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SRQ DAILY Jul 25, 2020

"The least we can do as members of society is take the cost of the virus spread seriously and to do all we can to prevent as many deaths as possible."

- Jacob Ogles, Contributing Senior Editor of SRQ MEDIA

[Under The Hood]  A Widely Felt Loss
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

It’s not honestly fair when deaths of prominent people win more attention from the media when they die in a pandemic than does the average citizen. Yet, the greatest reason people hold for not taking the public health crisis seriously enough seems to be they don’t know anybody affected by the coronavirus.

For much of Southwest Florida, at least those who interface with government at all, there’s far fewer people who can now make such a claim. Gary Tibbetts, the field representative for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, was a frequent attendee of public meetings, ceremonies and major events, as well as the liaison to Washington for many constituents in House District 16. Buchanan announced Friday morning that Tibbetts had died from COVID-19.

“I will never forget his uplifting spirit, sense of humor and sheer joy at helping others,” said Buchanan. The congressman and his wife offered sympathies and support to Tibbetts’ wife, Valerie, and to the rest of his family. It was a sentiment echoed in many a statement eulogizing the staffer, including one from Buchanan’s political opponent, Rep. Margaret Good.

It’s to be expected that our elected officials pause for grief and come together, even putting differences aside as necessary, to celebrate the life of a civil servant. The public should also expect a greater urgency than ever as our leaders address this crisis. It’s as close to a good thing as possible that come out of the loss of a respected figure who fell victim to this terrible plague.

On that front, it’s growing harder for people to claim this virus doesn’t exist or that it’s not that serious. Southwest Florida has suffered intense losses to drive that message in.

One of the first prominent figures in the country to die from the illness was Terrance McNally, the legendary playwright who became the first Sarasota County death during the pandemic. It may have been a specific slice of culture who knew McNally’s reputation before hearing the words “The Full Monty.” But those who recognized the name gasped as the price of this crisis became suddenly real.

In Manatee County, the coronavirus soon claimed the life of Gwen Brown, the county’s first black county commissioner. She served from 1994 until 2010, and backed out early of a comeback attempt in 2014, so it had been some years since the 68-year-old lived her life in local headlines. But her death would land her on the front page again.

Tibbetts won no Tony awards and didn’t appear on ballots. But he was to many residents the access point to Washington. In particular, the retired police officer served as a strong connection between local law enforcement and the federal government. Working up until he got sick, he stands out as a person still playing a critical role as far as the interface with the public at large. I’ve seen many typical citizens moved to comment on his death, in addition to community leaders.

In the national media, Tibbetts’ death earned notice for being the first Congressional staffer in the nation felled by this disease. And yes, his death is no more tragic than any among the 152 Manatee County and 113 Sarasota County residents who have died with COVID-19. Everyone of those people left people behind who cared for them and loved them.

That this pandemic has claimed so many that deaths turned into numbers instead of faces may be one of the most  incomprehensible costs of this global event. When a victim has made enough impacts for news around the world to take notice, the least we can do as members of society is take the toll of the virus spread seriously and to do all we can to prevent as many future tragedies as possible.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor of SRQ MEDIA. 

[On Politics]  Make Sure Voters Run The City
Mollie C. Cardamone

Let's all agree on one thing… the residents of our city are the owners of our city! Developers, builders, architects, the Chamber of Commerce, Argus and various others have always wanted to own and run our city and here they are again, trying to buy their way in. The proof is right there for all to see on the City of Sarasota website.

Just look at the campaign contribution reports of some of the candidates. I'm not talking about an occasional donation. In some instances, developers have gotten every family member but the dog to donate the maximum $200 per person. In other case, reports look like the Christmas card list for the West Coast Builders Exchange! 

What do they want? Tis obvious, they want the same control of our city they have so cleverly managed in our county. With their people on the City Commission, they are guaranteed to get a vote for the go-to strong/boss mayor who can and will provide all the favors they desire.

The above-named organizations have tried and failed four times to change our city's form of government. What they never tell you is that instituting a "strong" mayor position (they call it an "elected" mayor) requires a major change to the City Charter. Therein lies the real story.

The last time this was tried (and rejected by the voters) their proposed mayor position was drafted to be out of the sunshine, able to nullify city commission votes and immune from recall... a lot of power vested in one person! And there was no requirement for prior experience and no accommodation for professional city management.

What we really need are competent City Commissioners who will give clear policy directives to the city staff, including the city manager. The City Commission itself works for the people who reside in the city... the voters.

I am supporting Commissioner Willie Shaw for reelection in District 1, Terry Turner in District 2 and Rob Grant in District 3. They will not yield to the interests who wish to change our city's form of government... they will listen to us, the owners of the City of Sarasota. Please consider voting along with me in your district.

Mollie C. Cardamone is a former Sarasota City Commissioner and Mayor. 

[On Public Art]  Unconditional Surrender’s Mixed Signals
Kelly Franklin

As described by Alfred Eisenstaedt in the captions of his famous photograph as well as in subsequent memoirs, what he witnessed on August 15, 1945 in Times Square, was an inebriated sailor lunging forward and grabbing a woman from the crowd.

In Eisenstaedt’s four frames (and in the public domain shot of the same pair from the waist up by Navy photographer Victor Jorgensen), the faces of the primary subjects are obscured, and many individuals came forward over the years claiming to be either the nurse or sailor. In 2012, a book entitled The Kissing Sailor, by a naval college professor and a historian, settled the long-running mystery by using contemporaneous accounts from the participants and onlookers and forensic analysis of the images.

The sailor in Eisdenstadt’s image was George Mendonsa, of Rhode Island. The “nurse” was Greta Zimmer (later Friedman), an Austrian-born émigré whose parents died in Nazi concentration camps. Working as a dental hygienist at the time, Greta ventured to Times Square on her lunch hour to see if the rumors she had heard about the war ending were true. Mendonsa, who had seen combat in the Pacific, spotted a woman on the street wearing a white uniform who reminded him of the nurses tending wounded sailors on a battleship. He bowled into her, knocked her off her feet, put her in a headlock, bent her over backward into a physically painful and subordinate position, and forcibly kissed her for 4 to 5 seconds while she struggled and clutched her purse and balled up her fist to push him away.

Although individuals who lived through that day bristle when the modern phrase “sexual assault” is applied retroactively to the events that occurred, the case that the incident in Times Square was unilateral, forceful and lacked consent, is best made by the unwilling participant:

“It wasn’t my choice to be kissed,” Greta stated in a 2005 interview. “The guy just came over and grabbed!” she said. “That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me. I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this tight grip.”

Greta said she was proud to be part of an iconic moment in history, but also spoke poignantly of her fear in that moment and shame that kept her from coming forward for 30 years lest her fiancé think her a willing participant in the “celebration.” Indeed, the Eisenstaedt photo’s Time/Life noted in 2000 “many people view the photo as little more than the documentation of a very public sexual assault, and not something to be celebrated.” Even military leaders acknowledge this fact. For example, in a 2013 issue of Foreign Policy’s Situation Report, a senior active-duty military official noted is "a sailor, soldier or Marine were to do the same thing, aggressively kissing strange women in the street with no prior consent, he would be facing charges under Article 120."

My primary concern is not what the proper label is for George Mendonsa’s aggressive actions in the context of a singular day in history in another city 75 years ago, but rather about the interactive dystopian diorama created by the super-sized, romanticized, 3-D depiction of this long misunderstood moment on Sarasota’s bayfront.

I empathize with the profound attachment that those who lived through that horrible war have for the long-mysterious photo, which came to symbolically represent for them love and joy and valor and sacrifice and reunion and relief. But to eyes that did not live through WWII, particularly for those who have experienced sexual violence, it is repellent and dangerous to see loving couples contorting themselves to emulate what was a forced and unwelcome kiss Greta herself refused numerous entreaties to recreate because, as she told the Veteran’s History Project in 2005, “it wasn't a romantic event”.

The sculptor’s creator, Seward Johnson, was explicitly interested in challenging our ideas and ideals with his “Icon” series (which includes not only Unconditional Surrender, but also an oversized portrait of Marilyn Monroe with her dress up and a 25-foot-tall nude Barbie on a half shell). As part of his effort to tap into Jungian archetypes and “skirt” copyright, he substituted romantic flowers for the purse Greta guarded during the struggle, and added extra flare to her white uniform to provide a peek-a-boo moment and morph her from victim into temptress.

The sculpture’s mixed signals encourage emulatory behavior, which disrespects to the memory of the modest woman depicted in the iconic photo. These confusing signs can also have painfully acute associations for those who intuitively recognize (from the off-balance stance of the female figure, the deep and painful arch to her back, and elbow encircling her head) the vanquishing elements of the moment, and suffer flashbacks to their own experiences of being intimately overpowered. Holocaust survivor Greta Zimmer Friedman deserves better than what this sculpture depicts. The women, children, and men who have experienced sexual violence deserve better. Sarasota’s many veterans who have given so much in so many wars, and those, like me, who are deeply grateful for their service, deserve better. There must be a better way for the artistically rich city of Sarasota to commemorate joy, recognize struggle and celebrate life through public art than is afforded by Unconditional Surrender.

Kelly Johnson is a resident of Sarasota. 

[In This Issue]  Virtually Unstoppable
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

The Giving Challenge faced its own challenge this year - falling right in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spoiler alert: The community proved unphased and unstoppable. 

Click here to read the full article from SRQ's Summer 2020 edition.

[COVID-19]  Citywide Public Health Emergency Extended Through July 31

The City of Sarasota has extended its declaration of a local citywide public health emergency through July 31 following a weekly review, as required by the City Charter, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency order was issued Friday by City Manager Tom Barwin, in consultation with Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and City Attorney Robert Fournier. It also authorizes all City boards subject to the state’s Sunshine Law to meet by telephone or other technology, as permitted by Gov. Ron DeSantis, as long as the meeting notice so states and explains how the public can attend and participate.

Friday’s emergency order also issued a temporary permit for mobile cardiac imaging to provide medical services on a doctor’s office property/parking area. Face coverings are now required in all indoor and outdoor public spaces in the City limits, whenever proper social distancing cannot be maintained in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The temporary regulation, which took effect July 1, will be in place for 60 days.

A state-run, walk-up COVID-19 testing site is available at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, 1845 34th St., every day from 8:00am to 5:00pm or until daily testing capacity is reached. Testing is open to everyone, regardless of residency or symptoms, and no appointments are necessary.


Click here for more information.

[WEEKEND]  SPORTS: Cool Today Park 2020 Opening Day Weekend Celebration , July 24 – July 26

Celebrate the return of baseball with an action-packed series of events beginning on Friday, July 24 as Karla and John take the stage from 1 - 4pm. At 4:10pm. on Friday and Saturday be sure to be at Cool Today Ballpark to watch the Atlanta Braves take on The New York Mets in the team's first regular season game of 2020. On Saturday, July 25  Spare Partz will be playing all your favorite tunes after the game from 7pm - 9pm. Sunday's game time is 7:08pm. Tickets $15 - $20. Pre-sale tickets are now exclusively available to Beach Club Members and tickets will be available to the general public beginning Wednesday, July 15, 2020 through Ticketmaster or by phone. 

Cool Today Park, 18800 South West Villages Parkway Venice, Florida 34293

[TODAY]  FESTIVAL: One Night in Tortuga , July 25, 7pm-11pm

If you be a Pirate, wanna be a Pirate, a Wench, Blackbeard reincarnated, or just a Landlubber then the honor of your presence is requested at the Anna Maria Island Privateers' Pirate Gathering. Thar be no formal Dress Code, just come dressed as a Pirate, and plan for a whole Lotta Fun. Why thar will be Pirate Grub and a full bar of Grog, a wee bit of music for ya Foot stomp and maybe a Jig or two... The transformation to the Isle of Tortuga will be tak’en place in the beautiful Neptune Room at Seafood Shack in the village of Cortez. The panoramic views of the Marina and Intercostal waters will make you feel as if you're standing on the shores of the Tortugas when pirates roamed, pillaged and plundered back in the day. You're welcome to take a stroll down the docks, but there be no "commandeering" of any ships, cause that be a reason for Ya be keelhauled for sure. Fer a meer Pittance of $50.00 it gets ya a stroll thru the Chow line, a couple of Free Tankards of your favorite Grog and Ya be Gett’en a Keepsake Souvenir from the Privateers. Way more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys. There be a Silent Auction for some Pirate Booty to be hav’en and chance fer some cold hard cash in a 50/50, and other Pirate shenanigans. All money raised will go towards the Privateers, a 501 c3 Non-Profit organization, Mission Statement of “Pirates for Kids & Community”.

Seafood Shack Neptune Room, 4110 127th St W., Cortez, FL 34215

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Virtual: ALSO Youth Presents Let's Get Crafty , July 25, 4pm

This Saturday, July 25th, we'll be crafting some upcycled butterflies with old magazines. The materials you'll need are: old magazines (or newspapers or colorful wrapping paper), scissors, pipe cleaners (or a paper clip or twistie tie), yarn/string if you'd like to hang your butterfly or create a garland. We'll make these together over Zoom at 4pm. Email amanda@alsoyouth.org for the call details.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens Presents Thousands of Flowers in Watercolor Classes , July 27, 10:30am-2:30pm

Paint along with Carolyn, working freestyle in watercolor – allowing the colors to flow freely using a large brush and finishing with an impressionistic study of florals. Instructor: Carolyn Merenda. Class Fee: $70 (Members $55).

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota, 900 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  : Virtual: Bookstore 1 Presents Disposable City: Miami’s Future on the Shores of Climate Change , July 27, 6pm

A Zoom webinar with journalist Mario Alejandro Ariza discussing his new book Disposable City: Miami's Future on the Shores of Climate Change. Purchase of a ticket is required for participation. The $30 ticket includes the book which you can pick up curbside (We will send you an email when the book is ready for pickup) or have shipped to you via USMail, tax, and the Zoom meeting. The book's publication date is July, 14th. Complete the ticket purchase and we will get you the book when it is available. The Zoom link will be sent one day prior to the event.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Virtual: Bookstore 1 Presents New Non-fiction Mindful Reading Zoom Book Club , July 30, 7pm-8pm

Our new non-fiction Mindful Reading Book Club on Zoom, led by Roxanne Baker. Meets virtually via Zoom. This month we’re discussing Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by Vivek Murthy, M.D. Purchase of a ticket is required for participation. The $32 ticket includes the book which you can pick up curbside (We will send you an email when the book is ready for pickup) or have shipped to you via USMail, tax, and the Zoom meeting. Complete the ticket purchase and we will get you the book with plenty of time to read it before the book club meeting. The Zoom link will be sent one day prior to the book club meeting.

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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