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SRQ DAILY Oct 22, 2022

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Concerns about change are ever present. One only needs to think back to the angst about plans for the Ringling Bridge, which is now an iconic part of the city’s landscape."

- Drayton Saunders, Van Wezel Foundation

[Dialogue]  About the SRQ DAILY | Perspectives Edition

SRQ Daily: The Perspectives Edition features analysis, commentary and insight on current events in Sarasota and Manatee counties from regular columnists, local leaders and guest contributors. Readers are invited to submit letters that respectfully share their perspective on a local community topic or issue to: letters@srqme.com. Submissions received before Thursday of each week will be considered for the immediate Saturday edition. Editors reserve the right to fact-check and edit. SRQ MEDIA does not house an editorial board and as such does not publish editorials or endorsements of candidates. The opinions and analysis of columns and letters shared in this edition are those of the writer who submitted them. The Perspectives Edition serves as a respectful and thoughtful space for readers to share their voices on topics that are important to them. 

[Under The Hood]  What Impact Will Ian Deliver On Elections?
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Hurricane politics are a force that tests and sometimes breaks leaders. Rarely has a storm as strong as Ian struck the shores of the United States, though Florida knows as well as any state can the societal turbulence that comes with 140-mph winds. People often think of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans, ended Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and tarnished President George W. Bush’s legacy to this day. But as readily as voters will punish failure, they also will reward success.

Gov. Ron DeSantis already enjoyed a strong position in the polls before the storm, though he seemed potentially vulnerable to a major shift. Perhaps Roe-vember would come to pass and a 15-week abortion ban would do him in. Or maybe a natural disaster would deliver a test he failed. Instead, the opposite took place. At least in terms of immediate relief, DeSantis did right by the residents of Southwest Florida, including south Sarasota County, and a Florida Atlantic University poll yesterday showed him up on Democrat Charlie Crist by 11 percentage points, lifted largely by approval of his post-storm achievements.

In the long term, this storm could yet hurt him. An insurance crisis that expanded under his watch is about to get worse. But that’s something we all will start thinking about three months from now when we argue with agents about why are claims have not yet made us whole. But as far as Nov. 8, DeSantis just opened a dirt bridge to Sanibel, delivered a six-figure disaster relief check to the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, and stood side-by-side with President Joe Biden, normally an adversary, and showed unity when Floridians couldn’t bear to see anything else.

Now, what happens downballot? Will this impact the one legislative seat in the Sarasota-Bradenton area that should be competitive, namely the Fiona McFarland-Derek Reich race in House District 73? Will it in anyway touch the Sarasota County Commission contest between Democrat Fredd Atkins and Republican Mark Smith? How about the Manatee race between Democratic Commissioner Reggie Bellamy and Republican Amanda Ballard?

I would suggest first of all, the further north from the storm’s landfall, the less material impact hurricane response will have on the storm. But then who knows? Those areas were also the first to get their power back and the ones most likely to feel like response was so good it’s like it never happened; I own a home in Lee County and assure you the scars of this event will endure there for a much longer time.

That said, I think the greatest impact of the storm at the local level, if not statewide, is that it largely neutered any ability to persuade voters into changing their mind from how they felt on Sept. 27. Politics aren’t front and center for many in the region, and messaging that fails to grasp that may prompt a trip from the mailbox to the trash can for fliers or the change of channel for viewers. Indeed, I know at least one campaign selling the beauty of the region elected to change images completely to focus of support for first responders precisely because video of martini drinkers at outdoor cafes no longer have the same feel-good vibe from Venice south.

In short, anything can happen in politics — or in life as the hurricane reminded as well. This storm presents our leaders with long-term challenges. It also gives them a moment to shine right before an election. There’s worse things to rest the outcome of a race on than whether officials proved up to task when the public needed them most.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ Media Group. 

Photo courtesy Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

[Higher Education]  A Campus Returning to Normal
Dr. Larry Thompson, lthompso@ringling.edu

It’s been nearly a month now since Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 storm, a few miles per hour short of a Category 5. Although our area and surrounding counties were hit pretty hard, it is impossible not to feel an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude that Sarasota did not experience a direct hit by this monster storm. 

As President of Ringling College of Art and Design since 1999, I have experienced my fair share of hurricane seasons, and of course vividly remember Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Irma not long ago in 2017. With both of those terrible storms, as with Ian, Sarasota was thankfully spared their full wrath. 

One thing people always say about hurricanes, particularly the die-hard Floridians, is at the very least, you have time to prepare. Unlike our neighbors in the Midwest who deal with tornadoes that whip up in a flash or our West Coast friends and their earthquakes, hurricanes graciously allow you several days to make your preparations… right? If there is one thing I have learned during my years in Florida, it is that despite the fact there is some time, there is never enough time to fully prepare for something as catastrophic as a hurricane like the one experienced these last few weeks. What I am grateful for are the important lessons we have learned as a campus community along the way.

Our Emergency Response Team, which is made up of myself, senior leaders, and other key members of staff at the College, made the final decision to cancel classes and close the Ringling College campuses on Sunday, September 25 after meeting multiple times a day in the lead up to the storm. Looking back, at the time I remember thinking that our decision seemed early – after all, the storm was then due to track as far north of us as the panhandle. But over the next 48 hours, as Ian’s path continued to shift, I was very thankful we made that decision.

By the close of business on Monday, residence halls were closed and all resident students followed their required plan for safety in the event of a hurricane and were safely evacuated from campus with the help of our incredible Student and Residence Life teams. Our Institutional Technology, Facilities, and Public Safety teams completed office shutdowns, weather preparations, and by Tuesday morning our campus’ data center and network were completely offline and safely backed up. Faculty and staff were either at home “hunkering down” as they say, or evacuating to a safer place with their families, with the ability to connect and work remotely if and when needed. A lesson learned from the earlier days of COVID, thanks to our innovative IT team and dedicated faculty, we knew if we had to teach classes remotely for several days, even weeks, this was absolutely possible. 

Thankfully, on Thursday morning following the worst of the storm, we were able to confirm only minor, superficial damage to our campuses. As early as Sunday, Oct. 2, power had been restored, residence halls opened for students, and our dining services began serving the campus community. We welcomed faculty and staff back to campus on Monday morning, Oct. 3. Students returned to campus throughout the week even though classes did not begin until Monday, Oct. 10. 

Our Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College and the Museum Campus also weathered the storm well. In an effort to demonstrate our gratitude to this community which has always shown its support to us, we opened our beautiful Museum to the community at no cost through Oct. 9, so people could use it as a space of tranquility and refuge. Free coffee, hot soup, and delicious cookies were also available for those who visited our Museum campus. 

As a result of our teamwork, thoughtful and effective planning and preparation, our students, faculty, and staff were safe and our campuses had survived the storm. I am so, so proud of and thankful for every single staff member who helped make this possible.

Maybe these lands have been blessed, as the locals say, by the indigenous American Indians who originally inhabited our beautiful coastal lands. Maybe it’s a geological phenomenon; maybe it’s just been sheer luck. Whatever the reason, I am humbled and thankful that our College and our neighboring communities of northern Sarasota have been able to get back to “normal,” back to learning, and back to helping each other. But, our hearts, thoughts, and prayers continue to go out to our neighbors to the south and we look forward to doing all we can to help them heal and rebuild. 

Dr. Larry Thompson is president of Ringling College of Art & Design. 

Photo courtesy Ringling College: Relief drive on campus for Hurricane Ian survivors.

[On Culture]  Community Will Come To Embrace Bayfront Venue
Drayton Saunders

The Bay Park, a community led initiative, is set to transform 53 acres in downtown Sarasota into a world class public park.  Conversations about The Bay Park have centered around the importance of its guiding principles, two of which are activation and aspiration. Today, you can feel the energy already in motion as the park celebrated the opening of the first phase of the larger vision for the master plan. 

The new performing arts center is a critical center piece of the master plan and one that was proposed from the community visioning process. The park along with the new performing arts center can be seen as dance partners complimenting each other and drawing off each other’s energy. One without the other would create a lesser performance. 

There is certainly no shortage of opinions about a new performing arts center, and in turn what the City of Sarasota should do with the existing Van Wezel Hall. However, it is clear to me that a new facility is critical to provide the audience experience, technology, and resiliency we need for the future of performing arts, and one we want to keep anchored in the heart of Downtown Sarasota.

Concerns about change are ever present. One only needs to think back to the angst about plans for the Ringling Bridge, which is now an iconic part of the city’s landscape.

With change comes opportunity and we have before us an incredible opportunity to build a first-class performing arts center that will enhance our city and provide another crown jewel for our community for the next 50-plus years.  As for the expense, half is being contributed through private philanthropy and most of the public funding will be tied to incremental tax revenue. Therefore, taxpayers will not be footing the bill with additional taxes due to this project.  

Taking all this in consideration, wouldn’t you say, “Yes, let’s do it?”

The opportunity to continue to transform the new Bay Front is before us now. I believe, just like the initial concerns over the Ringling Bridge, once the new performing arts center is complete, fears over the process will fade and the passion for what has been created will be on display as one of the proud moments of accomplishment we can all celebrate as a community. 

Drayton Saunders is president of Michael Saunders & Company and a member of the Van Wezel Foundation board of directors.



Rendering courtesy The Bay.

[On Politics]  I'm The Candidate For Choice
Derek Reich

"Do you believe rape victims should have access to abortion services? 

That is what the election in State House District 73 is all about. 

My opponent, State Rep. Fiona McFarland, voted against an amendment in Florida's new abortion law that would have created exceptions for victims of rape and incest. She voted for no exceptions for rape victims. Period. 

I am a high school teacher in Sarasota (where I was born & raised). I have had a student confide in me she was raped, I was the first person she told. I refuse to live in a world where she would be forced to carry the pregnancy of her rapist to term.  

If you believe women (including rape victims) should control their reproductive healthcare, vote for me, Derek Reich for State Representative. 

If you believe government bureaucrats in Tallahassee should control women's reproductive healthcare, vote for Fiona McFarland. 

The choice is yours (as it always should be for every woman). 

Derek Reich is a candidate for state Representative in House District 73.


Photo courtesy MyFlorida. The Florida Capitol.

[SOON]  DANCE: Sarasota Ballet: Program 1 - Premieres , October 21 – October 23

The Sarasota Ballet is excited to announce the Company’s 2022 – 2023 Season. Over seven programs, The Sarasota Ballet will perform 15 works by some of the most celebrated and prestigious choreographers and composers of the ballet world. Program 1 - Premieres. October 21-23, 2022 at the FSU Center for Performing Arts. Featuring: World Premiere - Choreography by Ricardo Graziano, Music to be announced. World Premiere - Choreography by Gemma Bond, Music to be announced. World Premiere - Choreography by Richard House, Music to be announced. For more information visit www.sarasotaballet.org, Ph. 941.359.0099

The Sarasota Ballet , FSU Center for the Performing Arts 5555 North Tamiami Trail Sarasota, FL 34243

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Stuff The Bus Food Drive , October 23, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

The annual Stuff The Bus event, which was started in 2009, was created through the kind hearts of the School District of Manatee County Transportation Staff. They wanted to give back to the community and knew of “Stuff the Bus” events in other cities and suggested placing one school bus in front of one Publix store in Manatee County. The leadership of Publix thought it was a great idea and requested a bus at every Publix store in Manatee County. Since 2009, nearly 1.1 million pounds of food has been donated through the Stuff The Bus food drive. Since the first Stuff the Bus event thirteen years ago, this event has evolved to include many Community Partners, including: United Way Suncoast, Publix, Herald-Tribune, the School District of Manatee County, and of course, the Transportation Staff of the School District. We are thrilled to have Mosaic as our presenting sponsor this year. All proceeds and donated food will benefit The Food Bank of Manatee, a PLUS program of Meals on Wheels PLUS. Please stop by your local Publix in Manatee County to support this event. Goal: Raise 150,000 pounds of food to feed Manatee County residents! All Manatee County Publix Locations. 

Meals on Wheels PLUS

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sarasota Opera: The Secret Marriage , October 28 – November 12, Varied

The Secret Marriage (Il matrimonio segreto) An opera in two acts. Sung in Italian with translations in English. Music by Domenico Cimarosa and Libretto by Givovanni Bertati. Tells the story of a social-climbing father who wants his eldest daughter to marry an aristocrat and is prepared to buy his way in. When the would-be suitor arrives, his eye falls on the younger daughter instead. But she has secretly married her father’s clerk. Although not often performed, this delightful comic opera was such a hit at its premiere, that the audience insisted on an encore, of the entire opera! (61 N. Pineapple Ave. Sarasota, FL 34236 Ph. 941-328-1300 Email boxoffice@sarasotaopera.org) October 28th-November 12th

Sarasota Opera

[SOON]  FILM: Sarasota Film Society: The Rocky Horror Picture Show , October 28, 10:00pm

Lakewood Ranch Cinemas will be screening "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" on October 28th. The Evening kicks off at 10:00pm with A Costume Contest with the Winner receiving a $50 Gift Card to Sarasota Film Society.  Come Dressed in your Ghoulish Best. The Screening of the film starts at 10:30pm.  Enjoy the film with BOGO Beer & Wine Specials. Tickets for this event are $30 each which inclues Ticket to the Film, Popcorn, Soft Drink & Choice of Candy. Tickets must be purchased in advanced online.  Last Day for sales will be October 25th at 5pm. For more info Ph. (941) 955-3456, filmsociety.org.

Lakewood Ranch Cinemas , 10715 Rodeo Drive #8 Sarasota, FL 34202

[SOON]  THEATER: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe: Guys and Dolls , October 5 – November 20, Varied

A Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Guys and Dolls tells the story of New York City gambler Nathan Detroit, who dreams of setting up a big dice game while avoiding the authorities—and marriage to his longtime fiancée. Meanwhile, fellow gambler Sky Masterson ends up wooing a strait-laced missionary in a scheme to fund the game. WBTT will add its own special twist to this crowd-pleasing show! Performances run October 5th-November 20th, 2022. For more information visit westcoastblacktheatre.org, Ph. 941-366-1505, Box Office questions email boxoffice@westcoastblacktheatre.org

The Donelly Theatre , 1012 N. Orange Ave Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  THEATER: URBANITE THEATRE: The Burdens , October 21 – November 27, Varied

Siblings Mordy and Jane have a problem. Their dreadful, centenarian grandfather is an emotional and financial tax on the family, and he just won’t die. Scheming almost entirely via sarcastic and misspelled text messages, the siblings hatch an outrageous plan to relieve their family of their grandfather’s burden. Zany, twisted and inventive, this dark comedy reminds us it’s much easier to write what we could never say face to face. LOCATION 1487 2nd Street Sarasota FL, 34236 CONTACT (941) 321-1397 info@urbanitetheatre.com www.urbanitetheatre.com

Urbanite Theatre , 1487 2nd Street Sarasota FL, 34236

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Manatee Performing Art Center: Pets! , November 2 – November 20, Varied

Pets! November 2 – 20, 2022. This critically-acclaimed musical revue consists of 22 musical scenes dealing with the very special relationship between people and their pets. It’s clever, user-friendly and suits audiences of all ages. Cats, dogs, mice, turtles, iguanas, parakeets and other species are having the times of their lives. The scenes range from a dog hungrily eyeing his owner’s bagel in “There’s a Bagel on the Piano'' to the hilarious, harried Rumanian dog walker in “I Walk Ze Dogs.” For more information visit www.manateeperformingartscenter.com, Ticket Office 941-748-5875

Manatee Performing Arts Center , 502 Third Avenue West Bradenton, FL 34205

[SOON]  FILM: Sarasota Film Society: Movies For Heroes , September 13 – December 13, Varied

Sarasota Film Society is proud to present "Movies For Heroes", a year long Salute to our Military. Active, Non-Active, Retired Personnel & their family are welcomed to join us once a month at 11am at Burns Court & Lakewood Ranch Cinemas starting in January of 2022 for a year of free movie screenings. 10% of the concession sales from these screenings will go to Wounded Warrior Project. Space is limited, reserve your tickets today. Location Burns Court Cinemas 506 Burns Court Sarasota, FL 34236.

506 Burns Court Sarasota, FL 34236

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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