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COVER Inside 2012: THE YEAR IN REVIEW Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. THE SARASOTA News Leader The Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida December 28, 2012
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Copyright 2012 Sarasota News Leader All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Member National Newspaper Association The Sarasota News Leader is a publication of: New Sheriff Publishing, Inc. Post Ofce Box 5099 Sarasota, FL 34277-5099 Rachel Brown Hackney Editor and Publisher Rachel@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Cooper@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Stan Zimmerman City Editor Stan@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Norman Schimmel Staff Photographer NSchimmel@SarasotaNewsLeader.com David Staats Columnist DStaats@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer FPalmeri@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer HCuthbert@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Elinor Rogosin A&E Writer ERogosin@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Scott Proftt Staff Writer SProftt@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Tyler Whitson Staff Writer TWhitson @SarasotaNewsLeader.com John Riley Editorial Cartoonist Riley@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Vicki Chatley Copy Editor Vicki@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Cleve Posey Production Manager / Graphic Designer Cleve@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Robert S. Hackney General Manager Robert@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Advertising Sales Sales@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Trish Ivey Advertising Account Executive Trish @SarasotaNewsLeader.com Subscription Services Subs@SarasotaNewsLeader.com Press Releases & News Tips News@SarasotaNewsLeader.com MASTHEAD
This week, we are delighted to formally add a new member to our staff. Long-time readers of the Pelican Press from the days before it was sold in 2011 are well acquainted with our political car toonist, John Riley. I cannot begin to tell you how many awards John has racked up in Florida Press Association contests over the years for his extraordinary talent. When we were preparing to launch our weekly digital publica tion, we asked whether he would be willing to come back to work. Having been retired for more than a year, he said he needed to give it a little thought. Fortunately, it did not take him long to say, Yes. However, his caveat was that if he found the rou tine too demanding, he could give us his notice at any time. We said, Yes, and kept our ngers crossed. Therefore, it was with great delight we received a Christmas present from John in the form of an email saying he wished to continue creat ing cartoons for us as a regular staff member going into the New Year. As for our stories this week: We are taking another page from the old days of the Peli can Press : We put together a Year in Review, choosing highlights from each month to re mind you how 2012 progressed. It amazed me how early some topics popped up during the year and remained among our top head lines. Finally, we most certainly want to take an opportunity to wish all of you a prosper ous and Happy New Year! Editor and Publisher WELCOME
COVER PHOTOS: Front Robert Hackney; Sarasota Leisure Norman Schimmel THE NOISE ORDINANCE NEWS & COMMENTARY YEAR IN REVIEW: JANUARY 9 Law enforcement agencies asked to investigate alleged misuse of City of Sarasota computer les; Siesta runner killed in alleged drunken driving incident; City Manager Bob Bartolotta resigns YEAR IN REVIEW: FEBRUARY 14 Search for new city manager begins; city staff works with two developers on proposals for a hotel next to the Palm Avenue parking garage YEAR IN REVIEW: MARCH 18 City Commission bags the downtown parking meters; Sheriff Tom Knights annual report for 2011 shows the crime rate remains relatively low YEAR IN REVIEW: APRIL 22 The county sees a 10.7 percent increase in tourism for the period of January through March, compared to the same months in 2011; the County Commission agrees to accelerate the timetable for widening Bee Ridge Road east of I-75 YEAR IN REVIEW: MAY 26 Consultant tells the City Commission the citys software has not been updated for years; the County Commission approves the site for a new Emergency Operations Center; Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle dies in a motorcycle accident YEAR IN REVIEW: JUNE 32 A Sarasota News Leader investigation determines Sarasota City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini has been unable to secure a bond as required by the city charter; County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, who cannot run for reelection because of term limits, decides to challenge Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent YEAR IN REVIEW: JULY 40 The City Commission fails to agree on a new city manager then does an about-face and votes to hire Tom Barwin; the County Commission approves a pilot program for feral hog hunts in South County YEAR IN REVIEW: AUGUST 50 County damage from Tropical Storm Debby in June is estimated at $7 million; the City of Sarasota begins searching for a new police chief; Walmart announces plans to build a store in the Ringling Shopping Center TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article 2012 Year I Review
YEAR IN REVIEW: SEPTEMBER 56 A Sarasota County project manager says the Siesta Key Beach stormwater project should go out for bids in November; the County Commission approves a staff request for hiring a consultant to help with designing specications for the new emergency services communications system YEAR IN REVIEW: OCTOBER 61 The Sarasota County School District is serving free and reduced-price meals to about 47 percent of its students; Sarasota County may consider a domestic partner registry similar to one in the City of Sarasota YEAR IN REVIEW: NOVEMBER 68 A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation nds no grounds for criminal charges in the City of Sarasota computer issues case; the city terminates its contract with the rm hired to work on a new lift station near Mound Street YEAR IN REVIEW: DECEMBER 76 A neighborhood group appeals the city Planning Boards approval of the Walmart proposed for the Ringling Shopping Center; the County Commission agrees to accelerate the timetable for construction of improvements to Siesta Public Beach and use bond revenue to pay for it NEWS BRIEFS 81 OPINION EDITORIAL & COMMENTARY 86 SARASOTA LEISURE ART INVASION 88 Streets ood with people for Art Basel in Miami Beach Tyler Whitson ASK OTUS 96 How many of my fellow feathered friends did you guess correctly from the Christmas Bird Count quiz? Otus Rufous ARTS BRIEFS 103 COMMUNITY CALENDAR 108 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 109 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article facebook.com/SarasotaNewsLeader
THE YEAR IN REVIEW Click Any Photo To Go Directly To That Article JANUARY APRIL JULY OCTOBER FEBRUARY MAY AUGUST NOVEMBER MARCH JUNE SEPTEMBER DECEMBER
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JAN. 3 During the rst 2012 meeting of the Siesta Key Village Association on Jan. 3 Siesta Key Association Vice President Peter van Roekens says Sarasota County should install some sort of lighting to illuminate the crosswalks in Si esta Village. Theres old people like me driving at night, he said, [and] the lighting in the Village isnt that bright. SKVA President Russell Matthes and van Roekens agree to explore the idea with coun ty representatives. JAN. 6 During a special meeting of the Sarasota City Commission, John Jorgenson, president of The Sylint Group of Sarasota, reports that City Manager Robert Bartolotta has deleted more than 11,000 city emails, and Jorgenson has been unable to recover about 100 of them. Bartolotta and Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown both are under suspicion for allegedly reviewing emails that were part of an ongoing audit investigation material to which they should not have had access. The City Commis sion votes unanimously to refer the ndings to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI, at the request of City Attorney Robert Fournier. However, three of the com missioners Mayor Suzanne Atwell, Vice Mayor Terry Turner and Commissioner Willie Shaw say they do not intend to re or suspend Bartolotta or Brown. Siesta Village business owners say the crosswalk between the Daiquiri Deck and Gilligans Island Bar and Grill is especially difcult to see at night. Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: JANUARY LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 10 J AN. 7 Siesta runner Donna Chen, 53, is struck and killed about 1:10 p.m. by an allegedly drunken driver on Siesta Key. The suspect, a 22-year-old Bradenton resi dent, Blake C. Talman, and his passenger in the crash, 24-year-old David J. Brewer of Sara sota, were observed drinking alcohol at Sies ta Public Beach prior to the incident which killed Chen. Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce deputies ar rested a companion of the men, Michael E. Blakey, 26, of North Port, on a charge of Disor derly Intoxication. However, a Sheriffs Ofce review and subsequent interviews conducted with the deputies by Sheriffs Ofce personnel nd that neither Talman nor Brewer displayed disorderly behavior or was rude. Therefore, deputies had no cause to arrest them. The last time deputies saw Talman and Brew er, the two young men were walking toward the beach, Community Affairs Manager Wendy Rose conrmed. Talman was charged on multiple counts and placed in the Sarasota County Jail under bond of $118,000. Chens death prompted a debate over wheth er alcohol sales and consumption should be allowed on the public beaches. JAN. 11 The Sarasota County Commission agrees to move ahead on changes to the countys com prehensive plan to allow the development of an Economic Energy Zone Pilot Program en compassing 685 acres in South County. The goal of the program is to foster job creation in clean energy-related businesses. During their Jan. 11 meeting, the commission ers also thank Interim County Administrator Terry Lewis for his service since June. Lewis was hired after County Administrator Jim Ley resigned in the wake of a scandal in the Pro curement Department. The Jan. 11 session was scheduled to be Lewis last with the county. The curve along Midnight Pass Road near St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church always has been a dangerous one, residents say. Donna Chen was struck and killed in that curve Jan. 7 by an allegedly drunken driver. Photo by Rachel Hackney
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 11 JAN. 16 Robert Bartolotta resigns as city manager after Mayor Suzanne Atwell calls for him to do so, amid an investigation into unlawful ac cess to and deletion of city emails. Vice Mayor Terry Turner is the only member of the City Commission to oppose the move. Bartolotta had met with Atwell on Jan. 13 at City Hall to discuss the situation. JAN. 18 With Siesta Key Public Beach having won the title in May as No. 1 Beach in the United States a proclamation made by Dr. Beach, Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman of Florida Interna tional University in Miami Sarasota County nally unveils a sign marking the recognition. Then-City Manager Robert Bartolotta speaks during the dedication of the Palm Avenue parking garage in February 2010. Photo by Norman Schimmel (From left) Lifeguard Scott Ruberg and County Commissioners Jon Thaxton, Nora Patterson, Caro lyn Mason, Christine Robinson and Joe Barbetta pose with the new sign designating Siesta Beachs No. 1 status. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 12 JAN. 23 New Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid reports to work. He was Alachua County manager for 12 years before being hired for the new position. Terry Lewis reports to work as interim city manager for Sarasota, having been hired by the City Commission during a Jan. 20 meeting while the board seeks a permanent replace ment for Robert Bartolotta. JAN. 29 The City of Sarasota closes Ringling Boule vard from Orange Avenue to U.S. 41 for the construction of two roundabouts. Burns Square business owners fret about how they will be affected, with the closure scheduled to last into June. % Terry Lewis stands outside City Hall during his last interim assignment for 2012. Photo by Norman Schimmel Randall Reid begins his tenure as Sarasota County administrator. Photo by Norman Schimmel
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FEB. 3 Residents of the Siesta Cove Association ask for the help of the Siesta Key Association in seeking state action to reduce speeding along a portion of Midnight Pass Road where Don na Chen was killed by an allegedly drunk en driver on Jan. 7. At the minimum, Steven Grantham said, association members want to see radar signs installed on both approaches to the curve, to warn people when they are exceeding the posted 34 mph speed. Sara sota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, who was attending the SKA meeting, says the commission already has asked county staff to work with the Florida Department of Trans portation on additional safety measures for that stretch of road. Additionally, during the rst full week of Feb ruary, commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson is scheduled to meet with members of Chens family, which is seeking a ban on sales and consumption of alcohol on county beaches. The sign for beer is clearly visible at a concession window on Siesta Public Beach. File photo YEAR IN REVIEW: FEBRUARY LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 15 FEB. 6 A Florida Department of Transportation of cial tells the Sarasota City Commission FDOT still supports roundabouts on U.S. 41 at 10th and 14th streets. The proposed roundabouts represent the rst phase of a bayfront connec tivity concept FDOT has endorsed. The proj ect is designed to slow trafc, create wider avenues and medians and provide more space for bicyclists and pedestrians. FEB. 16 Five of Sarasota Countys department chiefs continue to hold interim titles. They are Joan ie Whitley in Human Resources, John McCa rthy in Community Services, Crystal Pruitt in Communications, Steve Botelho in Finan cial Planning and Mike Tobias in Emergency Services. I dont intend to make any internal appointments within the rst 30 days, new County Administrator Randall Reid says. FEB. 20 The City Commission approves a $28,500 contract with Colin Baenziger & Associates of Wellington to begin the search for a new city manager. Mayor Suzanne Atwell says the consultant should not conne his search to just experienced city managers, either. City ofcials say the installation of roundabouts along U.S. 41 near downtown Sarasota will make it easier for pedestrians to access the bayfront safely. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 16 FEB. 23 The Florida Supreme Court announces it will hear oral arguments on April 10 in county commission term limits cases from Sarasota and Broward counties. Sarasota attorney An drea Mogensen, representing 16 plaintiffs who led suit against Sarasota County over term limits in November 2011, and David Persson, the Longboat Key town attorney who is rep resenting the county, both are preparing to appear before the court in Tallahassee. The fate of Commissioner Jon Thaxtons political career could be determined by the courts rul ing. Thaxton, who is serving his third term on the board, is seeking a fourth one. If the high court rules term limits are constitutional in counties whose charters call for them, Thax ton would be prevented from seeking another term. Two developers are working with City of Sara sota staff regarding separate proposals for a hotel on a downtown parcel next to the Palm Avenue parking garage: Jim Bridges of Jebco Ventures, based in Atlanta; and Angus Rogers of Floridays Development Co., based in Sara sota. % Commissioner Jon Thaxton/Photo by Nor man Schimmel For a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. | www.askdrkoval.com Tonya Herschberger & Linda KeefeAfter a terrible accident I required surgery. Tonya shared with me that Dr. Koval was responsible for her beautiful smile. She gave me hope and direction. Im so grateful to Dr, Koval. Now I have a smile that I love to share with everyone. The best prescription is knowledge. Dr. C. Everett Koop, M.D.
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MARCH 5 The City Commission votes 3-2 to bag the downtown parking meter program, after a plethora of complaints from business own ers and merchants about how they have been losing money because shoppers are avoiding downtown. Vice Mayor Terry Turner joins Commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Shannon Snyder in casting the Yes votes. The com mission also decides to allow free parking in the Palm Avenue garage. In the meantime, Sarasota entrepreneur Jesse Biter is paying $1.6 million for the 11,000-square-foot retail space in the Palm Avenue garage. A group of Palm Avenue mer chants who offered the city $2.2 million in 2011 to purchase that space, only to be re buffed by the city, point to the fact that the rst oor of the garage remains vacant. Biter says he is working on prospects that will in ject new life into Palm Avenue after 5 p.m. A banner on Main Street points to the location of the parking meter below it. Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: MARCH The Palm Avenue garages rst-level retail space remained the focus of neighboring businesses and merchants in early March. Photo by Norman Schimmel LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 19 MARCH 13 Commissioner Nora Patterson wins support from her fellow board members for a formal request to the Florida Department of Trans portation to lower the speed limit on Midnight Pass Road from the Beach Road intersection through the curve where Donna Chen was struck and killed on Jan. 7. The commission also will ask FDOT to put raised reectors on that curve. Finally, the commission agrees to ask the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce for suggestions on how the county should handle consumption of alcoholic beverages on public beaches. The County Commission agrees to a staff recommendation regarding additional areas in parks that can be designated dog-friendly. We are seeing a continued trend of people seeking to enjoy parks with their dogs, Kim Heuberger of the countys Parks and Recre ation Department tells the board. The new ar eas will supplement four all-access dog parks the county has been offering. Palmer Ranch residents tell the County Com mission they do not want a proposed Inter state 75 interchange at Central Sarasota Park way. Commissioner Jon Thaxton responds that the only way the interchange ofcially can come out of the comprehensive plan is by vote of the board following a public hearing. However, Commissioner Joe Barbetta says the commission had asked staff months earlier to start that process; he voiced frustration that the initiative had not been moving forward. MARCH 14 Five members of the family of a Siesta Key runner who was killed in a January incident involving an allegedly drunken driver plead with the County Commission to ban alcohol ic beverages on the beach. Former Sarasota County Commissioner David Mills joins them in their remarks to the board during the public comments of the commission meeting. Later in the day, the County Commission unanimously approves changes designed to enhance the planned world-class rowing ven ue at Nathan Benderson Park. They reafrm, The number of emails to the County Commission early this year from county residents seeking to keep consumption of alcohol legal on the beaches far surpassed those asking for new controls. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 20 however, that the county will spend no more than the $20 million already earmarked for the park improvements. MARCH 22 Sheriff Tom Knight has released his ofces 2011 annual report, showing overall crime in creased by a bit more than 5 percent between 2010 and 2011. Nonetheless, the crime rate re mains relatively low in Sarasota County, the report shows; crime in the county is down 6 percent since 2008. The report adds that DUI arrests increased by almost 6 percent from 2010 to 2011. Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White has presented the School Board a list of $3.6 million in potential cuts for the 2012-13 school year; of those, $2.8 million do not re quire any bargaining with the teachers union. Because the district is losing $8 million in fed eral stimulus dollars, the School Board will have to dip again into its reserves to avoid drastic budget cuts for the next scal year. % Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White listens to speakers during a School Board work shop. File photo A Sarasota County illustration shows part of the design for the rowing venue at Nathan Benderson Park at the 30 percent completion stage in March. Graphic courtesy Sarasota County
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APRIL 5 Because aspects of the inlet management plan approved by the Town of Longboat Key and the Manatee County Commission could ad versely affect areas south of Longboat Key, members of the Siesta Key Association and the Boaters Coalition in Sarasota County are seek ing support to block funding for aspects of the project. Siesta Key Association Vice President Peter van Roekens alerted Siesta residents to the potential problems during his organiza tions April 5 meeting. The inlet management plan calls for permeable groins on the south ern part of Longboat Key, van Roekens pointed out. Now thats a very dangerous thing for us [on Siesta], he added. When you mess with an inlet, he said, referring to Big Pass, who knows whats going to happen. Hardened structures are a real serious problem. APRIL 11 The Sarasota County Commission votes unan imously to simplify the appraisal process re lated to construction in ood-prone areas. Dubbed Alternative 2, the amendment al lows a property owner who wishes to improve or modify a structure to use the Sarasota County Property Appraisers Ofces assessed value of the improvement, plus 20%; an ap praisal report prepared by a state-certied res idential appraiser; or a state-certied general appraiser, to determine the market value of the affected property. The commission also requests County Administrator Randall Reid to undertake an investigation into the events that led up to their vote and identify any fur ther problems that need resolution. A permeable and adjustable groin stretches out into the Gulf of Mexico on Longboat Key. Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: APRIL LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 23 APRIL 16 With a Sarasota citizens group having won a Sunshine Law case in February that involved the Sarasota Civil Service Board, the Saraso ta City Commission agrees unanimously to pay the groups attorney the $90,173.18 in le gal fees she was seeking for her work in the case. The City Commission in January had decided to forgo a settlement offer by the attorney, Andrea Mogensen, when the reim bursement would have totaled $56,750. How ever, City Attorney Robert Fournier explains during the April 16 commission meeting that, with the case not closed in January, the city could have ended up paying even more than the $90,173.18. At the end of the day, he said, it all worked out. APRIL 19 From January through March, 251,800 visitors paid for lodging, a 10.7 percent increase over the 2011 gure of 227,400 for the same threemonth period, members of the Sarasota Coun ty Tourist Development Council learn during their regular meeting April 19. That gure did not include snowbirds or anyone else who stayed more than 60 days, said Walter Klag es, CEO of Research Data Services, based in St. Petersburg and Tampa. The increase in the economic impact for the county for the same period from 2011 to 2012 was 17 percent, Klages says, for a total gure of $511,681,232. From January through March, Klages adds, visitor expenditures also increased 17 percent from 2011 to 2012, for a total of $269,618,100. The No. 1 Beach status for Siesta helped Sarasota County surpass 2011 tourism lodging and spend ing gures in January through March of 2012. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 24 APRIL 23 Not one of the 100 candidates for city man ager of Sarasota resides in Sarasota County, according to the list provided to The Saraso ta News Leader by Kurt Hoverter, the citys director of human resources. However, one of the candidates Susan Stanton was a nalist for the position when the City Com mission four-and-a-half years ago chose to hire Robert Bartolotta. Two of the other can didates were among the 49 who applied last fall to become the new Sarasota County ad ministrator: James Chisholm, city manager of Daytona Beach; and Edward Mitchell, admin istrator of the City of West Palm Beach. APRIL 24 Although the Sarasota County commissioners remain divided over how to pay for planned improvements at Siesta Key Public Beach, they vote unanimously April 24 to move up the timetable for widening Bee Ridge Road east of Interstate 75. The commissioners di rect staff to pursue a borrowing option for the Bee Ridge project, so it can be completed as soon as possible. When the design work is n ished, staff will come back to the board with a proposal on funding. I think the time for the Bee Ridge Road (work) has come and passed, Commissioner Jon Thaxton said in making the motion. I couldnt imagine that road in its present state of affairs in 2018, he added, referring to the schedule if the county were to pay for the work with revenue from a penny surtax voters approved in 2007. % The Sarasota City Commission sits in session in the spring with Interim City Manager Terry Lew is (second from right). Photo by Norman Schimmel A graphic illustration shows proposed im provements to Bee Ridge Road east
This may take a while. Some things are just hard to resist. Like The Sarasota News Leader Its a feast of indepth local news, delightful and entertaining features, and thanks to its partnership with This Week In Sarasota access to the best community calendar available. The rst impulse is just to gobble it all up. But its better to take it slow and relish every news morsel. Theres no rush. You have a whole week. SarasotaNewsLeader.com Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. The Progressive Voice of Southwest Florida
MAY 3 Add another entry to the list of controversial Rick Scott line item vetoes: $100,000 for a fe tal alcohol diagnostic and intervention clin ic here in Sarasota. The Florida Legislature approved the funding for The Florida Center for Early Childhood program after tense ne gotiations between the House and Senate and strong advocacy by the Suncoasts legislative delegation. Florida Center President and CEO Kathyrn Shea credits state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, and Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sara sota, for their work securing the additional $100,000 for the program this year. But their efforts were for naught. Working to dispel myths, representatives of Florida Power & Light Co. tell members of the Siesta Key Association May 3 that the new Smartmeters the company is installing throughout its territory do not transmit per sonal information. Steve Anderson, a man ager of the project, says one of the common myths about the meters is that were going to know when youre home and when you cook toast, for example. That is not true, he adds. He compares a Smartmeter to a scale which shows a persons weight, but not what the person consumed to get to that weight. A customer also will be able to calculate month ly bills with considerable reliability, Anderson says. Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill into law. Contributed photo YEAR IN REVIEW: MAY LOOKING BACK
A cyber scandal has pointed up deciencies in city computer operating systems, a con sultant tells the Sarasota City Commission on May 7. Photo by Norman Schimmel MAY 7 Cyber-sleuth John Jorgensen of The Sylint Group gives the Sarasota city commissioners hopeful news: While the criminal investiga tions into the citys Information Technology Department continue, he is hoping to put the computer systems back together. The email software Microsoft Exchange had not been updated for years, Jorgensen says. To blithely run the update package could bring the entire system down. Under Sylints super vision, city IT staffers are bringing the system up-to-date. The actual functioning of email was not well understood by the IT depart ment, adds Jorgensen. Now we have people trained in the Exchange system, and should have the Exchange archive manager working within the next month. By a 4-1 vote, the City Commission shoots down a proposal to create a broad-ranging master plan for the North Tamiami Trail. The idea was proposed by Sarasota City Commis sioner Terry Turner, who was the sole person to support it. Other commissioners were sympathetic, but some are put off by the anticipated six-gure price tag. Others say the effort is premature in light of two ongoing plan ning studies in the area. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce endorsed the idea. This is a tremendous gateway to the community, said cham ber Executive Director Steve Queior. We are on record sup porting North Trail redevelop ment as a top priority. Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 27
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 28 MAY 8 With split votes over funding concerns as well as the process, the Sarasota County commis sioners direct staff to proceed with design work, permitting and construction for a new Emergency Operations/911 Center on the 1301 Cattlemen Road site they have been consid ering since February 2011. Those votes fol lowed criticism of county staff over how the commissioners had learned that Jack Cox, president of Halfacre Construction Co., had withdrawn his property at 7060 Professional Parkway, in Lakewood Ranch, from consid eration for the EOC location. The board also claries in a motion that the EOC will be built along the Porter Way side of the Cattlemen property the county owns. MAY 14 Longboat Key Police Chief Al Hogle dies after a motorcycle accident in North Carolina. The news was released by Dave Bullock, Long boat Key town administrator. We ask that everyone keep Chief Hogles family in their prayers during this sad and difcult time, Bullock says in an email to town employees. Hogle was a veteran of the Sarasota Police Department, rising through the ranks to retire as a captain. He then was appointed to the Sarasota City Commission to ll the seat of Nora Patterson, who had been appointed to the County Commission. Hogle subsequently ran for and won the seat. He was elected may or in the third year of his four-year term. How ever, he quit the City Commission to take the job of Bradenton Police Chief for two years. In 2002, he accepted the position of Longboat Key Police chief. A Sarasota County graphic illustration shows a suggested design for the new Emergency Operations Center. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 29 Both Annas Deli and Total Tennis on Avenida Madera in Siesta Village are closing and mov ing on to other locations, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. We absolutely hate it, says Dave Havill, co-owner of the deli, who is preparing to open a new store off University Parkway. Phil Perrella, one of the partners in Total Tennis, says his business is scheduled to reopen June 1 in its new location at 2300 Bee Ridge Road, the former home of Persnickity Cat. Total Tennis has been in Siesta Village for 35 years, Perrella noted. Havill says parking has been the biggest problem for Annas since it relocated to Avenida Madera from Davidson Plaza almost four years ago. MAY 15 The Sarasota County School Board gives staff immediate approval to implement a revised fee schedule for the rental of school proper ty. The charges will mean minimal prot for individual schools, district Facilities Director Jody Dumas tells the board members durin g their May work session. A nonprot group will pay $5 an hour to cover costs other than the expense of air conditioning, he says, such as the administrative expense for a school sec retary to manage an event, as well as the cost of trash bags and the cleaning of restrooms. For-prot groups will pay $15 per hour for the same services, he notes. In 2011, serious crime in the city of Sarasota dropped 5.2 percent compared with the pre vious year. The number of so-called index of fenses fell to 1,803 from 1,901. These are the serious crimes tracked by the FBI. Meanwhile, total arrests were up 10 percent. If you arrest the bad guys and keep them in jail, you pre vent the crimes they were going to commit, says City Police Captain Paul Sutton, noting that lower level economic crime, such as bicy cle thefts and shoplifting, increased from 2010 to 2011. Its up about 1.1 percent over last year, he says. Sarasota statistics overall mir ror a drop in serious crime across the state, says Sutton. The Total Tennis space sits vacant in Siesta Village in June, after the business moved to Bee Ridge Road. File photo
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 30 MAY 21 Sarasotas public property trespass ordi nance comes up for review in light of a law suit against the city by the American Civil Lib erties Union. City Attorney Robert Fournier introduces a new trespass ordinance for its rst public hearing, and he briefs city commis sioners on the status of the lawsuit. Trespass is rooted deeply in English common law. In American usage, it generally means that if a property owner asks someone to leave, the person must stay off the property for a year or face arrest and jail. A trespass warning avoids judicial due process, says Michael Bareld, counsel for the Sarasota chapter of the ACLU. To allege a crime but not provide an individual with their full rights is not cor rect. The city and the ACLU are in the midst of a 60-day hiatus over their dispute, to try and nd common ground. Weve agreed to an in formal and expedited system for the lawsuit, to keep the fees down, says Bareld. Fourni er adds, Were looking at the records. Before we answer the complaint, wed like to take the 60 days to work on the factual details. MAY 22 In spite of pleas from representatives of the African American and Hispanic communities in north Sarasota County, and some commis sioner reservations about the lack of public awareness of the matter, the Sarasota County Commission votes 4-1 to allow the consoli dation and renumbering of voter precincts throughout the county. Commissioner Caro lyn Mason, the only African American on the board, casts the single No vote. Prior to the board discussion of the new pre cincts, Ed James, representing the Coalition of African American Leadership, tells the com missioners that Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent should have provided opportunities for citizens to look at the pro posed plans before Dent brought them to the commission for action. It is my hope and fer vent prayer that you will not approve these changes, he tells the commissioners. And please be mindful of Section 5 James said. James was referring to a portion of the U.S. Voting Rights Act that calls for freezes on new election practices in certain states, including Florida, until those changes have undergone a federal review to make certain they comply with the provisions of the 1965 act. The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections consolidates precincts prior to the 2012 Gen eral Election and releases a new map show ing their boundaries. Image courtesy Super visor of Elections
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 31 MAY 30 Three Siesta Key organizations have sent let ters to the Sarasota County commissioners over the past week, urging them to proceed with plans to upgrade the Siesta Public Beach. The letter-writing initiative was spurred by a discussion during the May 21 Presidents Council meeting on Siesta Key regarding an effort by the president of the Sarasota County Coalition of Neighborhood Associations and the president of Sarasota Citizens for Respon sible Government to seek the reallocation of funds designated for the Siesta beach to other beaches in the county. The Presidents Coun cil is a group of representatives from various island organizations. Members meet regular ly to discuss issues of importance to all of them. The only Siesta organization expected to do so that has not weighed in thus far on the beach matter in a letter is the Chamber of Commerce. However, Mark Smith, the cham ber president, tells The Sarasota News Leader the hold-up has been his architectural rms ofce renovations and his inability to use his computer equipment. He anticipates send ing the chamber letter this week, he says, as his board is concurred about the importance of the renovations at Siesta Public Beach. Frankly, Smith says, the facilities [at the Siesta beach] are an embarrassment and we got the No. 1 beach ranking in spite of the facilities. % The historic pavilion at Siesta Key Public Beach is one of the buildings slated for rehabilitation as improvements begin at the park. Photo by Norman Schimmel
JUNE 1 The charter of the City of Sarasota is clear. The city manager, auditor and clerk and nance director must be bonded. But two of them are not. Neither Interim City Manager Terry Lewis nor Auditor and Clerk Pam Na dalini is bonded. The charter says, The city manager, the city auditor and clerk and the nance director shall each give bond with au thorized corporate sureties, conditioned upon their faithful performance of duty. And the charter requires that the City Commission set the amount of that bond by resolution every year. On Nov. 7, 2011, the commission passed such a resolution and backdated it to Oct. 1, the start of the scal year. A Daytona Beach insurance rm specializing in public sector work had been tasked with nding bonds for then-City Manager Bob Bartolotta, Finance Director Chris Lyons and Auditor and Clerk Nadalini. The rm was able to get policies for Bartolotta and Lyons, but unable to secure a bond for Nadalini. The Sarasota News Leader obtained a copy of correspondence between the Daytona Beach rm and a city employee. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in secur ing terms for the city clerk/auditor position, the rm reported back by email on Sept. 28, 2011. Our marketing efforts included access ing all standard and substandard bond writ ers including Travelers, Chubb, CAN, Suretec, Hartford and others. Underwriters are unwill ing to extend surety without signicant collat eral for the city clerk/auditor position. Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier addresses the City Commission as City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini listens. Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: JUNE LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 33 JUNE 4 Because heavy rains on June 1 delayed com pletion of a guardrail project on the Stick ney Point Bridge on the south end of Siesta Key, intermittent lane closures on that bridge might continue through Thursday, June 7, the District One spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation tells The Sara sota News Leader Those closures would be between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. only, said Lauren Hatchell, public information ofcer for the FDOT in Bartow. Erroneous information pub lished early June 4 by another Sarasota publi cation had residents fretting that lane closures on the Stickney Point Bridge would overlap the coming lane closure on the north Siesta bridge as the rehabilitation of that bridge gets under way. The north bridge project starts June 5, but the contactor is not planni ng any lane closure until Monday, June 11, Hatchell says. The contractor and crew for the Stick ney Point Bridge project know that they have to be done before those lane closures start on the north bridge, Hatchell adds. With the qualifying period ofcially having begun at noon June 4, an attorney in Venice vying for Jon Thaxtons Sarasota County Com mission seat and the two incumbent county commissioners are among a number of candi dates for local ofce who already have Qual ied notations at the ends of their names on the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections list. Republican Charles Hines is the only can didate for the District 5 County Commission seat to have qualied for that ofce by 5 p.m. Four other Republican challengers have led for the race: Randy McLendon and Louis D. Roseneld, both of Englewood, and Vanessa J. Carusone and William Brian Slider, both of Venice. Thaxton, who had planned to seek a fourth term on the county board, was pre vented from doing so by a Florida Supreme Court ruling upholding commission term lim its as outlined in county charters. Thaxton announced June 1 that he would be challeng ing incumbent Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent in the Republican pri mary. The Sarasota city commissioners apply their own version of local preference, cutting the list of potential city managers to ve from eight. The three who were dropped were all from out of state. It is the last you will hear of John Gabor of Michigan, Michael Hein of Arizona and Andrew Mair of New Jersey. The The north Siesta bridge opens for boat trafc before rehabilitation work gets under way in June. File photo
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 34 l ist started with 104, and now those left are Ed Mitchell, city manager of West Palm Beach; James Chisholm, city manager of Daytona Beach; Barbara Lipscomb, city manager of Casselberry; Rich Chafn of McKinney, TX; and Thomas Barwin of Oak Park, IL If there is a dark horse in this race, it is Barwin. Un til last March, he was village manager of Oak Park, a tony Chicago suburb of 53,000 people with a $45 million general fund budget. To be lieve his eclectic resume, he just might walk on water. JUNE 5 On a unanimous vote, the Sarasota County Commission approves a $1,133,622.95 con tract for the construction of a new watermain pipeline linking Siesta and Casey keys. The cost is about $467,000 less than the estimate by the project engineer, according to a coun ty staff memo sent to the commission. This has been a long time coming, so thanks for your hard work, Commissioner Nora Patter son tells Public Works Department staff after making the motion. Construction is expected to begin this month and conclude in October, according to the memo. The existing water main line, installed by the Siesta Key Utility Authority across Little Sarasota Bay in the ear ly 1970s, is failing and needs to be replaced, the staff memo says. A leak was rst detect ed in the line in 1996, the memo adds. That leak was repaired, the memo continues, but, since then, new leaks have occurred with in creasing frequency. In 2006, SKUA conveyed and transferred its real estate holdings, ease ments, utility lines and other infrastructure to Sarasota County. JUNE 7 The rank and le of the Sarasota Police De partment has unanimously rejected the citys contract proposal. All 142 eligible ofcers, sergeants and specialists cast their votes against the contract agreement. Michael Mick McHale, president of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Police Benevolent As sociation, tells The Sarasota News Leader It was the rst time in our history of 38 years with the city that we had a unanimous vote, in this case to reject the proposal. The prima ry sticking point is pensions. Sarasota police are totally dependent upon their city pensions for retirement, because they do not pay into the Social Security System. Underperforming investments, declining property values and a smaller workforce have put the citys pen sion plans under stress. Last month City Com missioner Paul Carragiulo said cost-of-livi ng adjustments are already causing headaches: The ratio of workers-to-retirees was four-toone. Now its close to one-to-one. A graphic illustration shows the routes of the existing and planned watermain pipelines between south Siesta Key and Casey Key. Im age courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 35 JUNE 12 A city review committee has selected a bou tique hotel over a conventional Embassy Suites to be built adjacent to the Palm Avenue parking garage. Angus Rogers, the head of the winning Floridays Development Corp., briefs the Downtown Improvement District about the project, saying the 180-room lifestyle ho tel will be dedicated to being accessible to the arts. It will feature a two-story-tall lobby along Cocoanut Avenue that he says will be a performance and display space, adding, It will have a restaurant, and we will own it and it will be open for breakfast and lunch so we can control the guest experience. Floridays beat a 200-room Embassy Suites proposal elded by the Bridges-McKibbon team from Tampa and Gainesville, GA. The next step for Rogers is preparing a term sheet to present to the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board on June 28. That boards rec ommendation will then go to the City Com mission, sitting as the Community Redevel opment Agency. After years of declining property tax revenue and budget shortfalls, Sarasota County Ad ministrator Randy Reid delivers some positive news about the countys economic condition and brings up a rare-in-these-times proposal during a County Commission budget work shop: a lump sum boost to employees bot tom lines. During his opening comments to the board, Reid oats the possibility of offer ing non-bargaining unit i.e. non-union employees a lump sum-type payment that would be paid out just after the 2013 scal year begins on Oct. 1. Reid says many of those employees had not seen a raise in ve years. We have discussed a gure of $1,000, Reid said. That has been done in both Manatee County and also Longboat in the past year. The Midnight Pass Society has re-led a law suit in federal court, seeking judicial orders requiring the appropriate Sarasota County, State of Florida and U.S. ofcials to issue per mits necessary for the reopening of Midnight Pass between Siesta and Casey keys. The case was led in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa. Were looking to get relief, Jim Herbert, chairman of the 2,000-member Midnight Pass Society, tells The Sarasota News Leader Its been a long time now, he adds, noting the pass was closed in 1983. The defendants are Sarasota County, the Florida Department of Environmental Pro tection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conser vation Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser vice. The lawsuit was led under the citizen suit provisions of the federal Clean Water and Endangered species acts, it says. A Sarasota County Geographic Information Systems map shows an aerial view of the loca tion where Midnight Pass once owed. Plain tiffs in a lawsuit led in June hope it will ow again. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 36 JUNE 15 During a budget workshop, two Sarasota County commissioners reiterate support for funding the planned Siesta Public Beach im provements in a short time frame, as they dis cussed their Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Years 2013-2017. When Commissioner Nora Patterson questions James W. Harriott Jr., director of public works, about the $9.5 million allocation for the beach improve ments during that ve-year time frame, Har riott responds that current planning spreads the funding beyond the period the board is reviewing. He reminds her that over the past couple of months, staff has talked with the commission about working on nancing plans to complete the improvements by the end of 2014, instead of spreading them out through Fiscal Year 2024. The Florida Department of Transportation turns down a Sarasota County Commission request for a reduction in the speed limit and installation of reective pavement markers along a Midnight Pass Road curve that resi dents say has been the site of numerous acci dents. However, District One Secretary Billy Hattaway writes to commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson that FDOT will add re ective sheeting to the supports of the signs warning motorists approaching the curve from both directions to reduce their speed. That treatment will effectively supplement the chevrons along the curve, Hattaway adds. Regarding the reective pavement markers, Hattaway writes, Similar treatment used at another location along Midnight Pass Road was criticized by residents in the vicinity due to the noise generated by cars riding over the markers. During an interview, Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson, who lives on Siesta Key, tells The Sarasota News Leader Im disappointed [about Hattaways response], but I dont think theres a whole lot we can do at this point. JUNE 18 At the conclusion of a 20-minute hearing, 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Lee Haworth re fuses to grant a motion by Sarasota County to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit Siesta Village property owner Chris Brown filed against Sarasota County in October 2011. Browns lawsuit claims that the county lowered the 2011 parking assessments for 74 other Siesta Village properties in the Parking Improvement District at the same time it raised the assess ments on three of his properties. The lawsuit calls that action discriminatory and a violation of Browns civil rights. However, Haworth does dismiss two of the original counts in the lawsuit: that the court direct the county to repeal those contested parking assessments for Browns parcels and that the court declare that the use of a mea suring wheel to determine the patron area of Siesta Village restaurants violated Browns constitutional rights. Were very pleased that the judge has allowed us to go forward on our complaints, as this has been an ongoing problem, Browns attorney, Morgan Bent ley of Bentley & Bruning, tells The Sarasota News Leader after the hearing. Having said that, Bentley adds, were hopeful that we can work this out with the county in some amicable way.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 37 JUNE 19 During their annual State of the Utilities workshop for the City of Sarasota, the city commissioners tentatively agree to a 4 per cent rate increase in water and sewer rates in 2013 and 2014 to prevent long-term debt from increasing. These hikes will come on top of 4 percent increases in 2011 and 2012. The de cision is not nal until the public is notied, two public hearings are held and the commis sioners vote. Public hearings are scheduled on July 16 and Aug. 20 for the proposed rate increases. But the discussion is a strong indi cator the rates are headed up. It came after almost two hours of review by staffers and consultants on the physical and scal health of the utility system. Sarasota County and state preservationists ex pect to nd out any day now whether the Paul Rudolph addition to Sarasota High School will be listed on the National Register of His toric Places The Sarasota News Leader has learned. Barbara Mattick, the deputy state historic preservation ofcer for survey an d registration, tells the News Leader she calcu lated the timing on the basis of when the ma terials were submitted. Mattick says the Na tional Register publishes a weekly activities report with all the new buildings on its list; the update also is posted on the National Reg isters website. Sarasota County ofcials told the News Leader the previous week that they anticipated notication by July 15. However, Mattick said her ofce sent the application by Federal Express on May 8. Once the Nation al Register receives an application, she says, staff members have 45 days to log it in, and they usually take 45 days, because they have things pouring in from all over the country. Mattick says she was encouraged that the SHS addition, with the structures known as Build ing 4 and the West Gymnasium, would make it onto the list, because someone generally calls her ofce if National Register staff encounters a problem with an application. If we havent heard anything by now, she says, its looking pretty good. Caroline Zucker, chairwoman of the Sarasota County School Board, tells the News Leader she was unaware that Sarasota County History Center staff had pursued the National Register listing. Building 4 at Sarasota High School, designed by internationally renowned architect Paul Rudolph, was expected to earn a place this year on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 38 JUNE 20 The 23-year-old Bradenton man charged in connection with the January death of a Si esta Key runner has been released from the Sarasota County Jail, The Sarasota News Leader learns. Blake C. Talman had been in jail since Jan. 7, the day he allegedly was driv ing drunk when he struck Donna Chen, 53, as she ran along the sidewalk of Midnight Pass Road with her dog. Talman was charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, four counts of DUI property damage and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. His bond totaled $118,000. According to terms of the re lease, Talman must remain under house arrest with a GPS system allowing law enforcement ofcers to track his location at all times. He also was ordered not to consume alcohol or use drugs. Additionally, Talman was ordered to wear a SCRAM device, which measures the amount of alcohol in a persons perspiration, according to law enforcement ofcials. The tamper-resistant equipment ts around a de fendants ankle. JUNE 25 Sarasota News Leader contributor Fran Palmeri ventures to the Venice Jetty and No komis Beach to record the high surf and at least one swimmer in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Debby continues to lash the area. At 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the National Hurricane Center advised that a trop ical storm warning remained in effect for the Florida Gulf Coast from Englewood to Destin, with reports of Debby having sustained wind of 45 mph. Her winds were extending outward up to 230 miles, the NHC reported. The storm was located at latitude 29.3 north and longi High surf along South County beaches is a product of Tropical Storm Debby in late June. Photo by Fran Palmeri
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 39 tude 85.1 west, about 30 miles south-south west of Apalachicola. Debby was reported to be moving toward the northeast at nearly 5 mph, according to the NHC. Although Debby has weakened, the NHC adds, the combina tion of a storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be ood ed by rising waters. JUNE 26 Of all the comments Sarasota County staff had received on preliminary design features for the new Gulf Gate library, Ninety-eight percent have been positive, overwhelmingly, Project Manager Carolyn Eastwood tells the County Commission during its regular meet ing. After she and her team show the board the latest design concepts for the facility planned to replace the existing library at 7112 Curtiss Ave., Eastwood asks for the commissioners blessing going forward. Commissioner Joe Barbetta responds with a motion for [the team] to go forward with what weve seen to day and rening it. Commissioner Nora Pat terson seconds the motion. Third, Commissioner Carolyn Mason adds, drawing chuckles. % One swimmer braves the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Debby lashes the Sarasota County coast in late June. Photo by Fran Palmeri An architects rendering shows the proposed exterior of the new Gulf Gate Library. Plans call for construction to begin in early 2013. Image courtesy Sarasota County
JULY 2 Failing to reach a consensus on the three re maining applicants for Sarasota city manag er, the City Commission votes to continue its search for a person to replace Robert Barto lotta, who resigned as city manager in January. Commissioners agreed it would be unfair to hire one of the candidates without a unanimous vote. Interim City Manager Terry Lewis report ed this morning that Rich Chafn of McKinney, TX, had dropped out of contention. The three remaining candidates are Ed Mitchell, city man ager of West Palm Beach; James Chisholm, city manager of Daytona Beach; and Thomas Bar win of Oak Park, Ill., who was village manager of that Chicago suburb until March. The city is about to begin an amnesty program for parking ticket scofaws. But after Oct. 1, unpaid tickets will mean profound implica tions for drivers. Mark Lyons, Sarasotas park ing manager, says the city is owed more than $700,000 in unpaid parking nes and is about to embark on a statewide search for those funds, backed with the power to stop the re newal of license tags and drivers licenses by those who have not paid up. Between now and the fall, Lyons will drop the late fees un der a Parking Citation Amnesty Program. But after Oct. 1, watch out. Were going to alert the [Florida] Department of Motor Vehicles to halt the renewal of tags and licenses, he tells the City Commission. And were going to full use of the vehicle immobilization policy. The Sarasota City Commission, meeting in early July, failed to reach a consensus on the nalists for city manager and agreed to continue its search. Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: JULY LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 41 JULY 3 S arasota County Commissioner Nora Patter son tells members of the Siesta Key Village Association she will nd out when a recom mendation on the new vendor for the Village maintenance contract can be expected to come before the County Commission for ap proval. The question arose after Mark Smith, chairman of the Siesta Key Village Mainte nance Corp., provided an update during the monthly SKVA meeting on the search for a new vendor. The bids on the maintenance contract are scheduled to be opened at 2:30 p.m. July 11 in the countys Procurement De partment at the Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd. I plan on being there, Smith says. When Patterson asks whether he knows when the bid will be awarded, Smith tells her, I was going to ask you that. JULY 6 City of Sarasota Finance Director Chris Ly ons presents the $178 million budget for the next scal year. Of that amount, less than onethird lies in the general fund, with the other two-thirds sequestered away for debt service, utilities and other non-discretionary expenses. Since 2007, the city has cut one-quarter of its employee positions; it has reduced its overall budget by one-third since 2008. Despite the long-awaited stabilization in property values for tax purposes, overall revenue estimates are down again for 2013, led by a nearly $1 million reduction in state funding and grants. Investment earnings in this poor nancial cli mate dropped by one-third. Other revenues, such as gasoline and sales taxes, are off as well, as is the fraction of property tax reve nue devoted to the citys Community Rede velopment Agency; property values for that purpose fell another 1.7 percent. Tom Maroney (left), general manager of business operations in the Sarasota County Public Works Department, and Ryan Montague (third from left), of the countys Trafc/Mobility Ofce, meet with representatives of rms interested in bidding on the Siesta Village Maintenance contract. A manda tory pre-bid conference was held June 21. File photo
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 42 JULY 9 Laura Williams, director of Florida operations for the Baltimore Orioles, accepts a commem orative plaque from Sarasota resident Norman Schimmel and Sarasota County Commission er Joe Barbetta, recognizing the fact that the Orioles drew more than 100,000 fans to their 2012 spring training games in Sarasota. (Bar betta was acting in a private capacity for the presentation.) The ofcial count for 2012 was 106,398 fans at 15 games, Williams told The Sarasota News Leader this spring. The Ori oles surpassed the 100,000 mark in 2011 as well, following the renovations of Ed Smith Stadium. The Orioles were one of only six Ma jor League Baseball teams, out the 15 based in Florida, to achieve an attendance level of 100,000 or higher this year. J ULY 10 With Commissioner Jon Thaxton casting the solitary No vote, the Sarasota County Com mission votes 4-1 to allow a pilot program fo r (From left) Norman Schimmel, Laura Wil liams and Joe Barbetta. Contributed photo A photo shows damage to environmentally sensitive land caused by feral hogs a factor that led to the County Commission agreeing to allow hunts of the animals on county property. Photo courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 43 hunting feral hogs to proceed in December and March 2013 on environmentally sensitive land in South County jointly owned and man aged by the county and the Southwest Flori da Water Management District. Commission er Carolyn Mason made the motion to allow the hunts to proceed, with Commissioner Joe Barbetta seconding it. Commissioners point out that both the countys Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee and its Parks and Recreation Advisory Council have approved the proposal, which will allow hunt ers with dogs to use either guns or knives to kill an unlimited number of hogs. The cost of a permit for the hunt will be $75. Of the 11 speakers who address the commis sion during public comments, only one sup ports the hunt. JULY 10 The Sarasota City commissioners pull a po litical U-turn, deciding they will pick a new city manager after all from among the four nalists presented to them by a headhunting rm. A week earlier, on July 2, they decided not to decide, failing to pick any candidate and saying they wanted to restart the entire months-long process. The non-decision stirred up signicant reaction, very little of it positive. Then The Sarasota News Leader broke the story on July 6 that Interim City Manager Ter ry Lewis would not stick around for the next round of headhunting. He said he would bow out on Aug. 3. Colin Baenziger (right), the consultant to the City of Sarasota in its search for a new manager, and Kurt Hoverter, the citys human resources manager (middle) discuss the search for candidates with the commission. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 44 JULY 11 Jim Shirley still does not have all the documen tation the Sarasota County Commission chair woman requested, but the executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County comes away from the County Com missions regular meeting with all the $1.3 mil lion in grant awards a panel had approved for Fiscal Year 2013. Chairwoman Christine Rob inson casts the lone No vote on the awards. Robinson, who represents South County inter ests on the commission, queried Alliance Ex ecutive Director Jim Shirley at length during the commissions June 26 meeting about his efforts to encourage more South County orga nizations to apply for funding. Because Shir ley did not have all the information she asked for during that session, the board agreed to call Shirley back for a follow-up presentation. During his opening remarks on July 11, Shirley points out he and his staff had contacted 38 individuals representing 25 South County or ganizations during the current grant process, and most of these were contacted on multi ple occasions. In 2011, only one South Coun ty organization won a grant; this year, three organizations were recommended for funding, he points out. Those three were among six in South County that began the application pro cess; ve of those completed it, Shirley says. With Chairwoman Christine Robinson and Commissioner Jon Thaxton voting No, the Sarasota County Commission approves notto-exceed millage rates for advertisement in advance of public hearings on the 2013 scal year budget The biggest increase in the rates this year will be for mosquito control, with the rate climbing from 0.0277 mills in FY 2012 to 0.0805 mills in FY 2013, an increase of 290.61 percent. The other rates proposed for FY 2013 are 3.1530 mills for the general operating fund an increase of 2.56 percent over FY 2012 and the debt service rate, which was set ten tatively at 0.1577, a decrease of 33.26 percent from FY 2012. The total proposed millage is 3.3912, up 1.58 percent from FY 2012. Given the continuing uctuations in the hous ing market, the Sarasota County commission ers agree it is too soon to put a price on any transfer of development rights from lands the county owns. Nonetheless, they also agree unanimously to authorize staff to develop a pilot program for the potential sale of publicly owned TDRs and to bring that back as soon as possible for their review. With a potential 10,000 TDR units that could be developed, commissioners say they want to get a pro gram under way shortly. Commissioner Joe Barbetta points out, In reality, weve been about this for six or seven or eight years. Moreover, by his calculations, with a 5 percent cost for a TDR, the countys property could bring in about $50 million, he said. Barbetta also requests staff check out the best practic es of pricing TDRs in programs throughout the United States and report back on their findings. Chairwoman Christine Robinson asks Tom Polk, general manager of planning services, to include in the report information staff already has obtained about pricing of successful TDR programs. The TDR policy ap plies to the countys 2050 Plan, which involves development east of Interstate 75. It would allow developers to increase density on par cels by paying a percentage of the cost of the extra dwelling units. The revenue would be used to preserve more environmentally sen sitive lands in the county.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 45 Circus Sarasota was among the recipients of the Arts and Cultural Alliance grants awarded by the Sarasota County Commission in July. Among its star performers are the Flying Wallendas, shown performing during the 2012 Cirque des Voix. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 46 J ULY 11 The return per dollar invested in Sarasota County tourism advertising rose from $18.16 in 2009 to $34.40 in 2011, about 47%, Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, tells the County Commission during a July 11 re port. Television and online advertising have proven most effective, Haley adds during her presentation of the agencys business plan for the 2013 scal year. (Visit Sarasota County for merly was the Sarasota Convention and Visi tors Bureau.) JULY 16 When Sarasota City Commissioner Paul Cara giulo says he wants to introduce a strong-may or proposal, nobody quite expects how strong the proposal will be. Basically, it calls for a rewrite of the entire city charter to incorpo rate all of the changes Caragiulo would like to see. The City Commission ends up tabling discussion of the amendment until Aug. 20. The delay will keep the proposal off the No vember ballot, but it could allow it to appear on the March 2013 ballot, when two city com missioners will be up for election. Right now the city enjoys what some call a ceremonial mayor, a commissioner elected by their fellow commissioners to preside over meetings and represent the city. Actual running of the city is done by an appointed city manager. Three commissioners represent districts, while two are elected citywide. Caragiulo would change all that, and more. All commissioners would be elected from districts, under his plan. Only the mayor would run at-large. The may or would no longer be a commissioner and would not be able to vote on issues. Howev e r, the elected mayor would have veto power over City Commission actions. The veto could be overridden with a four-vote supermajority. As a result of a professional citizen petition drive, Sarasota city voters in November will consider changing their charter to strengthen the city manager at the expense of the audi tor and clerk. It took ve weeks to gather 3,297 signatures, Donnie McDonouth tells Visit Sarasota County has focused more over the past year on marketing the county to po tential visitors according to their interests, such as ecotourism. The move is part of the Colors campaign. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 47 the Sarasota City commissioners. He is chair man of Citizens for a Better Sarasota. The pe tition-bearers focused on the parking lots of grocery stores and public buildings. Everyone with whom this reporter spoke said he or she was paid per signature, with three saying they were getting $2 apiece. Political junkies take note: It takes $6,600 to get a petition on the ballot in the city. McDonouth appears with Ar gus Foundation President Mike Quillen and Argus Executive Director Kerry Kirschner to ask the city commissioners formally to put the referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot. City Commis sioner Terry Turner admits to having helped fund the petition drive. McDonouth says the measure eliminates the conict of interest inherent in the current structures combining audit and administrative functions. It also consolidates administrative functions under the city manager to facilitate accountability and efcient delivery of city services. The Sarasota City commissioners put the nal ordinance in place to establish a legal bayfront mooring eld downtown. This required only a decade of government activity. Commission approval follows approval by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on June 28. The city is one of ve jurisdictions in the state experimenting with mooring regula tion. Contractor Dock and Marine will begin staging equipment and pilings within several days on the south side of the 10th Street Boat Ramp. The 35-boat mooring area will be man aged by Marina Jack Inc. Mooring will cost the smallest transient boat $18 per day. For a ves sel 50 feet or longer, the day rate will be $25. Monthly mooring rentals will range from $250 to $345 per month. Marina Jack Inc.s website does not show that a shuttle service will be offered to the shore, only dinghy dockage. Boats rest at anchor in the mooring eld off the Sarasota bayfront. New mooring eld regulations were approved July 16 by the City Commission. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 48 Sarasota County Government has gained a new deputy administrator and seen the re moval of interim from the titles of three de partment leaders. Staff also has been prepar ing for the departure of a long-time employee with expertise in a number of areas. County Administrator Randall Reid announces that Thomas Harmer has been named deputy Sara sota County administrator. The three county ofcials whom Reid formally appointed as department chiefs are Joanie Whitley, Human Resources director; Mike Tobias, Emergency Services director; and Steve Botelho, chief nancial planning ofcer. John McCarthy, who has been with the county for 31 years, will be retiring July 20. JULY 19 Trevor Harvey, the president of the Sarasota County branch of the NAACP, tells the orga nization at its monthly general membership meeting that the national NAACP is taking the lead in the ght against precinct consolidation, at the local level here in Sarasota and around the country. During the national NAACP con vention held in Houston July 7-12, Harvey met with the groups general counsel and the se nior vice president of the D.C. branch to up date them about Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dents plan to reduce the number of precincts from 156 to 98 The Sarasota NAACP had been considering requesting that the Department of Justice intervene because of concern that the consolidation will suppress the minority vote by increasing the distance voters will have to travel and increasing the possibility of long, discouraging lines. According to Harvey, the national NAACP has been hearing many sim ilar stories and complaints the same is sues all across the country, he says. Given that, the Sarasota branch pretty much turned everything over to the national level, hoping that the larger organization could bring stron ger legal resources to bear on the problem. We need their inuence to get us to the next level, Harvey tells the News Leader after the meeting. JULY 24 Because the Florida Legislature approved an extra $100, or about 3 percent, in base fund ing per pupil statewide for the 2012-13 school year, the Sarasota County School Board has no choice but to raise its required local mill age rate for the 2013 scal year, Deputy Chief Financial Ofcer Al Weidner tells the board. Tom Harmer became deputy Sarasota County administrator in mid-July. Contributed photo
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 49 Although the nal FY 2013 millage rates will not be adopted until Sept. 11, the School Board votes unanimously to advertise a total of 7.816 mills in advance of a July 31 public hearing on the budget. Of that total, the local required millage rate is 4.568, up from 4.387 last year. The vote is 4-0, as board member Carol Todd is absent from the meeting. The increase of 0.181 mills over the total FY 2012 millage rate of 7.635 would mean the owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $18 more per year in property taxes, Weidner points out. JULY 27 The man selected as Sarasotas new city man ager has agreed to a $175,000 salary. Tom Bar wins contract will be reviewed on Wednesday, A ug. 1, by the Sarasota City Commission. Bar win has indicated he would like to start work on Sept. 1. Despite talk by the citys headhunt er, Colin Baenziger of Wellington, that the City Commission might have to bump the salary range to attract qualied candidates, Barwins starting salary will be slightly less than the $176,000 paid to his predecessor, Bob Barto lotta. Barwins employment agreement calls for an annual salary of $175,000, plus a car allowance of $600 per month. One unusual part of the contract allows Bar win to stay on the job for two years if the city changes its form of government to anything other than its current City Manager form of governing (such as a Strong Mayor form of government) % Sarasota County Schools Deputy Chief Financial Ofcer Al Weidner discusses budget matters with the School Board. Photo by Scott Proftt
AUG. 2 After some last-minute give-and-take, the Sarasota City commissioners offer a contract to Tom Barwin, their pick to be the next city manager. All of the terms are as previously reported: $175,000 annual salary, $600 permonth car allowance and $15,000 for moving expenses. However, the commissioners took two days to digest a clause Barwin desired in the contract to protect him in case the city had a sudden change of government. A so-called strong mayor form of government eliminates the need for a professional city manager, so Barwin wanted some job security in case a referendum eliminated his position. He pro posed a contract clause stopping the commis sion from discharging him immediately if such a referendum passed. That clause, however, runs afoul of the city charter, which allows the commission to re a city manager by a simple 3-2 majority at any time for any reason. City Attorney Bob Fournier says of the clause in Barwins contract, Its just intended as a guard against a premature termination if the form of government changes. Damage resulting from Tropical Storm Deb by in the municipalities of Sarasota County and in the unincorporated parts of the coun ty combined has been estimated at $7 mil lion, Ed McCrane, the countys emergency management chief, tells members of the Si esta Key Association on Aug. 2. Total dam age from Debby in the unincorporated part of the county was estimated at $542,000, he says. That does not include damage on Lido or Longboat keys or in the city of Venice, he pointed out. Altogether, 256 Sarasota Coun ty residents have registered with the Federal New Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin shakes hands with Commissioner Terry Turner during Barwins rst commission meeting on Sept. 4. Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: AUGUST LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 51 Emergency Management Agency by telephone because of property damage they suffered as a result of the storms effects, McCrane re ports to the County Commission on Aug. 6. Fifty-two structures in the county were dam aged by wind or water, he tells SKA members during their regular meeting. AUG. 8 As of Aug. 1 the three-month mark 33 homeless people have rotated through the City of Sarasotas Street Teams program and 11 of them have been able to nd full-time employ ment, the programs supervisor reports during the Aug. 8 meeting of the Suncoast Partner ship to End Homelessness Tom Maxa, a Sal vation Army employee in Sarasota, tells the approximately 30 people present that while the goal was to see about 65% of the partici pants gain regular employment, I think were headed in the right direction. Three of the 11 who were hired were actually working on the Street Team at their jobs, he adds. In each of those cases, someone from a business came out to tell the worker he or she was doing such a good job, the business wanted to hire the person, Maxa says. Fourteen people are working on the teams right now, Maxa adds, resulting in two teams of ve people each and one team with four people. Theres a waiting list right now, he says. AUG. 9 A long blue line of 96 men and two women have tossed their peaked caps into the race to be the next city police chief. Current Chief Mikel Hollaway will retire in October. The hiring decision will be one of the rst in the administration of incoming City Manager Tom Barwin, and it will be scrutinized both inside the new police headquarters building Tropical Storm Debby eroded much of the beach in the southern part of the county, in cluding what had been a bluff on Casey Key. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota Police Chief Mikel Hollaway/ Contributed
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 52 and throughout the city. The decision rests with Barwin alone; it requires no conrma tion by the City Commission. The citys Hu man Resources Division released a list of the 98 names without any afliations or other information. Hands down, the man to bet on is Sarasota Police Capt. Paul Sutton. He has been Hollaways No. 2 for the past three years, and he is strongly endorsed by the outgoing chief. Barwin will need powerful arguments to offset Suttons local backing. AUG. 10 For Nathan Benderson Park off University Parkway, this has been a landmark day. A 150-foot dredge owned by Dredge America of Kansas City, Mo., has begun digging out the lake bottom to create the only Class A course in North America as certied by FISA, the international Federation of Rowing Associa tions. The chief facilities architect for FISA, the worldwide governing body of rowing, has been working with Benderson Development Co. to create the 2,000-meter course. [FISA ofcials] actually designed this lake to meet all their specs, Paul Blackketter, executive director of planning for Benderson, explains to Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson and members of the news media. Once the work is complete, the lake will be ready for a wide variety of international row ing competitions. The dredge sits near the shoreline before work begins. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 53 AUG. 14 Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent handily defeats Republican challenger Jon Thaxton in the Republican primary, winning 75 percent of the vote after a brief, but hotly debated cam paign. Only 28,415 Sarasota County Republicans (24 percent of the party) voted in the election, and overall turnout for the primary was abysmal, with just 16 percent of county residents cast ing a vote. Thaxton, a 12-year county commis sioner who is being term-limited out, waged an aggressive campaign. During a series of July debates Thaxton did not shy away from bringing up Dents controversial record, most notably how she handled the 2006 election, when the countys voting machines recorded a massive undervote in the tight Vern Buchan an/Christine Jennings race. Before Election Day, Dents ofce was warned by the compa ny that made the countys touchscreen voting machines that the devices might not function correctly. She was advised to put up posters alerting voters to the potential for error, but chose not to. Attorney Charles Hines defeats tea party chal lenger Randy McLendon in the Republican County Commission primary, besting him with 59 percent of the vote AUG. 15 Roughly 50 people come to the Payne Park Auditorium to talk with Walmart represen tatives about a proposed new supercenter at the old Ringling Shopping Center. The maestro for the event is Michelle Belaire, a battle-hardened corporate PR woman from Miami who by turns welcomes, answers and deects questions from the crowd. We want to be good neighbors, and thats why were here, she says at the outset. Walmart plans to scrape the site bare razing the citys rst shopping center anchored by its rst Publix and build a 98,000-square-foot general retail and grocery store. We are not asking for any variances or zoning changes, says Belaire. This parcel is appropriately zoned commer cial, and we need only administrative ap proval of the site plan. Construction will take about one year from the ground up. She says the doors should open in 2014. While a pub lic hearing is required before the city Plan ning Board, approval should be a pro forma decision if the companys planners follow the citys rules. City of Sarasota staff released a preliminary site plan for the Walmart proposed for the Ringling Shopping Center, which used to house a Publix. Image courtesy City of Sarasota
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 54 Sarasota County beaches are continuing to show the effects of tidal activity with accu mulations of seaweed on beaches, a county news release reports. Subsequent tides are removing sizable portions of the seaweed, the release adds. Sarasota County Parks and Recreation staff is continuing to monitor all the beaches on a daily basis, the release says; large amounts of seaweed left after two com plete tidal cycles are scheduled for cleanup. Some beaches can be cleaned only by hand, depending on environmental conditions on a specic beach, the presence of threatened or endangered species, weather and crowds, the news release points out. AUG. 20 In a 4-1 vote, the Sarasota County Commis sion approves a $1,000 one-time pay boost to the countys non-union employees, a move promoted strongly by Sarasota County Ad ministrator Randy Reid. Warning that Sara sota County is in danger of having its most talented employees recruited from us, Reid pushes for the payment again during a budget workshop, noting that some non-union work ers have not seen a pay raise in ve years. I do want to point out that by giving a lump sum annual wage payment which would be made likely right after the beginning of the scal year when that is done, should the economy tank in future years, youve only giv en the amount of money for one year, Reid tells the commission. It is not rolled into the salary. It doesnt become collectively added on each year automatically. AUG. 21 Almost exactly a year and a week after Sara sota County took over maintenance of Siesta Red drift algae lines the shore on Lido Beach in early August. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 55 Village, the County Commission unanimous ly approves awarding a new contract for that work to Championship Landscape Mainte nance Professionals of Fort Myers. The annu al contract with automatic renewal for two additional one-year terms is for $97,417.70. Tom Maroney, general manager of business operations in the countys Public Works De partment, tells The Sarasota News Leader he is uncertain when Championship will begin work. Staff had proceeded with a requisition order, he says, and has asked the Procurement Department to schedule a kick-off meeting with Championship, county staff and Mark Smith, chairman of the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. AUG. 29 In an effort to improve workforce readiness in Sarasota and Manatee counties, the Sara sota County Commission votes unanimously to ask County Administrator Randall Reid to meet with the appropriate representatives of the Sarasota County School Board, the Bra denton-based organization CareerEdge and county economic development staff, among others, to bring back to the board a plan of action within 90 days. Commissioner Joe Bar betta objects to the timeframe, saying he feels it is too long, but Reid indicates he may be able to report to the board within 60 days. The vote comes at the end of an hour-long discus sion that includes four of the ve members of the Sarasota County School board in a joint meeting. % The gazebo, located at the intersection of Canal Road and Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Village, is in cluded in the maintenance responsibilities for the Village. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sharing by Bruno Lucchesi stands outside Selby Public Library. Photo by Stan Zimmerman YEAR IN REVIEW: SEPTEMBER LOOKING BACK SEPT. 4 The City of Sarasotas Public Art Commit tee is going under a political microscope to determine whether it lives or dies. The last item on the City Commission agenda is a set tlement of a lawsuit brought by the current chairman of the committee. Now we have advisory board members suing the city, says Commissioner Terry Turner. We should de commission this standing committee and rely on ad hoc committees instead. How do we do that? Commissioner Shannon Snyder quick ly backs Turners idea. Id be receptive to studying it, he says. The [public art] fund is less than $150,000. For what it is, were not seeing any great amount of money com ing into the fund anytime soon. The city re quires all major developments to apportion one-half of 1% of any projects costs to pro viding public art for the project. Such art is often a sculpture outside the resulting build ing, but the work can be located in a public space inside the building.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 57 SEPT. 6 Sarasota County probably will put the Siesta stormwater project out for bid in November, with the bid award expected in February, the project manager tells members of the Siesta Key Association during their regular meeting. However, Curtis Smith says, the site work will not begin until April, after the primary tour ist season has ended. Smith says the county just received the state permit it needs for the stormwater work, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nally has acknowledged the countys modication of its permit applica tion for the project is complete, clearing the way for the scheduling to begin. Moreover, Smith reports, if the schedule stays on track, the county should be able to keep the South west Florida Water Management District grant that is a very important piece of the funding for that project. SWFWMD had committed a maximum of $975,000 to the stormwater work, which has been estimated to cost $1.5 million. Once the work is completed, Smith has told The Sarasota News Leader SWFW MD will reimburse the county for half its ex penses, up to the $975,000 mark. That grant was set to expire in March 2013, Smith tells the approximately 30 SKA audience members. However, he points out, Weve been in close communication with the water management district about the grant. The key is making sure the project stays on schedule, he says, so they can have a comfort level about what were doing. SEPT. 8 Sarasota city voters will face seven charter amendments on their Nov. 6 ballot. Five have a single purpose, one would divide the City Auditor and Clerks Ofces duties and one is a so-called housekeeping amendment. Within the housekeeping amendment are 17 chang es to the city charter. One of those comes un der scrutiny during the meeting of the Coa lition of City Neighborhood Associations. Should the citys top ofcials be bonded? Right now the charter is explicit. It requires the city manager, the city nance director and the city auditor and clerk to be bonded. But since Pa mela Nadalini took the auditor and clerks job two years ago, she has been unable to secure a bond. Instead, she has been covered by a city insurance policy, which City Attorney Bob Fournier says is functionally equivalent to a bond. Rob Wagner, an executive with Brown and Brown, a national insurance rm, says the difference between a bond and insurance is simple. For insurance, the prime objective is risk transfer. Its a risk-pooling device, he says. The policy holders are paying for the losses, because the carrier assumes there will be losses. Sarasota County Project Manager Curtis Smith says the stormwater project at Sies ta Beach should be able to get under way in the spring of 2013. Photo by Rachel Hackney
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 58 SEPT. 10 A lot of this activity this evening seems to be somewhat scripted, Sarasota County Com missioner Jon Thaxton says toward the end of the commissions rst public budget hearing. Indeed, it was literally scripted. The budget document the commission was working from contained a script from which Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson and county staffers read. And since there were zero public comments about the budget, which contains a 1.6 percent tax increase because of a raise in the mosquito control rate, the commission zips through the hearing, closing things down after just 36 minutes. But that does not mean there are no surprises: Robinson votes against the proposed millage rates, the only No vote on the ve-member commission, while still thanking county staff for putting together the budget plan. When asked about her vote, Rob inson cites the lump-sum money payment to county employees as one reason she could not support this years budget. I greatly appreci ate how hard our employees work, she writes in an email. I see the amazing things they do for our citizens everyday. But until we see our revenue stream stabilize, I could not support any type of lump sum payout or raise. S EPT. 11 Upon advice of County Attorney Stephen De Marsh, the Sarasota County Commission this week votes unanimously to settle the lawsuit it led against the state over efforts to collect disputed Medicaid payments. However, com missioners say they believe the counties need to continue to press the point that state billing methods have to improve. DeMarsh points out that the 57 counties that participated in the lawsuit with the Florida Association of Coun ties succeeded in their effort to force state of cials to address inefciencies in the process used to obtain the Medicaid payments. The collection effort was prompted by a Florida Legislature bill covering Medicaid bills from 2001 through April 2012. On Aug. 20, the com mission voted to pay $3,570,168 in Medicaid bills state ofcials said it had linked to coun ty residents, a 44 percent reduction from the original total the county had faced. SEPT. 12 The vote is split, but the Sarasota County Emergency Services staff receives the goahead to advertise a request for proposals for a consultant to help staff work out design specications for a new public safety radio Sarasota County commissioners head into fall with more big-ticket items on their agenda, includ ing decisions about Siesta Public Beach and the replacement of the countys emergency communica tions system. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 59 system to replace 16-year-old equipment that could fail soon. Chairwoman Christine Rob inson and Commissioner Joe Barbetta vote against the RFP. Both criticize staff for not checking with public safety personnel in Hill sborough and Pinellas counties, to learn about their replacement of radio equipment before the Republican National Convention was held last month. Barbetta also argues it is unneces sary to hire a consultant. After Robert Stuck ey, Sarasota Countys general manager of public safety communications, tells the com missioners the consultants services probably would cost between $250,000 and $300,000, Barbetta also criticizes the announcement of those gures. People responding to the RFP probably will offer quotes in that range, he points out, regardless of what their actual ex pense might be. Voicing frustration that she never received documentation she had requested in June from the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sara sota County, the chairwoman of the County Commission this week proposes changes to the countys contract with the alliance for Fis cal Year 2013, to prevent a similar situation in the future. Jim Shirley, executive director of the alliance, tells The Sarasota News Lead er he is very supportive of the changes the commission approves unanimously during its regular meeting in Sarasota. Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson, who rep resents South County interests on the board, pointed out during the boards regular meet ing in Venice a day earlier that language was added to the contract with the alliance in the current scal year to provide for increased outreach to South County arts and cultural groups. Nonetheless, she said, when I asked for the actual appointment efforts, I was told both in a public meeting and in a private meeting with the Arts Alliance they would be providing that information to us. To this day, I have not re ceived those efforts. SEPT. 13 A gap of almost $131,000 exists between ex penses Sarasota County has documented for its upkeep of Siesta Village over the past year and the total amount of special assessments the property owners in the Village Public Im provement District paid for this scal year, ac cording to county records. However, Tom Ma roney, general manager of business operations in the countys Public Works Department, tells The Sarasota News Leader that the expens es do not reect the man-hours he and other county employees have put into overseeing the upkeep after the county took on that re sponsibility in mid-August 2011. What was billed doesnt really cover a lot of the over head, Maroney says. SEPT. 22 With work under way on the construction of a new watermain line between south Siesta Key and north Casey Key, no more threats have been made by three Casey Key home owners who voiced concerns in August about potential property damage from the project, Sarasota Countys Utilities Depart ment program manager told The Sarasota News Leader Sept. 25. We have not heard any more from them, Lori Ann Carroll says. In a Sept. 21 email to the County Commission, Carroll provided a project update, saying the drilling rig for the
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 60 directional bore is on-site at The Pointe Con dominium complex on south Siesta Key that day, in preparation for the horizontal drilling under Little Sarasota Bay. The drilling is under way, she tells the News Leader It is expected to continue for approximately two weeks, in cluding weekends. Less than three months after $300,000 in state money became available for Sarasota Countys Energy Economic Zone, county staff is already working on a rebrand. Economic Develop ment Coordinator Lisa Damschroder says that beginning early next month, county staffers will come together to gure out a new name for the program, to reect the new, less geo graphically specic direction it has taken. Ac cording to Damschroder, the 2009 state legis lation that created the Energy Economic Zone Pilot Program (which was also taken up in Miami Beach) was originally a land-use pro gram focused on fostering green businesses within two strictly dened geographic areas: the State Road 681 corridor in Nokomis and the central county landll. The Florida Depart ment of Economic Opportunity, which over sees the Pilot Program, writes on its website that Sarasota County chose an undeveloped area of approximately 1,000 acres within the adopted Urban Service Area as one of the two designated Energy Economic zones. A compact site served by the Legacy Trail, which is more than 10 miles in length from just south of the City of Sarasota to Venice and proximate to a network of major road ways, the locale affords opportunities for a mixed-use land use design that integrates multi-modal and transit features. In addi tion, the countys program model includes the creation of clean technology and green jobs within this zone, thus promoting a bal ance of jobs to housing. But the program has shifted, Damschroder says, to a more generic economic incentive plan that offers tax breaks to clean technology and green businesses in those original zones, as well as in several des ignated Major Employment Centers through out the county. % Documented Siesta Village maintenance costs handled by Sarasota County were shown to be more than $100,000 less than the tax assessments property owners paid for the upkeep over the past year, county ofcials say. Photo by Norman Schimmel
OCT. 3 Members of CLUCK (Citizens Lobbying for Chicken Keeping) are not giving up on per suading the Sarasota County Commission to make chicken-keeping legal in the unincorpo rated parts of the county, Jono Miller, one of CLUCKs founders, tells The Sarasota News Leader this week. However, Miller says he and other members of the organization are frus trated that the commission on Sept. 25 did not provide direction to staff to assist CLUCK in preparing something to take to neighborhoods and homeowners. During their Sept. 25 reg ular meeting, the County Commission heard six members of the public two of whom had brought children with them request the board to change the countys zoning code to make it legal for families to own chickens. In discussion later that day, the commission ers agreed by consensus to ask CLUCK to un dertake community outreach before they de cided their next step. I just dont know how we would get that public input [otherwise], Chairwoman Christine Robinson said. Miller says CLUCK representatives will try again to seek commission support for some direction to staff before beginning the com munity outreach. However, he is not certain when that next contact with the commission ers will come. Members of CLUCK have not given up on an effort to win county approval for people to keep chick ens in unincorporated areas. Photo by Bogdan Carstina/Dreamstime.com YEAR IN REVIEW: OCTOBER LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 62 OCT. 9 As the rst decade of the St. Armands Busi ness Improvement District draws to a close, property owners are increasingly concerned about parking. New restrictions have them shaking their heads during the BID meeting. What was supposed to be a uniform policy of parking enforcement has turned into a hot topic. Several months ago, the Sarasota City Commission decided parking enforcement for downtown and St. Armands Circle should be treated equally. Weve had a tsunami of com plaints about parking tickets, says Eric Seace with the St. Armands Circle Association. If you move to another spot, you still get a tick et. The uniform policy works not according to how long a motorist parks in one space, but how long the car is in the zone. OCT. 10 The Sarasota County Schools is serving 15,497 free meals and 3,009 reduced-price lunches to students every day. The number reects 47 percent of all lunches the district serves, Lisa Wood, resource manager in the Food and Nu trition Services Department, tells The Saraso ta News Leader this week. However, that number is changing daily, Wood says. One hundred to 200 applications a day are still coming in, Wood adds. This school year, Wood expects to see the district hit the 50 percent mark for the total number of stu dents receiving free or reduced-price meals. That is about the same percentage district staff recorded last year, she says. The Sarasota City Commission stipulated earlier this year that parking enforcement for St. Ar mands Circle be no different than it is for downtown Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 63 Could Sarasota County adopt a domestic partner registry identical to the one recently approved by the city? Perhaps, according to County Commissioner Carolyn Mason, who says she plans to formally introduce the idea after the November elections. The City Com mission voted unanimously Oct. 1 to approve the registry, which would grant unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, rights such as hospital visitation. Former City Com missioner Ken Shelin has been instrumental in moving that policy forward, and he is working behind the scenes now to convince the county to follow in the citys footsteps. Shelin tells The Sarasota News Leader he reached out to Mason rst. I had gone to her some time ago about the possibility of doing this and she was sympathetic, he says. Mason had indicated in an Oct. 4 email to a constituent that she would bring up the issue this week, but she decided to hold off till the commissions makeup is clear i.e., after the elections. OCT. 16 When Tom Barwin took ofce as Sarasota city manager on Sept. 4, he had a list of 15 names as prospects for police chief, including three women. Barwin quickly slashed that list to seven, then ve names. The three men and two women on paper looked equally qualied, some a little stronger in one area than oth ers, but all solid professionals. After a public meet-and-greet on Oct. 5, however, a number of citizens quietly said, Its the two women; its got to be, as the nal nalists. The fol lowing day, the ve were grilled by panels of bureaucrats, citizen leaders and cops. The whispers were the same. All three men, while professionals, were wooden and stiff. The meet-and-greet was a test of their human and political skills, and they could not compare to the African-American female deputy chief of the Richmond, VA, Police Department or the female chief of the Ocean City, MD, Po lice Department. While the women were the youngest candidates, between them was a vast difference in one specic type of experience: Mayor Suzanne Atwell (left) and City Manager Tom Barwin (second from left) join Sarasota Police Chief Mikel Hollaway (second from right) and City Commissioner Willie Shaw (right) in listening to remarks by newly appointed Police Chief Bernadette DiPino on Oct. 16. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 64 Deputy Chief Tonya Vincent had no familiarity in collective bargaining with a police union. Chief Bernadette DiPino had spent 12 years struggling with a union. The decision was City Manager Barwins alone. He had been in ofce seven weeks. On Oct. 16, he announced at a press conference that DiPino was his choice. DiPino will begin work on Jan. 1. Current Chief Mikel Hollaway agreed to extend his tenure to Dec. 31, from Oct. 31. The Sarasota County School Board chambers has a standing-room-only audience as support ers of three charter schools up for approval await the boards decision. On a unanimous vote, Sarasota Academy of the Arts wins the boards approval. The other two applicants The Classical Academy of Sarasota and the Florida Center for Early Childhood Starsh Academy are voted down. Being a char ter school gives us the opportunity to expose more children to the arts and affords more students in the community a chance to par ticipate in the arts in a small school setting, says Cecilia Blankenship, the new principal of Sarasota Academy of the Arts. Kathryn Shea, president of the Starsh Academy, says, We respect the decision of the board. The last thing I want to have happen is to start this and fail. Shea said she plans to make changes in the school plans, as recommended by Sarasota County district staff and the board, and apply again next year. OCT. 17 After owning a house on Siesta Key for a couple of years, Anthony and Cheri Bonasto nally decided during the summer to make the island their full-time home. Instead of just puttering around as retirees, they also decided to build upon the experiences they gained as caterers in Houston to start a foodtruck business in Siesta Village. Weve been watching this industry just kind of explode, Cheri Bonasto tells The Sarasota New Leader Were giving it a shot. The Bonastos have applied for a temporary use permit to open It is standing room only in the audience for the Sarasota County School Boards vote on three new char ter school applications. Photo by Scott Proftt
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 65 their new food-truck business, Gumbo Mojo, on public right of way on Canal Road at the intersection of Calle Menorca, across from the Siesta Market and Siesta Key Hardware plaza. T he noise ordinance is one of several third rails in Sarasota city politics. The people re sponsible for it are older, wealthier and far more likely to vote than the people who hate it who are younger, less afuent and far less likely to vote in city elections. Voters with money versus youngsters with ampli ed guitars? For politicians, this is a no-brain er. Therefore, when city Commissioner Paul Caragiulo calls for a town-hall-style meeting to take testimony on the decade-old noise or dinance, more than one eyebrow is arched in the downtown condos. My purpose is to have an open discussion on the noise ordinance, says Caragiulo at the start of the meeting. There is no information or any proposal on the table. I just want to hear from you. He gets an earful for two hours. What he does with that earful is going to be anybodys guess. OCT. 23 A County Commission vote is unanimous re garding use of future revenue to manage en vironmentally sensitive lands, but it follows about 20 minutes of discussion over lack of codied policy relative to past use of funds for the same purpose. Commissioners were surprised to learn about that lack of written policy. The vote authoriz es county staff to proceed with processing a proposed comprehensive plan amendment to allow for a portion of revenue from the sale of transfers of development rights (TDRs) to be used for the management of property in the countys Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP). The Sarasota County commissioners ask County Administrator Randall Reid to pro vide them updates on measures he and other administrative staff take to resolve problems agged in audits by the Sarasota County Clerk of Courts Ofce. The commissioners want to avoid a repeat of situations that led to the Procurement Department scandal in 2011, they tell Reid. The discussion follows Clerk of Circuit Court Karen Rushings presentatio n Tony and Cheri Bonasto/Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 66 of her ofces latest audit report during the commissions regular meeting in Sarasota. That audit examined the countys permit and impact fees. The reports synopsis says, The permitting and impact fee assessment and col lection process is complex and there are not written guidelines or procedures documenting this process. Undercharges and overcharges were noted during the audit Tony and Cheri Bonasto say they have too many [locations in mind] to list them all just moments after the Sarasota County Commis sion denies their request to operate a food truck business off Canal Road in Siesta Village. Were just going to move on, Tony Bonas to tells The Sarasota News Leader This is just the beginning, Cheri Bonasto adds. They decline to offer any specics about the other sites. Cheri says they prefer to make sure they have plans rmed up before seeking board ap proval again. The County Commission denial is unanimous, with Commissioner Jon Thax ton making the motion and Commissioner Nora Patterson seconding it. Calling himself a big fan of food trucks, Thaxton adds, I think theyre funky. I think theyre cool. How ever, he says, the Bonastos application was for a private business that would be operated o n a public right of way. This board has strug gled for as long as Ive been sitting here, and, frankly, much longer than my tenure here, at trying to maintain a balance in Siesta Key Vil lage that keeps the harmony between resi dents and commercial [operations], Thaxton says. Im not a big fan of imposing on that very delicate balance something that could disrupt [it], he adds. I sincerely hope that there is another location that the truck can nd. Pedestrians long have complained of the difculty of reaching Bayfront Park from downtown Sara sota. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 67 OCT. 24 The City of Sarasota Firefighters Pension Board has complied with a city request to drop its estimated rate of return, but in a way unlike the two other boards overseeing city pensions. Facing millions in pension short falls, the City Commission recently requested all three boards cut their estimated rates of return on investments to 7 percent. Two did so the Police Pension Board and the General Employees Pension Board. Each of the three boards is totally independent, a fact that man ifests itself in various ways. For example, the Police and General Employees boards exclude management and operational fees from their expected rates of return. The reghters pen sion fund includes a fee of one-half percent. Therefore, the Fireghters pension plan rate of return at 7 percent translates into an actual rate of return of 6.5 percent, once the manage ment and operational fees are subtracted. The board recognizes that difference and votes to cut its estimated rate of return to 7.5 percent. It has been a year of changes for the City of Sarasota, changes at the top of the bureau cracy. Two of those transitions already have been completed, with a new city manager and new police chief named. Three more are com ing. Human Resources Director Kurt Hovert er conrms he is extending the search time for a new nance director and a new utilities director. Meanwhile, Hoverter is drafting yet another advertisement for the opening of a city department head position his own. He plans to retire soon as well. OCT. 30 Sarasotas Downtown Improvement District gives support to a plan to study a pedestrian overpass across U.S. 41 at the bayfront. The idea goes back to 1959. Gil Waters was one of the original proponents of the overpass, and at 86, he is still pushing to complete the plan to bring downtown and the bayfront together as a walkable whole. He started a new org a nization Sarasota Vision to make his case. The group has offered $200,000 as seed money for design and engineering work. It increases commercial vitality, it offers a complete shopping and pleasurable experi ence and it provides a safe and scenic bridge to walk over U.S. 41 to the bayfront and Island Park, says Waters of his vision. Its not too late, but it certainly isnt too soon. Waters is a former city commissioner, news reporter and property developer. Waters says he was asking for the districts support prior to going before the Sarasota City Commission and then to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, in search of fund ing. The overpass is estimated to cost about $3 million. % Take Your Time You Have All Week Enjoy The News Leader Anytime Day or Night
NOV. 5 Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell rails against The Sylint Group, the local cyber-sleuth rm that uncovered anecdotally a raft of problems in the citys Information Technology Depart ment, including allegations of illegal actions by the former city manager and current depu ty city manager. City Manager Bob Bartolotta resigned amid the furor. Im very frustrated and angry, Atwell says. This has been about a year, us sitting here at the mercy of Mr. Jor gensen. The cancer isnt on the city, it is [on] the reckless accusations of our workers. Its time to exonerate those most egregiously affected by this. It is time to end this, Atwell adds. It turns out she received a letter on Nov. 2 from the Florida Department of Law En forcement. saying the investigation requested by the City Commission into the citys comput er issues is completed and FDLE believes that no probable cause exists to support a vi able criminal charge and no further action is warranted. T he Mess at Mound is a molar-grinding problem for neighbors living south of Hudson Bayou. Time and again, sewage spills into the bayou and immediately into the bay from City of Sarasota utility stations. After the neigh bors found out the stations were squatting on non-city land, and they counted up the en vironmental nes and penalties the city was incurring as a result of its failing system, the political stars suddenly seemed to align for a multi-million dollar, state-of-the art lift sta tion and innovative tunnel to be built under the bayou to move the efuent. Under the plan, Osprey Avenue would be closed (and lat er partially closed) at Mound Street while en gineers constructed the station and punched the tunnel directly under the bayou bridge. Four years after the engineering began, the project is a shambles. Construction law attor ney Alan Tannenbaum, with the Sarasota and Clearwater rm Tannenbaum Scro Hanewich & Alpert, asks the city commissioners, Is this a problem with design or construction or both? We found fault on bot h the contractor Sarasota City Hall/Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: NOVEMBER LOOKING BACK
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 69 and the engineering rm. City Manager Tom Barwin says city staff has worked hard to get the engineering rm of AECOM Technology Corp. to produce a workable plan. But on Nov. 2, the company failed to produce such a plan and was found in default. Tannenbaum says, We will terminate the contract and the city will search for a new engineering rm. The [construction] contractor is expected to sub mit a signicant change order for the down time and another when the project gears back up with good engineering. While wrangling continues over the timeline for renovations of the Siesta Public Beach, one previously stalled part of the project is moving forward: the construction of the new stormwater system. Just as project engineer Curtis Smith had predicted for members of the Siesta Key Association on Sept. 6, the $1.5 million project went out for bid this month, with all responses requested by 2:30 p.m. Nov. 28. Its a terric milestone to reach, he tells The Sarasota News Leader NOV. 6 Sarasota City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadali ni hoped voters would eliminate problems caused by her inability to obtain a surety bond as required by the city charter. On Election Day, voters face a so-called housekeeping amendment to the city charter. It contains 17 different items, one of which is tailor-made to cure Nadalinis no-bond problem. The char ter change proposal would allow insurance to take the place of a bond. Bonds, of course, are different from insurance. However, under a le gal ction dubbed functional equivalence created by City Attorney Bob Fournier the city commissioners would have had a g leaf to hide behind when questioned about why their auditor and clerk did not have a bond to protect the city as required by the charter. The g leaf option is no longer. By the greatest margin of any amendment vote, city citizens reject the housekeeping proposal, with 62 percent voting against it. The sign marking work on a new city lift station near Mound Street continued to look good while the project deteriorated. Photo by Norman Schimmel Pam Nadalini/Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 70 Adding his frustrations to those voiced just a couple of hours earlier at the monthly Sies ta Key Village Association meeting, Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta demands to know during his boards regular meeting why everybodys frozen in place on the Sies ta Public Beach improvements project. More over, the countys chief engineer reports to the County Commission that an open-house meeting on the project scheduled for Nov. 13 on Siesta Key might have to be postponed. Barbetta points out that when the board last saw the plans for the improvements, in June, the board asked staff to move ahead expedi tiously with completing the design work and proposing funding options, including use of bond revenue, because construction costs and interest rates were low and jobs were needed. The Sarasota News Leader learns City Audi tor and Clerk Pam Nadalini has secured one quote from a bonding company, although two sources say the rates are roughly 20 times the amount paid for the same coverage for the other city ofcials required to have bonds. City Human Resources Director Kurt Hovert er says he is shopping for a lower-cost bond with other venders, and he said he might save a few thousand dollars over the rst gure he received. In 2011, staff presented to the County Commission a possible three-phase plan for accelerating the com pletion of the Siesta Public Beach improvements. Graphic courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 71 NOV. 8 The third annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition, which is sponsored jointly by Mote Marine Laboratory and the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, gets under way, with the proceeds going to the very important sea turtle research and con servation programs at Mote. Master sculptors have come from all over the world to compete for a rst prize of $5,000. In the space of four days, they will take their assigned spots, along with their sand allotments, and make magic. Using only sand, water and various tools, they are truly amazing to watch, these artists who craft something out of nothing. Twelve pairs are competing, from as far away as Singapore. Siestas own local master sculptor, Brian Wi gelsworth, is working with partner Andy Dai ly to add some fun, non-competitive art for holiday photos. Wigelsworth is the one who had the imagination and foresight to put this whole event together. Fossil Fuel picked up the rst-place trophy this year in the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition. Photo by Peter Acker/courtesy the Crystal Classic On Nov. 9, details of mans face already are clear in Fine Print. Among that ne print: Blows money on toys; Loves his car; and Pro crastinator. The sculpture won second-place honors. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 72 NOV. 13 The Community Alliance of Sarasota County presents its 2012 legislative priorities to one incumbent state representative and staffers for other Florida lawmakers, with one mes sage standing out: Stop ghting Obamacare. The Alliance, a coalition of nonprot health and human services organizations, holds its Second Annual Legislative Breakfast to di rectly communicate its legislative goals to the Sarasota County delegation. Representa tives from organizations such as the Nation al Association of Social Workers, First Step of Sarasota and the Early Learning Coalition line up to lay out their hopes for the Florida Legislatures spring session, which convenes March 5. NOV. 14 The surprise is not that the Walmart store proposed on Charles Ringling Boulevard is approved. The surprise is that two Sarasota Planning board members voice serious rea sons to vote against it. By all appearances, this was an open-and-shut case. The grow ing-ever-emptier Ringling Shopping Center, at 97,000 square feet, would be replaced by a 98,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter with a grocery. Every metric zoning, city codes, parking requirements, trafc had a green light from city staff. Even the associations for the two adjacent neighborhoods had not opposed the project. Those same two neigh borhoods Alta Vista and the Gardens of Ringling Park fought Ron Burks high-rise School Avenue project to a standstill several years ago, but this time they were muted. Sarasota Planning Board member Jennifer Ahearn-Koch notes during the boards Nov. 14 discus sion that the existing shopping center on Ringling is an assembly of small shops, and a Walmart does not belong there. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 73 NOV. 16 Using two staging areas Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota and Cranberry Elementary School in North Port volunteers for the Mayors Feed the Hungry Program box up more than 44 tons of food for area residents who oth erwise would not enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, Scott Biehler, vice chairman of the program, tells The Sarasota News Leader The food is scheduled to be delivered to 25 different food pantries in Sarasota and Manatee counties, he says, but the need for assistance continues to grow in the area. Weve seen a lot of people who have given to the food pantries in the past are coming to the food pantries them selves now, he adds. NOV. 19 If charter ofcials do not perform as expect ed, they can be removed by a simple majority of three commissioners. After her selection as city auditor and clerk on Feb. 25, 2010, Pam Nadalini fought a bureaucratic battle that led to the dismissal of her bte noire City Man ager Bob Bartolotta, enabling her to take con trol of the citys Information Technology De partment from the City Managers Ofce. For nearly three years, she stood in violation of a requirement in the city charter that she hold a surety bond; and for two years, she man aged to keep that a secret from the City Com mission. And she withstands a no-condence motion at the City Commission meeting when nobody wants to second it. Kurt Hoverter, the city HR director, says the rates for the com ing year for $100,000 in bond coverage will be $444 for City Manager Tom Barwin, $507 for Finance Director Chris Lyons and $9,350 for Nadalini. In other words, Nadalinis bond is 20 times more expensive than Barwins. The amount is too much for Commissioner Turner. Now we have quantitative evidence her integ rity is one-twentieth that of Mr. Barwin and Mr. Lyons. Her unknown personal activities clearly disqualify her from ofce, he adds. His motion to terminate Nadalini for cause fails. When the Sarasota City commissioners yanked the parking meters out of downtown last year, they created a uniform parking poli cy but did not bother to tell the merchants and residents of St. Armands about it. Suddenly, what was unfettered and free became timed and policed. When the tickets appeared last month and word began to circulate, a political storm started to brew. Seven weeks later, the city is making everything as it was before the uniform policy was adopted. City workers are un-striping the new stripes, re-signing the new signs and un-enforcing the new rules because the new rules no longer apply. After St. Armands merchants and property owners trooped to City Hall on Nov. 5, the commis sioners ordered staffers to consult on the mat ter and nd an agreeable solution. When the staffers return, the solution for the commis sion is to throw in the towel and return to the status quo ante Boxes of food donated for the Mayors Feed the Hungry Program are marked according to contents at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Photos by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 74 NOV. 20 With a number of county and municipal lead ers joining members of the public to witness the proceedings, the three Sarasota County commissioners formally elected on Nov. 6 raise their right hands and take the oath of ofce Nov. 20. Chief Judge Andrew D. Owens Jr. of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court does the honors, with Commissioners Charles Hines, Carolyn Mason and Christine Robinson re peating the oath after him. Hines won his seat in the August primary, while Mason was un challenged for a second term on the board. Robinson beat her Democratic opponent in the General Election to win her rst full term on the commission. Then-Gov. Charlie Crist appointed her to the board in late 2010 to serve out the unexpired term of Commission er Shannon Staub. With Robinson and Hines both from the Venice area, murmurs of excite ment could be heard among South County lo cal government ofcials before the ceremony even began. Commissioner Christine Robinson is joined by her husband, Eric, and their three children after the swearing-in ceremony on Nov. 20: (from left) Johnny, 7; Madi Grace, 4; and E.J., 8. Photo by Norman Schimmel Newly elected Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines takes the oath of ofce surrounded by his family: (from left) son Grifn, mother-in-law Elsie Hamrick, wife Susan, daughter Bailey, son Preston and mother Avis Hines. Photo by Norman Schimmel
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 75 NOV. 26 The North Port City Commission slams the brakes on a process designed to solicit ideas to redevelop Warm Mineral Springs during an adversarial and, at times, downright snide public meeting. The commission gathered to consider going forward with an Invitation to Negotiate, which would allow private de velopers to put forward their ideas for how to redevelop Warm Mineral Springs, the 87-de gree Fountain of Youth jointly purchased by North Port and Sarasota County in 2010. The Invitation to Negotiate process was set in mo tion in July during a joint city-county meeting, at which both commissions unanimously vot ed to begin soliciting long-term plans for the property. But that plan comes to a halt when the North Port commission led by Mayor Linda Yates and two newly elected commis sioners shoots down a motion to approve the Invitation to Negotiate. Yates, who voted in favor of the Invitation to Negotiate in July, raises several concerns about the plan, from the makeup of the selection and negotiation teams that would evaluate the developers ideas to what she called a scarcity of scien tic data. NOV. 27 The local chapter of the American Civil Lib erties Union of Florida holds a City Hall lawn press conference with chapter Legal Chairman Michael Bareld blasting the Sarasota Police Department for what he calls a culture of contempt and disrespect for the citys home less. Bareld works from a 98-page compen dium of police text messages sent between cruisers. He has led suit in federal court over the citys treatment of the homeless. NOV. 28 It took only one crack in the dike to send a ood over the City Commissions policy of uniform parking regulations for the entire city. That crack was created by St. Armands Key merchants. Their squeals of pain caused the commissioners to declare unconditional surrender on Nov. 19 and allow that shopping district to revert to age-old regulations. Now the citys Parking Committee hears Parking Manager Mark Lyons say all eight of the citys parking districts will soon be considered for individual regulations. The uniform policy is dead, dead, dead. % Someone you know needs Planned Parenthood Lifesaving cancer screenings Parent & teen education Annual GYN exams Birth controlPlanned Parenthood Of Southwest And Central FloridaSarasota 941-953-4060MyPlannedParenthood.org Never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake. Napoleon
DEC. 3 It will take about as long to build Lift Station 87 at Luke Wood Park as it did to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu near Cairo, Egypt. Work on the citys star-crossed sewage pump ing facility began in 2008, after repeated fail ures at Lift Station 7 led to spills of hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into Hudson Bayou and on into Sarasota Bay. The latest estimate for completion indicates the work will be complete in 2015. The mi cro-tunneling under the bayou required clo sure of the northbound lane of Osprey Ave nue, causing annoyance in the neighborhoods south of Mound Street, such as Avondale. Some of the disturbance halted projects, snarled trafc, defaulted contractors, lawsuits is remedied when the Sarasota City Com mission approves a $750,000 change order for a contractor to reopen Osprey Avenue within 30 days and mothball its all-but-nished lift station. DEC. 4 Call it the slo-mo appeal. So far it has come in fragments an email one day, a payment another day and a written form on a third. The objective is to obtain a rehearing by the Sarasota City Commission of a Nov. 14 split decision by the Planning Board to approve the construction of a Walmart to replace the Ringling Shopping Center in downtown Sara sota. The actual appeal itself is nally led. The required $1,597 ling fee was paid on Dec. 3. City staff received an email on Nov. 26 sug gesting an appeal would be led. That was the last day, by law, that a notice of appeal could be led following the Planning Board decision. Workers continue to clean up the work site for Lift Station 87, near Mound Street and U.S. 301 just outside downtown Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel YEAR IN REVIEW: DECEMBER
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 77 Sa rasota County has recovered $23,750,000, or about 70 percent of the $34 million it lost in investments during what Karen Rushing, clerk of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, refers to as the world nancial crisis of 2008-09. In her routine report to the County Commission, Rushing says Wells Fargo agreed to settle a lawsuit the county led in June 2010 against Wachovia which Wells Fargo later acquired for the loss of those millions through an asset-backed security issue involving Lehman Brothers Holdings and the countys securities lending contract. The Sarasota County School District saw a 7 percent increase in its graduation rate from the 2010-11 school year to the 2011-12 school year, Steve Cantees, executive direc tor of Sarasota County High Schools, tells the School Board members during their nal meeting of the year. Since 1999, he says, the district and state rates have climbed almost 20 percent. School Board member Frank Kovach points out that the state graduation rate and the countys rate are converging. State data shows a 74.5 percent high school graduation rate for students across the state in 2011-12, compared to the 77.96 percent rate in Saraso ta County. DEC. 6 Residents of Terrace East and directors of the Siesta Key Association indicate they will oppose requests for two variances that will be addressed by the Sarasota County Com mission on Jan. 9. Both petitions involve con struction of new Beach Road homes with swimming pools and decks, paver driveways and landscape retaining walls about 200 feet seaward of the countys Gulf Beach Setback Line. Peter van Roekens, vice president of the SKA, notes the two lots have been beneath the Gulf of Mexico in the past. He has photos as proof for the County Commission, he points out. Sarasota Countys 2050 plan may not make it past 2013 intact. On Sept. 18, the Sarasota County Commis sion instructed staff to meet with developers who have had rsthand experience dealing with Sarasota 2050, the ambitious and de tailed document created to guide develop ment in the countys eastern portions. The idea: to generate ideas for how to update the The School Board members consider business during their last meeting of the year. Photo by Scott Proftt A Sarasota County Geographic Information Sys tems map shows the two lots that are the focus of the variance requests on Beach Road: 0080-240027 and 0080-24-0028, to the left of the Terrace building. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 78 2050 plan, a move which has environmental and managed growth advocates concerned. Originally approved a decade ago, the 2050 plan was intended to encourage developers working outside the countys Urban Service Area Boundary to incorporate green space into their designs and to ght urban sprawl and reduce automobile trafc as the countys population increases. DEC. 10 A one-acre parcel sparks a broad community discussion about the future of the Rosemary District. City Manager Tom Barwin opens the meeting by saying the city-owned land could be a catalyst for redevelopment of the histor ically depressed area adjacent to downtown, north of Fruitville Road. The catalyst to which Barwin refers is the old Community Garden parcel on Sixth Street (aka Boulevard of the Arts). It lies adjacent to a city-owned parking lot on Fifth Street; together, they com prise just a tad more than one acre. DEC. 11 After close to two hours of discussion and public comments combined, the Sarasota County Commission votes unanimously to authorize staff to complete the design of the Siesta Public Beach project and put it out for bid, with the cost not to exceed $21.5 million. The amount includes $16.7 million estimated for the actual construction, with the rest al located to engineering and architectural con sulting fees. The motion also permits staff to seek supplemental bids for 10 extras for the project that the design team had suggested. Chain-link fencing surrounds the former Community Garden parcel on Boulevard of the Arts in the Rosemary District. Photo by Norman Schimmel A graphic illustration shows the proposed basic Siesta Beach park planned improve ments, at a total cost of $21.5 million. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 79 DEC. 17 Having served with Robert Waechter for years on the board of the Siesta Key Association, Lourdes Ramirez tells The Sarasota News Leader she was not surprised he had enough of her personal information to be able to use it in making a fraudulent campaign contribution in her name. Weve known each other for 10 years, she adds, though they have had little contact since she stepped down from the SKA board in 2011. Ramirez is now the president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighbor hood Associations (CONA). She served on the SKA board from 2003 until 2011; Waechter re mains on the board. Waechter, 70, a former chairman of the Sarasota County Republican Party and a member of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority, was charged Dec. 14 with a third-degree felony in connection with a $200 contribution made in Ramirez name to the congressional campaign of New College pro fessor Keith Fitzgerald. DEC. 18 The North Port City Commission agenda simply calls for a discussion about how to proceed in managing Warm Mineral Springs, the 87-degree Fountain of Youth the city co-owns with the county, but one commis sioner places a very different motion on the table. My motion is to sell the Warm Miner al Springs in its entirety to a private entity, North Port Commissioner Cheryl Cook an nounces just minutes into the commissions meeting. In less than two hours, that motion has been approved by a 3-2 majority, sending the county a clear signal that North Port has no desire to continue its joint management of the property. Robert Waechter/Contributed by Sheriffs Ofce The Sarasota County Commission appears to be on its own in deciding how to plan for the future of Warm Mineral Springs. Photo by Rachel Levey-Baker
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 80 DEC. 19 What could have been a knock-em-down disagreement over the citys noise ordinance takes on a kinder tone. Some people are stri dent, for certain. But if Santa is watching the streaming video, he adds more than a few ghters to his nice list. Even the ranting of ex-Judge Frank Brenner (Does the city need more noise?) fails to provoke an aura of hos tility. When the meeting starts, the audience of around 100 people are in chairs, standing in the back, sitting on the oor and spilling over into an adjacent room of the City Hall Annex. A stereotypist would have no problem distin guishing between the players it is youth versus age. Neither side walked in prepared to give an inch. Many people walk away feeling a little of the others pain, and ready just maybe to consider some modication to the citys entertainment-smothering blanket ordinance. % Purchase a full-page, advertising twelve pack between now and January 31st, 2013 and receive four of these fantastic SNL 16oz Tervis Tumblers. Show your support for e Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida around the house, around the oce, wherever you go with these locally manufactured, high-quality insulated tumblers. Sales@SarasotaNewsLeader.com or (941) 227-1080 Advertisers must meet all terms and conditions of sale for the 12-pack advertising package. Limit of one set of four tumblers per advertiser. Offer is valid while supplies last. Tervis is a registered trademark of Tervis Tumbler Company. The Sarasota News Leader is not afliated with Tervis Tumbler Company. A Very Special Oer For Advertisers Press Releases & News Tips News@SarasotaNewsLeader.com
Osprey Avenue south of Mound Street has re opened to two-way trafc, the City of Sarasota announced. Construction activity will continue through Jan. 18 within this corridor to complete the nal restoration work, a city news release says. Trafc will be maintained on Osprey Avenue through this timeframe, the release adds. The sawhorses blocking drivers access to Osprey Avenue from Mound Street were still in place until a few days ago. Photo by Norman Schimmel OSPREY AVENUE REOPENS TO TRAFFIC NEWS BRIEFS This portion of Osprey Avenue had been tem porarily closed because of the construction of Lift Station No. 87 in nearby Luke Wood Park, the release points out. Click here to read an update regarding the project. Timed parking enforcement in Southside Vil lage has gone into effect Monday through Fri day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the City of Sarasota has announced. No timed enforcement is in effect on Satur days and Sundays, a city news release says. SOUTHSIDE VILLAGE PARKING ENFORCEMENT CHANGES Parking signs are being changed to reect the new hours, the release adds. For parking updates follow the Sarasota Park ing Department on Twitter www.Twitter. com/SRQParking or visit www.SarasotaPD. org and click Parking.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 82 Six of eight high schools in the Sarasota Coun ty School District received an A in the grade report released Dec. 21 by the Florida Depart ment of Education, the district announced. Four of the Schools North Port, Riverview, Sarasota and Sarasota Military Academy improved their grade from a B last year to an A this year. Two high schools received a B. None of the districts comprehensive high schools was graded lower than a B, a district news re lease points out. Additionally, no district high school received a lower grade than it earned last year. The district continues to be graded an A district overall, the news release notes. Grades for elementary and middle schools were released in July. High school grades were not reported at that time because the Department of Education had added new ac countability components to the high school grading process, the release notes. Under the new system, 50 percent of a schools grade is based on 2012 state assessment scores, including the FCAT, and 50 percent is based on the schools graduation rate, the number of students who take advanced-place ment courses, the number of students who pass advanced-placement examinations and indicators of student readiness for college. Oak Park School, a district facility for stu dents with severe or multiple exceptionalities from elementary grades through high school, received an F grade. It was included in the report because it serves high school students and is categorized as a combination school, the news release notes. The Sarasota County School District has released the grades for all of its high schools. Chart courtesy the school district SIX OF EIGHT COUNTY HIGH SCHOOLS WIN A GRADES
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 83 Karen E. Rushing, clerk of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court and county comptroller, has published the Sarasota County Comprehen sive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the scal year that ended Sept. 30. The report may be found online at the clerks website, www. SarasotaClerk.com keyword search CAFR, the county has announced. The report can be downloaded in PDF format or read online in eBook reader format. The report provides a detailed analysis of the countys nancial condition at the time, said Sarasota County Director of Finance Peter Ramsden in a news release. What the report shows is that Sarasota County government is on solid nancial ground with a good credit rating, while continuing to recover from the recession. Chapter 218.32 of the Florida Statutes stipu lates that each local gov ernment entity that is re quired to provide for an audit in accordance with Chapter 218.39 must sub mit an annual financial report with the audit re port no later than nine months after the end of the scal year, the news release notes. In keeping with Saraso ta Countys established debt policy, the county took advantage of favor able conditions in the debt market by refunding several of its outstanding debt issues at lower interest rates, resulting in net present value savings of $6,115,837, the release points out. The bonds refunded were the Sales Tax Rev enue Bonds, Capital Improvement Refunding Revenue Bonds and Utility System Revenue Bonds, the release says. The countys investment portfolio has earned an average return of 2.63 percent over the past three scal years, the release adds. The invest ment policy was established by ordinance in 1989; it stresses the safety of capital as the top priority, the release says. The Government Finance Ofcers Association of the United States and Canada awarded a Certicate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to Sarasota County for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2011, the 28th consecutive year the county received this award, the release points out. To be awarded that certif icate, a government unit must publish an easily readable and efciently organized Comprehen sive Annual Financial Report whose contents conform to program stan dards, the news release notes. Such reports must satis fy both generally accept ed accounting principles and applicable legal re quirements, the release adds. Karen Rushing/Contributed COUNTY ISSUES COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 84 Sarasota County government ofces and ser vices will be closed Tuesday, Jan. 1, for the New Years holiday, the county has announced. Libraries and parks, including Payne Park Tennis Center and Arlington Park pool, will be closed, a county news release says. Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) and Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) service will not be offered and administrative ofces will be closed, the release adds. Residents who live in unincorporated areas of the county will not have any collection of yard waste, recyclables or garbage on Jan. 1, the release points out. Residents whose reg ular collection days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday will have their collection day for yard waste, recyclables and garbage moved to the next day in the week. For ex SARASOTA COUNTY OFFICES TO CLOSE FOR NEW YEARS HOLIDAY ample, residents with a regular collection day on Tuesday will see materials collected on Wednesday, the release points out. Because collection times vary, residents should place refuse at the curb by 6 a.m. the day of pickup, the release adds. Sarasota Countys chemical collection centers at 8750 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, and 250 S. Jackson Road, Venice, will be closed. The Citizens Convenience Center at 4010 Knights Trail Road, Nokomis, and the landll at 4000 Knights Trail Road, Sarasota, as well as the landll administration ofces, will be closed. For more information, visit www.scgov.net or contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000. % Enter To Win A New iPad e contest concludes when e Sarasota News Leader achieves 1,000 Likes on Facebook, One winner will be selected at random from among subscribers. Only subscribers are eligible to win the iPad, regardless of having Liked our page on Facebook. Contest is open only to residents of Sarasota County. Selected winners must provide a valid Sarasota County street address to receive the iPad. Contest is void where prohibited by law. 2 Then Like Us On Facebook When our Likes on Facebook reach 1,000, we will randomly select one of our subscribers to receive a new iPad. 1 Click here to Subscribe
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EDITORIAL & COMMENTARY The Sarasota News Leader wishes to thank our thousands of readers for their acceptance of our new publication, and our advertisers for their generous support. We wish for everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.
Featuring Sarasota Leisure Inside ART INVASION ASK OTUS SARASOTA LEISURE
A few consecutive days out of every year, the city of Miami is transformed by artists, art acionados and art dealers into one of the largest celebrations of art appreciation in the world, all centered on the international exhi bition Art Basel in Miami Beach. This year, more than 50,000 visitors swarmed the massive Miami Beach Convention Center between the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 5, and the evening of Sunday, Dec. 9, to feast their eyes on or purchase some of the most fa mous and sought-after art pieces in the world. The ofcial Art Basel exhibition, however, was only one part of the weekends festivities, which included numerous unafliated satel lite fairs, private gallery exhibitions, musical performances, parties and more, all spread throughout the city. Every genre, style and subculture of art was represented, from the classical to the contemporary, the structured to the experimental, the mainstream to the un derground. For the right price, patrons had the opportunity to admire high-end gallery pieces, or, for no price at all, passersby could witness pieces of street art being brought to life in real time and in open daylight. In the words of rst-time Art Basel patron Ri cardo Maldonado, who spoke with The Sara sota News Leader inside the convention cen ter on Dec. 7, Art just takes over Miami for the weekend in every way possible, and every ones involved in it. Various pieces on display in the Mike Weiss Gallery exhibition at Art Miami in Miami, Dec. 8: (foreground) Liao Yibais 2011 stainless steel sculpture Chairmans Chair; (background) Jan De Vlieghers Antique Porcelain Plate Series multiple paintings with no dates listed. On tables fur ther to the right are more pieces by Yibai. All photos by Arielle Scherr STREETS FLOOD WITH PEOPLE FOR ART BASEL IN MIAMI BEACH ART INVASION By Tyler Whitson Staff Writer
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 89 This sheer volume of activity made it virtually impossible for any one visitor to experience all that Miami had to offer the weekend of Art Basel. Shrewd attendees could nd ways to maximize their experiences while spending little money by choosing the right events and submitting RSVPs ahead of time, but trafc congestion and a scarcity of available parking spaces made it difcult to traverse the city in a timely manner. In spite of this, there were a few essential ac tivities that could not be missed. ART BASEL Art Basel offi cially opened to the public this year on Thurs day, Dec. 6, af ter an invite-on ly pre-opening the day before. It consisted of more than 250 exhibitions, each organized by its respective gal lery owner, who came from 31 dif ferent countries. The fair, which was arranged in a minimal, open fashion that al lowed visitors to roam freely be tween galleries, was the main attraction for many of Miamis international visitors, some of whom attended to purchase art for public or private institu tions and galleries. The majority of patrons, however, attended Art Basel for the experience of taking in the art pieces, both individually and in the con text of the almost unfathomably extensive exhibition. Michael Kutno and Carol Anker, who have gone to Art Basel every year for the past several years and plan to con tinue the ritual, described the fair to the News Leader in glow ing words. Art Basel is like a heavenly experience for art, Kutno said. Its just such a wonderful space thats filled up with all of this magic. You just feel great and you cant stop smil ing. Your cheeks hurt from smiling so much! Anker added that she appreciates the inspiration Michael Kutno and Carol Anker with Jon Pylypchuks 2012 installation I Wont Give up on You in the Fred ric Snitzer Gallery at Art Basel in Miami on Dec. 7. Kutno and Anker told the News Leader that afternoon they had felt drawn to the piece, which caught their attention while they were viewing a nearby gallery.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 90 Yinka Shonibares 2012 piece Boy on Tightrope, on display in the James Cohan Gallery exhibition at Art Basel. Construction materials consist of a mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, berglass, leather and rope.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 91 that Art Basel engenders in visitors. You get a lot of great ideas just being here, just absorb ing what people are saying to you and how they are representing themselves, she said. Its just a surprise at every corner. Those attending the exhibition for the rst time, however, needed more time to gain their bearings than the aforementioned Art Basel veterans. Arielle Clay, who had recently ar rived at the convention center, described her initial impression to the News Leader Its very overwhelming, she said. Its so hard to understand it until youre here, and nobody can really explain it to you. For the gallery owners exhibiting at Art Ba sel and the artists with whom they work on a regular basis, the show is more of an oppor tunity than an experience, and it is often the culmination of an extended period of tireless preparation and effort. Fredric Snitzer, owner of the Fredric Snitzer Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art and happens to be located in Miami, explained to the News Leader just how the pieces that his gallery exhibits at Art Basel are chosen. We plan a year in advance, he said. Our art ists usually produce work with the intention of being in the fair, and then we select the works that we think are the strongest. Simone Schmid with James Rosenquists painting Ladies of the Opera Terrace in the Wetterling Gallery exhibition at Art Miami in Miami on Dec. 8. Schmid told the News Leader that afternoon that she built her gallerys exhibition around the piece, which was commissioned for a restaurant in Stockholm in 1986. It measures 7.5 feet in height by 21 feet in length.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 92 The Fredric Snitzer Gallery is not alone in reserving material exclusively for Art Basel. Howard Greenberg, owner of the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City, which specializes in 20th century and contemporary photography, also used this years exhibition to debut some pieces to the world. In this fair, we lean a little bit more towards contemporary, because we think its the right thing to bring, he told the News Leader Were bringing some new work by some im portant photographers, things that havent been seen before and some really great vin tage photographs as well. Among the new pieces to which Greenberg was referring were those by artists Ed Burtyn sky and Joel Meyerowitz, while some of the vintage photographs were by William Klein. Mary Davidson, vice president of the Max Da vidson Gallery, also located in New York City, explained to the News Leader the rationale behind the selectivity of galleries exhibiting at Art Basel, which she described as this won derful creature that attracts everybody from all over the world. The fair, she said, demands [the best]. The collectors that come here demand [the best]. So we think all year about what were going to bring here and some things we keep espe cially for it. Pieces on display in the Haunch of Venison exhibition at Art Miami on Dec. 8: (foreground) Kevin Francis Grays 2012 sculpture Temporal Sitter, constructed from polished bronze and Bardigilio marble; (background) Chiharu Shiotas 2012 piece State of Being (Wedding Kimono), constructed from metal, kimono and black thread.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 93 ART MIAMI Art Miami, the largest unafliated satellite exhibition of Art Basel, is set up in essential ly the same format as the ofcial fair, albe it at a reduced scale. In spite of the smaller scope, Art Miami attracts ne art exhibitors from around the world who display instantly recognizable pieces by iconic artists alongside provocative pieces by lesser-known, contem porary artists. This year, Art Miami was extremely popular, as evidenced by the fact that the space was bustling with patrons up to the time when em ployees began to cordon off galleries and se curity guards started directing people to exit the building for the evening. Simone Schmid, director of the Wetterling Gallery, located in Stockholm, Sweden, has been exhibiting at Art Miami for many years. She told the News Leader on Dec. 8 that the fair is well worth the long trip to Miami. Its an important place for the contemporary art scene, internationally, she said. Its one of the most important art weeks in the year, so we want to be on the spot when it happens. Schmid, who has also exhibited much clos er to home at one of the unafliated satellite fairs surrounding the original Art Basel in Ba sel, Switzerland, explained that she chooses to come to Miami because the city reacts to the art fair in a unique way that provides her gallery with a greater range of opportunities for exposure and sales. Despite the fact that in Basel as in Miami there are numerous satellite fairs, she said people go only to the main fair, which is much larger than its Miami counterpart. They wont come to the other ones, she ex plained. Here in Miami, people go to the sat ellite fairs much more. I mean, its crowded in here, she continued, gesturing at the com motion in the convention center. People have more fun than they have in other cities. [The fair] is just the whole city kind of vibrating and partying and having a good time. When asked the difference between Art Mi ami and Art Basel in Miami Beach, Schmid explained that Art Miami, aside from being smaller, is more accessible for exhibitors and artists. Art Basel Miami is for really high-end pieces only, so its hard to nd upcoming art ists there at all, she said. Here at Art Miami you have quite the mixture of very established artists, but you can still nd some younger art ists that are not as high-end as the pieces that you nd at Art Basel Miami Beach. Caitlin Healy, a Miami local who chose Art Mi ami as the rst stop in her Art Basel-related weekend, was very satised with the pieces she saw on display at the show. Theres such a diversity, she told the News Leader Any type of art you want to see, you can see it. Asked if she had chosen a favorite piece, Healy suggested the most likely candidate was one of the controversial, transplanted Banksy pieces on display between galleries as part of an Art Miami offshoot fair called CONTEXT. Some critics, however, have deemed the ap propriation of the pieces purportedly by the anonymous artist one of which was being watched over by a security guard during the fair as hypocritical at best. Regardless, the bittersweet opportunity to see the pieces, which were in danger of being tagged or de faced in their natural habitats, was cherished by many fans.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 94 WYNWOOD Wynwood, also known as the Design District, features numerous smaller, private art galler ies that operate throughout the year. What makes Wynwood unique, however, is the fact that the art spills out of the galleries and into the streets literally gracing not only the facades of gallery buildings but local business es, sidewalks, bike racks and more. During the weekend of Art Basel, Wynwood became a street art renaissance event: People crowded the sidewalks and ooded the streets as they walked from gallery to gallery; artists expertly wielded powerful arsenals of spray paint throughout the afternoon and evening as they contributed to the vibrancy and col or of the area; DJs and live bands set up and performed on street corners; and even profes sional hairdressers offered free haircuts on the sidewalks. There was plenty to do inside as well. Many of Wynwoods galleries were open to the public until midnight, and a number of bars and clubs hosted free musical performances throughout the afternoon and evening. Tumblr Inc. even hosted a party on the night of Dec. 7 called Moving the Still, which celebrated the re surgence of the GIF format in recent years. One of many street artists works diligently to complete her piece in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami on the afternoon of Dec. 8.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 95 Those content to simply wander around the area, however, would likely have seen one or more artists working on a new piece on the side of a building every block or so. One of these artists, a rst-time Art Basel visitor from Houston, TX, who has been producing grafti art since the mid-1980s and goes by the name Gonzo247 took a short break to speak with the News Leader about his experi ence in Miami that weekend, the piece he was working on and whether he would be return ing next year. I came out here with just an open mind and really no expectations because I gured if you have expectations you might get disappoint ed, Gonzo247 explained. I think this is amazing, he said. I think that this denitely is something that at least the street art culture needs, as far as whats hap pening here in Wynwood, he continued. I think its great for the city; its great for the art scene and for all genres of art. Ive seen some super awesome ne art, some crazy street art and everything in between. Gonzo247 explained that one of his main goals for the festivities, other than to appreciate the art and have a good time, was to contribute some of his own work to the area before leav ing. For the rst part of the day, we just started talking to businesses that had been tagged and said, Hey, look, you got tagged. Whatever. Can I put something over it and make it look bet ter? Gonzo247 added that although many of the business owners he spoke to were not inter ested, one of them nally gave him permission after he apologized for whoever had tagged the building and explained that he wanted to cover up the unsightly marks. At that point, he said, it was time to get together as much spray paint as possible and start on the piece. Im doing the best that I can with what I have and the time, he said. Its a good challenge though, he continued. My goal is that the guy likes it enough that I can reserve this wall for next year and come back with a van full of paint, ladders and just rock this whole thing spend a week on it versus a day. UNTIL NEXT YEAR The day after the conclusion of Art Basel, the organizations public relations team sent an email to members of the press who had at tended the event, boasting that this years fair was praised by critics, exhibitors and visi tors as Art Basels most serious presentation in Miami Beach to date. This bold statement leaves little room to suggest that the organiz ers of Art Basel have any plans for 2013 that do not involve bringing the fair back to Miami in full force. For now, Miami has some time to recover from this years edition of Art Basel and its surrounding festivities. As the momentum builds, however, and artists and galleries be gin preparing for Art Basel in Miami Beach 2013, it will become increasingly clear that the city will be taken over by art once again. Like Gonzo247, who will be showing up in Wynwood with a van full of supplies and a head full of inspiration, many fans, other art ists and entrepreneurs are awaiting the day when it all begins again. %
ASK OTUS Dear Readers, Many of you have written to ask for the an swers to last weeks Name-That-Bird Quiz. I am delighted that so many of you took the time to take it. Good for you! It was a bit tricky. In the interest of a Happy New Year, I am giv ing the answers below, but I am including only new photos to the tricky bird identications. I do not want you staying up late New Years Eve, pouring over bird encyclopedias and missing out on a good nights sleep. Let me offer a couple of explanations why sev eral of these commonly seen birds may have been a bit difcult to identify. First, we are more likely to identify an iconic representation of a bird than not. When you see a Great Blue Heron in prole, you recog nize it immediately. A head-on shot makes one look different, even a bit whacky; same for the HOW MANY OF MY FELLOW FEATHERED FRIENDS DID YOU GUESS CORRECTLY FROM THE CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT QUIZ? Snowy Egret. File photos.
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 97 of the immature Ibis and Little Blue Heron. Tricky? No. Just downright wicked! I will point out that the photo of the immature American Bald Eagle bathing at the pond ex emplies both explanations. A view of it on the ground, bathing in the pond, is not the typ ical image one has of an eagle. Its youthful overall dark feathering precluded its instant identication; no familiar white head and tail feathers for quick recognition. Snowy Egret, or Golden Slippers, as we like to call this bird down here. It is seldom that we see them head-on and all uffed-up. Second, birds hatch as babies (surprise!), and during their adolescent years, many members of species will not necessarily look as they will when they are grown-ups. I am sure you have noticed something similar to that at fami ly and college reunions. Two quiz photos were Little Blue Heron
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 98 Great Blue Heron
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 99 T he following are the answers to all the birds in the quiz: 1. Palm Warbler. Unless they are hopping amid the grasses in search of seeds and insects, we hear them more often than we see them. But most of you named this bird correctly 2. Downy Woodpecker (male because of the red feathers on its head ). It is not a Hairy Woodpecker and thank you, Rick Greenspun, for the conrmation! My readers did not seem to need any reassur ance. You all knew what it was! 3. Florida Mottled Ducks. Most guesses were close enough. 4. Coopers Hawk, immature I usually close my eyes and hide when hawks are around, so that is my best guess! Let me know if you disagree and why. Many read ers suggested, Red-Shouldered Hawk. Now to the quizs tricky bird photos: This week they are pictured as you expect to see them, and you will recognize them immedi ately. 5. Snowy Egret. Now you know him! 6. Little Blue Heron The transformation from the immature bird with its pure white feathering to its mottled shade of blue with white, and on into adult color ing, always amazes me. 7. Great Blue Heron 8. American Bald Eagle 9. American White Ibis. Yes, the splotchy brown-feathered adolescents do some what resemble Limpkins. 10. Yellow-crowned Night Heron Who would have thought that white speckled, shy-looking adolescent would turn into this spectacular bird? 11. Mangrove Raccoon-Masked Night Her on Debate is still raging over this one. We will just have to wait until ornithologists come in with a nal pronouncement. Until then .... I wish you a peaceful New Years Eve. But do consider earplugs, because that is the night we night owls like to really hoot it up! Otus American White Ibis
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 100 Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 101 American Bald Eagle ABOUT OTUS Otus Rufous, an Eastern Screech-Owl, was born on Sies ta Key and is a full-time resident there. An avid hunter, accomplished vocalist and genuine night owl, Otus is a keen observer of our local wildlife and knows many of natures secrets. Otus will answer your questions about our amazing wildlife, but only if you Ask Otus. So please send your questions and photos to askotus@sarasotanews leader.com. Thank you.
I like to take my time. Sure, its a temptation to rush. Each issue of The Sarasota News Leader is brimfull of in-depth coverage of all the news and goings-on in Sarasota County. And it has delightful and informative feature stories. Thanks to its partnership with This Week In Sarasota I always know what the most exciting happenings are each week. Plus, it is simply so beautiful, with photography that takes my breath away. There is so much there, I dont know where to begin. So it is hard to resist the urge to read it all at once. But I know better. Take your time and indulge in all that it has to offer. You have a whole week. SarasotaNewsLeader.com Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. The Progressive Voice of Southwest Florida
Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art gallery will present the exhibition Town and Country Jan. 4 through Feb. 9. The show will feature paintings by Brook lyn-based artists Jackie Batteneld and Deb orah Brown. A reception with the artists is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 1. They will offer remarks about themselves and their works and take questions from the audience, a news release says. In her series, The Bushwick Paintings Brown explores the urban beauty of Bushwick, Brooklyn, the release says. This odd landscape possesses a simultaneous allure and menace that I take as the starting point for my paintings, says Brown in the re lease. Based on what I see, I invent architec tural amalgams in which natural forms and manmade structures are woven together in a visual hodge-podge both comical and poi gnant. Batteneld works with watery pigments to coax pools of paint into translucent veils of color, she says in the release. Anchoring these ephemeral elements are gestural marks, stripes and blocks of color, she continues. For the last decade, I have focused on the uidity of water and the natural gestures of plants and trees alongside abstract brush strokes and poured layers of paint. For more information about the exhibit, call 366-2454 or visit www.allyngallup.com The gallery is located at 1288 N. Palm Ave. in Sarasota. Dusk by Jackie Batteneld/Contributed photo GALLUP GALLERY TO PRESENT TOWN AND COUNTRY ARTS BRIEFS
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 104 Birds and Bag by Deborah Brown/Contributed photo
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 105 Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has announced its second play for this season. Au gust Wilsons Jitney will open on Friday, Jan. 4, and run until Sunday, Feb. 3. All performances will take place in the West coast Black Theatre Troupe Theater at 1646 10th Way, Sarasota. August Wilson is one of Americas most wellknown African-American playwrights, says Nate Jacobs, artistic director of West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, in a news release. Over the years, our Troupe has performed many of Mr. Wilsons plays. [They are] always powerful and poi gnant, [and] we look forward to bringing Jitney to our Sarasota audi ences, he adds in the release. Jitney was the rst of 10 plays written by Wilson in what became known as the Pittsburgh Cy cle. Each is set in a different decade of the 20th century, the release notes. Jitney which takes place in the 1970s, is set inside a gypsy cab station in Pittsburgh, the release says. Regular cabs would not travel to the Hill District of the 1970s, so the residents turned to each other. Jitney dramatizes the lives of men hustling to make a living as jitneys unofcial, unli censed taxi cab drivers, the release adds. The cast of nine includes eight men and one woman. WBTT audiences will recognize Will Little and Dhakeria Cunningham, who have performed regularly with the Troupe for the past two years, including roles in last seasons highly acclaimed Raisin in the Sun accord ing to the release. The other cast members are sea soned actors from as far away as Ten nessee, North Car olina and Atlanta; however, most are from the Tampa Bay area. They are Alfred H. Wilson, Ron Bobb-Semple, Andrew Drake, Don Johnson, Steven McKenzy, Horace Smith and Martin Taylor. Tickets are priced at $29.50. Reserva tions may be made online at www. wbttsrq.org or by calling the box of ce at 366-1505. Members of the cast of Jitney are (front row) Dhakeria Cunningham, Don Johnson; (middle row, from left) Will Little, Steven McKenzy; (back row, from left) Rubin Alexander Jr. and Horace E. Smith. Contributed photo WILSONS JITNEY TO OPEN JAN. 4 AT WBTT
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 106 Beginning Jan. 4, Dabbert Gallery, located at 76 S. Palm Ave. in Sarasota, will present, A Legacy of Sarasota Masters Renowned artists began making Floridas Gulf Coast their paradise during the 1940s, a news release notes, and their work continues in full bloom today. The show will feature past Sarasota masters Ben Stahl, Syd Solomon, Jerry Farnsworth, Helen Sawyer, Jon Corbino, Jack Cartlidge and Barbara McCann. Its featured current Sarasota masters will be Craig Rubadoux, Robert Baxter, Nat Krate, William Jerdon, Jeff Cornell, James Grifn, Susan Zukowsky and Thyra Wexler. The exhibit will open Jan. 4 and continue through Jan. 28. A reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 4. Gallery hours in season are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.; Fridays, until 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.dabbertgal lery.com or call 955-1315. Flamenco Dancer by Ben A. Stahl/Contributed photo Corniche by Syd Solomon/Contributed photo DABBERT GALLERY TO PRESENT LEGACY OF SARASOTA MASTERS
Sarasota News Leader December 28, 2012 Page 107 Selby Public Library will make some noise Saturday, Feb. 2, when it tosses off its quiet reputation as a place to browse books or use free computers to make way for the second annual Band Bash, a Sarasota County news release says. The popular teen concert will return to 1331 First St. from 5:30 to 11 p.m. with some of the areas hottest teen bands Lets Rock, Sarasota; The Great Frame; Pure Organic Trio; When in Doubt; SNAPM; Void of Fortune; and Siege of Malakand, the release notes. Last year we didnt know what to expect, said Assistant Selby Library Manager Marilyn Nykiforuk in the news release. But wow, the event was a rocking success with a large teen turnout. Afterwards, teens immediately began a sking when the next Band Bash would take place. In addition to hosting music all night, the li brary will be open and offering free gaming on Wii, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 game systems, as well as a variety of craft activities for teens, the release points out. Several local sponsors, including The Friends of the Selby Public Li brary, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jimmy Johns, Panera Bread, Tequila Cantina, The Studios on McIntosh, Clothesline Inc., and The Dark Side, will provide food, beverages and more, the release says. For more information, visit www.scgov.net or contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000. % BAND BASH TO RETURN TO SELBY PUBLIC LIBRARY FEB. 2 SARASOTAS HAIR COLOR SPECIALIST John-Norman Tuck (941) 928-1203 John-Norman Tuck is Sarasota and Bradentons premier hairstylist and hair color artist. Getting his customers hair to look and feel its best is his passion. John-Norman started fullling his customers hair dreams in his Pasadena, CA salon and now has brought his talents to Sarasota. Full Service Salon 369 St. Armands Circle Sarasota John-NormanTuck.com For a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. | www.askdrkoval.com Tonya Herschberger & Linda KeefeAfter a terrible accident I required surgery. Tonya shared with me that Dr. Koval was responsible for her beautiful smile. She gave me hope and direction. Im so grateful to Dr, Koval. Now I have a smile that I love to share with everyone.
28 DEC 2012 Holiday Spectacular-The Polar Express Dec. 28, 7 p.m.; Dec. 29-30, 2 and 7 p.m. Circus Sarasota, 2075 Bahia Vista St, Sarasota. Admission: $16 ($12 for those 12 and un der); 366-0156. Information: circussarasota.org 28 DEC The Perlman Music Program Recitals Dec. 28 through Jan. 5; times vary; USF-Sarasota/Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail. Free admission (rst-come basis). Information: 955-4942 or PMPSuncoast.org 28 DEC Smokey Joes Cafe Dec. 28 through Jan. 12; times vary. Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Admission: $19 to $42. Information: 366-9000 or oridastudiotheatre.org 31 DEC The Pineapple Drop Dec. 31, New Years Eve Street Party, Dec. 31, 2 p.m to 1:30 a.m., downtown Sarasota. Free admission. Information: PineappleDrop.com 31 DEC WSLR Down Home New Years Eve Party Dec. 31, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota. Admission: $10 advance, $15 at door. Information: 587-6588 or WSLR.org 04 JAN Dabbert Gallery presents A Legacy of Sarasota Masters Jan. 4, 6 to 9 p.m., 76 S. Palm Avenue, Sarasota. Free admission; 955-1315 or dabbertgal lery.com ComMunity CALendar The best of the upcoming week To get all the details on these and other great ac tivities food, nightlife, music, art, theater, chil drens events, learning opportunities and more go to Sarasotas No. 1 source for local events, hot spots, fun activities and hidden gems:
Each week, Staff Photographer Norman Schimmel searches Sarasota County for iconic shots that underscore why the community is a favorite with residents and tourists alike. SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS WHICH WAY WAS OSPREY? SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS