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SRQ DAILY Apr 29, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"If you feel like someone is trying to push you into a deal, walk away."

- Better Business Bureau Serving West Florida
 

[Under The Hood]  This Fight is About to Get Good
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

The relationship between state Sen. Joe Gruters and Gov. Ron DeSantis has always been a hard one to decipher.

The Sarasota Republican leader was DeSantis’ choice to lead the Republican Party of Florida in 2018. But the presidential election was the party priority then. It made sense to have the man who led Donald Trump’s campaign to victory in Florida in 2016 helm Team Red into 2020.

But there were always grumblings whether DeSantis wanted someone more focused on his own ambitions leading the party into the Midterms. The problem was Gruters proved good at running the party. Registrations were through the roof. Turnout was the envy of Republicans nationwide. Gruters led the state GOP through four years and then some, and DeSantis never openly stood in the way.

But then Gruters left on his own. This year marked the first time in a decade and a half he didn’t hold the title of county or state party chair. Yet, friction between Gruters and DeSantis continues to make headlines.

Last week, the state Senator became the first member of the Florida Legislature to formally endorse Trump as he seeks a White House comeback in 2024. It would be no shock if Trump put Gruters in an important position in his campaign. The former and would-be President would like to win some of those states he swears were stolen in 2020, and Gruters' efforts in Florida guaranteed an outside-the-margin victory for Trump here.

But what’s this mean for Sarasota in the meantime. The Legislative Session is supposed to come a close this week, and the most important remaining task is finalizing a budget. That document will land in front of DeSantis, who boasts line-item veto power and a history of holding grudges. Local institutions who win over the Legislature before the budget is approved this week should still hold back on buying Champaign.

The idea Gruters’ endorsement could undercut important projects in the area may seem petty, but that’s politics. Remember, Gruters’ public support of Trump in a real sense confirmed what always loomed over his relationship with DeSantis. There wasn’t loyalty there at the moment DeSantis needed it most.

Gruters endorsed Trump during a particularly embarrassing week for the Governor’s struggling presidential campaign. DeSantis had announced a trip to Washington to woo members of Congress for endorsements. But Trump seized on that and won over members of Florida’s congressional delegation first. He secured 11 endorsements from Florida’s U.S. House members, including both U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Greg Steube.

When a picture of Trump hosting those endorsers at Mar-a-Lago surfaced, Gruters could be seen smiling at the same table. I couldn’t tell if any salt sat nearby if it had all been rubbed into DeSantis’ political wounds.

But Gruters can still create more trouble for DeSantis from his seat in the Florida Senate. That showed this week when the Senator cast a lone GOP vote against the latest bill advancing the Governor’s unwise feud with the Disney corporation. Gruters issued a statement using the same pro-business logic many Republican candidates fighting DeSantis for the nomination employed to mock this endeavor.

“We should be finding ways to support our job creators and turbocharge Florida’s economy,” Gruters said. “People’s pocketbooks are more powerful at influencing corporate behavior than the heavy hand of government. I’m sure Floridians will make their voices heard on this issue.” 

No other lawmaker in the Legislature has countered DeSantis' foolish proxy war against the Mouse. But for Gruters, the ears are on and the gloves are off. That means the fight is finally about to get good.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor for SRQ MEDIA. 

Image courtesy Facebook: Joe Gruters and Ron DeSantis.

[On Scams]  Vacation schemes unethical and deceptive

Timeshares and vacation clubs are often synonymous with high-pressure sales. With the sun out and their guard down, vacationers can quickly find themselves on the hook for a life-long commitment. And, while they're easy to get into—these contracts are incredibly difficult to escape, according to a new study by the Better Business Bureau. 

The study - Unpacking timeshare and vacation club sales - examines patterns of customer complaints, dollars spent and lost, customer reviews, related scams and more to show how predatory companies and scammers take advantage of consumers hoping to score deals on travel. 

Some timeshare-related businesses, however, treat consumers ethically, resulting in positive experiences for buyers and owners. By calling out and denouncing substandard marketplace behaviors of businesses and scammers, this study intends to make consumers smarter and businesses better. 

From the beginning of 2020 until the end of 2022, BBB received nearly 30,000 business complaints and almost 10,000 negative reviews related to travel companies. A majority of those were related to the timeshare industry, with $32 million in disputed funds. 

Most commonly, consumers said they felt reality didn't match the big promises made in timeshare pitch meetings. 

Complaints to BBB also reflect consumers' opinions that timeshares can be nearly impossible to sell, and consumers often feel misled about the amount and frequency of maintenance fees associated with timeshares. Some say their timeshare became unaffordable after several years of ownership due to increased fees. 

A Maryland woman told BBB years of previously undisclosed maintenance fees and better vacation options led her family to want to sell their timeshare. 

BBB has monitored deception in the timeshare industry and warned consumers about timeshare exit companies for nearly half a decade. But some skilled sellers continue to talk buyers into unfavorable deals that often worsen when desperate investors try to offload purchases through the timeshare exit industry. 

Owners looking to sell their timeshares find many exit companies claim to be able to sell timeshare commitments quickly for high prices. Months and even years tick by with no sale in sight, however, as owners continue to pay annual maintenance fees. And complaints to BBB reveal exit companies often fail to honor money-back guarantees. 

A Texas man paid nearly $3,000 upfront to a timeshare exit company he thought looked legitimate. The contract stated he had a 10-day grace period to back out of the agreement. He was given the runaround when he attempted to get his money back.

More than 1,100 BBB Scam Tracker reports reveal fraudsters have used the same high-pressure tactics common in timeshare sales to con consumers out of $3.5 million in the last three years. Fake debt collection on supposedly unpaid timeshare fees is also a common ruse used on unsuspecting owners.  

BBB urges timeshare-related industries to self-regulate by establishing and following ethical sales practices. Timeshare companies of all types should cease high-pressure sales tactics at pitch meetings and ease restrictions for longtime, non-delinquent customers who wish to cancel their timeshare. 

BBB tips for anyone considering a timeshare or exit company:

Extensively research timeshare properties, vacation clubs or exit companies and thoroughly read contracts for language about lifetime commitment, heirs' obligations, maintenance fee increases or guarantees. 

Beware of misleading or high-pressure sales tactics. If you feel like someone is trying to push you into a deal, walk away. 

To sell a timeshare, contact the resort directly and see if they have a resale or buyback program. 

Be realistic about what you can get for your timeshare. Most of these contracts are not investments and may return considerably less than you paid. 

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. There are deals to be found on travel, but scammers know consumers want to save money and take advantage.

Be wary of paying timeshare exit companies all fees upfront until services are rendered.   

Better Business Bureau Serving West Florida provides business profiles on companies within its 11 county service area.  These counties include: Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, Desoto, Charlotte, Lee & Collier. 

Report suspects scams to Better Business Bureau (BBB)



[SOON]  DANCE: Evolving Revolving Jehanne at Sarasota Contemporary Dance , April 27 – April 30, Various times

SCD closes its 17th Season with a comeback of its “Evolving/Revolving” showcase in which the company revives previously staged works to expand and deepen their meaning into evening-length performances. For Reclaim, SCD’s striking work of “Jehanne” returns to the stage, studying Joan of Arc’s strident and powerful cultural influence in the Hundred Year’s War, accompanied by live music with original composition by Mark Dancigers. This work honors the human spirit by demonstrating the resilience that has taken the company to this point and will continue its forward motion. Visit sarasotacontemporarydance.org to purchase tickets. Cook Theatre at FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

[SOON]  DANCE: Sarasota Ballet: Program 7 - Tribute to Balanchine , April 28 – April 29

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 7 - Tribute to Balanchine. April 28-29, 2023 at the Sarasota Opera House. Featuring: Divertimento No. 15 - Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Four Temperaments - Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Paul Hindemith. Western Symphony - Choreography by George Balanchine, Music – American folk tunes arranged by Hershy Kay. For more information visit www.sarasotaballet.org, Box office 941.359.0099

Sarasota Opera House, 61 N Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Dreaming the Blues Rock Brunch at Oscura , April 30, Performances at 10:30 am and 12 pm

Oscura presents a Sunday brunch featuring Dreaming the Blues. No cover. Oscura, 816 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton, oscura.live.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: FST Spring Play Reading Festival , April 28 – May 5, 3 pm

FST’s 29th Burdick New Play Festival features staged readings of new works by contemporary American playwrights. This year’s Festival features the heartfelt one-man musical, Todd vs. The Titanic by Scott Rothman, Joe Kinosian, and Kellen Blair, and the dark comedy, Bleeding Hearts by Steve Yockey. Readings will takeplace on April 28, and May 5 at 3PM each day in FST’s Keating Theatre. Single tickets are $10. Subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or by calling FST’s Box Office at 941.366.9000. Florida Studio Theatre, Keating Theatre, 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Live Music at Waterside Place , April 29, 6-9 pm

Enjoy live music from singer-songwriter with a blues flair Justin Layman on The Plaza at Waterside from 6-9pm while taking in waterfront views of Kingfisher Lake. Waterside Place, 1561 Lakefront Dr., Lakewood Ranch, lakewoodranch.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Intro to Painting at Lakewood Ranch , April 29, 10 am-1 pm
Want to learn how to paint? Join us to create a beautiful watercolor wreath painting. Materials used will include acrylic paints and colored pencils. All materials will be provided, but please bring a small round paintbrush if you have one. Ages 16 and up welcome. $10 for residents, $20 for non-residents. Summerfield Community Park, 6402 Lakewood Ranch Blvd, Lakewood Ranch, mylwr.com.
[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Spring Plant Sale , April 29, 9 am-1 pm
Spring is the perfect time to breathe new life into your landscape! Join Master Gardener Volunteers April 29 for the Spring Plant Sale located at the Barbara Davis Educational Gardens. The sale will feature wildflowers, Florida natives, pollinator plants and more, all grown by Master Gardener Volunteers. All proceeds from this event go to the operation and maintenance of the Master Gardeners’ Educational Gardens and Greenhouse, and to support Master Gardener educational and outreach programs. Tickets to the event are free and guests are required to register beforehand on Eventbrite. Only cash or personal checks will be accepted during the sale.Barbara Davis Educational Gardens, 1303 17th St. W., Palmetto.
[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Suncoast Remake Learning Days at Florida Maritime Museum , April 29, Various times
The historic fishing village of Cortez will be bustling with experiential learning opportunities on Saturday, April 29. Between the Florida Maritime Museum and the Cortez Cultural Center, families can experience two free, hands-on events in one convenient and memorable trip. On FMM grounds, students from Rowlett Academies will teach families the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People through fun, interactive activities. Hands-On Habits is an engaging event that features activity booths visitors can move through at their own pace between 10:00 a.m. and noon, as well as scheduled student performances. More information about Hands-On Habits can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/720763376198213. The Cortez Village Historical Society will open up the CCC for their event Eco-adventurers Wanted! Running from 9:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., explorers of all ages are invited to engage with our natural environment through hands-on games and crafts, and can even explore the Fish Preserve with a guided tour! Experts from outreach organizations will all have fun booths with free activities for all ages. Further information about Eco-adventurers Wanted! can be found here: https://fb.me/e/2M0i0mXEd. Food trucks will be on-site serving food and frozen treats for a fee. The Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th Street West, Cortez.
[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Large Scale After Dark Party , April 30, 6:30-9:30 pm
Art Center Sarasota and DreamLarge are collaborating to host the nine award winners and their art from our latest juried show, Large Scale, for one night only at DreamLarge headquarters in the Rosemary District. All are welcome for music, drinks, and art! RSVP today at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/large-scale-after-dark-tickets-607871649467. 513 Central Ave., Sarasota.
[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Ringling by the Bay featuring SoulRCoaster , May 1, 6 pm

Join us on the Bolger Campiello for live music and dancing. Food and beverage will be available for purchase on the bayfront. No outside food, drink, coolers, chairs or pets are permitted. All ticket sales are final, no refunds. Visit ringling.org to learn more and purchase tickets. Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art at Ringling Museum , March 29 – September 4, Museum hours

Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art group exhibition will mark The Ringling’s first presentation of contemporary art by Native American artists with ancestral, historical, and present-day connections to Florida. An imperative step toward establishing a meaningful relationship with the Native American artistic community, Reclaiming Home will highlight the breadth and depth of the artwork by Seminole, Miccosukee, and mixed-heritage artists from Florida with the important work by internationally-recognized artists. The exhibition will expand the conceptual framework of Native American art made in Florida today and provide a fuller understanding of the complexities of issues within the art of the Seminole diaspora. Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  THEATER: Visit Joe Whitefeather and Bring the Family at Florida Studio Theatre , April 12 – May 21, Various times

Florida Studio Theatre is proud to present the world premiere of Visit Joe Whitefeather (and bring the family!) by award-winning playwright Bruce Graham. It’s the 1970s in Beaver Gap, Pennsylvania, a small town with a problem. Tourism has declined and it doesn’t look like there is any hope on the horizon. When a new resident joins forces with the bewildered city council, they devise a plan to rename the town to honor a dead, Native American war hero who had never visited the town before. It’s a plan so wild and insane that it just might work. Tickets range from $25-39 and are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000. FST’s Gompertz Theatre, 1265 1st St., 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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