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SRQ DAILY Jul 24, 2021

"We need to solve the climate emergency, not just put another bandage on it. We can accelerate and increase our actions to eliminate carbon pollution, restore thriving nature, and prioritize solutions that include and are fair to all our neighbors."

- Sidney Otis, Sarasota

[Under The Hood]  Politics Makes All Vulnerable
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Even when you hold one of the most powerful political positions in the state, politics makes all positions vulnerable ones.

For a couple hours this week, it seemed a few words could unseat Joe Gruters as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

In truth, a wild accusation that threatened the successful political leader’s future started to gain momentum this weekend. Well, depending how you look at it, problems started months earlier. That’s when someone filed a sexual harassment complaint involving a mal staffer at the state party. In this post #MeToo world, such complaints must and do receive thorough investigation. Add in the potential luridness of male-on-male harassment from a married, heterosexual politician and it was clear dynamite had been buried under a bridge and was waiting to explode.

Never mind the accusation itself stretched credulity. It seems notable Gruters, while very conservative on a number of issues, has held relatively progressive views on gay rights. And while some haters may see that as evidence he must be gay, that’s high school logic. In my experience, those who are most tolerant of LGBTQ people by nature seem the least likely to be closeted. Why hide something which you feel warrants no shame?

He also doesn’t seem like a harasser. Indeed, when Gruters faced criticism from those within his party over the years, it’s been for being too nice, too “soft” as someone put it this week. He’s been known to eat dinners with local DemocraItic leaders, in public Sarasota restaurants where everyone can see. He came to the defense of a moderate Democrat he serves with in the Florida Senate last year, one who at the time was pondering a run for Governor, and assured people he was no left-wing socialist.

But people sometimes disappoint you. Certainly as a reporter, I can’t rule out thatt a politician I've known for a dozen years could have concealed elements of this true nature.

Still, digging for information about this complaint, it seemed amazing how little dirt there was to find. It turns out the RPOF brought an outside investigator to look at the harassment allegation but they closed the case after three months. That’s because they had nothing. Honestly, not even an accusation.

It turns out a complaint came from someone who heard from someone who described an uncomfortable moment with Gruters. There was no firsthand account from the staffer in question, or from any witness who could back up the claim.

While it’s important, now more than ever, that complaints of sexual harassment receive due attention, it’s hard to call this a complaint. It’s more of a rumor. That may also be the only reason word of allegations dating all the way back to January didn’t leak out any sooner. Digging for details on the nature of the accusation, it’s hard to even call this an accusation at all.

Yet on Tuesday, emergency meetings came together with party officials, with Senate staff. Vague statements came form the state party which at first made no mention whether an investigation remained open. It took the entire day before an email blast reached members that made clear the matter had been closed.

This episode showed how vulnerable any political leader may be to accusations of any sort. Never mind Florida was among the only states in the union where Republicans in 2020, under Gruters’ leadership, performed better than in 2016. Never mind that while some forces certainly would like to move into Gruters’ role, none had the political will to even challenge his reelection as state chair. Yes, he seemed vulnerable to be removed this week. Yet, with nothing behind any attacks, he persevered.

So what’s that mean? It seems to me there’s other people in high positions in GOP politics. People who may have considered themselves invulnerable, because they had the support of powerful politicians and because they thought they had a strong constituency who had their back.

But politics makes all positions vulnerable ones.

Jacob Ogles is conribuing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA.


Photo of Joe Gruters

[On Politics]  Leaders Must Acknowledge Climate Change

During this August recess, as our Senators and Congresspeople come home from D.C., we should all ask that they look around and see the ways climate change is impacting our community and country.

I care about our changing climate because I see the impacts severe storms, worsening red tide, and sea level rise are having on my family and community here in Sarasota. We stand together on this. 78% of Americans now say they personally are concerned about climate change. 96% of us believe we have a right to live in a healthy environment with clean air and water (ecoAmerica, 2021). 

We need to solve the climate emergency, not just put another bandage on it. We can accelerate and increase our actions to eliminate carbon pollution, restore thriving nature, and prioritize solutions that include and are fair to all our neighbors.

Each of us needs to take steps to eliminate all fossil fuel pollution in our homes, workplaces, communities, and in the nation through systemic change.  

I personally have committed to cutting my climate pollution in half by signing onto MomentUs. Please join me yourself, and urge our policy makers to do the same. 

Sidney Otis, Sarasota 

[Garage Sale]  Art and Antiques at Bliss Road Collectibles, Saturday July 24

Spend a morning perusing rooms full of framed art and vintage costume jewelry lovingly curated over decades at a special Bliss Road Collectibles event taking place at 5115 Bliss Road from 9am to 12 Noon today. Bring a cup of coffee and make it a fun morning of hunting and gathering.  

5115 Bliss Road, Sarasota

[SOON]  : Sarasota Music Festival Streaming , June 24 – July 24

The Sarasota Orchestra is re-imagining its Music Festival this year, the event includes socially distanced live performances by faculty and former fellows. Starting June 24, audience members who purchase streaming access will be able to watch the festival's five events at any time. Events include, Voices of the Violin, The Romantic Revolution, Majestic Cello, Dedications and Calidore Quartet.


Sarsota Orchestra , Virtual

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Sarasota Bay Estuary Program: Eyes on Seagrass , July 12 – July 24

Water conditions and the health of seagrass beds in the Sarasota Bay area have been changing rapidly, and there is a pressing need to gather more information about the amount of algae growing in our bays. Algae is a natural part of the ecosystem, but if changing conditions cause it to grow out of control, it can damage vital habitats. Volunteers will help monitor macroalgae by snorkeling in an assigned area, estimating the coverage of seagrass and macro algae, and collecting samples. Volunteers of all levels of experience are welcome. The Eyes on Seagrass survey will take place over a two week window from July 12 - July 24. Volunteers can pick any time during this window. The survey will take about one hour. Training and gear distribution will be held over three days. You Will Need: A team of 2 or more (Give your group a name), Transportation, Mask & Snorkel, Kayak, paddle board, or boat, and GPS or GPS capable phone. We Will Provide: Survey equipment, Dive flags, and Training. Training and Gear Distribution on June 28 at Blackburn Park 9am-1pm, June 29 at Ken Thompson Park 9am-1pm, and June 30 at South Coquina Boat Ramp 9am-1pm.

[SOON]  FILM: Sarasota Opera: Classic Movies at the Opera House: Moonstruck , July 24, 7:30pm

In her Academy Award winning role, Cher plays Loretta, an unlucky-in-love bookkeeper whose feelings about her engagement to the staid and timid Johnny (Danny Aiello) are thrown into question after she meets his hot-blooded brother, Ronny, played by Nicolas Cage. One night at the opera changes everything, as this enchanting 1987 romantic comedy unfolds to passionate Puccini melodies. Directed by Norman Jewison and also starring Olympia Dukakis. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. This film will show on Saturday, July 24 at 7:30pm. All seating is reserved at 50% capacity of the theater. Masks are required for those who are not vaccinated and recommended for all others. Tickets are $10 and 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.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: National Hot Dog Day , July 24

Free Beer! Yup, you heard right. What better way to celebrate National Hot Dog Day? Located in the courtyard of The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, 821 Apricot Ave, Sarasota. Traditional and Vegan dogs cooked in J'Dub's Bell Cow Beer, available with a variety of toppings, and served with their award-winning hand-cut fries! Live Music with Zeena Brown & Sabrina McClenithan and FREE J'Dub's beer (while supplies last). For more information visit HamletsEatery.com or call 941-445-1938.

The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, 821 Apricot Ave., Sarasota

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: St. Armands Circle: Sol of the Circle: St. Armands Family Day , June 27 – September 26, 11am-1pm

Life on the Circle only gets better when days are bathed in the summer sun. Enjoy a breath of fresh air and immerse yourself in the perfect setting for adventure and fun. Join us for the “Sol of the Circle,” a series of special events for the entire family. St. Armands Family Day will take place every last Sunday from 11am to 1pm. Dates are June 27, July 25, August 29, and September 26.

[SOON]  SPORTS: Aerial Straps Workshop , July 24, 10am-6pm

The Aerial Straps workshop at the CAC is a full day of training working with coaches with over 20 years of coaching experience. Throughout the workshop students can expect to advance their straps skills learning: - Flexibility/line work and drills - Breakdown of skill positioning/basic techniques and purpose - Flares/flags/switches - One and two arm swing technique - Proper roll up drills and positioning/technique Date: Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Cost: $200, 2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota

The Circus Arts Conservatory

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Summer Circus Spectacular , July 30 – August 14

The Circus Arts Conservatory and The Ringling are happy to partner once again to present the Summer Circus Spectacular at the Historic Asolo Theater. Don’t miss this family-friendly show that runs Friday, July 30, 2021 through Saturday, August 14! The Summer Circus Spectacular showcases some of the finest circus artists from around the world, performing acts to thrill audiences of all ages. The Summer Circus Spectacular takes place at the Historic Asolo Theatre at The Ringling (5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota). Show times are 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Opening Night Performance & Celebration, Friday, July 30 @ 7:00 PM

The Ringling Museum , 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota

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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