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SRQ DAILY Nov 30, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Selby Gardens is in dire need of a serious upgrade in order to continue competing with the other botanical gardens of the world and to be able to bring more visitors to this wonderful city of Sarasota."

- Nancy E. Karam, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens research assistant
 

[Under The Hood]  2020 Chance For Voters To Shape Future
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

A presidential election means much of the political conversation at holiday gatherings and restaurants corners this week hinged on players in one particular 2020 contest. Political candidates of all parties and philosophies, regardless of office sought, will tell you that singular headline show dominates much of their conversation when they walk door to door.

But voters should remember heading into perhaps the most inescapable conversation of the coming year that there are countless contests up for grabs, and candidates should be judged on their own merits, flaws and vision for the community future. It’s worth educating yourself on the actions of Congress, the state Legislature, county and municipal government and the countless elected district boards in the region. And there’s fortunately a ton of individuals competing for office major and minor that will tell you both what those entities do and what their own vision may be.

Spoiler alert: very few have any say over whether to impeach the president. Florida residents this year will only vote on one person, their own Congressman, who weighs in on that. If that’s important to you, please let the candidates running for House of Representatives hear your hopes and concerns. But please, leave the poor Soil and Water Management District candidate be.

The thing is, there’s a huge amount of opportunity for voters to weigh in with officials this year differently than they’ve seen before. If you are lucky enough to be voting in a Sarasota County Commission district in 2020 (roughly 60 percent of voters still are), you will get to press candidates fighting for a smaller, focused district constituency.

Meanwhile, voters in the city of Sarasota will be participating in a higher turnout election thanks to a move to even-numbered years and a November vote. The greatest fear around this was always that national politics might drown city conversations out. Voters don’t need to let that happen. And they get the chance to demand a city government responding to mainstream concerns rather than small and perpetually changing pools of super voters.

And there’s the regular host of offices from School Board to water districts that continue to shape the immediate and long-term needs and future for the community. A Superintendent search will likely drive renewed interest in two School Board seats up for vote in 2020 in Sarasota County.

Sarasota may be home to the hottest Florida House seat in the entire state. With state Rep. Margaret Good now running for Congress, District 72 has already drawn a significant number of candidates, and I suspect at least one more major entry will come before qualification week next year.

Additionally, a Florida Senate seat based in Manatee County, vacated by the retirement of Senate President Bill Galvano, means voters there must choose who fills some very big shoes.

Those are the only open seats in the area, but remember every House and Senate seat for Sarasota and Manatee will appear on the ballot in 2020. I expect every incumbent to draw a challenge, some stronger than others. Regardless, races give an opportunity for voters to interface with their lawmakers in a direct and personal way—and when those pols quite frankly have the greatest incentive to keep constituents satisfied.

The 24-hour news networks and barrage of stories on social media can make politics seem intimidating or even nauseating. The truth is American democracy allows a personal contact between society’s leaders and the common man that’s the envy of the world. Use that to your advantage in 2020.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

[On Planning]  Open Letter on Selby Gardens Master Plan Rejection
Nancy E. Karam

To The Sarasota City Commissioners:

I work at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.  I am not a CEO, a CFO or a member of The Associates, nor a trustee or one of the thousands of families who support the work of Selby Gardens through financial contributions or endowments. I am a mere volunteer, one of over 600 at Selby, who works side-by-side with Selby's most learned botanists in an ongoing effort to preserve the past histories and present discoveries in the world of orchids, bromeliads and other epiphyte plant life.

Our work is done in a very tiny, very old wooden building that was once a cute little bungalow, probably big enough for a family of four to live in comfortably. Today it houses anywhere from 15 to 25 staff members and volunteers on any given day, who spend their time collecting, collaborating, identifying, sorting, mounting, scanning, photographing, PhotoShopping and writing volumes of publications and papers on the thousands of varieties of the aforementioned plants. This tiny building also houses thousands of books and periodicals, hundreds of file cabinets and their contents, computers, high-power microscopes, printers, etc. The house itself is wearing out and is not very efficient at keeping out the heat, rain or cold weather.  This building, and others like it along Palm Avenue, is full of holes in its roof, walls and floors that allow for any number of rodents and crawling insects and worms to enter the building at will. Some of these can be found dropping off the ceilings onto our desks, keyboards and even our heads. This makes for a very undesirable work atmosphere for anyone to have to deal with on a daily basis, especially the work of the earth's scientists.

Because we love our work, we continue to do so under these adverse circumstances because we all know that what we do today can only improve on the ecology surrounding us and that we will leave a wealth of historical information for the future botanists of the world. That being said, I am totally mystified as to how the Sarasota City Commission chose to vote down our improvement project at their Nov. 5 meeting.  Selby Gardens is a world-renowned botanical garden, known for its historical collection of documents, books, periodicals, paintings and photographs as well as the ongoing research performed every year by our staff of scientists to learn more and to document their findings to share with the world of botany and horticulture.

Travelers and scientists worldwide seek out our gardens as a stop they want included on their travel itinerary when traveling the USA and Sarasota.  As a world traveler myself, botanical gardens are a must for every country we visit.  I have been quite impressed by all the botanical gardens we have seen throughout Europe and other parts of the world. I would have to say that most of them have upgraded their facilities to continue their means of attracting more volumes of visitors to their gardens. Selby Gardens is in dire need of a serious upgrade in order to continue competing with the other botanical gardens of the world and to be able to bring more visitors to this wonderful city of Sarasota. More than anything, we need to have a parking garage in order to allow our visitors and staff a parking area that is not full of ruts, potholes, crushed shells, drifting sands and dirt as well as flooded areas during the rainy season.

I would like to invite each and every member of this City Council to come and see for themselves the conditions under which we struggle to preserve Marie Selby's gardens and legacy. I am not speaking of the gardens themselves but a tour of all the little tiny old buildings that are being stretched beyond their capabilities to house all of the documents, photos, dry-mounted and spirit specimens, etc. I, myself, am truly amazed at the wonderful work Selby Gardens has done in the past while working in such outdated buildings that were never intended for this type of use. I hope you will all have a change of heart and mindset once you have each had a first-hand look at what we deal with on a daily basis.

This upgrade to Selby Gardens doesn't just affect us, the workers and staff, but also would affect Sarasota in a positive way, making it a most desirable place in Florida for the world to see and admire.  Think about it again and do some good for Sarasota.

Nancy E. Karam is a research assistant in Botany at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. 



[KUDOS]  Physician Musicians Competed for Top Doc Band

Battle of the Bands, III took place on Saturday, November 16that the White Buffalo Saloon to help raise funds to support the Ear Research Foundation. Over 300 guests heard about the message and mission of the Ear Research Foundation from Executive Director, Melissa Lane and enjoyed the musical sounds of jazz, rock, dance and cover tunes played by doctor-led bands. The Gift of Hearing Table displayed the organization’s mission and reach in Research, Education, and Community Care for hearing and balance disorders. Guests were encouraged to take a five-minute challenge experiencing hearing loss and enter a drawing for prizes donated by Cinébistro and Kendra Scott. Judges’ first place award was won by Dr. Jack Wazen’s band, Cassandra and the Ear-resistibles; Judges’ second place by Dr. Melvin Price’s NU Jazz; and People’s Choice winner was Dr. Robert Koser’s Good Lovin’ Doctor. $20,000 was raised to support the Ear Research Foundation’s wide-reaching work in their hearing and balance research and community programs. 

Ear Research Foundation

[SCOOP]  Florida Studio Theatre Presents "Handle With Care," A Cross-Cultural Romantic Comedy

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) presents Handle With Care by Emmy Nominee Jason Odell Williams, a delightfully fresh holiday comedy. Handle With Care brings two utterly different people together on Christmas Eve under the most tragic and absurd of circumstances. Handle With Care will run in FST’s Keating Theatre starting December 11. In Handle With Care, Ayelet, a young Israeli woman, reluctantly travels with her grandmother, Edna, to the United States. When something unexpected happens during their trip, Ayelet is left stranded in a Virginia motel room on Christmas Eve with Terrence, a bumbling, yet well-intentioned, delivery man. She doesn’t know much English and he doesn’t know any Hebrew at all. So Terrence calls on his friend Josh, the only Jewish person he knows, to serve as an interpreter. The problem is that Josh only remembers a few Hebrew phrases that he learned for his bar mitzvah almost 20 years ago. Still, Josh and Ayelet manage to establish a strong relationship. Single tickets for Handle With Care and subscriptions for all four Winter Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $69 at (941) 366-9000 or at floridastudiotheatre.org. 

Florida Studio Theatre

[SCOOP]  GRAMMY-Nominated Vocal Ensemble to Perform in Sarasota

Grammy-nominated vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire brings its annual candlelit Christmas presentation to Sarasota this December with repertoire featuring traditional Christmas carols, contemporary choral arrangements, and transcendent Gregorian chant. This will be the group’s Sarasota debut concert. The concert will be conducted by Dr. James K. Bass with Maestro Bass as the Associate Conductor for Seraphic Fire. This concert will run in at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Monday, December 9 at 7:30pm. Tickets are available for purchase at www.bonifacechurch.org/music 

Boniface Church

[SCOOP]  Florida Cancer Specialists Participates in FLASCO Fall Session

Physicians and leaders of Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) participated in the Florida Society of Clinical Oncology (FLASCO) Fall Session held in Orlando, November 7–9. The two-day statewide gathering of nearly 200 oncology physicians, clinicians and support staff featured dynamic educational presentations and case studies focused on colon cancer, multiple myeloma and other cancers, and stressed the importance of collaboration among all professional health care teams. 

Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute

[SCOOP]  The Ringling Welcomes Performance by Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol Theatre Collective

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is pleased to welcome Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol theatre collective and their production of Tijuana. The performance, December 6 and 7 at 7:30 pm in the Historic Asolo Theater, is the staged result of a real anthropological theater experiment undertaken by Lagartijas ensemble member Gabino Rodríguez. Rodriguez abandoned his life in Mexico City to work on an assembly line in a Tijuana factory on the U.S. border. He passed under the false identity of Santiago Ramírez, wore a fake moustache, had no contact with friends, family, or colleagues and earned the legal minimum wage. Tijuana is the prelude to a large-scale political and social panorama entitled Democracy in Mexico (1965–2015), which is designed to be told in 32 parts—one for every Mexican state. It is the latest project of the Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol collective, which, since being founded in 2003, has explored the borders between documentary and fiction in various theatrical forms to reveal the contradictions in Mexico, thus aiming to use the theatre as a means of political mobilization. Tickets can be obtained online at ringling.org or by calling 941-360-7399. 

The Ringling

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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