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SRQ DAILY Jun 25, 2022

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"As a result, no Phase Two inspection is required. We are set for another 10 years."

- John Mercer, Frances Carlton Condominium president.

[Under The Hood]  Will Court Rulings Reshape Local Races?
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a one-two punch that dramatically could reshape America’s political landscape heading into the mid-terms. It started Thursday with a gun control decision that could call into question every firearm law in the nation, and wrapped Friday with a ruling overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. But will that change the prevailing wisdom Republicans go into this election year in a strong position?

Don’t count on it. For one thing, these decisions came days after qualifying, when races of consequence were won by Republicans by default

It’s broadly understood these days midterms mean madness for the party not occupying the White House. Frequently, this gets credited to a desire to throw the bums out, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that. An enormous slice of the U.S. electorate cares about only one election, and it only comes up every four years. There’s evidence in local turnout. In 2020, about 80% of Sarasota and Manatee county voters cast ballots in the November general election. Compare the 2018 midterms, where three statewide elections in Florida were so close they went to recounts but only 67% of voters in either county participated in the general. That means you start with a less broad slice of the electorate. Intrinsically, it’s the most enthusiastic voters across the spectrum making decisions. 

It can be assumed most Republican super-voters’ feeling on President Joe Biden range from disapproval to disgust, much as Democrats felt in 2018 about Donald Trump. But most Democrats this election may feel they won the big battle by preventing a second Trump term , while Republicans see this election as a chance to place a congressional check on an administration with full control of Washington. Those who imagine moody swing voters shifting from Biden backers in 2020 to lovers of the GOP make a misguided assumption. Midterms are base elections.

The trick now is the Democratic base just got a huge awakening. Biden doesn’t control all three branches of government. Democrats don't feel motivation to place a check on Trump but may feel the need to deliver one on a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court.

The thing is, conservative voters feel energized as well. They may not have needed it but these rulings do as much to validate their agenda. Indeed, these back-to-back rulings deliver victories for conservatives on perhaps the two most important issues to Republican base voters: abortion and gun rights.

A critical aspect of the court decisions should soon come into view of more voters; these rulings mean higher stakes in state elections. After all, overturning Roe doesn’t mean all abortions become illegal. It means states can pass laws outlawing procedures if they choose. Additionally, state legislatures will rewrite gun laws and decide how to pursue licensing requirements.

And locally? Well, there are Democrats, Jan Schneider and Andrea Doria Kale, filed against U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Greg Steube, two Republicans representing the region in Congress. But neither is a nationally backed candidate. So what about state level position? Ha.

Republican state Sens. Jim Boyd and Joe Gruters face primary opposition, but there will be no Democrats challenging them in November. Liberals hoping to back an opponent in an open primary should know Gruters’ Republican opponent is a far-right candidate uninterested in moderating abortion policy.

State Reps. Will Robinson, James Buchanan and Michael Grant, all Republicans, face no opposition at all. State Rep. Tommy Gregory faces a symbolic Demcoratic challenge in a deep-red district. State Rep. Fiona McFarland, a Republican who voted for a 15-week abortion ban this year, is running in a swing district but midterm fears from any well-positioned Democrtas mean no one filed against her besides first-time candidate Derek Reich, who lacks resources or a veteran professional campaign.

The best Democrats could hope for in this mid-term is to match the energy of Republican voters. That may not be enough in many cases. But it turns out they aren't running anyone anyway.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media. 

Image via Pixabay

[On Construction]  Sarasota Condo Achieves a Fortified First
John Mercer

I am the president of a downtown Sarasota condominium that has just become the first condominium in Florida to pass the State's newly-mandated Phase One Milestone Inspection for structural inspection of older condominiums.

That’s right — the new law was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 26 and went into effect immediately, requiring all condominiums of "three stories or higher in height” that are older than 25 years and within three miles of the coast (or older than 30 years) to complete a Phase One Milestone Inspection by December 31, 2024 and every 10 years thereafter. And as the attached report from Karins Engineering Group dated June 3 indicates, the Frances Carlton Condominium (on North Palm Avenue in Sarasota) has passed just such a Phase One Milestone Inspection as conducted by them. And as a result, no Phase Two inspection is required. We are set for another 10 years.

Being three stories high, the Frances Carlton just meets the minimum height requirement for the newly mandated structural inspection — but having been built in 1924, this historic building (on the National Register of Historic Places) is 98 years old and thus far in excess of the minimum age requirement for coverage by the new law.

So how were we able to respond to the new law so quickly? By a combination of foresight and coincidental timing. Last year, right after the tragic condo collapse in Surfside (the one-year anniversary of which is this coming Friday, June 24), there was a lot of news reporting about the likelihood of a new state law requiring structural evaluations of all older condominiums. The Board of Directors of the Frances Carlton felt that when this happened, there would be a scramble by all affected condominiums to hire structural engineering firms, which is in fact why the new law’s deadline is the end of 2024, and that we might well have difficulty in finding one to work with us. So we jumped the gun, and started looking last year and were very fortunate to sign up a major, highly-regarded structural engineering firm, Karins Engineering Group.

But by the end of last year, the Legislature had not yet acted on this and had no specific requirements in place. So earlier this year, we had Karins go ahead and start the structural evaluation of our building anyway — something we felt would then give us a running start if and when a new law went into effect, and would also be just a good thing to have for a 98-year-old building, regardless of any legal requirement. 

Karins started inspecting various aspects of our building and reviewing related documentation and previous contractor reports — and then in late May, the Legislature suddenly acted to pass the new law and put it into effect immediately. Karins then had the legal specifications for what can be formally designated as a Phase One Milestone Inspection and the required contents of the report. It conducted its final site inspections at that point, and then issued its report stating that our building passed — the new law requires a specific finding of “no signs of substantial structural deterioration”. 

More specifically, look at the Summary of the report, on page 15. The key findings are: 

  • “Frances Carlton does not appear to have any substantial structural deterioration.”
  • “This report meets the requirements of a Phase 1 inspection.”
  • “Frances Carlton currently does not require an additional more intensive Phase 2 inspection.”

The Washington Post indicated “the state does not have enough structural engineers to handle the workload required to make sure all the state’s high-rise condominiums are safe. . . . There’s a high demand for them on new construction alone.” But fortunately for the Frances Carlton Condominium, that’s something we won’t have to worry about for another 10 years.

And thus my conviction that Sarasota’s historic Frances Carlton Condominium is surely the first condominium in the entire State of Florida to have taken and passed the newly mandated requirement for this type of structural inspection.

John Mercer is president of the Frances Carlton Condominium Association.


[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens: Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light , February 13 – June 26, Garden hours.

This winter, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Selby Gardens) will spotlight the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the most significant photographers of the 20th century, together with the poetry of legendary singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith in a special exhibition on view throughout the garden’s 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus. Marking the sixth edition of the Gardens’ annual Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, which explores the work of major artists through the lens of their connection to nature, this immersive exhibition puts a selection of Mapplethorpe’s photographs of orchids, hyacinths, and irises, and excerpts of Smith’s poems and lyrics on flowers and nature, in dialogue with new horticultural installations inspired by the two artists’ work. On view from February 13 through June 26, 2022, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light is curated by Dr. Carol Ockman, Selby Gardens’ Curator-at-Large and the Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History Emerita at Williams College. The Gardens will host an Evening with Patti Smith, on Tuesday, February 15, a lecture and performance with Smith that will shed new light on this body of work. 

[SOON]  THEATER: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Hood , June 3 – June 26, Varies.

The world’s sexiest thief. A pair of history’s greatest lovers. The Merry Band that made redistributing wealth cool. Here, finally, is the real story of the disgraced nobleman, forced into the wilderness, who seeks revenge not only for himself but against an unjust system. He rescues the damsel, or perhaps along the way, discovers she doesn’t need any rescuing. Five-time Tony-nominated playwright Douglas Carter Beane–who re-invented Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella so deliciously–reunites with Lewis Flinn, his Give it Up/Lysistrata Jones collaborator, to bring to life this hilarious and stirring new musical adventure. Contains mature themes. Recommended for age 14+. Hood will take place June 11 - June 26, 2022 with Previews June 3-10, 2022.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: Maytag Virgin , June 29 – July 31, Varies.

A classic Southern love story. When the unflappable Jack Key moves in next door to the endearingly neurotic Lizzy Nash, sparks fly. Over time, neighborly nagging softens and a deeper connection emerges between the two high school teachers. As the leaves turn yellow and the months march on, kept secrets shake loose and the pair finds themselves facing the same question: how do you know when you’re ready to live, and love, again? Maytag Virgin by Audrey Cefaly will play beginning June 29, 2022 in FST's Keating Theatre. Run Time is 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's Keating Theatre

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Florida Studio Theatre: Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash , June 1 – July 2, Varies.

Johnny Cash was one of the most revered storytellers in American music. Now, his remarkable life story is told through his iconic songbook—from “I Walk the Line” and “Folsom Prison Blues” to “Country Boy” and “A Boy Named Sue.” With a cast of performers playing their own instruments, Ring of Fire takes audiences on a rousing adventure of love, faith, and struggle—told with the strength, humor, and authenticity that made Cash a music legend. Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, created by Richard Maltby, Jr., conceived by William Meade, and adapted from the Broadway production by Richard Maltby Jr. and Jason Edwards, will play June 1 - July 2, 2022 in FST's Gompertz Theatre. Run Time is 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.

Florida Studio Theatre's Gompertz Theatre

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: 31st Annual Siesta Key Fireworks , July 4, Varies.

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the 31st Annual 4th of July Community Fireworks Celebration, will be held Monday, July 4th, at Siesta Beach. The fireworks show will launch at dusk at the Siesta Public Beach (948 Beach Road) and is free and open to the public. The event is held in partnership with Sarasota County and supported by many generous community sponsors. Fundraising efforts are now underway. All sponsorship packages of $500 and greater include reserved parking, VIP seating, complimentary beverages, light bites, and the best view on the beach! VIP area opens at 6:00 p.m. Patriotic music will be choreographed along with the display!

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Bayfront Fireworks Spectacular at Marina Jack , July 4

Celebrate the July 4th holiday along the Sarasota bayfront by watching one of the best fireworks displays in Southwest Florida. This fireworks display over Sarasota Bay is organized by Suncoast Charities for Children in partnership with Marina Jack and produced by Pyrotecnico. Best viewing is from Bayfront Park near Marina Jack. For more information or to make your dinner reservation, contact Marina Jack at (941) 365-4232.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: "Waves & Wheels" Summer Party at Robarts Arena , July 9, 6pm-1opm

Suncoast Summer Fest presents the Waves and Wheels Party on Saturday, July 9 at Robarts Arena from 6pm to 10pm for $100 per person. The party will feature live music from Tampa Bay’s ultimate party band, Hurricane Shane Band, as well as an open bar, food stations, raffle prizes, and casino style gaming tables. For more information and registration, visit suncoastsummerfest.org.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Urbanite Theatre: Athena , June 10 – July 10, Varies.

Athena by Gracie Gardner Directed by Summer Wallace will run from June 10 to July 10, 2022. Mary Wallace and Athena are brave young fencers training for the Junior Olympics. They practice together, they compete against each other, they spend their lives together. They just wish they were friends.

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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