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SRQ Daily Nov 11, 2017

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The contrast between the play and the BOG meeting underscores the fundamental tension that powers a university, one between the imagination and energy of youth and the experience and caution that come with age."

- Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  Incumbency Brought No Strength in 2017
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Are voters on the Gulf Coast satisfied with political leadership? Elections held this week in smaller jurisdictions says not, and while it may be foolish to read too much into off-year election results in a handful of municipalities, there’s signs here people want more than a familiar name when they head to the ballot box.

Incumbents got the boot in Venice, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach on Tuesday, and about six months ago, Sarasota voters tossed the only incumbent on the ballot. Additionally, Venice voters picked a newcomer over a former commissioner looking to return to office. Of course, Anna Maria voters did return a slate of incumbents back for new terms, but they were the exception, not the rule. Indeed, when you look at every election held in Manatee or Sarasota in 2017, voters have chosen to bring new blood into office over experienced office-holders in five out of the seven times they were given the chance. Every election works differently, obviously, and every candidate brought their own strengths and weaknesses to their own contests.

Take Venice, the largest city to hold an election this year. Incumbent Deborah Anderson faced voters after rather high-profile friction with her political party. She lost the race, but voters also opted against electing former Councilman Emilio Carlesimo, a politician who has been publicly at odds with Anderson a number of times and who was running for a different seat. Voters instead put into office Charles Newsom and Mitzie Fiedler, two newcomers to the City Council.

Meanwhile, voters in Holmes Beach went into voting booths able to elect four voters in a five-candidate slate. Four of those candidates sit on the council now, but the top vote-getter turned out to be first-time candidate Jim Kihm who got more than 200 votes more than Commissioner Marvin Grossman, the last-place finisher. In fact, Kihm won 126 more than Carol Soustek, the second-place finisher. One wonders if more challengers had thrown their hat in the ring if Kihm would be joined more newcomers.

In Bradenton Beach, where Mayor Bill Shearon’s fate in the last few years came down repeatedly to razor thin victory or defeat—and the draw of cards after one tie—voters on Tuesday more decisively sent him packing and elected Vice Mayor John Chappie over to the post, while also brushing Commissioner Ralph Cole out of office in favor of newcomer Randy White. White, as it happens, has historically been a political ally of Shearon.

Looking at results, pro-growth and pro-conservation candidates both enjoyed successes and defeats. And looking at the party registration of the candidates—who all sought nonpartisan offices Tuesday—offered no great indication of success or failure there. In fact, newness to the ballot seemed the greatest boost a candidate could have. Only Laurie Jo Higgins in Anna Maria failed to best the more experienced opponents, coming in behind Commissioners Carol Carter, Dale Woodland and Doug Copeland in a race where the top three won terms on the board.

With better than respectable turnout in all of these races, you can’t simply blame apathy and low engagement. It seems voters sought change, whether aggressively or subconsciously.

There’s no incumbent in a spring special election for state House, which will be a partisan affair. But what’s all this mean when primary season next year? The mood could change before then, but I’d guess this is an election cycle where holding office now means nothing to voters heading to the polls. 

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Education]  The Energy of Youth
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

I returned to Sarasota on Thursday from a meeting in Orlando of the Board of Governors of the State University System. The meeting had begun with the annual trustee summit, in which trustees and senior staff from all 12 universities joined the governors to consider a few issues of particular importance to the state’s universities. The summit was followed by 14 hours dealing with facilities needs, new academic programs and student life in the system as a whole and at each university, including New College, individually. The drive from Orlando to Sarasota was grindingly slow, with two accidents along I-4, and heavy traffic on I-75.

On arriving in Sarasota, I stopped at New College to see the opening of the student play Rebelde: Confessions from your Dead Abuela.

It would be difficult to imagine a greater contrast to the BOG meeting.

The cast and crew of the play were entirely female; the university presidents, board chairs and governors at the BOG meeting were overwhelming male.

The cast members were various shades of brown and young; the presidents, board chairs and governors were mostly white and far older.

The play went straight to the heart. The BOG meeting was thoroughly analytical.

They play focused on relationships, the BOG meeting on resources.

The play brimmed with energy, the BOG meeting with duty.

The play took 45 minutes, the BOG meeting 22 hours.

The cast of the play collected money to aid Puerto Rico. At the BOG meeting, arrangements were made to grant Puerto Rican students access to SUS institutions at in-state tuition rates.

The contrast between the play and the BOG meeting underscores the fundamental tension that powers a university, one between the imagination and energy of youth and the experience and caution that come with age. The play offered a glimpse into the lives of great achievement that New College enables. The BOG meeting allowed New College (and the other state universities) to do that work. For 45 minutes, it all made sense.

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

[GCBX]  65 years of constructing community
Mary Dougherty

As we look toward the future of the Gulf Coast Builder’s Exchange, it reminds me of everything we’ve learned from our past. And while reminiscing, one story always comes to mind. In 1973, a discussion about a construction moratorium sparked an interesting experiment. Back then, in the days before ATM cards and direct deposit, the construction industry collectively decided to pay its employees in only silver dollars. After a very short time, there were a lot of silver dollars suddenly in circulation in Southwest Florida.

So many in fact that signs went up all over the county—grocery stores, etc.—that said, ‘No more silver dollars, please.’ Stores stopped accepting them because of the impact they were having on their cash registers. The industry had achieved its desired impact, however, illustrating just how many people the construction industry employed and the effect it had on the local economy. History is important.

The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange has been representing Southwest Florida’s commercial contracting industry since 1952, when 20 Sarasota contractors got together to try to help steer the community in the right direction. This year, as we celebrate the organization’s 65th anniversary, we have more than 400 business members focused on that same goal.

Over the years, the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange has overseen a number of significant projects and restorations, including a partnership with the City of Sarasota in 1950 to build the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota’s original 1920 pump station, Paul Rudolph’s famous Umbrella House on Lido Key and the Siesta Key Beach Pavilion. Fast forward a few years and we were an early supporter of the new Atlanta Braves Spring Training facility currently under construction in North Port and Nathan Benderson Park, which recently hosted the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

We are unique because of our direct ties to the community. Our members do business with members and are vested in this region—that’s a part of who we are.

On Thursday, Feb. 1, we will hold our 66th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner to recognize leaders, celebrate our accomplishments and hear from keynote speaker Jimmy Patronis, Chief Financial Officer of Florida, at the Hyatt Regency. Our best-attended event of the year, we will acknowledge our outgoing chair, Kevin Hicks of Gator Grading and Paving, and welcome our new chair, Brian Leaver of Tandem Construction.

Besides honoring our past, we are investing in the future, too. In addition to our recent work with the county on the 10-year comprehensive plan and current work on land development regulations and the unified development code, the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange recently hosted a Construction Rodeo to introduce high school juniors and seniors to careers in trade. Students who are not college bound should realize they can stay here and have a good career. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders in the construction industry.

As I look at the pictures on our office wall daily of GCBX past leaders, it is humbling to realize they’re not just leaders in their industry. They’re also leaders in philanthropy and supporting this community. We are proud of where we’ve been and look forward to where we are going.

Mary Dougherty is executive director of Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. 

[Best Of SRQ Local]  Cast Your Vote For Best Local Jeweler!

“ Walking into the elegant Diamond Vault salon, I am transported into a dream come true.” — Elaine Dabney. Bejeweled heavyweight and reigning champion Diamond Vault secured another year as Best Local Jeweler in town however, Estate Coin and Jewelry Galleria were close behind. Who will take the lead this year in SRQ Magazine’s 2018 Best of SRQ Local Raeder’s Competition? Vote now! 

Vote Here!

[KUDOS ]  CareerEdge Partners with MTC to Fill Plumbing and Electrical Jobs

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative has completed another “express” training course with the graduation of 16 individuals in Manatee Technical College’s pilot program in Plumbing and Electrical service. CareerEdge partnered with Manatee Technical College on the Plumbing and Electrician programs by helping to recruit individuals, providing funding for the courses and offering a soft skills training for the students.  Graduates of the 3-month program receive certifications in the following industry-recognized credentials: NCCER, CPR, Forklift and OSHA. Starting wages for these entry-level plumbing and electrical technician positions are approximately $15 per hour, with average wages between $40,000 and $50,000.  At the end of the program, CareerEdge organized a job fair with 10 local employers participating in the recruitment of the students. 


[KUDOS]  Families Leave Homelessness Behind

Six families who had lived at a Sarasota homeless shelter are now well on their way to self-sufficiency after a year’s worth of financial-literacy training, financial coaching and peer support. The families are the second group to graduate from Gulf Coast Community Foundation and United Way Suncoast’s Financial Sustainability Initiative (FSI). Launched about a year and a half ago, FSI helps families avoid relapsing into homelessness by building the knowledge, habits, and assets they need to become financially sustainable. “When you understand what families are up against in trying to make ends meet and keep a roof over their children’s heads, it’s almost mind-boggling,” said Holly Bullard of United Way Suncoast. The six families to complete the program last month spent about a year attending financial-literacy workshops, meeting regularly with a financial coach, and developing a budget and career plan to move their families toward financial sustainability.The next step, according to Gulf Coast’s Thaxton, is expanding the initiative to southern Sarasota County. Key partner agencies there will include Family Promise of South Sarasota County and Children First’s facility in North Port.  

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[SCOOP]  Rock The Boat Against Sex Trafficking

On Wednesday, November 15, Selah Freedom will host an event like no other. Rock the Boat Against Sex Trafficking will be an incredible evening overlooking the Gulf, including gourmet heavy hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Guest speakers include an inspirational Survivor Graduate, Sarasota Police Department and Selah Freedom advocate and champion, Cindy Pentecost of It Works! Global. All proceeds will benefit Selah Freedom’s mission to end sex trafficking and bring freedom to the exploited through Awareness, Residential Safe Housing, Prevention, and Outreach. 

Selah Freedom

[SCOOP]  Siesta Key Crystal Classic Opens This Weekend!

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival starts this weekend and runs November 10-13. Master sculptors, coming to us from all over the world, will create sand masterpieces, some over ten feet tall, and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an outdoor art gallery. These renowned artists will produce spectacular, ephemeral works of art from just sand and water. This year the festival will be open until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday nights with live music, lighted sculpture displays, and drinks from the party tent. Reverend Barry & The Funktastic Soul will be playing Friday night with One Night Rodeo taking the stage on Saturday night! Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+ and military personnel, $5 for children 5-17 and under 5 is free.  

Siesta Key Crystal Classic

[KUDOS]  SMH's Nursing Home & Home Care Services Earn Highest 5-Star Ratings

For the past year, Sarasota Memorial Hospital has held a coveted spot as the only hospital in Florida with the federal government’s highest 5-Star rating. In its latest updates this fall, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also bestowed 5-Star ratings on Sarasota Memorial’s nursing and rehabilitation center and its home care program. “As the region’s only not-for-profit hospital and safety net provider, we are proud to be recognized for delivering not only top-notch hospital care, but also home health and skilled nursing/rehabilitative care to our community,” said Maria DeCarlo, of Rehabilitation Services for Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. The 5-Star ratings are used as a quality indicator by other national organizations that rank health care providers as well. This week, U.S. News & World Report included Sarasota Memorial’s Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in its 2017-18 “Best Nursing Homes” report, in part because of its CMS rating – according to U.S. News, only 15 percent of nursing homes across the nation achieved its top performance rating. Meanwhile, Sarasota Memorial Home Care was recognized in 2017 HomeCare Elite®, a national list of top-performing home health agencies in the United States.


Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

[SCOOP]  TableSeide Job Fair on November 10-11

Looking to fill 100+ positions, TableSeide Restaurant Group will be holding a two-day job fair, November 10-11, for front-of-house and back-of-house positions, for three restaurants including Libby’s Café + Bar, Louies Modern, and Muse at The Ringling, as well as Modern Events, the company’s catering and special events division. Interviews will be held at Louies Modern in downtown Sarasota, Fla., at 1289 N. Palm Ave from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Friday November 10 and Saturday November 11, 2017. Openings include dishwashers, line cooks, servers, bartenders, banquet captains, expediters, food runners, hosts and bussers. Qualified candidates will be interviewed and notified of acceptance at the time of interview.  All candidates must bring the appropriate legal identification documents.“TableSeide Restaurant Group is proud to be a locally and family-owned employer of choice serving Sarasota and Manatee Counties,” said Seidensticker. 

TableSeide Restaurant Group

[SCOOP]  Goodwill Celebrates America Recycles Day

On November 15, Goodwill Manasota will take part in America Recycles Day, an observance that has begun to encourage people to reduce their waste, recycle more and buy more products made with recycled content. The benefits of recycling are tremendous: it cuts down the amount of waste sent to landfills, reduces pollution, conserves natural resources, saves energy and money, and reduces greenhouse gasses. Unfortunately, while the EPA estimates that 75 percent of the American waste stream is recyclable, we only recycle about 30 percent of it. Locally, Goodwill Manasota is proud to be a leader of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" movement all year long. The organization subsidizes its mission of changing lives through the power of work through the sale of unwanted goods donated by community members. In 2016, Goodwill diverted more than 40 million pounds of unwanted goods – including textiles, computers and components, books, glass, furniture, electrical items, plastic and metal – from area landfills. 

Goodwill Manasota

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Jacob Ogles. 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. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising, please contact Ashley Ryan at 941-365-7702 x211 or at her contact page. To unsubscribe, please click here.

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