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SRQ DAILY Dec 12, 2020

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Universities have been striving to guide students toward fruitful futures amidst the turmoil."

- Donal O'Shea, President of New College of Florida

[Under The Hood]  Sweat The Small Seats
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Democrats long struggled to motivate their own voters to the polls. Studies show Democrats less likely to vote in the rain, and basic election data shows them less likely to vote in sunny weather either.  It’s why despite having a significant registration edge in Florida for decades, the state elected Republican governors the last six consecutive elections. Turnout for Democrats goes up higher in presidential years, but in 2020 Democrats failed to win Florida despite outnumbering Republicans by six figures in registrations.

They also can’t see past the top of the ballot. It’s how the state has long been one of the most competitive battlegrounds in presidential elections, where the state has gone blue three of the last seven times, but maintains a GOP-dominated Legislature.

But what’s happening with this year’s presidential results shows precisely why such tunnel vision on the part of Democratic voters — and frankly the Democratic Party itself — creates vulnerability at all levels up to the White House. For those who stopped tracking the election after media outlets projected Joe Biden the winner more than a month ago, Donald Trump’s legal team waged a massive effort to overturn results (his word, not mine).

Without getting into the legal particulars of the case, actually brought forward by the Texas Attorney General with Trump's team filing a brief in support, it's the proposed solution that should give Democrats pause. The suit aims to not to award Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan's votes to Trump but to deny them to Biden. That would still leave Biden up in electoral votes, but with both candidates under the needed 270 to win. That would most likely kick the decision to state Legislatures or to Congressional Delegations, basically to entities controlled by Republicans. 

Which brings us back to Democrats’ lousy history of voting for anyone but president. Democrats won the White House while losing legislative seats nationwide. That includes a state Senate seat and five state House seats in Florida, one of the latter here in Sarasota. That’s partly because so much focus went on winning Florida for Biden. The result? Less power in Tallahassee and the distinction as one of three states in the nation where Biden in 2020 underperformed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But would it have even mattered if Biden won here? What if Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, as he has recommended other states do, asked the Legislature to prepare a slate of Republican electors even if Biden won the popular vote? When The Atlantic floated that plan before Election Day, Sen. Joe Gruters, the chair of the Republican Party of Florida, called the notion “preposterous” and a “scare tactic” from a Trump-hating media. How would he vote on the matter, though, as a legislator in a red chamber faced with a slate of blue electors?

DeSantis boasted Florida this year shed the ghost of 2000’s contested election. I might suggest we were only blessed to have an election decided outside the recount margin. That and the fact that Biden as the overall winner hasn’t wasted resources trying to prove voter fraud in red states.

There’s reason for pearl clutching and screeds about existential threats to democracy. But if Democrats spend all their time wagging fingers and none self-reflecting, they will miss their own failings.  Election results this year left Florida vulnerable to malfeasance. Democrats in Tallahassee would be helpless to stop funny business with its electors if Trump sought the remedy for losing Florida that he’s pursued in every other swing state he lost.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Tallahassee remain in the wilderness on every substantive legislative matter that will be discussed in the Capitol. That’s not changing two years from now if no one can muster enthusiasm for more than the Governor’s race, or worse, if the party doesn’t bother engaging voters again until 2024.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  Professionals in Residence Invest in New College Students
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

Hurricane season has not ended for young people entering the job market, or for those supporting them. It’s not just the strong headwinds created by a stalled labor market; it is the uncertainty and capricious gusts created by the pandemic and the threat of a global recession. 

Universities have been striving to guide students toward fruitful futures amidst the turmoil. At New College, we are piloting innovative ways to give our students a competitive edge.

Case in point: Our new Professionals in Residence Program.

Developed by our Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity, this initiative pairs industry leaders with undergraduates for one-on-one and group mentoring. Students can schedule appointments with pros regarding career coaching, networking, and job and internship searching.

Our five professionals in residence are currently Henry F. Anthony; Angela Haines; Patricia Courtois; Lisa Merritt, M.D.; and Dan Stults, Ph.D. Each brings a unique skillset.

“This program is a continuation of our strategy to bring more professionals in contact with our students at New College,” says CEO Director Dwayne Peterson. “It is a continuation of the New College Mentorship Network—an online platform like LinkedIn—where we already have over 400 people (alums and community members) participating.”

All of the professionals in the program believe in the New College mission of preparing intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement.

“The professionals all have interesting backgrounds that complement student support,” Peterson says. “Henry provides an employer’s perspective, Angela offers entrepreneurship expertise, Lisa has a medical background, Dan is a psychologist, and Patricia will help us build a Leadership in Business Certificate.”

This certificate will allow students to take workshops and earn a non-credit-bearing certificate in leadership as early as next semester.

“Professional in residence programs, where students learn directly from practitioners in the field, are very common in professional schools—law schools, business schools—but they’re not common for liberal arts schools,” Peterson says. “So it’s exciting that we have a diverse team of industry experts who are helping our students tell their story, strengthen their communication skills, and also provide expertise in specific industries of interest. We want a whole team of people available to support students and fill the gaps in career expertise.”

The five professionals in the program have each signed on for one year as volunteers, and these positions will rotate annually.

Anthony is the retired vice president of Human Resources (HR) for Rollins, Inc.—a Fortune 500 global commercial and consumer services company. He has had nearly 40 years of corporate HR experience, including more than 25 years as the senior HR executive. He has also assisted hundreds of collegians in career searches. 

Haines is a widely published business journalist and author, as well as a business communications and career consultant. She is currently a managing director of Golden Seeds, a national angel investing group that supports women-backed businesses. More recently, she conducted seminars on entrepreneurship for the Honors College at CUNY and Ithaca College.

Courtois, a Northwestern University alumna, has spent 40 years leading communications and corporate philanthropy efforts for companies and brands such as Beatrice Foods Company, Sara Lee Corporation, Tropicana, Sweet’n Low, Butter Buds, Sugar in the Raw and ClosetMaid. Courtois oversaw advertising, public relations and promotions for Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice, and orchestrated its launch in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Dr. Merritt is a physiatrist (that is, a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation) in Sarasota, an adjunct New College professor and pre-med adviser, and the founder of the Multicultural Health Institute. She obtained her medical degree from Howard University after completing her undergraduate studies at Georgetown University.

Dr. Stults ’81 is a New College alum, an experimental social psychologist, a consultant, a statistician and a researcher. He holds a Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Michigan State University. His most recent position was as head of global business intelligence (insights and analytics) for AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical company.

“These professionals all believe in liberal arts and want to see our students succeed,” Peterson says. “Many of them are not alums but they know about New College, and they contacted me directly to start working with our students. That’s a real testament to New College’s influence in the community.”

It is also a testament to our community’s commitment to New College, for which we are so grateful.

Right now, college students need all the professional support they can get. And, with help from invested leaders and incredible mentors, we are doing everything we can to give it to them.

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

Photo: Patricia Courtois and Dr. Lisa Merritt, two of New College’s “Professionals in Residence”

[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]  GALLERY: Art Uptown Gallery: Imagine: Paintings by Jill Krasner , November 28 – December 25, Gallery hours.

Jill Krasner, Art Uptown’s December solo artist, takes viewers on a magical, mystery tour of imaginary gardens all artistically grown during the 2020 pandemic. Wander through a new collection of exuberant paintings filled with a jumble of jaunty, colorful flowers and landscapes without borders from November 28 until December 25, 2020. Jill’s latest work continues to demonstrate her color mastery and complex, inventive surfaces. Stroll through Jill Krasner’s new collection at Art Uptown, located at 1367 Main Street, Sarasota open Monday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday, 11 am to 3pm and Sunday 12 noon to 5pm. You can meet the artist during Saturday gallery hours. Private appointments can be arranged by calling 941-955-5409. The gallery continues its commitment to visitor and staff safety by the use of masks, sanitizer, frequent cleaning and social distancing. 

Art Uptown Gallery, 1367 Main Street

[SOON]  HEALTH: Van Wezel: Bay Park Yoga , November 21 – December 26, 9:30am-10:30am

Relax, stretch and enjoy a free fulfilling yoga session every Saturday from November 21 until December 26, 2020 from 9:30am to 10:30am on the Sarasota’s scenic bayfront while instructor Erin Hurter guides you along the way. Participants should plan to bring their own yoga mat and water bottle.

Van Wezel Lawn

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Beethoven @ 250 , December 10 – December 13

The Sarasota String Quartet throws a 250th birthday party for the irascible master Beethoven, born December 16, 1770. To celebrate, our foursome will present two of his most treasured quartets from December 10 until December 13, 2020, from two vastly different periods in the composer’s life. The Quartet No. 4 was included in the very first set of string quartets Beethoven published, and he had toiled continuously for over two years to complete the set. The high drama that would come to be a hallmark of Beethoven’s music is already evident here, and the work is among his most popular. Nine years later the mature Beethoven produced his good-natured Quartet No. 10, nicknamed “Harp” due to the unusual usage of pizzicato string writing. Spend an hour with the birthday boy and marvel at the drama and energy of his glorious string quartets... certainly a cause for celebration in any year. $10 Streaming Access from December 17 through 22.

Holley Hall, 709 North Tamiami Trail

[SOON]  GALLERY: 530 Burns Gallery: Arise , December 11 – January 8, Gallery hours.

ARISE is inspired by the cycles of nature, the dawn of a new day, and the emergence of joy through the lens of visual art. Featured artists include Kathe Fraga and Laura Varich who explore symbolism in their paintings. The exhibition will run from Friday, December 11 through January 8 2020. Consider the smell of fresh flowers blooming in the garden and love birds chirping sweet songs. Kathe Fraga creates romantic paintings inspired by vintage chinoiserie. Emerging from her work are layers of pattern, botanicals, color and hidden motifs. Kathe says her work is “a resting place for the eye, a welcome peaceful voice as something reinvented emerges: gentle old meets dynamic new.” Laura Varich is an abstract oil painter based out of Mount Dora, Florida. She takes inspiration for her dynamic and colorful pieces from her early childhood, living among the natural and beautiful open spaces of the California landscape. Using energetic, bold brush strokes and striking color, Varich takes traditional subject matter of floral landscape and fuses it with the abstract, calling forth the symbols behind these elements of nature.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Cabaret by the Bay starring Whitney James , December 11 – December 12, 7:30pm

Join the Van Wezel on Friday, December 11 and Saturday December 12, 2020 at 7:30pm. Tables for up to 2 guests are $40 and tables for up to 4 guests are $80. Whitney James pairs incredible vocal skills with intimate, meaningful interpretations. She brings to the bandstand a flawless intonation, a broad range of colors, sounds, and an instrumentalist’s sensibility. She trained in opera and musical theater before focusing on a career in jazz and became a protégé of master jazz vocalists Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan. Early in her career, she opened for Nina Simone and Betty Carter as well as pop giants Earth, Wind & Fire and Macy Gray. She was featured on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz Rising Stars on NPR hosted by Jon Weber in 2012. Her album, The Nature of Love, has been acclaimed by US and International jazz press. She currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Jazz Vocal Performance at University of North Texas.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 North Tamiami Trail

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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