Sarasota News Leader


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Sarasota News Leader
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Rachel Brown Hackney ( Publisher )
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Sarasota, FL


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

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COVER Inside BETTER ROADS AND BRIDGES FREEING UP FUNDS BEATING BACK DIRTY TRICKS Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. THE SARASOTA News Leader The Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida No. 35 May 17, 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


Another week, another Sarasota County Commission meeting. If it seems to you that board meets a lot do not feel alone in your obser vation. Even a more recently elected county commissioner remarked on that fact when the board was updating its session schedule a few weeks ago. A longer-serving member retorted that the current schedule is nothing compared to what it was at the height of the building boom, when commissioners were dealing with far more requests. And if you also wonder why I would bother to mention any of that, it is because right now, the News Leader is the only publication in north Sarasota County that is reporting regularly on what transpires at those County Commission meetings. Given our stated goal at the outset to provide you as much in-depth news as possible about what is going on in this community it remains a point of pride that we are doing our best to stay on top of what the County Commission is doing. You need not fret that this weeks issue is all County Commission news, however. Cooper Levey-Baker and Stan Zimmerman both have been busy, with Cooper delving not only into the work of the new political action committee seek ing non-partisan countywide elections but also a look at the Harvey Milk Festival. Stan made it to both meetings of the citys alphabet boards this week the BID and the DID and has plenty to report from them, along with pre viewing Mondays City Commission meeting. Otus offers us the real story about Cattle Egrets and excellent photos, of course. And there is no dearth of news from Siesta Key. As always, please do not hesitate to tell us what you think about what you read! Editor and Publisher WELCOME


BETTER ROADS AND BRIDGES MAJOR FUNDRAISING AHEAD NEWS & COMMENTARY BETTER ROADS AND BRIDGES 7 The County Commission splits on votes to add more funding to road resurfacing and bridge repairs. Rachel Brown Hackney FREEING UP FUNDS 15 The County Commission splits on a vote to modify its reserves policy. Rachel Brown Hackney BEATING BACK DIRTY TRICKS 20 Everything you need to know about non-partisan county elections Cooper Levey-Baker THE PARK, HOMELESS AND CRA 25 City manager presents a downtown update Stan Zimmerman MAJOR FUNDRAISING AHEAD 29 The private group established to manage events at Nathan Benderson Park soon will launch a drive to pay for equipment and infrastructure at the rowing venue Rachel Brown Hackney TAKING A BREATHER 34 City Commission looking at agenda lite for May 20 Stan Zimmerman HANDLING THE FISH KILLS 38 A new Sarasota County policy will enable staff to obtain permission of private property owners to clear dead sh and seaweed under special circumstances Rachel Brown Hackney IF AT FIRST YOU DONT SUCCEED 42 St. Armands BID wants a vote do-over on its special tax Stan Zimmerman NEWS BRIEFS 45 CRIME BLOTTER 56 TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article PHOTO CREDITS Front cover: Main Street Robert Hackney Sarasota Leisure: Downtown Donut Robert Hackney No. 35 May 17, 2013


NOT THE USUAL CULTURAL EVENT IMAGINATIVE GARDENINGOPINION EDITORIAL 61 County Commission should ditch low tax posturing COMMENTARY 64 The Tao of Barack Hussein Obama David Staats LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 67 City should stop deal with Benderson Development BoehkSARASOTA LEISURE NOT THE USUAL CULTURAL EVENT 70 The Harvey Milk Festival wants to connect you with your inner activist Cooper Levey-Baker ASK OTUS 73 The story of Cattle Egrets is more complex than their common appearance with bovines might suggest Otus Rufous IMAGINATIVE GARDENING 82 Why not try tier planting? Rick Wielgorecki SIESTA SEEN 84 Village businesses invited to a Code Enforcement informational meeting on May 21; noise issues remain a separate focus Rachel Brown Hackney A&E BRIEFS 90 RELIGION BRIEFS 97 COMMUNITY CALENDAR 102 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 103 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article No. 35 May 17, 2013


More m oney will be going to road resurfacing and bridge repairs over the next ve years, thanks to two split votes of the Sarasota County Commission during its May 14 budget workshop. With Commissioners Joe Barbetta and Vice Chairman Charles Hines in the minority, the board approved allocating an extra $10 million to road repaving and about $4.1 million to the bridge work. Since the boards last budge t workshop, on April 30, staff had reprioritized projects in the countys Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for Fiscal Years 2014-2018. The work left the commissioners with about $14.1 million in surtax sales tax revenue to allocate to unfunded initiatives. During the staff pre sentation on May 14, Commissioner Chris tine Robinson ques tioned James K. Har riott Jr., the countys chief engineer, about comments he had (From left) Chief Financial Planning Ofcer Steve Botelho and County Administrator Randall Reid listen as Capital Projects Director Isaac Brownman explains priorities on the Capital Improve ments Program list. Photo by Rachel Hackney THE COUNTY COMMISSION SPLITS ON VOTES TO ADD MORE FUNDING TO ROAD RESURFACING AND BRIDGE REPAIRS OVER THE NEXT FIVE FISCAL YEARS BETTER ROADS AND BRIDGES By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor NEWS & COMMENTARY If youve ever gone to a city that hasnt kept up with its road repaving, the message is loud and clear: This community is not doing well. Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County


made on April 30 regarding road resurfacing. Harriott conrmed that it would take about $10 million per year to keep no more than 40 percent of the countys roads from falling be low a rating of 60. When a road drops below that level, Harriott explained, the commission ers and staff begin to hear complaints from drivers. The proposed CIP list called for the county to spend about $4.5 million per year on road resurfacing for FY 2014-18. My feeling is we need to [increase the fund ing], however we gure it out, Commissioner Nora Patterson said. To let things get worse is not a very good investment for the future. When Patterson then asked for conrmation that repairs become more expensive later if resurfacing is not undertaken in a timely fashion, County Administrator Randall Reid responded, Correct. If you dont resurface, then it becomes reconstruction and [the cost] keeps going up. Robinson also questioned Harriott about whether unfunded bridge repair projects could become critical ones over the next ve years. Changes can occur almost overnight with bridges, Harriott responded. Earlier, Harriott pointed out that in 2010, staff believed the Myakka Road Bridge had sus tained damage when a vehicle with too heavy a load traveled across it. During the annual inspection of the bridge in November 2010, he said, staff found a beam crack that had ne Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 8 Chief County Engineer James K. Harriott Jr. (left) confers with County Administrator Randall Reid. Photo by Rachel Hackney


cessitated pu tting the bridge at the top of the list for county repair projects, at a projected cost of $4,246,000. However, Harriott explained, unlike the case with bridges, decline in the condition of road pavement tends to be more gradual. You can see it coming So I wouldnt expect huge changes over the course of one scal year in priorities for resurfacing. In response to another question from Rob inson, Harriott said staff does not undertake annual inspections of roads. I wish it were every year, he added. Spot checks are made when residents, commissioners or county em ployees note deterioration in specic roads, Harriott pointed out. Barbetta agreed that more funding should be allocated to resurfacing. He made a motion calling for an extra $5 million to be spent on that work over the next ve scal years, sug gesting more of those funds be utilized in the rst year or two. Weve got to chip away at it somehow. After she seconded the motion for discussion purposes, Patterson said, I would actually do more. She proposed an amendment calling for an allocation of an extra $7 million for FY 2014 through FY 2018. Robinson seconded that motion, also for dis cussion. She added that she would increase the amount to $10 million. Patterson agreed to the suggestion as a sub stitute motion. Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 9 A slide shows a crack in the beam of the Myakka Road Bridge. Photo by Rachel Hackney


Thats half of what w e will need over the next ve scal years, Robinson pointed out, referring to the PowerPoint presentation pro vided by staff. Thats basically a quality of life [issue], she noted. I cant support it, Barbetta replied. I realize its a critical need, but the way you address [that] is you give it some money upfront and utilize your other money that gives you a return on investment, s o youll have addition al funds to catch up. You have to increase your tax base. You have to bring in additional sales tax If youve ever gone to a city that hasnt kept up with its road repaving, the message is loud and clear: This community is not doing well, Patterson countered. I think we have made huge commitments, in vested in our future, Patterson added, point ing to the Impact Report Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 10 A chart shows road resurfacing priorities for the next ve scal years in Sarasota County. Image courtesy Sarasota County


Clerk of Court Karen Rushing released this year regarding the countys accomplishments in 2012. When Harriott pointed out that the extra $10 million would not cover the next two projects on the unfunded but Important list for road resurfacing the Northgate Center Area, at $6.5 million; and Green Manor Estates Area, at $7.5 million, Patterson noted the funds would allow the county to undertake the Northgate project and the resurfacing of the South Ven ice Area roads, estimated at $3.2 million. I would leave it up to the staff to gure out how to do it, Patterson added of adjusting the priorities on the Important list. Barbetta protested that allocating the $10 mil lion to roads would leave the board only about $4.1 million for other projects if it approved the rest of the priorities listed by staff as crit ical needs. Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 11 A chart shows the top priorities for county bridge projects from Fiscal Years 2014 through 2018. Image courtesy Sarasota County


Nonetheless, Mason voted with Robinson and Patterson for the $10 million. THE BRIDGES Patterson then questioned Harriott about the bridge projects for which the county had no funding. I dont want to say theyre not critical, but they may turn to be critical in the next ve years, much like Myakka Bridge did to us, Harriott replied. Patterson made a motion to allocate the re maining $4.1 million in surtax revenue to bridge repair and rehabilitation as needed. She told Harriott, Im putting a lot of trust in you. Referring to the rst project on the unfund ed list as an example, Harriott explained that the Brooksi de Drive Bridge with repair costs estimated at $300,000 has cracks on the underside of its deck and vertical and di agonal cracks in its abutments. If no funds were available for repairs, Harriott said, We [would] nurse [it] along Mason seconded Pattersons motion. Barbetta objected again. Referring to Patter sons earlier comments about the appearance of roads in a community, he added that, ex cept in regard to a couple of roads, he had not heard a lot of complaints from residents. You could use that same argument on ball elds, he continued. People arent going to move Riders compete in a BMX event at the countys 17th Street Park complex. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 12


here if we dont have safe ball elds for their kids to play on. When Robinson asked Barbetta where he would use the remaining $4.1 million, he sug gested the money could be spent on the BMX facility on 17th Street. We could generate tournaments and revenue almost instantly, he pointed out. According to material presented to the board, that project includes a new 5-meter ramp and the addition of an 8-meter ramp, as well as reconguration of the track. The description notes continue, The 8 meter ramp, only the second such permanent structure in the USA, would allow Sarasota County to host a myr iad of national events while also providing a training venue to BMX Olympians. Hines pointed out that he had voted No on the $10 million f or road resurfacing because I just t hought it was too much to tie up to day. He felt the same about the motion for the bridges, he added. I would like to have some exibility. The motion passed 3-2, with Barbetta and Hines in the minority. At Reids request, Mason then called for a vote on the remaining priority allocations, as indi cated by staff. Again, because of their earlier votes, Barbet ta and Hines were in the minority on the 3-2 result. I really think that the staff did an excellent job on this, Patterson said of the priority lists. I have a hard time arguing with most of what they did. The other commissioners concurred with her. % Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 13 Manuel R. Chepote, LUTCF Chepote Insurance Inc. 1300 Main Street Sarasota, Florida (941) 366-0100 Serving Sarasota & Manatee Counties Click for driving directions Auto Home Life Renters Motorcycles Flood Business Annuities Financial Services


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On a sp lit vote May 14, the Sarasota County Commission modied its reserves policy to require the county to maintain a fund equal to 75 days of operating expenses instead of 90. The action freed up $8,131,269 for the coming scal year that the commission agreed for the time being not to commit to specic uses. County Administrator Randall Reid indicat ed the board would be hearing a number of public requests for as sistance as it continues to work on the countys 2014 sc al year budget. The 3-2 vote on reserves came during the com missions May 14 budget workshop in Sarasota. Commissioner Joe Barbetta made the motion for the change. He was supported by Chair woman Carolyn Mason and Vice Chairman Charles Hines. Were forgetting the fact that we have to look at things that can produce addi tional revenue for us. Were too dependent on property tax rev enue, Barbetta said, arguing that the extra Chairwoman Carolyn Mason confers with Vice Chairman Charles Hines before the May 14 budget workshop begins. Photo by Rachel Hackney THE COUNTY COMMISSION SPLITS ON A VOTE TO MODIFY ITS RESERVES POLICY, ELECTING TO GO WITH A 75-DAY PERIOD FOR ITS EMERGENCY FUND INSTEAD OF 90 FREEING UP FUNDS Were forgetting the fact that we have to look at things that can produce additional revenue for us. Were too dependent on property tax revenue. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


$8 mill ion could be used for unfunded capital projects that would give the county a return on investment. During the boards April 30 budget workshop, staff identied projects costing approximate ly $67.5 million for which the county has no money. Commissioners Nora Patterson and Christine Robinson opposed the policy change. Pat terson pointed to the work staff undertook during the Great Recession to pull together about $140 million in reserve funds, which have enabled the county to afford services that otherwise would have not been possible. A report presented by Suzanne Gable, strate gic and nancial planning director in the coun tys Ofce of Financial Planning, showed the county had $32,525,075 in its reserve fund for budget stabilization and economic uncertainty at the start of the current scal year; that mon ey represents 60 days of operating expenses. The fund for contingencies/emergencies/di saster relief had $48,787,612 at the start of the scal year; that represented 90 days of oper ating expenses. Gable added that projections indicated all the $32,525,075 would be spent by the 2017 scal year if the board continued to use reserves to plug budget holes as it has been doing since the recession began. Patterson told her fellow board members, I can assure you $48 million aint much if you have a hurricane and you re waiting for [the Federal Emergen cy Management Agen cy] two years later to reimburse you. She added of Barbettas motion, I think its really not responsible budgeting BEST PRACTICES AND OTHER COUNTIES Gable presented slides to the board showing the Government Finance Ofcers Associa tion recommends, at a minimum, that gen eral purpose governments, regardless of size, maintain a reserve in their general fund of no less than two months of regular general fund operating revenues or regular general fund operating expenditures. (The emphasis was part of Gables report.) In a survey of peer counties, Gable continued, she found reserve fund amounts ranging be tween 3 percent and 25 percent of operating expenditures. Sarasota County has 25 percent, she added. When Patterson asked for details on which counties have what levels, Gable noted Commissioner Joe Barbetta listens to a staff members comments during the workshop. Photo by Rachel Hackney I think its really not responsible budgeting Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 16


that Manatee Co unty keeps a reserve of 20 percent; Charlotte, 15 percent; Pinellas, a at $20 million in reserves (Gable noted its bud get is slightly bigger than Sarasota Countys); Hardee, 3.5 percent; and Leon, 3 percent to 8 percent. When Patterson questioned whether those g ures were current, Gable responded, I was under the impression that this was what they were maintaining, though she said she would verify the numbers. In response to a question from Robinson, Steve Botelho, the countys chief nancial planning ofcer, reminded the commissioners the reserves policy was adopted in 2007 and last updated in 2011. PROS AND CONS I guess one of the reasons I felt comfortable in using reserves to keep our services going [is] that we w o uld leave the board with ample reserves in 201 7 in case of a problem, Patter son said. Staff projections also have shown the econo my picking back up that year. Pointing to the $8 million the policy change would free up, she added, It is not sufcient to really change the day. Moreover, Patterson said she believed oth er counties with lower reserves are not in as good nancial shape as Sarasota County. Robinson told her fellow board members, The time to decide whether you have ade quate reserves is not when you are in need of money. She added of the extra money that could be freed up, Its too tempting; its just way too tempting. She noted that the primary purpose of the May 14 workshop was to provide direction to staff A chart presented to the County Commission May 14 shows the reserves available and money freed up for other uses if the county moved to a 75-day or 60-day policy. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 17


on what capital proj ects should be funded for the next ve scal years. After Robinson remarked, Believe me, Ive been sweating the whole weekend over the countys ve-year unfunded Capital Improve ments Projects (CIP) list, Barbetta said, I was looking forward to today. Thats what were elected to do, to make tough decisions If the County Commission waited until 2017, as Patterson suggested, to make a new poli cy decision on reserves, the $8 million would be worth only about 55 percent to 60 percent of its value today, Barbetta added. We cant just keep sitting with a doomsday scenario and say, Well, its going to be bad until 2017, so we should wait. He continued, We just keep parking money in places We need to build a tax base [or] were never going to grow. Hines then qualied his support for chang ing the reserve policy, saying that while he was comfortable with a 75-day reserve, that doesnt mean I want to take that $8 million and just throw it into a spreadsheet and just do whatevers on there. He did concur with Barbetta that the commis sion needed to decide what it could and could not afford in terms of capital projects even though we will take the political heat publicly if we have to postpone somebodys want on this list. Patterson countered that the county had in vested millions in upgrades at Ed Smith Stadi um, where the Baltimore Orioles hold spring training, and $20 million in Nathan Bender son Park, which is trying to win a bid to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships. That money could have been used for other proj ects, she pointed o ut. She also voiced concern about whether the shift in the reserve policy could affect the countys AAA bond rating. After the vote, Robinson asked staff whether Patterson was correct in her last point. Gable responded that it was not likely the policy change would affect the countys bond rating. However, when R obinson then asked whether staff had foreseen the reduction in the coun tys bond rating for its Environmentally Sensi tive Lands fund a couple of years ago, Botelho pointed out that the rating agencies were not fully aware of all the facts related to that ac count when they acted to lower the rating. Still, Robinson said, staff had not anticipated that action on the part of the agencies and then [the lower rating] hit us over the head like a brick. Correct, Botelho said of h er assessment. % Suzanne Gable awaits the resumption of the budget workshop on May 14. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 18


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The campaign to m ak e a ll countywide races nonpartisan became ofcial this week, with the launch of Open Our Elections, a new PAC dedicated to promoting the cause and placing the issue on the ballot. Intended to beat back some of the recent manipulations, abuses and dirty tricks employed by local political parties, the effort has already found broad support, according to Open Our Elections chairwoman and former Venice City Council woman Sue Long. But how would it work? And how would it affect the political process? Thats what were going to explore in this comprehensive guide to the movemen t. Strap on your seatbelts ... its explainer time! What is Open Our Elections? Open Our Elections is a newly formed po litical action committee (PAC) dedicated to putting the issue of nonpartisan county elec tions in front of voters. An outgrowth of the Public Interest Coalition, which is made up of groups such as the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, Open Our Elec tions is led by Long. Its treasurer is Bill Z oller, A new political action committee wants to make county races nonpartisan. File photo EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT NON-PARTISAN COUNTY ELECTIONS BEATING BACK DIRTY TRICKS By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor


the president of Citizens for Sensible Growth in Sarasota County. What is it trying to do? Open Our Elections wants to make all county wide races nonpartisan. That includes cam paigns for seats such as tax collector, supervi sor of elections and even the board of county commissioners. OK, OK, but what does nonpartisan ac tually mean? Good question! If approved by Sarasota Coun ty voters, the ballot measure would bar can didates from identifying themselves as mem bers of a particular party. So when you went to vote, you would not see that little D or R next to a candidates name. Sure, but would that really stop the par ties from being involved? No. As City of Sarasota voters have learned over the last couple months, just because a race is nonpartisan doesnt mean the parties arent involved. They can still run get-outthe-vote operations on behalf of candidates, and campaign fundraising would remain un changed. So whats the big deal, then? The major goal is to empower all voters to be able to vote for someone in every race. Florida has what is known as a limited open primary system, which means that primary elections are closed to members of a particular party (e.g., only Democrats can vote in a Democrat ic primary), unless all the candidates in a giv en race belong to the same party. The basic concept is that all voters should have the right to have a say in who their elected ofcials are at some point in the process whether thats in the general election or in the primary. But a loophole in state election rules (written under the leadership of former Secretary of State Katherine Harris) currently allows writein candidates to close primaries that would otherwise be open. Write-in candidates are not required to pay a ling fee or gather sig natures, and their names do not appear on the ballot. Both Democratic and Republican parties ex ploit this loophole by encouraging fake writein candidacies. Last year, Vickie Brill, the daughter of a GOP fundraiser, led as a writein candidate for supervisor of elections. Even though she immediately acknowledged she wasnt actually running for ofce, the move closed the supervisor of elections primary Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 21


between Rep ublicans Jon Thaxton and Kathy Dent. Since only Republicans could vote in that race, more than 150,000 registered vot ers were prevented from having a say in who their supervisor of elections is. Dent won that campaign by earning the support of just 7.8 percent of county voters. This angered many, and it was an inspiration for the launch of Open Our Elections. Nonpar tisan elections would eliminate the loophole exploited by Brill and the Republican Party last year. If independents and Democrats want a say, why dont they just run candidates of their own? Another good question! Has anyone told you how smart you are? And handsome! Open Our Elections argues that all voters should have a voice in every race and that that right shouldnt be subject to the whims of the parties. Why dont area independents and Demo crats just register as Republicans? Some did! Last year, Sarasota County Super visor of Elections Ofce records showed that 288 Democrats ipped their party registration to Republican between June 1 (the day Brill led her paperwork) and July 16 (the dead line to register for the primary). Of course theres no way of knowing how many did so just to vote in the Thaxton-Dent race, but a decent-sized chunk of that number probably did. But then they couldnt vote in any Demo cratic primaries! Republican Party of Sarasota County Chair man Joe Gruters told the News Leader last month that independents take themselves out of the primary and are then stuck with the results. His advice? Dont register as in dependent. Wed be happy to register people over, he said. So how would nonpartisan elections func tion? The calendar would remain the same, with a rst round of voting in August. Every regis tered voter could participate. If no one wins a majority, then a runoff is held between the top two vote-getters in November. Who else has nonpartisan elections? According to Open Our Elections, Leon, Or ange, Columbia, Volusia and Miami-Dade Jon Thaxton. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 22


counties all have nonpartisan elections. The group modeled its proposal on the systems in those areas. Sarasota attorney Dan Lobeck, a supporter of the movement, says state stat utes dictate how nonpartisan elections are carried out. Would this actually improve local govern ment? Maybe. Maybe not. Just because more people could vote, that doesnt mean the candidates will automatically get better. When will I get to vote on this? Open Our Elections has started collecting pe titions (click here to read or download one). It needs to sign up almost 14,000 folks. Assum ing that happens, a special election will then be held. Open Our Elections is hoping to have the new process in place for the 2014 election cycle. Who is opposed to this? Since the campaign is fairly young, its tough to say. But certainly Gruters is a foe. He ar gued that, if approved, the measure would just lead to parties making decisions in secret and behind closed doors. Anybody that votes for nonpartisan races is a fool, he said. Zoller presented the campaign to the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations at its Monday meeting, and he mentioned that quote. Were going to count up how many fools there are, he said. You rock! What a great reporter! You de serve a raise! Thats not a qu estion. % I am so incredibly pleased, with my beautiful smile and my comfortable and natural bite. Barbara LeeFor a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. | 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 17, 2013 Page 23


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On Tues day, May 14, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin gave the Downtown Improve ment District (DID) members a brief update on some of the downtown issues he is facing, and where they stand. The City Commission is reviewing special events policies and [is] focusing on events with road closures beyond two to three days, he said. Those will need commission approval following a public hearin g. If the DID wants to have input, better do it soon. Barwin also noted the annual jam in the City Auditor and Clerks Of ce when taxi licenses are renewed. Were looking at a more re gional approach, he said. And the coun ty is open to looking at the same issue, but theyd like input from all four cities. Homeless people sit on the sidewalk outside the fenced-off Five Points Park on May 11. Photo by Norman Schimmel CITY MANAGER PRESENTS A DOWNTOWN UPDATE THE PARK, HOMELESS AND CRA The most difcult issue stating the obvious appears to be the folks having serious substance [abuse] and mental health issues. And it seems to go on and on for years. Tom Barwin City Manager Sarasota By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


People browse booths at a downtown arts fair in October 2012. The City Commission plans to set new guidelines for some special events. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 26


The orange c onstruction fencing at Five Points Park will be coming down Saturday, May 18, to make way for a special weekend event. (See the story in this issue on the Har vey Milk Festival.) He noted the area had been re-sodded recently, but it was getting tamped down with sleeping bags and blankets, he added. The fencing was temporary, to allow the grass to recover. Barwin said the City Commission will be asked during a special meeting on May 29 to allow staff to proceed with an update to zon ing codes for the entire city except for down town. Over the next 24 to 30 months, we hope to have as much community response as possible, said Barwin. We will be planning for the next 25 years. We need more density, responded DID Chairman Ernie Ritz. We need more income to solve the budget problems. Land use is what planning is all about, said Barwin. What is the value that we add to keep our residents here and attract new ones? How can we continue to polish the gem? He added that he expects a lot of conversa tion about form-based codes. Of great interest to the DID is the fate of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Although the district has no direct inuence on the ex penditure of CRA monies, the members are beneciaries of the tax-increment-nancing projects. Barwin said the members of the committee that will study the future of the CRA after its statutory retirement in 2016 have been appointed, but no date has been set yet for their rst meeting. Barwin then turned to what has become his thorniest problem, what he called the chal lenge of the street people. He said, The most difcult issue stating the obvious appears to be the folks having serious substance [abuse] and mental health issues. And it seems to go on and on for years. Some [people] Ive observed as delusional but with no way to get them help. Theres a huge gap in the system. Ultimately, mental health responsibilities fall to the [county] Health Department. Were try ing to focus with them to get this to become a priority, Barwin added. I think we can make great progress. Im setting up meetings with judges and mental health practitioners. There is some talk about a strategic plan. Work should begin this summer. % City Manager Tom Barwin. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 27


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


The discussion was supposed to be about launches used to ferry referees and safe ty teams at rowing competitions. Instead, it ended up being about the launch of a major fundraising drive. A few weeks ago, Sara sota County Commis sioner Joe Barbetta requested staff sched ule a board discussion about whether the county could purchase a number of vessels needed during rowing competitions at Nathan Benderson Park off University Parkway. A sta ff memo prepared for the commissions regular meeting on May 7 says, Typically, eight referee vessels, six safety boats and two workboats are desirable. Presently, the cour se is operat Improvements reportedly are ahead of schedule at Benderson Park. Photo by Norman Schimmel THE PRIVATE GROUP ESTABLISHED TO MANAGE EVENTS AT NATHAN BENDERSON PARK SOON WILL LAUNCH A DRIVE TO PAY FOR EQUIPMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE AT THE ROWING VENUE MAJOR FUNDRAISING AHEAD I dont want to add some Grinchiness to this, but the bottom line is obviously were hoping for large corporate sponsors Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


i ng with a tot al of 13 vessels, all of which are borrowed. The memo adds, It requires 8 15 vessels to put on an event at Nathan Benderson Park. Ten jon boats are used courtesy of Manatee County, one is provided by a local rowing club and three are loaned by private individuals. With two to four volunteers or county staff members having to make two to four trips to transport those vessels, the total time invest ed for an event adds up to 27 man-hours, the report says. To purchase the vessels, cost estimates range up to $244,000 if jon boats are used as referee vessels and up to $372,000 if catamarans serve that purpose, the memo notes. W hen it was time for the discussion item on the May 7 commission agenda, Paul Blackket ter, president of the SunCoast Aquatic Nature Center Association (SANCA), came to the po dium to ask that the matter be postponed. SANCA is the private group established to manage Benderson Park as well as the asso ciated rowing and water-related programs in the future, the staff memo points out. SANCA already is working with Sarasota and Manatee counties in a partnership to win a bid to host the 2017 World Rowing Champi onships at Benderson Park. Thanks to the successful regatta season the park experienced this year, Blackketter told the co mmissioners, SANCA members have be The extension of North Cattlemen Road improves access to Benderson Park. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 30


gun talking with private individuals interested in contributing to park improvements. He soon would appear before the commission again, he said, with a business plan [to] show you exactly how we are going to move for ward and deliver these launches. When Barbetta asked for conrmation that the park needs to purchase the vessels before it hosts the USRowing Masters National Cham pionships in mid-August, Blackketter said that was correct. Blackketter added that SANCA is doing due diligence to determine the best type of boats to buy. Commissioner Nora Patterson said of the park, Its a terric venue. However, it can not be supported entirely by government, and I really am hoping to start seeing the recruit ment of contributions. She added, Its going to be a real problem if we cant crank up that show of local and re gional support. Blackketter responded, Were actually look ing to hire a fundraising team to pay for the infrastructure and equipment the park needs. Additionally, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has given SANCA a grant to help it develop a marketing program, Blackketter noted. Youll see a very active and robust campaign in the very near future. I dont want to add some Grinch-iness to this, Patterson added, but the bottom line is obviously were hoping for large corporate sponsors, especially to help pay for some of the equipment and structures expected by the International Rowing Federati on (FISA). A FISA tea m visited the park last month in conjunction with the bid for the World Cham pionships. The site inspection was designed to provide recommendations to SANCA and staff from Sarasota and Manatee counties about what has to be done for the facility to win the bid. Regarding construction, Blackketter reported on May 7, Were ahead of schedule. STATE SUPPORT During Blackketters appearance, commis sioners also took the opportunity to express their thanks to members of the Sarasota Coun ty Legislative Delegation, which helped secure another $5 million in state funding this year for improvements at Benderson Park. Paul Blackketter. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 31


Blackkette r told members of the Tourist De velopment Council on Jan. 17 that $5 million would pay for the infrastructure most need ed to host the World Championships. Among those facilities are the starting tower, timing huts, installation of audio/visual systems and the regatta navy to transport referees and provide safety support to the rowing teams. Commissioner Christine Robinson specically expressed her gratitude to Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice and Rep. Doug Holder of Saraso ta, calling Holder a huge unsung hero in this whole thing. Blackketter said of Detert: She worked this thing all the way through to the end. Barbetta also noted that former state Sen. Mike Benne tt of Bradenton worked behind the scen es to ensure that the money was in the nal budget. The park received $5 million in state funds from the Legislature in 2012 as well. NORTH CATTLEMEN ROAD On May 24, county ofcials will celebrate the completion of another facet of infrastructure planned to enhance the use of Benderson Park for rowing regattas and other events, includ ing triathlons. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark the end of a two-year construction project to extend and improve North Cattlemen Road from Richardson to DeSoto roads, the county has announced. The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. May 24 at the western bridge to Regatta A small jon boat sits in the bed of a pickup truck. Photo by Joyce Godsey from Wikimedia Commons via Flickr Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 32


Island in Benderson Park. People who wish to attend the ceremony must enter from the north via University Parkway, a news release says. The approximately 2.75-mile-long extension of North Cattlemen Road provides motorists with a new north-south alternative to Inter state 75 (I-75) from University Parkway to Fruitville Road, connecting Sarasota and Man atee counties, the release says. The improvements include four 12-foot-wide travel lanes, 4-foot-wide bicycle lanes and 10to 15-foot-wide sidewalks along the west side of the roadway. Also constructed were two fixed-span bridges, streetlights, land scaped medians, concrete curbs and gutters, stor mwater pipes, inlet structures, stormwa ter ponds and water and sewer transmission pipes to enhance the countys utility network, the release notes. The $15.7 million road project provided the foundation for the Nathan Benderson Park improvements by furnishing the missing roadway link connecting University Parkway to the north and Fruitville Road to the south, the release continues. The improvements were paid for in part by a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grant, a contribution from Benderson Devel opment Co. and a county utility revenue bond, the release adds. % For the best viewing experience on a computer click the icon in the menubar to zoom to fullscreen mode. QUICK TIP Dont have your own subscription to The Sarasota News Leader ? Subscribe for FREE and receive a weekly notication when the latest issue is available online. FREE SUBSCRIPTION Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 33


The Sarasota City commissioners should be able to leave their NoDoz behind for the Mon day, May 20, meeting. The consent agenda is sparse, there are no public hearings and only four presentations are planned. The perennial winner of the Leakiest Roof in the City Contest comes before the com mission with a request to spend $150,000 to x the roof aga in. The Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone (GWIZ) needs city permis sion to make th e impr ovement to its leasehold i n the former city library at the western termi nus of the Boulevard of the Arts. The building is an architectural marvel, but the roof has leaked from the day the buildings doors opened. After the library was moved closer to downtown, GWIZ took over the fa cility to create a childrens science museum. The roof repairs require a lease amendment with the city the buildings eighth. The amendment would also allow the installa tion of photovoltaic cells, paid f or by Florida Boaters have continued to use the bayfront mooring eld in spite of having to pay for it. Photo by Norman Schimmel CITY COMMISSION LOOKING AT AGENDA LITE FOR MAY 20 TAKING A BREATHER By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


Power and Light. The solar cells will augment the museums use of city electricity and serve as an educational tool. The $150,000 for repairs is but one part of an ambitious $1.2 million campaign for new ex hibits, expansion of the fabrication laboratory and a public-private collaboration to offer a waterfront restaurant featuring organic fare, according to a summary of the plans by GWIZ Chief Executive Ofcer Sara Rankin. Food service facilities are necessary for the large number of school eld trips, and the abil ity to attract the general population to the wa terfront greatly expands the population that will use the parcel, the summary states. The statement a lso takes a dig at the previous ad ministration of the center. In 2012 the Executive Ofcer and Board of Directors were replaced, due to poor practices of former staff leadership and lack of Board re sponsibility, it says. GWIZ, the downtown science museum, needs a new roof, its board says. Photo by Ebaybe via Wiki media Commons Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 35


BRT ALIGNM ENT Another out-with-the-old move will be made Monday when the City Commission is asked to approve U.S. 41 as the preferred alignment of a proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line. The multi-million dollar plan originally was proposed for the Seminole Gulf Railroad align ment through Newtown to downtown. However, county ofcials do not believe that route offers enough development a nd rede velopment opportunities, and they are willing to pay $800,000 to conduct a new feasibility study of either U.S. 41 or U.S. 301. City staff is rmly behind the Tamiami Trail alternative, and it will present its recommendation on May 20. The county will make the nal (virtually pre-ordained) decision and notify the Federal Transportation Administration this summer. The FTA paid for the rst study, which iden tied the railroad corridor, but it will not pay for a second study. The City Commission is expected to take the next step in a joint effort with the county regarding a bus rapid transit system in Sarasota, similar to one in Orlando. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 36


THE ART OF PUBLIC ART A lm producer will open the evening commis sion session with something a little different than the usual presentation of the Employee of the Month Award. Ted Golas project, orig inally titled, Art Honesty examines several controversial issues concerning Sarasotas public art scene. At its heart, his lm looks at a community where art is invested to be consumed but not so much nurtured to grow locally, he explains in a statement. The overarching conict is that of art ver sus money. Younger artists as well as minority groups struggle to have a share in the citys decision-making process regarding public art due to the lack of money, the statement continues. Art has become business; in our documentary we are exploring the intricate in terrelationship and conict between the two, using multiple case studies that include public art and recent developments. The item was placed on the agenda at the re quest of Commissioner Shannon Snyder, and it does not call for any specic action. GET IT BEFORE ITS GONE Under New Business at the end of the meeting comes a request for guidance by city staffers on how to proceed with the next phase of the downtown bayfront mooring eld. The rst phase o f 35 moorings was opened for use last November, and commissioners told staff to wait a year to see how it was working before committing to putting in another 35 in Phase Two. The cost of the next set of moorings is esti mated at $218,000, and it will be funded by a grant from the West Coast Inland Navigation District. The WCIND also footed the cost of the rst phase. However, construction delays in Phase One pushed back the use of the grant for Phase Two, which is set to expire on Sept. 30. If the city does not push ahead with Phase Two, the money could be lost. The staff memo says, Noting the funding shortfall being expe rienced by the WCIND, staff is concerned that if the city does not move forward with Phase 2 construction before the expiration of the ex isting grant that funding for Phase 3 may also be in jeopardy. In other words, staff is saying if the commis sion waits as it wants to see a full years set of books it may lose the WCIND grants to nish the project. The mooring eld is operated by Jack Graham Inc. as a franchise for the city. If the mooring eld loses money, the city is obligated to cov er a majority of those losses by paying Jack Graha m Inc. % Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 37


After de aling with scores of complaints last year even in December about dead sh and seaweed accumulating on the countys beaches, the Sarasota County Commission has unanimously approved a new measure to enable staff to pick up dead sh, seaweed and debris from areas previously not covered by county policy. The ne w initiative will be applied only under special circumstanc es, according to the action of the County Commission on May 7 during its regular meet ing in Venice. Lets hope we dont have to pull this out too often, Commissioner Christine Robinson said after the boards vote. In a presentation to the commission, Carolyn Brown, d irector of the Parks and Recreation Department, pointed out, This past De cember, we had a sig nicant sh kill event. Many of the deceased creatures washed Blind Pass Beach is strewn with sh killed by red tide in December. Photo courtesy Sarasota County A NEW SARASOTA COUNTY POLICY WILL ENABLE STAFF TO OBTAIN PERMISSION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS TO CLEAR DEAD FISH AND SEAWEED UNDER SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES HANDLING THE FISH KILLS By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor Lets hope we dont have to pull this out too often. Christine Robinson Commissioner Sarasota County


ashore on privately owned beaches, Brown noted, prompting a lot of phone calls from those property owners. However, Brown said, existing county policy prevented staff from responding. A memo Brown provided to the commission notes that in 1995, the board adopted a Beach Cleaning Policy, which it amended in 1997. That policy did not clearly or adequately ad dress the use of public funds for the removal of dead sh or seaweed on private property, the memo says. In fact, aspects of the language are inconsistent with the Florida Statutes and/ or case law as it relates to public beaches and the public use of private property. The memo also points to the importance of the beaches to the countys economy and notes that Parks and Recreation uses the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) Emergency Fund to pay for beach cleaning under special conditions at County-owned public beaches, beach accesses and certain areas seaward of the mean high water line, which is specied in Florida common law. Brown told the commission that special con ditions cleaning costs from that TDT fund had ranged from $408,403 in 2007 to zero in 2009. The cost for 2012 was $122,680. The memo points out that each year about $200,000 is budgeted in the TDT emergency fund for beach cleaning under special circum stances. County staff met with administrative staff, representatives of the County Attorneys Ofce and the countys Natural Resources, Operations and Maintenance and Health de Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 39 Red drift algae abounds on Crescent Beach on Siesta Key in August 2012. File photo


partments to discuss the 1995 beach clean ing policy, the memo continues. The resulting determination was the need to improve the policys language, including a clarication of what areas of the beach are or could be con sidered public or customarily used by the public for consistency with the law. The discussions resulted in agreement that the county could spend taxpayers dollars to clean private beaches if the following condi tions were met: The beach is in close proximity to a coun ty-owned beach or access that has been customarily crossed or used by the public. A public purpose can be established. The area to be cleaned is landward of the approximate mean high water line and sea ward of any pronounced escarpment, dune, vegetated area, access bridge or stairs or sh ore protection structure such as a revet ment or seawall The owners or designated representatives provide written permission to the county that also acknowledges the historic cus tomary use of the beach or access by the public. The form for that written permission will be available online, the memo notes; it can be submitted to Parks and Recreation electroni cally or in person, even to staff on the beach. Commissioner Nora Patterson, who lives on Siesta Key, voiced concerns that the form is pretty vague. It doesnt exactly conform to what you said in your report, she told Brown. The County Attorneys Ofce staff wrote it, Brown replied. Then Ill say nothing, Patterson responded. Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 40 A county crew loads seaweed into a truck for removal from a beach. Photo courtesy Sarasota County


County Attorney Stephen De Marsh explained, The intention is not to create an easement or any legal interest in the property. The form was designed solely to get the permission of the owner to allow cleaning on that part of the beach under special circumstances, he added. I understand that, Patterson told him. Its a little hard if the publics being run off your beach to ask the public to clean your beach, she added. Patterson was referring to inci dents that sprang up again on Siesta Key last summer, with owners of resort condominium complexes posting signs to warn anyone who was not a guest to stay off the areas of the beach closest to those complexes. DeMarsh reiterated that the new policy ap plies to areas of the beach shown to have a connection to a public or tourism-related use. And we think this accomplishes that, he add ed of the proposed procedures. Most of the owners of the big condominium complexes do clean their own beaches up to a point, Patterson replied. The memo also notes that the new draft policy was shared with representatives of the Barrier Island Group, which includes the Siesta Key, North Manasota Key, Manasota Key and Casey Key associations. A few clarications to the policy were made after they reviewed it, the memo says. Robinson thanked Brown for discussing it with representatives of the Barrier Island Group. I think that was an important step in the whole process, she added. They were very helpful, Brown said. % Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 41 Private property owners can sign a form to permit the county to clean up their beaches under spe cial circumstances. Image courtesy Sarasota County


Only 65 entit ies people, trusts or corpora tions own all the commercial property on St. Armands Circle. They charge high rents, and very often their commercial tenants pay the property taxes, too. A decade ago, the owners decided to impose an extra assessment on themselves of 2 mills to cover the cost of improvements to the pub lic property in the district. But last month, the same 65 decided not to continue the 10-year experiment; by a winning margin of almost two-thirds, they voted to dis continue that extra assessme nt. The St. Armands Business Improvement Dis trict (BID) raised about $220,000 per year to beautify the shopping destination and provide enhanced maintenance. Now the chairman of the about-to-be-defunct special taxing district wants another vote. On Monday, May 20, he plans to explain to the Sarasota City Commis sion how that should be done. AND A PECULIAR VOTE IT IS Under the established procedure, a St. Ar mands Circle property owner would receive a ballot in the mail; then, he could vote No in one of two ways: either mark the ballot and Shoppers abound on St. Armands Circle during the height of season. Photo by Rachel Hackney ST. ARMANDS BID WANTS A VOTE DO-OVER ON ITS SPECIAL TAX IF AT FIRST YOU DONT SUCCEED By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


return it or simp ly refuse to mail it back. To vote Yes, an owner had to mark the ballot and return it. Oddity No. 2: The more property you own, the more powerful your vote. Two acres counts twice as much as one acre. On April 3, the city auditor and clerk, city attorney and BID Chairman Marty Rappa port sat down to count the ballots. Of the 65 mailed, only 33 were returned. Only 35 per cent (weighted by property values) supported another 10-year tax hitch. The nearly two-thirds majority either voted No or did not return their ballots. Of the 33 valid returns, only ve voted against the proposal, but all ve were in the million-dol lar-plus property va lue range. Rap paport believes the districts pro-renewal campaign information was mailed improper ly in March, and he even admits he was the one who handled it wrongly without thinking it through: [The material] was mailed to the storefront and not the owner, he said. I put the labels on myself. TIGHT TIMETABLE On the advice of the city attorney, Rappaport will appear before the City Commission Mon day to seek permission to hold another poll. He will be equipped with a sufcient number of petitions signed by property owners, he says, to make his case. Having been through a canvassing board on Thursday, May 16, to verify the City Commission runoff of May 14, the commissioners will be fully aware of the rights and duties of electors. Sarasota City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini counts the St. Armands Business District ballots in April. Photo by Stan Zimmerman Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 43


Rappaport sa ys tha t if the commissioners agree to a revote, the ballots must be mailed no later than Aug. 20. And those ballots must be received at City Hall (or not) by Sept. 17. He says he will ask that the ballots be sent return receipt requested this time to show the No-but-not-returned ballots were actu ally received by electors. The di strict faces dissolution on Sept. 30 if it is not renewed by the special election. Preparing for another worst-case outcome, Rappaport has cancelled two long-standing contracts. One is with the Muzak Corp., which pipes out door background music around the circle. The other is with J. Mar Cleaning, which has pro vided enhanced sprucing up of the sidewalk and trash pickup for years. % The Business Improvement District assessment has allowed property owners to pay for enhanced upkeep on St. Armands Circle. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 44


On Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to noon, area residents are encouraged to show their support for the protection of coastal econo mies, the oceans, marine wildlife and sheries by participating in Hands Across the Sand. A news release notes that Hands Across the Sand is a movement of people from all walks of life. It is not about politics. Its about preserving our precious drinking water, air and food. The damage that continues to hap pen due to offshore oil drilling accidents, hydraulic fracturing, the Alberta tar sands, mountain top removal mining and the continu ing proliferation of coal-red power plants [is] a threat to us all. The release adds, Embracing a clean energy future now is the path to a sustainable planet. Its a path to ending global warming and cli mate change. Its a path to a better future for our children and grandchildren. Interested people are invited to meet at 10 a.m. near the northwest corner of the park ing lot at Westeld Southgate Mall, located at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Siesta Drive in Sarasota (3501 S. Tamiami Trail). Free bagels and coffee will be available for event partici pants, the release says, and Sarasota County Area Transit will be handing out free roundtrip bus passes. At 10:30 a.m., a Low-Carbon Caravan will begin. The release encourages participants to Ride your bike, board the bus or join an elec tric vehicle parade to the beach. At 11 a.m., everyone will meet on Siesta Pub lic Beach. A tent will be set up in the shade about 100 yards east of the Pavilion, the re lease adds. There, people can pick up infor mational materials and learn from a variety of speakers what they can do to reduce depen dence on fossil fuels. At 11:30 a.m., participants will join hands with each other for a few minutes at the shore line as a symbolic act of resistance against offshore oil drilling and in protection of our most treasured natural resource, the release continues. A Hands Across the Sand event will be held on Saturday at Siesta Public Beach. Image courtesy of Hands Across the Sands Facebook page HANDS ACROSS THE SAND SET FOR SATURDAY ON SIESTA BEACH NEWS BRIEFS


Suzanne Atwell won re-election and attorney Susan Chapman won the second at-large City Commission seat up for grabs in the runoff on May 14, according to ofcial votes tabulated by the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elec tions (SOE) Ofce. Both women were elected to four-year terms. Atwell received 4,575 votes; Chapman, 3,880; and candidate Richard Dorfman, 3,433, ac cording to the tallies. The SOE website says that 7,102 people, or 19.94 percent of the citys 35,681 registered voters, cast ballots in the runoff. During the March 12 election, which had six candidates vying for the two seats, the turn out was 6,153 voters, or 17.34 percent of the 35,480 who were registered at the time, ac cording to the SOE website. Duri ng the March 2011 city election, when candidates were running in districts, the turn out was 5,693 voters, or 17.78 percent of the 32,019 who were registered. The runoff in May that year pitted current Vice Mayor Willie Shaw against Linda Holland, with Shaw win ning 735 votes and Holland taking 499. Atwell and Chapman will be sworn into ofce during a City Commission meeting at noon on Friday, May 17, in the Commission Chambers at City Hall, 1565 First St. The ceremony will follow the presentation of the State of the City Address, a city news re lease notes. The new City Commission will then select a mayor and vice mayor to serve for the next year, the release adds. Rachel Brown Hackney ATWELL, CHAPMAN WIN CITY COMMISSION SEATS Susan Chapman. Photo courtesy of Richard Clapp Suzanne Atwell. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 46


After winning hono rs at the Florida Histo ry Fair this month, students from Pine View School will be representing the state at the Na tional History Day event June 9-13, the Sara sota County Schools District has announced. The Pine View students joined youth from Booker Middle School, Heron Creek Middle School and Sarasota Virtual Academy in earn ing recognition at the state History Fair, held May 6 at Tallahassee Community College, a news release notes. In their documentaries, websites, exhibits and research papers, the students explored Turn ing Points in History: People, Ideas, Events the theme of National History Day for 2012-13, a news release says. Pine View student Oliver Gray took second place in the Senior Individual Documentary category for his production, The Cuyahoga River: A Turning Point for the Environmen talist Movement The documentary also re ceived an Outstanding County Award, the re lease continues. Pine View students Richard Ehlers and Thom as Kelly took second place in the Senior Group Documentary category for Turning Point in History: The Dropping of the Atomic Bomb Oliver, Richard and Thomas will be participat ing in the National History Day at the Univer sity of Maryland in College Park, the release notes. Grace Gerdes, Kaliyah Newell and Brionna Newell of Booker Middle School placed third in the Junior Group Performance catego ry for Brown v. Board of Education James Niffenegger of Pine View S chool placed third in the Senior Individual Website category for The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Turning Point for Diplomacy These students may compete at National History Day if rst-place and sec ond-place winners in their categories are un able to attend, the release points out. The following nalists also placed in the top 10 in their categories at the Florida History Fair: Ashley Marceus of Sarasota Virtual Acad emy was recognized for her Senior Historical Paper, Brown v. Board of Education: Im plementing a Dream ; and Kasi Beauchamp, Yuliya Fateyeva and Jenna Gonzalez of Heron Creek Middle School were honored for their Junior Group Exhibit, Mary Wollstonecraft: A Turning Point for Womens Rights The Florida History Fair is an annual state wide activity that enhances the teaching and learning of history, the news release notes. SARASOTA STUDENTS HEADED TO NATIONAL HISTORY DAY Booker Middle School Principal LaShawn Houston, (second from left) celebrates with students Brionna Newell (left), Grace Gerdes and Kaliyah Newell (right) on their Flori da History Fair award in the Junior Group Performance Category for Brown v. Board of Education. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 47


On May 10, sever al hundred pioneers and sup porters of EdExploreSRQ came together for High Five: Hands Up for Hands-On Learn ing at Riverview High School, an event that celebrated the successful launch of the next chapter of EdExploreSRQ. The initiative provides students with exposure to arts, science and culture through explora tions, in-classroom and off-campus experi ences offered by 36 partner organizations, a news release points out. In this unique arrangement, the Sarasota County Schools, the Arts and Cultural Alli ance of Sarasota County, the Science and En vironment Council of Southwest Florida, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Education Foundation of Sarasota Coun ty and The Patterson Foundation have made a commitment to sustain and expand EdEx ploreSRQ (resources for teachers, parents and potential funders may be found at www.EdEx ) for the benet of all Sarasota County students, the release notes. During the celebration, new funding streams for student explorations were announced: The Community Foundation has committed $500,000 over ve years for explorations. Ad ditionally, the Community Foundation and The Patterson Foundation are creating an EdExploreSRQ Endowment Fund to increase awareness and nancial support, the release says. The Patterson Foundation will designate up to $3 million in matching funds for the Ex HIGH FIVE EVENT CELEBRATES EDEXPLORESRQ Students from Mrs. Demings gifted fourth-grade class, led by teaching artist Bob Fieberts (far left), perform on Amigos, one-stringed guitars they built and learned to play through an exploration. Photo by Cliff Roles Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 48


plorations endowment fund, matching dollar for dollar the Community Foundations invest ment and providing a 2:1 match for all dona tions for existing and future explorations, the release adds. Among other event highlights: The school districts Fine Arts Program spe cialist, Angela Hartvigsen, announced the EdExploreSRQ 2.0 website upgrade. Book illustrator, writer and art educator Patrice Kennedy was honored with the Arts Education Leadership Award. The Patterson Foundation gave out Pay it Forward Awards cash presented to schools and partner organizations to fund student explorations or create new or enhanced explorations for the 2013-14 school year. (From left) Sarasota County Schools Fine Arts Program Specialist Angela Hartvigsen; Patrice Ken nedy, the Cindy Ballestreri Arts Education Leadership Award winner; and Arts Education Task Force member Nancy Roucher. Photo by Cliff Roles Jim Shirley, executive director of the Arts and Cultural Alliance, who served as emcee for the program, with Sarasota County Schools Su perintendent Lori White. Photo by Cliff Roles Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 49


An exhibit featuring the people, events and architecture that shaped the Sarasota Public School Program from 1954 to 1960 is on view at the Sarasota County Visitor Information Center and History Center Museum, 701 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, the county has an nounced. It is a collaborative effort of Sarasota Coun ty Historical Resources and the University of Florida Historic Preservation Program, a news release notes. Called The Building Itself Teaches the exhib it tells the story of how ve new buildings and four additions constructed from 1954-1960 collectively known as the Sarasota Public School Program dramatically transformed the public educational environment of Sara sota County, and offered a new precedent for school design across postwar America, the release adds. The initiative was launched by Phillip Hanson Hiss III, who relocated to Sarasota from the Northeast in 1948. He later was elected to the Board of Public Instruction, forerunner of the Sarasota County School Board. In a 1958 interview with Time magazine, the release continues, Hiss described his dissat isfaction with the physical state and outdated pedagogy of public schools in the area: When I got the facts I went wild. Some of the schools were downright unsanitary. The restrooms were so bad the students wouldnt even go to PUBLIC SCHOOL PROGRAM OF 1954-1960 FEATURED IN EXHIBIT The Sarasota County Visitor Information Center and History Center Museum is located at 701 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Image courtesy of Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 50


the bathroom. And the curriculum was just as bad, he told the magazine. Brookside Middle School, the rst new school completed under the supervision of Hiss, in 1955, was recognized for its design and low cost, about $40,000 under budget, the release points out. After the success of the Brookside project, he promoted the economic efcien cy of modern school architecture and cam paigned for a $4.4 million school bond, which was overwhelmingly approved by county res idents, the release says. With the funding in place, Hiss took steps to realize his vision: innovative and modern de sign that facilitated and inspired alternative and progressive approaches to education, it adds. The designs for the new schools were created by a group of local architects whose collective work is now referred to as the Sara sota School of Architecture. In designing the schools, architects such as Paul Rudolph, Victor Lundy and Jack West continued their experimentation with materials and technol ogy and integration of passive means of cool ing and controlling natural light, reecting an overall spirit of democratic and design free dom, as urged by Hiss, the release notes. The Sarasota County Visitor Information Cen ter and History Center Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. There is no admission charge. The exhibit is expected to be on view until March 2014. It is sponsored by the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center, the Sara sota Alliance for Historic Preservation and the University of Florida Historic Preservation Program. For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-500 0 (TTY: 7-1-1). Five north Saras ot a and Newtown-area churches are joining together for the Gospel Explosion Block Party, promoting communi ty health and wellness services on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sara sota County Housing Authoritys The Courts apartment complex on the corner of Orange Avenue and 21 st Street, Sarasota County has announced. This is going to be an exciting communi ty affair. Ive wanted to see our community embrace this type of event and now we are seeing this dream come together with these churches, said Bill Carter in a news release. Carter works for Genesis Health Services and First Step of Sarasota as a case manager. BLOCK PARTY TO PROMOTE HEALTH AND WELLNESS SERVICES All of the churches will have choirs perform ing inspiring and uplifting songs of joy and hope that carry a positive message, he added in the release. We are also offering a variety of health screenings and education services, so come on out and join us. The e vent w ill feature live musical perfor mances by the choirs of ve local churches: Bethlehem Baptist Church, Harvest Taber nacle, Trinity Christian Fellowship Center, New Bethel Missionary Baptist and Truvine Missionary Baptist Church, the release notes. Local health care agencies will be present to distribute information about minority health issues, and HIV and STD testing will be avail able at no cost through a mobile unit operated Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 51


by the Community AIDS Network, the release says. Attendees also will be able to view The Florida Department of Healths mobile exhibit, Faces of HIV which uses art to examine the stig ma, personal relationships and medical care issues connected to HIV, the release adds. Free refre shmen ts will be provided. For more information, call 256-6620 or visit For information about health initiatives in the Newtown Communi ty, visit the Community Health Improvement Partnership websit e, www.Chi As the Sarasota Police Department imple ments a fresh partnership policing strategy throughout the City of Sarasota, a city news release says, the Nuisance Abatement Board is being revitalized to handle complaints about nuisance properties. Two seats are open on the board, the release adds. City residents with an interest in ridding neighborhoods of crime are encouraged to ap ply. The Nuisance Abatement Board, comprising seven city residents, hears cases concerning properties deemed public nuisances because of the use or sale of illegal drugs, prostitution, street gang activity and/or stolen property, the release explains. The board can impose nes on property owners and seek to collect payments to cover the cost of investigations conducted by law enforcement ofcers, the release notes. The Nuisance Abatement Board is an excel lent tool to help our residents and police of cers make our neighborhoods safer, said City Manager Tom Barwin in the release. The board needs to be revitalized and used effec tively. Were looking for residents who want to b e part of our new collaborative partnership policing effort and will dedicate a few hours each month to hearing cases and making de terminations about problem properties, he added in the release. Nuisance Abatement Board meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1565 First St. The board has been unable to take action on complaints since De cember 2012 because of the lack of a quorum, the release points out. Although a quorum now exists, two seats still remain vacant. We need a fully appointed Nuisance Abate ment Board, said Police Chief Bernadette DiPino in the release. A citizens board like this is part of community policing, she add ed. [The Sarasota Police Department] cant do it alone. The board is already established. We just need individuals who are interested in taking back their neighborhoods to serve. To submit an application online click here To download an application, click here For more information about the Nuisance Abatement Board or any of the citys advisory boards, contact the Ofce of the City Auditor and Clerk at 954-4160. APPLICANTS SOUGHT FOR REVITALIZED NUISANCE ABATEMENT BOARD CORRECTION Because of an editing error, a letter to the editor from Paul Cajka in the May 10 issue referred to the Council of Neighborhood As sociations. The writer actually was referring to CCNA, the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations. Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 52


Sarasota County School District Superinten dent Lori White has announced that she will recommend Chad A. Erickson of Altoona, WI, to succeed Betsy Asheim as principal of Bay Haven School of Basics Plus in Sarasota. The appointment is scheduled to be consid ered by the School Board during its May 21 meeting. Erickson, 40, has served as principal of Sher man Elementary School in the Eau Claire Area School District in Wisconsin since 2001, a news release notes. Sherman was named one of the six Healthiest Schools in America by Family Circle Magazine in 2009. He also has served as a fourth-grade teacher, a high school coach and a middle school as sistant principal, the release adds. He holds a bachelors degree in education and a masters degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin. Additionally, he has studied educational policy at the University of Minnesota and astrophysics methodology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the release notes. I am extremely excited to begin working with the Bay Haven staff and to be part of the high achieving School District of Sarasota County, Erickson said in the release. My wife and three young children are equally as excited to make the transition from Wisconsin to Florida. Bay Haven School of Basics Plus is a magnet school designated as a national Blue Ribbon School and a state Five Star School, the re lease adds. It is Sarasota Countys only mag net elementary school. The program empha sizes a back-to-basics cur riculum with strong discipline and con tracts for parents, students and staff, the release notes. Asheim has served as Bay Haven principal since 2007. She announced her retirement earlier this year to pursue other professional and personal opportunities, the release says. Erickson is scheduled to assume his duties at Bay Haven on July 1. NEW PRINCIPAL NAMED FOR BAY HAVEN SCHOOL OF BASICS PLUS Chad Erickson/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 53


Visit Sar asota C ounty announced the recip ients of the 2013 National Tourism Week Awards during a breakfast ceremony held at Westfield Southgate Mall on May 9. All the winners listed below were nominated by their peers, a news release notes. Each then was voted on by a selection panel comprising members of the hospitality industry, the re lease adds. Both nominees and winners were recognized at the event. The winners follow: Guest Service Excellence-Management: Kate Hedding at Cro ws Nest Marina Restaurant. Guest Service Excellence-Front Line: Bar bara Slater of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Guest Service Excellence-Heart of House: Kevin Greene of The John and Mable Ring ling Museum of Art. Guest Service Excellence-Lodging: Carol Clark of Holiday Inn Lido Beach. Guest Service Excellence-Volunteer: Bar bara and Ian McKenzie of Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Tommy Vaughan-Birch of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. VISIT SARASOTA COUNTY NAMES WINNERS OF TOURISM WEEK AWARDS Sarasota aerialist Nik Wallenda, with wife Erendira, was honored as the 2013 Voice of Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 54


Youngsters ages 7 th rough 15 are invited to participate in the nationwide inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, which will be held at Bobby Jones Golf Club in Sarasota. Participants will have an opportunity to com pete in the nale at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, a city news release says. Bobby Jones is one of just 10 courses in the region to be selected for this fun, competi tive youth program, the release adds. Local qualifying will take place at Bobby Jones Golf Club on Saturday, June 29. The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is free and open to boys and girls of all skill lev els. Players will compete based on gender and four age categories: 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15, the release notes. Participants will accumulate points with each skill: driving, chipping an d putting. Three shots w ill be taken per skill, with a potential total of 25 points per shot, the release says. The top two overall point earners in each of the boys and girls age divisions will advance to the regional qualifying round, it adds. The champion from each division will win a free trip to play in the nals at Augusta Na tional Golf Club on Sunday, April 6, 2014, just prior to the Masters, the release notes. Drive, Chip and Putt is sponsored by the Mas ters Tournament Foundation, PGA and USGA. Bobby Jones Golf Club, 1000 Circus Blvd., is owned and operated by the City of Sarasota; it offers three courses with a total of 45-holes. For more information about the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship visit wwwDriveChi or contact Christian Martin, Bobby Jones Golf Club Assistant Manager: 365-2200, Ext. 5801. SARASOTA YOUTH INVITED TO DRIVE, CHIP & PUTT COMPETITION Sarasota Cou nty ofcials are encouraging res idents to protect the bay by not using fertilizer products containing nitrogen and phosphorus. Stormwater washes excess fertilizer into storm drains, transporting the nitrogen and phosphorus into the bay, a news release notes. Those elements can fuel excessive growth of algae, which smothers natural vegetation. Ni trogen and phosphorus can also cause inva sive weeds to ourish, changing Floridas nat ural plant communities, a news release notes. People should be able to enjoy their summer by heading to the beach, going shing or boat ing, Sarasota County Environmental Special ist Amanda Dominguez said in the release. No one wants to be doing yard work in the sum mer, and the great news is you dont need to use fertilizer in order to have a healthy yard. From June 1 through Sept. 30, no fertilizer containing nitrogen or p hosphorous may be used o n lawns or plants in unincorporated Sarasota County, according to a county ordi nance. Homeowners should follow the tips below, the release adds, to maintain healthy lawns while protecting the bay: Mow grass as high as possible with a mulch ing mower. Dont over-water turf and plants. Install a soil moisture sensor to determine when to water. Keep fertilizer at least 10 feet from the edge of any body of water. Create a low-maintenance zone of land scape plants near the waters edge to pre vent fertilizer runoff. For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000 or visit www. keyword search fertilizer. % COUNTY ENCOURAGES RESIDENTS TO SKIP LAWN MAINTENANCE Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 55


The Sarasot a Co u nty She riffs Ofce on May 15 announced the results of Operation Red Flag, a crime reduction initiative designed to enhance the safety of local residents. Using Intelligence to Action (I2A), the agen cys intelligence-led policing model, deputies developed a proactive plan to deter crime in north Sarasota County, particularly near 17th Street and Lockwood Ridge Road north to University Parkway and u nincorporated ar eas to the west, where a number of burglar ies were occurring, the ofce reported. The operation included the arrest of three teenagers, who upon further investigation, were ultimately connected to at least 28 vehi cle burglaries, two auto thefts and two cases involving the fraudulent use of a credit card, the report adds. Those men are Ron Johnson, 17; Tyler Radkey, 19; and Shawn White ld, 19, according to the report. Ron Johnson, Tyler Radkey and Shawn Whiteld were linked to at least 32 crimes in Operation Red Flag, according to the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce. Contributed image 53 ARRESTED IN OPERATION RED FLAG IN NORTH SARASOTA COUNTY CRIME BLOTTER


In all, the results of Operation Red Flag in -cluded the following: 53 arrests. 126 criminal charges (76 felonies and 50 mis -demeanors). 249 trafc citations. Eight notices to appear in court.The 53 people arrested have 418 prior felony charges and 487 misdemeanors on their re -cords, the report continues. Only a quarter of those cases resulted in convictions, and while some of these subjects served jail time, only eight of the 53 people arrested have ever been sentenced to state prison for their crimes, it points out.Our system of intelligence gathering and data analysis gives us the ability to rapidly respond to an increase in reported crimes, said Sheriff Tom Knight in the report.Because crime is transitory in nature, we will continue to use special operations, directed patrols and community-oriented policing to deter or displace high-risk individuals and prolic offenders where and when the need arises to keep the citizens of Sarasota County safe and preserve the quality of life they ex -pect, he added.The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce has ar -rested two Sarasota teenagers for allegedly beating a third teen at Siesta Key Public Beach just after midnight on May 6, the ofce has reported.Witnesses say Devin Roman, 18, of 6051 Mc -Kown Road, Sarasota, and a 15-year-old boy attacked 17-year-old Chance Prater, also of Sarasota, near the Pavilion after Prater tried to intervene when the two threatened to beat up Praters friend, according to the report.Roman and his co-defendant reportedly punched Prater several times and ultimately rendered him unconscious, a news release says. They also allegedly kicked Prater after he was unconscious, according to the report.Prater suffered a broken jaw and hearing loss, the report says. He was transported to Blake Medical Center via Bayight.Witnesses also reported that the 15-year-old suspect ordered them not to assist the victim, the news release adds.TWO ARRESTS MADE IN BEATING AT SIESTA PUBLIC BEACH Devin Roman/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 57


During the investigation, detectives learned that Roman and his co-defendant were at Wal -greens about an hour after the crime and were overheard discussing the attack, the report says. A Walgreens clerk told deputies he heard the younger teen say to Roman, Thanks for doing that for me. Thanks for f---ing that kid up.The 15-year-old had blood on his hands and the two paid with a blood-stained $5 bill, the report notes.The co-de fendants were seen on store sur -veillance, the report continues. Two witnesses who viewed the video positively identied them as the people who struck Prater, the re port adds.Roman and his co-defendant are charged with one count each of misdemeanor Battery. It is the rst arrest for both teens, the report says.Detectives would still like to speak with any-one who has additional information about this case, the news release notes. People are asked to contact Det. Kim McGath at 861-4928.A former wait r es s at Tu rtles Restaurant on Si -esta Key has been charged with voiding cash transactions and pocketing about $800, ac -cording to a Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce report.Melissa T. Finnerty, 19, who was listed as homeless in court records, was arrested by a deputy on May 5 and charged with a felony count of Scheming to Defraud. She was placed under a $20,000 bond, according to the arrest report.The incidents with which Finnerty is charged allegedly occurred over a four-month period, the report says. About 11:45 p.m. on March 11, Turtles manager Kenneth Idsardi came to the Sheriffs Ofce to le a complaint about Finnerty, the report says. He told a detec -tive that during the previous four months he had employed Finnerty at the south Siesta Key restaurant and that he noticed some discrepancies with the number of cash payment voids she had made, the report says. Idsardi explained to the detective that managers have WAITRESS ALLEGEDLY POCKETED MORE THAN $800 AT RESTAURANT Melissa Finnerty/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 58


a pin number they use t o void a transaction, the report notes.On March 3, Idsa rdi said, he left the restaurant about 7:30 p.m. and did not return that eve -ning, but the register printouts showed Fin -nerty had used his pin 18 times to void out cash sales between 7:49 and 8:24 p.m. The sales totaled about $100, the report continues.When Idsardi went through his records, he told the deputy, he noticed a pattern dating back to Jan. 18; the total amount of the voids was about $700, the report adds.F ollo wing Idsardis check of those records, the report notes, the restaurants general man -ager confronted Finnerty, who did not return to work afterward.Finnerty was arrested about 4 p.m. on May 5 near Countrywood Drive, southwest of the intersection of Webber Street and Cattlemen Road, the report notes. She was granted su -pervised pretrial release on bond on May 6, according to records in the 12th Judicial Clerk of Courts Ofce. Her arraignment is sched -uled for May 31. % Purchase a full-page, advertising twelve pack between now and January 31st, 2013 and receive four of these fantastic SNL 16oz Tervis Tumblers. Show your support for e Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida around the house, around the oce, wherever you go with these locally manufactured, high-quality insulated or (941) 227-1080Advertisers must meet all terms and conditions of sale for the 12-pack advertising package. Limit of one set of four tumblers per advertiser. Offer is valid while supplies last. Tervis is a registered trademark of Tervis Tumbler Company. The Sarasota News Leader is not afliated with Tervis Tumbler Company.A Very Special Oer For Advertisers Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. John F. Kennedy Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 59


Planned Parenthood Of Southwest And Central Florida941-953-4060


COUNTY COMMISSION SHOULD DITCH LOW TAX POSTURING EDITORIAL OPINION EDITORIAL In 2007, the effects of the Great Recession lowered the boom on local real estate values. Silent phones and empty streets replaced the bidding wars that had broken out in the front yards of houses for sale. Sky-high property values went into a free fall. Banks, which had relentlessly marketed mort gages to anyone and everyone who would sit through a pitch, suddenly fo und them selves with loan port folios that far exceed ed the market values of the properties that secured those loans. Even more than the Realtors an d tourism ofcials, banks were the p rincipal proselytes of the never-ending upward spiral of real es tate values and the unthinkable was hap pening. As market values fell, pressure built on the Sarasota County property appraiser to low er taxable values commensurately. While the Save Our Homes exemption which limited increases in taxable value to the lesser of in ation or 3 percent had spared permanent reside nts much of the burden of the boom in values, part-time res idents and commer cial property owners began shouldering an increasingly heavy burde n. To simply dismiss out of hand the idea of offsetting a 40 percent decline in assessed property values by increasing the tax rate is a failure to properly serve the citizens of the county.


The property appraiser resisted initially, knowing what a wholesale reduction in values would do to local government budgets. When he nally started slashing values, it was too late: He was ousted in the next election. For the past six years, property tax values have continued to fall in Sarasota County. In 2007, they peaked at $86 billion. By 2012, those values had plummeted to slightly more than $51 billion, a decline of 40 percent. And the effect on local governments was no dif ferent. Sarasota County, for example, saw a comparable decline in property tax revenue during that period. The County Commission has strived to main tain most services during those years, but it has been relying on its reserve fund to avoid draconian cuts in those services. Tax increas es have largely been ignored as a counter to the drop in property values. And there is the rub. Whatever one might say about the effects of the Great Recession, those most impacted were at the lower echelons of the economy. The well-off generally have been affected by low interest rates on demand deposits and de bentures, or an inability to recoup an invest ment in the event that a property was sold. When all has been said and done, county prop erty owners actually received a gift from the property appraiser in collaboration with the County Commission in the form of a 40 percent cut in ad valorem taxes. As the economies for the State of Florida and Sarasota County have been more clearly mov ing along the road to recovery, there has been a strange reluctance by the County Commis sion to translate that recovery into meaningful support for county government and the essen tial programs and services it provides. Too often during the past six years, the au tomatic response to any suggestion that tax rates should be adjusted upward has been similar to Commissioner Joe Barbettas state ment at an April 30 budget workshop: From my perspective, [tax increases] are off the ta ble. Perhaps that is the curse of having an all-Re publican County Commission: No one wants to even have a conversation about increas ing tax rates to offset the dramatic decline in property values since 2007. It is as if the 40 percent tax cut county residents have enjoyed was a present from the economic gods, and the commissioners are powerless to take any of it back in the form of higher millage rates. However, as Barbetta also is fond of saying, commissioners are elected to make the hard decisions. That should not mean deciding only what programs and services to cut in a time when declining property values have reduced ad valorem revenue. It also shoul d mean mak Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 62


ing up some o f that decline by an upward ad justment of the millage rate, so less strain is placed on the county budget and less reliance is put on the reserve fund. To simply dismiss out of hand the idea of offsetting a 40 percent decline in assessed property values by increasing the tax rate is a failure to properly serve the citizens of the county. Their party ideological dogma aside, commissioners are not elected just to preside over the shrinking of county government. They are put into ofce to preside over the efcient but effective functioning of that gov ernment. They lost a large chunk of annual operating revenue because of the collapse of the real estate market. But their inaction in responding to that loss has been, to put it del icately, inadequate. A rational and mature conversation by the county commissioners on offsetting some or all of the property value decline by increasing taxes could have led to a realistic assessment of the impact of the decline on county resi dents. Perhaps the vast majority of residents have needed that decline to weather the eco nomic storms. Or perhaps a 20 percent re duction in taxes would have sufced. No one knows, because no one in a position of au thority had the courage to even explore the situation. Th e time to put a n end to that head-in-thesand mentality is now. The real estate market is recovering, and with it, the local and state economies. Reduced property values will not recover as quickly because, in the case of per manent residents, increases are limited by the Save Our Homes exemption. The county is confronting a shortfall in revenue of more than $82 million compared to what it had in the 2007 scal year. Even a small adjustment in the millage rate would ameliorate some of the pressure to triage the funding of programs and infrastructure. A reasonable adjustment would give the county much needed income while still leaving county taxpayers with a signicant reduction in their property taxes compared to what they paid six years ago. Barbetta is wrong: The matter of increasing property tax rates is not off the table. If the county commissioners are to do the job they were elected to do, tax rates should be care fully reviewed and adjusted accordingly. Af ter all, the ve commissioners were elected to make the hard decisions. It is about time they did exactly that and ensured that coun ty government, with the essential programs and services citizens depend upon, is properly funded. % The Sarasota News Leader No Nonsense Reporting Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 63


COMMENTARY Among other things, Taoism instructs us that creatures of the natural world move in perfect harmony with the Tao, or path of belief, and the greater universe. Taoism also teaches us the virtues of wu wei, or do -ing nothing, in order to prevent disruption of the perfect universal harmony of the Tao.Foreign policy has been an especially fertile eld for the Obama Administration to culti -vate the art of doing nothing. A prominent ex -ample is the administrations blanket ction hung over the murders in Benghazi, a blanket that is now rapidly unraveling.On the night of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, mem-bers of Ansar al-Sharia a known terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida, attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Ste -vens and three other American ofcials were killed during the attack. Other Americans were injured. Information on the attacks was immediate -ly demanded. Accordingly, talking points on the incident were drafted for ofcials brieng members of Congress, the news media and the public. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that the talking points had been drafted by the CIA and other U.S. intelli -gence agencies and that they represented the best analysis by the intelligence community of what had happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.What Carney failed to disclose, however, was that between Friday, Sept. 14, and Saturday, Sept. 15, the talking points had undergone as many as 12 separate revisions by the White House and the State Department before they were released for use.The CIAs Ofce of Terrorism Analysis orig inally wrote that, based on electronic inter -cepts and reliable eyewitness reporting, the attack had been planned and carried out by Ansar al-Sharia and other terrorist groups allied with al-Qaida. The revised document, however, fraudulently shifted responsibility for the attack from Ansar al-Sharia to a mob reportedly incited to violence by a crudely made anti-Islamic lm posted on YouTube.On Sunday, Sept. 15, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who had no direct knowledge of the incident, went on ve different national television news shows to claim that the Benghazi attack was not pre -meditated by terrorists. Appearing on ABCs This Week Rice said that our current best THE TAO OF BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA By David Staats Contributing Writer COMMENTARY Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 64


assessment, based o n the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous not a pre -meditated response to what had transpired in Cairo, where a mob stormed the U.S. em -bassy, breached the walls and tore down the American ag. The cause of the Cairo violence actually was the YouTube video. One size ts all.Libyan President Muhammad Yusuf al-Magari -af wasted no time disassociating himself from Rices bogus comments. The attack on the consulate, he said to CBS News, was planned, denitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival. The Obama Administration could not muzzle the Libyan president, but it could express its great displeasure in practical ways to U.S. of -cials unwilling to support the ofcial ction.In May 2013, whistleblower Gregory Hicks, a uent Arabic speaker who served as the dep -uty chief of mission under Ambassador Ste -vens and the number two U.S. diplomat in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 testied before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Re -form Committee that his public questioning of Rices characterization of the attack as a spontaneous act by Libyans upset with the YouTube video had earned him an effective demotion after receiving a negative tness report. Earlier he had received written com -mendations fro m Pre sident Obama, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and other senior ofcials for his handling of the post-at -tack situation in Libya.State Department ofcers who are not pro moted after a certain number of review cy cles are retired: up or out. Hicks, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, has been reassigned as a Foreign Affairs ofcer: a desk ofcer who will not serve abroad again.Testifying before Congress in January 2013, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that whether the deadly attack was provoked by a lm or by hardened terrorists was completely irrelevant. What difference, at this point, does it make? she said, adding, It is our job to g -ure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again. Improving security at the facility would have been a good start. In October 2012, State De -partment security ofcials and military of -cers testied before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the deaf ears in Washington on which their ur -gent pleas for additional security personnel ultimately had fallen. Eric Nordstrom, the State Departments RSO (Regional Security Officer) for Libya, de scribed the worsening security situation in eastern Libya. He said that the takeaway for me and my staff was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an i ncident. Nordstrom added, Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 65


And the question that we would ask is: How thin does the ice have to get before someone falls through?Congressional Democrats saw the testimony as a partisan attack. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-SC), the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Commit -tee, denounced the committees hearings as politically biased. The hearings aim, he said, was to hurt Hillary Clintons chances of run -ning for president in 2016. The State Department withheld the requested security enhancements because it wished to maintain the level of diplomatic security in Libya at an articially low level, according to internal State Department memoranda, as reported by The Hill on Oct. 10, 2012.This type of reasoning is known as false cause fallacy: Only U.S. diplomatic posts exposed to a high level of terrorist threat receive securi -ty enhancements. If U.S. diplomatic posts in Libya do not receive security enhancements, then they are not exposed to a high level of terrorist threat.In the unclassied version of its report the Department of States Accountability Review Board, in part, concluded that the attack was not carried out by protesters, as Ambassador Rice had insisted; the Special Mission securi ty posture in Benghazi was inadequate as the result of systemic failures created by two bu -reaus of the Department of State, as well as by U.S. Embassy Tripoli; th e Libyan Govern -ments response to th e attack was profoundly lacking; U.S. intelligence agencies provided no tactical warning of the impending attack; and no individual U.S. ofcial could be held personally responsible for the consequences of the attack. In the wake of Sept. 11, 2012, President Obama focused his attention on re-election, not on the murders in Benghazi. The latter would have required him to take action. Even the Tao requires something from each of us: Philosophers contemplate; leaders lead.From his point of view, doing nothing was the expedient path. It was the path of his Tao; the murders were just an unfortunate and unpre -dictable hit-and-run accident, an unhappy event along the path back to the White House. Honest Muslims, his U.N. ambassador coun -seled, were provoked beyond the limit of all reasonable endurance by a vile hate lm (that no one in Libya had ever seen) and they gave full vent to their anger.And after all, as White House Press Secretary Jim Carney said on May 1, 2013, Benghazi happened a long time ago. The president did nothing again. Irans pursuit of a nuclear weapon and Syrias use of chemical weapons against its civilian population stirred him to do nothing. He did win re-election. Good for him. It is doubtful, however, that the record of his performance in the eld of foreign relations will appear even as a footnote in the next edition of Proles in Courage. % Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 66


with the city liable for $15.4 million of the to tal. City voters: Please ask your sitting commis sioners to urgently nd a way to put this deal on ice! And to the staff of Benderson Development Co.: Please renounce this deal immediately, so that the monstrous prospect of even-worse trafc jams at this critical intersection cant materialize. Otherwise, future trafc gridlock ensnaring residents and workday commuters might deservedly be blamed on you. Jason Boehk Sarasota LETTERS TO THE EDITOR To the Edi to r: Im still trying to wrap my mind around the City of Sarasotas proposed sale of 11 acres of city land at the busy Fruitville/Beneva in tersection to Benderson Development Co. for less than the lands appraised value. According to reports, the property was never offered for sale publicly, was never the sub ject of a request for proposals and the negoti ations between city staff and Benderson were essentially done in secret over the course of two years. Whose back-room deal was this? And why did Commissioners Terry Turner, Paul Cara giulo and Suzanne Atwell vote for it? Currently, the land is a useful, tree-scaped open space. Bendersons plan may necessitate building a huge concrete box culvert over the Phillippi Creek drainage system, which bi sects the property. A recent trafc study said that the busy inter section is failing even without the proposed development. The study concluded that the land sale to Benderson would require more than $17 million in roadway improvements, CITY SHOULD STOP DEAL WITH BENDERSON DEVELOPMENT 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. Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 67




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This weeks Harvey Milk Festival might sound like any other arts and culture get-together. The event started with a lm screening Thurs day, rolls on with an art show Friday and con cludes with stacked music lineup Saturday. But that doesnt quite tell the whole story. The festival, now in its fourth year, honors the life and work of its namesake, Harvey Milk, the rst openly gay man elected to public ofce in California. In doing so, it is trying to force a new generation to stand up to support mar riage equality and shout down intolerance. This is a call to action, says festival Presi dent Shannon Fortner. This is the movement thats happening right now. Even as state af ter state approves marriage equality, LGBT friends and allies cant grow complacent. We cant rely on, Well, so-and-sos got it, Fortner points out. It should be everyone coming to gether and saying, We got this. One art installation Saturday will give festival attendees that opportunity. Fortner calls it the soapbox project. Participants will watch and listen to classic Milk speeches, then connect with their inner activist and step onto a literal soapbox to speak their minds. The results will be videotaped and compiled later. The festival also wants supporters to contact Congress. As Washington starts negotiating the details of comprehensiv e immigration re The Harvey Milk Festival website encourages people to follow the event on Twitter. Image courtesy THE HARVEY MILK FESTIVAL WANTS TO CONNECT YOU WITH YOUR INNER ACTIVIST NOT THE USUAL CULTURAL EVENT By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor


form, the festival is urging folks to press elect ed ofcials to include protections for LGBT relationships in any law passed. The issue is an under-reported one, and it directly affects Fortner, whose wife lives in the U.K. and can only stay in the States for 90 days at a time. Right now, all the money generated by the festival which has broken even each year is plowed back into the free event, but, having won 501(c)(3) status last year, the all-volunteer festival board wants to expand its involvement with other local nonprots. The organization won $5,000 from Visit Sara sota County, and it has teamed up with groups such as ALSO Out Youth and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Fortner oats the idea of an LGBT scholarship program as one possible future endeavor. We keep trying to grow, says Fortner. In deed what was once a gathering in a vacant lot in the Rosemary District has moved up in the world, to Five Points Park, with the lm screening held at Burns Court Cinema and the art show at MillerBrady Fine Art. Fortner adds that the festival will always keep evolving. Saturdays music bonanza remains the corner stone of the event, with nine acts scheduled to perform. Some are local (such as the band Fortner fronts, MeteorEYES), some are from the Tampa area and some are from as far away as Brooklyn and Tennessee. The show kicks off at 4 p.m. and runs till midnight. In between acts, guest speakers will step on-stage, and there will be a candlelight vigil in honor of Milk at 8:30 p.m. Fortner says that moment is Harvey Milk Festival President Shannon Fortner with the band she fronts, MeteorEYES. Photo cour tesy of Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 71


intended a s a reminder that yes, were here to have fun, but theres a bigger purpose, too. One of the festivals big needs going forward? Year-round leadership. The small board has built a thriving annual event, but Fortner wants more people involved. Her big message to attendees this year: We need your help. Shes here to recruit you. The Harvey Milk Festival runs through Sat urday: 7-11 p.m. Friday, May 17: Beyond Bully ing art show, MillerBrady Fine Art, 614 Florida Ave., Sarasota; free. 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday, May 18: Mu sic festival, Five Points Park, North Pine apple Avenue and First Street, Sarasota; free. Visit for all the details. % The poster (above) and festival website spotlight other musical acts that will perform on May 18. Image courtesy Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 72


ASK OTUS Dear Otus, I am eager to have you w eigh in on whether something I heard many years ago is fact or ction: Is it true that Egrets hang out with cat tle to eat bugs off the backs of the bovines? I have noticed quite a few Egrets in pastures with cattle during my outings in the eastern part of our county in recent weeks. Of course, when I nally remembered to take the good camera with me, this Egret refused to pose onc e I had exite d my car to get a better shot. Thus, I am left with just this picture and its intrusion of the barbed-wire fencing. I am very eager to hear your response. And thank you for the lovely Hawk photos with your May 10 column. As you know, I have quite an affection for those creatures. Very kindly yours, Ale xis THE STORY OF CATTLE EGRETS IS MORE COMPLEX THAN THEIR COMMON APPEARANCE WITH BOVINES MIGHT SUGGEST A Cattle Egret sits on a cow in a Singletary Road pasture. Contributed photo 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.


Dear Alexis, Thank you for remembering to take the good camera and getting this delightfully iconic photo of the Cattle Egret on its traditional perch. John James Audubon noted the curious rela tionship between this bird and our American Buffalo in his Ornithological Biography or, An account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America He wrote the fol lowing: My astonishment upon rst witnessing this herd of American bison engulfed in a glowing white halo of these birds was only surpassed by my amazement while observing their bold, eet, uttering forays into the stampeding bi sons trail of dust as these birds rapacious ly devoured ies of all nature and species as well as crickets, grasshoppers and all insects dwelling on the Plains. Well, actually, I wrote that. You see, Audubon never encountered these birds. He died in 1851. Th e Cattle Egret only introduced itself to the continental United States in 1941. By 1953, this gregarious bird, which nests in col onies and gets along very well with our Her on and Egret populations, had established its presence to the point where within 50 years it had become one of the most abundant and common of all the Herons in the Americas. Its U.S. range is from Florida through Alaska. Does the Cattle Egret mingle among the cattle to eat insects off bovine backs? The answer is Yes and No. The Cattle Egret ( Bubulcus ibis ), which is actually a species of Heron ( Ardeidae family), rests on a supine bovine and snacks on ies, ticks and eas. Its truly satisfying meals are eaten while it follows in the wake of large animals and farming ma chinery. Threshers, tractors, horses and cattle stir up the insects in the grasses, and the Cat tle Egret takes advantage of the tiny creatures ight from danger. Around here, the supine bovine is a safe perch for the bird during its afternoon siesta An Indian Pond-Heron perched on the nose of a water buffalo. Photo courtesy of Rick Greenspun Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 74


In its native Africa and I ndia, the swarms of ies that plague livestock and other grazing beasts can be so incredibly thick around the animals that the birds do feast and gorge themselves while perched on the beasts. Once again, Rick Greenspun has kindly pro vided us with a superb iconic photo, this one taken during a birding trip to Sri Lanka. He explains to us that The poor water buffalo would submerge themselves down to their nostrils to escape the swarms of ies. Since there were no bushes around to perch on, the Indian Pond-Herons would avail themselves of the best spot around and in return, keep the ies off their noses. An unintended but mutual symbiosis. An opportunistic eater as most bird species are The Cattle Egret occasionally ad ds birds to its diet, the Cornell Lab of Ornithol ogy writes. At Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tor tugas off the coast of Florida, migrating Cattle Egrets land on the large green lawn inside the fort, probably hoping for some nice grasshop pers. Because no insects are there to be had, the egrets try to catch the migrating warblers that also have stopped on the tiny island. In other words, they are not fussy eaters, and that is why people will often spot them in less pastoral settings such as around dumpsters, parks, sports elds and even in Siesta Key Vil lage, where I saw one perched on the roof of a car. Not nding many ticks on this particular vehicle model, this Cattle Egret ew off, pre sumably to forage ies in the dusty wake of a passing car or to check out a dumpster. File photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 75


File photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 76


File photo I am including two photos of the Cattle Egret in almost full breed ing plumage so you see the birds attractive reddish buff crownand breast-feathers. One thing that de lights me about these birds is their demeanor. Their stance and that look in their eyes always suggest to me such keen concentration as well as an attitude not a queru lous or hostile mien, just a delight fully feisty one! Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 77


Alexis, thank you for your photo and question. And, yes! I certainly remember your and Erics fondness for hawks. As long as were on that subject ... I happen to know of a certain imma ture Red-shouldered Hawk on south Siesta Key that is Free to Good Backyard. Kindly let me know if you are interested! Otus File photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 78


A Red-shouldered Hawk. File photo And speaking of Hawks: Otus has provid ed us with the identities of those Mystery Hawks whose photos he included with his May 10 column. Were you as successful in your research as Otus was? % Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 79


A Coopers Hawk. File photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 80


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


On e of the l east imaginative ways of laying out plants is installing them in a straight line. A rigid row of like cultivars stretched out along a foundation or border is sure to elicit yawns. That is why when I am enhancing a landscape I try to create design displays that combine different colors, textures, sizes and shapes to encourage the viewers eye to roam. Any interesting plan will include what I call ow. I want to take the observer on a little trip lead him to the entryway or along the lines of the homes footprint or into a special corner, where the mind can nd peace and repose. One way to generate interest is through tier planting. By way of musical metaphor, the conductor or choir director will use the tools available musical instruments or voices to evoke a mood or express an idea. Horticul tural tiers need not be arranged formally in straight rows ascending upward one, two, three. Plants can be arranged along curves or staggered to break up linear arrangements and challenge the viewer to look deeper into the design. In the accompanying photo of one of my proj ects, the fth and tallest tier already existed: the palm trees and East Palatka holly. The ob ject was to lead the eye inward and upward, beginning with the small colorful crotons in the foreground. Next, green and yellow, var iegated arb oricola make their appearance. This Florida yard features tier planting. Contributed photo WHY NOT TRY TIER PLANTING? IMAGINATIVE GARDENING By Rick Wielgorecki Contributing Writer


Deeper inward, R ed Sister ti plants and snow bush interject their bright, blush tones. They give way to the taller variegated ginger and thryallis. Finally, the eye is led up to the de sign climax: the graceful palms and the large lush holly. Next time you are planning a project, try to depart from linear planting and employ a vari ety of colors and forms. If you do, your garden will play and sing the songs of spring! PLANT OF THE MONTH A couple of autumns ago, I began to plant im patiens as I have for years to give my clients a blast of cool season color. By early February 2012, most of them had succumbed to a dev astating outbreak of powdery mildew. That disappointment led me to conduct a high ly unscientic experiment to see if I could nd another annual that I m ight use as a substitute for the i mpatiens. I bought eight cool season annuals that I had never before planted as a trial to see how they would fare. The results, I must admit, were not encouraging. Slowly each of my choices descended from green house beautiful into a swoon all except one, that is: Mona Lavender. Whether you utilize it as a subject for a pot, hanging basket or bedding plant Plectranthus can maintain its deep green foliage and bright, spiked purple owers through the cool of win ter and the hot moist summer of central Flor ida. This South African hybrid will grow into an attractive, compact shrub 2 feet in height and breadth. It also plays nicely with my cobalt blue birdbath, red geraniums and purple snap dragons. Contact Rick Wielgorecki at 362-0600 or wielgo@hotmail. com % Mona lavender maintains its good looks in both cool and hot weather. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 83


SIESTA SEEN At the req uest of the Siesta Key Village As sociation (SKVA), Sarasota County staff will hold a workshop at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, to educate business owners and managers about the specics of the Siesta Key Overlay District, the county zoning code that applies to the Village. The session, which will be informational and educational only, SKVA members stress, will be held in the Parish Hall at St. Boniface Epis copal Church, 5615 Midnight Pass Road on Si esta Key. Kay Kouvatsos, the new SKVA vice president, explained at the May 7 SKVA meeting that VILLAGE BUSINESSES INVITED TO A CODE ENFORCEMENT INFORMATIONAL MEETING ON MAY 21; NOISE ISSUES REMAIN A SEPARATE FOCUS By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor Siesta Keys primary Code Enforcement ofcer says he rarely receives complaints about music at The Beach Club, because bands play indoors there. Photo by Norman Schimmel


Jane Grogg, mana ger of Sarasota Countys Neighborhood Services ofce, will facilitate the discussion. Among other county staff members who will be present will be Donna Thompson, the as sistant zoning administrator; Sandra Jones, manager of the Code Enforcement depart ment; and Code Enforcement Ofcers John Lally and Kevin Burns. It has been a long time since such a discus sion has been held, Kouvatsos added. It will be designed to help new business owners in the Village learn what is and is not allowed, and it will refresh the memories of owners and managers who have been working in the Village for some time, Kouvatsos pointed out. Siesta Key businesses are governed by a set of regulations that in some ways [differ] from the general Sarasota County Code, says a yer about the meeting that was distributed to businesses. The yer notes the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) was established in 2001, after years of workshops with public and county input. It was updated in 2008 and 2011. SKVA ofcers and board members have been working since February to organize the meet ing. The yer adds, We feel this is an ideal way to inform everyone concerned [about] the guide lines of our Zoning Code. A question-and-answer period will be conduct ed after the presentation of information about the code, the yer continues. By educating ourselves, w e are hoping that enforcement in the future by John Lally will be effortless and well understood. Lally, the long-time Code Enforcement ofcer in the Village, was out on medical leave for the rst three months of this year. Members of both the Siesta Key Association and the SKVA welcomed him back at their regular meetings early this month. These county workshops have worked well for us, outgoing SKVA President Russell Mat thes told members on May 7. The focus, he emphasized, will be little things, such as when garbage is picked up in the Village and the fact that vendors should make every effort not to park in front of businesses when they make deliveries. Its not going to be an open complaint ses sion, Kouvatsos added. The goal is to help business people understand you cant be do ing things that make [the Village] look like the Jersey Shore. THE NOISE Although the countys noise ordinance will not be addressed at the May 21 meeting, Matthes pointed out on May 7 that it has been on the SKVAs monthly agenda ever since I can re member and I think it always will be. John Lally who was present for the meeting, said county staff members have begun holding neighborhood workshops on the noise ordi nance as planned after the County Commis sion voted on Sept. 25, 201 2 to extend the sun Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 85


set of the o rdinance until Nov. 18. A big part of the reasoning behind that vote was to allow plenty of opportunity for public comments on whether the ordinance should be modied. As he had told the Siesta Key Association members on May 2, Lally reported to the SKVA that neighborhood association workshops al ready have been held in Gulf Gate and Engle wood. Based on comments at those meetings, the attendees saw no need for changes in the ordinance, Lally added. However, regarding Siesta Village, Lally said, The noise level needs to be the same for ev ery business; one set of standards. Whenever a new Sarasota County Sheriffs deputy is assigned to Siesta Key, Lally told both the SKA and SKVA members, it is very difcult for the deputy to get a quick handle on what businesses have which special excep tions. The latter need to be addressed, and Im not getting a lot of help in getting that tak en care of, he told the SKA members on May 2, so Ill leave that to you. Were working on it, John, SKA President Catherine Luckner responded. One reason noise is such a big issue in the Vil lage, Lally told the SKA members, is because so many of the restaurants and bars are open, allowing the sound to travel. Very few complaints come in about The Beach Club or the Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar, he pointed out, because both those establishments are enclosed. During the SKVA meeting, Lally said he had been talking with Peter van Roekens, the SKA secretary and a Terrace East condominium complex representative at the SKVA meetings, about whether the SKOD should have a noise ordinance all its own. PAYING THE BILLS Although Sarasota County has a new Procure ment Code in effect as of this spring, appar ently some issues remain to be resolved with the Procurement Department itself. That is the assessment of Mark Smith, past president of the Siesta Key Chamber of Com merce. During the May 7 SKVA meeting, Smith brought up a situation he has been trying to remedy regarding Championship Landscape Maintenance Professionals of Fort Myers, which handle s the maintenance in the Village. Mark Smith. File photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 86


Smith told the SKV A members, There are de lays in Championship getting their money. Procurement in Sarasota County is still an ad venture. If youre a vendor, it can take two or three months to get paid. Fortunately, he added, Championships been real troopers. They havent delayed any thing because of [slow] payments. Moreover, he said, I think theyre almost caught up with payments. However, Smith pointed out, he has not been asking the rm to undertake extra work until the situation with the bills is a thing of the past. For example: Thats why the dumpster in the [municipal] parking lot doesnt have a fence around it yet, Smith told the SKVA members. Championship won the Village maintenance contract in August 2012. When Matthes asked him whether he thought Championship would bid again on the con tract, Smith replied, I will tell you theyre not interested in pursuing any other county work beyond the Village upkeep. Theyre doing an amazing job, Kouvatsos said. Plans call for putting a fence around the dumpster in the municipal parking lot in Siesta Village. File photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 87


Smith told me later on May 7 that it made no sense to him why one Championship invoice might be paid promptly, then all of a sudden, theres a backup and a problem. ROAD ADOPTERS WELCOME An Adopt-A-Road pickup for Siesta Key will on held on Saturday, June 1, sponsored by the SKA and SKVA, Michael Shay, organizer of the effort, has announced. Shay is vice president of the SKA. Anyone interested in participating is welcome to come to Village Caf on Ocean Boulevard at 8 a.m that day for a free breakfast provided by co-owners Tom and Kay Kouvatsos, Shay pointed out, adding that heavy tipping is en couraged for the wait staff. The trash pickup will start at 9 a.m., cover ing Ocean Boulevard as well as Higel Avenue and Siesta Drive up to the north Siesta Bridge. SKA members will work up to the humpback bridge, and Bay Island Association members will take care of the rest of the stretch to the north Bridge. As usual grabbers, gloves and trash bags will be provided, Sh ay reports. Village Caf will serve a free breakfast to all volunteers in the June 1 Adopt-A-Road cleanup on the key. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 88


A HAND IN H ELPING THE C HAMBER The Sies ta Key Chamber of Commerce has announced its Second Annual Poker Tourna ment will be held in partnership with the Sara sota Kennel Club at 7 p.m. on June 6. Proceeds will benet both Siesta Keys July Fourth reworks celebration and the Cham ber. Prior to the tournament, dinner and beverages will be offered between 6 and 7 p.m. Pre-register to receive complimentary beer, soft drinks and a dinner buffet with two en tree choices, app etizers, salad and dessert, a news relea se notes. The to urnament will be held in the Sarasota Kennel Clubs One Eyed Jacks Poker Room located at 5400 Bradenton Road, Sarasota. The cost of the buy-in is $70, with $10 for a one-time add-on and an extra $70 for a rebuy, which will be available during the rst hour of the tournament. Payouts will go to the top six players, the re lease says. The winner will receive $2,000 if the event is sold out. For more information, contact the Chamber by phone at 34 9-3800 or by email. % Gene Burgess and Melonie Burgess, licensed acupuncture physicians Serving Sarasota since 2008 Treatment rates are on a sliding scale, from $15-$35; new patients pay a onetime additional fee of $10 AFFORDABLE ACUPUNCTURE FOR EVERYONE 3615 Webber St Sarasota, FL 34232 (941) 922-4611 Open Tuesday through Saturday Our Mission To provide our community with high quality and affordable acupuncture and herbal medicine and to create a treatment space that connects people and builds community. Click for larger map and driving directions Click To Schedule An Appointment Online MENTION THIS AD TO RECEIVE $5 OFF THE NEW PATIENT FEE Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 89


The Sarasota High School Girls Chorale re ceived the highest rating, Superior in all categories in which it competed in the Flor ida Vocal Association State Concert Perfor mance Assessment April 25, the Sarasota County Schools has announced. The full SHS Singing Sailors Chamber Choir received one Superior and two Excellent ratings during the event, which was held at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, a news release says. Music professors from Florida State Univer sity, University of Central Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Caro lina, Southeastern University and Seminole State College judged the performances, the release adds. The Singing Sailors has a rich tradition in the history of Sarasota High School, said Choral Director Kirby Sanders in the re lease. The Chamber Choir is the highest level of Singing Sailors; students must audi tion to be considered for this honor. Were very proud of their performances in Lake land. In the competition, the Girls Chorale per formed Ill Give My Love an Apple by Eleanor Daley, Weep No More by David Dickau and This Little Babe by Benjamin Britten, the release notes. The full Cham ber Choir sang Innisfree by Gerald Custer, Prayer of the Children by Kurt Bestor and Tambourines (from Harlem Songs ) by Gwyneth Walker. Cutline: The Sarasota High School Chamber Choir celebrates high marks at a state assessment per formance. Contributed photo SARASOTA HIGH CHAMBER CHOIRS RECEIVE SUPERIOR RANKINGS A&E BRIEFS


On Friday, May 17, internationally acclaimed artists will entertain the public on the Her mitage Artist Retreat beach with behind-thescenes stories from some of the worlds most well known venues for orchestras, operas and other performing arts experiences. Visual artist and set designer Anne Patter son; conductor, composer and director Rob ert Spano; and English composer Julian Grant will present insider information about color ful experiences they have had and share their music on the beach in front of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, the Hermitage has announced. The program will begin at 6 p.m. with tours of the historic Hermitage House and an open studio with Patterson. At 7 p.m., the beach entertainmen t will begin. The grand nale will be Mother Natures sunset at 8:15, a news release says. The event is free; visitors are encouraged to bring their beach chairs and refreshments, the release adds. Our beach readings have become popular events that draw from all around our region, Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director for the Hermitage Artist Retreat, says in the release. Spano is the music director of the Atlanta Symphony and the Aspen Music Festival and School. He is also a Fellow of the Aspen In stitute as part of the Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Program. He has appeared with some of the greatest orchestras in the world and has been called one of the brightest and HERMITAGE ARTISTS TO PRESENT INSIDER STORIES AT SUNSET Anne Patterson/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 91


most imaginative conductors of his genera tion, the release notes. Patterson is an artist who works with Amer icas great orchestras and operas, the release continues. She hears color and sees sound. She explains that this gift, the synthesis of the visual and the auditory, allows for a per sonal connection as her paintings and design immerse the audiences senses, the release adds. Its no wonder her work is in demand by some of the most important directors, play wrights, conductors and composers working in America today. Grant specializes in writing for musical the atre and opera in the United Kingdom. He has produced compositions for BBC2s Culture Robert Spano/Contributed photo Show the English National Opera, Almeida Opera, Mecklenburgh Opera and the Royal Opera House Garden. Additionally, he has won the Opera Association of Americas bien nial chamber opera competition and has been nominated for an Olivier Award, the release says. The Hermitage is a not-for-prot artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Engle wood, the release points out. It brings ac complished painters, sculptors, writers, play wrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for extended stays on its 8.5-acre campus. For more information, call 475-2098 or visit the website at www.Her mitageArtis Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 92


Sarasota Opera has announced that its 20132014 fall and winter programming will include the return of some of the its most acclaimed productions as well as the Sarasota Opera pre miere of Verdis Jrusalem This will be a season of celebration, says Richard Russell, executive director, in a news release. Not only will Sarasota Opera be marking the companys 55 th consecutive sea son, we will be commemorating the anniver saries of the birth of three of operas most sig nicant composers through our programming: Wagner, Britten, and, of course, Verdi. The following operas have been scheduled: Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr. will open on Nov. 1. As the plot unfolds, an elab orate sch eme is hatched to expose the wom anizing ways of the wealthy Eisenstein as he attempts to enjoy a night of frivolity at an elab orate Viennese ball before going to jail. Hid den identities and amorous intrigues mixed with a splash of mistaken identity make for a night of unwieldy delight in this charming story where champagne reigns as king, the release notes Baritone Sean Anderson ( Of Mice and Men Otello ) will return to reprise the role of the scheming Eisenstein. Soprano Danielle Walk er ( A King for a Day Carmen ) will sing the role of his wife, Rosalinda. Rounding out the cast will be soprano Angela Mortellaro. This production will be sung in English with trans lation by Marcie Stapp. SARASOTA OPERA ANNOUNCES ITS 2013-14 SEASON Performers with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh present a scene from Die Fledermaus in 2006. Sarasota Opera will perform its version of the opera during the 2013-14 season. Photo by OperaVic toria via Wikimedia Commons Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 93


Little Sw eep by Benjamin Britten will be presented Nov. 9-10 by the Sarasota Youth Op era. In this story, A group of children, with the help of a kind nursery maid, work to free a young chimney sweep apprentice from his cruel master, the release continues. The adult roles will be performed by members of the Sarasota Opera Apprentice Program, the re lease notes. Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi will open the Winter Opera Festival on Feb. 8, 2014. Not seen in Sarasota since 1993, Il trovatore tells the story of a troubadours quest for love, a soldiers lust and a daughters undying thirst for vengeance, the release notes. It features operatic favorites such as the Anvil Chorus and Di quella pira Two rising stars of the opera world will make their Sarasota Opera debut in this production: Baritone David Pershall, who joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera this past season, will portray Count di Luna, the jealous com mander of the Aragon troops. Mezzo-soprano Margaret Mezzacappa, who was the Grand Prize winner at the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition, will sing the role of the vengeful Azucena, the release points out. The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini will open on Feb. 15. Determined to win the heart of the beautiful Rosina with charm and wit, rather than money, Count Almaviva en lists the help of Figaro, the barber of Seville, to steal her away from her guardian, Dr. Bar tolo, the release continues. Baritone Marco Nistic, who sang the title role in las t seaso ns production of Rigoletto which was followed by his performances of Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera will sing the role of Figaro. Bass Young Bok Kim, who was heard last season as both Sparafucile in Rigoletto and Timur in Turandot will reprise his role of Basilio. The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner will open on March 1, 2014. It tells the tale of a cursed sea captain forced to wander the world, ultimately nding redemption in the seless gift of a womans love. The unbridled weight and force of Wagners work will en thrall audiences as they voyage through this mystical world, the release says. Three members of last seasons critically acclaimed production of Carlisle Floyds Of Mice and Men will return for this opera: tenor Michael Hendrick, who performed the role of Lennie, has been cast as the huntsman Erik; tenor Jon Jurgens, who sang the role of Cur ley, will be the Steersman; and maestro David Neely, a specialist of the German repertoire, will conduct the opera, the release continues. Jrusalem by Giuseppe Verdi will open on March 8, 2014. It is an epic tale of warriors, family rivalry and jealousy that evolves into a story of forgiveness. Based on [Verdis] earlier opera, I Lombardi alla prima crociata [it] abounds with rousing choruses, beautiful en sembles and exciting arias, the release notes. This new production of Jrusalem will mark the 30 th operatic installment of the Verdi Cycle at Sarasota Opera. The four winter productions will run in rota tion from Feb. 8 through March 23, 2014, the release points out. Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 94


Extending this seasons hot streak of produc tions that make bold artistic statements, Asolo Repertory Theatre is thrilled to present Noah Raceys Pulse the theatre has announced. A song and dance celebration that harkens back to the golden age of hoong, Pulse is written, conceived and choreographed by Broadway song and dance man Noah Racey in collaboration with Broadway director and two-time Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun, a news release notes. Pulse opens on Thurs day, May 23, with an 8 p.m. curtain. Opening night will be preceded by two preview perfor mances on Tuesday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. and May 22 at 8 p.m., the release notes. The show will run through June 16 in Asolo Reps Mertz Theatre, located in The Florida State Universi ty Center for the Performing Arts at 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. I believe that Pulse is one of the most electri fying projects to ever appear on the American musical stage, and everyone at this theatre is so incredibly excited to be having its world premiere at Asolo Rep, said Michael Donald Edwards, Asolo Repertory Theatres produc ing artistic director, in the release. Not only is Racey an award-winning Broad way actor, singer and dancer, he also is a di rector, choreographer, musician and song writer, the release points out. His Broadway career was launched in 2001 with a revival of Follies and his work as an associate choreog rapher on Thoroughly Modern Millie led to a ASOLO REP THEATRE TO WELCOME SONG AND DANCE OF PULSE Pulse will open at the Asolo Repertory Theatre on May 23. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 95


Tony Award for choreog rapher Rob Ashford. For 10 years, Racey has served as the resi dent director/choreographer of the critically acclaimed Broadway by the Year series, the release continues. All the people in the world understand the universal language of song and dance, said Racey in the release. Pulse explores a wide range of dance styles in American culture, using rhythm as a common denominator, he adds. It m elds classic hoong and Broad way-style vocals with a modern approach to the presentation of song and dance. The result is an entirely new style of performance. Tickets for all performances range from $20 to $72. They may be purchased at the Asolo Rep ertory Theatre box ofce in person or by call ing 351-8000. Tickets can also be purchased online at The Sarasot a High School Choral Department will present its 2013 Final Bow end-of-theyear concert at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 23, in the school auditorium. The concert will feature a wide variety of mu sic and will showcase the Singing Sailors, the Chamber Choir, the Womens Ch orale and stu SARASOTA HIGH CHORAL DEPARTMENT SETS FINAL BOW CONCERT den t solois ts, a news release notes. The pro gram will co nclude with a salute to the grad uating 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. % 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 17, 2013 Page 96


More than 3 00 Temple Emanu-El members and guest s completed 20 different hands-on community service projects at the synagogues seventh annual Mitzvah Day on April 28. Fullling the meaning of the Hebrew word mitzvah which means commandment but also connotes good deed volunteers of all ages signed up for projects including hosting an art and manicure party for home less families; sorting and packing food; plant ing seeds and picking up litter; wrapping books for needy children; preparing lunches for the homeless; assembling folders for men tors of at-ris k teenagers; aiding animal shel ters; performing at a nursing home; creating cards for soldiers serving overseas; decorat ing cookies for reghters; and knitting and crafting for charitable agencies, a Temple news release says. Mitzvah Day participants also donated food, toiletries, books and clothing for the less for tunate and took part in a blood drive. Fin ally, the Temples Brotherhood held a pizza sale that raised $275 for All Faiths Food Bank, the release adds. Temple Emanu-El children (from left) Emanuela Reich, Juliana Reich and Sasha Drapkin display the cookies they decorated for Sarasota County reghters during Mitzvah Day. Contributed photo MITZVAH DAY DRAWS 300 FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS RELIGION BRIEFS


Temple Emanu-El members Debby Solomon, Alice Cotman and Marion Goldsmith gift-wrapped chil drens books to be presented to disadvantaged elementary school students. Contributed photo Animal Sanctuary staffer Jeanie Keyso in troduced Temple Emanu-El Mitzvah Day Steering Committee member Alla Barwick to a homeless puppy. Contributed photo Local groups benetting from Temple Ema nu-Els Mitzvah Day were the Salvation Army, SPARCC, Community Haven, Suncoast Com munities Blood Bank, Jewish Family & Chil drens Service, A Million Thanks, Cat Depot, Honor Animal Sanctuary, Sarasota County An imal Shelter, Take Stock in Children, Manatee County Schools, Manatee County Department of Children and Families, Sarasota County Fire Department, Mothers Helping Mothers, Anchin Pavilion, Manasota BUDS and All Faiths Food Bank. Temple Emanu-El holds Mitzvah Day every spring. It welcomes suggestions for new com munity service projects and new charitable agencies with whom to partner, the release notes. To make a suggestion or to learn more about Mitzvah Day, call 3 79-1997. Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 98


The students attending The Gan preschool at Temple Sinai recently participated in their an nual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Hop-a-Thon. While it was a fundraising effort, it was also a disability awareness, acceptance and education program for the youngsters, the Temple has announced. Laura Freedman, director of early child hood education, said in a news release, Pre school-age kids learn by doing. The boys and girls of our school learn about hopping for those who cannot hop for themselves. On Wednesday, May 8, all of the students en gaged in this popular event, the release notes. They rotated to different stations, where they hopped like rabbits, frogs and kangaroos. This is the second Mitzvah project of The Gan this school year; the students also annually hold a Trike-a-Thon fundraiser for St. Judes Childrens Hospital, the release says. It is part of the mission of the school to teach youth about doing good deeds in the community and the world at large, the release adds. The Gan at Temple Sinai is the only preschool in the area involved in the MDA program, the release points out. MDA provides a curricu lum that teachers may use to teach the core values of awareness, acceptance and assis tance for people with muscle diseases, it says. For more information about the school, con tact Laura Freedman at 926-9462. % TEMPLE SINAI PRESCHOOL HOLDS MDA HOP-A-THON (From left) Cara Sheyner, Alexander Nir and Ynes Juravin hop through a eld of carrots. Contrib uted photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 99

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(From left) Ana, Kirra, Alex and Tara hop like kangaroos. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 100

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Riley Edbrooke is poised to jump. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader May 17, 2013 Page 101

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17 MAY Spring concert at Riverview High School May 17, 7 p.m., Riverview High School choirs will perform a variety of choral music with a Motown nale in the Performing Arts Center, 1 Ram Way, off Proctor Road, Sarasota. Donation: $5 at the door. 17+ MAY Echoes of Spring Through May 31, at Dabbert Gallery, 76 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, featuring the works of 10 artists. For more information, visit 17+ MAY Landscapes, Mindscapes and Dreamscapes Through July 20, Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art Gallery, 1288 N. Palm Ave. Free admis sion. Information: 366-2454 or 23 MAY Disneys Beauty and the Beast Junior May 23, 6:30 p.m., 70 students at Ashton Elementary School in Sarasota will perform the childrens version of the Broadway musical; free admission. School located at 5110 Ashton Road. 23+ MAY Noah Raceys Pulse May 23, 8 p.m. (and various times through June 16), FSU Performing Arts Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail. Tickets: $20 to $72 Information: 351-8000 or 29+ MAY Florida Studio Theatre presents The World Goes Round May 29 to June 23 (times vary), Gompertz Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Tickets: $18 to $42 Information: 366-9000 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 LIKE A HERON CAUGHT IN HEADLIGHTS SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS

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