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SRQ DAILY Mar 13, 2021

"The goal of New Crew SRQ is to create an inclusive rowing culture and a sense of unity among New College students."

- Antonia 'Toni' Ginsberg-Klemmt, New Crew SRQ

[Under The Hood]  Is it a Tax Hike? Doesn't Matter, It's A Good Idea
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Don’t call it a tax hike, it’s been here for years.

That’s the message Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, delivered in his long quest to require online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases. It’s a mission he may well complete soon thanks to the economic crisis that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been Gruters’ top legislative priority for three years running, ever since the Supreme Court’s South Dakota v. Wayfair ruling made clear states can charge taxes on e-commerce. In 43 states, lawmakers jumped at the chance, but Florida remains a holdout. The matter typically falls victim to a standard Tallahassee dynamic, where the deliberative Senate greets an issue with warmth but a reactionary House leaves legislation to freeze in the Panhandle frost.

This year, legislation appears to be moving. Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson just endorsed Gruters’ bill so long as revenues go to replenish the state’s sapped unemployment trust.

In the world of policy, crises bring opportunity, and the coronavirus created the perfect conditions to pass Senate Bill 50. Fear of an airborne virus drove many consumers last year to move their shopping habits online. Guidelines and lockdown regulations stopped the type of gatherings retail areas have come to rely upon to spur activity; think of the loss downtown stores felt when the Sarasota Farmers Market ceased from March until August.

At the same time, the pandemic forced massive layoffs and a depletion of a trust fund through a crushing number of claims. That triggered a tax hike on businesses already facing an unexpected recession, and if the fund stays low more increases will come automatically.

Gruters’ legislation for the first time already cleared all its Senate committee stops, but his plan never faced serious opposition in that chamber. The more remarkable event this week came when companion legislation from Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, had a hearing in a House committee for the first time. It received a favorable vote, and seems destined for passage.

But Gruters must now game the rhetoric. He’s been adamant for years this should not be viewed as a new levy. “I would never support a tax increase,” he said. Floridians were always legally required to pay this tax. As a practicing CPA, he’s had to explain this to clients who get audited and learned only then of a requirement for citizens to pay this sales tax independently to the Florida Department of Revenue and pay taxes on all their online purchases.

What, you’ve never done this? Nobody does, and that’s where this gets politically dicey. The Legislature’s revenue estimators predict a huge windfall should the state begin collecting online sales taxes— almost $974 million next fiscal year and over $1 billion the one after that. Pretty good trick without raising taxes.

The House Committee this week for the first time featured critics of the plan using language Gruters always eschewed. Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, said his constituents define a tax hike differently from Tallahassee. Their definition is “government taking more money from somebody than they did before.”

And frankly he’s got a point. While Gruters’ definition will avoid a requirement of a supermajority vote in the Legislature for new taxes, critics will malign this as a billion-dollar tax on consumers. It’s already started. It’s a bit of a farce for the Legislature to bill this as revenue neutral for stopping an unemployment tax hike. The claims crisis is temporary. The sales tax will be in place forever.

But Gruters remains on the side of angels here. It’s immoral Florida for years charged customers at Bookstore1 a tax those shopping on Amazon never paid, even as the online retailer nearly annihilated the entire independent bookstore sector. Every merc-ant whose livelihood depends on what goes into a register instead of a PayPal account will decry the inequity of online merchants evading sales tax. It’s more egregious now that those selling both in person and through e-commerce must pay sales tax if they ship goods to 43 states, but websites selling goods to Floridians don’t pay any sales tax here.

This is a tax Florida should have charged the last 20 years.

Jacob Ogles is contirbuting senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[Higher Education]  Student Founds Rowing Team and Makes History on Suncoast
Donal O'Shea, doshea@ncf.edu

Nothing gives me more hope than the energy of young people, their optimism and their willingness to pitch in to improve their communities. No group better exemplifies these traits than New College students.

Just this week, one of our third-year students, Antonia “Toni” Ginsberg-Klemmt, helped make local history.

Back in September 2019, Ginsberg-Klemmt founded New Crew SRQ. This week, it was officially named the first multi-school collegiate rowing crew on the Suncoast.

“The goal of New Crew SRQ is to create an inclusive rowing culture and a sense of unity among New College students,” says Ginsberg-Klemmt, who is also the team’s coach. “New Crew is a flexible rowing program designed to accommodate both scullers and sweep rowers, people who want to compete in regional regattas, as well as people who want to row recreationally.”

New Crew SRQ represents a community partnership between New College and the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates—the nonprofit organization that operates and manages Nathan Benderson Park for Sarasota County. An event formalizing the partnership was held on Tuesday near the Benderson Family Finish Tower, with Ginsberg-Klemmt; New College Provost Suzanne Sherman, Ph.D.; and SANCA President/CEO Tomás Herrera-Mishler in attendance. The crew’s oar blade was also unveiled.

The New Crew SRQ team provides New College students, staff and alumni of all skill levels the chance to learn and train at a multi-use sports venue that has hosted numerous national and international championships and regattas since 2017. The team will also have opportunities to compete against other rowing crews at the site.

The rowing club is a “leadership laboratory,” says New Crew SRQ Faculty Adviser Amy Reid, Ph.D., a New College professor of French and gender studies.

“The New Crew SRQ initiative really reflects what is best about a New College education, where creative, talented and motivated students are encouraged to explore, grow and thrive—to be leaders inside the classroom and in the community,” Reid says. “We are exceptionally fortunate to have the support of SANCA (which has made Sarasota a premier world destination for rowing) and the New College Foundation. Thanks to them for believing in our students.”

Thanks, too, to Ginsberg-Klemmt for seizing the initiative. She has been a rower since seventh grade, and she was not deterred by the absence of crew at New College.

“You can’t be near a world-class rowing facility [Nathan Benderson Park] and not have a collegiate rowing team,” says Ginsberg-Klemmt, who is studying applied physics.

She and another New College student, Isaac Mingus, founded the team as an Independent Study Project sponsored by Associate Professor of Computer Science David Gillman, Ph.D. She collected donations from GoFundMe, Facebook and her immediate family.

“I raised $2,000 and my parents matched it, so I ended up with $4,000 (enough to fund three carbon-fiber racing shells, each seating four rowers and one coxswain),” Ginsberg-Klemmt says.

Because of her passion, New Crew SRQ was born. The team is primarily for New College affiliates, but it is open to allowing students within the Cross College Alliance to participate, including those from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, State College of Florida and Ringling College of Art and Design.

On February 29, 2020, in Gainesville, New Crew SRQ took part in its first race—a regatta called “Duel in the Swamp” with students from USF, SCF, the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Central Florida. Ginsberg-Klemmt, New College students Ash Howland and Nicole McKenna, as well as UF student Dina Lutz and SCF student Romy Roberts, came in fourth place.

Ginsberg-Klemmt invites athletes of all levels to register for New Crew SRQ, as she has been coaching and competing for years. In 2018, she represented Sarasota Crew in the women’s lightweight 8+ at the Youth National Rowing Championships in California, and placed first in the C final, setting her at 13th overall in the nation. She even fixes and refurbishes her own boats by welding and working with epoxy.

The sport feeds right into Ginsberg-Klemmt’s academic interests, which are predominantly marine engineering-based. She is fascinated with hydrodynamics and green energy, and has even considered the possibility of what it would take to generate power through rowing.

It is thrilling to watch her vision for New Crew SRQ materialize with the support and encouragement of her New College professors and peers, as well as the Sarasota community. It is even more thrilling to imagine how much farther she will go—on the water, in her career and in life—and to realize that she has many peers who share her resourcefulness and ability to make remarkable things happen in their communities. Our future is in good hands.

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

[SOON]  FOOD: The Ringling: Cafe in the Courtyard , March 18, 11:30am-1:30pm

Join us for lunch in the Museum of Art Courtyard on March 18 from 11:30am to 1:30pm. Metz Catering will offer light lunch options for purchase including sandwiches, salads, veggie plates, as well as beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Enjoy a solo musician performing as you relax and lunch with your friends. Tables and chairs will be socially distanced throughout the Courtyard. Purchase of Museum Admission is required.

[SOON]  FOOD: The Ringling: Wine & Roses Dinner , March 26, 7pm

Experience an enchanted evening of Wine & Roses on March 26 at 7pm. Enjoy an intimate three-course dinner featuring expert wine pairings provided by Total Wine & More in The Mable Ringling Rose Garden. This semi-private, socially distanced evening will feature inspired dishes from The Ringling Grillroom. Seatings are for parties of up to four guests, reserve now to make your menu selections.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Ringling: Museum Intensive: Observational Painting & Drawing in the Museum of Art Courtyard , April 1 – April 29, 5:30pm-7:30pm

This 5-week course is designed for adults with intermediate to advanced skills and will follow the Western academic approach of classical methods of direct observation. Students will meet weekly in the Museum of Art Courtyard for 2-hour sessions on Thursdays from 5:30pm to 7:30pm: April 1, April 8, April 15, April 22, April 29. In order to maintain social distancing during class, students will be sent instructional demo videos to watch prior to the live in-person class session. During the live class, students will have access to the collection and receive feedback and personalized instruction from teaching artist Keith Crowley. The Fee is $225 / $175 for members and is nonrefundable. Please note: the class registration fee does not include the cost of art supplies. Registration is capped at 10 students.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Spring Market at University Town Center , March 13 – March 21, 10am-6pm

Shop Local this Spring Season with University Town Center. Over spring break, we're bringing 80+ local crafters & vendors to The Mall at University Town Center. Join us March 13, 14, 20, and 21 for rare finds, handmade items, delicious snacks and more from 10am to 6pm. This event is free to attend. Pets are allowed in the market, but not in the mall.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Virtual: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe: Aunt Rudele's Family Reunion , February 12 – March 28

WBTT Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs stars as the irrepressible Aunt Rudele — the busybody relative who knows no boundaries but always knows best — in this hilarious one-man show. Written by Jacobs with contributions from Julian Olf, who also directed, “Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion” was filmed live on the WBTT stage in 2016. While attending the Stevens family reunion, Aunt Rudele introduces her kinfolk through songs, dances, prayers, sermons and verbal duels. Her observations are searing and laugh-out-loud funny. In the Southern tradition, this show serves up a main dish of laughter with a side order of down-home wisdom. Available for purchase Friday, February 12 — Sunday, March 28, 2021. Buy a 48-hour virtual pass and you will receive an exclusive access code valid for 48 hours from the time you activate the code. Video access ends Tuesday, March 30, 2021. See the show via your Computer, Tablet, Smart Phone or Smart TV.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sarasota Drive-By Community Baby Shower , March 13, 10am-12pm

Continuing a 25-year tradition, but for the first time a “Drive-By” event, the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County and the Kiwanis Club of Sarasota are presenting the Sarasota Drive-By Community Baby Shower. On Saturday, March 13 from 10am to 12pm, at The Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center parking lot, 1750 17th Street, the organizations will partner to host a free, fun, and educational event for families in Sarasota with children up to age 3. Due to COVID-19, this event will be a DRIVE-THRU with face masks required for all participants (except children under age 2). All attendees will be required to remain in their vehicles at all times. Registration will be located at the entrance of the parking lot and anyone in the vehicle not wearing a mask will be given one. Volunteers will be directing the flow of traffic around the parking lot loop so that each vehicle drives by each exhibitor table to receive their pre-bagged informational and/or promotional materials. This event is held annually to provide education, support, and helpful gifts to pregnant women and new families. Exhibitors from local organizations will be on hand with information and giveaways for attendees. Door prizes donated by exhibitors will be raffled after the event, along with grand prizes such as pac-n-plays, high-chairs, and strollers donated by the Kiwanis Club of Sarasota and the Healthy Start Coalition.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime: Barking Bazaar , March 13, 10am-3pm
The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime is going to the dogs! Barking Bazaar is March 13 from 10am to 3pm. Meet local pet vendors and animal rescues. Confirmed guests include Animal Network and Satchel’s Last Resort along with Mad Wolf Designs, Little Sweet Vegan and Dog Perfect. Have lunch at Hamlet’s Eatery, enjoy live music by Clint & Alyssa, and check out the 25+ vendors inside. Outdoors with plenty of tail wagging fun.
[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: The Bishop: IQuest: Ancient Ecosystems , March 13, 4pm-8pm

IQuest is a monthly program for smart, curious middle school students in grades 6 through 8. While each IQuest is different, you can always expect challenging projects and games that inspire out-of-the-box solutions to real world problems. Due to limitations on attendance and staffing, attendees must pre-register by 11am on the day of the program. We will be adhering to social distancing measures during all activities and the class size will be limited to 10 children. Masks will be required for all staff and students, and all students will be temperature-screened upon arrival. This month, on Saturday, March 13 from 4pm to 8pm at The Bishop, explore Ancient Ecosystems. How do we learn about life in the past? Join us to explore fossils, and learn how they are uncovered and the stories they can tell us. Admission is $8. Kids only — this is a drop-off program. Paid reservations required; includes a slice of pizza and a drink.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Virtual: The Bishop: KidSpace , March 13 – March 27, 10:30am-11:30am

We unleash the awesome power of The Planetarium during KidSpace, where kids can become scientific masters of the universe. Join us on Saturday, March 13 and 27 from 10:30am to 11:30am as we take off from the Earth’s surface and fly to places humans have never been: the Sun, planets, other moons in our solar system, newly discovered solar systems in our galaxy and beyond. KidSpace is designed for grades 1-5 and their grown-ups, but everyone is welcome. Please note this program will be hosted via Zoom. Registration confirmation with Zoom meeting details will be sent to the email address provided at check out.

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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