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SRQ DAILY May 27, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The drive to be a creative and to make change starts long before students come to campus. In fact, it thrives among the very young."

- Larry Thompson, Ringling College of Art and Design
 

[Under The Hood]  Will Gulf Coast Still Feel The Vern?
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Surplus disgust for President Donald Trump has Democrats eyeing a wildly unlikely prize on the Gulf Coast: Republican Vern Buchanan’s House seat. Inspired by solid performance nationwide by Democrats in House special elections, though so far few successes, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week announced 20 more House districts in its list of targeted races in 2018, including Florida’s 16th. Is it crazy talk that Sarasota-Bradenton will send a Democrat to Congress? Probably. But is it possible? Sure. Certainly, Buchanan shouldn’t ignore the threat.

For his part, Buchanan in an interview with SRQ brushed election talk off as something that can wait until next year. “My focus is on the agenda we've set up here,” he said from his Washington, D.C. office. Health care, tax reform and infrastructure funding remain his chief concerns, as they should be. He needs to do his job well before focusing on telling voters what a good job he’s done, after all.

“We’ve got an opportunity to get some big things done,” he noted. That’s also true but bears greater risk for an incumbent than making sure road projects get financed.  One party controls the House, Senate and White House, which hasn’t happened for six years, but when President Obama and the Democrats in 2009 and 2010 spent their political capital on, coincidentally, health care reform and infrastructure, their successes were immediately punished with a strong Republican wave in the mid-terms. With Trump’s approval rating floating at 40 percent on Pollster.com, voters can be expected to spank the GOP in November 2018.

But will Buchanan take a hit? That’s a less reliable prediction. For starters, the DCCC includes six House districts in Florida in its list of 79 targets. Buchanan performed better in 2016 than all Republicans in targeted districts sans one: long-time Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. And while Democrats have over-performed in special elections in Kansas and Montana, those were open seats.

Of course, 2018 could be a referendum on Trump, not any incumbent. That’s partly why Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a South Florida representative who won in 2016 in a district Hillary Clinton took by 30 points, decided to retire instead of rolling the dice this cycle. Buchanan’s district in contrast went for Trump by 10.7 percent.

Political observers note this new district is one Buchanan has run in exactly once, when Republicans statewide turned out to deliver Florida for Trump and re-elect Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Will it be different when Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, rallies voters for his re-election? Or as the most competitive Democratic field for governor in decades fights for an open seat? Plus, local Democrats feel success from a May Sarasota city election that went blue in a landslide.

Yet, Buchanan remains one of the most personally wealthy members of the US House. He’s the chairman of the Florida delegation in D.C. and sits on powerful Ways and Means.

Most notably, Democrats have yet to rally around a candidate, though some folks are already clamoring for a chance to run.

The best bet for Team Blue would be Buchanan’s retirement (unlikely) or his ambition drawing to seek higher office. Buchanan will do that someday, but he’d be late to the party for Senate or Governor in 2018, where Gov. Rick Scott and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam already largely cleared the field. Plus, the bad GOP climate statewide would be more tumultuous for Buchanan than running on home turf.

At the very least, a fight with Buchanan will siphon national dollars that could protect vulnerable incumbents like Carlos Curbelo in Miami. For that reason, expect national Democrats to do what they can to convince local Democrats there’s a shot at winning on the Gulf Coast, whether they follow through with financial support or not.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  Game Changers and Change Makers
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

How do we change and build culture?

It’s a question artists, designers, creatives and educators ask themselves every day. It’s why we get up in the morning. It drives those of us in higher education to think innovatively.

The answer? Start with—and listen to—our youth.

The drive to be a creative and to make change starts long before students come to campus. In fact, it thrives among the very young. Think about it—children solve problems daily, often coming up with new, different, wonderful ways of thinking. But for the sake of efficiency, this “different thinking” is all too often driven out of us.  Instead, we learn to think in patterns. And sadly, we learn to think alike.

What we need to realize is that these new and innovative ideas of the young need to be captured, and that their perspectives are worth saving. They are worth nurturing, fostering, protecting—and learning from. That’s why we open our campus every summer to high school students who are interested in the arts and we encourage these change makers to attend our Ringling PreCollege program.

Here, in our studios, dorms and classrooms, high school students learn from Ringling College’s award-winning faculty. They spend an entire month studying technique and technology in an array of courses, from the traditional—painting, photography and film—to the cutting edge—digital sculpting, animation and interface design.

This year, we are thrilled to welcome 220 PreCollege students to campus (our largest enrollment to-date, and 50 more than last year!), eager to learn how to approach new problems and discover the tools and technologies to build solutions. Our class this year is coming from 33 US states and 13 countries, bringing along with them a deep passion for art and design. 

It’s no easy feat to attend these robust summer programs, so we are dedicated to offering scholarships, made possible through the generosity of our partners: the Lazarus Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the Harrison School for the Arts Parents Association, the Hempill Foundation and the support of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Collectively, this is our way of supporting and fostering creativity among our youth.

During the program, students will undergo critiques, learn to research and develop concepts, as well as cultivate an appreciation for the process that is creativity and art-making. And often, somewhere along the way during their time here on campus, many decide to dedicate their education and their careers to creativity. I cannot begin to express how important this appreciation and understanding they are building is to their creative development.

Ringling College is dedicated to educating and preparing artists and designers. We help them build systems and learn to think critically—because creativity is not magic. It is both process and discipline. It is imagination in motion. And it is so very important because it communicates and contributes directly to our society as a whole. Ringling PreCollege students learn through the process of making that creativity is an arduous process. And that it is one well worth undertaking.

We all know change isn’t easy. And we know that often the most brilliant solutions are the result of hours of work, hundreds of tries and thinking “outside the box.” That’s exactly what young people innately do. They think freely, originally, brilliantly and unencumbered. 

We at Ringling College strive daily to encourage young creatives to hold onto this energy. Our future is in the hands of our upcoming generations. And I, for one, am hopeful and excited for the world they are building together, creatively.

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

[City Government]  Newtown... Worth the Investment
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

During his recent State of the City address, Mayor Willie Shaw called attention to the fact the City of Sarasota is experiencing its greatest building boom ever, following years of stagnation. While some have understandably expressed concerns related to the billion-dollar building boom, District 1 Commissioner Shaw has a unique perspective.

Commissioner Shaw was born, raised and has lived in the Newtown and North Sarasota community all of his life but for his service time in the military. As a former and long-time US Postal Service employee based in the city, Commissioner Shaw knows every street, alley and address in the City and many of the people who have occupied those addresses. 

Father to six children, as an African-American, Commissioner Shaw has also experienced living in a segregated community his entire life. As a segregated area, Newtown evolved to become a self-sufficient community as it strived to retain hope for a better life in a world rife with prejudice and discrimination, the side effects of which were high unemployment/underemployment and high incarceration rates.      

America's story played out here. With prejudice and discrimination came concentrated poverty, socio-economic and health care challenges which included the devastating crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s which severely impacted the Newtown community. The impacts linger to this day.   

Now, fast forward to Sarasota's billion-dollar building boom in the post-Obama era.  

Over the past three years, Mayor Shaw and I have had the opportunity to tour several of the new building sites under construction. We have lunched with hundreds of construction workers during topping off ceremonies when the project developers have provided lunch for the construction crews while inviting local officials to help celebrate the birth of a new building.  

When Commissioner Shaw attends these topping off events, he's happy to see so many people working. And 90 percent of his time is spent talking to laborers to learn where they came from, what they did, and how much their hourly wage is. Recent projects have included a notable percentage of Hispanic and African American workers.   

As a City Commissioner, Mr. Shaw is thrilled when he finds local workers on-site, especially African Americans. In Willie's Sarasota, every one of his neighbors and relatives always aspired to have a good job. It's never been easy over the years. The reality for many living in segregated communities was facing obstacles which at times made even securing a driver’s license challenging.

Newtown remains the community with the lowest identifiable per capita income, and the lowest property tax base in Sarasota County. Despite our progress, Newtown continues to be the most segregated community in Sarasota County, which has impacted education, employment, housing and quality of life opportunities. As Newtown confronted difficult challenges over the years, the rest of the city and county have flourished.

Yet, despite its socioeconomic and societal challenges, Newtown has always been a community rich in history, ingenuity, pride and hope.   

Like the Pinecrest Community of Central Sarasota County, Newtown has a unique history, unique needs and should be embraced and supported for its previous contributions, tourism potential and addressing current needs and opportunities. And now Newtown strives to make history again.

Newtown is now focused on economic development for the residents and friends of Newtown, while preserving its history, identity, its cultural identity and its housing stock.

With a recent focus on economic development, infrastructure and significant public housing improvements, Newtown partnerships are forging strategies to create a community that will experience an improved tax base, draw new businesses, jobs and customers.

It has been a long road, but momentum is picking up. From the first-rate academic and arts program at Booker High, to providing affordable housing such as Janie’s Gardens, providing access to affordable healthcare to residents at the new Sarasota Memorial Hospital Internal Medicine Center on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, to the potential for new job creation through film production at the new Ringling-Semkhor soundstages, to the upcoming redevelopment of the Newtown corridor at Fredd Atkins Park, to regional access to sports, recreation and fitness at the still new Robert L. Taylor complex, to the phenomenal work of the Newtown Historic Preservation Committee in preserving and presenting the rich history of Newtown, to the upcoming redevelopment of the Marian Anderson site, to the 25-percent reduction in crime over the past four years, Newtown is a wise investment.

So, after years of declining property values, increasing blight and high unemployment, Newtown and forward-thinking leaders are rightly focused on economic development, jobs, entrepreneurship and historical preservation. We now have a golden opportunity to keep the positive momentum building in the beloved community known as Newtown. The same tools used to revitalize downtown should be implemented to finally turn the economic tide toward positive economic development investment, growth, stability and the long-term sustainability of Newtown.

When we invest in Newtown it is a just and wise investment that will prove to pay great dividends in the years ahead.

Thomas Barwin is Sarasota City Manager. 

[Letter from Katie Krucke]  Punishing Art Hurts Sarasota
Katie Krucke

I am the link between Mark Krucke and Mark Lyons. I find myself feeling responsible for controversy that has engulfed my family. One of the best things that has happened to my young family has turned into a never-ending nightmare that my extended family, friends and community have been forced to suffer through without resolution thus far. I have become despondent after reading article after article explaining the scenario in selective bits and pieces while hurling insults at the people I love most.

My husband is a 14-time nationally awarded public sculptor, painter and overall imagineer. Since Mark works with big, dangerous materials over long periods to create original works, he has been able to budget his commissioned pieces and survive as a professional artist. The key word in that sentence is “professional.” I am furious the city has been incapable of treating my husband like a professional. While they kept three city employees on paid leave and completed an internal investigation citing no nepotism or bias influenced the Art Committee’s selection, Mark has been kept in a state of limbo, unaware of when or if he will present his proposal, Life Aquatic, to the city commissioners like all artists before him.  When the investigation on my father closed, the findings were innocent, a victim of failed bureaucracy punished thoroughly for failing to notify HR of their relationship. City Manager Tom Barwin has delayed calls with my husband, finally answering one to insult his intelligence and the Art Committee’s competence with phrases like “art is objective.”

Mark applied for this public art call, disclosed his relationship with my father to Clifford Smith, senior planner of Historic Preservation and overseer of the Art Committee, and was chosen for a wayfinding system that incorporates Sarasota’s identity with nature. By the time the City reaches a decision, he may have missed opportunities on jobs willing to pay artists for the work they do. As his wife, I am heartbroken. I saw how hard he worked, tirelessly reviewing his proposal, researching effective wayfinding systems and the most inviting colors to include. His flourishing career is tarnished by reckless reports made by SRQ magazine and others. Their stories were inaccurate by omission and left little room for the public to form their own opinion. Real people suffer in response.

My father is the center of this scandal. He was hired as the parking director six years ago and has been living ethically in an over-politicized environment. When Mark applied for the public art call, my father disclosed this information. He was reassured no conflict of interest exists since he is a non-voting member of the public. The committee wanted to know if the proposal was practical, and as the authority on the facility, my father answered honestly. [Committee member Benjamin] Grijalva changed his mind after five hours of presentations, perhaps without ever looking at the actual requirements of the call. My father was asked by committee member [Leslie] Butterfield for staff input. This was not mentioned in the article, along with a discussion that was held before and after my father was asked to speak. It doesn't take any bias to see that the Parker/Brasil project, while creative, would be exactly what my father said, difficult. If you think that this comment, that industrial paint spraying six levels of ceiling in a downtown public parking garage, is biased towards my husband then I urge you to research the process. To be clear: no simple color scheme was used by them to affiliate levels of the garage. This aspect of a wayfinding system is basic and almost required. Leaving out the details that prompted my father’s reaction was reckless in my view. 

The people in this community deserve honesty. They deserve to help make decisions about the future of the facilities they use. Mark’s project is as local as it gets, down to the sea creatures depicted. I hope for the city to untie themselves from this bureaucratic mess and continue with my husband’s project as planned. Please view my husband’s proposal, imagine what my family has gone through and consider what it means to you to be a part of a community that supports its residents, artists and the ecosystem that supports our existence.

Katie Krucke is an artist living in Sarasota. 

This article has been abridged for space. Click below to read a longer version of the article at SRQMagazine.com.

Complete letter from Katie Krucke



[[SCOOP]]  Selah Freedoms New Residential Home

Survivors of sex trafficking that graduate Selah Freedom's highly successful Residential Program were able to move into a new home specifically designed for their Independent Living Phase made possible by champion donors that adopted and transformed rooms including: Lakewood Ranch Moms Group, Junior League of Manatee County, Saltair AMI, Pam Miller and Kim Traylor, The Source Church, Karen Jennings and two Anonymous Champions. The home provides a safe place where graduates  can continue to walk in freedom and pursue their career and education goals. Selah Freedom has also received a $30,600 matching grant from the Manatee Community Foundation's Manatee Matches Giving Circle. Every gift up to $30,600 will be doubled  and help Selah Freedom provide more graduate housing needed immediately. 

Selah Freedom

[ [SCOOP]]  Memorial Day Boating Safety

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol Unit will be monitoring area waterways this Memorial Day weekend to ensure boaters and those operating personal watercrafts stay safe. Here are a few tips for those heading out on the water; bring yur life jackets, drink responsibly, ensure you have proper licensing for boating and fishing and, if you plan on being out on the water for an extended period of time, file a float plan. Enjoy your experience on the beautiful Sarasota coastal ways but stay safe! 

Sarasota Sheriff's Office

[[KUDOS] ]  Governor Scott Appoints Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority Member

Governor Rick Scott announced the reappointments of John Stafford and Dr. Peter A. Wish to the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority (SMAA) Board, effective May 15.  Mr. Stafford will continue to serve in Seat 3, Sarasota County and Dr. Wish will continue to serve in Seat 2, Sarasota County.   Both terms end November, 17, 2020.  Dr. Wish is the president of Gulfcoast Healthstyle Corporation and serves on various philanthropic and political organizations.  Mr. Stafford is the former chairman of the Board for FCCI Mutual Insurance Company, serves on several community organizations, including the Shrine Hospitals for Children Investment Committee.  He currently serves as SMAA Chairman. Governor Scott recently appointed Ms. Kristin Incrocci to fill the vacancy to SMAA Seat 1, Manatee County.  She will serve until November 17, 2018.  Ms. Incrocci is a pilot and owner of SRQ Aviation 

SRQ Airport

[[SCOOP]]  FSTS Summer Cabaret Season Opens, The Jersey Tenors

Florida Studio Theater’s 2017 Summer Cabaret season begins with the newest Opera/Rock mash-up sensation, The Jersey Tenors. This production of four charismatic crooners opens in the John C. Court Cabaret on June 15, 2017. From the opera classics to artists such as Queen, ABBA, Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, and more. The Jersey Tenors will have you singing along as they raise the roof with their powerful voices creating an explosive blend of iconic music.The Jersey Tenors are led by Creative Director, Brian Noonan. Joining Noonan on stage are his fellow cast members Danny Calvert, Cameron Johnson, Vaden Thurgood, with accompaniment by keyboardist and conductor, Melissa Yanchak. Audiences will hear their original arrangements of songs such as “Walk Like A Man,” “Still Rock 'N Roll to Me,” and “You Raise Me Up.”  Subscriptions for all three Summer Cabaret shows are available for as little as $39. 

Florida Studio Theater

[[KUDOS]]  Venice Braille Competitor Going To National Championship

Lighthouse of Manasota congratulates Kate Antolak of Venice, a finalist in the annual National Braille Challenge who will head to Los Angeles in June for the championship. This is Kate’s seventh time competing as a finalist, placing second in 2015 and third last year. Kate is a junior at Venice High School, and participates in Lighthouse’s Teen Transition program competing in the Varsity age bracket. Contestants face academic challenges in reading comprehension, Braille speed and accuracy, proofreading and reading tactile charts and graphs, during a two-day competition. The Braille Institute holds the annual challenge to motivate blind students in their study of the tactile embossed code, which puts literature at their fingertips. 

Lighthouse of Manasota

[[KUDOS]]  Music Compounds GOT TALENT Live Show Winners

During the first annual ‘GOT TALENT’ live show on Saturday, May 13 at Music Compound, Trey Wanvig was chosen as the grand prize winner after his rendition of “Just got paid” by Johnny Temp. Runners up included Amanda Yoder in second place and Rickey Tedesco in third place, with Carter Dalton chosen by the audience as the “People’s Choice” award winner. More than $10,000 in prizes were awarded during the event. The contestants auditioned on March 25 for a chance to perform during the live show; out of more than 50 who auditioned, 18 made the cut. As the winner of the ‘GOT TALENT’ competition, Wanvig received a prize valued at $3,500 that includes 3 hours at Jump Dog Audio Productions, the opportunity to work with songwriter Alicia Major, the chance to headline a show at Music Compound and a 3-month premium membership at Music Compound. 

Music Compound

[[SCOOP]]  Selah Freedom Launches Two New Partnerships

Selah Freedom is excited to announce two incredible new partnerships in their fight to end sex trafficking. Marko Radisic, Professional Pirelli World Challenge Racecar Driver, is taking a stand to end sex trafficking of American children. “I am passionate about being the voice for children that are taken advantage of,” says Radisic. His Ferrari will now feature Selah Freedom’s mission front and center. Selah Freedom is also partnering with True Fitness Technology. Frank Trulaske of Longboat Key is the founder and CEO of TRUE and is donating a full line of fitness equipment to all of their safe homes for survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation. “I was looking for a way to contribute to others who have fallen through the cracks in our society. Now I am aware of their progress in helping young women just like her and I feel privileged to be a partner,” says Trulaske. 

Selah Freedom

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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