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SRQ DAILY Aug 17, 2019

"The regional scan tells us where the lines are in the road, so together we can keep heading in the right direction."

- Mark Prichett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[The Detail]  Nothing To Hyde
Cathy Antunes, cathycantunes@gmail.com

When I asked Martin Hyde about his $4,000 donation to the political committee (PC) “Making a Better Tomorrow,” I did not expect him to provide a full explanation of how he violated Florida election law. But that’s exactly what he did.

“Martin, your money is in there with Jim Gabbert…Randy Benderson…Carlos Beruff…Pat Neal…so I have to ask, will you be a lap dog for….(their) special interests?” I queried. Candidate Hyde proceeded to explain that he donated to the PC as a conduit for funding a GOP mailer to City voters identifying himself as a Republican.

I told the 2017 City Commission candidates Jen Ahearn-Koch, Hagen Brody and Hyde that we were streaming live video of my radio show on Facebook while we settled in for their group interview.

City Commission races are nonpartisan, and candidates are forbidden by state law from putting out campaign materials identifying their political party. Candidates are barred from donating to Political Action Committees and coordinating political messaging with PCs. Hyde claims he was a naive “babe in the woods” regarding campaign finance rules, yet he clearly explained that he knew his campaign wasn’t allowed to fund a partisan mailer, which why he gave his $4,000 to a PC.

Hyde gave $4,000 to Making a Better Tomorrow (managed by Eric Robinson) on Feb. 13, 2017. On same day the PC Legal Reform Now (also managed by Eric Robinson) gave $4,000 to the Republican Party of Sarasota County (Robinson is the GOP accountant). The Republican Party of Sarasota paid $4,302.26 for “mailers” in March 2017, according to campaign finance reports.

These 2017 activities have resulted in a $1,500 fine for Hyde, a $2,000 fine for the GOP and findings of probable cause by the Florida Elections Commission against the PCs involved and dark money PC administrator (and School Board member) Eric Robinson. With fines that are 50 percent or less than the illegal donation, political financiers may consider the penalties just the cost of doing business. In addition, because the Legal Reform Now PC has been dissolved, the FEC is reportedly not pursuing the case against it, because they say there is no way to penalize a PC which no longer exists.

But what about the dark money manager at the helm? Eric Robinson is still administering PCs. If dissolving a PC makes an investigation go away, the FEC has just handed PC managers like Robinson an easy method to make their political money laundering activities even less subject to legal consequences.

Robinson denies responsibility for funneling Hyde’s PC donation into GOP coffers. Robinson told the Herald Tribune, “I’m appealing it. I didn’t know anything about anything.”

Robinson expects the public to believe that local political donors like Martin Hyde, who fork over thousands of dollars to his PCs, are not directing how to use their money is to be used. If that’s the case, why donate to Robinson’s PCs? Why not donate to their political party, or favorite candidate?

Thank you, Martin Hyde, for your candor. Without it, this particular PC shell game would have proceeded without incident.

Cathy Antunes is host of The Detail. 

[Gulf Coast]  Roadmap to a Resilient Region
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Sarasota County is expected to welcome more than 68,000 new residents by 2030—the equivalent of adding the entire population of North Port today. An estimated 2,000 housing units will be built each year over the next decade to house new community members.

The Florida Chamber Foundation figures we must create over 25,000 net new jobs by 2030 just to maintain current employment levels. To diversify our economy, we need even more.

Meanwhile, over the next four decades, sea level in Sarasota County is projected to rise as much 10 to 24 inches, putting much of our housing stock, water supply, infrastructure, and community assets at risk.

Those are just a few of the figures that start to form a future picture of our community in Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s latest “regional scan” report. The scan is our biannual priority-setting process through which we analyze broad and relevant data for a view of long-term trends and emerging issues, then clarify that outlook with the candid perspectives of regional leaders.

What’s clear from our new scan is that the Gulf Coast region will continue to change. Coming trends and disruptors, including those mentioned above, pose significant risks to the health, competitiveness and prosperity of our communities. Our transitioning economy, expanding housing needs, growing congestion, changing climate, increasing cost of living and looming debt and financial insecurity could erode the quality of life and community fabric we enjoy today.

But that is only half the picture—and we get to fill in the rest. The reason Gulf Coast commissions (and shares) a regional scan is to identify common priorities and then articulate an agenda and mobilize the resources to address them. Not only does this research guide Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s funding decisions; it also provides intelligence for community partners, government leaders, and philanthropists to inform their planning, work, and giving. The regional scan tells us where the lines are in the road, so together we can keep heading in the right direction.

The scan considers and helps us build on past progress. A snapshot of a dozen and a half key regional indicators show improvement on important issues from education to homelessness over the past decade. We continue to work to better leverage the region’s creative, cultural, and coastal assets. There’s a reason so many of us come here in the first place.

But our world today is full of uncertainties and risks that could profoundly impact our region. At Gulf Coast, we stand ready to meet these challenges, and we look to our community, business, public and civic partners to imagine new solutions, explore bold ideas, innovate novel approaches, and collaborate in fresh ways to sustain our shared progress.

“Resilience” is the watchword of our latest regional scan. The future of our region is ours to embrace and create. It can be a future by default or a future by design. A future of expanding inequalities or a future in which we close gaps together. A future in which our more vulnerable residents and resources are increasingly at risk or a future in which the Gulf Coast is a more resilient region. In each instance, we choose the latter.

To become a more resilient region, we need action and implementation. The heart of our 2019-20 regional scan recommends critical actions in the areas of leadership, partnership, and community investment. Our vision is a future where we work together to lead nimble approaches to regional priorities and develop agile solutions to close gaps, reduce inequities, and mitigate risks. It is one where we enhance the unique cultural, coastal, and community assets that make our region attractive and competitive. We invite you to join us.

Mark Pritchett is President and CEO of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

To view Gulf Coast Community Foundation�s 2019-20 Gulf Coast Regional Scan, go to GulfCoastCF.org/our-publications.

[Argus]  We Must Be Prepared For Next Recession
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

The need for economic development and opportunity is great here in Sarasota County. While business may be booming, the next recession is always right around the corner. Are we prepared for it? The answer is no, we aren’t even taking good care of our economic development in the good times.

Case in point is the unemployment of young people in Sarasota County. According to the Tampa Bay Partnership 2019 Economic Competitiveness report, 14.67% of the population of 16-24 year-olds in Sarasota County are neither employed nor enrolled in school. The report refers to this rate as “disconnected youths.”

Think about that for a minute. During the Great Recession, in 2010, when Sarasota County walked into the proverbial brick wall and had an astronomical unemployment of 12.2 percent, we had economic chaos around us.

Restaurants, stores, and businesses were closing. People were leaving the area for better opportunity and people were losing their homes. Recession unemployment never got as high as the 2019 Competitiveness Report data for 16- to 24-year-olds. This is happening right now. Today. While we are in a booming economy.

We have the numbers to prove it, we are failing our young people, no doubt about it. Shame on us. We need to snap out of our laziness.

This is a failure to be shared by all, but also should be an alarm bell of epic proportions. Economic prosperity is skipping a generation of local kids and young adults and we have no real public identifiable plan to solve it. It’s no wonder they are leaving the area for better opportunity in droves.

Striking in the report is the identifiable business applications to the issue. On page 2 you see in large print jumping out at you, a quote from business leadership guru Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

We have theories, marketing and generalities of best practices. We are just shooting in the dark for “support” of companies that employ young people or “awareness” for talent. We celebrate one-off companies who are engaging this generation, but we have no real measurables to our methods. We do, however, have this pesky economic “disconnected” rate, which is almost two points above Manatee County.

It’s not enough and it has to end, we need a strong unification around what we know succeeds and insist upon the measurables and accomplishments in deliverables. We need to attack this with an urgency and panic like we had in 2010. 

Our young people deserve no less and we have an obligation to prove to them, through measurables, that we are leaving this county in a better economic condition than when we found it.

Christine Robinson is exeuctive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  Eliminating the mystery of higher education costs
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

The cost of a higher education should not be a mystery. It is one of the most significant investments we make in our future, but because the marketplace is so crowded it is easy to reach information overload very quickly. Numbers are reported differently on multiple websites making it a challenge to compare one institution to another.

The cost of attending college goes beyond tuition and textbooks. When State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, reports the maximum cost of attendance, we factor in the expenses of housing, transportation and living. These costs are different for every student, but the cost of attendance sets a baseline for the financial expectations of attending SCF and assists students with receiving an appropriate amount of financial aid.  

Attempting to compare colleges through the costs listed on national web sites can be misleading. Each institution determines their own cost of attendance and factors in different assumptions about student expenses. It is unrealistic to not factor in the costs of local rent or transportation for a college like SCF that does not provide housing. Our students deserve an accurate expectation of what their education will cost in and out of the classroom.

We are proud of our bottom-line cost. At $102.48 per credit hour for in-state, lower-division courses, we have the lowest tuition in the region. Our students graduate with very little debt. We also offer eligible high school students the opportunity to earn college credits for free through our on-campus dual enrollment program, giving them the chance to accelerate their pathway to a college degree at no cost while engaging with highly credentialed professors in a college classroom.

We hope that the hardest thing about college is the work in the classroom but understand that paying for it can be a challenge. This year we mailed financial aid award letters earlier than ever before and expanded our tuition payment plans. Last year the SCF Foundation provided almost $1.7 million in need-based scholarships. Whenever and however possible, we will help our students.

Our goal is to provide a strong return on investment to every student who makes an investment in themselves with a SCF education. Most of our students—Associate in Arts two-year graduates—move on to a state university in Florida where they outperform their peers in the classroom. Our workforce degree students—Associate in Science graduates, certificate completers and four-year graduates—move directly into our local workforce. Our graduates earning power grows with each educational level they complete. For many it is realized after they complete their four-year degree at a state university in Florida.

Choosing a college or university should always be about the student’s goals, not just cost. For any institution, a student should consider:

  • Affordability
  • Location
  • Convenience
  • Academic Programming
  • Student to Instructor ratio
  • Student Life
  • Extracurricular programs, e.g. Fine and Performing Arts, Athletics


At SCF, we offer the only full-college experience in the region, multiple convenient locations and world-class faculty and staff. We recently expanded our offerings to include a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management, Associate in Science in Fire Science Technology and eight new workforce certificates that lead directly to employment in our community.

Instead of comparing colleges on vague national websites, I invite you to come have a personal conversation with us about the costs of attending college and the programs we offer. I am confident we have the programs and support to help you achieve your goals. We will eliminate the mystery of how much your education will cost and show you how much it is worth.     

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

[SCOOP]  Vote for The Twig Cares, Inc. To Receive a $25,000 Grant

The Twig Cares, Inc. has been selected as a State Farm Neighborhood Assist Top 200 Finalist and needs your votes. Voting is open through the end of the day on August 23, and you can cast up to 10 votes a day online. The Twig boutique, open only to children in foster care, is a place where they can shop for clothing and shoes completely free of charge. Many of the 2,000 children locally in foster care come to their new foster homes with only the clothes on their backs. The Twig exists to meet this need while also providing an environment of love and encouragement. Show your support for this incredible cause by casting your votes daily at the link below. 

Vote for The Twig Cares, Inc.

[SCOOP]  DJ Rehka Presents Global Desi Bass Experience

Join DJ Rekha for a special New York City dance experience in The Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard on September 19 as she fuses the Indian genre of bhangra music with international hip-hop and drum beats. DJ Rekha launched a monthly party that became a sensation in the NYC club scene. You are now invited to go with her into a world that merges the traditional with the popular beats of today. Her live DJ sets incorporate dancers, visuals, and percussion and infuse global bass, contemporary South Asian rhythms in a unique style that creates an irresistible dance experience. Tickets are $15 and include Art After 5 Admission from 5-8pm. 

The Ringling Museum of Art

[SCOOP]  Get Buzzy at The Bazaar Today

In celebration of National Honey Bee Day, come to The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime to see live bees and beekeeper attire, arts and crafts for the kids, and demos and fun all day. The event takes place from 10am-3pm. Gary from Bee Blessed Honey will talk at 11 am about life as a beekeeper, the first 50 guests receive a free honey stick, live music starts at noon and complimentary Bees Knees cocktails will be provided by Cocktails by Spencer & MADE. 

The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime

[SCOOP]  Finding Florida

Finding Florida, a special exhibition at The Bishop is back by popular demand and explores how giant ground sloths, manatees, armadillos and even fearsome, flightless, carnivorous terror birds migrated north over thousands of years and many generations from South America by island hopping and using the newly formed land bridge, the Isthmus of Panama. Finding Florida is a game that lets visitors take on the role of each animal, making choices as they proceed on their northward migrations. Finding Florida is open only through Sunday, September 1, and visiting the exhibit is included in admission.  

The Bishop

[SCOOP]  America's Got Talent Viewing Party to Cheer on Local Resident

CoolToday Park will be cheering on ten-year old North Port resident Emanne Beasha as she moves on to the live quarter-finals of NBC’s hit show, America’s Got Talent. The Braves will be hosting a viewing party on Tuesday, August 27 at CoolToday Park. Watch on the 80’ by 40’ video board and enjoy concessions available throughout the ballpark. The event is free to attend. Show airs from 8pm to 10pm, gates open at 6:30pm. 

CoolToday Park

[KUDOS]  ICU Nurse Receives Lifesaver Award From EMS

The Lifesaver Award is presented to non-EMS individuals that have been an active participant in the care of a cardiac arrest patient. The patient must then recover and be discharged from the hospital neurologically intact. This award is generally given to ER and possibly cath lab staff as part of a cardiac save, but last week it was awarded to an ICU RN from LWR. Sammie Billman, RN was in the right place at the right time in May (Bradenton Yacht Club) and provided bystander CPR until EMS arrived and took over the care of this patient. The patient was then discharged from MMH neurologically intact. Kudos to Sammie! 

Lakewood Ranch Medical Center

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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