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SRQ DAILY Oct 20, 2018

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"So, are Change the Date Sarasota opponents now going to oppose the school board referendum too based on who funded it?"

- Christine Robinson, The Argus Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  Strategy and Hope to Help the Homeless
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Two important and separate events last Thursday afternoon marked hopeful milestones in our community’s long-running efforts to address homelessness. While they recognized different approaches to serving different homeless populations, they highlight complementary strategies in our cutting-edge efforts to provide a durable and seamless safety net.

The first event was a press conference hosted by Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight to formally introduce his office’s Homeless Outreach Team. The HOT consists of a deputy and two civilian case workers who strive to establish trust with some of our community’s most difficult-to-serve street homeless in order to educate, encourage, and guide them to social services rather than jail.

Inspirational stories shared by Sheriff Knight vividly illuminated both the intense challenges and the life-changing impact of this work. There is the 63-year-old diabetic amputee who struggles with mental health issues and had been homeless for 12 years. The Sheriff’s HOT team secured him a bed at The Salvation Army, where he stabilized physically and emotionally. Now he lives in a house with his own room and regularly meets with a case manager who facilitates his medical needs.

Then there is the 66-year-old woman who lived at a bus stop and could barely communicate or even move. After intensive work by the HOT team, she agreed to go to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where dedicated staff cared for her physically and emotionally. During her difficult but effective stay, she was eventually reconnected with family she had lost years ago to foster care, and a son agreed to become her medical surrogate.

These are just two stories of real people whose acute needs could be met only by a community-wide effort, with extraordinary assistance from The Salvation Army. With Sarasota Police Department HOT teams already active in the City, the Sheriff’s new team further transforms law enforcement’s role in helping our homeless population in our unincorporated areas of Sarasota County. Thank you, Sheriff Knight and your team, for your tireless work to help homeless individuals stabilize their lives and eventually graduate to supportive housing.

Just a couple of hours after that press conference, I joined a large, super-charged group of community partners and Gulf Coast donors to cut the ribbon on a new “drop-in center” near Newtown for unaccompanied homeless youth. The trim blue-and-white cottage, operated by the innovative nonprofit Harvest House, offers a new front door to services, support, and safe socializing for teens and young adults who are homeless and on their own.

More than 400 youth between 16 and 24 in Sarasota County endure homelessness with no family support system or safe place to go. They have unique needs—on top of the same challenges every young person faces. They are subject to high levels of criminal victimization. But these youth are also brave, resilient, and strong. They seek—and deserve—love, stability, independence, and opportunity. One of the coolest things about the new Youth Center is that teens who have experienced homelessness themselves weighed in on the interior design and furnishing of the repurposed space, ensuring that it welcomes and suits other youth facing the same struggles they’ve lived through.

For more than a year, Gulf Coast has led a planning effort with a work group of service providers committed to forging a countywide support system to meet these young people’s diverse needs. The new Youth Center will be one of two, with a second targeted for the southern part of Sarasota County. Thank you to Erin Minor and her Harvest House team for making a dream come true for the youth we are working to help. Thank you to all of our work group members. And thank you to the generous donors, like The Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, who have helped fund the Youth Center as well as housing subsidies and other pieces of the support system being built.

Without this service, our community’s unaccompanied youth are likely to become our next generation of chronically homeless adults. It is up to us—all of us—to ensure that doesn’t happen.

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

[Higher Education]  SCF Dual Enrollment puts students a step ahead
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

One of the most important things we do at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota is prepare people for their future. We take pride in every graduate who enters the workforce or moves on in their pursuit of higher education. We have accomplished our goal of providing the quality education that prepares students for the next step.     

Dual enrollment is another opportunity for SCF to prepare students for the future. High school students can test their abilities and pursue their interests while earning college credits at no cost by taking college classes on one of our campuses with a college professor. We are committed to ensuring that the quality of courses we offer our dual enrollment students meets our high standards and provides a successful degree pathway.

After careful consideration, research and discussions, SCF will deliver our dual enrollment program directly on our Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Venice and online campuses beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

There are many advantages to taking dual enrollment courses. The most obvious is that students can enter a college or university with credits already completed, reducing the time and cost to earn a degree. Participation in dual enrollment has been shown to increase both high school completion and college enrollment. Dual enrollment students are more likely to enroll full time in college and perform better while there, earning more credits with better grades than their peers who did not participate in the program.

At SCF, we know students gain valuable collegiate-level experience by taking classes on one of our campuses. Students gain confidence by successfully completing college courses delivered by a professor with expertise in their field. Success in dual enrollment on a SCF campus gives students the confidence to know they will be successful at their next educational step. By interacting with professors and taking part in classroom discussions and projects with college students at SCF, they will be comfortable with the environment they encounter as a full-time college student. Success in dual enrollment courses while in high school is a great indicator for success when enrolled in a college or university.

Dual enrollment students can take classes that define or confirm their interests in a course of study. They can test the waters to see if a field of study meets their expectations or is not what they anticipated and avoid excess credit hours and costs through a change of major down the road. Interactions with their classroom peers and professors can also shape their interests and open new pathways.

SCF dual enrollment students get full access to the same academic and advising support services on our campuses that they will encounter at other postsecondary institutions. Students who are familiar with the quality, depth and variety of support provided by SCF will be more likely to use these services at another institution when challenges arise.

Information about SCF’s dual enrollment/early college program is available at SCF.edu/EarlyCollege.

Nothing is more important to the faculty, staff and trustees of SCF than providing quality educational opportunities that set up our students for a lifetime of success.

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

[Argus]  Vote Yes to Change the Date Sarasota
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Change the Date Sarasota is an incredible gathering of residents, businesses, organizations and thought leaders across the political spectrum. It is an effort to increase voter participation in city commission elections and to save taxpayer money by changing the date of city elections to the fall.

It is not just overall voter participation that will double or triple, African American voter composition more than doubles, Hispanic voter composition almost triples, and voter composition of those under 29 years old almost triples in fall elections as well.

If that weren’t enough to change the date of city elections to fall of even-numbered years (to coincide with federal, state and county elections), it will also save the city about $100,000 per election cycle. Remember, the city commission just voted to raise taxes; imagine what the city could do with six figures of money every other year.

Opponents have come up with some creative and oppressive arguments to justify their position against this. 

It has been written by opponents that they are against changing the date of city elections because business groups have helped to fund the efforts to expand voter participation.  Business groups were not the only ones to fund it. The ACLU also substantially funded it, but that is creatively left out of the argument. 

Let’s follow the “we are against it because business groups are for it” logic for a moment. The business community has funded just about every 501(c)3 in town from children’s issues, to women’s issues, to education, to environment, to health. Should we expect that the opponents will now be against those efforts as well? 

How about the school board referendum? A review of those financials demonstrates that a substantial amount of the funding for that referendum came mostly from the business community and the organizations that are funding Change the Date Sarasota. So, are Change the Date Sarasota opponents now going to oppose the school board referendum too based on who funded it?

This logic is creatively ridiculous and intellectually dishonest.

Now, let’s review the oppressive arguments against moving the city election date. There was a recent forum discussion on Change the Date Sarasota and former City of Sarasota Mayor Mollie Cardamone spoke in opposition. Here are two of my favorite quotes:

“I don’t see that it is a critical issue to have a lot of people vote.”

“I do not believe that this is the end all, be all to have a better government is to have more people vote.” 

Both of these quotes were unapologetically said out loud and on video. The latter quote garnered an audible reaction of disbelief at the hubris displayed. Others were angry at such a casual disregard for representative democracy.

A vote is a voice in government. It is absolutely critical that everyone in society does everything it can to make that voice loud and representative of the community. 

Join us, and the Sarasota NAACP, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU, ACLU Florida, Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, Manasota Democrat Black Caucus, the Realtor Association of Sarasota Manatee, the Young Democrats, the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association, the International Union of Police Associations, the Sarasota Republican Party, and our newest endorsement, the Sarasota Police Officers Association Local 6045. 

Vote to Change the Date Sarasota. Vote Yes on the City of Sarasota Charter Amendment and be a part of a movement to increase voter turnout and make our elections more representative of the community. 

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[The Detail]  Breaking Down the Ballot Questions
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

Sarasota’s November ballot contains four Sarasota County Charter Amendments, one Sarasota County Bond Referendum and one City of Sarasota Charter Amendment. That’s in addition to all of the State Constitutional Amendments and candidate races. Here’s a quick guide to the local bond and amendment referenda.

The Legacy Trail extension $65 million bond referendum: The Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to put the question to taxpayers—are we willing to bond $65 million to Extend the Legacy Trail from just south of Clark Road on up to downtown Sarasota? Bond issues over roughly $20 million must be approved by Sarasota voters. When you consider the other projects that the County has funded without asking us—Orioles spring training, Atlanta Braves Spring training and the Benderson Rowing facility—this project appears worthy. 

Process for Citizen Initiated Petitions for Charter Amendments: The County Charter functions as our local constitution. This BCC-initiated amendment would increase the signatures citizens must gather from roughly 15,000 or 5 percent of registered County voters, to about 30,000 signatures or 10 percent of voters. It would also restrict the time frame for on gathering signatures. Bottom line, the County Commission wants to make it harder for citizens to amend our County Charter. This is an easy “No” vote.

The Beach Road Amendments: Only 20 percent of Sarasota’s coastline is publicly accessible, and the state average for Florida coastal communities is 40 percent. One of these amendments would reverse the County Commission’s decision to “vacate” vehicle access on Beach Road along Sunset beach on Siesta Key. The second Beach Road amendment would take the section of the County Comprehensive Plan which prohibits vacating roads adjacent to waterways and strengthen it by making it part of the County Charter. If you want to protect public beach access and put Beach Road squarely back in the public domain (easements have a way of disappearing over time), vote YES on the Beach Road Amendments. 

Single Member Districts: Proponents see single member districts as a way to bring more accountability to County government. Opponents claim the current system of voting for all five Commissioner is best. I routinely ask audiences I address to raise their hand if they can name all five County Commissioners, and in a room of 100 people I may see 2-3 people raise their hands. If County Commissioners were selected solely by the districts they represent, a lot more people would know their commissioners, and we wouldn’t see rampant disregard of constituent input by the BCC. Collier County—perhaps the most “red” county in Florida—has single-member districts. This is another easy “YES” vote.

Change in Date of Election of City Commissioners: Two PACs have collected over $100,000 (most from business groups) to sell City voters on moving City elections from March and May to August and November. They claim they care about your voting rights. City Commission races aren’t won with signs and money -they benefit from the local focus, which happens in March when everyone is here. I’m voting “NO” on this one—and I’d love to see a change the date amendment which would move County Commission elections to March like the City—away from November when special interest and dark money influence is most potent.

Early voting start on Monday. Vote!

Cathy Antunes is host of The Detail on WSLR. 

[On Education]  Celebrating Kids in the Middle
Kelly Liebel

Thank you for this insightful article. I am a mother of two boys, and I am not a middle, nor are my kids. Academically, my kids are not middles either, but I still understand and believe the importance of this article. The best and brightest students give school tours. They are speakers, presidents of the clubs, get the awards, they are the “chiefs.” 

We need leaders, but we also need the “indians" of the group, not all chiefs—not everyone can be celebrated. In schools today, so much time is celebrating the top, these kids who are behaving, making grades and are good kids are not celebrated enough. Not everyone can be the “super star.”

Our family has conversations about soccer, for instance. Even though a child might not be the forward or person who makes the goal—they are a vital part of the team being a mid-field who keeps the team going, another “middle"—we just had that conversation.

We tell our kids we don't want them to “peak” in high school, but get a foundation and confidence to grow and challenge themselves; if the “middles” were celebrated a little more, then maybe the high school experience could change just a bit—and wow, just think what our future as citizens of America and the world could be.

Kelly Liebel, responding to a column by Jennifer Vigne in the Oct. 6 edition of SRQ Daily. 

[On City Politics]  Date Change Means Pro-Development, Partisan Takeover
Susan Chapman

Having followed the “Change the Date” referendum since I was first approached by paid signature collectors, I have observed that the supporters of this ballot measure characterize it as increasing turnout in the November election. The flyers, the robo-calls, the speeches, the letters and the columns NEVER mention the August election, which has notoriously poor turnout, and which is notoriously partisan due to the closed primary.

As a supporter of nonpartisan local elections, I am offended and repelled by these deceptive tactics. In fact, I wonder if this is not really about voter turn-out but, rather, about special interest control of the election process.

Much has been written about the funding for this initiative, which comes from groups that support fewer regulations on developers. Indeed, the real divide in this City is not political party. It is between groups that favor few regulations on developers and groups that favor regulation that enhances livability and predictability of development. Often, it is said to be developers versus

the neighborhoods, or the pejorative, NIMBY.

In the past, City elections have favored grassroots candidates who develop community support through civic activism and service on voluntary city advisory boards. Those are candidates who walk neighborhoods and participate in numerous candidate forums to meet voters and to win their support. Often, candidates have served as neighborhood leaders before seeking election to the City Commission. As City elections become more partisan, the focus becomes party loyalty and campaign contributions.

Sarasota County has partisan elections. It is common for the candidates, notably Republican candidates, to rely upon obscene amounts of bundled contributions from development interests. When development issues come before the County Commission, hundreds of citizens appear in hopes that their concerns are heard, only to be met with deaf ears. These developer candidates do not attend candidate forums. They do not need to do so. The payback is with their votes on development issues. The same groups that support the non-responsive County candidates are

funding the “Change the Date” initiative.

Despite my concern about the loss of nonpartisan elections, I am grateful to the Democratic Party. Without the opposition of the Democratic Party to this takeover of City elections, there would be no opposition at all.

Citizens are more and more concerned that our City is over-developed. Do not be fooled.

“Change the Date” is really a takeover attempt by developers. Vote “No” to stop it.

Susan Chapman served on the All-America City Team in 2006, as chair of the Sarasota County Civic League, the Coalition of City Neighborhoods, the Hudson Bayou Neighborhood Association, and the City Planning Board. 

[On Workforce]  Inspiring Students, Building a Talent Pipeline
Chris Laney

It doesn’t matter where you drive, “Hiring Now” signs are everywhere. With unemployment at record lows, companies are grasping for employees’ ready to join the workforce. Workforce committees and councils across our community are discussing ways to attract workers to the region but failing short with limited attainable housing and lower wages then other parts of the country. That’s why it’s essential to focus on those already living in the region and help expose students to opportunities right here on the Gulfcoast. 

We’re excited to host our 5th Annual State of Jobs Conference on Oct. 30 at Robarts Arena. This year, we’re expected nearly 1,200 high school students from Manatee, Sarasota, and Desoto Counties. Students attending come from public, private and charter schools and have an opportunity to select great industries to learn from expert business leaders from this community. Tracks include arts/design, information technology, business, healthcare, engineering, and hospitality. We have another impressive lineup of incredible companies helping us lead the charge on the conversation including Plymouth Harbor, PGT Innovations, Bealls, FCCI Insurance, Dealers United, Visit Sarasota County, FPL and more.

Our goal is to provide students with an opportunity to have a real conference experience, learn about the industries they’re most interested in, and network with some of the area’s top business leaders. Over the past five years, we’ve received story after story on how this event has helped change a student’s perspective on the trajectory of their future. It’s amazing how a one-day event may mean everything to one student. For details about the 2018 State of Jobs Conference, visit www.stateofjobs.org

Chris Laney is the director of Education & Community Investment at CareerSource Suncoast. 

[EVENT]  Education Foundation Invites Families and Community to Free Film

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County invites the community to a free screening of the award-winning documentary, “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age.” The film will be shown Oct. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at North Port High School (NPHS) auditorium and Oct. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Riverview High School (RHS) auditorium. Admission is free but online reservations are required. Tickets can be reserved for the Oct. 22 NPHS screening at tinyurl.com/NPHSscreenagers and for the Oct. 23 RHS screening at tinyurl.com/RHSscreenagers. 

“Screenagers” explores how tech time impacts kids’ development and includes solutions for how adults can empower their kids to navigate and find balance in the digital world. The film goes beyond exposing risks to reveal multiple approaches about how parents and educators can work respectfully with kids to help them achieve a healthy amount of screen time.

An interactive question-and-answer session will be held immediately following the screenings. Panelists include subject-matter experts in the fields of child psychology, education, cybersecurity and public safety. 

Education Foundation

[SCOOP]  Florida Studio Theatre Announces Start of WRITE A PLAY Program

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) will reach 47,000 children in over 45 schools across the state of Florida this year through its award-winning WRITE A PLAY program. Now in its 28th year, FST’s WRITE A PLAY program is a year-round arts-in-education initiative, providing students with the example, the inspiration, and the skills to write their own original plays.
“Through this program, we have touched the lives of over one million children since the program’s conception in 1991,” said FST Director of Children’s Theatre Caroline Kaiser. “In a time where education can become bogged down with test scores and bureaucracy, this enrichment program serves to remind students and teachers alike about the importance of creativity and arts integration in the classroom."

Teachers and group leader interested in having FST's WRITE A PLAY program visit their school should contact FST's Education Group Sales Associate, Hannah Bagnall, at hbagnall@floridastudiotheatre.org. 

Florida Studio Theater

[SCOOP]  South Florida Museum Introduces STREAM Saturdays
The South Florida Museum is pleased to offer a new Saturday morning program, integrating science and learning with fun, hands-on activities. 

STREAM Saturdays is designed especially for kids in first through fifth grades and their families, and will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of the month, October through May. The program is included in the cost of regular Museum admission; no registration is required. Museum Members always visit for free.

South Florida Museum

[SCOOP]  Orioles Team Up With Local Non-Profits to Fight Hunger in Sarasota
The Orioles are once again teaming up this fall with local nonprofits Mayors’ Feed the Hungry Program and All Faiths Food Bank to fight hunger in Sarasota.

To support the Mayors’ Feed the Hungry Program, the Orioles will collect non-perishable food items at Ed Smith Stadium beginning on Monday, November 5, and will host the charity’s Thanksgiving Sorting Day at the ballpark on Friday, November 16. Non-perishable food items may be dropped off at Ed Smith Stadium, located at 2700 12th Street, on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The collection station is located inside Café 54 on Euclid Avenue. The stadium will be closed on Monday, November 12, in observance of Veterans Day.

“The Orioles have a long-standing commitment to fighting hunger, not just locally but also regionally throughout the mid-Atlantic and internationally through a variety of partnerships,” said David Rovine, Vice President, Orioles-Sarasota. “We encourage local residents to participate in the important efforts of Mayors’ Feed the Hungry and All Faiths Food Bank. Together, we can help improve the lives of families in need throughout the Sarasota area.”


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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