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SRQ DAILY Apr 21, 2018

"If you want to be a part of history, there is still time."

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Higher Education]  College When YOU Can
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Our region is enjoying a period of historically low unemployment. Many in our community are choosing to work full time and defer higher education for later. It is easy to understand their decision, but they should not need to decide between one and the other.

At the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, we strive to provide higher education opportunities to the working adults of Manatee and Sarasota Counties that enhance their lives and careers. Today’s job might not be a career opportunity. SCF can provide the pathway that turns a job into a profession through an associate degree or a workforce bachelor’s degree.

The challenge is to design a program that fits the needs of working adults. Higher education must fit into your life, not disrupt it. Online learning is convenient for some, but many students prefer face-to-face experiences in the classroom and interactions with a professor. Timing is also important—working adults cannot be on campus between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday. Our goal is to create a program that makes it easy for students to access education. The hardest part of higher education should be what happens in the classroom, not the process it takes to get there.

SCF’s solution is the Weekend College—“college when YOU can.” Working adults in our region are place-bound by job and family. They cannot leave the region to pursue higher education and do not have the resources to pay for an expensive degree. Full-time employment is required to take care of their families and responsibilities, but they know that a college degree is essential to their future success. Weekend College gives working adults access to an affordable education at a convenient time.

Our Weekend College provides the opportunity to earn an Associate in Arts degree in two years by going full time on Friday nights and Saturdays through classes at our Lakewood Ranch campus and online. The program consists of three terms each year with classes lasting eight, 12 or 16 weeks. Our full-time enrollment consists of three to four classes each term. Students can attend part time as well.

The Associate in Arts curriculum provides a student with all the general education requirements needed to move on to a bachelor’s degree program. Associates degree graduates are guaranteed admission to one of SCF workforce bachelor’s degree programs or to a Florida state university.

Like all our programs, Weekend College is also an economical choice for students. Tuition at SCF is about half that of a state university and a quarter or less of the cost of many private, online schools.

Enrollment for the Fall 2018 term is open now for SCF’s Weekend College at SCF.edu/Admissions and many applications have already been submitted.

Students have many choices when it comes to higher education. At SCF, our goal is to create the educational opportunity that meets the time, location and financial needs of the students in our community. Weekend College provides us one more way to meet that goal. SCF”s Weekend College – it’s college when YOU can.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota 

[The Detail]  A SLAPP at Free Speech
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

Over a year ago, Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment of Carlos Beruff as chairman to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. The CRC convenes every 20 years to review Florida’s Constitution and propose potential changes to be approved by Florida voters. The public might expect a public servant serving as CRC chair to hold deep respect for constitutional values, including free speech. But a lawsuit filed by Beruff in July 2017 indicates otherwise.

Beruff’s business tort and defamation claims have to do with his Waverly development, which was approved by the Sarasota County Commission in the fall of 2014. Sarasota residents may remember the controversy around approving residential construction amid the Foxfire landfills.

The Foxfire (aka Sugarbowl or Proctor Road) landfills were unlined landfills actively used for dumping for decades (from the ’40s until 1972). The dumps were redeveloped into golf courses, which opened in 1975. Those golf coursed were closed in 2006 when a developer, Barry Spencer, bought the property for $3.6 million. It was reported that environmental contamination was a reason cited by the buyer for closing the links.

Residential development was denied in 2013 on the same properties, and environmental concerns were the primary reason. Scores of concerned residents attended that rezone hearing. Unsuccessful in securing the residential rezone, Mr. Spencer then sold the property to Carlos Beruff. Mr. Beruff, a prolific campaign donor, applied for a residential rezone for the same land in 2014 and it was granted, despite scores of concerned citizens showing up once again to oppose residential development amid the Foxfire landfills.

John Garcia has been a leader in voicing concern about residential development among the Foxfire landfills. His concerns are well-documented, and he is fastidious in his follow up with government agencies, which must be annoying if you want questions about contamination to just go away.

Developer Carlos Beruff filed a lawsuit against John Garcia for damages in excess of $1 million dollars, claiming defamation and that his business has been harmed by Garcia. Beruff’s complaint alleges Garcia contacted specific buyers who had contracted to buy homes in Waverly, but after contact with Garcia changed their minds. Garcia says he has never met with nor contacted Waverly customers.

At the pre-trial hearing on April 10, the attorney standing with Garcia told the court that the plaintiff has provided no discovery. Seems it would be a simple thing to document these buyers who had written contracts and walked away.

On their website, Waverly is offering free pools to buyers. Would potential buyers want a pool if they understood the digging would disturb soils at risk for contamination? Do Waverly buyers understand what took place at the property before?

Getting back to free speech, by all appearances Mr. Garcia’s concerns are an attempt to advocate for his current and future neighbors’ health and welfare. As Mr. Beruff is leading our Constitutional Revision Committee, initiating a potential SLAPP lawsuit (SLAPP = Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) is inconsistent with constitutional values. Mr. Beruff might consider that caveat emptor applies to him as well as his customers. When you buy potentially contaminated land and build homes on it, you might not be able to sell them.

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

[Gulf Coast]  The Bay: Community in Action
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is before us. How do we, as a community, want future generations to enjoy 53 acres of beautiful bayfront in downtown Sarasota? That’s the question—and responsibility—at the heart of the community-driven initiative to craft a master plan for this unique assemblage of public property collectively known as The Bay.

As with any big project, opinions will differ, emotions may run high and some decisions won’t be easy. But what’s special, perhaps even unprecedented, about this effort is the open, disciplined and fully documented community-engagement process that is guiding it.

Thank you to the volunteers of the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization and to the citizens and community-based organizations that have committed their time, imagination and money to move this important project forward. I also appreciate my colleague Jon Thaxton’s leadership in championing transparency and inclusiveness from the beginning.

Just this past week, the SBPO and team members from Sasaki, the world-class firm it hired to develop The Bay’s master plan, shared preliminary concepts for realizing the area’s full potential as a natural, cultural and regional asset. It was the latest step in a methodical and accessible public-engagement process to articulate and execute a shared community vision for the future of this extraordinary place.

Community members could attend three open houses, a moderated forum and a public board meeting of the SBPO to learn, ask questions and weigh in. It wasn’t about simply “voting for a winner” among Sasaki’s three initial concepts, either. Residents could fill out a comprehensive “scorecard” to tell the planners all that they like (or don’t) about each design, what they think is missing and why. And they still can: an online version of that scorecard is available at TheBaySarasota.org through next Saturday.

Sasaki’s design team will synthesize all of that input to identify and combine the best elements of each concept—along with new ideas—before creating a draft master plan. Our community will see that draft next month, again at a public meeting, with further opportunity for feedback. It all drives toward the presentation of a final master plan for review by the elected public servants on the Sarasota City Commission. I trust you’re seeing a pattern here: open, public, input.

Almost 100 years ago, renowned urban planner John Nolen wrote this about the sweeping Sarasota Bayfront: “The attractiveness of this spot drew the original settlers, and today it is still the city’s greatest asset.” Consider how much our region has changed since then, yet how true this statement remains! It’s a vivid reminder of the truly historic opportunity we have to shape The Bay’s future to ensure sustained access and enjoyment by all.

If you want to be a part of history, there is still time. Visit The Bay’s website to view and comment on the design team’s materials and review the entire project’s journey to date. You’ll see that everything builds on the previous work of community volunteers, and each new version of the plan ties directly back to The Bay’s consensus-formed vision: “We support the creation of a long-term master plan for the Sarasota Bayfront area that will establish a cultural and economic legacy for the region while ensuring open, public access to the Bayfront.” 

At Gulf Coast Community Foundation, we say: “If it’s broken, fix it. If it’s beautiful, nurture and preserve it. If it’s possible, make it happen.” The Bay offers our entire community the rare chance to do all three of those at once. That’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.

Dr. Mark S. Pritchett is president/CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  The Disconnect Between Policy and Affordable Housing
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Zoning codes and bureaucratic processes directly impact affordable housing. Affordable Housing continues to be on the tip of the tongue for all governments, but rarely is a breath of it mentioned when we are looking at changing or adding new codes affecting all housing. 

Most governments recognize we have an affordable housing problem and it is affecting their citizens and employees here in Sarasota County. One third of our households are barely staying afloat financially according to the United Way’s ALICE report.

However, we don’t hear affordable housing being talked about when decisions are made for new regulations or taxes. We don’t hear how that regulation will affect housing costs, which directly impedes affordable housing. How much in costs are governments adding to housing? 

There appears to be a massive policy disconnect between the cost of doing business in terms of government regulation and how it affects the housing market and this incredible priority.

In an article from Strong Towns by Spencer Gardner called, “The 5 Immutable Laws of Affordable Housing,” the first law of affordable housing deals with the reality of who actually pays for construction and permitting. Here is a hint: it’s not the developer. “A developer who doesn’t pass costs on will not be in business for very long. For this reason, anything that makes development more costly for developers makes housing more costly for people.” 

This article acknowledges that the more a government mandates, it gets back less in terms of affordable housing.

Almost every municipal and county government here is looking at their zoning code right now. Many of those reviews are long overdue. They are unique opportunities to positively affect affordable housing. Unfortunately, nowhere are there financial impacts to the private sector listed with the recommendations generated from staff for code changes. 

Enacting a new tree ordinance? How much will it cost the property owner per tree for all aspects of the ordinance? Enacting a new setback requirement? How will that affect density and housing costs? Requiring more workshops, public hearings and reviews? How much will that cost a property owner in terms of time and having to hire professional services?

If governments were truly concerned with affordable housing, every single time they changed or enacted a new code or process, they would ask for the total private costs of such a change accompany the staff proposal. It would be an automatic portion of the information they receive when considering any tax, change to zoning codes, or change to processes leading to building.

Without considering this information, any expressed concern or label of a “priority” when it comes to affordable housing from an elected official is purely lip service.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[KUDOS]  SMH is Among World's 34 Best Workplaces

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is one of just 39 organizations to win Gallup’s global Great Workplace Award. The award honors the world’s best workplaces for creating an environment and culture that inspires employee commitment and engagement. To qualify for the award, organizations must meet a rigorous criteria, which includes a high, qualifying response rate on Gallup’s 2017 employee engagement survey and a score that places them in the “upper echelon” of organizations in Gallup's global database. They also must demonstrate how their engagement approach improves performance outcomes. Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder credits the workplace recognition to the organization’s longstanding commitment to community and dedication to provide the best possible patient experience and care. 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare

[SCOOP]  Chillounge Under the Stars

Join the Sarasota Film Festival tonight and "Chill Under the Stars" as Chillounge Night makes its triumphant return to Sarasota and transforms Five Points Park into a magnificent outdoor lounge with all the chic and stylish vibes that it has become known for throughout Florida. The event starts at 6pm and will showcase live band performances, a sophisticated and fun fashion daybed parade, the signature and colorful Brazilian Samba Parade and much more. With hundreds of cool outdoor furnishings and fine food/drinks to complement the entertainment, this will be an intimate and magical evening for thousands to enjoy. Admission is $30 per person in advance and $40 at the door (must be 21 or older). Chillounge Night, founded in Sarasota 10 years ago, continues to bring a unique brand of "dazzle" with the ultimate outdoor lounge party. 

Sarasota Film Festival

[SCOOP ]  Thanks, I Got It From Goodwill

With the help of its Ambassadors, Goodwill Manasota has launched its 2018 “Thanks! I Got it at Goodwill” marketing campaign. The campaign videos and print materials feature 10 local Goodwill Ambassadors affirming their support for and dedication to the organization. These individuals participate in and support efforts throughout the year to help raise awareness and funds to support Goodwill’s efforts to help community members find work or secure better jobs through free career services and job skills training available through Goodwill’s Job Connection program. The organization launched its campaign during an event in mid-April. 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP ]  Allegiant Launches Service to SRQ

This week, Allegiant Airlines celebrated the start of new nonstop service to the SRQ Airport from Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. The company, known for its exceptional travel deals, is offering one-way fares on the new routes for as low as $83. “We are excited to welcome Allegiant to the Sarasota / Bradenton International Airport,” said SRQ President, CEO Rick Piccolo With three new nonstop destinations and Allegiant’s ultra-low-cost fares, our community and its visitors will now have easy access to high demand destinations. We look forward to this new service and seeing Allegiant grow at SRQ.” Allegiant offers a unique option to Sarasota-bound travelers with low base fares and savings on rental cars and hotels. Travelers can book their entire vacation with Allegiant for less. 

Allegiant Air

[SCOOP ]  SCF Economic Impact

An economic analysis of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota’s (SCF) impact on its service area shows that the college has a total annual impact of $432.4 million. The economic impact study analyzed operations, student spending and the effects of alumni to calculate an economic impact. The college spends about $51.6 million on operations in the community, helping to create 1,310 jobs. In 2015-16 the college employed 993 full-time, part-time and student employees, and 88 percent of those workers lived in the SCF service region. SCF’s payroll was $35.1 million and much of that was spent on living expenses in the two-county area.. The results of this study demonstrate SCF creates value from multiple perspectives. The college benefits local businesses by increasing consumer spending in the region and supplying a steady flow of qualified, trained workers. It enriches the lives of students by raising their lifetime earnings and helping them achieve their potential and SCF benefits state and local taxpayers through increased tax receipts and reduced demand for government-supported social services. 

State College of Florida

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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