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SRQ DAILY Sep 29, 2018

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"If Amendment 2 fails, many local businesses will either be put out of business or pass on their increased costs to their customers. "

- Greg Owens, Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee

[Higher Education]  Ringling College: A Cultural Mosaic
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

Just over a month ago, I stood before an audience of incoming students and their families and friends at the Van Wezel for Student Orientation. It was an exciting time, as we explained the many things these new students would be experiencing during their first fall semester and throughout their four years with us. It was also a time to address questions about hurricanes, safety, roommates and all the common concerns of new students and their parents.

There was one question, however, that arose which I had never been asked before in such a setting. It was regarding Ringling College’s values and policies with respect to issues of diversity and inclusion. And while I know the position of the institution, as well as my own personal feelings on the matter, I took a deep breath and did my best to address this important issue openly and honestly. It was something I don’t believe I have ever expressed in such depth: why I believe diversity and inclusion are such important factors for students of today, more important than any other time in our history.

The start of my response stemmed from statistics—the mathematician and lawyer part of me coming through, as I cited our ever-growing percentage of international students and the number of countries represented – 17 percent of the student body and 20 percent of the entering class, coming from 60 different countries. I also described our general population demographics with 16 percent Hispanic, 9 percent Asian, 4.3 percent two or more races non-Hispanic, 3 percent black and 0.3 percent Native American. Roughly 47 percent of our students are Caucasian and as I noted above, 17 percent are international students. What followed moved from the normal focus on the numbers, to my heart-felt feelings. I described what I believe to be the truth of the matter—the ethos of Ringling College and the amazing culture of acceptance that defines us.

The point I wanted to illuminate and emphasize is that the beauty of the students’ experience at Ringling College is they will have the opportunity to intermix and connect with people who are different from them. Because we are a small institution, our community presents a sort of cultural mosaic. Our campus is a vibrant and safe place where we strive to foster global awareness and, of course, creativity day in and day out.

We pride ourselves on preparing our students for the real world so they will know and be ready for what it is like to work with real-world clients and for firms who may have diverse populations and work in cities, countries and markets around the globe. And, in the moment, I reminded them how important it is for us to look to the future of our country. We are increasingly becoming more culturally diverse, and it is imperative we embrace, strive to understand and celebrate how different we all are from one another and how similar we are at the same time. The greatest skills we can instill at Ringling College are acceptance and open-mindedness. This will not only make our students better citizens of the world, but also better candidates and employees in the workplace. Think about it. Employers do not favor members of a team who are unable or unwilling to work with someone who may be from a different culture—someone who might look different, speak differently and think differently. Rather, leaders in the workplace want people who see disparities as an asset, not a divisive weakness.

I then made it clear to our incoming class, as well as families, friends and faculty and staff who attended, that we have a zero tolerance policy on our campus. We will not stand for discrimination, harsh words or disrespectful behavior on our campus. We will not tolerate it among students, faculty or staff. We just plan will not tolerate it. And I am most grateful to my incredible staff and faculty for helping to uphold this protocol, as the safety, well-being, protection and success of our students are paramount.

It is my absolute hope as president that our institution can be a small model within our city, our region, our state and our country, that can shift society to be more accepting and understanding, as well as curious and excited about diversity of thought, culture and background. The ethos of diversity and inclusion is woven within the tapestry of everything we do at Ringling College. As I said to the audience that day: This our culture. This is who we are. We are Ringling. And, at Ringling College, all are welcome.

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art & Design. 

[The Detail]  Change The Date Would Create Contrived Primary
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

There are lots of implications to the City’s November referendum on the amendment that seeks to move City elections to August and November. Over $90,000 has been donated by the Argus Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Builders Exchange (GCBX) and other business interests to affect this change. Christian Zeigler and Mary Anne Grgic (who works for Neal Communities) are the primary consultants for the PACs working for to change the date for City elections. The amendment creates elections logistics that serve big money candidates. Proponents say they want to increase minority voter turnout, but could they have another agenda?

The amendment would change City elections from a March election with a potential May run-off to a contrived August primary election with a mandatory November election. Right now, city elections are nonpartisan and don't require primaries. If a candidate wins a majority in the first election, the candidate wins. The second runoff election, while typical, is not required. This amendment eliminates the opportunity for a majority win in the August election, creating an unnecessary primary in a nonpartisan race.

A local example of a nonpartisan race in August is the School Board. Jane Goodwin just ran against three opponents and got more than 50 percent of the vote, so she won. If this Argus/Chamber/GCBX funded amendment passes, a City Commission candidate could get 80 percent or more of the vote in August and still have to run against a runner up in November. This phony primary ensures a November election when partisanship, dark money and special interest money is most potent. Such election logistics favor anointed candidates funded by developers like Randy Benderson, Pat Neal and Carlos Beruff. Lobbyist organizations funding this amendment (Argus, the Chamber, GCBX) are aligned with the same big developers.

The August/November timing for County Commission races have made it very difficult for grassroots candidates to win. In addition, the County Commission has been ruled by one party—the GOP—for the last 50 years.

Independents and third party voters are disadvantaged by holding nonpartisan races in August because many assume August elections are closed primaries for Democrats or Republicans. In Sarasota, August elections favor Republican turnout. Could that be the demographic proponents are truly looking to serve?

The ACLU of Florida has given $15,000 to support the election move, but City residents may find Florida ACLU President Michael Barfield’s actions at odds with their values. Barfield’s recent lawsuit against school board candidates Jane Goodwin and Shirley Brown was dismissed at the request of Transparency for Florida board members. Their sworn affidavit describes a series of actions by Mr. Barfield, which intimidated the board members, made them fearful and co-opted the organization for unknown reasons. Given Mr. Barfield’s recent legal actions against political candidates, voters may be wise to pause before putting their faith in his leadership of the ACLU of Florida.

Big money interests already work against grassroots candidates in City elections. Let’s not make it easier for them. Vote NO on moving City elections.

Cathy Antunes is host of The Detail on WSLR. 

[On State Referenda]  Amendment 2 Creates Opportunity
Greg Owens

I am a Realtor in Sarasota and Manatee County and I am concerned that not enough people understand why Amendment 2 is so important to the state of Florida.

Amendment 2 truly affects everybody in Florida. Amendment 2 creates certainty that non-homestead property taxes do not increase unchecked. Stable non-homestead property taxes mean predictable rents for commercial renters and for people renting a home or apartment. It also means more opportunity for businesses to grow, creating more jobs and potentially lowering prices for consumers.

If Amendment 2 fails, many local businesses will either be put out of business or pass on their increased costs to their customers. Renters could also see their rents skyrocket as landlords pass the extra taxes on to them, forcing them to leave our communities. Also, Amendment 2 is simply a permanent extension of the current tax cap we have in place now. This Amendment passing will not reduce the amount of tax revenue Cities and Counties currently get already.

In Sarasota and Manatee County combined, 248,012 properties will be adversely impacted if Amendment 2 fails. I encourage you to learn more about Amendment 2 by visiting everybodyisfor2.com. I will be voting ‘Yes’ on Amendment 2 this November and I hope you will too.

Greg Owens is the 2018 President for the REALTOR Association of Sarasota and Manatee. He can be reached at greg@mytwre.com. 

[SOON]  Sarasota Orchestra's Free Family Concert: 'Gold Rush'

Don't miss 'Gold Rush', Sarasota Orchestra's free, family-friendly interactive evening concert that tells the story of the Gold Rush and the Westward Expansion in the United States. Presented on October 5, 'Gold Rush' is designed for students grades 6 – 8, younger students able to sit for an hour, and adults intrigued by the concert experience.  Led by guest conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez, the program will feature 12 short pieces, none more than 5 minutes long, opening with the Overture from Candide, serving as the soundtrack for the story narrated by actor Lauren Krupski. Highlights also include popular tunes such as She’ll Be Coming `Round the Mountain and Rossini’s William Tell Overture. 

Sarasota Orchestra

[EVENT]  Day of Action: Mental Wellness and Stigma in Communities of Color

Day of Action:  Mental Wellness and Stigma in Communities of Color:  A 2-Generational Approach will be presented Saturday, October 6, 2018, 11:00 AM at Lincoln Memorial Academy located at 305 17th Street, East in Palmetto, FL.

The Bradenton/Sarasota (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated and Lincoln Memorial Academy (LMA) are partnering to promote a diverse program on mental wellness that will foster education, awareness, positive social interactions, self-esteem and self-worth to six grade students and parents of LMA on mental health, applying a two-generational approach.


- Dr. Janet Taylor, MD, MPH Board Certified Psychiatrist who is an expert in Cognitive Health and Wellness

- Mr. Maureik Robison, Inner Explorer, Director of Program Development and Outreach and Mindfulness Practitioner 

Bradenton/Sarasota Links, Inc.

[SCOOP]  Peepers The Frog Around Town

If you see the friendly PEEPERS Frog in traffic, you will know he is on a mission, spreading the word about magnifiers, talking timepeices and dozens of other items designed to make life easier for the blind and vision impaired. The PEEPERS Store is located at Lighthouse of Manasota in Sarasota and is open MOnday through Friday from 9am to 4pm.  

Lighthouse of Manasota

[SCOOP]  Rotary Reading Project

The “Rotary Reading Project” will soon be launching district-wide for all first and fourth grade students. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sarasota Foundation, the Mote Scientific Foundation and through the support of area Rotary Clubs, the Rotary Club of Sarasota will be presenting every first grader in Sarasota County with the book The Magic Fish and every fourth grader with a copy of the book Wonder. Teachers will also be receiving specialized toolkits full of interactive lessons and engaging content to teach the students overarching concepts of kindness, tolerance and civility, among others. Classes will be encouraged to share their thoughts and will participate in themed learning activities throughout the year.  

Sarasota County Schools

[SCOOP]  Free Trees for Sarasota City Residents

The City of Sarasota is once again offering free trees to residents to help expand Sarasota’s urban canopy while reducing energy bills through its Community Canopy program.Beginning October 1, City residents can reserve one tree per household by visiting ArborDay.org/Sarasota. Residents are encouraged to register early while supplies last.
Three Florida-friendly, regionally sourced species are available: Crape myrtle, Dahoon holly and Red Maple. For more information, contact Stevie Freeman-Montes, Sustainability Manager at 941-365-2200 ext. 4202, or call the Arbor Day Foundation at 855-234-3801. 

Community Canopy Program

[SCOOP]  JFCS' Red Tide Support Initiative Emergency Fund

In response to the economic and environmental impact of Red Tide in Sarasota County, JFCS has set up a special emergency fund to support outreach services through JFCS’ Building Strong Families Program. This program supports those who rely on the service industries for employment and have found themselves with fewer working hours or employment opportunities due to Red Tide’s impact. Since the beginning of July, JFCS has identified an increase of approximately 40 percent in homeless prevention requests. Many JFCS clients  primary source of income is derived from the hospitality industry, such as restaurants and hotels. Donations can be made by contacting Sherry Gluchov at 941.366.2224, ext. 141 or sgluchov@jfcs-cares.org.  


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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