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SRQ Daily Jan 13, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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[Under The Hood]  Offshore Drilling, The Constant Fight
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

With every new presidential administration comes renewed threat to the Gulf of Mexico. Floridians got a reminder this week oil companies remain ready to drill new holes in the ocean the instant the federal government gives its an okay. Some political opportunism helped allay the threat this time, nobody should believe the risk was averted for long.

The issue on Jan. 4 earned the focus of Florida politics when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke unveiled a plan “Unleashing America’s Offshore Oil and Gas Potential.” For those Floridians whose memories date back all the way to 2010, we know drilling the Gulf also brings potential for disaster.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform in April exploded in April that year, killing 11 people and opening up a crack in the earth that discharged an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the sea. While the explosion happened near Louisiana, that much oil covered a tremendous distance. Once it reached the beaches of Pensacola, international news of oil on Florida’s shores proved devastating to tourism across the state. Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, told SRQ Media Group at the time local hotels suffered roughly 800 room night cancellations over the three months. Realtors saw international contracts cancelled and overseas buyers turned their attention to property far from the Gulf Coast.

So it’s no shock Florida politicians reacted reflexively against Zinke’s plan (well, most of them—more on that later). Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, co-chairs of Florida’s Congressional Delegation, penned a strongly written letter Tuesday condemning the plan and demanded President Donald Trump’s Administration not rollback safety regulations put in place after Deepwater Horizon.

That same day, Zinke flew to Florida to meet with Gov. Rick Scott, then quickly announced drilling near Florida was “off the table.” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, questioned if that meeting with Rick Scott served mostly as political theater to bolster the governor’s expected Senate run against Nelson this year. It probably was, but a win’s a win. Nelson would have been wiser to congratulate the governor and take credit for the Congressional delegation’s actions. Regardless, Scott gets and deserves a feather in his cap for stopping drilling, but no one should let their guard down.

The oil industry since the 1980s has drooled Gulf and the oil underneath it. Govs. Bob Graham and Bob Martinez, a Democrat and Republican, each lobbied the federal government hard to prevent the drilling during Ronald Reagan’s administration. A series of disasters and political conveniences protected us for another 15 years. The Exxon Valdez spill turned President George H. W. Bush’s attention away from underwater exploration, and the desire to win Florida’s electoral votes in 1996 kept President Bill Clinton at bay. President George W. Bush wanted oil exploration everywhere, but left Florida alone as long as his brother Jeb remained in the governor’s mansion in 2006. But politics shift like our nervous sands. Shortly before the BP disaster, a push to open Florida waters to drilling amplified as state leaders like Gov. Charlie Crist began to buckle. A poll taken in April of 2010 showed 64 percent of the public supported drilling, hoping for jobs at the peak of the recession. President Obama looked soft on the issue until the BP explosion contributed to electoral pain for his party in 2010. Now Trump has tested waters, and only a close allegiance with Scott seems to have saved us again.

For now, drilling again serves as Kryptonite within Florida politics. Whether Nelson or Scott heads to the Senate next year, we’ll send a drilling opponent to the Senate, but what of the rest of our representation.

I’ll note that even before the BP disaster, Buchanan stood as a vigilant opponent of drilling. But when he rallied other congressmen to sign the state delegation’s letter of opposition, six Florida congressman failed to sign.

One was U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, who represents south Sarasota County’s vulnerable coastline, yet faces no serious opposition so far. Another was U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-DeLand, whom Trump also endorsed for governor. If DeSantis wins this year, especially if Scott loses his race, an entirely different voice on this issue will hold the president’s ear, and we’ll be fighting this battle all over again. 

[Education]  The Data Revolution
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

To an extent unimaginable 40, even 20, years ago, we live inundated with data. Increasingly many jobs require data analytic skills. Health and investment advice comes with a preliminary barrage of data. So do weather or political forecasts. Whether we like it or not, our shopping, travel and television-watching behavior is collected by corporations, institutions and governments. The result of searches on the internet is based on an analysis of data about our preferences that previous searches have revealed. How many times has an ad popped up on your computer related to something you have explored? The data-gathering abilities and the ubiquity of mobile phones, sensing devices and social media ensure that our society’s generation of data will continue to grow at prodigious rates.

The goal of a liberal arts education is to equip students to participate successfully in our society with the skills necessary to adapt to changing circumstances. They should learn to think imaginatively, to weigh evidence, to express thoughts clearly and to continue learning. Faculty members and curriculum committees at liberal arts colleges seek to ensure that graduates are numerate in the sense that they can manipulate, explore and draw inferences from data. In fact, a distinguished group of statisticians who teach at liberal arts colleges around the country are currently meeting at New College for a conference entitled “Liberal Arts and Data Science.”

The speakers include some of the first to realize that computation and powerful software have completely changed the practice of statistics. They have incorporated these insights into their classrooms. Others have popularized and helped develop the user interface for the powerful open source (and free) statistical computer program R. As a result of their efforts, the best introductory statistics courses have students examine real data sets from the outset and stress the key concepts of inference, randomization and simulation that are critical to using data to understand situations and to make good decisions.

Unhappily, despite the societal need, despite the work of these and other pioneers and despite what students actually require, most statistics courses in which students enroll have not kept up. These courses leave students ill prepared for our current data-saturated environment. The costs to students and their future employers are high. Providing support for current teachers of statistics to learn the new methods and to change their pedagogies would ultimately help their students acquire the skills necessary to navigate our increasingly data driven world. 

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



[Best Of SRQ Local]  Cast Your Vote For Best Local Interior Designer!

“Her suggestions for color and furniture were invaluable. Overall, Erin is an enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable professional,” Penny Milligan boasted about 2017 Best Interior Designer, Erin Delia Glueck. Who do you trust for your far out decorating needs? Share your thoughts and vote now in SRQ Magazine’s 2018 Best of SRQ Reader’s competition! 

Vote Here!

[SCOOP ]  A New Beginning Fashion Event

Join Selah Freedom for the 5th annual A New Beginning Fashion Event and champagne luncheon showcasing stunning fashions, sip & shop and inspirational survivor stories at Selby Five Points Park from 10:30am-1:30pm. This year, Rent the Runway will bring design couture fashions to the runway for the first time ever in Sarasota.  

Selah Freedom

[SCOOP ]  Goodwill and Replay Outreach Help At-Risk Teens

Goodwill Manasota is launching a new partnership with Replay Outreach in an effort to help at-risk youth in our community. The organizations will combine their respective expertise in career services and youth outreach to provide job training and shadowing, and the opportunity for part-time jobs, with the goal of helping teens get on the path to future success. Replay Outreach is a not-for-profit headquartered in Manatee County that is “dedicated to guiding at-risk teens in discovering their direction, passion and purpose.” Through this partnership, local at-risk teens are benefiting from the opportunity to work in Goodwill Manasota’s Manatee County stores as part of Replay’s Xceleration job training program. The goal of the 12-week program is to empower at-risk teens to find areas in which they excel while learning job readiness skills meant to prepare them for future success. Participants receive eight weeks of training, then a minimum of 24 hours of job shadowing, followed by employment at local area businesses, including Goodwill.  

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  Moving Identities

The Sarasota Ballet’s first production of the New Year, Moving Identities, opens January 26 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, with a triple bill of stimulating, thrilling and entertaining Modern and Neo-Classical works. Opening the program is Paul Taylor’s Airs, which receives its Company Premiere this Season, followed by Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano’s Valsinhas, first performed in 2013 with live music on stage and closing the program is Robert North’s beloved and comedic Troy Game. Although traditionally performed with an all male cast, this Season sees The Sarasota Ballet introduce an all female cast as well. “Moving Identities is the perfect program to start the New Year. The energy, strength and beauty of all three ballets will give our audience an extraordinary experience to kick off 2018,” enthuses Iain Webb, Director of The Sarasota Ballet. “The name of this program is inspired by the ballets featured, from the fluidity and shifting patterns of Mr. Taylor’s Airs, to the all male and all female casts of Ricardo’s Valsinhas and Robert North’s Troy Game, this program will challenge you in one moment and have you laughing the next.” 

Sarasota Ballet

[SCOOP]  Selah Vie Boutique

Selah Vie Boutique is a shopping experience with purpose by creating sustainable income for Selah Freedom, serving as our awareness hub in the community and allowing survivors to go shopping for needed items when they transition into the Relaunch (Independent Living) Phase of its Residential Program. This is a one-of-a-kind store reclaiming clothing, furniture, and ultimately making an impact on the lives of survivors and enriching our communities. Selah Vie Boutique specializes in upscale, designer brands and has a selection that continually includes new and beautiful items. They are now accepting consignment of fine jewelry as well. To donate to Selah Vie Boutique, email Retail@SelahFreedom.com.  

Selah Vie Boutique

[KUDOS ]  Golden Spoon Award

TableSeide Restaurant Group’s Libby’s Café + Bar was awarded its’ ninth Golden Spoon Award from Florida Trend, just one of five Sarasota restaurants selected in 2017. Honored as a Best New Restaurant in 2008, Libby’s then earned Golden Spoon Awards from 2009 to 2017. In his selection, Restaurant Editor Chris Sherman made note of Libby’s as “A Southside Village neighborhood staple for lunch, dinner, brunch and in-between. It deals in comfort food and setting with smart modern touches.” The Florida Trend Golden Spoon Award follow Libby’s Café + Bar’s more than 100 other local, regional and national awards since opening, which include Open Table Diner’s Choice, Zagat Guide’s Top American Restaurants, Best Chefs America, Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and dozens of Reader’s Choice honors. 

TableSeide Restaurant Group

[SCOOP ]  Love to Play the Harmonica?

If you are 50+ and love to play the harmonica or want to learn, come to Friendship Centers in downtown Sarasota on Tuesdays from 9-10 am for a Beginner’s Class, or if you already play, you can join the Intermediate Class starting at 10 am. Classes are held in the Activity Center, 1888 Brother Geenen Way (opposite Sarasota Ford). Call 941.955.2122 for more information. 

Friendship Centers

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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