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SRQ DAILY Apr 13, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Today's students will be the ones who will most urgently encounter the consequences of the heedlessness with which we have treated the planet that sustains us."

- Dr. Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  Political Equity or Unrest
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Since Sarasota County voters in 2020 for the first time in years will elect only the county commissioner for their district, boundaries will matter more than ever. So should the county reapportion now instead of awaiting census results? Commissioner Nancy Detert thinks so.

In one way, she has a point, but such a move could open up a much bigger box of woe. The key issue for Detert relates to equal representation. County commission districts aren’t near equal in population. Her plan will fix that.

Normally, district lines for such political districts get redrawn once a decade after the census. “It’s smarter to do it right now,” Detert told me. She stressed county lines never mattered before. With single-member districts just approved by voters, they do.

I’ll quibble a little. County districts always mattered for residency. It’s how we guarantee a seat on the board for a Venice area resident like Detert, and prevent Sarasota area politics from dominating county affairs more than it already does.

But I grant Detert this. Nobody took county redistricting too seriously until now. I compared voter registrations from the 2012 elections (after the last country redistricting) to those last November. The districts are more out of whack now than they were six or seven years ago, but not by as much as I expected.

Then and now, District 1 was the least populated while District 5 had the most voters. Back then, there was a divide of about 10,700. Today, the split sits around 16,000.

Detert wants to apply the same standard as used for reapportioning by Florida Legislative districts, a process the former lawmaker was a part of in 2002 and in 2012. That’s fair.

But it’s also a curious point because in the year 2018, state House members were elected by wildly different populations.

Looking at my most recent Where The Votes Are analysis of November results, state Rep. Will Robinson won in District 71 election where about 72,600 people voted. State Rep. Margaret Good won in District 72, where more than 82,100 voted. Indeed, Ray Pilon, who Good defeated, won more votes than Robinson.

State Rep. Tommy Gregory’s District 73 race saw almost 103,900 voters turn out. Meanwhile, just about 91,600 voted in District 74, where James Buchanan won.

Does any of that seem fair? Perhaps not, but what can you do? All those districts were drawn before 2012—back when Detert served in the Senate—and haven’t been touched since. A lot of growth in Lakewood Ranch means Gregory simply represents more people—for now. There will be fresh census figures in 2022 and representatives will again serve similar populations.

I wish more care had been put into redistricting county lines in 2012. The county should definitely be careful with reapportionment leading into 2022. But to redraw lines before then? It’s hard to imagine this won’t be seen as the Mike Moran Protection Plan, a politically driven effort to help the one Republican commissioner undoubtedly hurt by single-member districts in 2020.

Another thing to consider. Whenever district lines shift for a body with staggered terms, some voters end up moving districts and missing an entire election cycle. Imagine a District 2 voter who doesn’t vote for any county commissioner in 2020, then lines get redrawn and she’s in District 3 come the 2022 cycle and also misses the chance to vote.

If lines get redrawn in 2022 elections, it’s likely some voters get tossed around so much they go three elections without getting to vote for a county commissioner once.

I don't doubt Detert’s motives. While she concedes she did not support Single-Member Districts, she’s trying to do something fair. She’s likely a frontrunner in her Venice area seat no matter what. But I’m not sure this effort to avoid legal exposure or representation inequity won’t create more of exactly those things.

Jacob Ogles is senior contributing editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  Every Day is Earth Day at New College
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

April brings us two days, Earth Day on the 22nd and Arbor Day on the 26th, that focus on the importance of protecting and sustaining our natural environment. This year we will mark Arbor Day with a celebration involving students and the broader Sarasota community that will showcase our commitment to tree preservation on campus.

We are proud of our beautiful 110-acre campus that overlooks Sarasota Bay and provides a home to approximately 150 species of trees and scores of other plants. Many of these species predate the development of our own species, homo sapiens. As stewards of the land and the adjoining bay front, we take very seriously our commitment to creating and sustaining outdoor spaces that allow different species to thrive, and that provide natural learning laboratories for our students and faculty and aesthetic appeal for all visitors to our campus.

This year, the Arbor Day Foundation honored our commitment to urban forest management with 2018 TreeCampus USA recognition. Receiving this designation required meeting the organization’s stringent standards for the development and support of a campus-wide tree care plan that engaged students, professors and professional staff.

New College is currently in the first year of a three-year, $294,198 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to identify the best methods for restoring mangrove habitat on nearby Tidy Island. Biology Professors Brad Oberle and Jayne Gardiner are leading this research project to determine the best way to dispose of wood from invasive plants in this natural habitat.

Earlier this month, New College joined the EcoLeague, a consortium of six liberal arts colleges located in very different bioregions across the U.S. that are dedicated to ecologically focused education and to modeling sustainability through operations and facilities. New College will welcome exchange students to our campus to learn about Florida’s subtropical region and our students will have similar opportunities in coastal Maine, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Arizona and the Great Lakes region in Wisconsin. These opportunities are essential for students to who will live and work in a global, diverse and highly interconnected world. Among the interconnections are those among our communities, our local natural and built environments and the health of our planet.

Colleges in the EcoLeague consortium established environmental programs in the 1970s. New College created our environmental studies program in 1974 and opened the Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center in 2001. Both programs have extended their academic reach and community connections over more than four decades and are a point of pride for our school and the broader region. For nearly two decades, the Pritzker Center has been the home of summer science program for area middle schools, exposing hundreds of students to the excitement of STEM fields.

Today’s students will be the ones who will most urgently encounter the consequences of the heedlessness with which we have treated the planet that sustains us. I am proud to say that at New College sustainability is a core value, and that students, regardless of their majors, are working together to make sure that what we do here is responsible and appropriate to ensuring a healthy environment for now and forever.

Dr. Donal O’Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

[On Planning]  Garage One Part of Big Picture
Marlane Wurzbach

Having seen the protest signs along South Orange Avenue, I just want to point out that the garage is only one part of the Selby Gardens’ Master Site Plan project. Selby is a world-class botanical resource and, as such, should keep up with the times and technologies. The botanical work they do should be safe from hurricanes. The gardens should (and will be) expanded. And the expanded parking will allow more people to contribute to our local economy—something that keeps Sarasota popular in many markets including real estate! In my opinion, if Selby had not been created, that whole area would probably now be condos such as 888 Partners.

In conclusion I want to say that whenever I see those protest signs along South Orange, all I can think of is how selfish those folks appear to be. They all live within walking distance of Selby Gardens. Most visitors do not, and Selby Gardens would not exist if it were not popular with folks outside of Hudson Bayou.

Marlane Wurzbach, Sarasota. 

[On Planning]  Support Selby's Master Plan

As a resident and close neighbor of Selby Gardens, we want to express my support for their Master Plan.

We moved into the city of Sarasota knowing that cities have noise, traffic, homelessness, crowds and other issues associated with city living. That being said, we also moved in to experience the ‘heart beat' of the city. To be within walking distance of theater, parades, opera, open markets, restaurants, shops and, yes, the beautiful Selby Gardens.

One of the jewels of Sarasota is Selby Gardens and its new Master Plan will move it to the top of all botanical gardens, both in the US and internationally. As a scientific botanical illustrator, I am extremely excited about this plan. The plan is impressive, thoughtful, and responsive. What is even more significant is the extent to which Selby Gardens, under the leadership of Jennifer Rominiecki, modified the initial plans in response to suggestions and objections by the public. By listening to the many neighbors and others, Selby has now spent well over a million and a half dollars above their original plan, to change the impact of noise, height, ingress and egress, open spaces etc. These thoughtful responses and actions are indeed very rare and says even more about the thoughtful leadership at Selby. .  

Finally, let’s remember that Selby Gardens is private property and sits on a prime stretch of downtown real estate. Absent the improvements presented in the Master Plan, it is potentially vulnerable to being sold and developed into high rise condos. It would be a tragedy if a few negative voices against making Selby Gardens an even better addition to Sarasota happen to prevail in this process. 

We love this city and all it has to offer. To have Selby Gardens as an integral part of downtown Sarasota is a privilege you won’t find in many cities. Please vote to support the Selby Master Plan as currently presented.

Betsy and Bill Roe, Sarasota. 

[SCOOP]  Children First Fairytale Ball: The Enchanted Library

More than 330 supporters helped to create happily ever afters for the most at-risk youth in our community at Children First’s Fairytale Ball: the Enchanted Library. The evening focused on the organization’s mission to strengthen children and families, and provided many opportunities to support the nationally award-winning Head Start programming through live and silent auctions. This year’s live auction gave attendees a chance to win a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy Experience, complete with a stay at the iconic Lotte New York Palace Hotel.   

Children First

[KUDOS]  Women & Medicine Educational Program Raises over $170,000

The Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation’s Women & Medicine educational program raised over $170,000 for The Florida State University Internal Medicine Residency Program at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Over 400 guests attended the Healthcare Foundation’s 7 annual “Women & Medicine” educational luncheon on March 29 at Michael’s on East. The program covered two important topics regarding primary care medicine. The first, “How to Be a Partner in Good Health” focused on making the most of your physician relationship.  The second presentation was an introduction to the FSU Internal Medicine Residency Program at SMH, where the goal is to attract and train newly graduated physician residents. 

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

[SCOOP]  Leadership Sarasota County Accepting Applications for Class of 2020

The Adult Leadership Sarasota County program is seeking candidates for the Class of 2020. This ten-month program is tailored for up and coming leaders who want to use their knowledge, skills and relationships to advance and deepen their community impact. The Youth Leadership Sarasota County program is also seeking candidates for the Class of 2020. The youth program is a nine month, hands-on program that visits various locations throughout Sarasota County to explore the diverse facets of Sarasota’s social, government and business environments. For more information, please contact Sara Rachon at srachon@sarasotachamber.com. Deadline to apply is May 31, 2019. 

Leadership Sarasota County

[SCOOP]  Tropical Nights

The 26 Annual Tropical Nights Hot Havana Nights was red HOT at Grove Ballroom. Guests were entertained by live salsa dancers and Latin beats of Tropical Avenue. The atmosphere was electric and guests were buzzing as they outbid one another on amazing silent and live auction items. A heartfelt mission appeal from board chair, Bambi Forristall followed by an impactful video that gripped many hearts which raised approximately $140,000 to Feed Manatee!

(L-R) Steve Bayard, Andy Guz, Maribeth Phillips, Susan Kramer, Bambi Forristall, Kathy Martella, Jackie Barron and Mark Goodson.  

Meals On Wheels

[SCOOP]  Florida Studio Theatre To Produce "Suffragist Project"

Florida Studio Theatre has announced that it will be producing The Suffragist Project, a bi-county artistic commemoration of the upcoming 100 Anniversary of the 19 Amendment – the woman’s right to vote. Over 20 organizations are involved in creating this regional celebration, organizing events, including plays, performances, art exhibits, panel discussions, educational offerings, and more, that will take place throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties over the next 16 months. Summer 2020, The Suffragist Project will culminate with the production of a new play at FST consisting of the best work created for the project. 

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP]  United Airlines Adds Nonstop Flights

United Airlines will add twice daily nonstop service from the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). The service between SRQ and IAD will begin on October 27 using Embraer 175 jet aircraft. “This new service will provide our customers more choices when traveling to or from the U.S. Capital Region, and provides three international gateways on United when coupled with existing service to Chicago (ORD) and Newark (EWR)” said Rick Piccolo, SRQ President, Chief Executive Officer. 

SRQ Airport

[SCOOP]  Booker High School’s “Into the Storm” Featured at Sarasota Film Festival

Booker High School VPA Digital Film and Motion Design students, teachers and producers John Timpe and Lori Burton all participated in the creation of “Into the Storm”. The film tells the powerful story of BHS’s closing in the 1960s as a part of the district’s desegregation plan and  unfolds through the eyes of the high school’s Tornadoes basketball team, who won the state championship title in 1967, only to return to a closed school and tumultuous local climate. This student-created documentary explores the year that changed Booker High School and the city of Sarasota forever.  

Booker High School

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: 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. 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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