Having researched Sarasota PACs for a number of years now, it’s the first time I’ve seen a candidate for a City or County Commission seat make such a donation. The PAC Hyde chose to fund includes $10,000 from Carlos Beruff’s company, as well as $20,000 from Benderson corporations. What does such a donation say about Hyde’s political alliances?

Influencing County Commission decisions through campaign and PAC donations has been a profitable investment for Beruff and Benderson. Beruff was able to get approval for homes on acreage previously denied for residential development due to the presence of two unlined landfills. One year after the rejection of residential development alongside the old Foxfire landfills, Beruff bought the land and the County Commission put aside any concerns about contamination and approved construction of 200 homes on the same property that was too risky to develop just one year before.

Benderson’s campaign and PAC donation have resulted in numerous benefits, including sweet pricing on 42 acres of public land just east of Interstate-75. That sale passed by a 3-2 County Commission vote, with the dissenting Commissioners citing the proposed use (a truck depot) and reduced price ($2-3 million below market value) for their denial.

A few years ago, Benderson Development negotiated a deal to purchase 11 acres at the northeast corner of Beneva and Fruitville. That location is City park land, home to many mature oak trees and across the street from a shopping center that was struggling at the time. Residents protested the sale of the City’s parkland and the deal was quashed. How would a candidate who is aligned with Benderson through a political PAC look upon the deal?

During a recent radio interview, I asked Mr. Hyde about his PAC donation. What should voters make of it? Would he be a Benderson/Beruff lapdog? Hyde was offended by the question, and went on to say he didn’t know how PACs work, that he donated to the PAC so he could get a mailer out identifying him as a Republican in the nonpartisan race.

Antunes: But you had choices. You didn’t have to give that money there.

Hyde: No I haven’t got a choice. I don’t know anything about PACs

Antunes: Why?

Hyde: I don’t know anything about that sort of stuff.

Antunes: Then why would you…

Hyde: I wanted to give money to get a mailer to go out.

Antunes: So you don’t know anything about it and you gave the money.

Hyde: No I don’t know who is involved in any these things. They gave me the name of someone…

And there’s the rub. What will Mr. Hyde choose to do when “they” ask for a favor?

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

[Letter from Diana Hamilton]  Is Laurel Park a victim of STOP!?
Diana Hamilton

There is a Future Land Use Map on the wall behind my desk. Surrounded by light and dark shades of brown representing zones designated “urban,” one section stands out, oddly alone and awkward, the only blue spot on the map. My neighborhood, Laurel Park, covers a small area of around 169 properties with a well-loved pocket park toward its center and includes one of Sarasota’s most highly prized examples (Spanish Oaks, circa 1924) of high density, historic multi-family housing on it’s western edge.

A National Historic District, the majority of the homes on the District list have a front porch and no fence or wall over 4 feet in the front yard. These features, by-products of our intentionally friendly urban nature, were hard fought for and folded into what was then and now our woefully inadequate code, RSM9 (circa 2005), which included the right to build accessory dwellings or “granny flats.” I was a member of that long forgotten LPNA Board, and we did our best to modify a makeshift code we were promised was “temporary, for now.”

Twelve years later, all along Osprey Avenue and throughout my neighborhood a plethora of construction signs embellish scared, empty lots once graced with cherished history. Recently, with one fell swoop and a bulldozer, 14 affordable rental housing units on two historic properties were disappeared soon to be replaced by three, maybe four single-family homes selling for upwards and over $1 million. My neighboring house, a fine example of old Florida “shotgun” vernacular, is most likely next to go beneath the big scoop on wheels.

Laurel Park, as a National Historic District and as home to affordability, a vibrant mix of young and old, the prosperous and the working class, is today not so slowly dying. All as a result of a “temporary code” made permanent under a decade of leadership by former LPNA President and current STOP! Chair Kate Lowman. And sadly, our latest iteration of neighborhood leaders are choosing “for now” to keep the code we have, rather than work with the City’s Urban Design Studio to rewrite our code to better reflect our neighborhood’s historic 1924 footprint. I was told some people, Kate perhaps who likes to go to France, would be out of town this summer.

Vanishing history. Affordability lost. And all because of flawed City Commission policy dominated by the tyranny of the loudest voices. STOP! got its start in Laurel Park and built its power base under the guise of neighborhood activists, and its members now believe with just one more vote on the City Commission they can finally take over our City.

It may be too late to save my neighborhood but there’s still time to save our City. On May 9, vote for diversity, for affordability, for our history and for a vibrant, prosperous future for us all.

Let your voice be heard. On May 9, please keep Sarasota moving forward. Vote for Hagen Brody and Martin Hyde. 

Diana Hamilton, a Laurel Park resident, fought unsuccessfully in 2003 to have Laurel Park included in the Downtown Master Plan. 

[Letter from Harvey Vengroff]  City Makes Affordable Housing Harder
Harvey Vengroff

The Universities need apartments or dorms for their expanding student population and are offering to purchase apartments at substantial premiums. Landlords like myself are tempted to sell because of the premiums offered but have no place to take care of the several hundred tenants that will be displaced.

The City of Sarasota makes it very difficult to construct new affordable housing and has opened the door for us to just sell and move on to other cities that welcome the idea of affordable housing.

Harvey Vengroff builds affordable housing in Sarasota and Manatee counties. 

[Letter from Barbara Campo]  No Room for Alternative Facts
Barbara Campo

Recently I was shocked to read threats made by local political operative Gabriel Hament against STOP! in this newsletter. I am a supporter of this organization and can't figure out why Mr. Hament would attack a local nonprofit in such a manner.

STOP! is working to make changes to Sarasota's zoning codes that allow the public to speak up about ways development in our city can be improved. STOP! is working with elected officials to help better manage the traffic congestion that is becoming a constant in our city. What is wrong with that?

Mr. Hament threw so many untrue charges at STOP! that it's difficult to see them as anything but an attempt to influence the upcoming runoff election. Let's return to a respectful conversation about the needs of our city and STOP! slinging mud at people who are working to improve Sarasota.

Barbara Campo, Sarasota. 

[Letter from Dennis Adams]  City Commission Fake News
Dennis Adams

It should be obvious to anyone paying attention there is a concerted smear campaign being directed at Jen Ahearn-Koch. Sarasota now has its own version of Fake News. Rather than addressing the many misinformation sources, let’s focus on what this election is really about—The Cost of Development and Growth.

We have two competing philosophies at play: The first, development and growth is preeminent and all other issues including quality of life take a back seat. The second, growth must be balanced against quality of life issues like traffic, safe and inviting sidewalks, compatibility of buildings, etc. Messrs. Brody and Hyde embrace the first philosophy while Ahearn-Koch embraces the second.

Administrative Review project approval, which both Brody and Hyde support, is part of the all growth is good growth philosophy. The latest symbol of this approach is the giant concrete cinder block that has appeared downtown, also known as the Embassy Suites. Go admire its eastern façade for yourself.

When you vote in the upcoming City Commission runoff election, forget the Fake News, and remember you are choosing between growth at any cost or growth with balance. I am casting only one vote on May 9th and that vote is for Jen Ahearn-Koch.

Sarasota is a gem. Let’s be smart and keep it that way.

Dennis Adams is a resident of the City of Sarasota. 

[SCOOP]  Sportsology: Bringing the Science of Sport to the South Florida Museum

Humans have figured out how to use science and engineering to make machines and contraptions that help us overcome our physical limitations. South Florida Museum's newest special exhibit, Sportsology, opening to the public on May 19 and running through August 14, uses this same science and engineering to visitors understand how our bodies work and how we can improve our physical prowess. Museum Members and the public can get a special preview of the fun during our Sportsology Exhibition Reception on May 18 at 5:30 pm.  

South Florida Museum

[SCOOP]  Goodwill Manasota to celebrate 'Goodwill Week' May 7-13

From May 7-13, Goodwill Manasota will observe and celebrate the annual "Goodwill Week," as Goodwills across the United States and in Canada offer job fairs, host community programs, and hold special events and activities to honor supporters. Goodwill Week is used as a time to thank donors, shoppers and supporters who have made positive contributions that help carry out the organization's mission of changing lives through the power of work. Local activities to include Goodwill's Ambassador Recognition Luncheon (April 28), a special edition of Yoga for Vets, to benefit Goodwill's Veterans Services Program at , Pineapple Yoga Studio (May 6, 1-3 pm.), the Goodwill Ambassador Cruise (May 11-15), a hiring event in partnership with PGT (May 13, 8-11 am.,  at PGT in North Venice), and a special 10% coupon available on Goodwill's website for all merchandise at all stores (excluding bus passes). 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP]  Girl Scout Council Names Mary Anne Servian as CEO

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida Board President Rae Dowling announced that former City of Sarasota Mayor and Commissioner Mary Anne Servian has been named the council’s new Chief Executive Officer, effective May 2.“It is indeed an honor to be chosen as CEO of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida,” said Servian. “I look forward to working with the volunteers, staff, and board of directors to provide girls and young women with outstanding opportunities. It is my goal to implement long-term strategies to make this the best council possible.”The council, which serves Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Collier Counties, conducted a national search to fill the position through Evergreen Executive Source, LLC. Departing CEO Sue Stewart joined the council in 2010. She will stay on until the end of May to assist with the transition. 

Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida

[SCOOP ]  Ringling College Senior Thesis Exhibitions

Ringling College seniors are pleased to present their final projects at the annual Senior Thesis Exhibitions. View work in all media by graduating artists and designers in campus galleries from May 1 through May 11. Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Catered receptions with live Reggae music will take place in the campus galleries on Tuesday, May 9 from 5–8 pm. 

Ringling College of Art and Design

[SCOOP]  TableSeide Restaurant Group adds LA Events Specialist To Team

TableSeide Restaurant Group has recently named Melissa Darpino, a Los Angeles catering and events specialist, as its new Director of Sales and Marketing. In this role, Darpino is responsible for seeking out event and marketing opportunities for Tableseide Restaurant Group and its brands, including Libby’s Café + Bar, Louies Modern, Muse at The Ringling, Oak & Stone, Banyan Café, The Francis and Modern Events. In addition, Melissa will oversee marketing, PR and social media programs while also working closely with the catering and events team to create experiences that exceed guest expectations and translate into memorable moments in in food, beverage, and service. Prior to joining TableSeide Restaurant Group, Darpino spent 15 years as an executive and director of catering for luxury restaurant groups in the Los Angeles area, where she became known as local and national industry leader in small to large event production. She has organized more than 3500 events, among these 18 Emmy Awards, events for President Clinton and President Obama, as well as foreign heads of state, Hollywood Bowl and Orange County Museum of Art opening galas, and YPO-WPO Global Leadership Conference, to name a few.   

TableSeide Restaurant Group

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. 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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