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SRQ Daily May 18, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"It might be the most expensive off-the-water piece of property the city owns... and the Symphony wants seven acres?"

- Mollie Cardamone, former Sarasota mayor
 

[City]  The Two-Plate Debate
Tom Barwin, Thomas.Barwin@sarasotagov.com

As Florida grows, managing the transportation system is going to remain a high priority. However, getting anything of statewide significance accomplished requires that local, state and the federal governments work together.  

Excuse the pun, but despite gridlock at the Federal Level, local governments are doing all we can to keep people moving efficiently. Our focus these days is how to integrate new technology into the transportation system, while keeping street public ROW’s safe for old technology, like walking and bicycling.

In the City of Sarasota, we are working on our first ever, transportation master plan called, Sarasota in Motion.   Our first public visioning sessions will be held on Tuesday, June 4, at 11am and 5pm.  Go to www.sarasotainmotion.com to check for meeting locations or to participate in the transportation planning process online.    

Short term, cities are adapting to the increasing popularity of UBER and LYFT ride sharing services as we prepare for the introduction of autonomous vehicles. 

In the future, it will be important to have queuing space available at popular destinations for ride-sharing vehicles to pick up passengers safely and quickly.  Many local residents have utilized UBER and LYFT services dozens of times. As most SRQ Daily readers know, when you call for a car from your phone app, the driver’s name, car type and license plate number of the car picking you up is sent to you. To keep traffic moving and to make sure you get in the right car, the license plate number of the car service’s vehicle is the key to safety and efficiency.  

But here in Florida, you can’t see a license plate of the car coming to pick you up because Florida does not provide a license plate for the front of our cars. We are one of 19 states that don’t require a front plate, which really doesn’t make much sense anymore, if it ever did. 

So perhaps it’s time to prepare for the future by taking a page from the past. We may not be able to build high speed rail like the rest of the world, but maybe our state can take one small step forward toward improving our transportation system by once again making Florida a two-plate state. It may not be the great debate, but let the two-plate state debate begin.

Tom Barwin is Sarasota city manager. Feel free to email him at Thomas.barwin@sarasotafl.gov 

[Gulf Coast]  Mrs. Iversen and the Power of Endowment
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Dorothy Iversen is helping dozens of Lemon Bay High School graduates pursue higher education next fall.

About 40 students will receive a total of nearly $40,000 in financial aid from the scholarship fund that Mrs. Iversen created at Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Since 2008, her fund has awarded more than 300 scholarships worth over $275,000. Dorothy passed away in 2011, but as the endowment she left continues to grow, so will the amount we can invest directly in promising local students each year.

The photo above this column shows dear Dorothy with the first four recipients of her scholarship back in 2008. Greg Luberecki on the Gulf Coast staff remembers picking her up at her modest Englewood home that summer day for the short ride to Lemon Bay High. He’s not sure the passenger-side airbag even activated after he helped petite Mrs. Iverson into his car. But Greg recalls taking the drive extra slowly anyway to enjoy the lively conversation punctuated by her hearty laugh.

Dorothy valued education, going back to the technical training programs that impressed her as a youth in Norway. A longtime resident of Englewood, she wanted to help young people from the community she loved attend college to improve their lives. While Dorothy had been “down” for some time after her beloved husband, Arne, passed in 2006, she found renewed joy upon realizing she could help others through philanthropy because Arne had so carefully ensured she was well cared for.

“I wanted to see my inheritance do some good during my lifetime,” she said of creating her scholarship, named for her and her husband.

Dorothy beamed upon meeting those first four students who would benefit from her assistance. They gladly made time amid busy schedules of summer employment or packing up for an early move to campus so they could personally thank their generous benefactor. The image focusing on sweet Dorothy in the foreground with four confident young women behind her is priceless. But in reality, it was Dorothy who was fully behind them.

After the photo session, as Greg pulled out of the parking lot, one of the students walked over to thank Mrs. Iversen a final time. Dorothy reached out of the window and clasped the girl’s hand for what must have been a minute or more, wishing her success over and over. Philanthropy literally means “love of mankind.” Dorothy exuded it.

Over the next few years, Gulf Coast’s Kirstin Fulkerson arranged lunches each summer for Dorothy and as many of her scholarship recipients as could join them. Kirstin practically carried tiny Mrs. Iversen from her car to the restaurant and back the last time they met with her students. But Dorothy wouldn’t miss those lunches for anything.

In addition to her scholarship, Dorothy established another charitable fund at Gulf Coast, which became a permanent endowment through her estate plan. It provides annual support to a selection of nonprofit organizations she designated. To date, it has funded 85 grants totaling more than $760,000 to the worthy nonprofits she picked. It, too, is intended to continue growing while fulfilling her charitable wishes, in her and Arne’s names, forever.

Dorothy’s obituary called her “a generous giver of gifts,” a fitting description for her modest wholeheartedness. She had the good fortune to see her inheritance “do some good” during her lifetime. Our community has the better fortune of seeing her thoughtfully planned gifts do untold good in perpetuity. (We are also blessed that her trusted financial advisor, Peter Mason, introduced Dorothy to Gulf Coast in the first place.) When 23 graduating Lemon Bay seniors were recognized last Monday at the school’s awards night for earning the Iversen scholarship, the joy and pride to be seen on their faces were also gifts that Dorothy had given.

Dorothy Iversen was one of a kind, but the Dorothy and Arne Iversen Scholarship Fund is just one of more than 50 scholarship funds here at Gulf Coast that will award critical aid to local students for the next school year. Each reflects the particular interests and values of the donors who created them. All are shining examples of the power of endowed philanthropy to pay it forward in the most personal and communal ways imaginable.

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

[Argus]  Tackling Barriers to Affordable Housing
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Impact fees, regulations, delays in construction, regulatory barriers and taxes all contribute to affordable housing problems. Dr. Bob McClure, president and CEO of The James Madison Institute, offered an overview of an important study about how government actions affect workforce housing at a joint meeting this week between Gulf Coast Builders Exchange and The Argus Foundation.

This study examined market forces and how when government intervenes, it can purposefully, or not purposefully, make housing more expensive. Dr. McClure started at the 50,000-foot level and got all of the way down to the non-function of Sarasota County’s impact fee calculator and how this is affecting housing prices.

After we acknowledge that we are not building enough to meet demand, we move to regulatory issues. Dr. McClure boiled it down well, a complex approval process that is drawn out, unpredictable, and full of extra costs is essentially another tax passed onto homebuyers. 

He called it the “Time is money” tax. As money is tied up, it loses value and bears interest carrying costs. That just doesn’t go away in development, it is calculated into development and passed on to the homebuyer.

Impact fees and regulatory costs can have a disproportionate impact upon the buyer. Dr. McClure gave the example of impact fee costs between two homes. A home of $175,000 may bear a cost of $16,000 in impact fees, while a home of $400,000 may only bear a fee of $20,000. Which buyer will find it easier to absorb the fee? Of course, the buyer of the more expensive home is less sensitive to such increases.

Unquestionably, Dr. McClure stated managing growth is Florida’s most important issue. We are gaining residents from high tax and regulation states like New York every day, like me, and my parents, and my sister, and members of my extended family. All of us migrated from New York over the past two decades to escape the economic burdens created by New York state and local governments. “Live free or move” as Dr. McClure so aptly put it.

But just piling on fees and regulations without considering the effect of them on housing costs is turning a blind eye to a big problem.

Dr. McClure summarized the recommendations from the study for the crowd; We must make the system more predictable, easier to use, less burdensome and more certain. Fees should be linked to home size to reduce their regressive nature. Fees should only be calculated and used for the actual cost of the infrastructure or service and the fee should be easy to understand and determine on your own. The fee calculations should be locked in at the beginning of processes, not in the middle or end, and always look at how regulation will add to housing prices.

To view this study and find out more, click here

This aspect of housing should not be ignored and should be evaluated every time a new process or regulation is put in place if governments are serious about housing costs.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[On City]  Symphony in the Park: What is the Cost?
Mollie Cardamone

A bit of history informs us the Payne Park land was donated by the Payne family to our city for recreational and kindred uses. Key word is kindred.

When I was a city commissioner (1993-2001), we closed what was once known as 'The World's Largest Trailer Park' on the land now known as Payne Park. In 1994, we began the very difficult and extremely expensive closure process, buying, relocating/moving or demolishing and hauling to the dump the 500 to 800 trailers in existence at the time. The best estimate I can find is an average cost of $2,000 per trailer, a total $1 million to 1.6 million.

More money was spent to clear the land of concrete pads, streets, sewer and water lines and other infrastructure to make way for park development. A master plan was approved and Payne Park, phases 1 and 2 were completed and the park was opened in 2005 at a price tag of $8.8 million. Adding all the dollars spent, I estimate the 29 acres of Payne Park cost city tax payers more than $10 million.

Payne Park was developed with Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) dollars, the extra penny used to build parks and improve infrastructure through out the county. The park appeared on the LOST list and was voted by the voters and was built with those dollars. An oversight committee ensures proper use of those dollars.

I believe the use of those LOST dollars for a Payne Park development created a public trust… a trust that was a deal. Certainly that vote and that established trust never envisioned to be turned over to an entity that will basically privatize approximately 20 percent of the park land. After all, the Symphony building and parking lot will not be free to the public as the park land is now.

We really must not think of giving any piece of that high cost land to anyone for private use. I think it may have an investment of $345,000 per acre or more! It might be the most expensive off-the-water piece of property the city owns... and the Symphony wants seven acres? Really?? Wow!

I close with another major worry. The gift to the symphony sets up a performing arts hall situation that directly conflicts and competes with our city-owned, very successful Van Wezel Hall. The symphony halls have to book events other than just their own musical performance. It makes me scratch my head in disbelief that it is even being seriously considered.

Dear city mothers and fathers, please consider the great investment we have made, think about the property value, the competition with Van Wezel and the beautiful green space in close proximity to downtown. We really need to preserve our beautiful park and continue with phases 3 and 4 to complete the dream!

Mollie C. Cardamone is a former Sarasota city commissioner and mayor. 

[On Selby]  Selby Sky Garden Will Meet A Demand
Emily C. Lane

Winston Churchill said “A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.”

Granted, the Sky Garden at Selby Gardens is big. But as I drive up Orange Avenue each morning, I see only big buildings along the commercial corridor of U.S. 41/Tamiami Trail. The shortest nearby building is three stories.

Selby Gardens visitors’ biggest complaint is parking. We are proposing a beautiful facility with enough spaces that replaces sand, shell and pockmarked pavement with lovely gardens.

That Churchill quote is one of my mantras. I try to get angry only about truly big things. In Sarasota, there are children who don’t eat except at school. Their parents abuse them, they can’t read, they’ve never seen our gorgeous beaches. There are people dying of horrible diseases, little affordable housing for workers, and the threat of global warming.

Is a building that allows us to serve our guests really worth getting so angry about? Especially when it replaces sad dirt lots and comes with a twelve-foot landscaped recreation trail and signage forbidding people from turning left to go down Orange Avenue?

I, for one, think the saddest thing here is the amount of anger over something so small.

Emily C. Lane is director of development communications for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. 



[SCOOP]  Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Golf Tournament Raises Over $130,000 for SMH Physicians Endowment

More than 200 hundred golfers teed off at the 18th Annual Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation (SMHF) Golf Tournament on May 3. The tournament has raised more than $1 million since 2001 for the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Physician’s Endowment which supports SMH employee educational programs. Played over both courses at Laurel Oak Country Club, the SMHF tournament is the annual collaboration of local businesses and individuals who support the event through sponsorships of golf teams, as well as direct and in-kind donations. More than 60 volunteers were also on hand to help make the event a success. 

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation

[SCOOP]  Children First Giving Circle Creates Impact

In the summer of 2018, Children First quietly launched a new endeavor with a focus on young professionals who have a desire to change lives across our community: Generation GIV. In their effort to create a greater and more meaningful impact through philanthropy, members voted on three different projects and opted to fund the parenting class, "Positive Solutions for Families" through our award-winning Families First Institute. This will help to ensure the success of Children First's mission to strengthen children and families across our community and beyond.  Generation GIV members will be presenting Children First with a check for $5,000 on May 15th at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing. 

Children First

[SCOOP]  Beware of Latest Medicare Scam DNA/Genetic Testing Scheme

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida and the SHINE/SMP (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders/Senior Medicare Patrol) Program have become aware that older adults are being targeted by companies promoting “free” genetic testing, cancer screening, or DNA testing.  Older adults are being targeted at senior centers, housing complexes, community public health fairs and also at home with requests to provide their medicare number and personal information for what they are told are reimburseable preventative medical testing. This scam is resulting in fraudulent charges and leaving many Medicare beneficiaries liable for significant charges.  More information on how to prevent and report health care fraud and abuse is available at the link below or by calling the toll-free Helpline at 866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER). 

Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida

[SCOOP]  SMH Receives "A" for Patient Safety

In the recently released Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report cards, Sarasota Memorial Hospital earned its sixth consecutive “A” for keeping patients safe from medical errors, infections, accidents and other preventable harm. The Leapfrog Group assigned U.S. hospitals safety grades based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harm to patients in their care. In addition to receiving six straight A’s in Leapfrog’s hospital safety report cards, SMH is the only hospital in Florida to have consistently earned the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ highest five-star quality award since the rating system launched in 2016. It also was named one of the world’s best hospitals in a global ranking compiled for the first time by Newsweek magazine. 

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade

[SCOOP]  Grey Matters Apparel Online

Grey Matters Apparel, including new women's tanks, and men's and women's shirts are now available online. The proceeds from these fabulous looking tanks, tees and other apprel items provides financial support that helps The Institute, an independent 501(c)3 public charity, and The Roskamp Neurology Clinic continue their mission: discovering safe and effective pharmaceutical and nutraceutical therapies and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses of the mind. 

The Roskamp Institute

[SCOOP]  Designing Women Boutique Awards Grants and GroundWorks Receives Rewards from Fundraising

Designing Women Boutique awarded nearly $140,000 to area non-profits at a recent cocktail reception hosted by BMO Harris Bank in downtown Sarasota. DWB’s GroundWorks program was also on hand to receive funds from the boutique’s sale of donated items that will be used to endow local scholarships, mentoring and career development programs.  DWB’s ability to provide these grants and funds was made possible by their many event sponsors as well as generous donations of cash, goods, volunteer hours and store merchandise. DWB was founded 17 years ago to support the Asolo Rep and has since expanded their giving to include nearly every not-for-profit in the Sarasota area. 

Designing Women Boutique

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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