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SRQ DAILY Feb 15, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"It is indeed with much sadness that a majority of our academic institutions all over the world seem to have relegated cultural courses to the backseat in favor of science and technology in compliance with the dictates of the international labor market."

- Virgilio C. Ventura, Calamba City

[Argus]  Representative Democracy or Indolent Government?
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Budgeting is the most important duty of a local legislative body. Local commissions in the city and county spend months on budgets. They give their administrators priorities, they hear from different departments in various meetings, which are hours long, and they plan. Many times, they plan five years out.

This is what they are elected to do, to get into the minutia and use their understanding of the needs of the community to make budget decisions. Commissioners get to look at it from the 100,000-foot level and the one-millimeter level, as they should. It is representative democracy at its best.

A regular citizen who elects them cannot, and should not, be expected to understand each aspect and rule of budgeting. Nor should important budget decisions about only one aspect of an overall budget be put on these citizens. They don’t have the luxury of having one-on-ones with staff and access and time to understand how it all fits together.

That is why I am troubled by the recent survey put out by the County Commission on mental health.

Clearly County Commissioners think this is important or they wouldn’t waste staff time on this, or our time for that matter. Clearly they see a need. Clearly they think it needs more money, why would they be asking if they didn’t?

But if they have no problem asking about this aspect of the budget, why wouldn’t they just put their entire budget out for a survey? The thought is ridiculous, as is this survey. We are not a direct democracy by design. Nothing would get done.

The Commission will point to a Florida Statute that requires this taxing district issue go out to the voters.

The truth is the Commission does not need a taxing district to make funding decisions about mental health. On their own, they can dedicate a portion of the millage to mental health. On their own, they can increase the millage, and on their own they can create a mechanism to administrate mental health. 

However, it requires fortitude to make a decision to do that, or not to do that, and it requires a plan one way or the other. It requires work and it requires upending the current system, upon which many local non-profits depend.

But why take responsibility for that when you can put a sliver of a budget item out there for a survey or vote and then point at the electorate for whatever decision is made, as opposed to taking on the responsibility yourself? You know, the representative democracy part of the job?

None of us elect commissioners to make government indolent. We elect commissioners to represent us, to do a job, to make tough decisions.

Prioritization of the budget is inherently the job of the commission. It is the way they set policy. It is the way they point the government in the direction they want it to go. It should have a community vision in mind and it should be formed as a result of the close contact and understanding the commission has with the community. 

Are we going to see a clear planned vision with a prioritized budget? Or are we going to see a political decision designed to give the commission cover? We are about to find out.

Christine Robinson is executive director for The Argus Foundation. 

[Gulf Coast]  Orange Hammock Ranch: Now and Forever
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

How often do you get the opportunity to make something important last forever?

With an exciting deal in the works to permanently protect the environmentally sensitive Orange Hammock Ranch property in southeast Sarasota County, such an opportunity is here. And each of us can help make this land-conservation dream come true.

It’s been well covered in our local media that Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Cabinet authorized state funding to purchase and permanently protect Orange Hammock Ranch. At nearly 6,000 acres, it’s the largest undeveloped property in our county. The $21-million acquisition deal hinges on $1.5 million in philanthropy pledged by our friends at Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.

The Conservation Foundation has launched a robust campaign to raise those funds from our community by a June 1 deadline. Here are three big reasons we love this opportunity and urge you to get involved:

Enhancing our unique places. Ours is a region of choice, for many reasons. Our beautiful coastal environment tops that list. Enhancing the unique places that make the Gulf Coast “the Gulf Coast” is a priority if we expect to maintain our enviable reputation and sustain our treasured quality of life. It’s long been a point of pride (and advantage) that Sarasota County holds more than 30 percent of its land in conservation. This acquisition will build on that vision by preventing any development on the property, forever. It will expand critical wildlife habitat and add new opportunities for recreation, education, and eco-tourism.

Adding exponential value. We can’t put a finer point on it: This is the single-most environmentally important property still under private ownership in our county and preserving it will exponentially increase the environmental value of all of the conservation areas surrounding it. It will provide a functional wildlife corridor from the Myakka River to the Peace River. For native species whose habitat is increasingly impinged on, think of it like Costa Rica connecting two continents, it’s that significant. As a keystone parcel adjacent to more than 120,000 surrounding acres of conservation area, this investment increases the value of tens of millions of dollars already invested in previously preserved lands. It also frees up millions in county funding that had been earmarked for this parcel and now can be dedicated to other environmentally sensitive lands. And it’s not just wildlife that will benefit. The property encompasses the headwaters and watershed for the large city of North Port’s surface drinking water supply. Ensuring that the area’s natural soil and vegetation will continue to filter and clean that water as it flows down the waterway will secure the quality of North Port’s water supply forever.

Leveraging opportunity. Fulfilling the Conservation Foundation pledge of $1.5 million will trigger $19.5 million in state funding approved from the Florida Forever program. Just do the math: That’s a 13-to-1 return on privately donated dollars. You can leverage that ROI—for your community today and for countless future generations—with a gift in any amount. But the deadline to meet the goal is June 1. Go to ConservationFoundation.com to participate.

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

Photo courtesy Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast: Orange Hammock Ranch.

[On Education]  Global Perspectives from New College to the Philippines
Virgilio C. Ventura

It is with great interest that I read Donal O'Shea's (and Maneesha Lal) article “Educating Students for a Global Future.

In August 2003, I wrote an article entitled Globalizing the Filipino for Global Business for La Consolacion College Manila’s (a religious educational institution) research publication (LCCM Research Journal, Vol. XV, No.2, Sept-Dec. 2003). In that article, I asserted the importance of the national question (national interest and nationhood) as the foundation guiding the future of business in a globalized world. It is indeed with much sadness that a majority of our academic institutions all over the world seem to have relegated cultural courses to the backseat in favor of science and technology in compliance with the dictates of the international labor market.

The authors correctly pointed out that raising “multinational sensibility” among students in preparation for their globalized future is a very important undertaking. As a Filipino academician, it is with much caution that I often remind my colleagues and students to deepen or substantiate multicultural initiatives beyond the material aspects of the cultural iceberg. Teaching courses like Contemporary World Issues and Cultural Anthropology can help students look beyond their immediate national environ and reflect on how people in other parts of the world continue to struggle not only for their basic needs but also on their global cultural fellowship for life advancement in behavioral and intellectual realms.

Virgilio C. Ventura lives in Calamba City in The philippines. 

Photo courtesy Wikimedia: La Consolacion College Manila.

[Candidate]  I Will Win 72 With Strong Grassroots Campaign
Drake Buckman

In response to the Jacob Ogles opinion piece last week “Bring on the Primary” and his assertion “Democrats need a primary in Florida House District 72,” I respectfully would like to point out there are more effective ways to raise the profile of a candidate than a primary.

Since I announced my candidacy for House District 72, I have met with hundreds of local Democratic leaders, former and future candidates, elected officials, precinct captains and our amazing army of volunteers.  I am committed to speaking to at least 25,000 of my neighbors in District 72, in person, to listen to their needs and speak about my beliefs.

My platform is focused on:

  • Eliminating Red Tide and protecting our environment. 
  • Defending our schools and paying teachers what they deserve.
  • Building our infrastructure in District 72 and statewide to help us accommodate smart growth.

I have no primary challenger because I have been transparent about my goals, and continue to communicate them widely. And, I have built an organization which will ensure victory in November. When I am elected, I will work with anyone who wants to help District 72, whether they are Republicans or Independents.

I am not a politician, and admittedly I was unknown. My campaign is now gaining tremendous momentum and so is my fundraising. I will raise the amount of money I need from the voters to fund my race and win. But money is not important to the voters, nor to my “viability” as a candidate. My Republican opponents, unfortunately, have sought money from any source, in or out of the District, without limits. By example, a local developer has funneled $8,000 to each of my Republican opponents, a clear message that he expects his agenda to be followed, regardless of who the eventual nominee is.

My race is about the voters, not corporate donors. I value and cherish each donation I receive from a voter or volunteer, no matter the amount. We will win with a grassroots campaign based on ideas and reflecting the true interests of the people of District 72.

Drake Buckman is a Democratic candidate for state House District 72. 

[KUDOS]  Sarasota Doctor First to Implant Reimagined Bone Conduction Hearing System

This week Dr. Jack Wazen, neurotology specialist and surgeon, was the first in the southeastern U.S. to implant the latest Cochlear Osia System®. Wazen, partner at Silverstein Institute and Director of Research for Ear Research Foundation shared, “The minimally invasive surgery takes only 30 minutes; and there is no risk of skin inflammation and infection with the new design.” Wazen explained that the device’s digital piezoelectric stimulation, or Piezo Power, “is a high-frequency transducer, making speech significantly clearer.” Pamela Messano, of Cochlear, added, “The thinness makes the Osia® cosmetically appealing; and it is long-lasting.”


Ear Research Foundation

[KUDOS]  2019 Holiday Card Design Contest

Williams Parker is pleased to announce Christopher Arce as the winner of its 2019 holiday card design contest with Ringling College of Art and Design. This was the second year the law firm partnered with Ringling College to seek student design submissions for its holiday card. The firm received numerous submissions and the winner was provided with a cash award to assist with school-related expenses. Mr. Arce is a first-year Illustration student at Ringling College of Art and Design. He aspires to be a concept artist and to bring his creations to the cinema. Mr. Arce’s passion is drawing and film, and he has paved his future around it. Prior to college, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in his scouting career for his dedication to his local community.


Ringling College of Arts & Design

[KUDOS]  SMART Receives $39,776 in Grants and Donations

Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy, Inc. (SMART) is pleased to announce that they have received multiple grants and donations in January 2020 totaling $39,776. This includes an $11,200 grant from the Bank of America Client Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee to support Therapeutic Riding and Equine Assisted Activities Scholarships for Children with Autism. SMART also received unrestricted donations of $16,000 from the Second Chance Foundation and $1,500 from the Manatee Memorial Foundation. The Lakewood Ranch Women's Club donated $7,000 to support two Warriors in Transition sessions in the spring and to adopt two of SMART's horses - Magic and Norman. The Norman and Phyllis Siskel Donor Advised Fund donated $4,076 to support the Warriors in Transition session and SMART's Literacy program in February 2020.



[KUDOS]  Junior League of Sarasota Grant Provides Preschoolers with Outdoor Classroom

The Junior League of Sarasota recently provided a $4,000 grant to create an outdoor classroom for preschool students attending Starfish Academy at The Florida Center for Early Childhood. The funds were used to purchase special equipment designed to improve the students' emotional and physical development.Starfish Academy, an inclusion preschool where typically developing children learn alongside those with developmental delays and/or disabilities, specializes in implementing innovative educational techniques.


The Florida Center

[SCOOP]  Thunder By The Bay Music & Motorcycle Festival

The 22nd Annual Thunder By The Bay Music & Motorcycle Festival takes place February 14-16 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds to benefit Suncoast Charities for Children. This year’s festival includes 11 bands, craft beer garden, FMX & BMX freestyle acts, over 100 vendors, two bike shows, great food, and so much more. A motorcycle charity poker run, offering cash prizes, will take place Sunday morning ending at the fairgrounds. Featured headliner for this year’s Festival is national recording artist WARRANT performing at 8 pm on Saturday, February 15. WARRANT has sold over 10 million albums worldwide performing notable hits such as “Cherry Pie”, “I Saw Red”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, and “Heaven”.


Thunder By The Bay

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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