Sarasota News Leader


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Sarasota News Leader
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Rachel Brown Hackney ( Publisher )
New Sheriff Publishing, Inc.
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Sarasota, FL
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July 12, 2013
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Robert S. Hackney, General Manager(Oct. 26, 2012)

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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COVER Inside BABY STEPS BACK HIGHER SCHOOL TAXES ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL? Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. THE SARASOTA News Leader The Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida No. 45 July 26, 2013




Copyright 2013 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 Digital Press 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 Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Stan Zimmerman City Editor Roger Drouin County Editor Roger Norman Schimmel Staff Photographer Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer Elinor Rogosin A&E Writer John Riley Editorial Cartoonist Vicki Chatley Copy Editor Letters To the Editor Cleve Posey Production Manager / Graphic Designer Robert S. Hackney Opinion Editor / General Manager Advertising Sales Subscription Services Press Releases & News Tips MASTHEAD


The sure sig n it is summer is the difculty in tracking down sources. Fortunately, though, plenty of news was happening so we could work around the people who were out of town on vacation or otherwise just too busy to respond. I do not know how Stan Zimmerman manages to attend so many meetings each week, but in that process, he picks up all sorts of what I call tasty tidbits. This week he not only offers more news about the potential return of parking meters, he also has quite an interesting story about the complaint led by the citys public information ofcer about the working environment she has dealt with in the City Auditor and Clerks Ofce. Cooper Levey-Baker put in a lot of legwork last weekend, enabling him to provide a powerful perspective this week on the Trayvon Martin rallies in the community. And Roger Drouin has been trekking through Red Bug Slough and all around the Fruitville Road interchange area to offer updates on two signicant county initiatives. I covered the least territory of all our staff this week, though the time I spent at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex was the most fun I have had covering a story in some time. You will see what I mean in Sarasota Leisure. Finally, I have to put in a plug for our News Briefs this week. Not only did Staff Photog rapher Norman Schimmel do some trekking of his own to Snootys birthday party but we have several other noteworthy staff stories in that s ection. Editor and Publisher WELCOME


BABY STEPS BACK CRIES FOR JUSTICE NEWS & COMMENTARY BABY STEPS BACK 8 Signs continue to build that the City of Sarasota will have to put parking meters back on the streets to generate revenue Stan Zimmerman HIGHER SCHOOL TAXES 13 Largely because of salary increases approved but mostly unfunded by the Legislature, the School Board tentatively has approved a higher millage rate for the next scal year Rachel Brown Hackney ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL? 18 Alleging harassment in the Auditor and Clerks Ofce, the citys public information ofcer is relocating to the City Managers Ofce Stan Zimmerman CRIES FOR JUSTICE 23 Theres a Trayvon Martin right here in Sarasota Cooper Levey-Baker CRITICAL COMMENTS 26 The School Board approves new contracts this week for school resource ofcers, but members lament the lack of funding support from the City of Sarasota Rachel Brown Hackney RENEWED FOCUS 30 County planners and representatives from Sweet Sparkman Architects will present an update on the Fruitville Initiative at the Aug. 28 County Commission meeting Roger Drouin BACK TO ITS ROOTS 35 The now halfway-completed Red Bug Slough wetland restoration project is designed to naturally lter pollutants from rainwater at the oasis preserve Roger Drouin ITS ALL SUBJECTIVE 42 Out of 208 community redevelopment agencies created in the state, only six have extended their terms of operation, a local committee learns Stan Zimmerman GRANTED, WITH PLEASURE 46 Unlike the situation in 2012, the County Commission readily approves funding recommendations for arts programs in the next scal year Rachel Brown Hackney NEWS BRIEFS 52 CRIME BLOTTER 63 TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article PHOTO CREDITS Front cover: Best seat in the house Norman Schimmel Sarasota Leisure: Boats at the ready Norman Schimmel No. 45 July 26, 2013


INTO THE DEEP SIESTA SEEN O PINION EDITORIAL 69 All creatures great and small COMMENTARY 71 The yin and yang of real estate Sarasota style Rodger Skidmore SARASOTA LEISURE INTO THE DEEP 80 Free swimming lessons at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex have been a hit this summer with children and staff Rachel Brown Hackney SIESTA SEEN 88 The county is exploring taking over State Road 758 in an exchange involving River Road; Light Up the Village planning is under way; and the Sabal Drive legal complaint has some interesting details Rachel Brown Hackney A&E BRIEFS 94 RELIGION BRIEFS 99 COMMUNITY CALENDAR 101 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 102 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article No. 45 July 26, 2013 FOR ADVERTISING INFO (941) 227-1080 I am so incredibly pleased, with my beautiful smile and my comfortable and natural bite. Barbara LeeFor a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. |


ENHANCE YOUR SMILE. ENHANCE YOUR LIFE.A smile is the first thing I notice about someone. However, that was the part of me I wanted to hide from everyone, including myself. In 2007, my family dentist of 30 years told me he could help. He then crowned all of my teeth. They looked better, but they immediately started to crack, one by one. He kept promising me he could correct them by re-making them. He was frustrated, but I was devastated. I then realized that I never received a stable, comfortable position to chew. My bite was totally off. After four consultations with different dentists and lots of research, I chose Dr. Christine Koval for her warmth, reassurance, confidence, and experience in correcting bites and making teeth beautiful! Dr. Kovals team is very caring and professional, and her skill level is second to none. I am so incredibly pleased, not only with my beautiful smile but also with my comfortable and natural bite. I feel so thankful and blessed for this second chance on my smile!For a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 To view our extensive smile gallery, visit Christine Koval, D.M.D. Restorative, Cosmetic & Laser Dentistry General Dentistry 2477 Stickney Point Road, Suite 216A Sarasota, FL 941.923.5406 www.askdrkoval.comAwarded 20 Gold Medals for Smile Makeovers by the Florida Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Barbara Lee


Sarasotas despised, satirized and ultimately uprooted parking meters are gathering dust in a warehouse. But like the marching brooms of Disneys Fantasia they may be on their way back. Unless every man, woman and child in the city wants to kick in $10 every year, only me ters can avoid crush ing debts and decits at City Hall. This year the citys Parking Di vision normally a profit-making en terprise in American cities is running a $500,000 decit. And next year, no change is expected. While the City Commission in its budget workshops earlier this month called for the Parking Di vision to raise $250,000 more in the next s cal year than it has this y ear, heads were scratched at City Hall on how to do that. The plan city commis sioners approved is counter-int uitive. Why A person preparing to put money in a parking meter on Main Street in May 2011 chats with a volun teer parking assistant. Photo by Norman Schimmel SIGNS CONTINUE TO BUILD THAT THE CITY OF SARASOTA WILL HAVE TO PUT PARKING METERS BACK ON THE STREETS TO GENERATE REVENUE BABY STEPS BACK If you want a parking garage, youre gonna have to swallow the meters. Marty Rappaport Chairman St. Armands Business Improvement District By Stan Zimmerman City Editor NEWS & COMMENTARY


would you pay to park in a garage when the street spaces are free? Meanwhile, parking conditions continue to de teriorate not just in downtown Sarasota but in many other areas of the city, as is documented in a recently released $47,000 parking study. The citys nance director says the $500,000 Parking Division decit will be plugged with money from the general fund. But the general fund this year is getting a $1 million infusion from the citys reserves, its rainy-day fund. So in reality, the City of Sarasota is paying for parking from its last-ditch savings this year and next year too. THE CHALLENGE About a year ago, Parking Director Mark Ly ons set up a committee to advise him. It has a member from each of the citys high-use parking areas, including St. Armands, Hill view Street/Southside Village, Lido Beach and downtown. It has been working on a strategic plan, but on Wednesday, July 24, its members were asked to think tactically when Lyons boss showed up. City Manager Tom Barwin asked them off the bat, Have you set up an incentive to move into a paid parking strategy? Lyons chided his boss. Paid parking is not really our [e.g. the committees] interest. Our The results of a new parking study commissioned by the City of Sarasota underscore the need for more parking spaces during the height of season on St. Armands. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 9


Parking meter stumps remain to be pulled out in September 2012 after the City Commission agreed to cease the paid parking program in downtown Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 10


goal is to create a system that makes sense, whether it is paid or not. This is Barwins second plunge into parking hell. At his previous job, in Oak Park, IL, he struggled with a $10 million decit in the park ing department. We began to show progress when we created a parking benets district. By the time I left, after three years of the dis trict assisting in rates and planning, the decit was down to $3 million, he said. In other words, Oak Park was able to chop $7 million from its parking decit in four years. We werent striving to be a massive cash cow, but thats what parking garages are in private hands, said Barwin. For a city, he added, The profits can be plowed back into the district with landscaping or marketing. Im thinking this may be some thing we might want to talk about, maybe run it by the City Commission. Free parking on city streets in America is not just rare, it is an anomaly. I go all over the state in my business, said committee mem ber Carl Shoffstall of Lido Key. You pay for parking everywhere. Barwin left the meeting, much as he had en tered it, with a message. You know what the goal is. Were losing $500,000 a year down town. THE STUDY Even without meters with parking free everywhere, public garages included the city still has non-budgetary parking problems. Earlier this month, city staff received a study conducted by Walker Parking Consultants; it pinpointed several hotspots. And not all were linked to the tourist season. Parking is an arcane topic unl ess you are look ing for a spot. When 99 percent of the spots are taken on a Friday betwe en 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and 98 percent are taken between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., arcana morphs into maddening frustration. That is the status of St. Armands Circle in the peak season, according to the Walker report. The St. Armands Business Improvement Dis trict (BID) has commissioned a study specif ically for the island to determine if a parking garage is needed. But the districts chairman, Marty Rappaport, already knows the issue is not just about a garage. If you want a park ing garage, youre gonna have to swallow the meters. And since downtown Sarasota already has two garages with a third coming at State Street there is some swallowing coming to Main Street, too. For two areas of the city, the peak demand comes during the citys off-season. Evening diners and strollers take up 91 percent of the spots on the citys bayfront parking areas, ac cording to Walker. And during lunchtime on Fridays (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) a whopping 97 per cent of spots are occupied in Southside Vil lage along Hillview Street. During the same hours in the peak season, 75 percent of the spots are taken. Anything above 85 percent occupancy means desperate drivers looking for spaces. The three highest occupancy levels are not downtown, said Lyons. They are at St. Ar mands, Southside Village and Marina Jack or, as the report says, Taken as a whole, St. Armands, South Village [sic] and the Marina Districts experienced parking decits, with St. Armands experiencing a signicant parking decit. The advisory committee will review the Walk er reports recommendations at its next meet ing, on Aug. 28 at 3 p.m. in City Hall. The pub lic is welco me. % Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 11


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The S arasota County School Board voted unanimously on July 23 with member Car ol Todd absent to advertise a total tentative millage rate of 7.970 mills for its 2014 scal year. That is an increase from the total rate of 7.816 for the current fiscal year. A person with a house valued at $200,000 will pay an extra $30.80 in school dis trict taxes, Deputy Chief Financial Ofcer Al Weidner noted. The district will use almost $12.9 million from its reserve fund to balance the new budget, Chairwoman Jane Goodwin pointed out. Be cause the district will continue to use reserve funds to balance the budget, Weidner said, the projection is that by June 30, 2014, the fund will represent the minimum level al lowed by its policy Deputy Chief Financial Ofcer Al Weidner addresses the School Board on July 23. Photo by Rachel Hackney LARGELY BECAUSE OF SALARY INCREASES APPROVED BUT MOSTLY UNFUNDED BY THE LEGISLATURE, THE SCHOOL BOARD TENTATIVELY HAS APPROVED A HIGHER MILLAGE RATE FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR HIGHER SCHOOL TAXES I dont see anywhere else we can cut. Al Weidner Deputy Chief Financial Ofcer Sarasota County Schools By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


7.5 percent of its budget. (The upper limit is 10 percent.) The Florida Legislature is requiring a local millage rate of 4.722 in Sarasota County to provide sufcient operating expenses in FY 2014, under a complicated state formula. That is up from 4.568 mills in the current scal year. The budget will include $7.3 million in sala ry increases approved by the Legislature this year not just for teachers but also for em ployees who are part of the local union, the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association, Weidner said. The local property taxes are paying for the salary increases, board member Caroline School Board member Shirley Brown com ments on the budget. Photo by Rachel Hackney A Sarasota County Schools chart shows estimated appropriations for the 2014 scal year budget. Im age courtesy Sarasota County Schools Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 14


Zucker noted. [The money is] not coming from the state; its coming from our local com munity. The majority of that increase is coming from our local property taxpayers, Weidner con curred. SC/TA negotiations are not completed yet, board Vice Chairwoman Shirley Brown point ed out. Moreover, the district will see its contribution to the Florida Retirement System (FRS) go up by about $4 million, a 17 percent hike over the amount the district is paying in the current scal year, Brown added. Almost all the increases in the budget for the FY 2014 scal year are related to legislative mandates, Weidner said. The Legislature gave the School Board the ability for our local taxpayers to pay a lit tle more to cover the additional expenses, Brown noted. On the one hand, I want to sit there and shake their hands, she contin ued, referring to the legislators. On the other hand, the legislators did not give the district sufcient money for those increases. They al lowed us to get it from our taxpayers, Brown summed it up. Along with the salary negotiations, Weidner continued, district administrative staff still is uncertain about how much healthcare cover age will cost in the future. Early this month, the White House announced that it was post poning enforcement of the employer man date until 2015, after the congressional elec tions. Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, companies with 50 or more workers face a ne of as much as $3,000 per employee if they do not offer affordable insurance. Original ly, district nance ofcials were told to expect an increase of up to 12 percent in healthcare coverage expenses as a result of that, Weidner explained. CONTINUED CUTTING Before the vote, Goodwin asked Weidner to provide details about the cuts the district has suffered over the past several years. Noting that he was presenting his 31 st pro posed budget in the district, Weidner ex plained that the board started out $3.8 million in the hole with its rst workshop on the new spending plan, held last October. Since the 2007-08 school year, he said, when the economic downturn began in earnest, the district has cut more than $124 million and 651 positions. Budget documents show a total of 5,197 posi tions in FY 2014. Weidner said one of the most difcult deci sions the School Board faced this year was the necessity to cut media specialists positions in district middle and high schools starting in the next school ye ar. School Board member Caroline Zucker (left) and Chairwoman Jane Goodwin peruse agen da material. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 15


Those speciali sts will be replaced by parapro fessional aides at a savings of $595,086, ac cording to budget projections. Eliminating those positions, he said, was something we did not want to do because those people were doing an excellent job. At one time, Weidner added, the district had a media specialist in every school, and some of those staff members even had aides to assist them. Among other staff reductions in recent years, he noted, were data coaches, who had assist ed teachers in determining which students needed extra attention, and reading coaches, who provided that one-on-one time with the youngsters. Among the positive notes for the next scal year, Weidner said the Sarasota County Prop erty Appraisers Ofce had certied the county tax roll at a value representing a 4.86 percent increase from 2012. That was the rst time the countys property tax roll had grown since 2007, he told the board. Additionally, he said, when he attended a state educational conference about a month ago, he heard predictions that the Legislature could provide as much as 5 percent more in funding for school districts during its 2014 session. Weidner was hopeful, he said, that the School Board would not have to end up nding ways to cut more than $2 million from its FY 2015 budget, based on preliminary projections. However, he told the board earlier, I dont see anywhere else we can cut. The School Board will hold a public hearing on the tentative budget at 5:15 p.m. on Tues day, July 30 in its chambers at The Landings, 1980 Landings Blvd. in Sarasota. The nal budget will be adopted after a sec ond public hearing on Sept. 10. BUDGET DETAILS For the 2013-14 school year, the total estimat ed appropriations for the Sarasota district are $773,570,039, up 4.54 percent. Salaries are expected to account for $258,000,345 of that amount. Employee benefits are estimated to cost $73,419,978, with health insurance expenses up a projected 10 percent. General fund revenues for FY 2014 are put at $359,474,094, an 11.5 percent decrease from the $406,123,710 gure in FY 2008. The projected capital revenue amount for FY 2014 is $83,823,851, a decline of 49.3 percent from FY 2008. The district is rebuilding Booker High School and the Sarasota County Technical Insti tute, both in Sarasota, as well as Venice High School in Venice. It is just starting a rebuilding of Sarasota High School. District enrollment is projected at 42,266 for the next school year, up from the 41,092 gure it reported during its last ofcial count of the 2012-13 school year, on May 2. The Execut ive Summary for the FY 2014 bud get notes that the base student allocation the Legislature set for the 2013-14 school year has been reduced to very close to the 20052006 level. This represents an 8% decrease since 2007-2008. That amount for the next school year is $3,752; in 2005-06, it was $3,742. % Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 16


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The City of Sarasotas public information ofcer tried quietly to get herself transferred out of the Auditor and Clerks Ofce earlier this month. But the plan went public at the City Commis sion budget workshops on July 16 and 17. The Sar asota News Leader requested a copy of a letter sent on behalf of Jan Thorn burg to all five city commissioners, claim ing a hostile work en vironment worsened her various m edical conditions. She hired Tampa labor law attor ney Janet Wise to handle her case. A redacted copy of Wises letter was provided on July 23, with sections concerning the med ical condit ion blacked out to preserve Thorn burgs condentiality under federal medical privacy rules. The let ter requested reason able accommodation under the Americans with Disabi lities Act. (From left) City Attorney Robert Fournier, City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini and City Commis sioners Paul Caragiulo and Willie Shaw. Photo by Norman Schimmel ALLEGING HARASSMENT IN THE AUDITOR AND CLERKS OFFICE, THE CITYS PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER IS RELOCATING TO THE CITY MANAGERS OFFICE ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL? Under Ms. Nadalinis management, Ms. Thornburg has been repeatedly undermined and harassed in what appears to be an attempt to push Ms. Thornburg out of the workplace. Janet Wise Attorney By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


The reassign m ent was unopposed by City Au ditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini. She was plan ning to get rid of Thornburg anyway. That mat ter rose to public attention when City Manager Tom Barwin suggested Thornburg be put in [the] position of communications coordinator in my budget. I planned to cut the PIO position next year, said Nadalini. Frankly the Clerks Ofce paid that salary for quite some time. And based on the letter from the attorney, that individual [Thornburg] uses 95 percent of their time for the City Managers Ofce. The clerk eliminat ed a position years ago to create the PIO po sition because the city did not have one. The position is budgeted for $116,000, which Nadalini wanted to retain in her spending plan so she could hire a third auditor. As f or the letter, the city attorney plans to address it in his reply, Nadalini said. THE RESPONSE Pamela Nadalini has created a hostile work environment in which Ms. Thornburg has been required to work. Under Ms. Nadalinis man agement, Ms. Thornburg has been repeatedly undermined and harassed in what appears to be an attempt to push Ms. Thornburg out of the workplace, Wises letter says. City Attorney Bob Fournier responded on July 23. He noted the City Commission approved the transfer of the public information ofcer to the City Managers Ofce from the Ofce of the City Auditor and Clerk as part of next scal years b udget. (From left) John Nopper, Jan Thornburg and Miles Larsen celebrate awards they received in 2007 for their work to promote the city. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 19


Sarasota City Hall. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 20


Effective October 1, 2013, Ms. Thornburg will report to the city manager, Fourniers let ter said. Because the reassignment was the only reasonable accommodation you sought on behalf of Ms. Thornburg (and because Ms. Thornburg indicated to Human Resourc es that she did not wish to discuss any other accommodations), we will consider the ADA accommodation issue raised in your letter to be resolved. As for the work environment, Nothing in your letter suggests that Ms. Thornburg was sub jected to a hostile work environment because of her disability. In fact neither the clerk nor her supervisors were aware that Ms. Thorn burg suffered from any medical conditions, the letter said. Additionally while you allege in your letter that Ms. Thornburg was repeatedly under mined and harassed while (u)nder Ms. Na dalinis management, you provide no facts that would support this allegation, the letter continued. There is no evidence that Ms. Nadalini or any other city employee undermined, ha rassed or in any way discriminated against Ms. Thornburg on the basis of disability, Fournier wrote. Because we have conclud ed our investigation into your allegations of discriminatory treatment and have found no basis for the allegations, we are closing this matter. A survey of 16 other cities similar in size to Sarasota found most employ a public informa tion ofcer, and all of those positions reported the city manager or executive mayor. Thornburg was hired by former City Auditor and Clerk Billy Robinson in 2004 to be the citys rst public information ofcer. Thorn burg and the city have won multiple awards for her video productions. She is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. As for the $116,000, Nadalini kept it in her bud get to hire a third auditor for her department. Barwin will fund that position with transfers from the general fund (25 percent of the cost), solid waste (25 percent) and water and sewer (50 percent). % City Manager Tom Barwin stands outside City Hall this spring. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 21


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. Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. The Progressive Voice of Southwest Florida


A poster from one of Saturdays rallies lies on the ground after the event. Photo by Cooper Levey-Baker CRIES FOR JUSTICE THERES A TRAYVON MARTIN RIGHT HERE IN SARASOTA By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Dozens of protesters hit the streets of down town Sarasota and Newtown Saturday, July 20, decrying the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman and linking the Tray von Martin shooting to the death of Saraso tas Rodney Mitchell. The day of rallies began along the bay front at 9 a.m. and continued outside the Sarasota County Justice Cen ter at 1 p.m. Around 60 or so a mix of young, old, black and white appeared at the second rally, listening to speeches about the importance of com munity action and the need to reg ister to vote before moving down the street to chant at the corner of U.S. 301 and Ringling. Protesters carried signs with slogans such as No jus tice no peace, Enough is enough and Justice for Trayvon. One woman wore a hoodie with a charcoal drawing of Martin and the slogan, He couldve been my son, while another waved a cardboard poster


with an empty box of Skittles and the image of a bottle of iced tea afxed to it. The candy and drink, as well as the hoodie, have become iconic symbols of Martins death. The 17-year-old was unarmed when Zimmer man killed him on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, FL. Zimmerman, not originally charged in the case, was eventually put on trial for sec ond-degree murder. He was acquitted two weeks ago. Public outrage about the case has been erce, exposing deep-seated fears of racial prol ing, as well as anger about what critics say are overly loose self-defense laws. President Barack Obama addressed the controversy the day before Saturdays rallies, which took place all around the country, as well as in Saraso ta. He discussed how experience with racial proling inform[s] how the African-Ameri can community interprets what happened one night in Florida. Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago, Obama said. And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, theres a lot of pain around what hap pened here, I think its important to recognize that the African-American community is look ing at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesnt go away. There are very few African-American men in this country who havent had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me, Obama said. The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our The modern courthouse in downtown Sarasota is part of the countys Justice Center. Photo by Nor man Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 24 Justice. Thats it. Immanuel Dent


criminal law s everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case. Immanuel Dent told The Sarasota News Lead er he organized the 1 p.m. rally on July 20 to draw attention to deaths like Martins that go unexamined. Theres a Trayvon Martin right here in Sarasota, FL, and his name is Rodney Mitchell, said Dent. Mitchell was shot by Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce deputies during a trafc stop last June. His mother, Natasha Clemons, participated in Saturdays rallies, and told the News Leader shes still ghting to get answers about her sons death. The ofce of then-State Attorney Earl Moreland called Mitchells shooting a justiable use of deadly force made during rapidly unfolding and unexpected circum stances after a trafc stop for what deputies said was a seat belt violation. Like Martin, Mitchell was unarmed. Supporters of Mitchells family passed around a yer with details about the case, as well as a postcard with images of a smiling Mitch ell next to the famous photo of Martin in his hoodie. A third rally took place Saturday af ternoon, near the site of Mitchells death. They wont do anything, said Clemons, re ferring to investigators. If it was justied, I need to know how it was justied. Dent told the News Leader he himself was a victim of racial proling and that he was beaten up by police ofcers during his time in Sarasota. He said both the Martin and Mitch ell cases are personal to him because he has a 6-month-old son. He added that the mission of Sat urdays rally was no violence, nothing of that sort. Justice, he said. Thats it. As the rally moved from the Justice Center to U.S. 301, the crowd shouted call-and-response chants. Fired up! Ready to go! Trayvon! Martin! No justice! No peace! Isolated honks blared from passing cars. Rain began falling, but the crowd stayed put as drops splattered on their homemade signs, smearing the ink. Justice! the ralliers shouted. Now! % George Zimmermans mug shot was released by Seminole County after he was arrested in connection with Trayvon Martins 2012 death. Image from Seminole County via Wikimedia Commons Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 25


In the end, the votes were unanimous, but not without Sarasota County School Board mem bers venting. During its regular meeting on July 23, the board approved four contracts totaling $1,317,608.29 to provide school resource of cers (SROs) in its middle schools and high schools for the 2013-14 school year. The to tal number of ofcers will dr op from 21 to 18, with the sheriff re moving six SROs from Sarasota city schools. However, board members lamented not only Sh eriff Tom Knights decision to put his ofcers only in county schools as of next year, they also crit icized the City of Sarasota for not offering to cover part of the cost of SROs in its jurisdic tion. According to the new contracts, the School Board will cover the total cost of the SROs in the city of Sarasota, which is $312,248. The Saras ota Police De partment has agreed to provide one SRO at each of the following schools: Booker and Sarasota high schools and Brookside Middle School. The con tract Superintendent Lori White and School Board member Frank Kovach listen to comments during the July 23 meeting. Photo by Rachel Hackney THE SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES NEW CONTRACTS THIS WEEK FOR SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS, BUT MEMBERS LAMENT THE LACK OF FUNDING SUPPORT FROM THE CITY OF SARASOTA CRITICAL COMMENTS I share Mr. Kovachs frustration and difficulty in expressing that politically correctly. Shirley Brown Member Sarasota County School Board By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


also calls for the Police Department to assign a supervisor to oversee the SROs in the city. While the district has a partnership with the Cities of North Port and Venice as well as the Sheriffs Ofce for SROs, School Board member Frank Kovach told his colleagues, I would not dene our relationship with the City of Sarasota as a partnership. Referring to the city commissioners and the Sarasota Police Department, he noted during the July 23 meeting, To basically throw up their hands and say, Im not going to partici pate in the cost of SROs in the city of Saraso ta, I nd disappointing. As I do, responded Darryl Reyka, the dis tricts director of safety and security. Of the Police Department, he added, We certainly want to work with their leadership. We want to work with their new chief with their dep uty chief. I think theyre open to working with us. White told the board members she had had the opportunity earlier that day to watch a video of Police Chief Bernadette DiPinos budget presentation to the City Commission last week, and they certainly have some bud get challenges, primarily due to their pension costs. During a July 8 budget workshop, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin pointed out that 80 percent of the citys payroll obligations in the 2014 scal year would go to pensions. I share Mr. Kovachs frustration and difculty in expressing that politically correctly, Vice Chairwoman Shirley Brown said. The School Boards original understanding, she added, was that the sheriff had worked out matters with the municipalities to provide those ofcers. Then we found out, nope, [all the] cities hadnt worked that out, and its very frustrating that the [Sheriffs Ofce] dropped the service but yet the [City of Sarasota] didnt pick [up any of the cost]. The rebuilding of Booker High has included measures to make the campus more secure, school and law enforcement ofcials say. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 27


KNIGHTS ACTIONS Knight met with Superintendent Lori White on Feb. 20 to make her aware of our decision to keep deputies only in schools in unincorpo rated areas of the county, and allow the cities to staff schools in their jurisdictions, Wendy Rose, the community affairs manager for the Sheriffs Ofce, told The Sarasota News Lead er on July 24. He sent her a formal letter on March 15 to that effect, Rose added. In an email to the News Leader Rose also pointed out that Knight had met with each affected police chief and their city manager together (Sarasota, March 6; Venice, March 11) and all chiefs eagerly accepted the oppor tunity to fulll their roles and be more closely connected to the youth of their community. THE EXPENSE During the July 23 School Board meeting, Brown noted that relationships built between school resource ofcers and students go be yond what happens on the school grounds. Because of the bonds created, she said, stu dents may be more likely to contact the po lice if theres been a problem. She continued, At a time when everyone is looking at school safety and security its just so frustrating [with] some people saying we need more security on campuses that our law enforcement agencies have pulled back on us. We cant keep picking up this cost. Brown said she was hopeful the Florida Legis lature might provide more funding assistance in the future, but I dont know that that will happen. White told th e board members and audience that the Legislature did increase funding for school security for the next school year. The Sarasota County Schools will get roughly $30,000 more, she added. Every bit of that is going to the SRO program, and it is not suf cient. When board member Caroline Zucker asked Reyka about the big difference in cost for SROs at the schools in Sarasota compared to the costs the School Board will cover in the Cities of Venice and North Port, Reyka not ed that a supervisor would be overseeing the Sarasota SROs. It is still dramatically high compared to other areas, Zucker responded. The cost to the board for two SROs in Venice is $126,141. Reyka said the district would split that 50/50 with the city. North Port will provide four ofcers at a cost of $262,116.79. Sheriff Tom Knight. Photo courtesy of the Sheriffs Ofce Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 28


The Schoo l Board will have to use about $97,000 from its general operating fund to sus tain the SRO program, White pointed out. So I dont believe in our current [budget] cli mate that that is sustainable over time, White noted. My fear is those costs are going to increase. Therefore, she said, she had charged Reyka with looking at alternatives the School Board could consider. We will look at a lot of dif ferent options. But I felt to go into a different model takes planning and care. We need time and were going to work with others, both in and out of law enforcement, White said. From the time we found out what was hap pening with the SRO program, there was no way that we had any time to nd an alterna tive for next year, Zucker pointed out. I for one want to see more SROs, Chairwom an Jane Goodwin said. Safety and security is of the utmost importance. Goodwin added, It just takes one incident in this county, and then everybody would be up in arms for [all cities] not participating in help ing us out. Referencing the 26 victims shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December, Goodwin said she also wanted a review of the types of policies and procedures needed at each district school. Rose in the Sheriffs Ofce pointed out to the News Leader that schools such as Venice High and Riverview High have recently undergone environmental design changes to enhance se curity and limit access to the campus. % The School Board agreement with the City of Sarasota outlines part of a school resource ofcers du ties. Image courtesy Sarasota County School Board Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 29


Round Two of the Fruitville Initiative has begun. A plan to rezone 320 acres of vacant land along Fruitville Road east of Interstate 75 and create a mixed-use gateway village has re emerged three years after an initial part of the proposal was rst approved, in 2010. County planners and representatives from Sweet Sparkman Ar chitects will p resent an update on the public-private Fruitville Initiative at the Aug. 28 County Commission meeting. If the plan com es to fruition proponents say the l arge-scal e, New Urbanist development wou ld bring jobs, ad ditional property tax es and new vibrancy to the southern edge of the growing I-75 corridor that has seen newer developments such as the Shoppes at Universi ty Center, Land to the east of Coburn Road falls within the boundaries of the proposed Fruitville Initiative. All photos by Roger Drouin COUNTY PLANNERS AND REPRESENTATIVES FROM SWEET SPARKMAN ARCHITECTS WILL PRESENT AN UPDATE ON THE FRUITVILLE INITIATIVE AT THE AUG. 28 COUNTY COMMISSION MEETING RENEWED FOCUS This is the gateway to Sarasota. If we screw this up, it will have an impact for years. John Krotec Community Liaison 2010 Fruitville Initiative Committee By Roger Drouin County Editor


along with proposed pr ojects such as the Na than Benderson Park rowing facility, the Uni versity Town Center mall and The Venue at Lakewood Ranch townhomes. But residents who live in four rural home communities near the project want to see buf fers created to separate them from trafc and other impacts resulting from the proposed increase in residential density and possible commercial buildings and hotels. We feel we are in a good place to get things rolling again, John Krotec, who served as community liaison on the 2010 Fruitville Ini tiative Committee, said about the renewed fo cus on the plan. Krotec envisions something different out of this planning process, which involves residents, business owners, developers and county officials. A veteran who owns the Environeers gear and clothing store, Krotec would like to see the project include not just residences and businesses, but also perhaps a rehabilitation clinic for wounded veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. This is the gateway to Sarasota, Krotec said. If we screw this up, it will have an impact for years. The Fruitville Initiative encompasses sever al vacant properties east of I-75. Among the owners are the county, which has a public library and 42 acres within the development area, and Fox Creek Holdings; Glenn D. and Margaret E. Walters; Luella M. and Bryan E. Crofut; Sarasota Business Plaza; and Thomas F. Kelly. Land directly to the west of Coburn Road also falls within the proposed Fruitville Initiative. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 31


In October, 2010, the County Commission ap proved changes to the comprehensive plan for the Fruitville Initiative, but the plan was never fully implemented. That, however, could change soon. NOT YOUR TYPICAL INTERCHANGE DEVELOPMENT In May, Sarasota County entered into a con tract with Sweet Sparkman Architects for Phase One of planning for the Fruitville Ini tiative. The rm will work with the county on revisions to the transportation scope for the project, development of a community-engage ment plan and identifying themes discussed in the 2010 Fruitville Initiative Plan, said Saraso ta County Senior Planner Beth Rozansky. Since 2010 the county and private property owners have been working towards the im plementation of the policies in the compre hensive plan, Rozansky said. Factors such as smart growth and mixeduse principles, interconnectivity, walkability, mixed uses and low-impact environmental de sign will all be considered in the next phases of the process. The Fruitville Initiative area is not part of the Sarasota 2050 Plan, Rozansky pointed out. It is going to be more of a development strate gy for a special planning area, said Rozansky, the countys project manager on the Initiative. She described a more walkable environment, with public spaces and small businesses and shops close to re sidences, as well as environ Private land and county-owned property within the area totals 300 acres. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 32


mentally fri endly, low-impact stormwater de sign. It could also become an economic gen erator for the area. When it comes to design, the aim is to create a long-term concept that is dramatically differ ent from those usually seen at interchanges. It is not intended to be developed as a typical big-box area, Rozansky said. At the Aug. 28 meeting, the county commis sioners will discuss the specic type of zon ing that would be appropriate for the area. All but one southeastern tract of the 320 acres is within the countys Urban Services Boundary. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Krotec said the community engagement part of the planning proces s is vital. Controlled-growth advocates and many resi dents of rural neighborhoods northeast of the site, along East Richardson Road, met with county ofcials back in 2010 to try to estab lish guidelines for buffers to protect the estab lished homeowners from the proposed largescale development. Krotec said those residents need to be includ ed in upcoming talks and workshops. We want to do this in a way that we can pre serve the rural character of the East Richard son Road homes, Krotec added. One option, Krotec noted, is to plan entrances and exits into the proposed development so trafc is diverted away from East Richardson Road. After learning about the Aug. 28 County Com mission meeting during an interview this week Coburn Road cuts through the Fruitville Initiative area. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 33


with T he Sa ras ota News Leader Bill Earl, a board member of both the Richardson Road East Neighborhood and Citizens for Sensible Growth associations, said he will attend the session. He lives north of the Fruitville Initia tive area. We are right in the impact area, Earl pointed out. The rural neighborhoods worked with the county very hard last time to try and get some protections, and we hope that will inuence what they are talking about now, Earl said. We hope those guiding principles protect the neighborhoods. Proponents of the Fruitville Initiative already have been meeting with Sarasota County Ad ministrator Randall Reid. I see Mr. Reid as an administrator with global vision, Krotec said. Reid also want s to see community residents involved in the process, Krotec noted. Rozansky said the plan needs to be cautious ly integrated into the rural neighborhood to the east of the property. Additionally, architects with Sweet Sparkman Architects have been working on plans they will present at the August County Commis sion meeting. However, architect Jerry Spark man, a member of the project team, declined through an ofce representative to comment at this time. In addition to rezoning land a change that could result in an increase in residential den sity the Fruitville Initiative could alter the I-75 interchange, according to a June 20 email update from Rozansky to county administra tive staff. Trafc engineering rm Tindale Ol iver and Associates is studying possible mod ications to th e inte rchange. % Fox Creek is one of the residential communities on Richardson Road, to the northeast of the project area. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 34


Paul Semenec, a project planner with Sarasota County, stopped to hold a long blade of inva sive Cogongrass as he hiked through a soggy Red Bug Slough last week. The grass that has earned a spot on Flor idas noxious weed list grows rapidly, choking out native grasses and discour aging birds and other wildlife that rely on the natu ral vegetation. As part of a $1 million wetland restoration at the 72-acre natural preserve nestled between suburban developments surrounding Clark and Beneva Roads, bulldozers have dug up and removed much of the Cogongrass from canal banks and wet lands. The just-bull dozed canal banks are being reshaped into gently sloping littoral shelves, where hun dreds of native wet land plants such as In segment B of the project, crews are creating a new forested swamp that will become home to 200 new pop ash trees, 50 Florida elms and 50 swamp tupelo trees. All photos by Roger Drouin THE NOW HALFWAY-COMPLETED RED BUG SLOUGH WETLAND RESTORATION PROJECT IS DESIGNED TO NATURALLY FILTER POLLUTANTS FROM RAINWATER AT THE OASIS PRESERVE BACK TO ITS ROOTS I would hope in the plans they have a mechanism for controlling invasives in the future. Very often these places can revert to weeds. Jeanne Dubi President Sarasota Audubon By Roger Drouin County Editor


pickerelweed and arrowhead will soon lter nutrient-rich rainwater. While the restoration project will not remove all of the Cogongrass at Red Bug Slough, it will make a big difference. The project which is about halfway com plete and slated for a December completion will bring improvements to three different segments of the preserve, restoring more than 4 acres of wetlands. The main goal of the initiative is to improve the water quality in the waterways and swamps owing through the preserve and then into Phillippi Creek and eventually Rob erts Bay. The project will reshape much of the preserves wetlands and replace invasive veg etation with native aquatic plants that lter rainwater pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus (phosphates), which have been connected to elevated levels of Karenia bre vis the organism that causes red tide. The effort will restore a 1-acre forested swamp, adding trees such as pop ash and Florida elm, and a 1.5-acre wetlands area bordering Proc tor Road. Altogether, the contractor, Fort Myers-based Ecosystem Technologies Inc. (ETI), will plant 23,225 native plants and trees, said Kathy Meaux, environmental specialist with Sara sota County Water Resources. Wildlife is going to love this, Semenec added. Among its diverse wildlife, the preserve pro vides habitat for marsh rabbits, a family of ot The new forested swamp in segment B will encompass an acre. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 36


te rs that can sometimes be seen early in the morning and a pair of nesting prairie warblers that are listed as a Species of Concern in Flor ida. The restoration project is one of the countys largest wetland restorations to take place over recent years. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) is funding about half of the projects cost, with the re maining expense borrowed against county penny sales tax revenue. Sarasota County also recently completed wa terway improvements at Alligator Creek and Phillippi Creek. In an upcoming project, the county will work with Sarasota Audubon to plant native vegetation at the Celery Fields preserve and stormwater collection area east of Interstate 75. A WELCOME IMPROVEMENT The project will restore the land at Red Bug Slough to a state approximating its original habitat and water ow. Sarasota Audubon President Jeanne Dubi said the project would be a welcome improvement at a preserve that is home to many butteries and dragonies and 96 species of breeding and migratory birds. The local Audubon chapter alternates twoyear bird counts at parks throughout the county. During a recent count at Red Bug Slough, volunteers spotted red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, Coppers hawks, pileated woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers all nesting in the preserve, as well as a pair of the nesting prairie warblers found only in Flori Paul Semenec, project planner with Sarasota County, points out the invasive Cogongrass. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 37


A new canal bank will be replanted with native vegetation that will lter pollutants and provide nat ural habitat. In total, the contractor will plant 23,225 new native plants and trees in the preserve. Water will ow better through a canal that feeds the lake in the slough. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 38


da which came as a surprise to Audubon members. They are a bird in terrible decline in Florida, Dubi said of the warblers found nesting near the preserves lake. The Florida subspecies of the yellow and olive green warbler is listed as a Species of Concern because of its dwindling numbers. The preserves otters, meanwhile, have been spotted during construction work, said Meaux. Restoring the 2-acre wetland forest, along with the addition of native vegetation through out the preserve, will be good for birds and other wildlife, Dubi said. It is a nice park, and it will be even better with this restoration, she added. The local Audubon president has one con cern, however. Whenever restoration proj ects are completed, it is important that a maintenance plan be put in place, to control the future spread of invasive species, such as Cogongrass, and to maintain the area in its new condition. I would hope in the plans they have a mech anism for controlling invasives in the future, Dubi said. Very often these places can revert to weeds. FILTERING STORMWATER In the rst section (Segment A) of improve ments, crews have begun to reshape the bank of a canal that runs perpendicular to Bene va Road, along the southern boundary of the A pipe that drains stormwater into the wetland will be replaced in Segment B. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 39


An engineering diagram shows the plans for Red Bug Slough. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 40


preserve Stormwater ows through the canal into the preserve, which empties into Phillippi Creek. The new littoral shelf will allow wa ter to lter through native vegetation, such as pickerelweed and arrowhead, which will replace the removed Cogongrass. In Segment B, the project will restore a 1-acre tract of forested swamp that had been dried out and mostly overgrown with another inva sive species Brazilian peppers. Two hundred pop ash trees, along with 50 Florida elms and 50 swamp tupelo trees, will replace the Brazilian peppers. An old half-rust ed drainage pipe will be removed; in its place, workers will install a pipe designed to allow rainwater to ow better into the restored for ested swamp. Crews will also construct an other littoral shelf designed to lter nutrients from rainwater. In Segment C, crews will restore 1.5-acres of wetlands in the northern stretch of the pre serve, near Proctor Road, and add two foot bridges for park goers to traverse. Crews will reshape the terrain so water moves slowly, allowing additional ltration of pollutants be fore rainwater ows into Phillippi Creek. The longer water stays in the wetlands sys tem, the more pollutants are ltered out natu rally, said Meaux, with Sarasota County Water Resources. Even though it is only halfway completed, the project already appeared to be alter ing the water ow after recent heavy rains, Semenec said. You could see it was working, slowing down stormwater as it headed downstream, Seme nec noted. Meaux called Red Bug Slough an oasis amid development. The preserve was purchased in 2000 and 2001 through the countys Environ mentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program, with funding assistance provided by Florida Communities Trust. The preserve includes habitats such as prairie and hydric hammock, mesic atwoods, hardwood basin swamps and waterways. After the restoration, the preserve is going to be a lot better, Meaux said. Additional work, however, will still be neces sary, because the project is not designed to re move all the invasive vegetation in the park. % A family of otters living in the park has been spotted during construction work. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 41


The committee pondering the fate of the city-county Community Redevelopment Agen cy began to wrap up its research phase on Wednesday evening, July 24. During its fourth of 14 planned meetings, it heard from Carol Westmoreland, the director of the Florida Re development Association. The organization, an offshoot of the Flori da League of Cities, is composed of the 208 CRAs in the state. Of that total, she said, only six have extended their terms of opera tion. The local committee is charged with giving advice to the Sarasota City and County com missions about the future of their tax-incre ment-funded district. In 1986, the two local government entities agreed to freeze prop erty taxes and devote all city and county property tax revenue above the 1986 base level to ght slum and Eight of the nine members of the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area Extension Study Com mittee prepare to receive documents from Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown (center-left). Photo by Stan Zimmerman OUT OF 208 COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCIES CREATED IN THE STATE, ONLY SIX HAVE EXTENDED THEIR TERMS OF OPERATION, A LOCAL COMMITTEE LEARNS ITS ALL SUBJECTIVE Its about the money. Carol Westmoreland Director Florida Redevelopment Association By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


blight in a dened area of downtown Saraso ta. Much later, they added the Newtown area to the CRA. Each year as property values grow, the differ ence between the 1986 tax revenue and cur rent revenue grows as well. For the current scal year, the county is contributing $3.5 mil lion, and the city is kicking in $3.1 million. The deal has produced $76 million over the past 27 years. In the early days, fully 95 per cent of the money went into bricks and mor tar infrastructure. Today about half is used for projects. The rest ostensibly goes toward city operations in the district such as police protection. But in reality, that $2.6 million is put back into the citys general fund. In 2004, the City Commission decided unilat erally to use CRA money to fund operations of the Police Department and landscaping crews. Several county commissioners are concerned about how the city is running the CRA. The original agreement was good for 30 years; it expires in 2016. The committee is tasked with making recommendations about the In 2003, city ofcials worked with representatives of Whole Foods, whose headquarters is in Austin, TX, to open a store in downtown Sarasota. Photo by LoneStarMike via Wikimedia Commons Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 43


CRAs future. Should it be extended? Modi ed? How should it be governed? With Westmorelands appearance, the Down town Community Redevelopment Agency Area Extension Study Committee was able to nd out how the other 207 CRAs in Florida are governed and how they spend their money. THE VERY FLEXIBLE CRA Westmoreland said that while a state statute enabled the creation of CRAs, the agencies are not bound by tight regulation or decisions in multiple court cases. Flexibility is a bless ing of the statute, she said. Court cases are few and interpretation is based on your past experience. However, past experience might not help the local committee members nd an answer to their rst and biggest question: Should the Sarasota CRA be extended? Only six CRAs statewide have lengthened their terms, in cluding those in Bradenton and Palmetto, said Westmoreland. Most CRAs were created later; therefore, they have not yet bumped up against expiration dates. Committee member Michael Beaumier asked, Of the six who extended, what was their plan? Basically, you need a new plan when you re start a plan for what will happen over the duration, replied Westmoreland. Then she touched on a second issue that lingers over the local CRA. State law says a major CRA function is to ght slum and blight. But few people today would say, after the injection of A map shows the boundaries of the downtown Sarasota CRA. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 44


$76 m illion, that downtown Sarasota suffers from slum and blight. It is not the Websters dictionary denition of blight, she added. It is the statutory deni tion of blight. Ive had one county commissioner say, I would have to get past telling people down town Sarasota is blighted with a straight face before I could vote for it, said Committee Chairman David Merrill, a former Sarasota mayor. If you cannot passionately defend [the CRA], maybe it shouldnt be in the area, Westmo reland responded. You have to prove it; you have to do a study. Crime, parking, ooding, vacancies: These all can be used to demon strate blight. It is all subjective. GETTING TO THE ROOT Its about the money. And more [communi ties] are using the money for operations be cause cities and counties are hurting, West moreland continued. But you can get into legal trouble if you do not fund what you promised to fund. The mantra for spending should be, its in the plan and its in the dis trict. Where most CRAs get into trouble is ghting over control of the money. Who do you want to control the money? she asked. Indepen dent boards are few; you can count them on the ngers of one hand. The fact is, 95 percent are elected [ofcials]. Maybe thats the trend; maybe thats a best practice. Westmoreland returned time and again to the fundamental role of the CRA, one the commit tee has heard again and again. The mission of the CRA is to sustain and improve the tax base. Every expenditure should be an invest ment with an expected ROI [return on invest ment]. The best way to do that, she said, is partnering with non-government entities. When will pri vate industry want to invest in the area? The CRA gives an incentive, based on a commit ment to a plan. It gives additional certainty to developers. What are the chances the private sector will want to be your partner? While the CRA investment may be a one-time boost to a developer, the CRA will reap the benets of increased tax revenue year after year. Last month, the committee heard the ex ample of the downtown Whole Foods grocery store. In 2003, the CRA provided almost $5 million to bring the company to downtown Sarasota. The year the deal was cut, the property was assessed for tax purposes at $3.2 million. To day it is on the books for $57.4 million, and Whole Foods has paid $6.6 million in property taxes. In this case, it is a 2:1 return-on-invest ment ratio, plus the city has a share of the stores parking garage. Westmoreland says her organization regularly sees 14:1 rates of return on CRA partnerships with private industry. If the CRA is not extend ed, she added, You lose the investment from the private sector. At its rst meeting, the committee decided to divide its time into thirds: one-third research, one-third deliberation and one-third to draft a report. Westmorelands visit was the fourth of 14 planned meetings. The next one is sched uled for Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 5:30 p.m. in Sara sota City Hall. It is open to the public. % Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 45


Sarasota County students perform a trapeze act during a Sailor Circus show this spring. Photo by Norman Schimmel GRANTED, WITH PLEASURE Were known all over the country and all over the world. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County


After ju st a few questions about meetings involving representatives from South Coun ty, Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson joined her colleagues this summer in approving recommended cultural and arts grants for the next scal year. The $1,533,965 in funding from Tourist De velopment Tax (TDT) revenue will go to 34 organizations, with 8 percent of it allocated to three South County entities, according to Fern Tavalin, grants director for the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. Two other grants recipients plan performanc es in South County, Tavalin added in her July 9 presentation to the County Commission: Art ist Series Concerts of Sarasota and Coexis tence Inc., which holds the annual Embracing Ou r Differences competition and displays the resulting artwork. The latter plans to show case the winners for a month at North Port High School in addition to hosting its annual display in the city of Sarasotas Bayfront Park. Because of those plans, Tavalin noted, a total of 9.4 percent of the grants funding will be allocated toward South County events. In July 2012, Robinson cast the solitary No vote on the annual awarding of the arts and cultural grants, which are designed to spur tourism. During a June 2012 appearance be fore the County Commission, Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance, was unable to provide all the infor mation Robinson had requested regarding his efforts to encourage more South County orga nizations to apply for the funding. The Sarasota Ballet has made a national name for itself in performing works by Sir Frederick Ashton. The company presented Les Rendezvous during the 2012-13 season. Photo by Frank Atura UNLIKE THE SITUATION IN 2012, THE COUNTY COMMISSION READILY APPROVES FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ARTS PROGRAMS IN THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 47


Artists collaborate on artwork during the 2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 48


During his su bsequent appearance before the board on July 11, 2012, Shirley still did not have all the documentation Robinson had sought. At that time, Robinson also pointed to her concern that although the Alliances grants panel had recommended funding for three South County organizations in the 2013 scal year, the total was almost $4,500 less than the single grant that went to a South County ap plicant in FY 2012. On July 9, Robinson asked Shirley about a de tailed list of meetings he had conducted, which included the notation that he had met with rep resentatives of 16 county schools at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. That ree cted a luncheon the Arts and Cul tural Alliance holds each year for principals from all the countys schools, Shirley respond ed. Those principals have a lot of inuence related to the arts in their communities, he added. When Robinson said she did not see any meet ings listed that involved representatives from arts and cultural groups in Englewood, Shir ley told her he had had ve or six conversa tions with individuals from that community; he must have accidentally omitted them from his list. I just wanted to make sure that they were in cluded in case Im asked, Robinson told him. She represents South County communities on the County Commission. Dezhon Fields will reprise his role as Sammy Davis Jr. for Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe perfor mances Aug. 21 through Sept. 1. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 49


STAT ISTICS During her presentation, Tavalin pointed out that the benchmark for a cultural events suc cess in drawing tourists set by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies is to nd 30 percent of the attendees are from out of town. Thats really good, she said. Yet, the applications for the FY 2014 grants projected average tourist attendance of 53 percent, she noted. Among the applications seeking funding sup port for the next scal year, she continued, only one was not recommended for an award, she continued. The reason was that its appli cation was incomplete. We dont decide this capriciously, Tavalin added. Any organization that submits an incomplete application is provided an opportunity to rem edy the problems. The criteria used to evaluate the applications are as follows, she said: artistic/cultural pur pose; tourist appeal; and administrative com petence of the organization seeking funding. More weight is given to the rst two factors, Tavalin noted. This year, she continued, the scores for the funding requests ranged from 89 to 100, add ing, These are the highest quality applications to date. In making the motion to approve the funding requests, Commissioner Joe Barbetta noted the incredible economic impact arts and cul tural events have in the county. Were known all over the country and all over the world, he add ed. Ditto, sai d Commissioner Nora Patterson, who is chairwoman of the countys Tourist Development Council. She noted that that advisory committee unanimously had recom mended approval of the FY 2014 grants. GRANT RECIPIENTS The following is a list of the FY 2014 grant awards: Art Center Sarasota Inc., Incredible Jour ney in the amount of $36,773. Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Inc., Sea son 18, in the amount of $38,810. Asolo Theatre Inc., The American Charac ter, Year Two, in the amount of $88,397. Avenida de Colores Inc., Sarasota Chalk Festival, in the amount of $49,471. Banyan Theatre Company Inc., Banyan The aters 2014 Summer Season of Diversity, in the amount of $17,909. Circus Sarasota Inc., Winter Production, in the amount of $66,614. Circus Sarasota Inc., Sailor Circus Holiday Spectacular Show Series and Sailor Cir cus Spring Show Series, in the amount of $22,555. Coexistence Inc., Embracing Our Differ ences in the amount of $32,970. Florida State University on behalf of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation Inc., Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World in the amount of $75,509. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 50


Flori da Studio T heatre Inc., 2014 New Play Festival, in the amount of $44,654. Florida Studio Theatre Inc., Summerfest 2014, in the amount of $44,654. Florida West Coast Symphony Inc., dba Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Orches tra 2013-14 Season Programming, in the amount of $91,131. Fuzin Dance Artists Inc., Fuzin Dance Artists Eighth Season Concert in the amount of $4,523. Gloria Musicae Inc., Voices of the Holo caust in the amount of $10,489. Jazz Club of Sarasota Inc., 34th Annual Sara sota Jazz Festival, in the amount of $12,704. Key Chorale Inc., On the Edge of Tomor row in the amount of $17,379. La Musica di Asolo Inc., Moving Music in the amount of $17,927. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Inc., The Year of The Rainforest Cultural Program ming, in the amount of $91,131. Mote Marine Laboratory Inc., Beautiful but Deadly in the amount of $87,486. New College Foundation Inc., New Music New College: National and Internation al Visiting Artists 2013, in the amount of $17,646. Sarasota Ballet of Florida Inc., 23rd Season and The Sir Frederick Ashton Festival, in the amount of $89,309. Sarasota Dance Festival Inc. db a Sarasota In ternational Dance Fes tival, Mythical Women of Ancient Greece in the amount of $23,434. Sarasota Film Festival Inc., 16th Annu al Sarasota Film Festival, in the amount of $90,220. Sarasota Opera Association Inc., Opera Lovers Weekend 2014, in the amount of $90,220. Sarasota Pops Orchestra Inc., The Pops 2013-14 Season, in the amount of $4,993. Sarasota Season of Sculpture Inc., Season VII, in the amount of $7,381. The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast Inc., Itzhak Perlman and The Perlman Music Program/Suncoast Celebrates Is rael @ 65 in the amount of $39,160. The Players Inc., Broadway Theatre Se ries, in the amount of $41,243. The Players Inc., Summer Sizzler Series, in the amount of $10,311. The Venice Symphony Inc., Reel Classics in the amount of $7,733. Van Wezel Foundation Inc., World Class Entertainment, in the amount of $91,131. Venice Art Center Inc., Venice Art Cen ter 2013-2014 Exhibits, in the amount of $30,797. Venice Little Theatre Inc., Shoulder to Summer 2013-14, in the amount of $89,309. Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Flor ida Inc., Rhythms of Change Shoulder Season, in the amount of $49,992. % Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 51


An associate Sarasota County administrator sent an email this week to the managers in all the countys municipalities, asking them to determine whether their boards would be willing to contribute to the estimated $40,000 expense of having a nationally known expert on homelessness develop a plan of action for the county. The expense to each of the municipalities, As sistant Administrator Lee Ann Lowery wrote, would be $8,000, if all participated. She sent her email on July 24 to Dave Bullock in the Town of Longboat Key, Jonathan Lewis in the City of North Port, Edward F. Lavallee in the City of Venice and Marlon Brown, dep uty city manager for the City of Sarasota. Later that day, County Administrator Randall Reid notied Lowery that he al ready had spo ken with T om Barwin, city manager in Sara sota. Referring to Barwin and his staff, Reid wrote, [T]hey are prepared to advance a joint agreement to their Commission. I advised him we were giving the other cities an opportunity to join [the] process. In her email to the city managers, Lowery wrote, As you know, the Gulf Coast Founda tion and the Community Foundation [of Sara sota County] brought Dr. [Robert] Marbut to Sarasota County last week for a look at the homeless issue in our community. Dr. Marbut also shared his expertise with us and made some initial recommendations, particularly as it relates to the need for shelters for fami lies in north and south Sarasota County and a shelter for the chronically homeless in the City of Sarasota. Valerie Guillory organizes a prayer brunch each Friday in the homeless community she has created on 10th Street in Sarasota. Photo by Stan Zimmerman COUNTY SEEKING $40,000 FROM CITIES FOR HOMELESSNESS STUDY NEWS BRIEFS


She co nti nued, The City of Sarasota and Sarasota County are interested in bringing Dr. Marbut to our community to develop a Stra tegic Action Plan to address homelessness. Since this is a community-wide issue and a community plan, we are asking if your city is willing to participate in bringing Dr. Marbut here, hopefully very soon. Marbuts fee for consulting services is $5,732 per month for three months, she added, and he has agreed to offer a fourth month pro bono. In addition to his consulting fee, Low ery continued, we would be responsible for travel expenses, including air fare, hotel, per diem, airport parking and car rental, as appli cable. According to the Marbut Consulting website Marbut has worked on homelessness issues for more than 30 years. In 2 007, frustrated by the lack of real im provement Dr. Marbut conducted a na tionwide best practices study of homeless services, the website notes. After person ally visiting 237 homeless service facilities, in 12 states and the District of Columbia, he developed The Seven Guiding Principles of Transformation When Barwin announced late this spring that Marbut would be visiting Sarasota, Barwin pointed out that Marbut had helped establish facilities for the homeless in Pinellas County. Marbut has visited a total of 531 operations in 19 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Mexico, his website adds. He utilizes his Seven Guiding Principles of Transformation in all aspects of his work, the website points out, to create ho listic, transformative environments in order to reduce homelessness, the website says. Rachel Brown Hackney When Downtown I mprovement District (DID) members Dr. Mark Kaufman and William Pettey last year mentioned during a meeting that they had erased emails concerning DID business, it was only a matter of time before somebody brought them to task. That someone was Sarasota paralegal Mi chael Bareld, who sued the city, Kaufman and Pettey to recover the missing emails. Such series of correspondence are considered public records under state law, and while it is legal to have them on a personal comput er, the records must be produced on demand. Erasure is not a legal option. City Attorney Bob Fournier and Barelds at torney asked a judge for permission to search DOWNTOWN IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT SUNSHINE LAWSUIT SETTLED the members computer hard drives for the missing emails. We recovered some of them, said Fournier. He called that Phase One. However, Bareld then expanded his search to the now-dismissed city Charter Review Com mittee as well as the still-functioning Saraso ta Planning Board. He suggested there was a pervasive practice of sending emails about city business from private accounts. Fournier called that Phase Two. Bar eld asked for an injunction requiring all city advisory boards to use city Internet ac counts and turn over all emails. I said you dont have standing to ask for an injunction, Fournier recalls telling Bareld. Later Bareld came back to suggest both sides voluntarily dismis s the suit. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 53


Members of city advisory committees including the Downtown Improvement District are obli gated to abide by state Sunshine laws. Photo by Norman Schimmel The cost of th e legal work for the Kaufman and Pettey email issues in Phase One will be $8,300. Kaufman maintained his innocence. There were no emails deleted in the period [Bar eld] requested, Kaufman said during the July 23 DID meeting. And I was given no instruction from the city about this [Sunshine Law] issue. Fournier pointed out that the $8,300 will be levied against the DIDs budget account, sim ilar to the process utilized for other city de partments needing legal work. And if you get another request [for records], make me aware of it and the [City of Saraso ta Auditor and] Clerks Ofce, too, he told DID members this week. Stan Zimmerman Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 54


On July 22, th e C ity of Sarasota began a pe destrian safety enhancement project that in cludes new crosswalks, curbs and ramps at the intersections of Novus Street, Wood Street and Bay Street along School Avenue. The work is expected to continue for about two more weeks, with completion planned before the Sarasota County schools reopen for the 2013-14 school year, a city news release says. Depending upon the weather, the schedule called for School Avenue to be closed at the intersection of Novus Street until July 27. A detour has been directing northbound trafc on School Avenue to Shade Avenue and from there to Ringling Boulevard back to School Avenue, the release notes. Another detour di rects southbound trafc on School Avenue to Shade Avenue and from there to Hatton Street and back to Schoo l Ave nue. Schoo l Avenue is expected to be closed at the intersection of Wood Street (east) from July 29 to Aug. 3. A detour will direct northbound trafc on School Avenue to Shade Avenue and from there to Ringling Boulevard back to School Avenue. Southbound trafc on School Avenue will be directed to Shade Avenue and from there to Hatton Street back to School Avenue, the release says. Wood Street (west) will be closed near School Avenue from Aug. 5-9, weather permitting, the release adds. A detour will direct northbound trafc on U.S. 301/U.S. 41 at Wood Street to Ringling Boulevard then to School Avenue; southbound trafc on U.S. 301/U.S. 41 will be directed to Bahia Vista Street then to School Avenue, the release notes. SCHOOL AVENUE PEDESTRIAN SAFETY PROJECT UNDER WAY A crew works this week at the intersection of School Avenue and Novus Street. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 55


Roger Drouin, county editor of The Sarasota News Leader has won a third-place award in the 2012 Better Weekly Newspaper contest sponsored by the Florida Press Association. Drouin was honored for his reporting on the efforts to restore Sarasota Countys Red Bug Slough. An update on that project appears in the News Leader this week. The winning article appeared last year in both the Sarasota Observer and the Pelican Press It was honored in the Agricultural & Environ mental reporting category. Staff Reports DROUIN TAKES THIRD-PLACE HONORS IN STATEWIDE CONTEST Roger Drouin. Contributed photo The South Florida Museum in Bradenton re corded 2,300 paid admissions inside the muse um on July 20 for the 65 th birthday celebration of its resident celebrity manatee, Snooty. Jessica Schubick, the museums communica tions manager, said staff conservatively esti mated about 6,000 people participated in the festival. Big turnout this year! she added in an email to The Sarasota News Leader Snooty is an extra-special manatee who sets records every day for how long we know manatees can live, a museum news release added. Childrens games and activities, entertain ment and wildlife awareness opportunities were among the other events held Saturday along with Snootys numerous appearances on the surface of his pool, so he could accept green leafy birthday treats. Snooty was born on July 21, 1948 at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Co., which no longer THOUSANDS TURN OUT TO CELEBRATE SNOOTYS BIRTHDAY exists, according to a fact sheet the museum provided to visitors. He was brought to Bra denton as part of the 1949 DeSoto Celebra tion. Since then, the fact sheet says, he has greeted more than 2 million visitors. At 9 feet 8 inches in length, Snooty weighs about 1,020 pounds, the sheet adds. His girth is 89 inches. An herbivore, he consumes about 70 pounds of food each day mostly romaine lettuce, though he also eats carrots, kale, cabbage, collards, bok choy, broccoli and apples. He gets vitamin supplements, too. Brynne Anne Besio, executive director of the South Florida Museum, says in a news release that Snooty provides valuable insight into the health and life cycle of all manatees. Re searchers are able to work with Snooty in a hands-on manner that is not permissible for the wild, endangered manatee population. Staff Reports Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 56


Snooty gets another treat for his 65th birthday. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 57


Visitors ock to the South Florida Museum in Bradenton to wish Snooty Happy birthday. Photo by Norman Schimmel In view from below the surface, Snooty munches on some greens for his birthday. Photo by Nor man Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 58


The Saraso ta County Master Gardeners, a volunteer group working through Sarasota County Extension, has completed a beautication project at the Oak Park School, 7285 Proctor Road in Sarasota, the county has announced. Oak Park School serves more than 300 special needs students. To improve the landscaping at the schools entrance and bus drop-off sites, the Master Gardeners put in four large urns lled with snowbush and impatiens as well as a 48-footlong picket fence backed by podocarpus bush es and fronted with knockout rose bushes, a news release says. Another entrance has been lined with areca palms. MASTER GARDENERS GIVE BACK TO SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS The p roject was completed by Master Gar dener Bonnie Feise and her husband, George, with help from Oak Park School teacher Carol Wojtyna. The Feises have a grandson who is challenged with Aspergers syndrome, the re lease notes, and Wojtynas daughter is a grad uate of the school. The project received support from a Sarasota County Master Gardener grant, as well as con tributions from community leaders and local businesses, including Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, Troys Nursery, Albrittons Nursery, Treasure Cove Statuary and St. Thomas More Catholic Church, the release says. The Sa rasota Police Department won several awards in its size category during the Florida Law Enforcement Challenge 2012, the depart ment has announced. This is the rst time the agency has placed since it began reporting statistics, a news release says. The department was honored during a ceremony on July 19 in Orlando. The Police Department received secondand third-place honors in the Click It or Ticket cat egory; it was competing against 38 other law enforcement agencies with 151 to 250 ofcers each, the release notes. By developing comprehensive programs and taking part in trafc and safety events such as Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, the Sarasota Police Department is making signicant and positive impacts in the community, the release continues, as it is reducing tra fc-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. As part of those initiatives, the departments trafc ofcers have developed a zone sys tem, the release continues. When a complaint comes in, the ofcer responsible for the zone in question conducts a study of the area to nd out if other trafc ofcers need to be in volved, the release notes. Statistics show a reduction in the number of complaints being received because of that action, the release points out. Chief Bernadette DiPino added in the release, Trafc safety is public safety! I am so proud of our ofcers, especially our Trafc Unit, un der the leadership of Sgt. Robert Resch. It was a great honor to receive these awards in the presence of a room full of our peers. Ofcer Tim Bales, Sgt. Resch and I proudly accepted the Eagle trophies on behalf of the Sarasota Police Department. POLICE DEPARTMENT HONORED IN STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT CHALLENGE Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 59


Ofcer Tim Bales (left) and Sgt. Robert Resch hold their Florida Law Enforcement Challenge award. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 60


Sheriff To m Knigh t has announced that the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce Trafc Unit was awarded second place last week in the Florida Law Enforcement Challenge (FLEC) in Orlando. FLEC is sponsored by the Florida Law En forcement Liaison Program and is funded by a grant from the Florida Department of Trans portation and the National Highway Trafc Safety Administration, a news release says. FLEC rewards the best overall trafc safety programs in Florida based on efforts to en force laws and educate the public about oc cupant protection, impaired driving and other areas of trafc safety, th e release notes. CLARIFICATION An editors inclusion of a photo with the Go ing native article in the July 19 issue indicat ed that hibiscus plants are native to Florida. However, the hibiscus most people are famil iar with, Rosa sinensis is a native of Asia. The edible hibiscus, Hibiscus acetosella ac tually comes from Africa. It has deep purple foliage and a carmine bloom. SHERIFFS OFFICE TRAFFIC UNIT WINS STATE AWARD` (From left) Deputy Mike Feltovic, Deputy Simon Franks, Sgt. Darrell Seckendorf and Deputy Chris Butler. Contributed photo Each competing agency submits an applica tion that documents its efforts and effective ness in these areas, the release adds. For the Sheriffs Ofce, the application reected an increase in trafc safety initiatives over the previous year, the release says. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 61


Sarasota County libraries and the Sarasota County Historical Commission want to know what people think life will be like in Sarasota County in the year 2071. Some of the most creative visions will be in cluded in a time capsule that will be buried Dec. 14 at a site near the Osprey Library at Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, a county news release says. Residents are invited to submit one-page es says, drawings or black-and-white photos describing what life is like in 2013 Sarasota County or what they think life will be like in 2071, the release adds. Collection boxes will be available at any of the nine Sarasota Coun ty libraries. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 1. All material offered should include the name, age, address and phone number of the per son submitting it, the release notes. A panel of judges will review the material and notify participants of winning entries, the release points out. The time capsule promotion is a part of the Florida Department of States Viva Florida 500 campaign celebrating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce De Len in 1513, the release says. The capsule will be opened in 2071, in cele bration of the 150th anniversary of Sarasota County. All submissions become the property of Sara sota County; they may be used in promotions and articles about the project, the release notes. Employees of the Sarasota County Li braries and a subcommittee of the Sarasota County Historical Commission will choose the contents of the capsule, the release adds. Unused items will not be returned. For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000 (TTY 7-1-1) or visit % LIBRARIES INVITE PEOPLE TO PACK THE VIVA FLORIDA TIME CAPSULE Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didnt do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover. Mark Twain Dont have your own subscription to The Sarasota News Leader ? Subscribe for FREE and receive a weekly notication when the latest issue is available online. FREE SUBSCRIPTION Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 62


The Sarasot a County Sheriffs Office has charged a known gang member from Braden ton in connection with the death of popular restaurant manager Taian Andrew Tian, Sheriff Tom Knight announced on July 24. As a result of witness statements and inves tigative work, a Sheriffs Ofce report says, detectives were able to identify the three men who left the New Dynasty restaurant on July 14 without paying for their $35 meal. In speak ing with two of the men, the report continues, detectives learned that Juan De Dios Rodri guez, 20, of 2313 52nd Avenue East in Braden ton, threw the punch that knocked Tian to the ground and caused the serious head trau ma that led to his death, a news release adds. Rodriguez is also the man witnesses described as having a Ro sary tattoo on his hand, the re port not es. The other two men are considered witnesses in the case, Knight said during a press conference. Rodriguez struck Tian because Rodriguez did not want to pay a $35.31 bill at the restaurant, Knight added. Rodriguez is a documented gang member with a violent history that includes several weapons charges, the news release points out. However, Knight made the point during the press conference that the incident at the restaurant was not considered gang-related. Rodriguez was taken into custody on July 23 and charged with Manslaughter. He is being held in the Sarasota County Jail without bond. Knight thanked the Manatee County Sheriffs Of ce for its assistance in makin g the arrest possible. Sheriff Tom Knight announced the arrest of a Bradenton man for the death of Andrew Tian in a press conference on July 24. (Inset) Juan De Deios Rodriguez/Contributed photo BRADENTON MAN CHARGED IN RESTAURANT OWNERS DEATH CRIME BLOTTER


This crime is a senseless tragedy, said Knight in the release. It began with a bad decision to commit a dine and dash prank and led to a far worse choice that resulted in the death of a much loved man. We are committed to mak ing sure that Rodriguez is held responsible for his decisions and actions. Knight also pointed out during the press con ference that Crime Stoppers received about 40 tips in the case. Crime Stoppers initially offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the persons involved in the restaurant owners assault, Knight said. That reward rose eventually to $6,000. Tians girlfriend, MaryLou Anderson, appeared with Knight at the press conference to express her appreciation to him and his ofcers. They have been diligent and they have been tender to me at this most difcu lt time, she said. Simply put, Crime Stoppers relies upon the cooperation between the police the media and the community to provide a ow of information about crime and criminals. Call: (941) 366-TIPS (8477) Click: Text: Text TIP109 plus your message to CRIMES (274637) All submitted tips are secure and anonymous Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 64


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce has ar rested two men for allegedly committing an armed robbery during a drug deal gone bad, the ofce has announced. Early Saturday morning, July 20, a man re ported that he and a friend were robbed at gunpoint by two men who were supposed to sell them a signicant amount of prescription drugs, according to the report. The person told Sheriffs Ofce personnel that the plan called for Arnold to come to his residence so he and his friend could purchase 50 Dilaudid pills for $1,020, the report says. Once inside the house, Arnold brandished a semi-automat ic handgun and demanded the money, the re port continues. A short time after the Sheriffs Ofce received the call about the incident, deputies spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspects car at Cattlemen Road and Center Pointe Drive and attempted to conduct a traf c stop, the report adds. The vehicle initially took off but was stopped less than a quarter of a mile away. The suspects were arrested, and deputies recovered a stolen Taurus 9mm hand gun and $900 cash, according to the report. The rearm was found to have been stolen from the Sarasota Police Department, the re port notes. Both the man who called the Sheriffs Ofce about the incident and his friend were able to identify the suspects, the report adds. Earnest Arnold, 17, of 1850 21st St., Sarasota, was charged with two counts each of Robbery with a Firearm and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He has a lengthy criminal history and is currently being held by the De partment of Juvenile Justice, a news release says. Robert Rutledge, 22, of 1927 33rd St., Saraso ta, was charged with two counts of Robbery with a Firearm, Fleeing to Elude and Driving with a Revoked License. Earnest Arnold/Contributed photo Robert Rutledge/Contributed photo TWO MEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH AN ARMED ROBBERY Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 65


The Sar asota County Sheriffs Ofce has ar rested two south Florida men caught trying to scam a local store out of a truckload of furni ture with a bad check, the ofce has reported. Employees at Kanes Furniture, located at 5252 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, contacted the Sheriffs Ofce just after 5 p.m. on July 18 when sales people became suspicious of a pending transaction, according to the report. Customers had arrived in a U-Haul truck, act ed like they were in a hurry and tried to rush the purchase of more than $3,000 worth of fur niture, a news release says. The store recently has experienced problems with people either stealing property from em ployees or committing fraud and/or theft of furniture through fraudulent practices, such as buying furniture with checks for which in sufcient funds were available to cover the purchases, the report notes. After sepa rating the men for questioning, dep uties determined their stories did not match and that they barely knew each other, the release adds. Jamael Jackson admitted he had only $100 in the bank and that William Simmons had forged Jacksons name on the check. Simmons, 52, of 1408 Seventh St., West Palm Beach, was charged with Attempted Grand Theft, Forgery and Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft. Jackson, 40, of 1148 W. 33rd St., Riviera Beach, was charged with Attempted Grand Theft and Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft, the report says. Three female suspects left the store prior to the deputies arriving; the report adds; the in vestigation is continuing as detectives attempt to identify them. Detectives caution business owners to remain vigilant and cautious of similar activity. SOUTH FLORIDA MEN CHARGED WITH FURNITURE THEFT Jamael Jackson/Contributed photo William Simmons/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 66


The Sarasota Co unty Sheriffs Ofce has ar rested a former member of the Englewood Masonic Lodge for allegedly stealing more than $90,000 from the groups scholarship fund. The investigation began in May when Michael Cripps, 59, of 6463 Facet Lane, Port Char lotte, contacted the Sheriffs Ofce to report himself for the ongoing crime, a report says. Detectives contacted the Lodge and learned Cripps was the sole person with access to the account, a news release says. Financial records showed that since July 2007, Cripps has cashed checks and made unauthorized personal purchases totaling $92,563.70, the release adds. In one instance, according to the report, Cripps cashed an $8,000 check he had made out to himself. Additionally, it says Cripps opened a bank account in Punta Gorda, where he also deposited Lodge funds. He received a debit card for that account, the report notes, and used it on 386 occasions to charge $38,729.84 for gas, groceries and other items, including merchandise he purchased from Amazon. Cripps turned himself in on the morning of July 18. He was charged with felony Scheme to Defraud and is being held on $50,000 bond, the release notes. This is at least the fourth arrest this year of someone who stole a signicant amount of money from an employer, church or organiza tion, the release points out. We continue to warn business owners to institute procedures as simple as requiring two signatures on checks and ensuring monthly nancial statements are reviewed by more than just the person respon sible for those funds, the release says. % MAN ARRESTED FOR STEALING FROM SCHOLARSHIP FUND Michael Cripps/Contributed photo For the best viewing experience on a computer click the icon in the menubar to zoom to fullscreen mode. QUICK TIP Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 67


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ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL EDITORIAL OPINION EDITORIAL T here is a saying popu lar with cynics: Sur rounding every silver lining is a dark cloud. After several years in the top five of Dr. Beachs famed list, Siesta Key Public Beach became the No. 1 beach in the country. And the multitudes came to visit. That is the silver lining. The dark cloud is that not everyone who came deserved to be here or was t to visit our beautiful but delicate shores. Long before human beings strolled the snowy white sands, there were others: creatures of every description and size, creatu res that slithered, gamboled, swam and soared. For most of the last few millennia, humans and the rest of nature existed together in rel ative harmony. It only has been in recent de cades that the crush of people migrating to the coast has been to the detriment of all other living things. Governments have attempted to provide safegu ards to minimize the friction between humankind and wild life, as more and more habitat is lost to de velopment. And those efforts have been rea sonably successful, to the extent that most people honored those protec tions. Sadly it Some heartless person has demonstrated that having the most beautiful beach also means attracting those who not only cannot fully appreciate its beauty, but who also seek to diminish it.


always seems to be a tiny minority who cre ates the most damage. Two bird species that like to call Siesta Public Beach home much of the year Least Terns and Snowy Plovers are considered endan gered. Their natural habitat is becoming more and more limited. Their tiny size and nesting habits, which amount to little more than laying eggs in a de pression in open sand or grass on the beach, make them especially vulnerable to the de structive power of human carelessness or malice. As a consequence, buffer areas are clearly marked on the beaches of Siesta Key, warning beachgoers to avoid these areas because they are popular with the increasingly rare birds. The Sarasota Audubon Society annually mo bilizes a small army of volunteers who guard the patches of beach and dunes that make up the birds diminishing nesting grounds. The volunteers celebrate each year the few nest lings that hatch and grow into self-sufcient adults. And they mourn the losses to the birds natural predators, mostly crows. But more than mourning is called for when the nests are destroyed by humans. There are laws and ordinances in place to protect and encourage these tiny creatures to propagate, and those people who do them harm are in violation of those laws and should be justly penalized. So far this year, there have been two blatant examples of vandalism in the buffer areas, where signs and marking boundaries were torn down. There even was a re set to the brush in one buffer spot. Earlier this month, Audubon volunteers found that someone had dragged a heavy chaise lounge through the buffer areas near Beach Accesses 3 and 4, creating deep tracks that also destroyed many nests. One would hope that it was absent-mindedness that was the cause of this vandalism, but the buffer areas are so clearly marked and awareness of the birds special needs so well known that a more likely reason is crass hostility. Some heartless person has demonstrated that having the most beautiful beach also means attracting those who not only cannot fully appreciate its beau ty, but who also seek to diminish it. When humanity was given dominion over the sh of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over ... all the wild animals of the earth, it surely was with the expectation that such dominion would be that of a benevolent mon arch, not a tyrannical despot. Humanitys evolution as a species no longer can be considered to involve survival only at the expense of many other life forms. Rather, humanitys survival depends on how well it minimizes its impact on the rest of creation. An enlightened consciousness of this reality is the best indication that our species truly is evolving. Albert Einstein once wrote, If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his rst act of absti nence is from injury to animals. Humanity was gifted with dominion over the earth by the Creator, not as owners but as stewards. Every pristine land destroyed, ev ery species driven into extinction, is an abject breach of that trust. The divine retribution that forces our species down the same path to oblivion likely will be the planet becoming too hostile for our survival and a fate of our own making. % Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 70


COMMENTARY Every day one reads that pric es on homes are reaching a new high in Sara sota, and each day we read that this is bad. Are both parts of this sentence true? And if not, what might be the truth? Some underlying facts: The bursting of the real estate bubble a few years back knocked down the prices of homes throughout the country, with Sarasota being one of the epicenters. How did we know that the bubble had burst? Prices for existing homes stopped going up. People who bought homes for $400,000, with the expectation that they would be able to sell them for $450,000 a month later, found no one was making them offers at those prices. Subsequently, of course, they were not even offered the amount they had originally paid. Once prices stopped rising, the bottom liter ally dropped out of the market. This drop in prices meant that an individu al homeowner who thought he/she owned a house valued at $400,000 now owned a house valued at, for example, $200,000. When a homeowner owes more money than the house is worth, the house is said to be underwater. COMMENTARY The drop in prices also meant that the val ues of the homes in which banks and rms had invested had fallen. A bank or investment rms portfolio (the homes in which it had in vested) that had been worth $400 million was now worth, for example, only $200 million. When the portfolio is worth less than the total value of the loans made to the homeowners, it is said to be underfunded. At this point in the analysis, it seems the banks and the homeowners are in the same boat (the yin and the yang): Each has lost 50 percent of his investment. If the homeowner continues to make pay ments and does not try to sell the house, there is no problem (other than psychological). However, a problem arises if the owner must move and is offered less than the amount he/ she needs to pay off the outstanding mort gage. If the homeowner must leave the house and cannot sell it at a high enough price to cover the debt, it makes economic sense to stop paying money that he/she will not be able to recover and to just leave. If the homeown ers do so, they are abandoning their homes; they are in default and the bank forecloses on them. A different problem also arose when the bub ble rst burst. People seein g that they no lon THE YIN AND YANG OF REAL ESTATE SARASOTA STYLE By Rodger Skidmore Contributing Writer Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 71


ger owned a $400,000 house, but instead a $200,000 home, thought they had lost $200,000 and stopped spending. When some people stop buying, that means others stop selling (again, the yin and the yang). And then others stop distributing and still others stop manu facturing which means people are laid off and then they really do not have money to spend. In actuality, the homeowners never owned a $400,000 house; they maybe owned $30,000 (their down payment) of that $400,000 resi dence, and the difference between owning $30,000 of a $400,000 home versus owning $30,000 of a $200,000 residence is minimal. No matter the supposed value of the house, they only owned a $30,000 stake in it. Unfor tunately, the psychological aspects were not minimal: People stopped spending, the domi no theory came into play and, as a result, they lost their jobs. Not having a job meant no in come, which meant not being able to make their mortgage payments. They found them selves in the same x as those who had to move and could not. The houses were under water and the homeowners were drowning and their homes went into foreclosure. The portion of the house they owned was the original down payment plus all subsequent payments of principal minus the amount that was taken out in equity loans. Most homeown ers, when they make payments, think they are increasing their ownership in their home paying down the principal. Actually, they are simply paying the banks the interest on their mortgage loans, as most mortgages require the payment of a great deal of the interest be fore even a small amount of the payments are applied as increases to the principal values for the homeowners (decreases to the principals of the loans from the bank). There really should be a new word, other than homeowner, to describe the people who think they own a house when they are simply the tenants of some bank. They are tenants because, if they stop making payments (call it a mortgage payment or call it rent; it comes to the same thing), they can be evicted. If someone in this predicament does not have enough money coming in to cover mortgage payments, the only solutions are to lose the home to foreclosure or to try to stay in the house until the value increases to the point where the person can sell it, pay off the bank and have enough left over to buy a less expen sive home. ANOTHER SIDE OF THE STORY The situation was different for banks: No mat ter who was to blame, they were considered too big to fail. How much of that view was based on PR hype, how much was brought on by the banks own actions by knowingly is suing bad loans and how much was a result of the gutting of banking regulations (paid for by campaign contributions from the banks) over the past few years or by bank lobbyists making hay while the sun was not shining, is open to question. Ignoring Wall Street, no one on Main Street questions the fact that the banks bore a great deal of the bla me (as did, Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 72


to a lesser extent, the ippers those who borrowed too much against the phantom eq uity of their homes and other houses they had bought). What solutions were open to the banks to cure their underfunded portfolios? One was what they had been doing all along: increas ing prots by selling shares in bundles of bad mortgages to pension funds around the world. Another, as stated above, was to pay their lob byists to get the federal government to bail them out with billions of dollars and low in terest rates (low, as in zero). A third approach was to foreclose on the non-performing loans. The problem with the first approach was that it should have been illegal. The problem with the second was that the money given to the banks in the bailout was supposed to be loaned to companies so they could contin ue to operate or to expand or to potential homeowners in the form of mortgages. In stead, the banks kept the money to prop up their reserves. Too bad Congress never put into writing the stipulation that the banks were supposed to loan the money. When new mortgages failed to materialize out of the bail out funds, the low interest rates the Federal Reserve charged the banks were supposed to do the trick. However, once again, that never was put into any law. The problem with the third solution fore closing on homeowners was that a lot of homeowners wound up on the street. Fur ther, banks not being property managers failed to maintain the houses that became empty. T he result was that, instead of owning good properties (they were good while they were being maintained by the homeowners), the banks owned abandoned properties sub ject to mold, theft of copper pipes, unkempt yards, etc.: a real downer for the community and nearby property owners. CONSEQUENCES So, where do we stand? From when the bubble burst until now, hardly anyone had been buying homes. In fact, for most of the time after the start of the reces sion, an inventory of multiple years worth of homes was available for sale and just sat with no takers. Why? Houses were cheaper after all; this should have been a great time to buy. A major problem is, and has been, that banks have not been making mortgage loans; or, if they said they were, they were asking for much higher down payments along with many other restrictions, which blocked sales. Many articles that have appeared since the start of the recession have been about banks not following through on the short sales of distressed homes. These were homes that the banks said they would allow to be sold for an amount below what the sellers owed on the mortgages. However, the banks repeatedly re neged on such sales just before closings. This practice became so widespread that many people wanting homes just stopped looking for bargains. With banks not giving mortgages to buyers and not offering loans to developers or con Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 73


tractors, and with many of those wanting to buy homes out of work, it is also understand able that new houses were not being built. NEW ECONOMIC FORCES This year, with unemployment down and the economy picking up, it is natural that homes have nally started to sell market forc es have prevailed. The inventory of existing homes available on the market has been re duced. While the news media says there was a four-year inventory of homes for sale (it would take four years to sell all the houses listed) and there is now only a three-and-ahalf-month inventory, the change is not as dramatic as it seems. If you have 120 houses listed and you sell one this month, it is consid ered that you have a 10-year inventory. If you sell one extra house, you have only a ve-year inventory. Seemingly small changes have great effects. Evidence of the turnaround, in one form or another, has been in the news media almost daily. Unemployment is down; consumer condence is up; home prices are up; hedge funds are buying up homes to rent (to peo ple who have lost their homes); new hotels are planned; the stock market is hitting alltime highs; condos are being built in Sarasota; apartment complexes are being sold to new owners; multi-lot tracts of land are changing hands the list goes on. Yet, during the 2013 legislative session the Florida Senate and House passed a bill, which Gov. Rick Sco tt signed, with the aim of speed ing up the proces s of completing the foreclo sures that are already in the courts. Their stated reason was that there was a logjam of foreclosures clogging our courts. There is no question that the Florida judicial system has a large buildup of unresolved fore closure cases. However, questions might be asked about that: Does this buildup reduce the supply of homes for sale; does it slow down the sale of homes; does it raise the specter of a new housing bubble with higher and higher prices; and nally, in summary, is this backlog a good or a bad thing? The buildup of foreclosures in the courts did not reduce the supply of homes for sale. Homes were not on the market because banks were not loaning money to developers; banks were not giving mortgages to potential buyers; banks were not following through on short sales; and many people were unemployed and could not afford to purchase homes. With the upturn in the economy, developers are now moving from the planning to the construction phase. The lead-time from designing to build ing has nothing to do with the foreclosures still in dispute. In fact, the delay in processing foreclosures means that those homeowners marginally un derwater can now, thanks to the simple pas sage of time, sell their homes without losing money. This increases the supply of homes for sale and reduces the backlog in the courts. The buildup of foreclosures in the courts does not slow down the sale of homes. Recent arti cles have stated there are thousands of homes Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 74


for which fore closure has been completed, with those houses not listed by the banks as being for sale. One conclusion is that the banks are stockpiling homes so when prices have gone up even further, they can then put the residences on the market and make even more money. As the rebound in the economy continues, more and more homeowners will put their houses on the market and a great er and greater number of them will be under water homeowners. The buildup of foreclosures in the courts also does not raise the specter of a new housing bubble with higher and higher prices. Yes, prices are rising, but they are rising only rela tive to the extremely low prices that resulted from the recession. As the prices of homes approach their properly appraised market levels, the rise will level off. If prices are in ated beyond their proper value, banks can simply not provide the potential buyers with mortgages a common sense approach that banks did not follow when there was a real bubble building. Is the backlog in the courts a good or a bad thing? It is a good thing (within reason), as it gives hundreds of thousands of homeown ers the breathing room necessary to get out of their difculties without losing everything. This is not an easy task; unfortunately, it takes a great deal of time. That being said, there are situations when the foreclosure process should be accelerated. It is true that there were thousands of homes abandoned by owners who stopped making mortgage payments. If the residences are va cant, the foreclosures should be expedited. If the owners are in residence and maintaining the homes, the economy, with its attendant higher real estate prices, should be able to solve the problems of unclogging the courts. When the country has recovered, the foreclo sure problem will have, to a great extent, re solved itself. REAPING THE REWARDS Who benets from the short supply of homes in Sarasota County? For the most part, it is residents of Saraso ta who are putting their homes up for sale, regardless of whether the houses are in the process of foreclosure. The homeowners will receive more money and will therefore have more nancial wherewithal to pay their bills, including what they owe to banks. The City and County of Sarasota also benet. The higher the values of the recorded sales, the higher the property taxes that will be paid. The banks win in this situation, too, because they have an inventory of homes they have not yet sold and they will receive more money for those residences. Additionally, if homeowners in foreclosure get more money, they will be able to pay the banks more of what they owe. It should also be noted that the homeowners who are in residence and keeping up their properties have been subsidizing the banks. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 75


With homeow ners in residence while the economy recovers, more homes will be main tained, thus keeping up the property values in communities within the county. Developers, having recently purchased large tracts of land, now have an incentive to build. Who benets from eliminating the backlog in the courts? They are as follows: The banks. If they had taken possession of all houses as soon as owners stopped making their mortgage payments, they would have owned more houses than they could handle administratively; the houses would have had low market values, which the banks would have had to carry for a very long time (basi cally until now, when they can start getting a decent return); and the banks would have had to deal with either high maintenance costs for a long time, or, if the houses were not main tained, an even greater lowering of the values of the homes. The net result would have been to put the banks back into a crisis and, perhaps, another bailout situation. Based on the above points, it is obvious that the banks have beneted from the delay in completing foreclosures and now will benet even more from speeding them up. The real estate i ndustry. With the long drought in home sales there has been a big shakeout in this business. Simply put, the mom and pop agents who dabbled in the mar ket are gone, leaving the bigger, more consol idated rm s. And these rms are once again making good money now that sales are being made. Quickly processing the foreclosures still in the courts will dump a great number of homes on the market all at once. This will depress prices quite a bit once again and reduce the amount of money that homeowners receive from sales. This also will reduce the proper ty taxes for decades into the future, as these houses will be homesteaded at lower values. Further, this will mean less incentive for de velopers, again reducing jobs within the coun ty. And, with the banks forcing out residents, the situation will again create attractive nui sances, which will bring back the vandals. But, with a greater volume of sales, the agents will receive more in commissions than they would have earned from selling fewer residences, even if the latter were of higher value. The senators and representatives of the state of Florida. It is unfortunate that political cam paigns cost so much to run, as campaign con tributions have become a destabilizing force in every state in the U.S., with Florida being no exception. The banking and real estate industries have given large amounts of money to the key play ers in the Florida House and Senate. This, coupled with no requirement for legislators whose day jobs are in banking or real estate to recuse themselves from addressing bills related to th eir work has created a law which only hurts, and does not help, the most vulnera Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 76


ble in Florida those i n danger of losing all they possess. Taking the above into consideration, it seems that speeding up the takeover of more homes by banks will have less of a benecial effect than proposed. Actually, it will have an adverse effect, certainly on the thousands of Floridians forced out of their houses and in those homeowners communities, where a new round of bank-owned blighted residences will appear. The State of Florida and the citizens of Florida should not be in adversarial roles; instead they should be working together harmoniously, for the good of all: a true yin and yang r elationship. % L ETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Sarasota News Lead er welcomes letters to the editor from its readers. Let ters should be no more than 300 words in length, and include the name, street address and telephone number of the writer. Letters should be emailed to with Letter to the Editor in the subject line. Let ters actually printed will be selected based on space available, subject matter and oth er factors. We reserve the right to edit any letters submitted for length, grammar, spell ing, etc. All letters submitted become the property of The Sarasota News Leader. Share stories by clicking the icon in the menubar and choosing to share via e-mail, post to Facebook or Twitter, or many other sharing options. QUICK TIP Dont have your own subscription to The Sarasota News Leader ? Subscribe for FREE and receive a weekly notication when the latest issue is available online. FREE SUBSCRIPTION Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 77


Sarasota Leisure SARASOTA LEISURE Your Lifestyle Guide To The Suncoast Inside INTO THE DEEP SIESTA SEEN


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Te n-year -old Garrett Lathan jumped off the ledge of the pool at the Robert L. Tay lor Community Complex in Newtown and swooped through a hoop held in the wa ter by his swimming instructor, Melon Dash. A-M AY-zing, Garrett sang out when Dash asked how that felt. In a space of about 50 minutes on the morn ing of July 23, Garrett had gained more and more cond ence as he rst oated then swam even in the deep section of the pool. I found out I can oat no matter where I go, he said. Now Im not afraid of 5 feet. Garre tt was fearful of even putting his face in the water when he began the free lessons Dash and her 21 st Cen tury Swimming Les sons team be gan offer Garrett Lathan practices his oating as Melon Dash watches. All photos by Rachel Hackney FREE SWIMMING LESSONS AT THE ROBERT L. TAYLOR COMMUNITY COMPLEX HAVE BEEN A HIT THIS SUMMER WITH CHILDREN AND STAFF INTO THE DEEP They taught me to swim, how to oat. They taught me everything. Ive been able to do stuff Id never been able to do. Lucinda Louis By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


ing at the center in late June, Dash told The Sarasota News Leader Kairan Jackson and Dustin Reed, both also 10, were working with assistants P.J. Keller and Molly Spencer in the deep end before the July 23 lesson was even half over. Dustin high-ved Keller at one point after swimming his farthest stretch yet across the pool. Kairan also began venturing further and fur ther out as he worked with Spencer. The kids got such a good kick, Keller noted as he watched. Oh, yeah! That just happened, Garrett called out after successfully completing two laps un der Dashs supervision. After Dash encouraged the three boys at one point to practice a modied version of the breaststroke emphasizing the sweep of the water with their palms she praised Garrett for his efforts: Those pulls were very good. And Garrett shortly realized that swimming is not just fun; it is, in fact, an athletic endeavor. I know it, because my arms are hurting, he told Dash after several more laps. Youre doing great, she responded. On the other side of the pool, Assistant Annie OConnor a licensed 21 st Swimming Les sons instructor and camp counselor Lucin da Louis, 17, were working with a youngster who had shown up for the rst time that day. Dustin Reed (right) prepares to try a new stroke as Kairan Jackson watches with Molly Spencer in the background. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 81


Like Garrett, Lucinda told the News Leader she was reluctant to put her face in the water when she rst offered to help with the lessons this summer. Her parents were a bit wary, too, of her decision to volunteer, she added, be cause no one in her family could swim. But with a new swim cap to keep her long braids dry, Lucinda began taking lessons. They taught me to swim, how to oat. They taught me everything, she said. Ive been able to do stuff Id never been able to do. She is hopeful, she continued, that she can convince her mother to allow her three sib lings to learn to swim as well. This is the third summer Dash has held the free lessons, thanks to a number of benefac tors who believe in the value of children learn ing to swim. We do it as many weeks as we can get, she told the News Leader The lessons have been available to children between the ages of 5 and 18, Dash said. She has utilized a number of means to let young sters and parents know about the opportunity from yers to word of mouth. It is the rst summer for the Taylor Complex to host the sessions. Manager Jerry Fogle pointed out to the News Leader One of the most important things you can ever do for a child is to teach them how to swim, and Dashs students are having a blast They are just loving life. This summer, the schedule concluded on July 25; in 2014, Dash is hopeful she can stretch it to seven weeks. Kairan Jackson displays his ease in swimming through a hoop with P.J. Keller beside him. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 82


Fogle sa id he denitely would like to work with Dash about continuing the program, because it had been such a positive experi ence for the children. He has enjoyed watch ing them show up for classes, hurrying into the complex to make sure they did not miss a minute in the water. Its so cool to see, Fogle said. One incentive youngsters had to take class es this summer, he pointed out, was the rule that anyone who wants to go down the 15-foot slide in the pool has to demonstrate swimming capability. Children previously not allowed on the slide just cant wait to be able to go down [it], he added, since they have worked with Dash and her instructors. MIRACLE SWIMMING INSTITUTE Dash is nationally known as the founder of Miracle Swimming a teaching method that en ables even those who are terribly frightened in the water to overcome those fears and enjoy swimming and the wide array of water-related activities. As Dash worked one-on-one with Garrett on July 23, her method was very much in evi dence. While Dustin and Kairan were eager to move into the deep end, Dash encouraged Garrett to be comfortable at each point in the process. As they progressed gradually from the shal low area to the deeper one, Garrett continued Lucinda Louis relaxes in the water. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 83


Garrett Lathan is delighted with his progress. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 84


swimming out to Dash and back to the wall. At one point, he spotted the marker for the depth: Oh, man. This is 5 feet! I can just see your condence growing, Dash told him. He readily had her move further away from him into the center of the pool making his laps longer. After one burst of strong strokes, she told him with a laugh, That [distance] was almost too short, wasnt it? I am king of the water, he replied, then took a deep breath as he prepared to launch him self away from the wall once again. What I love is they say what their concerns are, Dash told the News Leader after the lesson. Its just so precious to watch these children. She a dded, We want the parents in here; we want the [Taylor Complex] staff in here. We want to set up a program year-round to teach swimming to children and adults at the facility. Fogle told the News Leader he had been im pressed with the positive energy emanating from Dash and her instructors. They are out standing, he added. FUNDING FOR A STUDY Although Dash has been utilizing her Miracle Swimming method for more than 30 years, she nally has been able to fund an independent study that will compare her system to others. Michelle Tichy, professor of educational psy chology at the University of Northern Iowa and chairwoman of the Holistic Learning Spe cial Interest Group fo r the American Educa Garrett Lathan takes a deep breath as he starts to the side of the pool, with Dustin Reed already headed that way. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 85


tional Resea rch Asso ciation with a small team of researchers will examine the ma jor Learn-to-Swim (LTS) systems used for adults in the United States to identify best practices in teaching adults, Dash announced last week. By assembling a full list of best practices, a news release says, the research can help develop a new national curriculum for adults to learn to swim. Very few dedicated adult learn-to-swim cur ricula are available in the United States, the release points out. Most adults who take swimming lessons progress through the same steps and sequence as those used in childrens lessons, the release adds. However, Dash has found that a different approach works best with adults, especially those who are fearful in the water.. By comparing the major LTS systems and culling the best practices among them, we can build a curriculum that succeeds with ev ery single adult by meeting them at their level no matter what they can or cannot do, Dash says in the release. The system will be able to advance them through the stages of LTS un til they achieve goals theyve had their entire lives such as lap swimming, playing with chil dren and grandchildren in the pool and SCU BA diving. Many adults would say its enough just to know they wont drown, Dash added. Twenty-first Century Swimming received a $10,000 grant last year from the National Swimming Pool Foundation to help create one million new swimmers by 2022. Dash won the grant after making a presentation at a national conference in Norfolk, VA. The LTS systems that have been invited to par ticipate in the study with Miracle Swimming are those of the American Red Cross, YMCA, Swim America, Starsh Aquatics and Total Im mersion. With permission of each organization whose practices are determined to be the best, the re lease notes, the results will be publishe d. % (From left in foreground) Garrett Lathan, Kairan Jackson and Dustin Reed practice swimming out to (from left) Melon Dash, Molly Spencer and P.J. Keller. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 86


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. Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. The Progressive Voice of Southwest Florida


SIESTA SEEN Although Commissioner Nora Patterson in the past has voiced reluctance about having the county take control of State Road 758 Bee Ridge Road/Stickney Point Road/Midnight Pass Road/Higel Avenue/Siesta Drive (includ ing the bridge infrastructure) from the Flor ida Department of Transportation (FDOT), a new initiative is afoot involving a trade of that stretch for River Road. The countys chief engineer, James K. Harri ott Jr., reported to the County Commission recently that staff had met with FDOT ofcials in Bartow on July 2. FDOT is open to the idea of a transfer, he wrote in an email, with the condition that it be an equitable one. In a July 3 email, Harriott pointed out that staff had discussed the idea with Randell Prescott, operations director for F DOTs District 1. Mr. Even with no rain that afternoon, a rainbow appeared over Siesta Village on July 20. Photo courtesy of Peter van Roekens THE COUNTY IS EXPLORING TAKING OVER STATE ROAD 758 IN AN EXCHANGE INVOLVING RIVER ROAD; LIGHT UP THE VILLAGE PLANNING IS UNDER WAY; AND THE SABAL DRIVE LEGAL COMPLAINT HAS SOME INTERESTING DETAILS By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


Prescotts depart ment handles such exchang es for District 1, Harriott added, and has been assigned by [District 1] Secretary [Bil ly] Hattaway to work with the County on this proposal. Based on the discussion, Harriott continued, state representatives wanted to make it clear that any transfer of maintenance responsibil ity would include the fact that project prior ity considerations for River Road would go through the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Furthermore, Harriott wrote, based on their preliminary review of current conditions, the state sees River Road as two distinctly differ ent segments. The northern segment from In terstate 75 to US 41 is regional in nature and provides connectivity within the State road way network. In the states opinion, the south ern segment from US 41 to State Road 776 is primarily rural, with the southernmost section (Dearborn Street) being more locally orient ed. The state objective is always to maintain a state highway network. Therefore, the seg ments for transfer would need to terminate at another state facility, which is the reason for including Dearborn Street in the exchange. He added that FDOT proposed trading the northern section of River Road, from I-75 to U.S. 41, for State Road 758 from U.S. 41 to U.S. 41 (basically Siesta Key and the approach es). This section of State Road 758 is com monly know as Stickney Point Road/Midnight Pass Road/Higel Avenue/Siesta Drive, Harri ott wrote. The segment includes the Stickney Point Road and Siesta Drive bridges. All of these bridges would transfer to County for maintenance and operations responsibili ties, Harriott noted. In exchange for the southern section of River Road, from US 41 to State Road 776, Harri ott continued, the State proposed to transfer State Road 758 (Bee Ridge Road) from US 41 to just east of Interstate 75. That section varies between seven and four lanes in width, he noted, and includes one xed-span bridge. Although FDOT does not see a rationale to transfer the southern sec tion of River Road (US 41 to State Roa d 776) A map shows part of State Road 758, includ ing a section along Siesta Key. Image from Google Maps Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 89


due to the rural nature of the corridor, Har riott added, that would be a point of future discussions and negotiations. In regard to the next steps, Harriott wrote, A present value analysis of future capital needs and ongoing maintenance costs over a set period of time for each facility is a logical rst step. Based on County operations of moveable bridges, [the Stickney Point Road and Siesta Drive bridges] alone will likely add $750,000 to $1,000,000 per year in operating and maintenance costs (which does not in clude periodic overhauls). Siesta resident Peter van Roekens, who took this photo, suggested a headline for it: Bandit strikes Siesta Beach. It is not every day that a sailboat ends up on the shore. The sailor(s) on Bandit the name of the boat must have not been very alert or very adept at setting an anchor. Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 90


In some cases, he continued, FDOT has re quired that a facility be brought up to state standards prior to a transfer. For River Road, this requirement could result in widening to four lanes or improving the existing two lanes to improve drainage and pave shoulders. It should be noted that in the discussion FDOT was not stipulating that River Road be brought up to standards, Harriott added. FDOT representatives also pointed out that, regardless of maintenance responsibilities, future funding and prioritization would come through the local Metropolitan Planning Or ganization. Generally, the FDOT looks to the local governments for project priorities and allocates those funds within the work pro gram, subject to approval by the Metropoli tan Planning Organization. In other words, Harriott pointed out, State funding for River Road will be the same, based on the MPO pri oritization process, regardless of whether the facility is maintained by the County or by the State. Harriott concluded with a recommendation that county staff proceed with the analysis of future capital costs and ongoing maintenance and operating costs, as indicated above. Patterson has pointed out on a number of oc casions over the past couple of years that she has had requests from Siesta residents want ing the county to take over State Road 758 so it could reduce the speed limit in places on Siesta Key. Resident efforts to get FDOT to lower the limit from 35 mph to 30 mph on the portion of Midnight Pass Road between Beach Road and the S tickney Point Road intersec tion have been unsuccessful. However, Patterson always pointed to her concerns about the county having to assume the costs of the roads maintenance. The pro posed exchange puts that in a different light, of course. Patterson has been out of town since shortly after the County Commission went on its sum mer break early this month, so I was unable to reach her this week for a comment. THE SABAL DRIVE MATTER After we went to press with our July 19 issue, I had the opportunity to spend some time reading through the complaint Saraso ta County has led against the property own ers of a house located at 6537 Sabal Drive on Siesta Key Among the questions raised in the complaint is exactly what role Dr. Craig Siegel, a Sarasota chiropractor, plays in this whole matter. The complaint states that Siesta Resorts LLC is the trustee of the land trust that owns the house. The complaint notes that on Dec. 31, 2012, Siegel, acting individually as trustee, execut ed and recorded a Grant of Possessory Right and Benecial Interest in county records. That instrument purports to convey from Sie gel, as trustee of Land Trust Agreement 11142 dated Dec. 31, 2012 to Siegel individual ly, the possessory right and benecial inter est in the property, the complaint says. How ever, A search of the Ofcial Records does Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 91


not nd any r ecorded instrument transferring ownership of the subject property from Siesta Resorts to Siegel as Trustee. Moreover, the complaint notes, a search of of cial county records could not locate any re corded instruments for the Land Trust Agree ment numbered 11142. Further, because of the numerous county and Federal Emergency Management Agency code violations cited at the Sabal Drive property, the complaint points out, Money damag es will not prevent Defendants from further violati ons. County ofcials want to see all code violations remedied. The complaint adds, Allowing the unpermit ted work, including electrical and plumbing, constitutes a life, health and safety risk to De fendants and any of their tenants. CHRISTMAS IN JULY Siesta Key Village Association members al ready have held their rst meeting of the year to plan their biggest annual event, Light Up the Village, which ki cks off the holiday season. The Siesta Key Association re truck joins the Holiday Parade during Light Up the Village festivities in November 2012. Photo courtesy of Peter van Roekens Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 92


The date for this year is Nov. 30, with the fes tivities scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. During the July 2 SKVA meeting, some con cern arose that members needed to hasten to hold that rst planning session, because it takes quite a lot of people and work behind the scenes to ensure Light Up the Village goes off with no or as few as possible hitches. I recall one year when an SKVA director be gan fretting because Santa Claus had not ap peared at the expected time for Light Up the Village. When she called to check in with him, it turned out he had been a bit late leaving the North Pole, shall we say, and was stuck in trafc on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge outside Tampa. (Needless to say, he was using land transportation that day.) On July 2, Broken Egg restaurant co-owner Bob Kirscher assured everyone he had been in communication with Santa and all was good on that end for the 2013 Light Up the Village planning. In fact, Kirscher said, Santas had his last beard cut for the year, a remark that evoked some laughter. You talked to him, huh? past SKVA President Russell Matthes asked. You have connections, Vice President Kay Kouvatsos said, chuckling as she looked at Kirscher. By the way, President Cheryl Gaddie pointed out that new volunteers always are welcome for Light Up the Village and the other events the SKVA sponsors each year to draw more people to Siesta Village. It would be really great, Gaddie added, to get some stronger committees formed and take some of that re sponsibility. Along with Light Up the Village, the SKVA puts on the Valentine Stroll, the Easter Egg Hunt and two annual arts and crafts shows. Gaddie noted that she and Kouvatsos had compiled a two-page list of all the activities the organization undertakes to promote the Village. To volunteer or for more information, visit the SKVAs website % Someone you know needs Planned Parenthood Lifesaving cancer screenings Parent & teen education Annual GYN exams Birth controlPlanned Parenthood Of Southwest And Central FloridaSarasota Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 93


Fuzin D ance Artists, Sarasotas modern dance company, invites the public to attend several events this summer. In early August, the company will present In the Round a performance in the intimate set ting of the New College of Florida Black Box Theater, located on the colleges Pei (east) campus, on Gen. Dougher Place, a news re lease says. Choreographers will have the op portunity to engage in dialogue with the audi ence and receive feedback using a modied version of the Cri tical Response model de signed by the Liz Lerman Exchange, the re lease adds. The performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4. Tickets will be $10 at the door. Additionally, the company is offering a free series titled, Behind the Curtain a look at the rehearsal process of new works being created by accomplished choreographers for the Fuzin dancers, the release notes. Events Fuzin Dance Artists perform during Voices of Fuzin during December 2012 in New Colleges Black Box Theater. Contributed photo FUZIN DANCE ARTISTS ANNOUNCES SUMMER PERFORMANCES A&E BRIEFS


will take place at various times on Aug. 14 and Aug. 21 at the Fitness Center on the Pei cam pus of New College, 5639 Gen. Twinning Road, Sarasota. Several master classes also are be ing offered in August. For more information, call 345-5755 or visit The mission of Fuzin Dance Artists is to bring contemporary dance to the Saraso ta-Bradenton community through eclectic performance and educational programming, while collaborating with artists and commu nity groups to further enrich the human expe rience, the release continues. Co-Founder and Artistic Director Leymis Bo laos Wilmott is also an adjunct professor of dance at New College. A lone performer is on stage during a scene from Voices of Fuzin in December 2012. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 95


The Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE) has announced that Gocio Elementa ry School has received a three-year renewal of its designation as an Arts Achieve! Model School, the Sarasota County Schools have an nounced. Gocio has been identied as an exemplary school in the four basic arts disciplines: the atre, music, dance and visual arts, the school district has announced. Eight of Floridas 1,976 elementary schools have been recog nized as Arts Achieve! Model Schools. The effective integration of the arts into in struction at Gocio was evaluated through a rigorous application process and an on-site visit by a team of recognized statewide lead ers in the arts, a news release says. The eval uation process rates schools on arts instruc tion, school support, community outreach and administrative support, the release adds. Recipients of the Arts Achieve! Model School designation were recognized in June at an FAAE meeting in Tampa. Gocio Principal Pamela Buchanan said of the award in the release: It has been noted in the Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce that the future success of America in the global economy will depend upon creativity and innovation. The arts education program at Gocio Elementary Allison Demint (left) plays a dalmatian and Sharkiya Robinson portrays Cruella de Vil in Gocio El ementarys May 2012 staging of Disneys 101 Dalmatians Kids. Contributed photo GOCIO ELEMENTARY RECOGNIZED FOR BEING EXEMPLARY IN ARTS Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 96


School truly promotes an environment that develops creativity, judgment, and discipline in our students. Gocio and Southside elementary schools in Sarasota offer music, visual art, dance and drama, the release points out. Gocio received the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Educa tion Networks 2006-07 Creative Ticket Na tional Schools of Distinction Award, it adds. That award also recognizes schools that have done an outstanding job of making the arts an essential part of the education of their stu dents, the release notes. Gocio is one of only ve U.S. schools to receive the National Schools of Distinction Award. Gocio Elementary also received the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Networks 2006-07 Creative Ticket National Schools of Distinction Award. Photo by Farragutful via Wikimedia Commons THE UNDERPANTS HAS BEEN HELD OVER AGAIN AT FST Florida Stu dio Theatre has announced a sec ond extension of The Underpants by Steve Martin, adapted from original work by Carl Sternheim. The show has been a hit to critics and audi ences alike combining Martins wacky sense of humor with intelligent insight into human nature, a news release says. Some lives are shaped by tragedy, some by art, and others by underpants falling down in public, the release continues. This play spins the farcical tale of ve lives reborn from one accidental act of indecency. Now extended through Sunday, Aug. 11, The Underpants features returning compa ny members Gil Brady and Daryl Embry, the release notes. Brady last appeared in FSTs Cabaret production of Reel Music and Embry returned after last appearing in Perfect Wed ding Making their FST debut have been com pany member s Jennifer Joan Thompson, Mary Ann Conk, Danny Bernardy and Chet Carlin. Directing the show is Bruce Jordan, returning to FST after last summers Perfect Wedding Jordan is also the original co-producer and director of the national hit, Shear Madness the release points out. I am thrilled to be going into a second week of extensions of Bruce Jordans production, simply because the play is so much fun to exe cute, every time, Bernardy, who plays the role of Frank Versati, says in the release. Sarasota audiences have been a dream to play for a community that is both playful and sophisti cated; a perfect t for a Steve Martin show! Single Tickets for The Underpants range from $18 to $34 and will be on sale through Aug. 11. They may be purchased by phone at 3669000, online at or by visiting the box ofce at 1241 N. Palm Ave. in downtown Sarasota. % Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 97


(From left) Danny Bernardy, Jennifer Joan Thompson and Mary Ann Conk in The Underpants at Florida Studio Theatre. Photo courtesy of Maria Lyle Photography Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 98


The Ch urch of the Redeemer, located at 222 S. Palm Ave. in the heart of downtown Sarasota, invites parents of all faiths to register their children to attend the parishs annual Vacation Bible School, Aug. 12-16. This years theme is Lord, Teach Us to Pray a news release says. Among the activities will be Bible study, painting, singing, outdoor play and a food drive and backpack project for the Alta Vista Elementary School and neighbor hood, the release notes. The Bible School will run Monday through Friday, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at noon. Registration is open to children from age 4 (by Sept. 1) to those in fth grade, and it may be made online at or by contacting the churchs parish ofce at 9554263. The cost is $10 per child; some scholar ships are available, the release adds. Rede emer focuses its curriculum on teaching the young Vacation Bible School (VBS) stu dents about the importance of helping oth ers, the release continues. Each year, the children are engaged in a hands-on project to help others locally, elsewhere in the U.S. and across the globe. This years outreach program, developed by 2013 VBS Director Cathy Brush, partners the parish with Alta Vista Elementary. According to Alta Vista Principal Barbara Shirley, 93 percent of Alta Vista students qual ify for free-or-reduced price lunches, the re lease points out. Redeemers VBS participants will learn the basics of leading a food drive and will ll and deliver First Friday school backpacks for Alta Vista families who would The Church of the Redeemer is located in downtown Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel REGISTRATION UNDER WAY FOR REDEEMERS VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL RELIGION BRIEFS

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otherwise be in need over the weekend, the release adds. Surplus food will help stock Alta Vistas food pantry, which supplies food to the schools community, it notes. Each year, we intentionally focus our young Bible School students on experiencing their rst taste of being Christs light in the world, said Jacki Boedecker, director of Childrens Christian Formation, in the release. Its a tan gible way of instilling an early ability to recog nize need and to share blessings. Past VBS projects have included building porch benches for Habitat for Humanity, sew ing blankets for a local pregnancy center and crafting storytelling sets that illustrate Bible lessons and sending them to children and churches in foreign countries. On Aug. 18 after Vacation Bible School concludes VBS attendees and their fam ilies are invited to attend VBS Celebration Sunday, which will involve the children in the presentation of the anthem during the 9 a.m. Mass, the release says. All children are also encouraged to bring their school backpacks to church that Sunday, when Redeemers rector, the Rev. Fredrick A. Robinson, will offer a spe cial blessing for the children as they prepare to begin a new academic year. He will lead the congregation in a Blessing of the Backpacks the release adds. The service will be followed by a Sundaes on Sunday celebration in Gillespie Hall, with a delicious smorgasbord of ice creams and toppings for the children to enjoy, the release notes. % Redeemer Vacation Bible School youth aide Caroline Devitt works with young children on craft proj ects in 2011. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 100

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26+ JULY WBTT presents The Best of Stevie Wonder July 26-28 (times vary), Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1626 10th Way. Tickets: $29.50. Information: 366-1505 or online at 26+ JULY Banyan Theater presents Heroes July 26 to Aug. 4 (times vary), Jane B. Cook Theatre, FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail. Tickets: $28.50. Information: 351-2808 or 26+ JULY Florida Studio Theatre presents The Underpants Through Aug. 11 (times vary), Keating Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Tickets: $18 to $42. Information: 366-9000 or 26+ JULY FST Summer Improv Through Aug. 24, 8:30 p.m., John C. Court Cabaret, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Tickets: $12. Infor mation: 366-9000 or 26+ JULY Dabbert Gallery presents Summer Showcase Through Sept. 30, 76 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Admission: free. Information: 955-1315 or 11 AUGUST WSLR presents the Fifth Annual Very Merry Jerry Day, featuring Florida Mountain Boys, Ship of Fools, Kettle of Fish and Schmitz Bros. Band Aug. 11, 3:30 to 9 p.m., 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota. Tickets: $10. Information: 894-6469 or 16 AUGUST Friday Fest at the Van Wezel, featuring Impulse Aug. 16, 5 p.m., Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail. Admission: Free. Information: 953-3368 or Community Calendar The best of upcoming EVENTS This Week In Sarasota recently was sold to The Observer Group. This sale ends our collaboration with TWIS Sarasota News Leader July 26, 2013 Page 101

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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 THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS