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SRQ DAILY Mar 31, 2018

"It's time to stop this nonsense and start supporting people who want to make this happen."

- Susan Nilon, The Nilon Report

[The Detail]  Democratize Lido Beach
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

Sarasota residents last month got a look at the proposed site plan for Lido Beach Pool & Pavilion during the city's neighborhood workshop. What began with the intention to improve bathrooms has morphed into major changes. The proposed site plan looks more like a private club than a public facility. While the site plan monetizes promised basic improvements (like shade), it also creates a destination restaurant that promises to strain the already limited parking. The plan promises to price out and reduce beach access for the residents this facility is supposed to serve.

Only those who live within 500 feet of Lido Beach Pool & Pavilion were notified about the neighborhood workshop, consistent with the City’s current neighborhood workshop rules. But it would have been a simple matter to notify all of the people who attended the City Commission meetings about the Lido lease. Neighborhood workshop attendance was sparse compared to those packed City Commission meetings, and no doubt a function of lack of notice rather than lack of interest. One Lido Pavilion regular who attended the neighborhood workshop said she learned of the meeting on Facebook. The City’s official notice at Lido Pavilion was so obscure it failed to capture her attention.

The new site plan includes shade structures—cabanas—for pool patrons. There are 15 cabanas planned, which will accommodate six people each. The applicants (Troy Syprett and Gavin Meshad) were asked how much they plan to charge for cabanas. Their answer: $100 a day. There were audible gasps and groans from the audience. Most residents cannot afford such an indulgence.

According to one City Commissioner, today the restaurant at Lido Pavilion seats 100 patrons, leaving some parking for those who just want to use the beach (the parking lot capacity is about 300 vehicles). The proposed site plan includes a 39-seat tiki bar, with a 200-seat restaurant, and I imagine the (potentially) 90 patrons sitting under their $100 per day cabanas will expect food service as well. Employees will need parking, as well as the pool patrons who don’t fork over $100 for a cabana.

Those parking demands don’t include special events, like weddings, which will take place on the special events lawn. The proposed site plan is untenable due to parking issues alone. When asked, the applicants said they have not studied the impact their plan will have on traffic or parking.

It’s worth nothing that the justification offered for approving the applicants the problematic lease (see my prior columns) is the millions that were going to be invested by the applicants in our public facility. We heard $3-4 million. At the neighborhood workshop, we heard the investment will be $2 million. Really? Bear in mind - the City has $1.25 million set aside for Lido Pavilion improvements, and decided to farm this out. Do we really need a private partner?

It is vital that our public beach facilities foster community. All residents should have access and feel that they belong. Creating a private club atmosphere with $100 a day cabanas is the antithesis of belonging. We must democratize, not privatize the beach, Commissioners. Deny this site plan.

Cathy Antunes is host of "The Detail" on WSRQ. 

[The Report]  Castle in the Sky or Another Missed Opportunity?
Susan Nilon, susan.nilon@gmail.com

A long history of housing discrimination has been woven into the identity of what otherwise would be considered a wonderful community. The long struggle with wanting to do the right thing and keeping other people’s problems at a distance has become the bane of Sarasota.

Sure, we want to help. Help in the form of writing a check, attending a function and donating old clothes is perfectly fine, but please don’t ask us to open our community to just anybody. We got here by our own bootstraps and earned everything we have acquired. No one helped us. After all, the good book says, “God helps those who help themselves.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why most of the good people of Sarasota sleep peacefully tonight in a nice bed with a full belly.

What people seem to forget is, it’s one thing to ask someone to help themselves but another thing to put up roadblocks that stand in their way.

This Monday night, the Sarasota City Commission is holding a hearing about an affordable housing project called Arbor Village. Until now, builders were expecting this to be a welcomed project. Receiving a “thumbs up” from four of the five commissioners, and a 5-0 vote in favor of it from the planning commission, there was no concern for what was to come.

That is until someone decided to scare neighbors by passing out inflammatory flyers that said, “location of facility for 80 homeless individuals with chronic mental illesses [sic] who have histories of drug & alcohol abuse… coming to your neighborhood soon!” Yes, someone has created a boogey man. The irony is, without the slightest concern about the truth or the damage being caused by the discriminatory flyer, that person will be able to sleep soundly in a bed tonight.

This project is not a homeless shelter. Arbor Village is a joint project between Blue Sky, a Tampa-based affordable housing specialist, and Community and Supported Living, a Sarasota nonprofit company. CASL has a successful track record of creating housing for residents with disabilities. They manage 127 houses, duplexes, triplexes, quadruplexes and condos in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Alachua, Lee and Collier counties. Recently earning a unanimous approval from the city planning commission, Arbor Village is 3.5 acres, located near Fruitville and Tuttle avenues. Consisting of two buildings, the plan is for 13,500 square feet of office space, 80 one- and two-bedroom residential units starting at $600. Of that, 40 of the units will accommodate the working class, 40 units are set aside for the homeless (24 will accommodate the disabled, 16 will accommodate the chronically homeless) and the remaining space will be for office rentals. CASL believes so much in this project, they are locating their headquarters on this property.

For years, people fought hard against any efforts to build a homeless shelter in the city of Sarasota. They argued for an alternative project called “Housing First,” which provides permanent, affordable housing for individuals and families experiencing or about to experience homelessness. With housing spread throughout the city, there is no single concentration of homeless individuals that any one neighborhood has to bare. But more important, the availability of affordable permanent housing for those who are either on the street or one paycheck away from homelessness are how people can actually help themselves.

Blue Sky and CASL have not been the first to say they will build affordable housing in the City of Sarasota. Harvey Vengroff fought in vain for a long time to provide low-income housing in the city, until the hurdles were too overwhelming for his project to bare. Now we have another opportunity for a private company to provide housing for people making $12-13 per hour (or can’t work at all due to illness or disability). Yet, with one little flyer of false information, all of this could be gone.

So, what is it Sarasota? Have you been jerking our chain all of these years? It’s time to stop this nonsense and start supporting people who want to make this happen. Be the voice of reason. Be the voice of the people who can’t speak for themselves. Come to the Sarasota City Hall Commission Chambers on April 2 at 6 pm.

Susan Nilon of The Nilon Report. Contact Nilon at susan.nilon@gmail.com. 

[On Opioids] 
Dr. Richard A Lawhern

On March 24, 2018, SRQ ran an article by Dr. Fabian A Ramos, on the future of opioids and pain management. From 20 years of analyzing medical literature as a technically trained non-physician patient advocate, I suggest that Dr. Ramos got several facts wrong.

Dr. Ramos writes: "According to a recent study, opioids claimed the lives of approximately 16 Florida residents per day in 2016, mostly from legally prescribed sources.”

My response:  Data from the National Center on Health Statistics indicate that, in 2016, there were 15,400 deaths in the US from prescription opioids and 35,500 from heroin and fentanyl.

D.r Ramos claims: "Lowering effective milligram dosages proactively manages the risk of instances of addiction and overdose."

My response: There is no published medical evidence for this speculation. To the contrary, data from a 2016 Commonwealth of Massachusetts study[i] actually suggest that stopping prescription opioids may have contributed to significant numbers of overdose deaths.

We also know opioid analgesics provided to millions of post-surgical patients entail a risk of later opioid abuse or extended prescription of less than 1 percent. This outcome directly contradicts the notion doctors prescribing for pain patients have fed an “opioid epidemic”. Lowering doses ensures patients will be subjected to agony when reduced below minimum therapeutic levels. Some of these patients commit suicide. Others accidentally overdose when forced to seek pain relief in unregulated street markets.

Dr. Ramos continues: "Nearly 25 percent of referred patients are not accepted into our practice, largely due to excessive opioid prescriptions. Before we can treat these cases, we require rehabilitation or detox… Of our 10,000-plus active patients, only 18 percent are prescribed opioids for pain management, 97 percent are insured—contrasting opioid-only clinics with a cash-based model—and only 1 percent are under 30 years old."

My response: Dr. Ramos’ statistics on opioid restriction and his stigmatization of patients seem to me to represent medical failure, not success. His reference to “opioid only clinics” is a thinly veiled jab at so-called pill mills, which nobody would claim as appropriate models for pain management. 

The precision of medical literature on non-pharmacological, non-invasive therapies (including mental health counseling) is abysmal. A recently circulated draft review of over 4,500 published trials demonstrates that such therapies are not reliably successful as replacements for opioid therapy. Their appropriate role is as adjuncts to "usual therapy" with anti-inflammatory medication or opioid analgesics.

A viable future for pain management requires that we find balance in our public narratives concerning addiction and chronic pain. Opioid analgesics must continue to play a central role and doctors must be much better trained to tailor treatment to individual patient needs.

Dr. Richard A Lawhern is the co-Founder and corresponding Secretary for the Alliance for the Treatment of Intractable Pain. 

[KUDOS ]  Women and Medicine Luncheon

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation presented its 6th annual Women & Medicine educational luncheon on March 23 that focused on strokes and comprehensive stroke care at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. SMH physicians Mauricio Concha, MD, Stroke Neurologist and Medical Director of the SMH Stroke Program, Daniel B. Case, MD, Neurointerventional Radiologist, and Chippy Nalluri, MD, FACC, Cardiologist discussed the stroke risks that women face, how to recognize the symptoms and risk factors for stroke and the technologies and treatments that are available. SMH has one of the few Comprehensive Stroke Centers in Florida and is among the top stroke centers in the U.S., performing at the highest level of any in the country. To date, the Healthcare Foundation’s Women & Medicine luncheon program has raised more than $225,000 that has gone toward specific health programs at SMH. This year’s event raised $170,000 that will support Comprehensive Stroke Care at Sarasota Memorial. 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation

[SCOOP]  National Financial Literacy Month

National Financial Literacy Month is recognized every year in April in to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach Americans to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. For the past 15 years, Goodwill Manasota has promoted financial literacy through classes covering topics ranging from credit counseling and using online banking to understanding consumer credit; coursework was developed in collaboration with area banking institutions. The goal is to ensure that individuals living at or below the poverty level have the knowledge and resources they need to effectively manage their money and transition from poverty to economic independence. In order to support financial literacy efforts in our community, on numerous dates in April at three of its Community Rooms, Goodwill will offer a free class, “Credit Smart/Protecting Your Information,” with Jason Russ, a Wells Fargo At Work Program consultant. Russ will discuss how credit works as well as how the home financing and buying process works; the class will enable participants to make informed decisions regarding their future. The course will also offer tips to protect private information and what to do when you become a victim of fraud.  

Goodwill Manasota

[KUDOS ]  Selah Freedom Recognized by Governor

Co-Founder and President/CEO of Selah Freedom Elizabeth Fisher and Co-Founder Laurie Lewis-Swink were honored with the opportunity to speak at the Governor's press tour for the Florida State Budget. The women highlighted the great work being done in the State of Florida to fight for the survivors of sex trafficking. Selah Freedom is highly regarded for achieving the highest outcomes, standards and measurements in serving this population. The event highlighted the $6 million dollars given to the state's sex trafficking collaborative partners, of which Selah Freedom has been in for over four years. On top of that, Selah Freedom recently received a one million dollar matching gift has been released from and anonymous donor. All gifts will be doubled and will help expand programs serving survivors across the country. 

Selah Freedom

[SCOOP ]  Manatee Appreciation Day

On March 28, Manatee Appreciation Day, the South Florida Museum welcomed Baca the manatee back to the Museum's Stage 2 Manatee Rehabilitation Aquarium to finish his rehabilitation. He joined manatees ONeil and Tannebaum that arrived for rehab on Tuesday. As a Stage 2 rehabilitation facility, the Museum is the place where manatees come after their critical health needs have been taken care of. Its main tasks are bringing rehab manatees up to the right size and weight for release and if injured, allowing them to finish the healing process. Typically, these animals remain in the Museum's care anywhere from a few months to more than a year, depending on the amount of time they need to reach the appropriate size. The Aquarium had been temporarily closed so that scheduled maintenance could be completed. Now that the 60,000-gallon habitat's underwater viewing windows have been buffed and re-sealed, and fiberglass, deck work and painting has been completed, the Aquarium has re-opened to the public and to manatees in need of care. 

South Florida Museum

[SCOOP ]  Sarasota Opera Announces New Concert Series

Sarasota Opera is set to launch a new program this spring with a series of summer concerts entitled Sarasota Opera House PRESENTS. This series will bring Sarasota audiences musical performances of American standards, jazz, rock, bluegrass, country and more. Sarasota Opera will debut this new series on Friday, May 4 with the one and only Tony Danza who will offer an unforgettable evening with his cabaret show entitled Standards & Stories. Combining timeless music with wit, charm, storytelling, and a dash of soft shoe and ukulele performances, Danza is accompanied by his talented four-piece band. Danza performs a selection of his favorite standards from the Great American Songbook, as well as selections from the hit Broadway musical Honeymoon in Vegas (which he also starred in), while interweaving stories about his life and personal connection to the music. Tickets for Tony Danza: Standards & Stories range from $39 - $89 with a limited number of VIP seats at $125 which includes a post-show meet-and-greet with Mr. Danza.


Sarasota Opera

[SCOOP ]  All Night Happy Hour

From now until April 30, join Michael’s On East for an Extended Happy Hour & Secret Word Monday supporting All Star Children's Foundation. Simply stop in Michael's On East Lounge between 5pm-7pm, whisper the "Secret Word" to your wait staff and enjoy a select lounge bite, compliments of Michael's On East. Be sure to share the "secret" each and every Monday. Plus, remember to enjoy happy hour beverage specials ($6 Michael's Private Label Wines, Draft Beers or Well Cocktails) until 9 p.m. in support of All Star Children's Foundation each Monday through April 2018. 

All Star Children's Foundation

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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