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SRQ DAILY Jan 8, 2022

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The suggestion to replace normal voting by signed petitions is the most incompetent statement that I have ever heard by an elected official. "

- Capers Jones, Siesta Key resident
 

[Under The Hood]  Mapmaking Holds Key to Siesta Key's Future
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

A divided Sarasota County Legislative Delegation shot down any chance of a bill advancing this year to incorporate Siesta Key. But while legislation may be dead for 2022, I can’t help but wonder if the popular-on-the-island issue will deliver huge political consequences in 2022.

A big part of that will depend on how the once-a-decade redistricting process plays out. Sarasota's delegation, based on published maps so far, will likely shrink from six members to five when everything shakes out. But whether an incorporation plan will have a better shot in 2023 depends a lot on what happens in the legislative session, which starts Tuesday.

For starters, Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton and maybe the most vocal critic of incorporation, likely won't represent Sarasota next year. He chairs the delegation now, and while I don’t think he abused the gavel when incorporation died this week, he certainly had a microphone to voice his fiscal concerns. Then again, Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, D-St. Petersburg and a yes vote, also has a district that extends to Sarasota now but likely won’t after redistricting. Besides, she’s running for Congress in Pinellas County. Either way, their votes cancel one another under any scenario. 

A greater wild card, the district represented now and likely next year by Rep. Mike Grant, R-Port Charlotte, extends north into Sarasota County on all drafts. That’s a whole new delegation member Siesta Key leaders have to lobby for support.

But most fascinating is what happens with the other no votes already seated at the table. Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota and a no vote, could well end up in the same district as fellow incorporation skeptic Rep. James Buchanan, R-Venice. If that happens, only one person comes out of a primary, and that means only one of three no votes on the legislation this year has any say on the next draft.

Or Buchanan could end up in the same district as Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota. She sponsored the Siesta Key local bill, and if she loses her seat, her work goes with her. Personally, I think if she ends up in a district with Buchanan, she would move into a Sarasota district, even a closely divided one, and take her chances against whatever Democrat can be recruited in a red year, but if said Democrat wins anyway, you have another new member. 

Of note, this scenario, based on current drafts, involves Siesta Key being split between two districts.

Who knows what Gregory does with all this going on. The draft seat most analogous to his own appears like it will become a Manatee County-only jurisdiction. Most think it’s unlikely he will move, especially if Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh runs for state House there, as she told me she intends to do if maps stay the way the look now. She would have zero say on Siesta Key, but her decisions could affect Gregory’s.

With all this mess going on, there may even be the possibility one of the Representatives opposed to incorporation challenges Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, a supporter of the bill.

There’s a lot of what ifs here, and the political picture won’t clear up until new maps come out of the Florida Legislature.

But it seems pretty clear to me there will be contests where the position politicians hold on Siesta Key became major points of disagreement in Republican primaries, and maybe even in general election match-ups. 

Already, Martin Hyde, a primary challenger to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, has started criticizing him in proxy for James Buchanan’s vote. “Clearly both Father and Son believe their judgment more important than that of their constituents,” Hyde wrote in a Facebook post.

All this shows the potency of the legislation as a campaign issue. Judging from surveys and meeting attendance, thousands of residents of Siesta Key strongly favor forming a city, and few feel concerned enough to speak out against it. If nothing else, there’s a huge bundle of voters who feel energized during an election year— or worse, scorned. It’s really no coincidence Gruters and McFarland, the lawmakers who actually represent the community, proved easy yes votes. 

The outcome of races in 2022 will determine if Save Siesta Key is in a better position to get now just three votes for a majority, or whether the plan is doomed until another generation of lawmakers arrives.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

[On State]  Representative's Reasons Lacking in Logic
Capers Jones

The vote on Siesta Key incorporation was 3 to 3. Those in favor of incorporation were Sen. Joe Gruters, Rep. Fiona McFarland and Rep. Michele Rayner. Thank you for your public service.  It was appreciated by all local voters and especially by those who heard the discussions.

Those who voted against incorporation were Rep. James Buchanan, Rep. Tommy Gregory, and Rep. Will Robinson.

One of the representatives made a suggestion so shockingly incompetent it needs to be revealed as a failure of democratic principles. Instead of allowing local citizens to vote on incorporation, they should send him petitions that totaled to 51% of the voting population. In a democracy, issues are decided by democratic ballots and not by written petitions.

When normal elections are held, there are formal polling places where voters can go to vote.  The time required for a voter to cast a ballot is only the time needed to reach the polling station and the time needed to cast a ballot.  In a geographically small community such as Siesta Key, voters probably only need about 1 hour to cast a ballot.  With a voting population of about 7,000, that means voting effort is approximately 7,000 hours on the part of voters plus additional time by volunteers who man the polling stations.

For petitions, there are no formal polling places although there were boxes at some local retail stores where petitions could be left. There were also volunteers who tried canvassing voters at public locations and by leaving blank petitions at various condos and public buildings. Some volunteers also went door to door in a few neighborhoods. Because Siesta Key is a seasonal community, not all residents were in town when the vote was held. Also, there is no effective way for volunteers to reach a majority of voters with petitions because of gated communities.  Therefore achieving a 51% majority via written petitions is logistically impossible since volunteers need to seek out voters rather than voters going to formal polling stations.

The human effort to reach 51% of voters using petitions would probably need at least 15 hours per successful, signed petition on the part of hundreds of volunteers who would stand outside of stores and in public locations asking for voters to fill out petitions, door-to-door efforts as well as electronic methods. The effort includes research, planning, mobilizing, educating, publicizing, distributing, organizing, meeting and countless other tasks.

As it happens, almost 2,500 petitions were in fact collected before the vote on Jan. 4, close to the maximum possible and a very successful campaign given Siesta Key’s population— not all of whom are registered voters.

In short, it is a mathematical impossibility to reach 51% of voters using petitions instead of ballots and for an elected representative to want to substitute written petitions for ballots is alarmingly incompetent and undemocratic.    

The human labor required to achieve a 51% majority of signed petitions would probably amount to at least 500 volunteers spending up to 15 hours per petition by using public locations: 7,500 hours of unpaid effort by volunteers who no doubt have jobs and families.

The suggestion to replace normal voting by signed petitions is the most incompetent statement that I have ever heard by an elected official. Why does he want to violate normal democratic procedures involving ballots that have worked for hundreds of years with a labor-intensive method that cannot possibly reach a majority of voters and does not even have any legal standing?

Sarasota is at considerable risk of bad laws and bad decisions due to the incompetence of suggestions such as replacing ballots with petitions by an elected official. 

As a question to the representative who asked for petitions, can he inform readers as to how many of Florida’s 500-plus incorporated communities required a majority of the voting population to file petitions?  Did Westlake use petitions in 2016?  Did Estero use petitions in 2014? Did Sarasota use petitions in 1902? Did St. Augustine use petitions in 1822?

In attendance, there were over 300 people in favor of incorporation and only one person opposed to incorporation. Anyone familiar with statistical sampling should know that a ratio of 300 to 1 indicates a majority of voters favor incorporation and therefore petitions would also favor incorporation.   

Hopefully, the three representative who voted against incorporation will be able to find jobs after the next election when they are turned out of office due to their poor performance and disservice to Siesta Key and Sarasota voters.

Capers Jones, vice president and chief technology officer of Namcook Analytics, is a resident of Siesta Key. 

Image via Pixabay



[Home of the Year]  Home of the Year Extended Call for Entries

It's not too late to enter SRQ Magazine's 2022 Home of the Year Competition! The extended call for entries is Monday, January 10 at 12 pm noon. Go to srqmag.com/hoty to enter. 

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime: Bubble Festival Starring Blaise Ryndes , January 8, 10am-3pm

The Bubble Festival starring Blaise Ryndes will take place on January 8 from 10am to 3pm. He performed his bubble act on America’s Got Talent. This is going to be a big event, so don't miss it.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sarasota Orchid Society: Orchids in Paradise Show , January 8 – January 9, 9am-5pm and 10am-5pm

2022 Annual Orchids in Paradise Show and Sale will take place on January 8 and 9, on Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm at Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, 801 North Tamiami Trail. Masks are STRONGLY recommended and masks and hand sanitizer will be available.

[SOON]  SPORTS: Melges 15 Winter Series Event 1 , January 8 – January 9

The Melges 15 Winter Series returns to Sarasota on January 8 and 9, 2022. The Winter Series features three events, the first on January 8 and 9. More than 60 teams from around the country will compete in this sailing regatta. Sarasota Bay will be teeming with colorful spinnakers as the sailors make their way down the course. The Melges 15 Winter Series is hosted by the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. See Sailingsquadron.com for more information about sailing on beautiful Sarasota Bay.

[SOON]  SEMINAR: Virtual: Brain Health Scholar Meeting , January 9, 6:30pm
A National Emergency has been declared in child and adolescent brain health by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Children’s Hospital Association. During the COVID-19 pandemic 1 in 4 children are experiencing a surge of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, suicidality, eating disorders, and substance use that will have lasting impacts on them, their families, and our community. The BHI is addressing this crisis, in part, through the Brain Health Scholar program and equipping young thought leaders with the resources they need to be change agents for themselves and those they care about, as well as the greater community. BHI Brain Health Scholars are improving understanding of and taking action to promote and protect youth brain health and prevent and fight youth brain illness. Together we can change the trajectory of children’s lives and the impact on the Suncoast region for the better. On Sunday, January 9 we will have another opportunity to hear from a brain health researcher, Bryce Bjork. Bryce will share information about their unique program designed to support youth brain health and fight and prevent brain illness. For your background, the Brain Health Initiative is considering a potential strategic partnership with the Chase Bjork Foundation (CBF). Please join us on Sunday at 6:30pm via zoom and RSVP.
[SOON]  SPORTS: Alpha Win Triathlon , January 9

The Sarasota, FL Triathlon will take place on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Nathan Benderson Park is a world class multi-purpose recreation center situated in a 600-acre park that incorporates a 400-acre artificial lake. Sarasota, located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is the gateway to miles of beaches with fine sand and shallow waters such as the Lido Beach and Siesta Key Beach. It is the perfect winter destination for a triathlon event with daily mean temperatures in the low to mid 60’s. The available race distances, Alpha Sprint, Alpha Olympic, and Alpha 70.3, of the Alpha Win Triathlon Series assures you a challenging course geared to your level of training, endurance and personal goals.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sol of the Circle: Cold Days, Warm Hearts , January 9 – January 26, Varies.

St. Armands Circle has announced the event dates for its upcoming 2022 “Sol of the Circle – Cold Days, Warm Hearts.” Experience life on the circle and visit an assortment of some of the best merchants in the region. Sol of the Circle, a joint effort by the St. Armands Circle Association and St. Armands Business Improvement District, invites locals and tourists alike to enjoy weekly events happening throughout the month of January. Sol of the Circle will start Sunday, January 9th, and will include events such as: Sunset Yoga - Sunday, Jan. 9, and Jan. 23, 5pm to 6pm, St. Armands Family Day - Sunday, Jan. 16, 11am to 1pm, Ladies Night - Thursday, Jan. 20, 6pm to 8:30pm, and Songs on the Circle – Wednesday, Jan. 26, 6pm to 9pm. St. Armands Circle is set to kick off the new year with a handful of events for one to enjoy in January. The first event features a soothing way to wind down the weekend with Sunset Yoga. This free event will take place on Jan. 9 and 23 from 5 to 6 p.m. Led by instructor Liana Sheintal Bryant. Songs on the Circle will return with a mix of several smooth genres. Each quadrant will feature a different musical act providing a soundtrack to your evening as you stroll around the circle. This special event will be held on Wednesday, January 26 from 6pm to 9pm. St. Armands Circle Association’s Sol of the Circle will also include Ladies Night, which will be held on Thursday, January 20 from 6pm to 8:30pm. Shop and dine out on the Circle with a festive atmosphere for a special night of fun. The final event will conclude on Wednesday, January 26. From 11am to 1pm, the Circle encourages you to enjoy St. Armands Family Day which will include great activities for the whole family to participate in. 

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Orchestra: Great Escapes: Comedy Tonight , January 12 – January 16, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 8pm and 4pm

What better combination than music and comedy to lift your spirits on Wednesday, January 12 at 5:30pm, Thursday, January 13 at 7:30pm, Friday, January 14 at 5:30pm, Saturday, January 15 at 8pm, and Sunday, January 16 at 4pm at Holley Hall. Christopher Confessore adds his trademark humor to a program including music by Stephen Sondheim, Leroy Anderson, and Peter Schickele (a.k.a. P. D. Q. Bach).

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe: Ruby , January 12 – February 24, 2pm and 7:30pm

Originally scheduled for the 2019-2020 season and highly anticipated, the next production is “Ruby,” a world-premiere musical. It tells the story of the 1952 murder in Florida of a white doctor by a black woman, guaranteeing a conviction for the woman bold enough to commit such a shocking crime and bringing celebrated writer Zora Neale Hurston to town to cover the story for a northern newspaper. This powerful and haunting musical explores the secrets just beneath the surface of the idyllic, genteel exterior of a quaint Florida town. The book and lyrics are written by Michael Jacobs, Nate’s brother; Nate will direct. Runs from January 12 to February 24, 2022, Evenings at 7:30pm and Matinees at 2pm. Call the Box Office at 941-366-1505 or visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Our Town , January 12 – January 22, Varies.

Perhaps no other play rings truer today. Thornton Wilder’s magnificent Our Town is, at its heart, about us. All of us who are swept up by time and subject to inescapable change. As another ordinary day begins, the inhabitants of a small American town go about their business: newspapers are delivered; people go to work; gardens are tended. And a boy and girl fall in love. But as life’s events unfold, one question remains: “Do any human beings ever realize life as they live it?” Long after it won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Our Town remains one of the most enduring American plays of all time, reminding us to celebrate love, family, community, and the beauty in the ordinary. Recommended for general audiences. Our Town will show January 12–March 26, 2022.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Sarasota Concert Association: Music Matinees: Passerine , January 12, 1pm

A longstanding community outreach program, Music Matinees feature accomplished area-based musicians who perform an array of musical styles. Concerts take place on Wednesdays from noon to 1pm in David Cohen Hall, Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. Passerine will take place on January 12. With inventive vocal harmonies and songwriting and supported by the sounds of acoustic strings, Passerine offers a fresh take on traditional folk and bluegrass music, as well as a repertoire of original songs that ranges from sweet ballads to the edgier side of contemporary Americana.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Arts Advocates: Elisabeth Trostli , January 12 – February 19, 2pm-5pm

Elisabeth Trostli, Saturday, January 22 – Saturday, February 19, 2022. Digital artist Elisabeth Trostli creates fantastical photographic collages, in amazing detail, using her own original hand-rendered illustrations, antique papers, exquisite embellishments, photography and geometrical fractals. A native Brazilian, she received her artistic education at the Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in Illustration.

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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