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SRQ DAILY Oct 10, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Our socially-conscious students—guided by their supportive professors—are truly making us proud."

- Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  Amendment 3 Tackles Real Problem With Wrong Solution
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

With voter registration closed for the 2020 election in Florida, it’s clear a trend has continued of voters moving away from the major parties. The number of Florida voters registered with no party affiliation or with third parties jumped by more than 10% since the 2016 election. By comparison, Democratic registration went up around 6% and Republicans bumped their numbers up by almost 10%.

That’s despite the fact Florida’s closed primary system simply doesn’t reward such independent thought. Honestly, even those who register with a party often lose out on the chance to influence election outcomes if they live in a jurisdiction where they remain outnumbered.

So it’s probably inevitable that at some point voters who feel disenfranchised will someday overthrow the election system as we know it. It could happen in a few weeks if voters pass Amendment 3, dubbed “All Voters Vote.” Yet, I’m not certain the resulting jungle primary would produce better results, especially for casual voters who pay little attention to politics until the build-up to the general election.

Before getting into doubts on the measure, let’s acknowledge abuses of the current primary system than frustrate voters today. One in particular, the write-in loophole, provides a free mechanism for partisan hacks to freeze thousands of voters out of elections frequently. For a local example, check out the race for an open Manatee County Commission seat this year. More than 112,000 registered Republicans had the chance in the primary to decide if George Kruse or Ed Hunzeker should be the GOP nominee, though only around 37,000 bothered to vote in August; they chose Kruse.

But nearly 149,000 Manatee County voters registered as anything but Republicans don’t vote until this November, when they will see Kruse’s name on the ballot beside a blank line. They could write something there, but unless they vote for qualified write-in Thomas Dell, their votes will be tossed. Kruse effectively won the seat six weeks ago. I don’t raise this to criticize Kruse, the beneficiary of a broken system, but that simply isn’t how democracy should work. Dell closing the primary exploits an oversight in Florida’s existing open primary law, which but for the candidacy would at least have allowed all voters to participate in the August race, the way all Sarasota County voters could weigh in on Sheriff when only Republicans filed. That’s just one reason voters hunger for a system allows all voters to vote in August regardless.

Yet, it doesn’t account for problems seen with top two systems in other states.

Amendment 3 would replace Florida’s closed primaries with a system where all candidates would appear one a single ballot, at least for state offices from Governor through the Legislature. Democrats, Republicans and whoever else could vote in August, and only two candidates would advance to a November runoff. That sounds great, but it’s actually led to many new tactical tricks in other states. Consider a U.S. Senate race in Georgia right now where two candidates in November will advance to a runoff. It should be one of the hottest battleground races in the nation, but polls show the Republican incumbent and another GOP candidate advancing.

That can happen anytime more serious contenders emerge in one party than the other. It’s been noted in Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial race, the two-candidate GOP primary resulted in Adam Putnam get more votes than top Democrat Andrew Gillum received in a primary field of five major campaigns. I doubt voters would have been happy seeing just Putnam and now-Gov. Ron DeSantis on the November ballot.

Florida’s current system provides to many ways to disenfranchise voters in the minority within the jurisdiction where they live. It needs to be fixed. But a jungle primary system replaces one set of problems with another, and likely won’t leave anyone happier with the election outcomes.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Giving Back]  New College Aligns with Multicultural Action Team to Help Community
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

As our local minority communities continue to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, New College students and faculty are working alongside the Multicultural Action Team (MAT) to help. The MAT initiative—funded by a $342,000 grant to Tidewell Hospice through the Manatee County CARES Act—focuses on serving at-risk residents through prevention, education and research. Nine interns/scholars and three professors from New College are currently collaborating with Sarasota’s Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) on the effort.

“This is a way that I can give back when the community is struggling and suffering,” says Alia Quadir, a New College thesis student who has interned with the MHI since the summer and is continuing to work with the MAT this semester. “It gives this whole pandemic and the series of crises right now a kind of purpose.”

The MHI, founded in 1995 by Dr. Lisa Merritt (an adjunct professor at New College), has helped more than 10,000 people receive direct pandemic-related assistance since March. The organization has also distributed over 13,000 masks locally and nationally.

“It has been our honor and privilege to care for and educate the community on health equity issues while also developing future healthcare leadership,” Merritt says. “We are excited at the opportunity to solidify longstanding collaborations into the MAT, which will continue to improve awareness of health and wellness issues while preventing spread and complications from COVID-19 amongst vulnerable populations.”

Some of the MHI’s community services include educating individuals on best practices in multiple languages; testing and connecting people to health resources while tracking results; and developing long-term solutions to problems within social institutions and the healthcare system.

“Over the summer with the MHI, I was working on a podcast, interviewing people who had COVID-19, to amplify their voices in the community and provide a cultural, historical context for the pandemic,” Quadir says. “I also tried to find people who needed food, health or rent assistance and connect them to local resources.”

MHI interns helped track the weekly COVID-19 case data provided by the Florida Department of Health, and maintained a Google map that identified cases by zip code in Sarasota and Manatee counties. They were part of a team that compiled pediatric case data and advised local school boards about stricter protocols for reopening campuses. New College has been involved with the MHI for years, but the interns currently helping with this work are Quadir, Olympia Fulcher, Charlotte Leavengood, Austin Mason, Perry Spike, Megan Galeski, Erika Calle, Cyriac Versini and Ryan May (an alum).

The New College faculty members leading the project are Uzi Baram, professor of Anthropology and Heritage Studies; Queen Zabriskie, assistant professor of Sociology; and Kristopher Fennie, assistant professor of Epidemiology. The professors are hosting weekly meetings to mentor the interns, as well as providing various perspectives on the pandemic and the significance of community outreach. And students like Quadir are working with the MHI and the MAT while taking a remote course this fall at New College entitled "COVID-19: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Pandemic."

“New College attracts people who want to work on changing the world and increasing social justice,” Baram says. “These students are willing to go beyond their own personal struggles and challenges to make a difference for marginalized groups.”

Our socially-conscious students—guided by their supportive professors—are truly making us proud.

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

Click here for more information.

[On Politics]  Distinguishing Candidates in Sarasota City Races
Eileen Normile

Sarasota’s City Commission races are nonpartisan, but in each of the three districts, candidates can be easily distinguished by those whose donations are overwhelmingly from pro-development sources and those whose donors are primarily residents fighting to have a say in how the city develops. But in addition to that age-old issue, I implore our city voters to consider their candidate’s record of accomplishment and civic engagement before they mark their ballots. Perhaps more than ever before, intelligence, experience, ethics and ability matter this November.

Ask yourself the following simple — yet telling — questions: Does my candidate have an actual stake in the community? Has my candidate contributed to the city in any notable way? Has my candidate been a member of at least one city or county advisory board? Does my candidate vote regularly? Does my candidate attend any neighborhood association meetings?

Did my candidate perform well at all the candidate debates? Does my candidate have the financial skill to handle decisions affecting the City’s $225 million budget? On a personal level, does my candidate have a stable employment record and has he/she conducted his/her personal finances responsibly? If you are voting for someone simply because of one issue of importance to you, please remember that your district commissioner will need the wisdom to vote on all city issues for the next four years. And the next four years promise to be challenging.

I have asked and answered these questions myself and the result is that I am supporting: Willie Shaw in District 1; Terry Turner in District 2; and Eric Arroyo in District 3.

Eileen Walsh Normile is a former Sarasota City Commissioner and former chair of the Sarasota City Planning Board. 

[SOON]  HEALTH: Moving Meditation in the Museum of Art Courtyard , August 28 – October 30, 10:00am

Join Claudia Baeza, a Kripalu trained yoga instructor, for Yoga and Meditation on the loggias of the Museum of Art Courtyard for a unique opportunity to gently move the body and calm the mind. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

[SOON]  GALLERY: Online: 2020 Annual Ringling College Faculty Exhibition , September 4 – November 27, This exhibition is being hosted online.

This digital exhibition features recent work by accomplished faculty currently teaching at Ringling College of Art and Design. Featuring a dizzying array of media and artistic styles that reflect the breadth of art practices, this exhibition provides an important opportunity for art faculty members to share their work with students, colleagues, and the community.

Ringling College Galleries, Online—this exhibition is being hosted online.

[SOON]  MUSIC: HD at the Opera House , October 4 – October 18

Sarasota Opera opened the 2020 season of “HD at the Opera House” with Carmen from the Zürich Opera House on Sunday, October 4th. The presentations will continue on October 18th with Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet from Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and on November 1st with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly from Teatro Real in Madrid. Each presentation will begin at 1:30pm. More titles may be added to the schedule in coming weeks. Tickets to “HD at the Opera House” are $20 for single ticket buyers and $18 for current Sarasota Opera subscribers. All seating will be reserved and distanced for safety. Ticket buyers are encouraged to purchase tickets before arriving at the theater. Information and tickets can be found online at SarasotaOpera.org or by calling (941) 328-1300. Sarasota Opera subscribers who wish to receive the 10% discount of HD at the Opera House tickets must contact the Sarasota Opera box office directly.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Online Learning Labs: Mote Marine High School Program , October 7 – December 2

Mote’s Learning Labs are a series of virtual, interactive college and career preparatory labs that will provide students the opportunity to develop and hone professional skills for future STEM careers. Participants will gain basic knowledge in marine science concepts and experience in lab/field work. Additionally, marine science professionals will introduce participants to a variety of career opportunities and conduct career explorations. The intention of this program is to offer participants a head start toward their future goals in STEM and advance the next generation of STEM professionals. Learning Labs take place monthly on Wednesdays from 5pm to 8pm, via secure Zoom webinar. Registration for each Learning Lab is $10 and covers all necessary materials for your session.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Weekly: Sarasota Farmers Market , August 1 – April 24, 7am-1pm

Visit the Sarasota Farmers Market in Downtown Sarasota from 7am-1pm, rain or shine. We understand the severity of COVID-19; therefore, we are instituting some guidelines for both vendors and customers to follow as you join us downtown. Customer Code of Conduct: Stay home if you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick, Make a shopping list before coming, Pre-order and prepay vendors online if possible, Designate one shopper per household, Leave pets at home unless it is a service animal, Wear a mask, Look with your eyes only touch what you will buy, Maintain 6 feet of space between you and any others, Shop quickly and get everything to go, No gathering keep walkways clear, Hand sanitizer available at all vendor booths and sanitizing stations. 

Downtown Sarasota, Lemon Avenue and State Street, Downtown Sarasota

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Monthly: Beer Garden Bazaar Night Market , July 31 – December 25, 6pm-11pm

Join us in the Motorworks Beer Garden every last Friday for our monthly “Beer Garden Bazaar” Night Market featuring local makers showcasing their original arts, handmade crafts and one-of-a-kind goods, plus live music from 7-11pm, food trucks, delicious craft brews (of course) and extensive wine & cocktail offerings. Invite your friends, swing on by the Beer Garden and mingle with a drink in hand while perusing tons of awesome local wares. Eat, shop and drink the night away under the glow of the moon and beautifully lit old oak tree. Family & Pet Friendly Free Event.

Motorworks Brewing, 1014 9th Street West Bradenton, Florida 34205

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Small Wonders: Insects in Focus at The Bishop , June 17 – October 20, Museum hours.

Insects inhabit every domain of our daily lives, performing essential functions that balance our fragile ecosystem on Earth — functions that often go unnoticed because of their small size or scale. Now, using cutting-edge technology and custom methods that put tiny insects on a human scale, artist and photographer Bob Sober allows visitors to see the patterns, textures, colors and details that have always been present, but too small to appreciate in The Bishop’s newest special exhibition: Small Wonders: Insects in Focus.

Creating human-scale images of insects, with resolution so high that every hair, dimple and tiny structure is clearly revealed, was impossible prior to the technological advancements of the past 10 years. Now, Sober’s skills allow us to see the intersection of natural science and art in the smooth metallic finishes and heavily stippled textures, strange body shapes, delicate wing structures and beautifully engineered body components in this series of 30 images that will are on display in the Museum’s second-floor Rincon Gallery and throughout the Museum.

Small Wonders: Insects in Focus features 30 of Sober’s spectacular images and viewers will find themselves at the intersection of art and science. The exhibition, which is included in the cost of admission, is organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance and will be open at The Bishop through October 20.

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W, Bradenton

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Pumpkin Patch Express Train Ride , October 17 – October 25

October 17th & 18th and October 24th & 25th. Tickets for this popular event go on sale to the general public on August 12th at 10am, tickets will be available on the museum's website at www.frrm.org Early access for members are on sale now by calling the ticket office. The Ticket office is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Special Note for Covid 19; For 2020 the event will operate at 50% capacity. Due to the complicity of ticketing in reserved seat cars, window seats will only be sold. However, you may consolidate your group using unsold aisle seats within your seating area. Mask requirements will be based on Manatee County mask ordinance at the time of the event.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Ballet Film - Sleeping Beauty , October 18, 1:30pm

This sumptuous ballet, choreographed by the great Rudolph Nureyev, returns to the stage with magnificent sets created by Oscar winner Franca Squarciapino, and Felix Korobov conducting the extraordinary score by Tchaikovsky. International superstar Polina Semionova stars as the lovely Princess Aurora, who after being cursed by an evil fairy (Beatrice Carbone), must fall into a death-like sleep until a handsome prince (Timofej Andrijashenko) awakens her with a kiss. From Teatro La Scala.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Climate Change: The Threat and the Opportunities , October 18, 11-12:30pm

The Sarasota County Democratic Jewish Caucus (SCDJC) will host guest speaker Dr. Mark Paul in “Climate Change: The Threat and the Opportunities” on Sunday, October 18, 11 a.m.-12:30pm, via the Zoom platform. This virtual meeting is part of SCDJC’s “Nosh and Knowledge” series. Admission is free but registration is required.

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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