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SRQ DAILY Jul 13, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"We have known for years that our workforce would be in need of an influx from younger generations. So what have we been doing about it?"

- Lisa Krouse, FCCI Insurance Group

[Under The Hood]  Scrutiny Isn't Hypocrisy
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Reporters get called plenty of names these days. Of late, I’ve heard the word “hypocrite” thrown around when it comes to scrutiny of Sarasota County Commission plans to redistrict ahead of the 2020 Census.

The story goes media all but ignored when Sarasota County School Board redistricted in 2017, apparently for explicitly political reasons. Yet, reporters now raise questions about county commissioners today. Why? Bias? Favoritism? I most often here we’re just hypocrites.

I wish people would at least look up insults before hurling them. Reporters endure, and occasionally deserve, withering criticism. But paying attention to whether county commissioners try to openly subvert the will of voters isn’t hypocrisy.

Let’s turn, as many a lazy columnist has, to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. How does the big book define hypocrisy? “Behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.”

But see, it’s not the behavior of journalists at question. We haven’t redistricted any political boundaries. Nor will we.

Maybe let’s use the word in a sentence. If elected officials openly assert it was terrible for the School Board to redistrict in an off-year to benefit one of their own politically, but then do exactly the same thing, that’s hypocrisy.

Say journalists were lazy and inattentive in 2017. I’ll take that. I don’t closely monitor memos sent by School Board members to district attorneys. If I did, I hope I would notice a request by School Board member Shirley Brown for districts to be redrawn so she could move into a different home but remain in her old district. The board ultimately allowed just that

You could accuse of a double standard, though I don’t recall anybody in the media endorsing the School Board move. If it helps, I’ll say now such brazen politicking abuses the power of School Board members to draw their own districts. 

Do we all agree this was a bad things to do? If so, how are Sarasota County Commissioners’ intentions different?

I wish media paid closer attention in 2017. Nevertheless, there are reasons the impending redistricting draws more attention. First is the recent single-member district vote; commissioners make no bones the change motivates considering reapportionment.

But the impacts of such a move also reach well beyond the political class. Beyond just benefiting or wounding candidates, choosing to redistrict now, only to do it again in 2021, will inevitably disenfranchise a group of voters.

Almost certainly, some will be denied the right to vote for any county commissioner for a six-year period. Quite likely, that number will include many who desperately want single-member representation.

How can this happen? Voters living in Districts 1, 3 or 5, entitling them to vote in 2020, could be drawn into even-numbered districts and be denied the chance. If any of those same voters get drawn into odd-numbered districts in two years, they will be again be denied the right to vote.

This is partly a consequence of single-member districts, shifting away from a system where every county voter can participate in every cycle. But toying with lines twice in as many cycles, using two completely different methodologies for mapping populations, worsens the effect for voters who get moved from district to district. 

Cynical observers might anticipate Democratic-leaning precincts to be shifted out of districts cycle after cycle. And who knows how often commissioners will find a need to “rebalance” districts again.

If you feel the arguments for redistricting now outweigh that, fine. Truthfully, commissioners could redraw districts just to prove they can. I might better respect that over contrived arguments about averting phantom lawsuits.

But questioning the logic, especially when benefits for commissioners not facing term limits appears so clear, isn’t hypocritical. Indeed, it’s journalists fulfilling their role as watchdogs of the pillars of democracy.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[Higher Education]  New College and the Cross-College Alliance in the Community
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

What role should colleges or universities play in the local communities in which they are located?

Of course, different institutions have different missions, so no single answer to this question could apply to every institution. Most individuals agree that universities should focus on educating students and, in some cases, research. But it does not follow, as some maintain, that a university has no obligation to the city or region in which it happens to be located.

In fact, the local institutions that comprise the Cross-College Alliance (CCA): New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art and Design, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, The Ringling Museum and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee owe their existence to the communities in which we are located. The health of our institutions depends on the health of our communities, and each of the CCA institutions encourages students and staff to participate in community service.

These efforts will receive a huge boost from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s award last month to New College of Florida of $750,000 to fund a five-year project entitled New College and the Cross-College Alliance in the Community. The project will support curricular and research initiatives at the CCA institutions to preserve local history, integrate social and racial justice work into artistic practice and teaching, and explore questions of special interest to the local community. Dr. Bill Woodson at New College will direct the project and establish a new Office for Community Outreach and Engagement at New College to coordinate activities and foster collaboration at the different institutions.

As part of this project, the CCA institutions will develop new courses largely aimed at first-year students that involve substantive community engagement and reflection on that community engagement. The first offering of each course will be co-taught by two faculty members, possibly from different institutions, one of whom teaches in the humanities or arts, and one of whom has some prior experience in community engagement. Some examples may include a course at New College in which students focus on preserving the history of Newtown and its distinctive heritage as one of the few remaining historic African-American communities in Florida. In another course, students might study the impact of new development on neighborhoods in Sarasota and Bradenton. Another proposed course involves a partnership with the Florida Center for Partnerships in Arts Integrated Teaching (PAInT Center) at USF Sarasota-Manatee and the Youth Experiencing Arts program at RCAD.

Another part of the project imagines the construction of a joint program whereby students at CCA institutions cycle through internships or community service projects that expose them to different community-serving professions. Common to all activities of the grant is the goal of embedding community service into the academic, curricular cores of our institution. Ultimately, we seek to erase the false dichotomy between educating students and serving one’s community. We imagine a future in which the strategic deployment of the economic, human and intellectual capital of our institutions to better the welfare of our hometown communities will fully align with our educational missions.

I, for one, can hardly wait to see how this will play out.

For now, I’m very grateful to the local foundations that provided the seed funding for the CCA, and to the Mellon Foundation for this most recent award that will allow us to build on their previous award in 2016 for the project New College: Connecting the Arts and Humanities on Florida’s Creative Coast. This extraordinary support indicates that others see the tremendous potential in collaboration among our institutions and the wonderful communities of which we are a part.

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

[On Business]  Engaging the Workforce of Tomorrow – Today
Lisa Krouse

If you have been staying current on business trends, then you know about the shortage of workers in numerous industries. According to Department of Labor statistics, as of January of this year, the U.S. economy had 7.6 million unfilled jobs but only 6.5 million people looking for work.

What makes this situation more urgent is the ongoing mass retirement of baby boomers. Statistics indicate roughly 4 million will retire each year for at least the next decade.

According to a report released in late 2018 by the Manpower Group, “Solving the Talent Shortage,” 46 percent of U.S. employers say they can’t find people to hire with the skills they need. For large organizations–those with 250 or more employees–the figure rises to 58 percent.

In the insurance industry, the situation is particularly dire. The unemployment rate sits at 1.7 percent— well below the national average of 3.9 percent. Boomers dominate the insurance industry: the average age in the insurance industry is 59 and there are more than 150,000 workers over 65 still employed. With the massive exodus of retiring workers, the industry will be looking to fill 400,000 jobs by the year 2020, and 50 percent of the current workforce will be retired by 2030.  

Terrifyingly, according to the grassroots collaboration Insurance Careers Movement, fewer than 5 percent of millennials are interested in the insurance industry.

Locally, the situation at FCCI Insurance Group aligns with national insurance industry numbers. By 2025, more than 50 percent of FCCI’s workforce will be over the age of 50. We have known for years that our workforce would be in need of an influx from younger generations. So what have we been doing about it?

One strategy we’ve implemented is to invite young talent to get an inside look at our industry through the FCCI summer intern program. Our interns have become our best industry ambassadors, as they understand that working in insurance is a great career choice for reasons including competitive compensation, personal growth and job stability.

On July 12, we presented our inaugural “Career with a Purpose Day” program for interns looking to learn more about careers in the insurance industry. Our hope was that they would leave the event understanding that there is meaningful and fascinating work within our industry, with a wide variety of skill sets and interests represented.

We are also collaborating with local partners to help us better understand the climate in which we are operating, and strategies that can help to replenish our workforce. In 2018, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative planned and presented a report on the skills gap in the local insurance industry, listing numerous actions that could help attract younger workers.

Mireya Eavey, chief workforce officer for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and CareerEdge, says the survey made it clear students don’t understand insurance or the opportunities available within the industry. “We have to tell the story in schools,” she says. “The biggest thing is rebranding — highlighting this industry of work focused on helping others while offering good-paying jobs.”

Chris Laney, director of education and community investment for CareerSource Suncoast, notes insurance has been at the top of our region’s workforce efforts in recent years. “What CareerSource has found is that it begins with planting seeds in middle and high school students’ minds about the opportunities that exist in the insurance industry to begin creating a pipeline of individuals interested in the field,” he tells us.

We have been grateful for the support from our local universities. The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, working with insurance industry leaders, recently added a Risk Management & Insurance program. The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota also offers courses in risk management and insurance services and provides supplemental training for those currently employed in the field.

If our industry—as well as others suffering from the worker shortage—is to continue to grow and thrive, we must focus considerable effort and resources in reaching new generations. We believe our region will play a major role in leading the way in the insurance industry.

Lisa Krouse is a Board member, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer of FCCI Insurance Group. 

[On Politics]  The Mayor That Could — And Did
Gabriel Hament

A little over a year after I graduated from the University of Florida, a rising star in regional politics and the legal community, Kevin Griffith, recruited me to help lead an underdog campaign for the Sarasota City Commission. Under his wing I studied and put into practice the fundamentals of modern political campaigning: candidate debate prep, fundraising, direct mail, phone banking, mobilizing volunteers and the most effective but labor-intensive coalition-building technique— engaging voters through door-to-door canvassing. This team effort also included my friend and current UF law student, Kate Magill, who brought Presidential-level field outreach expertise to the campaign. 

Central to then-candidate Liz Alpert's platform was the nurturing and success of the nascent effort to reimagine our City's Bayfront Cultural District. At the time, Bayfront 20:20 was engaged in a multi-year effort to gather and synthesize input from thousands of individuals and stakeholder organizations. This process was memorialized in a set of guiding principles around which future development of the district would revolve. 

Today, four years later, a conservancy has been established and authorized by city leaders to facilitate the implementation of the first phase of a Master Plan. A recent 3-2 vote by the City Commission translated vision into reality. The region's foundations have provided seed funding for a full-time, top-flight design and development staff. And now Mayor Liz Alpert, by appointment of her fellow Commissioners, represents the Commission on The Bay Park Conservancy board. Mayor Alpert joins renowned business and community leaders who have volunteered their passion and expertise to this transformational enterprise. 

Against all odds and despite an avalanche of outside political committee dollars benefiting her opponent, Liz, who put herself through law school in her 50s, overcame Old Guard opposition and helped secure Sarasota's future. The entrepreneurial spirit and tradition of big thinking introduced to Sarasota by John, Mable, Charles and Edith Ringling, Owen Burns, Mayor Harry Higel and Marie Selby has been rekindled. Sarasota is on its way to becoming one of the greatest cities in North America. Thank you, Mayor!

Gabriel Hament is a Sarasota native. 

[SCOOP]  Lee-En Chung Presents at the American Society of Civil Engineers


Lee-En Chung, PE, LEED AP of Ivy Ventures will be a speaker at the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) state conference on "Envisioning Sustainable Communities" on July 19 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Her "What Makes St. Armands Parking Garage Sexy?" presentation will address the hybrid precast concrete structure, open stairs, architectural elements, electric vehicle charging stations and solar panels. Lee-En Chung served as the Owner's Project Manager for the City of Sarasota consulting on the design and construction of the new 4-level St. Armands Parking Garage, which was designed by Jonathan Parks of Solstice Architects and Mark Santos of Kimley-Horn and constructed by Swift and Haskell.  

[SCOOP]  Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Joins Operation Chill Summer Campaign to Encourage Random Acts of Kindness

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is joining Operation Chill™ again this year, the popular community service program sponsored by 7-Eleven stores.This summer, sheriff’s office deputies and civilians will “ticket” youngsters who are caught in random acts of kindness, good deeds or positive community activities with free Slurpee coupons. Appropriate “offenses” might include being helpful, wearing a helmet while riding a bike or holding the door open for a stranger. 

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Cuban Ballet Summer Intensive Program

The Sarasota Cuban Ballet is currently half way through their summer intensive program. They are hosting 85 dancers between the ages of 8 and 24, from 7 different countries and 12 U.S. states. Summer Intensive dancers train 6 hours a day, working on everything from physical conditioning to variations and pas de deux. In addition to their superb resident faculty, their amazing guest ballet masters are also all seasoned performers trained in the Cuban ballet method. On the weekends, the young dancers rest and go on field trips to area attractions such as Selby Gardens, the beach and the Ringling Museum. 

Sarasota Cuban Ballet

[KUDOS]  Perlman Suncoast Receives Grant to Fund Programming

The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast (Perlman Suncoast) was awarded a $20,000 grant over the summer to help support their 2019-2020 programming. Each year, Perlman Suncoast presents education outreach programs in Sarasota and Manatee counties featuring graduates of The Perlman Music Program (PMP).  PMP Alumni: In Schools brings alumni into elementary, middle and high schools, as well as special education schools and after-school programs, to educate and interact with students and teachers. PMP Alumni: Around Town offers free or low-cost performances and events in collaboration with local community venues and organizations. Super Strings provides young string musicians, ages 8-18, from across the state of Florida the opportunity to perform with the PMP String Orchestra during the PMP Sarasota Winter Residency, under the baton of Itzhak Perlman.  

The Perlman Music Program Suncoast

[KUDOS]  Sarasota County Schools Earns an A grade by the State of Florida

The Sarasota County School District has earned an A grade by the state of Florida for the 16th consecutive year since grading began in 2004. Sarasota was one of 24 school districts in the state to earn an A grade for the 2018-19 school year. The school district saw improvements in five of 11 categories, including English language arts (ELA) learning gains in the lowest quartile, overall math learning gains, social studies, graduation rate and college and career acceleration. Sarasota County Schools’ overall scores improved by eight points compared to last year and the school district is ranked #3 in the state behind St. John and Gilchrist counties. 

Sarasota County Schools

[SCOOP]  Selah Freedom Awarded $1.5 Million by the State of Florida

Selah Freedom has been awarded their largest grant ever from the state of Florida. This $1.5 million in funding for Selah Freedom comes at the heels of the Governor signing a bill on June 26 comprising of four parts that calls for additional training of law enforcement, medical personnel, and hotel workers, teaching them to spot signs of human sex trafficking; makes it illegal for anyone with a criminal conviction related to prostitution to obtain a license to own or operate a massage parlor; establishes a public database of pimps and clients of prostitutes and establishes a support organization for survivors, providing counseling and treatment. 

Selah Freedom

[KUDOS]  Manatee Memorial Hospital Stroke Services Receives Award from the AHA

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. Manatee Memorial has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, for the eleventh year and the association’s Target: StrokeSM Elite Honor Roll Award, for the third year. These awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. 

Manatee Memorial Hospital

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. 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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