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SRQ DAILY Feb 24, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Look at the statistics. A student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than those who are not involved."

- Dr. Larry Thompson, Ringling College of Art and Design

[Under The Hood]  Are Voters Ganging Up or Jumping Ship?
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

After Sarasota shocked the nation and elected a Democrat in a Trump district, experts continue to study the numbers and figure precisely what Margaret Good’s victory means long-term. Sounds like time for an special abbreviated Where The Votes Are study of the results in District 72.

For all the introspection about Good’s win over Republican James Buchanan, son of the area’s long-time congressman, few were taken completely off guard by the election results on Feb. 13. Money from around the country flowed to Good’s campaign while Buchanan enjoyed only a normal state House haul.  But the mechanics of a Democratic victory in a seat the GOP won by 16 percent in 2016 confound. What changed to make this a race one a Democrat could win by more than 7 percent?

Demographics show the Dems had a higher turnout but still lower numbers than the GOP. Women outnumbered men, likely helping Good. The electorate in the end was 93 percent white, giving hope to Democrats in suburbs everywhere. And turnout was high, but only by special election standards.

As is voters’ habit these days, the majority of votes in this election were cast before Feb. 13 by mail or through early voting. There were 412 more Republican voters who cast ballots by mail than Democrats, and then some 299 more Democrats that cast votes early than Republicans. So pretty much a wash. Anyone looking at the money race and pubic polling before Election Day knew that parity likely meant a Good victory. Why? Surveys showed Good winning a greater percentage of Republican voters than Buchanan did Democratic ones. A wild card remained Alison Foxall, the best funded Florida House candidate ever, but the high turnout even before polls opened diminished the chance for a third party candidate to make a meaningful impact.

The stunner to most observers came Feb. 13, when 2,590 more Republican voters showed up at polls than Democrats. I was among those who thought the race had turned from favoring Good to likely being a coin flip. Then the pre-election totals came in showing Good winning by 3,375, enough to erase good GOP turnout with room to space.

The great mystery of the race, though, remains what the heck happened on Election Day, because despite the massive over-performance by Republicans, James Buchanan ultimately won votes at the polls by just 110 votes, much less than the partisan difference.

I’ll posit two extreme explanations. First, and this is what most Republican operatives I know believe, Good skimmed a much higher percentage of the Republican voter base than anyone anticipated. Maybe it was distaste for Buchanan who, fair or not, was viewed as running on his father’s name. Call it the Julian Lennon effect. No matter what he did on the stump, voters would judge him as an undeserving heir. And missteps like declining debates early on pushed voters across the aisle in an attempt to send a message. This theory gets supported by the fact Buchanan’s 19,816 votes doesn’t even match the 20,177 votes cast by Republicans, so for certain not every Republican voted Buchanan. That would indicate a better candidate and campaign makes the seat winnable for the GOP in the fall.

But the second theory has me transfixed because of its mathematical lure. Good’s total of 23,081 votes lines up almost exactly with the total number of Democratic ballots plus those cast by all independent and third-party voters, who represent a combined 23,813 ballots. Grant that a good chunk of Foxall’s 1,339 votes came from this pot and columns of data line up nicely.

So what is it? Are Republican voters jumping ship all the way to the Democratic boat? Or was this election truly Republicans against the world? The truth is likely some space in between these extremes. But which theory sounds more tantalizing to individual voters probably says more about their personal hopes for what happens this November. 

[Higher Education]  Keep Sarasota Schools on Top
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

Next month voters in Sarasota County will decide a very important issue: whether to renew the 1-mill referendum first approved in 2002 that provides extra funding for the elementary, middle, and high schools in our district. If the funding is renewed, it yields approximately $56.5 million extra dollars for Sarasota schools yearly. Those “extra” dollars have been the primary reason the Sarasota school system is one of only two districts in the state to receive an “A” rating from the Florida Department of Education every year since the grade rating began. Although an “A” grade can never be guaranteed, the most important point is this extra funding equips our young people with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and in their career in this turbulent 21st century.

The money from the referendum renewal will be used for a number of important purposes. First, it continues extra funding of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math). Second, it provides students 30 more minutes of classroom instruction per day.  Third, it helps the district reduce the academic disparities between children of different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. Fourth, it continues the boost in teachers’ pay so that it is among the state’s upper ranks, which keeps good Sarasota teachers in Sarasota and brings the best to the district each year.

But from my perspective, the most important reason to renew this funding is to continue the financial support for the district’s nationally recognized arts programs. Basically, this referendum money puts the “A” into the STEM curriculum, by adding the “A” for Arts to make it STEAM. That “A” is important because it gives those important STEM subjects energy, creativity and vitality. Plus, the “A” is what distinguishes the Sarasota area from other Florida beach communities.

That “A” representing the arts programs supported by the renewal of this referendum is even more critical for the students who are the beneficiary of this community’s support. It has been proven over and over again that the arts in schools increase student academic performance and keep students from dropping out of school.  Look at the statistics. A student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than those who are not involved. Students with high arts participation and LOW SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS have a 4-percent dropout rate---five times lower than their socioeconomic peers not involved in the arts. Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education. Students who take four years of arts and music classes average almost 100 points higher on their SAT scores than students who take only a half year or less.

There is one other very important reason why keeping the “A” as a result of this referendum is so important to our young people. The world today’s young people will encounter in the 21st century will be far different from today. As a result, one of the most critical skills these students will need is creativity. Creativity is the one skill that cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence. It is also a skill that cannot be outsourced. And, it is the one skill that allows us as human beings to creatively “recreate” our future. As a society we have always “recreated” ourselves during the passage of time from the agricultural age to the industrial age to the information age, and now as we enter another age not yet defined. So where does one learn in school to be creative? Although one does not need to be an artist to be creative, the best learning environment for creativity is most often in the arts. That’s the one area where there are no standardized tests; there are no “right or wrong” answers because there are multiple answers; it’s where one can take risks; and it’s a place where one’s imagination can flourish.

Remember, this referendum is a renewal. Thus, voting “yes” will not cost property owners more money. It only continues funding at the current level: 1-mill = $100 per $100,000 of assessed home value. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 and with a homestead exemption of $25,000, for example, will pay about 75 cents per day, much less than my beloved cup of Starbucks coffee, to continue having one of the best school districts and most well-educated and best prepared young people in the state.

Whether you have children in school or not, the kids sitting in classes today are the very people who will someday work and lead this community. The quality of education they receive today affects the quality of your life here and now. And, the community’s response to a renewal referendum like the one on the ballot in March is a demonstration of the values the community holds dearly.

For me, the choice is easy. Please join me in voting in favor of the renewal of the 1-mill referendum on March 20.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art and Deisgn 

[KUDOS ]  Give Kids A Smile

Two hundred thirty nine kids are smiling brighter after being served at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s annual Give Kids A Smile on February 17. Now in its fourth year at LECOM, free services include dental screenings and cleanings, X-rays and sealants, minor restorations (fillings) and simple extractions for ages 2 to 18. LECOM dental students provided more than $76,000 worth of dental care to 239 pediatric patients, and hopes to serve more children in its dental clinic throughout the year. In all, more than 2090 volunteers offered their services during the event. About 25 percent of children under age 5 have cavities and many kids enrolled in Medicaid receive no dental services throughout the year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


[SCOOP ]  SCD Day of Dance

Sarasota Contemporary Dance is opening its doors to the community with a free day of dance for adults and children in celebration of the company's long-anticipated arrival at its new 3,000 square-foot home at 1400 Blvd of the Arts, Suite 300 in Sarasota's downtown Rosemary District. The celebration, on March 11th will feature children's activities from 1-3pm, a ribbon cutting ceremony with cake and refreshments from 3- 4pm, and adult programs from 4:15 – 6pm. Artistic Director, Leymis Bolaños Wilmott explained that one of the great draws for SCD Day of Dance is its multi-generational nature and variety of activities, from pop-up performances by company members to mini dance classes throughout the day, dance jams and an official ribbon cutting. The event is free and open to the public; no reservations or dance experience necessary. 

Sarasota Contemporary Dance

[KUDOS]  Goodwill Manasota's CEO Honored with P.J. Trevetha

During Goodwill Industries International’s 2018 CEO Recognition Banquet in Orlando, Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota, won the P.J. Trevethan Award for his outstanding contributions to the training of Goodwill personnel. Rosinsky was honored for his commitment to making training and education an integral component of team member development. Last year, Goodwill Manasota provided 19,540 of hours of on-the-clock training for its team members in areas including budgeting, conflict resolution, time management, stress and anger management, team building, motivation, leadership, ethics and self-determination. Rosinsky's efforts have led to the creation of Goodwill Works, GoodPartner Coach and Goodwill® U programs that focus on providing team members with the tools and resources to be successful at work, to enjoy personal growth, and to achieve their life goals. As he accepted the award, he noted that “this was the only award he wanted to win” during his Goodwill career.  

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  Orioles Generate $97 Million Economic Impact Regularly

The economic impact of the Orioles in Sarasota has continued to grow year-over-year to approximately $97 million, according to an independent economic impact analysis commissioned by Sarasota County Government. The annual economic impact delivered to taxpayers and residents results from the club’s marketing and promotion of Sarasota tourism to its fan base across seven Mid-Atlantic states, combined with the commercial activity and corporate presence of the Orioles’ athletic training headquarters, production of public sporting and other entertainment events, and management of youth sports tournaments and recreational programs. The Orioles’ $97 million economic output is a record for sports tourism creation in Sarasota County, far surpassing any current or past sports facility or private sports operator. The Orioles’ annual economic impact result has grown every year with the current impact nearly three times the $35-million impact the Orioles projected in testimony given before the Florida State Senate in 2004 and the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners in 2009, prior to the relocation of the Orioles’ year-round training headquarters, unique tourism marketing, and community sports park concept to Sarasota. 

Baltimore Orioles

[SCOOP ]  Architectural Salvage Names Modern Events Exclusive Event and Catering Company

Modern Events, TableSeide Restaurant Group’s special events and catering division, was recently named as the exclusive bookings and catering company for Architectural Salvage Warehouse & Garden. Centrally located at 1093 Central Ave. near downtown Sarasota and local hotels, Architectural Salvage offers a unique, bohemian-style, funky charm atmosphere for special events, sit-down meals, meetings, parties and receptions for up to 200 people. Hosts gain the benefit of being able to “borrow” anything from the store to use for their decorations and backdrops on the day of their event, giving them complimentary creative license to create a whimsical and colorful setting for their event, including access to a built-in bar. 

Modern Events

[SCOOP ]  Hospital Board Selects Design/Construction Firms for Cancer Institute

The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board selected top-ranked Flad Architects and general contractors Brasfield & Gorrie and CPPI/Willis Smith Construction to design and build its new cancer inpatient and surgical tower and outpatient radiation treatment center simultaneously over the next two to three years. The Hospital Board last month approved $220 million to develop a comprehensive cancer program to care for a growing number of cancer patients in southwest Florida. When complete, SMH’s new Cancer Institute will serve as a center of excellence that concentrates a widening range of fellowship-trained oncology specialists and subspecialists in our region and offers individual patients a collaborative multi-disciplinary approach to diagnose and treat their unique cancer to achieve the best possible outcome. 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare

[SCOOP ]  Sarasota Ballet To Perform 'DREAMS OF NATURE'

The Sarasota Ballet opens Dreams of Nature at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on March 2, featuring two Company Premieres: Sir Frederick Ashton’s The Dream and Birmingham Royal Ballet Director David Bintley’s ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café. These performances mark a moment in dance history as The Sarasota Ballet becomes the first American ballet company to be given permission to perform David Bintley’s prophetic ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café. The Company also welcomes Principal Dancer of Stuttgart Ballet, Friedemann Vogel, performing as a guest artist in the role of ‘Oberon’ in The Dream. These performances will be accompanied by the Sarasota Orchestra under the baton of Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director of American Ballet Theatre. Performing The Dream represents a pinnacle for Director Iain Webb, as it has long been his desire to bring this masterpiece of Ashton choreography to the Company. It is also brings together an extraordinary group of individuals for its production, principally Sir Anthony Dowell, the greatest British male classical dancer and former Director of The Royal Ballet. Accompanying Dowell in staging The Dream is Christopher Carr, former Ballet Master with The Royal Ballet and assisting with the staging is Assistant Director Margaret Barbieri, who was personally coached by Ashton in the role of ‘Titania.’ Together with Director Webb, who himself performed the roles of ‘Oberon’ and ‘Bottom,’ this creative team have been able to pass on their astonishing insight and artistry to the dancers of The Sarasota Ballet. 

Sarasota Ballet

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.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. 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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