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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Robert S. Hackney, General Manager(Oct. 26, 2012)

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University of Florida
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COVER Inside NO NEW TAXES LOOKING BACK ON FOUR MONTHS 2050 ON CENTER STAGE Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. THE SARASOTA News Leader The Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida No. 33 May 3, 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 David Staats Columnist Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer Elinor Rogosin A&E Writer Scott Proftt Staff Writer Tyler Whitson Staff Writer TWhitson John Riley Editorial Cartoonist Vicki Chatley Copy Editor Letters To the Editor Cleve Posey Production Manager / Graphic Designer Robert S. Hackney General Manager Advertising Sales Subscription Services Press Releases & News Tips MASTHEAD


As we were completing this weeks issue, one point that stood out for us which we should tout more often, I might add! is the exibility we have in a digital format that is not available in print publications. For example, Norman Schimmels buttery photo on our cover sim ply would not look nearly as gorgeous in any newspaper I ever have seen National Geographic yes, but not newsprint. Otus also has provided us with more magnicent examples this week from Rick Greenspun and from his own les. They would be far less enchanting without the quality digital publishing makes possible. Along with our being able to present such quality in artwork, we relish the fact that we do not have to squeeze stories into specic holes all the news thats print to t, my hus band likes to say. Stan Zimmerman has used that lack of writing con straint to great advantage again this week for his interview with Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. You would miss out on a lot of interest ing information if we had to chop it down to t a standard newspaper block. The only way we could run the entire article the old-fashioned way would be to provide it in parts, and that disruption of continuity is a great distraction. Stans interview with the chief is not the only article that is more expansive this week. A couple of weeks ago, Harriet Burns Stieff, the delightful daughter of one of Sarasotas most prominent developers Owen Burns gra ciously allowed me to talk with her about some of her favorite experiences. It would have been a tragedy to shoehorn that story into a newsprint slot. By all means, do take your time reading the issue this week. And, as always, we wel come your comments. Editor and Publisher WELCOME


NO NEW TAXES SOON SERVING: FREE WI-FI NEWS & COMMENTARY NO NEW TAXES 8 Faced with new needs and a backlog of maintenance projects and no money for them the County Commission seeks more information before setting priorities Rachel Brown Hackney LOOKING BACK ON FOUR MONTHS 15 Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino reects on the job so far and the future for the force Stan Zimmerman 2050 ON CENTER STAGE 23 The County Commission on May 8 will discuss changes developers have proposed regarding its landmark planning guidelines for areas east of I-75 Cooper Levey-Baker SOON SERVING: FREE WI-FI 29 A group working in downtown Sarasota hopes to see the area wired for service by late summer Stan Zimmerman THE COUNTY AND THE REGISTRY QUESTION 32 The County Commission next week is expected once again to discuss whether it wants to create a domestic partnership registry Rachel Brown Hackney REVISITING THE BEACH PROJECT 36 After indicating use of bond money might still be up for debate, county commissioners renew a focus on containing the cost of the Siesta Beach Park improvements Rachel Brown Hackney SCC PREVIEW 41 Sound, special events and the CRA on tap for the City Commission Stan Zimmerman PONDERING ROUTES AND COSTS 45 A bus rapid transit plan for Sarasota County may need city money Stan Zimmerman GRASPING THE GAS BID 49 The County Commission nally agrees to approve a bid it originally had likened to the start of the mowing debacle Rachel Brown Hackney NEWS BRIEFS 53 TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article PHOTO CREDITS Front cover: Monarch of the Blossoms Norman Schimmel Sarasota Leisure: The Zen of Selby Gardens Robert Hackney No. 33 May 3, 2013


A BERTH ON THE BAY ASK OTUS OPINION EDITORIAL 67 Time has arrived for realistic decisions to address Siesta Key parking problems COMMENTARY 70 Texas explosion offers a number of lessons Waldo Proftt SARASOTA LEISURE A BERTH ON THE BAY 74 Owen Burns last surviving child talks of the joys of a childhood spent largely outdoors along with her relish for family lore Rachel Brown Hackney ASK OTUS 84 The endangered Florida Wood Stork is an eye-catching bird Otus Rufous SIESTA SEEN 93 A request for a bench in front of Big Olafs sparks County Commission comments about following the process; the Siesta Key Association seeks to ameliorate parking issues Rachel Brown Hackney A&E BRIEFS 99 RELIGION BRIEFS 104 COMMUNITY CALENDAR 106 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 107 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article For Advertising Info (941) 227-1080 No. 33 May 3, 2013


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Afrmin g they have no plans to raise taxes, the Sarasota County commissioners this week nonetheless delayed decisions on how to fund capital projects over the next ve years until they obtain more detailed information about their options. Among the projects covered during an April 30 budget workshop were $30 million in road resurfacing needs, $12.2 million in bridge re pair and renovation projects and $8.3 million in athletic eld improvements for which no funding is available for Fiscal Years 2014 through 2018. Commissioner Christine Robinson said of the road situation, It just takes my brea th away. County Administrat or Randall Reid called it a shocking gure, but he pointed out that other counties are in much worse situations. Some are looking at $500 million in road proj ect backlogs as a result of less revenue and tighter budgets resulting from the recession. Still, when Reid suggested options such as a transportation surtax or an increase in the general operating millage rate, Commissioner Joe Barbetta responded, From my perspec tive [those] are off the table Additional revenue sources need to come from econom ic development, in creasing our tax base and streamlining our organization. The County Commission meets with staff during an April 30 budget workshop in the Think Tank in the Administration Center in Sarasota. Photo by Rachel Hackney FACED WITH NEW NEEDS AND A BACKLOG OF MAINTENANCE PROJECTS AND NO MONEY FOR THEM THE COUNTY COMMISSION SEEKS MORE INFORMATION BEFORE SETTING PRIORITIES NO NEW TAXES By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor NEWS & COMMENTARY Were faced with terrible, terrible numbers right now. Christine Robinson Commissioner Sarasota County


Barbetta a dded, We cant go back to the pub lic for any more taxes. Second, Robinson said. Third, Chairwoman Carolyn Mason chimed in. In its nal action of the day on a motion by Robinson the board voted 4-1 to direct staff to do the following: Examine whether funding other than sales tax revenue could be used to pay for 1,300 wastewater connections in the next seg ment of the Phillippi Creek Septic System Replacement Program. Provide a more detailed explanation of Cap ital Improvement Program (CIP) projects already scheduled to be paid for by sales tax revenue through Fiscal Year 2024. Provide an analysis of how much money would be freed up if the commission main tained a 60-day or 75-day reserve fund in stead of the 90-day reserve dictated by county policy. Barbetta voted No, saying, I have enough faith in staff that they found all the money out there that they didnt think was already com mitted. Another budget workshop is set for May 14. BUSES AND ROADS Among the decisions the County Commission did make on April 30, it unanimously directed Sarasota County Area Transit Manager Glama Carter to purchase only clean diesel buses in stead of hybrids over the next ve years. Carter noted in her presentation that the clean diesel models cost about $400,000, while the Chief Financial Planning Ofcer Steve Botelho. Photo by Rachel Hackney Chief County Engineer James K. Harriott Jr. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 9


hybrids are ab out $680,000 each. After ques tioning by Robinson made it clear the hybrids were not being considered for efciency but as a commitment to improve the environment, Commissioner Nora Patterson pointed out that providing a bus service to encourage residents not to drive already is a commit ment to a better environment. Moreover, Carter said it takes the county about 20 years to recoup the investment on a hybrid bus, but the bus itself generally cannot be used longer than 12 years. If revenue projections were as strong as they were before the recession, Robinson said, she would be happy to approve the mix of buses suggested for the eet, but were faced with terrible, terrible numbers right now. She took the words right out of my mouth, Patterson said During a dis cussion of road resurfacing proj ects, the board also voted unanimously to ap prove the resurfacing of a section of Webber Street that had been cut apart during a Phillip pi Creek Septic System Replacement Project. That cost was put at $2.5 million in the current scal year. The motion further called for staff to schedule the resurfacing of Verna and Singletary roads in the eastern part of the county as soon as possible after the start of the 2014 scal year, which begins Oct. 1. The latter projects cost is estimated at $1.5 million. James K. Harriott Jr., the countys chief en gineer, pointed out that Verna and Singletary roads have high-speed trafc, with a 55 mph posted speed limit. Both have potholes, some rutting and spot base failures. A chart compares major revenue sources for Sarasota County in the 2007 scal year to the 2014 scal year. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 10


RESURFACI NG N EEDS During the discussion of the countys road re surfacing program, Harriott referred the com missioners to information they already had discussed during their Feb. 8 budget work shop. The current CIP calls for the county to spend $20.5 million on resurfacing for the next ve scal years. What would we need [to pay] to at least not [let the roads] deteriorate further? Patterson asked. Another $6 million per year allocated to the work for an annual total of $10 million would enable the county to make sure no more than 40 percent of the roads are rated below the level where they begin to produce driver complaints, Harriott said. He conrmed for Patterson that at that level, the county con tinues to fall below the standard it had main tained before the recession. In 2005 and 2006, Harriott continued, Asphalt was a lot less expensive. The price in 2007 was about $70 a ton, compared to $97 a ton today, he added, and it tracks roughly what the gasoline price at the pump has been. The gas price was about $2.13 a gallon in 2007, Harriott pointed out. Reid compared lack of maintenance for roads to poor health care, noting that costs are much higher after situations become critical. You end up having to rebuild [the roads] and [the expense] gets astronomical. A chart shows the bridge repair and renovation projects slated for the next ve scal years. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 11


Barbett a resp ond ed that it was just as import ant to maintain and improve the countys ath letic elds, because they are related to resi dents quality of life as well. We can do both [roads and athletic elds], Barbetta said. We need to suck it up and gure out how to do it. We have surplus property that we need to sell that we dont use which will generate millions of dollars and put dents in these [capital improvement] programs. Reid also pointed out that the commission can forgo some projects it has discussed, such as a bus rapid transit system, to free up funds for projects it feels a re more important. Both Ro binson and Patterson voiced concern about leaving future com missions in difcult positions if the current board does not take care of some of the needs staff indicated. Its going to be after Commissioner [Charles] Hines tenure is up that its really going to hit really hard, and were going to start feeling the effects, Robinson said. Hines was elected to his rst term in Novem ber 2012. By law, he is able to serve two terms. Barbetta and Patterson will leave the board in 2014 because of term limits, while Mason and Robinson will have to give up their seats in 2016 for the same re ason. A chart shows unfunded athletic eld needs for the next ve scal years. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 12


NEW FIRE STATIONS Although they took no formal vote, the com missioners on April 30 also gave their consen sus for the construc tion of four new re/ EMS stations in the following locations: Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, to replace a station in a repur posed 1970s house. North Cattlemen Road at University Parkway, where the station is operating out of a mobile home with a canvas carport for the re truck. Just south of Westfield Sarasota Square Mall, where the current facility is a metal warehouse dating to 1980. Bee Ridge Road, where the current station is a structure completed in 1968. Fire/rescue/EMS impact fees would cover part of the construction cost, Steve Botelho, the countys chief nancial planning ofcer, ex plained. The county is planning to borrow $8,754,098 to pay for the new facilities, he added, but the availability of impact fee revenue could reduce that gure. GENERAL OUTLOOK During his presentation to the board at the opening of the workshop, Reid pointed out that county building permit applications were up 45 percent from March 2012 to March of this year and the Touris t Development Tax revenue has continued to surpass gures for the previous scal year. Still, he said, Its going to be hard to get back to the way we were in 2007. He noted that he and his staff had built a 3 percent increase in employee compensa tion into the 2014 s cal year budget, but al most all of that would be eaten up by in creases in healthcare benets and Florida Legislature action calling for higher employee payments into the Florida Retirement System. In an April 26 email to the commissioners that served as a preview of the workshop, Reid wrote, Our community has been fortunate to have the benet of a sales surtax dedicated to capital projects funding major improvements and expansions of our County infrastructure. This budget year, capital project planning will be a little more difcult than in the past as we reconcile what we said we had hoped to accomplish with what we can accomplish in this era of far slower growing revenues. He added, Level is the new up is a phrase now making the management circles about our stabilizing revenue outlook for the near future. Sarasota County remains in a strong nancial condition and has adequate scal re serves. The economy is fragile but beginning to grow again from our in dic ators. % Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 13 We need to suck it up and gure out how to do it. We have surplus property that we need to sell that we dont use which will generate millions of dollars and put dents in these [capital improvement] programs. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County


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Editors note : Bernadette DiPino is starting her fth month as chief of the Sarasota Po lice Department. She is the former chief of the Ocean City, MD, police, and is the rst female chief in Sarasota history. City Editor Stan Zimmerman sat down with her to discuss her rst 120 days on her new job as well as the days ahead. Is th is a bigger job than you rst thought it would be? Theres a lot of challenges in this job that I anticipated, so it isnt a surprise. There are a number of things I see that need to be done. But I was aware of them before I came in. Some of the challenges were dealing with for instance the homele ss in the community Police Chief Bernadette DiPino accepts a congratulatory handshake from City Manager Tom Bar win after her swearing-in in January. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota SARASOTA POLICE CHIEF BERNADETTE DIPINO REFLECTS ON THE JOB SO FAR AND THE FUTURE FOR THE FORCE LOOKING BACK ON FOUR MONTHS By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


and the gun vio lence in the community and there are some cultural changes that need to take place within the police organization those things are a little bit new. Every police organization is a little bit dif ferent. Their histories are different. Im very happy with the ofcers that are here, and I think there is a lot of really great raw material to work with. And with the transition of peo ple being in the DROP [deferred retirement program], its going to allow for an opportu nity to make some of these sweeping changes that I see will benet the department and the community. That segues into another question I have. Since you joined the department, it has lost the equivalent of almost a century of experience. Not as a result of me coming. They were in the DROP and ready to go. How do you envision replacing that? You cant really re place the history. What you do is tap into it and make sure you un derstand it before the people leave. And you make sure you have good people around you that do have that history. Ive been get ting as much intel as I can to know about it. As opposed to replac ing it, you look at de veloping leadership and having them step into those shoes and grow into those shoes along the way. Their own training and knowl edge will help them become the future leaders of the organization. How do you distinguish between training leaders and training micro-managers? I really dont like micromanagement, because then you dont develop leaders. That doesnt mean you dont guide and mentor people, to point them in the right direction. The way I like to lead and the way I like to train leaders is give them a task, tell them what the goal is and not care how they get to the goal as long as its legal, moral and ethi cal. Theyll make mistakes along the way, and thats where you guide them and pick them up just as long as they are not doing some thing that gets you in a huge liability. And that goes throughout the entire Police Department; not just the captains, lieutenants, sergeants, but all your ofcers. Thats one of the things Im nding with in this organization. I think a lot of ofcers feel they cant go out and make decisions on their own, without go ing, Whats the book say? How do I follow this exact procedure? Thats not being smart and thats not being a good leader. I need people to go out and make deci sions based on expe rience, based on be Chief Bernadette DiPino. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 16


ing at the scene and using good judgment and their knowledge of the law to be leaders. Thats the difference, I think, between micro managing and mentoring. Mentoring you just guide them along the way and catch them before they go over the cliff. You let them go out there and make mis takes, and they are going to make mistakes. Mistakes are OK. Ive learned more from the mistakes Ive made than any success Ive ever had. And any successes Ive had were based on the mistakes Ive made. I learned from those mistakes. In our job its very rare you can make huge mistakes because then you end up on the front page of the newspaper; you end up in a law suit; you end up doing things that are going to hurt people and the community. So you let people make mistakes, but you let them make mistakes on the small stuff. When it comes to the big stuff, thats when you are there to mentor to make sure it doesnt cause the city or the ofcers any prob lem. Mayor Suzanne Atwell (left) listens as City Manager Tom Barwin introduces Bernadette DiPino as the new police chief. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 17


And th at is why there is a book. Right. Very few people that Ive come into contact with are very good tacticians and know how to ght a war in the long run, for lack of a better word. Ive had commanders who worked for me in the past but they dont know how to attack a problem. Its almost like a chess game. You have to be thinking a bunch of steps ahead of time. You dont just move the pawn [thinking], That gets me into a good position, but whats the next move? You have to think not even days or weeks; you have to think years in advance from a position of leadership. You have to think, Hows this going to impact the ofcers and community and everything you do? I like games. I like chess. I like card games. I think that way. Its a blessing, because some times I get to a scene where things are chaot ic, and everybodys like, Oh, what to do? and I can see so clearly the bigger picture with so many things that need to be done and how to do it and keep people moving. Its tough to teach that. Whats been your biggest constraint? Peo ple? Money? Is it equipment or talent? Probably right now there are two things that are challenging me. One is my ability to man age the Police Department. Theres already a lot of restraints on what I can and cant do, and t hats already written up in a [union] con tract thats beyond my ability to control. But I think overall: changing a cultural be lief. Theres a history; this organization has had a long history of police work. And peo ple are used to doing things a certain way. To come in from a dif ferent state with a dif ferent perspective on policing, even though its similar in a lot of ways our policing styles were different in Maryland compared to Sarasota. Getting ofcers to un derstand and then get the buy-in: As soon as they get it, itll be like a click. I get it. That makes sense; this is going to work. Its going to make my life easier, make me safer and the community safer, too. But getting them to un derstand it, to make it click, thats going to be the biggest challenge because everybody especially police everybody has a hard time with change. It takes a little bit of time to win over the condence and the trust. And as soon as you have little small successes and people get to know you more its about developing those relationships. And of course, money is always going to be a challenge. In the last seven years, Ive seen in law enforcement across the country mon ey and budgets and pensions and anything dealing with money is a super-heightened challenge. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 18 I need people to go out and make decisions based on experience, based on being at the scene and using good judgment and their knowledge of the law to be leaders. Bernadette DiPino Chief of Police Sarasota


Government wants to do a better job of ac countability and holding the taxpayers mon ey at a good level while law enforcement still needs to ght crime and have the personnel and the resources and tools to do it. And the citizens still want the police to do it, but they are not sure they want to pay a whole lot of money to do it. Money is always going to be out there as a challenge. But Ive got a lot of ideas on how to overcome that: grants; forfeiture money; make sure of cers are trained on forfeiture and seizing money, cars and property. Plus Im looking at trying to develop a foundation for the Police Department that will give citizens who want [the ability] to support police outside of the budget process. Money for training and equip ment thats really tough to get in todays environment. Our budget is more than 80 percent person nel. Add cars and guns and ammo, and youre done. Thats it. So you have to think of ways to get training, which is so important. How do I get equipment for the ofcers? Thats im Bernadette DiPino attends an October 2012 reception for the nalists for new police chief. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 19


portant. And ever yday things: We want to do a reach-out to the kids. Wed like to give them a cup or something, but where do we get the money from? A foundation would help us. It would be a civilian board, raising money for the Police Department. We could come up with a list of items and come before the board for review. They could say, That doesnt seem reasonable. Or they could say, Yes, I can see where you could use that training. You are one of a number of new senior managers in the city. In the past few months, we have seen a new nance di rector, utilities director, information technology director, human resources di rector and city manager. Do you sense an appetite or willingness to try new things? Absolutely. Tom Barwin is a great city man ager and Im so happy to be working with him. Hes visionary and innovative in his thought processes and very methodical in what he does. Were all looking at it with a fresh new set of eyes. Its good, because if you have something that goes a long time without somebody out side looking at it and saying, Why do we do this? How do we do this? sometimes people get a little prickly about it: Why are you ask ing me? Ill say Im not necessarily trying to change things. Im trying to understand how and why we do things. It could be the best way. But there might be a better way. You have to have a fresh set of eyes every once in a while. It will only make things better. To me, thats the American way. Were always pragmatic in adapting and changing. Its not a bad thing. Its a good thing. You still have the history, with the p eople, the employ ees that are there. Theyll bring with them what worked really well, the legacy stuff. And then you have the new people, maybe with dif ferent ideas, concepts and philosophies, best practices from where they came from. One of your predecessors, Chief [Francis] Scott, once told me, The worst mistake I ever made was putting air conditioning in the cars. Have you spotted any worst mistakes you would like to correct? I wish I could get the ofcers out of the cars more and walking and riding bikes more. Were working on that. A lot of them like it and enjoy it and will enjoy it. The 12-hour shifts is something [else]. I just dont see the ofcers seeing each other. I think theres a disconnect in the department right now, with this building six different oors and everybody disconnected with each oth er. And working shifts where theyre 12 here and there is little overlap. Theres no time. Theyre communicating like the modern era with texting or emails. I think that camarade rie, that family-type of feel, the importance of one-on-one contact with other police ofcers [is important]. Reading it in an email is not the same. Those are the things I see that Id like to have the opportunity to look at and examine. Is this the best way? I want ofcers to work the same sector all the time. We really need to get ofcers back into ownership. When I worked a sector in Baltimore County when I rst started [as a rookie police ofcer], if somebody else had to take a call in my sector, I was so upset. If there was a crime in my sector, I took it personally. I didnt even live there, but it was mine. I had a sense of personal pride about that area. They were my people, my citizens, my businesses. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 20


I want that sam e thing here. And a lot of of cers do think that way. But I want Newtown is mine, and This community is mine. I want every single community within our larger community to feel that same way, that some body cares about them. Your best achievement of the past 120 days? The outreach to the citizens in the commu nity. I think Ive been able to establish some trust within the community. Ive been so wel comed by the citizens that I have met. Because of the interaction Ive had with mem bers of different [segments] of the community, we were able to bring in a shooting suspect, an attempted murder suspect, without any incident. And thats because members of the community called me and said, Hey, this per son wants to turn themselves in. Thats a huge success to me. That means the community trusts and is buy ing into the Police Department. Conversely, what would you consider your worst mistake of the past 120 days? Not having enough time, wishing I had more time to do ride-alongs with the police ofcers and engage with them more. More than three weeks were spent going through the accreditation process. I wish I had that time back. I needed to get my [Florida po lice ofcer] certication, but I could be three weeks ahead or four weeks ahead of where I am right now. And I forgot about this [as an achievement] I taught the community policing class to ev ery ofcer within the organization. I was real ly happy about that. Im pleased we were able to get everybody training on that in a short period of time. In this short period of time, have you found what you might call a personal fa vorite? A restaurant, a book, a vista anything in the community you made a connection with? Yes. The [Ringling] bridge and Lido Beach. I often will take my poodle and put her in my bike and ride up to the bridge. Well walk around the bridge. Its so beautiful and peace ful and serene there. And then Ill get back on the bike and ride out to Lido Beach and look at the area, maybe grab something to eat at St. Armands Circle. Im a water-beach person so thats my favorite thing so far. Have you had an enduring moment, some thing that really touched you personally, emotionally? Yes. I went to visit the Boys and Girls Club. [County Commission Chairwoman] Carolyn Mason invited me out. There were a lot of young kids, and I was being myself: Hey, how are you? The kids at rst were wary; the girls were re ally tentative. At one point after I was there a couple of minutes talking to them, they felt so comfortable, they came and surrounded me. They were touching my vest and wanting to hold my hand. They all surrounded me, and Carolyn Mason took a picture of me with the girls. My heart just beamed. I was so happy about that because they felt so comfortable. That was an endearing moment. It was amazing. % Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 21


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The debate over whether to monkey with Sarasota 2050 is scheduled to get louder next Wednesday, May 8, when the Sarasota Coun ty Commission will discuss a list of changes proposed by developers, as well as communi ty comments that have come ooding in. One of the central points of discussion: scal neu trality. 2050 was added to the countys Compre hensive Plan a decade ago, with the intent to encourage the con struction of new walkable, mi xed-use commu nities and the preservation of open space and environmentally sensitive land. But critics say 2050 has instead stied development and that the plan should be loosened up to give devel opers broader freedom to build as they please. More than 7,000 new units have been ap proved under 2050 guidelines, but only one project Neal Communities Grand Palm has gotten off the ground. Neal Communities has been among the proponents of changes in the 2050 Plan. Image from Neal Communities website THE COUNTY COMMISSION ON MAY 8 WILL DISCUSS CHANGES DEVELOPERS HAVE PROPOSED REGARDING ITS LANDMARK PLANNING GUIDELINES FOR AREAS EAST OF I-75 2050 ON CENTER STAGE If you approve the whole thing upfront and then it turns out to be not so, the county hasnt got any recourse. Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor


Beginning last fall, th e commission asked county staff to meet with development rms such as Neal and Schroeder-Manatee the company that won approval for the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South to hear their con cerns. At the top of the eventual list of Policy & Regulation issues? Fiscal neutrality, a rule designed to ensure that no addition al costs for county infrastructure are borne by those other than the residents of the new neighborhoods, in the words of county LongRange Planning Manager Allen Parsons. That means a new development, through im pact fees and eventual sales and property taxes, should cover any costs the county will incur by offering services to the community. That list of services ranges from roads and sidewalks to public transp ortation, schools, water supply, stormwater management, courts, jails and more. Even new costs to li braries are factored in. Fiscal neutrality analysis is kind of the rst step, says Parsons. Take a look at the devel opment and estimate what the impacts will be on the cost side and then on the revenue side. Developers are required to provide the county with a scal neutrality report at each phase of a project; that report is then reviewed by the county and by an independent analyst. Each new report looks forward and backward, says Parsons, to make sure that projections used in earlier analyses were accurate. One example: a 2010 scal neutrality report submitted for the Neal project that would be come Grand Palm. The report estimated fu ture household numbers, tax rates and more, The 2050 Plan was designed to govern development east of Interstate 75, where scattered cattle and horse farms create a pastoral scene. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 24


all the way out to 2035. A contemporary anal ysis by the county noted that while the report was professionally prepared and adequate in its general approach, ndings and conclu sions, there were questions about the valid ity of the data in one particular table. This table shows total impact fee revenues exactly equaling the capital expenditures for the respective services, the review staff wrote. From real-world experience of our capital budget, our impact fee revenues are generally lower than our corresponding cap ital expenditures, particularly when it comes to roads. (Emphasis in the original.) Commissioner Nora Patterson says any esti mates of future costs are going to be ball park, but over th e long run, it should work out that this will either cost the community or be scally neutral. Under 2050, Neal Communities will be re quired to submit another scal neutrality anal ysis at their next phase of development, says Parsons. Uncertainties in earlier reports might then be resolved. AN ISSUE But the rule requiring phase-by-phase scal neutrality reports is one identied as an is sue by developers hoping to alter 2050. The zoning code should be amended to elim inate having to revisit scal neutrality [for] ev ery phase of a development or on an annual or bi-annual basis, reads the recommendation from the developers. This is because of the Commissioner Nora Patterson. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 25


uncertainty that it creates for the nancing of a proje c t, which is especially impactful in light of the lending environment today (post 2007) having more emphasis on predictability. According to staff notes, scal neutrality was on the list of issues raised by almost every developer consulted last fall: Hi Hat Ranch, Palmer Ranch, Rod Krebs, Neal and Schroed er-Manatee. Patterson says maybe theres a compromise between phase-by-phase approval and giving the OK to a whole chunk all at once. If you approve the whole thing upfront and then it turns out to be not so, she adds, the county hasnt got any recourse. TAKING SIDES The builders complaints have been amplied by local business interests such as The Argus Foundation the business leadership group that issued a 2050 Call to Action. They cited declining property values and argued that the only way to expand the countys tax base is to encourage responsible development. Others calling on the county to reopen the 2050 de bate include the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Chamber of Com merce and the county Economic Development Corp., as well as representatives of Geckos, Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, Githler Development and WWSB-TV, among others. Those opposing the proposed changes include environmental groups such as Sustainable Floridians, Control Growth Now, the Audu bon Society, the local Sierra Club, Manaso ta-88, Citizens for Responsible Government and Citizens for Sensible Growth, as well as community or ganizations such as the Saraso ta County Council of Neighborhood Associa tions and the Southwest County Alliance of Homeowners Associations. The county has been deluged by public com ments, submitted via letters, at events and on the countys website. One anonymous com ment card in support of altering 2050 reads simply: Please bring the 2050 plan back to update Needs to be more user friendly Plan makes it very difcult for developers to secure nancing. Fiscal nutrality (sic). (Emphasis in the original.) A website comment, meanwhile, argues that Sarasota 2050 looks like so many other 2050 plans which all stem from the UN, part of a far-right conspiracy theory involving Agenda 21. John Saputo, the president and owner of Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, even blames 2050 for slowing beer sales: When Anheuser-Busch assigned me to the Manatee/Sarasota County territory for my pri mary franchise territory in 1996, our Brewery economists and computer model estimated that Sarasota County had a potential to gen erate over 5 million cases of AB product sales. Since the inception of the Plan the economist and model now predicts that my potential for Sarasota County will max out at maybe 3 million cases. ... [T]he Plan took away over 2 million cases in potential sales. In support of 2050, Tony Stefan, the chairman of the Myakka River Branch of the United States Green Building Council, argues that cli mate change considerations should come rst: Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 26


Land use planning is a powerful tool that we have to consciously reduce our reliance on cars. The last 60-70 years of land use planning in the United States have institutionalized our reliance on cars, and have increased the risks of climate change. The 2050 plan is a major break from traditional land use planning. It is designed to promote compact, mixed-use de velopment, and is an afrmative step toward more efcient use of cars. Other opponents of the changes say its pre mature to overhaul a plan conceived to guide development till 2050. Immediate economic concerns, such as tighter bank lending prac tices, are not justications to change our long range plan, writes one website commenter. Short term gains also are not justications to reduce requirements for infrastructure, trafc management, and urban services. Jody Jorgensen of Sustainable Floridians says the scal neutrality changes are too important to be lumped in with the other alterations: We propose additional focus on the scal neutral ity amendments, she writes. We ask you to consider a separate public hearing regarding these amendments. In short, Wednesday afternoons discussion should prove interesting, wide-ranging and important. According to Parsons, the com mission has three major options: Leave 2050 alone, ask staff to continue to research the developers recommendations or recommend that staff develop alternatives to 2050. At the very least, you can count on a healthy debate. Parsons says development questions like 2050 have long inspired strong feelings: Its denitely an issue that people care about passionately. % For a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. | Tonya Herschberger & Linda KeefeAfter a terrible accident I required surgery. Tonya shared with me that Dr. Koval was responsible for her beautiful smile. She gave me hope and direction. Im so grateful to Dr, Koval. Now I have a smile that I love to share with everyone. 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 May 3, 2013 Page 27


Tonya Herschberger & Linda Keefe Christine Koval, D.M.D. Restorative, Cosmetic & Laser Dentistry General Dentistry 2477 Stickney Point Road, Suite 216A Sarasota, FL 941.923.5406 Awarded 20 Gold Medals for Smile Makeovers by the Florida Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Tonya was the nurse who prepped Linda for surgery after she was hit by a drunk driver while walking with her husband and their dog. In spite of her pain and the anxiety that precedes any surgical procedure, Linda gazed up at the nurse and immediately felt at ease. You have a beautiful smile, she said. Thats when Tonya shared with Linda the person responsible for her beautiful smile, Dr. Christine Koval. For over 25 years, Dr. Koval has been one of the areas most trusted experts in creating beautiful, natural smiles using the latest advances in restorative, cosmetic, laser and general dentistry. Most new patients come to her based on referrals from people who just cant stop smiling. Linda turned to Dr. Koval to repair her smile and jaw which was so misaligned she couldnt chew her food properly. Tonyas comforting smile and advice gave me hope and direction, she says. Im so grateful to her, and of course to Dr. Koval. Now I have a smile that I love to share with everyone I meet.For a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 or for a more extensive smile gallery viewing visit ENHANCE YOUR SMILE. ENHANCE YOUR LIFE.


Sure you can pop into a caf or coffee shop for a cuppa and a quick hit on the Internet. But what if you are on the street, trying to nd a specic place or waiting for an email or Tweet? Later this summer, Sarasota may have free wi-fi on down town streets from the old courthouse to the bayfront. A local consortium called Digital WiFi Solutions LL C is wire lessly wiring up downtown wit h wirepeat ers on store roofs. If you look at the top of Epicure restaurant at the corner of Palm Ave nue and Main Street, you will see a wee gray dome. And if you re up your smart phone or witablet, you will already see a signal called Digital Sarasota or Free Hotspot. Several notable locals are involved in the ini tiative. Tony Driscoll, Peter Fanning, John Moran, Rich Swier Jr. and Jesse Biter are all working to get the op Residents and visitors alike soon will have access to free wiin downtown Sarasota. Photo by Nor man Schimmel A GROUP WORKING IN DOWNTOWN SARASOTA HOPES TO SEE THE AREA WIRED FOR SERVICE BY LATE SUMMER SOON SERVING: FREE WI-FI Right now its a work in progress, an early beta. Were still designing software. Right now its just a taste of whats to come. John Moran Operations Manager Downtown Improvement District By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


Downtown businesses will be able to advertise special deals through the new wiservice. Photo by Norman Schimmel eration running. But this will entail more than just a large-area wihotspot. The group plans to install 12 touchscreens downtown to help people nd their way to local businesses such as shops and restau rants. The system can guide them to use a web browser that will allow them to see menus or news of special sales, for example, and maybe even download coupons. Imagine the owner of the Epicure sees it is a slow evening, said Moran, operations man ager of the Downtown Improvement District. He can quickly put a coupon on the system: First drink is free tonight only. The offer would appear on the touchscreens and also on the website that is the systems backbone. The wisignal will not penetrate into build ings, so downtown residents will still have to maintain their own paths to the Internet. But they will have access to the waynding and special deals via the website. While the transponders are going up, there will be dead zones downtown. Our best guess is mid-August for full opera tion, Moran told members of the Downtown Improvement District this week. Right now its a work in progress, an early beta. Were still designing software. Right now its just a taste of wh ats to come. % Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 30


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


W ith S arasota County Attorney Stephen De Marsh having delivered to the County Com mission a memo outlining his staffs research on domestic partnership registries, Chair woman Carolyn Mason says she expects to initiate another discussion on the topic next week. The commission will hold regular meetings on May 7 in Venice and on May 8 in Sarasota. On Jan. 8, the board agreed to hold off on any formal action re gard ing a countywide registry until it saw how a bill for a state registry fared during the 2013 session of the Florida Legislature. Ken Shelin, a former Sarasota city commissioner who has been championing domestic partnership regis tries, told The Sarasota News Leader on May 2 he is doubtful a Florida Senate bill will win approval at this point, with the session wind ing down. THE ANALYSIS In his April 23 memo, DeMarsh wrote that approximately 19 ju Supporters of a statewide domestic partnership registry as well as a registry just for Sarasota County so far are making little progress. Image courtesy THE COUNTY COMMISSION NEXT WEEK IS EXPECTED ONCE AGAIN TO DISCUSS WHETHER IT WANTS TO CREATE A DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP REGISTRY THE COUNTY AND THE REGISTRY QUESTION By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor There is very little published law in Florida regarding domestic partnerships. Stephen DeMarsh County Attorney April 23 Memo To the County Commission


risdictions in the state have established do mestic partnership registries in an inclusive non-gender-based manner. A survey of the various jurisdictions indicates signicant variations in the scope of rights asserted but most ordinances include provisions regarding emergency notications, spousal equivalent rights at health care and correctional facili ties, health care and burial decisions, and preneed guardianships. He added, Some ordinances also have provi sions regarding employee benets, education al decisions, and procurement preferences for governmental contractors that offer domestic partnership benets to their employees. All of the ordinances contain mechanisms for estab lishing, amending, and terminating domestic partnership registries. The ordinances typical ly do not include any residency requirements for registration. DeMarsh further noted, Several jurisdictions recognize partnerships formed in other juris dictions that ha ve not been revoked as a form of reciprocity. Some ordinances limit reciproc ity to jurisdictions within the State of Flori da. All of the ordinances state that any rights conferred are to the extent not otherwise in conict with state or federal law. Enforcement modalities vary by jurisdiction. He continued, State and local laws estab lishing domestic partnership rights must not conict with statutory state constitutional provisions. DeMarsh points to the fact that, in 1997, the Florida Legislature amended the state statutes in response to the passage of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits same-sex marriages. Then in 2006, the Florida Constitution was amended after voters passed a DOMA-based initiative that says, Insomuch as marriage is the legal The Sarasota County Commission meets in session in January. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 33


union of only one man and one woman as hus band and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equiva lent thereof shall be valid or re cognized. DOMA has been challenged on federal consti tutional grounds, DeMarsh added, with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling expected this summer. He also noted, There is very little published law in Florida regarding domestic partner ships. The lead case is a 2000 Fourth District Court of Appeal decision challenging the con stitutionality of a Broward County domestic partnership ordinance passed in 1999. The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the county, though it did nd fault with one provision of the registry regarding healthcare decisions to the extent the ordinance would override the provisions of a state statute, DeMarsh added. Although that decision preceded the 2006 state constitutional amendment, DeMarsh pointed out, the reasoning of the Court sug gests that these ordinances are not likely to be invalidated on a constitutional basis. He continued, No other published Florida cases could be found, and successful chal lenges in other states focused on ordinances that included procurement preferences for companies extending domestic partner ben ets to employees. This is not a common element to Floridas ordinances, DeMarsh wrote. Both the City of Sarasota and the City of Ven ice have implemented registries. DeMarsh provided an analysis of Sarasotas ordinance in his memo and included a list of Frequent ly Asked Questions about it, adding that they may be found on the citys website Shelin pointed out to the News Leader on May 2 that the Sarasota ordinance is the result of a series of renements through the experi ence of several jurisdictions and is probably the best model to use. At the News Leader s request, Jan Thornburg, Sarasotas public information ofcer, checked on May 2 and found that 143 couples have reg istered with the city since Nov. 6, 2012, when the ordinance went into effect. According to the City of Venices website six couples have registered there since midCounty Attorney Stephen DeMarsh. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 34


April, after t hat municipalitys ordinance was approved. Among the other local government entities that have implemented such ordinances are Orange, Volusia, Pinellas, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties as well as the cities of Gainesville, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Orlando, Miami Beach and Key West. DeMarsh concluded his report by writing, Given the legal intricacies of these ordinanc es and lack of case law guidance at the pres ent time, he recommended a more expansive disclaimer than some local governments pro vide, so registrants understand that the ordi nance is not a substitute for estate planning or other legal counsel. THE STATE BILL Regarding the legislative action this year, DeMarsh noted that Senate Bill 196, which sought to establish a statewide registry, would not preempt local governments from enacting their own ordinances as long as the laws were not in conict with state law. Shelin, who reviewed DeMarshs memo at the request of the News Leader said the only aw he found was in DeMarshs information about the state bill: It was not up-to-date. The Senate version [of the bill] he mentions was substantially rewritten after the Fam ilies, Elder Affairs and Children Committee refused to consider the bill [when it rst was scheduled for a hearing] because it was over ly broad, Shelin wrote in an email. The bill was substantially revised and the resulting revision loo ked a lot like the local ordinances with just about 7-8 very narrow rights included. That version received a 5-4 favorable vote out of the committee, but has not been considered by the full Senate and likely wont as the session winds down. The House version was never revised and was nev er considered in committee. Shelin was pleased to learn that Mason is plan ning to bring up DeMarshs memo for discus sion next week. He was hopeful he could be present at that tim e, he added. % Commission Chairwoman Carolyn Mason. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 35


On Dec. 1 1, 2 012, the Sarasota County Com mission reafrmed support for using bond money to pay for im provements to be undertaken in one continuous period at Siesta Public Beach. During a budget work shop on Tuesday, April 30, Comm issioner Nora Patterson who lives on Sie sta Key and Commissioner Charles Hines appeared to question whether bond money still should be used. However, Commis sioner Christine Rob inson who cast the only No vote in De cember regarding the A graphic shows the Siesta Beach Park improvements plan as of December 2012, with some optional items listed. Image courtesy Sarasota County AFTER INDICATING USE OF BOND MONEY MIGHT STILL BE UP FOR DEBATE, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS RENEW A FOCUS ON CONTAINING THE COST OF THE SIESTA BEACH PARK IMPROVEMENTS REVISITING THE BEACH PROJECT By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor Its a project I want to get done, but Im not and never really have been supportive of that price. Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County


bond money made it clear that revisiting that action was not part of the motion she eventually made which won support from all her colleagues except Commissioner Joe Barbetta. My concern, Barbetta said, is weve had several meetings on this and the last thing I want to do is redesign [the Siesta Beach im provements] now. I thought we were pretty much there, and now its a case of getting it out to bid as quickly as possible. Robinson requested more detailed informa tion from staff to help the board decide how it best can utilize future revenue to pay for a wide variety of capital improvement projects. (See the related story in this issue.) Commissioner Nora Patterson peruses the Fiscal Year 2014 budget workbook. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 37 Commissioners Joe Barbetta and Christine Robinson listen to discussion during the April 30 bud get workshop. Photo by Rachel Hackney


Still, before the vote on the motion, Chair woman Carolyn Mason asked Robinson to clarify whether it meant revisiting the bond vote for the Siesta Public Beach project and the boards April 2012 decision to accelerate construction of Bee Ridge Road improve ments through use of bond revenue. It does not, Robin son replied. During a morning staff presentation, Steve Botelho, the countys chief financial plan ning ofcer, reported that the board would be asked to vote on May 7 on a Procurement Department recommenda tion that the John F. Swift rm of Sarasota be hired as the construction manager at risk (CM at risk) for the Siesta Beach improvements. The board had agreed at its December 2012 meeting to pursue the CM at risk option, to try to bring the project in below the staff estimate of $16.7 million. Botelho noted construction is expected to start in 2014 and take 24 months to complete. A CM at risk works with subcontractors to make certain costs do not exceed the budget set for a project. QUESTIONING THE EXPENSE When Patterson asked what happened to a list of optional items that had been part of the original list of Siesta Beach Park improve ments, Carolyn Eastwood, the program man ager for the project, responded that staff felt once the CM at risk was on board, the rm would be able to produc e a more reliable esti mate for the total cost of the work. If the gure was below $16.7 million, Eastwood indicated, some of those options could be added back in. Staff would come back to the commission with a report on that, Eastwood added, as the decision on what to include would be up to the commission. But that would be after we sign [a contract]? Patterson asked. No, Eastwood told her. The discussion would take place before the board committed itself to the nal contract for the project. Then Hines reported that he had driven through the beach park over the weekend, try ing to weigh the costs of improvements there against the replacement of the countys emer gency communications system and the cost of the new Emergency Operations/911 Center. The park looked OK in my opinion, Hines said, indicating the need for improving the re strooms was greater than that for new picnic tables or tennis courts, for example. With a discussion at hand regarding the boards Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for Fiscal Years 2014 to 2018 part of the process for preparing the FY 2014 budget he added, Im wavering a little bit on the plan for Siesta Public Beach. Returning to t he mention of the extra options, Patterson said, I think the overall estimates without those items man y of which were Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 38 I believe Siesta Key Beach needs to be improved, but I believe we have to phase it because of other outstanding needs This is a want, as far as I see it right now. Christine Robinson Commissioner Sarasota County


contemplated in the design is too high a cost I would fall in the same category [with Hines]. Patterson added, Its a project I want to get done, but Im not and never really have been supportive of that price. Still, she said, I cant imagine anything worse than over a period of, say, 10 years, constantly coming back to this asset and tearing it up. Patterson continued, If I were asked tomor row to appropriate the necessary [bond sale] for a $16.7 million-plus project, Im not giving you an opinion that I would say, Yes. That was why staff planned to work with the CM at risk, Eastwood responded, to try to de velop a much higher condence level in pric ing. With both the Siesta and Bee Ridge projects, Barbetta said, Weve missed great opportuni ties with lower pricing on both projects. The delays are costing us a lot of money. If the board continued to delay those projects, Barbetta continued, or chose to tackle them on a piecemeal basis, Theyre going to cost even more. Commissioner Charles Hines. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 39


Regarding Siesta Public Beach, he added, We havent put any money in that place in I dont know how long, and its a huge revenue gener ator for us. The last thing I want is for staff to invest a lot of time, and the public expects something, and then we start picking it apart again. Botelho said he felt Barbetta and Patterson both would have their concerns alleviated once the CM at risk was on board. Robinson pointed out that she had voted against bonding the beach project because she knew the commission was going to be consid ering how to pay for a number of other infra structure projects as well as overdue mainte nance. I believe Siesta Key Beach needs to be improved, she added, but I believe we have to phase it because of other outstanding needs This is a want, as far as I see it right now. Patterson told her colleagues, Ive been con sistently saying it sounds like an awful lot of money for this project. Thats not a new objec tion on my part at all. I went ahead [with the bond vote] on the assumption that somehow we were going to get a lower price, and I dont believe this commission has delayed [the project]. It seems as though it has been delayed I couldnt tell you what has delayed it. (Discus sion last year about delays in complet ing the design focused on a report that staff suggestions for extra features had caused the estimate to balloon. To keep the cost at the level the commission had approved, Capital Projects staff had to ask the design team to remove some of those later additions. ) County Administrator Randall Reid pointed out to Patterson that the board can set the budget for any project and specify the cost will not exceed that gure. Finally, Patterson said, I think we all want to get to the same point ultimately, but its a bit of a struggle at this price. During the afternoon discussion, prior to the vote on direction for staff, Robinson said, I think we need to look at Siesta Key, but I was on the losing end of that [bond] vote. I dont know that you were on the losing end of the Siesta Key thing, Patterson told her. There were three people who have reserva tions. If the price could be reduced, Patterson add ed, then you would have some dollars for other things. % 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 May 3, 2013 Page 40


Sometimes the citys permit requirements can lead to confusion. Here is the street closure plan sub mitted for this years Chalk Festival. Image courtesy City of Sarasota SCC PREVIEW


The Sarasota city commissioners on Monday, May 6, have an agenda full of controversy. The sound ordinance, untangling the Community Redevelopment Agencys future and the spe cial events policy are up for debate and pos sible decisions. The last item in the afternoon session is a re port by the Sarasota Police Department on the results of recent actions to enforce the cur rent sound ordinance. Chief Bernadette DiP ino will discuss that over the past 12 months, police ofcers have issued 14 citations for vi olation of the sound ordinance along with ve warnings. In the same period, the police have made 38 arrests for disorderly conduct, intoxication and drugs and 42 arrests for assault, battery and ghting. They have issued 11 citations for trespass and eight trafc citations. Over the three-day weekend of April 19-22, the police gave warnings to the Five Oclock Club on Hillview Street and the Floribbean on Main Street. DiPinos report says, The following establishments were found in com pliance: Tequila Cantina, Smokin Joes, Ivo ry Lounge, Gator Club, 15 South, Dred Mart, Mattisons and Salvatores. The effort took 24 man-hours. In late April, city police warned Floribbean about violating the sound ordinance. Photo by Norman Schimmel SOUND, SPECIAL EVENTS AND THE CRA ON TAP FOR THE CITY COMMISSION By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 42


The following three-day weekend, April 26-29, city police issued warnings to the Gator Club, Smokin Joes, the Ivory Lounge and the Tequi la Cantina. That time the effort took 34 manhours. The report notes police ofcers were diverted from their regular duties to down town more than 60 nights in an unspecied time period. DiPinos report also notes the sound ordi nance specications for St. Petersburg, Boca Raton; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; New York City; and Daytona Beach for comparison. The city attorney is sure to weigh in on any proposed changes to the sound ordinance be cause of First Amendment conicts. And the public especially downtown residents are expected to vent their concerns over noise they consider too loud and occurring too late at night. CRA FUTURE An other piece of unfinished business will make an after noon appear ance estab lishment of an 11-member ad hoc committee to examine the feasibility of extending the tax-increment financing dis trict that funds the d owntown Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The effort expires in 2016. The financing scheme generates about $6 million per year in city and county property taxes. The money must be spent within the geographic boundaries of the district. Recent City Commission discussion resulted in an directive for the yet-to-be-established ad hoc committee that the city will no longer con sider the districts funds to be encumbered. If the county wants to continue the effort, the city would be happy to get the money, but the citys share could be spent anywhere in the city, not just in the downtown area. The ad hoc committee would report to both the city manager and the county administrator, and it would have seven months to nish its job. Proposed members are Michael Beaumier, Frank Carol, Craig Colburn, Andrew Dorr, Er nest DuBose, Joel Freedman, Chris Gallagher, Katie Leonard, David Merrill, William Russell and Mark Huey. Its reco mmen dations could range from shutting down the CRA in 2016 to extending it another 30 years with the same guide lines under which it has ex isted. H owever, City Commissioner Shannon Snyder. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 43


the citys decision to opt out nancially puts a crimp on the committees latitude of action. That latter issue the earlier decision comes up for reconsideration under New Business late in the evening session of the City Commission meeting. Commissioner Paul Caragiulo voted in favor of the opt-out guidance, but he put the matter back on the agenda for reconsideration. So in the afternoon, the commissioners de cide if they will create the committee, and in the evening they will decide if the committee should be given free rein or hobbled. SPECIAL EVENTS EYED After three public hearings in the evening, the City Commission will give guidance and direction to city staff over the regulation of special events. About 100 such activities are held in the city every year, and each requires a permit and coordination with a number of city departments. The agenda item originated with an April 15 appeal by the Chalk Festival for the city to waive as much as $13,000 in fees. The com missioners agreed at that time that more uni formity was needed in their special events policies. They will discuss noise, grant poli cies, affected parties and length of events. It is almost certain other issues will arise during that discussion Monday evening. Regarding the Timing Is Everything Depart ment: After the commission wraps up its spe cial events discussion, the next item it will take up will be Denise Kowals repeated re quest for the Chalk Festival fees waiver. POINT S OF PRIVILEGE Not just anybody can add an item to the City Commissions agenda. The commissioners can, of course, and they recently have become more active in exercising the ability. On Mon day evening under New Business, three com missioners are introducing items for discus sion. Commissioner Shannon Snyder is playing his cards close to the vest, asking only for a di rection re: rules of procedure for city commis sion meetings. The backup material for the item includes a copy of the City Commissions adopted rules for running its meetings. Commissioner Terry Turner, in one of his nal meetings, wants a discussion on options con cerning future city budgets. Turner is a former economics professor who is comfortable with city nances. A pair of tables he will introduce shows an interesting anomaly: Between 2007 and 2013 (the bust years), city revenues declined 27 percent while salaries and wages declined 10 percent, but benets increased 31 percent. Commissioner Caragiulo, as mentioned ear lier, will propose reconsideration (i.e., a revote) on a motion passed earlier to instruct the ad hoc CRA committee to take the posi tion that the city will not contribute to any tax-increment nancing plan for downtown after 2016. If the motion is overturned, it will lift a restriction on the ad hoc committees de liberations. % Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 44


During a Mo nday, April 29, community meet ing, the Sarasota County interim transporta tion planning director said a bus rapid transit (BRT) system connecting the airport to down town likely will require city nancial partici pation. Jonathan Paul said, By August we must have a fairly good idea of how this will be paid for. He suggested a city-county interlocal agreement or a special taxing district to share the estimated $2.5 mil lion annual cost. The county is pondering whether it wants to pay $800,000 to fund a study required by the federal government to examine a new route for a BRT system. Buses would run at 10-min ute intervals and use dedicated or priority lanes along either U.S. 41, U.S. 301 or Old Bra denton Road to downtown. The Seaboard Coast line/Seminole Gulf Railroad line through the city was selected as the preferred route earlier, under a study paid for by the feds. The Portland, OR, bus rapid transit system is reportedly one of the best in the nation in terms of services and equipment. Image courtesy Sarasota County A BUS RAPID TRANSIT PLAN FOR SARASOTA COUNTY MAY NEED CITY MONEY PONDERING ROUTES AND COSTS By Stan Zimmerman City Editor By August we must have a fairly good idea of how this will be paid for. Jonathan Paul Interim director Transportation Planning Sarasota County


But t he price tag to ac quire the roadbed and build the pavement approached $100 million for a service that would cut through the citys poorest neighborhood. It had the least land use to support transit, said Paul. A look at the three alternatives U.S. 301, U.S. 41 or Old Bradenton Road must be p aid fo r locally, since the federal government paid for the rst study. The Monday meeting was advertised to seek community guidance, but community presence was thin. The citys new downtown economic coordinator at tended, and he said he counted 20 people, of which 12 considered themselves regulars at public meetings. Graphics show proposed bus rapid transit corridors in Sarasota County. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 46


Sarasota Countys interim transportation planning director says the U.S. 41 corridor is more at tractive for a bus rapid transit system because of the number of destinations it has. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 47


The County Comm ission is leaning heavily towards the U.S. 41 corridor because it con tains more destinations and offers greater re development potential than U.S. 301, which fronts few residential areas. One objective of the proposed BRT is to further development and redevelopment along the corridor by al lowing people to use convenient public transit instead of their cars. The idea is, its frequent and attractive enough to attract people as an alternative to the car, said Paul. Everything points to U.S. 41, said Senior City Planner Ryan Chapdelain: the number of destinations and attractions, and no landuse changes are required. One important factor for picking the route is population density. Chapdelain said the North Tamiami Trail area is zoned for 35 units per acre (second only to downtowns 50 units per acre) and has an average of 23 units per acre. The focus now is on the airport-to-downtown leg of the BRT. The service would then go to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and further south to the Southgate Mall at Siesta Drive. How ever, the route of the southern portion has proved contentious in the past. Laurel Park residents expressed concern about a pro posed leg along their neighborhoods narrow section of Osprey Avenue. The route was changed to Orange Avenue through Laurel Park, but Chapdelain suggest ed the new route might run from the airport down U.S. 41 to Fruitville Road, then to Lem on Avenue, then along Ringling Boulevard to U.S. 301. That w ould skip Laurel Park com pletely. The Board of County Commissioners needs to make a decision by this summer to restart the alternatives analysis, said Chapdelain. There may be a need to educate the County Commission before the decision. The [Board of County Commissioners] believes wholesale land-use changes are needed on U.S. 41, said Paul. I do believe you have the densities to support BRT on the U.S. 41 corridor. The BRT will be expensive to establish and to operate. The county now pays $18.2 mil lion from the general fund to run 45 buses on Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) routes. Should a BRT system be installed, the opera tional expenses could jump another $2.5 mil lion per year. The federal government will pay up to 80 per cent of the BRTs capital costs new buses, shelters, right of way alterations and signs. But local government will be required to pay for the $2.5 million in annual operations. Paul suggested the cost could be shared be tween the city and county using an interlocal agreement or another funding source. Voters in other Florida communities have approved a transit tax to pay for mass transit opera tions, for example. The county has until mid-September to let the Federal Transportation Administration know if it will fund another study of alternative routes and how it plans to pay for ongoing operations. % Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 48


It took anot her two sessions of questions, but the Sarasota County Commission nally gave unanimous approval to a three-year contract with Manseld Oil Co. of Gainesville Inc. to supply gasoline, diesel motor fuel and biodies el fuels to the county at a cost not to exceed $8 million a year. Ted Coyman, the coun tys procurement of cial, assured the com mission on April 24 that Manseld not only has its own eet of 34 18-wheelers to use in transporting fuel, it also has its own tank farm in Tampa, where it stores supplies. He added that staff had veried with com pany representatives that no mistake had been made in the bids notation that the rm would not charge extra to deliver fuel within 24 hours during a state of emer gency, such as the aftermath of a hur ricane, instead of the standard 48-hour peri od. Further, Coyman said, They hav e established Staff projects Sarasota County will use about $7.7 million in fuel for the 2014 scal year. Photo by Unisouth via Wikimedia Commons THE COUNTY COMMISSION FINALLY AGREES TO APPROVE A BID IT ORIGINALLY HAD LIKENED TO THE START OF THE MOWING DEBACLE GRASPING THE GAS BID On top of their low price theyre going to throw in hurricane preparedness at no charge? Its just a red ag to me. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


supply contracts in place with Citgo and Chev -ron.At the request of Commissioner Charles Hines, staff also had double-checked the rms ref -erences with Florida local governments with which it has had contracts: Orange and Hillsborough counties as well as the City of Jacksonville.The April 24 action followed the airing of board concerns on April 9, when Commission -er Joe Barbetta rst suggested the proposed bid award was reminiscent of the situation that began more than a year-long process to rectify a backlog of roadside mowing.Although the county Procurement Depart -ment had recommended the fuel contract go to Manseld, commissioners questioned why the rm was not asking for any extra money to supply the county in the event of an emer gency.When the commissioners also questioned staff on April 9 about the amounts of the three bids the county had received for the fuel contract, resulting confusion about the gures prompt -ed them to ask for the matter to be brought back on April 23.Figures provided to the board on April 9 showed a unit price of $91.62 for Manseld, compared to the $225.25 bid of J. H. Williams Oil Co. of Bradenton and a bid of $307.43 from Petroleum Traders Corp. of Fort Wayne in Al -len County. A map shows Manseld Oil Co.s access to suppliers in the Southeastern United States. Image cour tesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 50


Barbetta told Ed Ga ble, the countys direc tor of general services, This is an $8 million contract, so I dont want to get into this thing and nd out they cant perform. Weve had this happen before. It happened with mowing. In January 2012, the board awarded a mowing contract for all three county zones to Bloom ings Landscape and Turf Management Inc. of Sarasota, whose bid was about half what the second-lowest bidder in each zone had pro posed. Although commissioners questioned the dif ferences in the bid amounts, then Procure ment Ofcial Mark Thiele said, We have all the condence that this particular vendor, who has been doing most of the [mowing] work for the last six years [in the county] can continue doing the w ork. On May 22, 2012, Thiele appeared before the commissioners to tell them the county would be dismissing Bloomings because it was un able to perform the work as expected. MORE DETAILS On April 23, when the fuel contract reap peared on the commissions Consent Agenda, Barbetta pulled it for discussion, just as he had on April 9. Gable explained that staff had requested that all bidders supply their markups per gallon for each of 11 categories of fuel. The base price of fuel is established daily by the Oil Price In formation Services, a national organization, he added. Staff also asked what each bidder would charge to supply fuel within 24 hours in an Charts show bid details for a Sarasota County fuel contract and projected county usage in the next scal year. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 51


emergency situation. While Manseld indicat ed it would not charge extra, J.H. Williams had a $75 delivery charge and Petroleum Traders had a $200 charge. Once the Procurement Department staff ana lyzed the bids, Gable continued, the difference between Manselds and that of J.H. Williams was only about $24,000 in regard to the price mark-up. When Commissioner Charles Hines asked if anyone on staff had checked into whether Manseld always complied with its contracts, Gable said he was unaware of any problems that had arisen with the company. My concern is that we havent dealt with them before, Barbetta said, pointing out that Williams is a Manatee County company. On top of their low price theyre going to throw in hurricane preparedness at no charge? Its just a red ag to me, he added. I need much more assurance to justify dealing with a rm in Gainesville versus a rm in Braden ton, he pointed out. Hines concurred with Barbetta. In response to a question, Gable said Petro leum Traders has been the countys fuel sup plier. However, it was disqualied in the latest bid process because it did not provide all the required information. Gable also told the board the new contract es timated the county would use 365,000 gallons of gasoline per year and 1.3 million gallons of diesel for the next three years, with a project ed annual cost of $7.7 million. For the current scal year, the countys fuel expense is estimated to be $5.4 million, he added. We f eel like consumption is going up consid erably, Gable said. Commissioner Nora Patterson noted the county has been adding Sarasota County Area Transit routes. Finally, the commissioners asked Gable and Coyman to double-check the rms references from Florida local governments with which it has done business. It doesnt seem like that would be huge research to do, Patterson said. Coyman replied that all the reference checks had been positive. However, he added that his staff can certainly provide additional refer ence checks. County Administrator Randall Reid suggested that information could be discussed the fol lowing day. After Gable afrmed to the board on April 24 that Manseld has a pretty good track re cord, Hines thanked him. The comments that we gave werent directed personally at you, Hines added. Weve had some bad experiences. Hines continued, Theres no guarantee of whats going to happen in the future, [but] we can say we d id our due diligence. % Commissioners Charles Hines and Nora Pat terson consider a matter during a meeting earlier this year. File photo Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 52


Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent will offer early voting for City of Sarasota residents in the citys May 14 runoff election beginning Saturday, May 4, and con tinuing through Saturday, May 11, Dent has announced. During that period, eligible voters may cast their ballots at the Supervisor of Elections Of ce in the Terrace Building, 2001 Adams Lane, Sarasota, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Florida Law requires voters to present pho to and signature ID upon entering the polling place and prior to voting. A voter who appears at the polls without photo and signature ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, a news release says. Eligible voters may also request a mail (absen tee) ballot by calling the Supervisor of Elec tions Ofce at 861-8618, emailing absentee@ or by visiting the SOE web site at and complet ing an online request. Voters who wish to request that an absentee ballot to be mailed to them must do so no lat er than 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 8, the news release notes. Absentee ballots must be returned to the SOE ofce no later than 7 p.m. on election night to be counted. Voters who have questions may contact the Supervisor of Elections Ofce at 861-8600 or visit the SOE website. The City of Sarasota runoff election will be May 14, but early voting begins May 4. Photo by Ameri canspirit | EARLY VOTING FOR CITY OF SARASOTA RUNOFF STARTS MAY 4 NEWS BRIEFS


SWFWMD BOARD DELAYS SIESTA STORMWATER PROJECT DISCUSSION The County Commission is hopeful it will get extra grant funding to pay for a new stormwater proj ect to prevent any closure of Siesta Public Beach to swimming in the future. Photo by Rachel Hackney The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) Governing Board did not discuss additional grant funding for the Siesta Beach stormwater project when it met this week, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. The additional funding request by Sarasota County was not presented at the Governing Boards April meeting because staff was still gathering information to fully evaluate the request, Public Information Ofcer Susan na Martinez Tarokh told the News Leader by email on May 1. When the County Commission voted on April 23 to award the $4,550,683.28 project to Fors berg Construction Inc. of Punta Gordon, Pro gram Manager Carolyn Eastwood said staff was working with SWFWMD to increase the grant funding the organization already had committed. Because of consultants errors in estimating the cost of the project, the bid award was about $3 million above the projected expense of $1.5 million, staff has explained. SWFWMD had committed up to $975,000 for the work, which is designed to treat storm water before it is discharged into the Gulf of Mexico. The goal of the initiative is to prevent future No Swimming postings at the beach as a result of unhealthful levels of bacteria linked to stormwater runoff. Eastwood told the commission on April 23, So far, the discussions have been positive with SWFWMD staff about increasing the amount of the grant. Eastwood said she ex pected the request to be addressed when the Governing Board met on April 30. Tarokh added in her email, The District now has all necessary information and we are co ordinating with the County to determine if this will be an item for the governing board to con sider in May. That meeting will be held Tuesday, May 21, Tarokh noted. Rachel Brown Hackney Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 54


As part of its continuing efforts to enhance building and permitting services for custom ers, Sarasota County Planning and Develop ment Services began offering a new feature as of May 1. The county will send an email to an applicant when the requested building permit is ready to be issued, a news release says. The email also will list the amount due and a reminder to bring the Notice of Commencement and other forms, if applicable, to the permitting ofce at either the Sarasota County Operations Cen ter, 1001 Sarasota Center Blvd., Sarasota, or the Robe rt L. Anderson Administration Cen ter, 4000 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice, the release adds. Applicants may make payments through the countys Interactive Voice Response (IVR) sys tem by calling 861-6441 or going online if they are registered users of the countys permitting web page. For more information, contact the Sara sota County Call Center at 861-5000 (TTY: 711) or visit the Sarasota County website at Two Sara sota County capital improvement projects have garnered statewide awards and a third has won national recognition, the county has reported. The Honore Avenue improvements project and the installation of a water main connection be tween south Siesta Key and Casey Key each won statewide American Public Works Asso ciation (APWA) Project of the Year Awards. The recognition came on April 26 during the Florida APWA Chapter Annual Conference in Jacksonville, a county news release says. Capital Assets staff in the Sarasota Coun ty Public Works Department accepted the awards on behalf of the county, the release notes. Additionally, the Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility Phase 3 project won an Environmental Excellence Award in the Con servation category from the National Associa tion of Environmental Professionals (NAEP). It was presented at the joint conference of the NAEP and the A ssociation of Environmental Professionals, held in Los Angeles, the news release says. That award, for which the coun ty was nominated by Stanley Consultants of Sarasota the countys construction, engi neering and inspection rm on the project was given on April 2 to representatives of Stanley Consultants and Kimley-Horn and As sociates Inc., the permitting and design rm that worked on the project. The approximately $18 million Honore Ave nue project extended the road from Fruitville to Bee Ridge roads. The 2.7-mile-long [seg ment] was a critical missing link in one of the major north-south county thoroughfares, the release points out. The project was designed to protect the neighborhood character with minimal intrusion, yet provide greater mobil ity for residents and visitors by constructing an appealing two-lane divided roadway with sustainable, environmentally friendly features, including Florida-friendly landscaping, bioTHREE COUNTY CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS WIN AWARDS Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 55 COUNTY OFFERS NEW FEATURE FOR BUILDING PERMIT APPLICANTS


A graphic shows the location of the new water main connection between Siesta and Casey keys, which was put in during the fall of 2012. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 56


swales and rain gardens to treat stormwater runoff and vegetative buffers. The $1.1 million Siesta/Casey keys water main project replaced a leaking pipeline serving both barrier islands, the release continues. Since the location crossed sensitive marine habitats and a marine preserve, it required extensive permitting and coordination with regulatory authorities, as well as innovative construction techniques involving a horizontal directional bore under environmentally sensi tive areas, the release adds. The new water main signicantly improved water reliability and increased re ow availability from 470 gallons per minute (GPM) to more than 840 GPM, the release notes. An observation deck at the Celery Fields looks out over marsh that teems with wildlife, especially during heavy migration periods. Photo by Rachel Hackney T he $7.2 million Celery Fields project was built on an approximately 450-acre site for merly used to grow celery, the release points out. The stormwater project provides ood protection, oodplain storage, water quality improvements and wetland restoration habi tat, the release says. [The Celery Fields is] also a passive recreational site, with walking trails around the perimeter of the facility, an improved walking and bicycle trail on the 75-foot-tall Observation Mound, sidewalks and a parking area at the gazebo, the release continues. It has become a major site for bird watching, with at least 216 species identied. The grand opening of the facility was celebrat ed in April 2011. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 57


Direct descendants of City of Sarasota re ghters are eligible for a scholarship to attend the State College of Florida thanks to the gen erosity of a Florida-based law rm, the City of Sarasota has announced. The $25,000 scholarship is funded by Sugar man & Susskind P.A. in Miami, which provides legal counsel for the City of Sarasota Fireght ers Pension Fund, a news release notes. Eligible recipients must be directly related to either a retired City of Sarasota reghter who is receiving a pension from the City of Sara sota Fireghters Pension Fund or one who is employed by the Sarasota County Fire De FIREFIGHTERS DESCENDANTS ELIGIBLE FOR SCHOLARSHIP partment and is a member of the city pension fund, the release notes. The city Fire Depart ment consolidated with county department in 1996. Students accepted into or enrolled in a re ghter or paramedic certication program also will be eligible for the scholarship, the release adds. The primary criterion for the award is a demonstration of nancial need, it notes. To receive an application, contact Allison Nash, coordinator of the State College of Florida Foun dation Scholarship, at or 7525390. Applications must be received by May 15. The Gulfcoast Afrming Interfaith Network (GAIN) is inviting all members of the public to its free, annual Spring Service to hear remarks by Nadine Smith, executive director of Equal ity Florida, and the Rev. Roger Fritts, senior pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota. The program will be held on Thursday, May 9, at 7 p.m. at St. Andrew Church, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota. Smith has been an outspoken advocate for legislation targeting hate crimes and bullying, a news release notes. She won awards for in vestigative reporting in her former career as an investigative journalist, working for radio station WUSF and The Tampa Bay Times, the release adds. Fritts has served as a minister in South Aus tralia, New Zealand and Scotland. He also led one of the largest congregations in the Unitar ian Universalist Association in Bethesda, MD before coming to Sarasota, the release notes. Music during the program will be presented by the Interfaith Chorus and Diverse Experi ence. A reception will follow the program. DIRECTOR OF EQUALITY FLORIDA TO SPEAK AT GAIN PROGRAM The Sarasota News Leader No Nonsense Reporting Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 58


Sarasota County libraries will provide an en tertaining escape into the world of superhe roes, villains and other characters brought to life on the pages of comic books with Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 4, the county has announced. Free Comic Book Day will begin at 10 a.m. Ev ery child who visits a county library that day may choose a free comic book while supplies last, a county news release says. The event has grown so popular that all nine libraries will be offering free comic books this year, said Holly Anderson, Sarasota County Libraries youth services coordinator, in the release. Comic books represent an original American art form with wide appeal for young readers, she added. Hosting the event in the libraries also gives us an opportunity to con nect fan s o f the genre with the collections of comic books and graphic novels available right on the library shelves. Created in the early 1930s, the modern com ic book featuring superheroes has expanded into a wide range of storylines and characters, making the genre more popular than ever, the release notes. Among the storylines current ly published are fantasy, action, drama, sci ence ction and history. Comic books are big business, generating more than $700 million in sales in North America alone last year, it adds. For more information on this event, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000 (TTY 7-1-1) or visit the Sarasota County Library System website at MAY 4 IS FREE COMIC BOOK DAY AT SARASOTA COUNTY LIBRARIES Gulf Gate Librarys temporary location, in Westeld Sarasota Square Mall, includes a childrens area. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 59


Volunteer Com munity Connections will con duct its annual mock Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) disaster exercise at Colonial Oaks Park, 5300 Colonial Oaks Blvd., Saraso ta, from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, Sara sota County has announced. The purpose of the training exercise is to create a mock volunteer reception center and have participants walk through the steps of registering unafliated volunteers, including area residents and out-of-town people who are offering their help following a disaster, a county news release says. Its very important to have trained volunteers who can help operate a volunteer reception center in the event of a disaster, said Mindi Rohan, executive director of Volunteer Com munity Connections, in the release. This exer cise is largely intended to allow disaster volun teers the opportunity to practice the process. The volunteer reception center would open at the direction of Sarasota County Emergency Opera tion s Center ofcials after the all clear notice was given following a natural or man made disaster, the release adds. Unafliated volunteers would perform such duties as wa ter and ice distribution, tree and limb remov al, information hotline answering services and meal delivery. Volunteer Community Connections mission is to provide members of the community mean ingful ways to connect to nonprot, civic and service organizations, the release notes. A volunteer registry is available that will al low you to identify your areas of interest be fore a disaster and secure the needed training to be effective in your volunteer role, said Rohan in the release. For more information about disaster volun teer needs or to register for this exercise, call Volunteer Community Connections at 953-5965 or em ail MOCK DISASTER EXERCISE PLANNED FOR MAY 8 Tropical Storm Debby produced neighborhood ooding in Venice in June 2012. Photo courtesy Sara sota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 60


Exciting changes are in store for EdExploreS RQ, an initiative that provides students with valuable exposure to arts, science and culture through explorations, both in-classroom and off-campus experiences offered by 36 partner organizations, The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has announced. In a unique arrangement, the Sarasota Coun ty Schools, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida, The Communi ty Foundation, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Founda tion have committed to sustain and broaden EdExploreSRQ for the benet of all Saraso ta County students, a news release says. The school district acted on the EdExploreSRQ Community Partnership Agreement at its April 16 meeting; the other partner boards had al ready adopted it, the release notes. Thi s exci ting collaboration will leverage many of our most powerful community resources to support the efforts of our teachers and help ensure that the needs of every child are being met, explained Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance, in the news release. The Community Foundation has committed $500,000 over ve years for explorations. Ad ditionally, it and The Patterson Foundation are creating an EdExploreSRQ Endowment Fund to increase awareness and funding, the release notes. The Patterson Foundation will desig nate up to $3 million in matching funds to go into that endowment fund, matching dollar for dollar the Community Foundations $500,000 investment as well as providing a 2:1 match for all donations for existing and future explora tions, the rele ase adds. INITIATIVE TO INCREASE STUDENT ACCESS TO EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING Florida Studio Theatre acting apprentice Anthony Rockford leads students during Youth ArtsFest 2012. Photo by Danae DeShazer Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 61


The Community Foundation will set up a roll ing application process that enables teachers to apply for exploration funding throughout the year, the release continues. This just in time feature allows teachers to maximize the learning connections between an exploration and student lessons, the release adds. Knowing how EdExplore opportunities enrich a students perspective, encourage creative thinking and problem-solving skills, and tap into the amazing cultural and environmental resources in our community, the Community Foundation is proud to be a partner in this ex citing collaboration, said Roxie Jerde, presi dent and CEO of the Community Foundation, in the release. Ensuring resources are avail able for explorations will allow the Sarasota County School District to continue to be a shining star of all Florida school districts with its focus on students and experiential learning opportunities. Sarasota County Schools will take on the re sponsibility of redesigning and maintaining a publicly accessible website designed to give teachers, principals and pare nts information and access to explora tions, the release notes. It has also committed to a concerted push to engage teachers and encourage them to apply for explorations to benet and inspire their students, the release adds. To date, 36 organizations (with participation by 25 teaching artists) have posted 160 explo rations that have been vetted by district cur riculum leaders and linked to standards, the release continues. These activities are essential for a complete education, said schools Superintendent Lori White in the release. Hearing an inspired vio linist or watching a dedicated marine biologist at work might be the spark that ignites a pas sion for learning or inspires a career. Experi ential learning provides context for academic work. Explorations create lifelong memories and improve retention across all subject areas. To make a donation and support explorations for Sarasota County students, call the Commu nity Foundation at 955-3000 and ask for Dannie Sherrill or Jo celyn Stevens. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 62


The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) has announced the 2013 winners of Blue Dol phin Awards, which acknowledge local cham pions of Sarasota Bay. The recipients are Don and Denise Elliott with Sunbow Bay Condominium Association on Anna Maria Island, Sean Russell with the Stow It Dont Throw It Project and Lee Fox with Save Our Seabirds Inc., a news release says. The Elliotts are being acknowledged for their efforts to create a Bay-friendly demonstration garden at Sunbow Bay, which is located on Anna Maria Island, the release adds. SBEP provided Bay Partner Grants to support the multi-year project. Russell, a Sarasota resident who attends the University of Florida, has helped raise aware ness about preventing marine debris and supporting ocean conservation through the Stow It Dont Throw It Project, a nonprofit organization he founded, the release continues. He also helps organize the annual Youth Ocean Con servation Summit held at Mote Ma rine Labora tory, the re lease notes. Fox manages the popular bird hospital for Save Our Seabirds, also located in Sarasota, the release adds. The SBEP Blue Dolphin Awards program was launched in 2012. The inaugural winners were Jack Merriam, the former environmental man ager for Sarasota County; Martha B. King Mid dle School in Bradenton; AMI Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring; Raindrop Cisterns, a company focused on rainwater harvesting; and Charles Edwards, a long-term volunteer with the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee, the release points out. Members of the SBEP Policy Board presented those awards during a ceremony held at Pow el Crosley Estate in Manatee County, the re lease continues. The program attracted more than 150 local professionals focused on the welfare of Sarasota Bay, it adds. T he 2013 awards will be presented during events throughout the year, the release says. The first award was given to the Elliotts this week at the SBEP Citi zens Adviso ry Commit tee me eting. SBEP ANNOUNCES 2013 BLUE DOLPHIN AWARD WINNERS Denise and Don Elliott receive their Blue Dolphin Award from Mark Alderson and Sara Kane with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 63


The Sarasota County Commission on April 24 recognized the Baltimore Orioles for a record ing-breaking spring training season this year. Commissioner Joe Barbetta, whom Chair woman Carolyn Mason said she was going to call the boards Baltimore Orioles ambas sador, read a proclamation that pointed out the team drew more than 120,000 fans to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota for 17 home games. The number is an Orioles record for spring training attendance and a record for the city, which has hosted spring training since 1924, Barbetta said. The commission also presented the team a framed photo of the stadium at night, taken by Sarasota resident Norman Schimmel, whom Barbetta called a photographic artist. David Rovine, vice president for Orioles-Sara sota, told the board and audience, It is in ORIOLES HONORED FOR BREAKING ATTENDANCE RECORD Commissioner Joe Barbetta (with microphone) reads a proclamation for the Baltimore Orioles as his fellow commissioners and Orioles staff listen on April 24. Photo courtesy Sarasota County (From left) David Rovine, Bird, Trevor Markham and Judi Linnell of the Baltimore Orioles operation in Sarasota. Photo by Nor man Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 64


fact customer service that we are so very, very proud of. We always tell our staff that we cannot affect the outcome on the eld. We can, however, affect the customer experience when they come to Ed Smith Stadium and en joy a Baltimore Orioles game. Wed like to believe thats part of what set our record, Rovine added. Rovine was joined for the presentation by Trevor Markham, manager of ticket opera tions in Sarasota; Judi Linnell, manager of fan services; and the teams mascot, Bird. With Bird whistling and nodding approval, the commissioners then donned Baltimore Ori oles caps. Rachel Brown Hackney The Baltimore Orioles have booked six youth baseball tournaments through June that are expected to attract more than 18,000 ath letes, coaches and family members to Sara sota Countys Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck ONeil Baseball Complex (BOBC), the team has announced. In addition, the Orioles continue to host lo cal teams and leagues for games on Major League-quality elds at both locations, a news release says. Prospect Wire will again host its Florida state nals for four age groups of high school base ball players at both Ed Smith Stadium and BOBC, the release says. The dates for the nals are June 8-12. The tournament is de signed to showcase the players abilities for consideration by college and pro scouts, the release notes. The event is expected to in clude a total of 2,000 participants and 1,000 spectators per day, the release adds. We are thrilled to bring the tournament back to Sarasota and the Orioles facilities, said Matt Bomeisl with Prospect Wire in the re lea se. This is the largest amateur state cham pionship in summer baseball. With that dis tinction comes the need for enough elds to host a tournament of this size. Between the Buck ONeil complex and the Ed Smith com plex, Sarasota is a great location. The Orioles have rst-class venues that help us draw ad ditional teams from out of the area, he added in the release. Two Suncoast Baseball Tournaments, sched uled this month and in June, are expected to attract up to 20 teams each with more than 500 total participants and hundreds of spec tators, the release continues. Each year, youth tournaments generate thou sands of room nights for local accommoda tions, plus spending at area restaurants and retail establishments, said David Rovine, vice president for Orioles-Sarasota, in the release. Working with partners like Visit Sarasota County, we will continue to build this type of business and provide an economic boost to the community. We also are diligently work ing to attract events other than baseball to Ed Smith Stadium. % ORIOLES BOOK SIX YOUTH BASEBALL TOURNAMENTS Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 65


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TIME HAS ARRIVED FOR REALISTIC DECISIONS TO ADDRESS SIESTA KEY PARKING PROBLEMS EDITORIAL OPINION EDITORIAL Wha t happens if a tour ist destination be comes too popular? That is the question the County Commission was able to defer in re gard to Siesta Key as a result of the Great Re cession. Now, with overowing seasonal visi tors as clearly evidenced by the rise in tourist development tax revenue the time is readily drawing nigh when the commission is going to have to address the dreaded P word on Siesta: park ing. The board will have its rst shot at it on May 21, when residents of Avenida de Mayo air complaints about how their street has become the de facto overow area fo r the municipal parking lot, which h as one access point on their road. Marlene Merkle, who has lived on Avenida de Mayo for 25 years, and her neighbors brought their case to the Siesta Key Association last month; it has promised support for encour aging county ofcials to protect residential areas. During that SKA meet ing, Diane Erne, an Avenida Messina res ident, also repeated a complaint she has aired in the past: De livery trucks bringing supplies to restau Could postings on Facebook or Twitter, fueled by angry drivers, start warning people away from Siesta Key because there is no place to park?


rants on her s treet often keep the trave l lanes blocked up fo r overly long periods, creating headaches for residents trying to reach their homes. Both Merkle and Erne spoke about the dan gerous conditions trafc has created for peo ple who call Siesta home. Yet other residents have complained about neighbors selling spaces in yards for $10 or more, even though that is a violation of the county code. For that matter, one long-time resident of Si esta recently told The Sarasota News Leader that during season, he stopped driving into Si esta Village from his home in a condominium complex on Midnight Pass Road. He feared he would be unable to nd a safe parking place in other words, he did not want to have his evening ruined by nding his vehicle had been towed. In the years right before the recession hit, it seemed the local news media was awash with stories about cars being towed away from businesses in Siesta Village, even when shops were closed and spaces sat empty at night. Obviously, those towing fears have been fully revived with the inux of folks this season. Yet, in times past, regular attendees at Sies ta Key Association meetings will recall that Commissioner Nora Patterson who lives on the island has shot down ideas about the countys building a parking deck on the outskirts of Siesta Village: Too expensive, she has maintained. Further more, when one of the more recent suggestions focused on the lot for sale at the intersection of Treasure Boat Way and Ocean Boulevard on the north end of the Village residents of that neighborhood warned they would ght any move to place a county-owned parking facility there: Too much noise, they said. And as the County Commission this week waded through a long list of unfunded proj ects, it is quite clear it does not have a few ex tra tens of millions of dollars lying around to buy a parcel on the island and put up a park ing garage. Patterson also has never hesitated to shoot down the idea of the countys charging people to park at Siesta Public Beach, to raise funds that could pay for the purchase and construc tion of a parking deck somewhere on the is land. Our belief, though, is that the parking issue has come to the proverbial point of critical mass. This, after all, is the age of social me dia. Could postings on Facebook or Twitter, fueled by angry drivers, start warning people away from Siesta Key because there is no place to park? Yes, it has been lovely to use the Siesta Public Beach lot for free when you could nd a space. Just last week, the County Commission approved a change in an ordinance to make it illegal for a person to block a vehicle from entering a parking space in a county park in an effort to save the space for friends or fam ily members. The Saraso ta County Sheriffs Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 68


Ofce had requested the change, pointing to the number of altercations its deputies have to break up especially at the Siesta Beach Park over saved spaces. St. Boniface Episcopal Church, which is prac tically right around the corner from the pub lic beach, sells spaces in its parking lot for $10 during season and nds drivers more than delighted to pay the fee. Although the money goes into a fund for the churchs youth mis sion trips, a church spokeswoman this week recounted a story of one couple this season who came into the ofce to pay. Give her an other $10, the woman said. She just saved a marriage. No doubt, the spokeswoman said, they had been driving for what seemed an interminable amount of time, hoping for a space to open up at the beach. We believe the time has come for the Coun ty Commission to direct staff to start holding community meetings for a serious discussion about the future of parking on Siesta Key. Be yond that, we are going to take the bold step of suggesting that the commission needs to start working on a plan to charge people to park at the beach, with the option for yearround res id ents to purchase passes at a highly reduced rate. The funds raised would go into an account to pay for a site with a parking deck. In fact, we suggest the county work on a con current plan to buy property and build a deck. (That lot is still for sale on Treasure Boat Way, last time we checked, and that would be a very convenient location.) People also would be charged to park in the deck. To make the situation a more attractive one, though, we propose that a free trolley travel a route encompassing the parking ga rage, the public beach and stops in Siesta Vil lage. That should prove a boon to businesses, too. We daresay very few people would balk at having to pay for a parking space, knowing their vehicles would be there when they re turned. We also daresay that the county commission ers might be quite surprised to find wide spread enthusiastic support for these mea sures. They would ease the stress of visitors and residents alike on an island that is a major tourism moneymake r for Sa rasota County. % The Sarasota News Leader No Nonsense Reporting Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 69


COMMENTARY The news in this country in the third week of April was dominated by events in Massachusetts and Texas. The rst, a pair of explosions near the nish line of the Boston Marathon, took place in front of a bevy of reporters and photographers gathered to cover the nish of the Patriots Day race. Newspapers and television treated it like a candidate for top story of the year, which it may well prove to be. With the thousands of men and women running in the mar athon and with perpetrators and victims offering up an interesting cast of characters and President Obama becoming a commentator, newspapers and television had no problem guring out their top news day after day. The second story was an explosion in a fertilizer factory in a Texas town named West. It was a large explosion in a small town and it took a heavy toll 14 dead and more than 200 injured. The Insurance Council of Texas estimates the damage to surround ing homes and businesses will exceed $100 million. There were 270 tons of ammonium nitrate stored on the site. There is little regulation of the chemical, because, if stored properly, it is not considered high-risk. Federal investigators have not determined the cause of the horric re and explosion at the plant as of this writing, but the main suspect is a loosely reg ulate d fertil izer that is seen less and less in farms across the USA. They had 270 t ons of ammonium nitrate stored on that site, says Bryan Haywood, who runs Safety Engineering Network, a consulting group in Milford, OH. Thats why theres a 93-foot-wide crater there now. There is nothing else in their reporting that has the potential for such a detonation, he says of factory data. Ammonium nitrate is explosive under the right con ditions. Mixed with something ammable and ex posed to ame, it can explode. Timothy McVeigh used two tons of ammonium nitrate mixed with fuel oil to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, in 1995. But it is not a danger that exists in many places. That is because the chemical, once a popular fertilizer, is rarely used these days. There are more than 6,000 fertilizer facilities in the United States, but few of them stock ammonium ni trate and the number has been falling steadily, says Kathy Mathers of the Fertilizer Institute, a trade group in Washington, D.C. In 2010, the last year for which gures were available, only 2 percent of the nitrogen fertilizer sold in the United States was am monium nitrate. That is down from 5 percent 15 years ago, Mathers says. It is applied mostly to veg etable elds, citrus orchards and some pasture and hayelds. COMMENTARY By Waldo Proftt Contributing Writer TEXAS EXPLOSION OFFERS A NUMBER OF LESSONS Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 70


There is n ot a hell of a lot to be learned from the Boston explosion. It was a unique event we hope and the investigation was led in a very efcient way by law enforcement of cials. There is much to be learned from the Texas event. The rst is that fertilizer plants should not be lo cated smack up against residences or commercial areas. Those that are should be moved, and others should not be allowed. And such plants should be regularly and rigorously inspected by the federal government. If they do not pass muster, they should be closed until they com ply with strong safety rules. That seems pretty obvious to me, and while we are at it, we should take a close look around for oth er industries that have been overlooked. To para phrase an old saying: If we dont learn from our mistakes, we will repeat them. % LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Sarasota News Leader wel comes letters to the editor from its readers. Letters should be no more than 300 words in length, and include the name, street address and telephone num ber of the writer. Letters should be emailed to with Letter to the Editor in the subject line. Letters ac tually printed will be selected based on space avail able, subject matter and other factors. We reserve the right to edit any letters submitted for length, grammar, spelling, etc. All letters submitted be come the property of The Sarasota News Leader. For the best viewing experience on a computer click the icon in the menubar to zoom to fullscreen mode. QUICK TIP 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 Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 71




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As the ch ild of one of Sarasotas most promi nent early developers Owen Burns Har riet Burns Stieff enjoys vivid recollections of a bay brimming with sh, school out of doors and accompanying her father around town as much as possible. Being the youngest, I was the tagalong, she says with a chuckle. Dad was considerably older than my mother, she points out, so Mother liked to have somebody with him. Burns was 43 when New York debutante Ver nona Freeman came to Sarasota on vacation with her family in 1912. The couple married in June of that year, according to Sarasota Coun ty historian Jeff LaHurd, and eventually had ve children. Harriet actually made her own debut in New York, where Vernona was visit ing family at the time of her due date. Still, Stieff says, I consider myself a native. After all, she was only four or six weeks old when she arrived in Sarasota. With her 92 nd birthday coming up in July, Stieff recently sat down with The Sarasota News Leader to recount some of her fondest mem Harriett Stieff. Photo by Rachel Hackney OWEN BURNS LAST SURVIVING CHILD TALKS OF THE JOYS OF A CHILDHOOD SPENT LARGELY OUTDOORS ALONG WITH HER RELISH FOR FAMILY LORE A BERTH ON THE BAY By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


ories of life in this city t hat she has seen trans formed over the decades. I lived at the edge of the sea [as a child], she says. The waterfront was only about 30 feet in front of her home, The Halton, on Gulfstream Avenue. That end of town was my playground, she adds. Like her dad, she loved to sh. In those days, you could just lean over and pick a big snail off the [sea] wall, put it on a hook, and you were good for the morning. In the summers, Stieff continues, her father had permission from what was then The Outof-Door School (now The Out-o f-Door Acade my) to sh off its dock. He would come home from work and pick her up rst. I was the ofcial bait-getter, she adds. I was allowed to scamper down and scare the [smaller] sh into the net, Stieff continues. Then those sh were used for bait. In those days, there were a lot of sh in the bay, she points out. Her dads favorite was red sh. And while her mother loved sh, Stieff points out, she didnt like em ve days a week, nor did she enjoy having to clean them. Stieff recalls her mother standing on the back porch as Stieff and her dad were leaving, with Vernona calling out to them, Dont bring home any sh! The Burns home, The Halton, in the 1910s. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Department of Histori cal Resources Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 75


Vernona Freeman at the time of her 1912 wedding to Owen Burns. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Department of Historical Resources Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 76


Her father did h ave a ready welcome for any sh he did not want to take home, Stieff points out. During the Depression, especially, the family felt almost an obligation to give some of the catch to families in Overtown now the site of the Rosemary District where the African-American residents predominantly lived, she points out. Fishing, in fact, was one of the big lures for her dad to move to a new community, Stieff notes. Burns was working in Chicago when the in ternationally prominent resident of that city, Bertha Palmer, returned from her rst trip to Sarasota and talked of the town to the local newspapers. Palmer described this paradise and that the shing was so good, Stieff says. If the town was good enough for Bertha Palm er and the sh were that bountiful, Stieff says, her father felt he had to give it a look. Burns ended up buying out the Florida Mort gage and Investment Co. from the scion of one of the founding families, John Hamilton Gillespie. Burns later was a business partner of another prominent gure in Sarasotas his tory circus entrepreneur John Ringling but Stieff says she never really knew Ringling. SCHOOL DAYS With her own love of the outdoors, Stieff has warm memories of The Out-of-Door School, which was founded in 1924 by Fanneal Harri son and Catherine Gavin Gabby and Nena, everyone called them, she points out. Won derful, wonderful women, she adds. Stieff began attending the school when she was 4. Then the preschool and k indergarten classes were he ld in a building in McClellan Park. You didnt have grades, she notes. In stead, the students met in groups, and each group had its own cabin. Anybody you ever run into that went to that school in those days will tell you it was differ ent from any other school they went to, and they loved it, Stieff says. The school also had a number of boarders, and Harrison and Gavin liked to keep them happy after the regular school week ended, Stieff says. Therefore, if you were good, you could go back to school on the weekends to play with the boarders. Each year, she continues, the school saw changes in its routine. However, a typical day would nd the students gathering for a meet ing rst thing. Around 10:45 a.m., a bell would ring and the students would enjoy a snack of milk and crackers. Then you could play for 15 minutes, she says. At noon, the students would wend their way along a path through the woods to go swim ming in the bay for half an hour. Then you had a hot dinner. Each child was allowed to request small por tions, she points out, but you were to eat ev erything on our plate. No exceptions. After all, she said, Harrison and Gavin im pressed upon the students that people truly were starving in other places. After lunch, the children went outside, where they could sleep on mats or listen to a teacher read to them for 30 minutes. Regular classes ended at 3 p.m. each day, she says, but lessons in extr acurricular activities Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 77


such as music dance and arts and crafts fol lowed. Stieffs favorite part of school came at 4 p.m.: Sports Hour. It was the highlight of the day as far as I was concerned, she says. Then, at 4:45 p.m., everyone boarded a bus to return home. Stieff also smiles broadly when recollecting that the students were tted for rhythm san dals, which the children wore as protection from sand spurs. The latter, she says, were a major problem in Florida. The thinking also went that the sandals made those young feet str onger, she points out. FAMILY LORE Although Stieff takes great delight in talking about her immediate family, she also points to her interest in genealogy. Decades before her own father came to Sarasota, she notes, her grandfather reportedly was a blockade-runner during the Civil War. The story goes that after he was captured by the Union Army, Stieffs grandmother whose family was in Baltimore was able to make it out of Fernadina Beach on the train just before the federal troops captured the town. Once she was back in Baltimore, Stieff says, her grandmother decided to personally peti Owen Burns built the El Vernona luxury hotel in the 1920s and named it for his wife. It stood where the Ritz-Carlton is located today. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Department of Historical Re sources Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 78


tion Abraham Linc oln for the release of Harri ets grandfather, and her grandmother report edly walked to the White House to make that plea. Lincoln felt so sorry for her grandmother she had nine children and her husband was locked up that he agreed to release Burns if he promised not to take up arms again against the Union, Stieff says. Moreover, the family legend goes, Lincoln felt so sorry for her grandmother that he sent the woman back to Baltimore in his own coach. THAT PAINTING The family tale of her grandmother and Lin coln is not the only one Stieff obviously takes great joy in recounting. In fact, a more recent incident brings a big smile to her face. A fun, fun, fun story, she calls it. After the death of John Jacob Astor IV on the Titanic, Harriets father and John Ringling both of whom were art collectors went to an auction in New York City to purchase some of the Astor art collection. One painting, LEnfant Malade by Venezue lan artist Arturo Michelena, depicted a doctor attending a sick child. Her dad hung it in the hotel he had built and named for her mother, El Vernona, Stieff says. After the hotel went into foreclosure during the Great Depression, her mother refused to have the painting moved into their house. It did not matter a whit that the painting had won a gold medal in a competition in Paris in 1887. Not only was it large, Stieff points out about 6 feet by 8 feet but it reminded her mother of how Stieff nearly lost her leg as a child. After scho ol one day, Stieff, who was 4 at the time, went to the park at the site where the Church of the Redeemer stands today on South Palm Avenue. The big sandbox was a favorite of the towns children, Stieff points out. I remember bumping my leg as I went in the door when she returned home that evening, she adds. The leg swelled signicantly over night, prompting the family doctor to recom mend the services of a bone specialist in Ven ice. When Owen Burns located the doctor, he learned the physician had an appointment in New York City that week that he had to keep. When the train stopped in Sarasota, her father arranged for it to wait so the physician could come to the house to treat her, Stieff says. As soon as the doctor saw her leg, he told the family he needed to operate immediately, with more surgery necessary in six weeks. After that initial operation, Burns drove the doctor back to the train station and the train resumed its journey north. Can you imagine that happening today? Stieff asks. But that was Sarasota in those days, a friendly, caring place. Stieff ended up having to spend part of the following summer at the childrens hospital at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, to ensure her leg healed properly. Therefore, with her mother and Stieff ada mantly opposed to reliving those memories by having to look at that painting every day in their house, Burns farmed it out to the library, Stieff continues, which was where Florida Studio Theatre stands today on Palm Avenue. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 79


After her father died an d her mother moved away, Stieff says she recalls her mother receiv ing a letter from a prominent woman in Sara sota, asking about what to do with the paint ing. It seemed the library collection was being moved to another building. She had forgotten about that letter until her brother, Leonard, brought it up a thousand years later, when she and Leonard again were in Sarasota. Stieff made a few attempts to nd the paint ing, with no success. End of chapter, she told him. However, after Stieffs older sister, Lillian, moved back to Sarasota, Lillian began collect ing memorabilia about the community. Deb orah Walk, a curator at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, ran into Lil one day, Stieff says, and, in the course of conversation ended up offering to help with sorting through what had become an enormous collection of material. In the process, Walk and Lillian found a photo of LEnfant Malade Recognizing it as ne art, Walk then began trying to track it down, Stieff says. Some time later, Stieff continues, Aaron De Groft, the deputy director of the museum, re ceived a call from a person on staff at Sothe bys in Miami; the man was seeking the same painting. Records indicated it was in the col lection of Owen Burns of Sarasota, the man reported. De Groft called Walk to his ofce, Stieff con tinues, telling her about the weird call he Owen Burns ofce was on Broadway. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Department of Historical Resources Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 80


had received. D ebbie said she got laughing so hysterically, Stieff adds. When Walk asked him when the call came in, De Groft replied that he received it that morning. Then Walk told him a staff member had called her that same morning, reminding her about a painting she had asked about months ago. It turned out the staff member had found the painting in the basement of the museum, Stieff says, laughing at the coincidence. This very same day, she adds for emphasis. So Debbie goes over, and sure enough, there it was, down in the basement, leaning against the wall with a lot of other pictures, Stieff says. De Groft soon arranged to take Stieff on a tour of the Ringling mansion, the Ca dZan, which was being readied to open to the public. Stieff adds that he casually mentioned the museum staff might have found something that be longed to her father. After consulting again with the man at Sothe bys, De Groft suggested he and the museum staff consult with legal counsel and Stieff do the same, though he stressed, she says, Lets keep this all friendly. No one wanted to pursue litigation, she points out. Ultimately, Stieff say s, because no one in the family wanted the painting, the decision was reached for the family to make a donation to the museum, because it had stored the paint ing all those years. Then, when a Sothebys representative came to Sarasota to examine it, another decision was ma de to allow Sothebys to partially restore the painting which, she notes, was not in the best shape. The work would be covered out of proceeds from its sale at auction. In the interim, she notes, We had to go through 13 wills from family members, to try to untangle how the proceeds would be divvied up. Sothebys staff projected the sale price at $250,000, Stieff says, and the Miami ofce shipped the painting to New York for sale. However, her son suggested a higher reserve for it than Sothebys had proposed, she notes. The rm agreed. I should have gotten suspi cious then, she adds, but I didnt. With her husband, Lorin, hospitalized as a re sult of illness, Sothebys arranged for her to listen to the 2004 auction on the phone. After the reserve level was reached, Stieff said she was relieved. But the auction went on and on, and by that time, she had moved from a chair in the hospital room to the bed with Lorin, who was holding up the phone in the air. When the gavel came down, the price was more than $1 million. (According to The As sociated Press, the sale price was $1.2 million; the painting went to an anonymous buyer.) I never say, Wow! Stieff points out. But she turned to Lorin and let out a WOW! MODERN SARASOTA From her condominium high in a building overlooking Sarasota Bay, Stieff remarks on how much the waterfront has changed. The bay was once much bigger, she points out. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 81


Owen Burns circa 1925. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Department of Historical Resources Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 82


Still, she says, I think Sarasota developed mag nicently until the last [real estate] bubble. I know we have to have a thriving communi ty, she adds, but the emphasis seems to have turned more to glitz and grandeur. My mother used to say, Sarasota was a small town, but it never was a hick town, she con tinues. It always had a certain cultural em phasis. And that is the emphasis she hopes to see win ning out in the long run. Im probably the only one in Sarasota who feels that, Stieff adds. Then again, how many other Sarasotans can say they have watched the city so closely for almost 92 years. % LEnfant Malade by Arturo Michelena. Cour tesy image SARASOTAS HAIR COLOR SPECIALIST John-Norman Tuck (941) 928-1203 369 St. Armands Circle Sarasota Located Upstairs In the Green Ginger Salon John-Norman Tuck is Sarasota and Bradentons premier hairstylist and hair color artist. Getting his customers hair to look and feel its best is his passion. John-Norman started fullling his customers hair dreams in his Pasadena, CA salon and now has brought his talents to Sarasota. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 83


ASK OTUS Dear Readers, Over the past several weeks I have been asked to identify a mystery bird based sole ly on vague descriptions by Siesta Key resi dents and visitors. This bird has been spotted wading during low tide in Little Sarasota Bay, in ponds and at our lagoon. It is consistently described as huge and white with a strange black head and enormous curved beak. Eleme ntary, my dear readers! It is the fabled Roc (or rukh in Persian), which appears throughout The Arabian Nights the very same bird that destroyed Sinbad the Sailors ship and carried him off to exotic strange lands. In the 13th century, it was described more ac curately by Marco Polo in his travel accounts The fabled Roc destroyed Sinbads ship. Photo by Caltrop via Wikimedia Commons THE ENDANGERED FLORIDA WOOD STORK IS AN EYE-CATCHING BIRD Otus Rufous, an Eastern Screech-Owl, was born on Siesta Key and is a full-time resident there. An avid hunter, accomplished vocalist and genuine night owl, Otus is a keen observer of our local wildlife and knows many of natures secrets. Otus will answer your questions about our amazing wildlife, but only if you Ask Otus. So please send your questions and photos to Thank you.


Photo courtesy of Rick Green spun as being s o enormous that its feathers mea sured 12 paces long. It also was reported to be so strong that it could grasp an elephant in its talons, carry the animal to the heavens and then drop i t onto a rocky surface, where it smashed t h e elephant into gory fragments. Afterward the Roc would devour it in a lei surely fashion. Well, this is Siesta Key and stranger things have happened around here! Just as I was about to present you with positive proof of this legendary creatures existence, the fabled Roc, I received a photo from a sherman who had seen it at the bays edge during low tide. He wrote, This is a bad photo but can you identify this bird? First, let me say it was not a bad photo; it was a dreadful photo! Sec o nd, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being top marks), I rate it a 12! You see, identi cation is not about pretty photos, it is about identifying and, in this case, solving a mys tery; thus preventing an Eastern ScreechOwl (thats me!) from appearing overly imaginative. If it were all about pretty pho tos, then every passport ofce and depart ment of motor vehicles facility would require Pho toshop experts on staff to tweak peoples photographic likenesses into something more pleasingly human. Readers, please, do not ever apologize: Just take that photo and send it in with your questions! The Wood Stork ( Mycteria americana ) is a tall (36 inches to 45 inches) white-feathered Florida native who shes in shallow brackish swamps and wetlands. Highly gregarious creatures, Wood Storks feed in ocks and nest in huge rookeries, usually with several pairs occupying a single tree. They are the only storks to breed Florida, particularly in our Florida Everglades. And if you learn nothing else from this column but this one fact I will be delighted, for rea sons I shall explain later. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 85


One of the rst things that leap out at you when you sight a Wood Stork (other than the fact you have not the foggiest idea what it is) is its grayish, dark-brown bald head. Why the bald head? For a long time, the Wood Stork was called a Wood Ibis. John J. Audubon also subtitled it so. And the two types of birds do share common features the black-tipped white feathers, long bill and the bald head. However, recent DNA testing has shown that the Wood Stork is most closely related to the vulture. Vultures require bald heads so that after thrusting them deep into an animal car cass, the tiny bits of decaying esh do not stick to head feathers and contaminate the bird with bacterial diseases. The Wood Stork does not eat carrion. Its diet consists primar ily of minnow s, which he catches in a totally unusual w ay, by tactile location. He wades into shallow waters, opens his bill and sticks it into the water. When he feels the sh touching it, he snaps his bill shut in as little as 25 milli seconds an incredibly quick reaction time matched by few other vertebrates. This quo tation is from National Geographic It is an awesome factoid, but I am not too impressed, as I have seen females of the human species chomp on a chocolate bonbon in less time. Ironhead, as the Wood Stork is often called, does not need that bare skin protection from disease, as it does not consume carrion. Nei ther does our native American Turkey. In the case of the Turkey, the brightly colored and patriotic red, white and blue skin patches on a male during breeding season are ornamental and terribl y sexy to the female of the species. The Wood Storks black-tipped white feathers are distinctive. File photo Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 86


I speculate t hat the Wood Storks ancestors, who evolved during the Eocene Epoch, may have been sticking their heads into rotting whale carcasses. However, over the next 50 million years, although the physique of this bird has hardly changed at all, its diet did, and in breeding season its subtle skin and beak color changes are found wildly attractive by the female Wood Stork. I have asked our eminent Sarasota amateur ornithologist Rick Greenspun about breeding and brooding season around Sarasota. He re ports, The nearest rookery that I know of is on the Bradenton River about three miles east of [U.S.] 41. They are on nests now and will have the young ones screaming for food by May. As you will probably neve r see nesting Wood Storks, unless you travel up the Bradenton River or journey to the Everglades, Rick kind ly provided us with beautiful photos. Please note a couple things when looking at them. All the descriptions I have read refer to their wings as white with black ight feathers. Those black tips are actually tinged with an ir idescent emerald shade. Very pretty! Also note their huge, pink wading feet and the babies uffy white-feathered heads and huge hungry mouths. I am particularly fond of the photo of proud Mama or Papa (oh, dear, another bird which does not display sexu al dimorphism!) with chick. Thanks to the species dignied and stately demeanor, people have also called Wood Storks Preacherbirds. Photo courtesy of Rick Greenspun Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 87


Photo courtesy of Rick Greenspun Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 88


I also love th e part about screaming for food, because Wood Storks only eat very small sh, and the average nesting Mama and Papa, with just two chicks (they can have up to four chicks), will require 400 pounds of sh just for a three-month period. That is a phe nomenal amount of sh. A parent must regularly y anywhere from 5 to 12 miles from the nest to forage for sh during a sudden drought, even further. One Papa Stork was documented ying 75 miles (one-way!) and not returning until the next day. An overnight shing trip is very stressful for the nesting Mama bird, who is not certain that her mate will safely return with food, or return at all. The Florida Wood Stork is still considered an endangered species. Let me explain why this has happened. Wood Storks mature i.e., are able to breed by their third to fourth year. In Florida, they can only mate and begin nest ing during our dry season, so they can capture sh in shrinking pools of water. They appear able to refrain from breeding in Florida if our dry season has been unseasonably rainy and the level of their wading waters too high for Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 89


Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 90


optimal shing. If they do not have the right conditions, they will not nest here. So, that is one thing they have going against them. The second, of course, is mans encroachment on the boundaries of their nesting sites. For example, when man dams up grasslands for agricultural use, these birds can no longer sh or nest nearby. When he builds an articial body of water, it will be too deep for their sh ing. The encouraging news is that through years of dedicated work by conservationists and cooperatio n from farmers, ranchers and de velopers, the n umber of breeding pairs has dramatically risen from 2,000 to 9,000. I have always found statistics a dry boring lot unless there is a story to accompany them. Here it is: The presence of healthy birds and sh in our environment reects upon the health and well being of the human inhabitants. Increased sightings of the endangered Florida Wood Stork attest to a ne balance here between nature and people, one that is vitally import ant to all. You see, Storks deliver bundles of joy to hu man homes. Unlike the European white stork ( Ciconia ciconia ), who simply drops babies down the chimney, the Florida Wood Stork carefully wraps babies in uffy annel blanket package s and gently deposits them in cradles. This is the correct method, because adorable human babies are born Level 1a altricial (i.e., even more helpless than ludicrously adorable Eastern-Screech Owlets) and need very gentle handling. Also, because human babies display sexual dimorphism, the Wood Stork thought fully bundles them in blue for boys and pink for girls. Charming! Readers, please, the next time you count your blessings, do not forget to count our very own Florida Wood Stork! Ot us % Take Your Time You Have All Week Enjoy The News Leader Anytime Day or Night Photo courtesy of Rick Greenspun Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 91


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 A request to the Cou nty Commission last week from representatives of two Siesta Key organizations resulted in a bit of lively discus sion amid regular agenda items. After the board wrapped up two matters on April 24 that had been postponed from April 23, it heard from Commissioner Nora Patter son that the Siesta Key Village Association had sent her an email saying it would like to pursue putting a bench in front of Big Olafs ice cream shop in Siesta Village, located at 5208 Ocean Blvd. Im told they cant get anything to grow in front of [the shop] because the place is always mobbed with children, Patterson added. I realize theres a process to follow, but I think it would be helpful if the commission would take a vote to support the location of By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor A photo shows the area in front of Big Olafs where organizations on Siesta Key would like to see a bench placed. Image courtesy Sarasota County A REQUEST FOR A BENCH IN FRONT OF BIG OLAFS SPARKS COUNTY COMMISSION COMMENTS ABOUT FOLLOWING THE PROCESS; THE SIESTA KEY ASSOCIATION SEEKS TO AMELIORATE PARKING ISSUES


the bench, provided it doesnt obstruct any pedestrian trafc, she continued, adding she would make a motion to that effect. I dont think we can do that in advance of a permit being issued for the bench in the right of way, Commissioner Joe Barbetta respond ed. What she intended, Patterson said, was a mo tion asking staff to work on the request with the Siesta Key Village Association and the Si esta Key Village Maintenance Corp. Thats staffs obligation, Barbetta told her, adding he was not certain why the matter had come to the commission rst. Patterson had no answer. They just came straight to us, guring it was a shortcut, Barbetta said. Instead, he point ed out, the organizations need to go through the process for obtaining a permit to put the bench in the right of way, and [the request will] come before us. Patterson responded that she felt the request had been made because the County Commis sion was responsible for the beautication of Siesta Village, which was completed in early 2009. When Barbetta sought clarication from Paula Wiggins, the countys transportation planning Benches like this one in front of the Daiquiri Deck were placed in Siesta Village during the beauti cation project several years ago. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 94


manager, regar ding the process such a request should follow, Wiggins said a permit would be needed to put the bench in the location the groups had suggested. Ill relay that back to them, Patterson said. Later, before the board broke for lunch, Pat terson revived the matter, saying she had emailed Russell Matthes, the SKVA president, and Mark Smith, who heads up the Mainte nance Corp., to tell them what the board had decided earlier. Their response, she continued, was that they wanted permission to cover the expense for the bench out of the assessments property owners pay for Village maintenance. They added, Patterson noted, that they would be happy to follow the appropriate process to request the benchs placement in the right of way. Then Commissioner Christine Robinson said she had emailed them back to ask why they were seeking to buy the bench before the right of way use was granted. Patterson responded that she thought they needed County Commission permission to purchase the bench out of the assessment funds. Well be happy to look into this and report on it, County Administrator Randall Reid told the board. They should consider trying to do this through staff, Robinson added, noting that handling the matter through emails without all the pertinent information could be prob lematic. Then Patte rson said she understood a county staff member had suggested they bring their request about the purchase of the bench to the County Commission. I dont think theyre asking to buy the bench before they have per mission to put it out, she added. At that point, James K. Harriott Jr., the coun tys chief engineer, stepped to the podium to clarify that if the ordinance for the Village up keep does not specically say assessments will pay for a certain item, the County Com mission has to give its approval for the pay ment to come out of the assessments. Again, theres a process, Barbetta said. It shouldnt be an email to one commissioner. Patterson reiterated that Matthes and Smith were acting on information given to them by a county employee in the Public Works De partment. She added, Remember, lots of things come through one commissioner to the table An email from Reid to Patterson on April 24 repeated that staff was checking on the matter and will address it appropriately. Reid also wrote, Emails sent to meetings for reactions by Commissioners never seem to go well. The right staff needs to be involved for proper resolution. I will keep you posted. In the interim, Mark Smith had emailed Pat terson to say, We really need to modify the ordinance [for the Village upkeep] to add little improvements to the Village without making it a [County Commis sion] issue. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 95


PARKING ENFORCEMENT The Siesta Key Association is lending its sup port to residents seeking County Commission approval of parking restrictions on Avenida de Mayo. SKA President Catherine Luckner told me recently that the organization hopes to win the commissions approval for designating portions of the street as a No Parking zone, with signs alerting drivers of the potential for towing if violations occur. During the SKAs April 4 meeting, Marlene Merkle and other Avenida de Mayo residents addressed the issues they rst brought to the attention of county ofcials last year: Over A map shows the intersections of Avenida Mes sina, Columbus Boulevard and Avenida Na varra on Siesta Key. Image from Google Maps A photo taken in March by Marlene Merkle shows cars parked on the grass along Avenida de Mayo. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 96


ow parking in their neighborhood creates congestion and the potential for accidents; it also is an impediment to any emergency vehi cles that need to use the road. Merkle, who has lived on the street for 25 years, petitioned the countys Trafc Adviso ry Council (TAC) to prohibit parking on one side of the street. After a tie vote on March 11, TAC Chairman Frank Domingo suggested the matter would end up in front of the County Commission, even though a tie vote usually meant the end of a matter. That County Commission discussion is set for May 21. Beforeha nd, SKA representatives plan to meet with county Trafc/Mobility Ofce staff and review the material from the TAC meeting be fore drafting a letter to the County Commis sion, Luckner told me. SKA Vice President Michael Shay, who intro duced the Avenida de Mayo group at the April SKA meeting, pointed out that their street is one with private homes. Yet, on a daily basis, the residents contend with vehicles parked on both sides of the street. Siesta Villages municipal parking lot has one entrance/exit on Avenida de Mayo. Another photo taken by Marlene Merkle shows cars double-parked along Avenida de Mayo. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 97


Shay said h e had seen the photos Merkle provided to the TAC, which showed vehicles parked in the street and on the right of way. John Lally, the keys primary Sarasota County Code Enforcement ofcer, was out of work for about four months because of health prob lems, Luckner pointed out. When she asked whether Merkle had talked with Lally since he had returned to his job, Merkle replied that she had. Hes a nice guy, Merkle added. Enforcement takes people, SKA board mem ber Deet Jonker said, [and] the countys not excited about putting more people on enforce ment. (An SKA request last year for more fulltime Code Enforcement stafng failed to gain sufcient County Commission support.) Diane Erne, who lives in a condominium in the vicinity of restaurants on Avenida Messi na in Siesta Village, pointed out that delivery trucks also create problems for residents. You cannot drive down Messina much of the time, she said. The intersection near Avenida Messina and Avenida Navarra is particularly bad, she point ed out. And these are huge semis [but] Ive never seen anyone given a ticket. Luckner responded that the SKA would check with Code Enforcement staff about that sit uation as well. There are unwritten rules al lowing drivers to leave trucks in No Park ing zones for a certain period of time as the drivers ma ke deliveries, Luckner continued, but she was unsure what length of time is gen erally allowed. When Luckner told Merkle the board would work on a letter of support for her and other Avenida de Mayo residents in their quest for parking restrictions, Merkle responded, That would be wonderful. Any kind of formal support [from a group such as the SKA] is very important. It really is. Were here to help, Jonker added. When SKA board member Helen Clifford asked how the organization could amelio rate the situation Erne had described, Erne told her No Parking and Parking by Permit Only signs seem to have no effect because of the expansion of businesses in that part of the Village. The letter the SKA would prepare regarding the de Mayo problems would consider trafc impacts on all residents, not just on those on that street, Luckner noted. I think one of the issues we have talked about is there may be a necessary moratorium at some point on [any new Siesta business] that requires new parking Luckner cautioned that the environment that brings people to Siesta Key in the rst place could be irreparably damaged without suf cient trafc and pa rking enforc ement. % Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 98


Theatre of Dreams, an opportunity for audi ence members to view original works choreo graphed by company members of The Saraso ta Ballet, will run May 3-5 at the Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, the Ballet has announced. With performances choreographed by prin cipal dancers Kate Honea, Ricardo Graziano and Logan Learned, along with offerings by soloist Ricki Bertoni and coryphee member Jamie Carter, Program Seven is a unique and creative showcase of the vast talent and style found within the Company, a news release notes. For the very rst time, the Theatre of Dreams program will be set to live music, the release adds. Each of the ve choreographers was charged by Ballet Director Iain Webb to craft a piece that not only highlighted their vision, but encompassed the presence of instruments on stage, the release notes. With each chore ographer having the freedom to choose the music, instrumentation will range from a jazz band to a cello, the release says. Its amazing what can be created in such a small period of time, Carter, whose work will be featured in the Theatre of Dreams program for the third time, notes in the release. Its about work ethic, creativity and passion. My favorite thing about being allowed to choreo graph for the company is having the chance to give something back. Carters work, titled Concordium, a Latin word meaning harmoniously will be per formed to the music of 20 th century American composer George Rochberg. Ricki Bertonis Too Hip To Be Square was a hit during the 2012 Theatre of Dreams. Contributed photo by Frank Atura THEATRE OF DREAMS TO CLOSE OUT SARASOTA BALLET SEASON A&E BRIEFS

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Honea, has choreographed twice before for Theatre of Dreams This year, she created Broke & Blues, a piece that includes 14 danc ers and music from Claude Bolling, a jazz pi anist. My piece is a jazzy take on classical, said Honea in the release. Set to a grand piano playing the music of Franz Schubert, Grazianos piece is far different than Symphony of Sorrows, his 2012 Theatre of Dreams creation, the release notes. Titled, Valsinhas, his new work is lighthearted and playful, the release adds. Peoples natural reaction to music is to dance. This piece is going to illuminate that fact and show people being drawn towards the piano, Graziano says in the release. Ricardo Graziano performs in his work, Symphony of Sorrows, in 2012. Photo by Frank Atura Bertonis piece, which also features just a pia no, uses two compositions from ragtime com poser Scott Joplin. Bertoni adds that he found his inspiration for the 10-minute piece from American actor, dancer and musical theater choreographer Bob Fosse. Making his Theatre of Dreams debut, Learned will put seven dancers on stage for his come dic Scenes De Ballet the release continues It is a farce inspired by the multitude of bal let rehearsals Learned has attended over the years, the release says. Tickets may be purchased online 24 hours a day, seven days a week with Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. The box ofce may be contacted by calling 359-0099, Ext. 101. Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 100

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The Sarasota Hig h School Choral Department will present the Sixth Annual Singing Sailors Spring Cabaret and Silent Auction from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Bethel Mennonite Church in Sarasota. The theme of the after-dinner dessert event fundraiser will be New York, New York a news release says. Guests are encouraged to have dinner before they arrive; light refreshments and delicious desserts will be served, the re lease adds. Sarasota High School choirs and soloists will perform. Guests are encouraged to dress to reect the Manhattan/Broadway theme, the release notes. Mothers Day gifts and other items will be included in a silent auction. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, $10 for students and $12 each for groups of 10 or more. Tickets may be purchased at Saraso ta High School with cash or with checks made out to S HS Chorus Boosters. Payment at the door may be made with a credit card. More in formation is available at 955-0181, Ext. 64599, between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Bethel Mennonite Church is located at 2985 Bethel Lane, Sarasota, off Fruitville Road (east of I-75). Additionally, the Sarasota High School Choral Department will present the 2013 Final Bow End of the Year Concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23, in the school auditorium. This concert will feature a wide variety of music, showcas ing the Singing Sailors, the Chamber Choir, the Womens Chorale and student soloists, the release points out. The program will conclude with a salute to the graduating seniors of 2013 as they take their nal bow, the release adds. The concert is free and open to the public. Sarasota High School is located at 1000 S. School Ave. Sarasota. (From left) Four members of the Sarasota High School Singing Sailors take a break from a perfor mance with Kirby Sanders, the groups choral director: Jacob Brown, James Hyde, Sanders, Grady Grifn and Garrett Bryant. Contributed photo SARASOTA HIGH GROUPS PLAN PERFORMANCES FOR MAY 4, 23 Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 101

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The Westc oast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) has announced that WBTT Artistic Director Nate Jacobs favorite relative, Aunt Rudele, will visit Sarasota again in a four-performance engagement, May 16-19, at the WBTT Theater, 1646 10 th Way, Sarasota. Aunt Rudeles Family Reunion will be of fered at 8 p.m. on those dates with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m., a news release says. Tick ets, which are $29.50, may be purchased on line at or by calling the box ofce at 366-1505. I created Aunt Rudele by combining the per sonalities of many women in my life, Jacobs explains in the release, but especially my mother and my grandmother. When I was a student at Florida A&M University, we were all asked to perform something on the spot. No one could believe I had just ma de her up. When Jacob s ap pears in Aunt Rudeles Fami ly Reunion, everyone relates because she is a character everyone knows and loves, the release adds. Shes the righteous and med dling relative who has no boundaries. Shes funny, irtatious and not afraid to speak her mind. Aunt Rudeles Family Reunion has only been seen twice in Sarasota: in Florida Studio The atres Cabaret and at the Historic Asolo The ater during WBTTs 2007-08 season, the re lease notes. Aunt Rudele is a very fun character and we are very pleased to bring her to life again in our own theater, Jacobs continues in the re lease. Sorry to say, she cant stay too long, but I guarantee it will be fun while it lasts. Aunt Rudele will return to the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe stage this month. Contributed photo AUNT RUDELE TO MAKE WBTT APPEARANCES MAY 16-19 Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 102

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Celti c Th under will return to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Nov. 15 with its new Mythology tour, the hall has announced. Th e world-renowned group comprising vocalists Emmet Cahill, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, George Donaldson, Neil Byrne and Colm Keegan continues to as tonish audienc es, traveling as easily across the genres of folk, traditional Irish, adult contempo rary, rock and classical cross over, as [it trav els ] the world, performing for an ever-growing number of fans, a news release says. Celtic Th unde r: Mythology presents the perfect blend of entertainment, ideology and Gaelic spirituality, providing a modern twist on the old Celtic storytelling tradition, the release adds. In addition to the six main vocalists, the tour will feature strings, gui tar, percussion, whis tles, pipes, guitars and more in the eight-piece Celtic Thunder band, the release notes. Tickets are priced from $35 to $85. For more information, call the box office at 953-3368 or visit www.VanWezel. org. % The Riverview High School Wind Ensemble finished first in its category at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival on Saturday, April 20, in Gatlinburg, TN, outscoring high school teams from Fairfax, VA, and Savannah, GA, the Sarasota County Schools have announced. Certicates of Excellence for Outstanding Per formance were awarded to Ensemble soloists Henry Nguyen, clarinet; Ian Holst, oboe; Phil lip Carallo, alto sax; Sarah Morich, ute; rst ute section members Megan Dutreil, Jennifer Girma, Selena Heard, Sarah Morich and Carlo Saluta; and trombone section members Austin RIVERVIEW WIND ENSEMBLE TAKES FIRST PLACE AT MUSIC FESTIVAL Canon, Judse n Cressey, Danny Gardi, Dennis Luong, David Spreen and Zack Vagn. The Ensemble is conducted by RHS Music Di rector Mark Spreen, a news release notes. The Smoky Mountain Music Festival was es tablished in 1983, the release says. More than 6,500 groups from 28 states and Canada have participated in choral, band and orchestra events. Professional musicians and music ed ucators serve as judges, the release adds. Riverview High School is located at 1 Ram Way, Sarasota. CELTIC THUNDER RETURNING TO SARASOTA ON MYTHOLOGY TOUR Celtic Thunder will return to the Van Wezel in Novem ber. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 103

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The Sisterhood Interfaith Tea will return to Temple Emanu-El, 151 McIntosh Road in Sarasota, on Wednesday, May 8, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., the Temple has announced. This unique event is an afternoon of learning, celebrating, and building bridges with old and new friends of various faiths, a news release says. The Tea will begin with a panel discussion about arts, music, dance and food and how these elements are woven into the traditions and celebrations of different religions, the re lease adds. Panelists will be female religious leaders and laypeople representing Judaism, trans-denominational Christianity, Hinduism and Greek Orthodoxy. A question-and-answer period will follow. The even t will conclude with casual socializ ing, the release notes. Tea and sweets will be served, and attendees of different faiths will be encouraged to sit to gether to foster friendship and understanding, it says. The Sisterhood Interfaith Tea is chaired by Dorothy Quint and Aida Florsheim. The cost is $5; reservations are appreciated, the release adds. Attendees are also asked to bring at least one nonperishable food item for All Faiths Food Bank. For more information, call Dorothy Quint at 359-9417 or Aida Florshei m at 922-5711. Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood Interfaith Tea Co-Chairwomen Dorothy Quint and Aida Florsheim. Contributed photo SISTERHOOD INTERFAITH TEA TO BE HELD MAY 8 RELIGION BRIEFS

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Emanu-El, 151 M cIntosh Road in Sarasota, will host another installment of its popular Shabbat Alive! worship service on Friday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. Now in their fourth year, Temple Emanu-Els Shabbat Alive! services are all-musical cele brations of Shabbat featuring arrangements of the traditional prayers that range from serene and contemplative to stirring and inspiring to wild and exultant, a news release says. A full band of professional and volunteer musicians and vocalists join Rabbi Br enner Glickman on the pulpit to bring this worship experience to life. Among the composers whose works will be performed are Debbie Friedman, Cantor Lisa Levine, Louis Lewandowski, Rick Recht and Craig Taubman. The Shabbat Alive! service will be preceded by a 6 p.m. Shabbat dinner; for dinner reser vations, call 388-7899. The service is free with no reservations re quired. For more information, call 371-2788. % SHABBAT ALIVE! RETURNS TO TEMPLE EMANU-EL MAY 10 Temple Emanu-El Shabbat Alive! leaders are (front row, from left) Dan Cartlidge, Joe Bruno, Cyn thia Roberts-Greene, Stuart Miller, Deborah Cameron, (back row, from left) Rachel Nelson-Assi, Sam Silverberg and Rabbi Brenner Glickman. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 3, 2013 Page 105

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03 MAY Echoes of Spring, featuring the work of 10 artists May 3, 6 to 9 p.m., Dabbert Gallery, 76 S. Palm Ave. Free admission. Information: 955-1315 or 04+ MAY Bill Russells Side Show May 4, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; May 5, 2 p.m.; The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail. Tickets: $25; 365-2494 or 05 MAY Selby Spring Music Series presents Latin Rendezvous May 5, 1 to 3 p.m., Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S. Palm Ave. Free with garden admission. Members & children under 12 admitted free; members guests: $5; all others pay $17. Information at 09+ MAY Landscapes, Mindscapes and Dreamscapes May 9 through July 20, Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art Gallery, 1288 N. Palm Ave. Free admission. Information: 366-2454 or 11 MAY Third Annual Rose Festival May 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Phillippi Estate Mansion and Rose Gardens, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, featuring rose displays by the Bradenton-Sarasota Rose Society, classes and sales of roses. For info: 358-6991 or 11 MAY WSLR presents the Whitney James Jazz Quintet May 11, 7:30 p.m., Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota. Tickets: $12 in advance; $15 at the door; 894-6469 or ComMunity CALendar The best of upcoming EVENTS To get all the details on these and other great ac tivities food, nightlife, music, art, theater, chil drens events, learning opportunities and more go to Sarasotas No. 1 source for local events, hot spots, fun activities and hidden gems:

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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 BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY! SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS