Sarasota News Leader


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Sarasota News Leader
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Rachel Brown Hackney ( Publisher )
New Sheriff Publishing, Inc.
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Sarasota, FL


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

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University of Florida
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COVER Inside S.O.S. FOR S.O.S. A DECREASE IN CRIME AND PERSONNEL EMPHASIS ON TEMPORARY Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. THE SARASOTA News Leader The Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida No. 41 June 28, 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 Norman Schimmel Staff Photographer Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer Elinor Rogosin A&E Writer Scott Proftt Contributing Writer 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


Someti mes on Thursdays, when I start to compose this letter, the rst thing that pops into my mind is the theme from Love Story : Where do I begin I know where I have to end up this week, because Cleve Posey, our production manager, has chastised me again about being too verbose for the space allotted. With that being said, I will focus on the acronym I learned about early in journalism school: KISS. And though that may seem com plementary to the Love Story note above, it has nothing whatso ever to do with romance. It means Keep It Simple, Stupid Diversity is the real theme again of this weeks issue: horric allegations about what is really going on at Save Our Seabirds; the signicant reduction in county crime Sheriff Tom Knight and his ofcers have achieved; the temporary closing of Warm Miner al Springs; a new crime-ghting initiative under way in the city; a bit of controversy over the fast-moving effort to put a replica of the iconic U.S. Marine Corps/Iwo Jima sculpture on the bayfront; more controversy over a medical spa proposed on the North Tamiami Trail; the lat est tourism gures and a proposed new pro gram to keep them rising; the success non prots realized in the last legislative session, thanks to efforts of the Community Alliance of Sarasota County; budget talks; trash in Siesta Village; and Nik Wallenda. If you read this issue thoroughly, I think you will know all the most important things you need to know about what has happened in the community over the past week. Editor and Publisher WELCOME


A DECREASE IN CRIME AND PERSONNEL EMPHASIS ON TEMPORARY NEWS & COMMENTARY S.O.S. FOR S.O.S. 8 Former volunteer makes disturbing claims about the conditions at Save Our Seabirds Cooper Levey-Baker A DECREASE IN CRIME AND PERSONNEL 14 The Sheriffs Ofce has reduced countywide crime by 25 percent as a result of its Intelligence Led Policing program, and the sheriff is seeking higher pay for the ofcers making that program work Rachel Brown Hackney EMPHASIS ON TEMPORARY 21 Warm Mineral Springs will close at 5 p.m. Sunday, but the City of North Port has begun the process of hiring a short-term manager, with the City Commission having approved a new agreement with the county Rachel Brown Hackney WHERE DID THE MONEY GO? 27 Members of a committee appointed by the City and County commissions begin examining the expenses of the citys community redevelopment agency Stan Zimmerman FOLLOWING HIGH POINTS LEAD 32 Police detectives are rounding up rst tier criminals and warning those in the second tier to shape up or meet the same fate Stan Zimmerman SCC PREVIEW 35 The July 1 City Commission agenda will focus on a medical spa planned for the North Trail, a new leash law for Payne Park, Police Department Tasers and questions regarding the Public Art Committee Stan Zimmerman RAISES OR NOT? 39 With requests for further information, the County Commission holds off on a vote regarding merit pay increases for non-union county workers Rachel Brown Hackney CITY BRIEFS 42 The MPO endorses the North Tamiami Trail trafc plan; McCurdys is moving downtown; Main Street improvements to get under way Stan Zimmerman TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article PHOTO CREDITS Front cover: Ibises On The Beach Robert Hackney Sarasota Leisure: Bromeliad Fountain, Selby Gardens Robert Hackney No. 41 June 28, 2013


THE WALK SIESTA SEEN BUILDING ON THE BEST OF TIMES 45 The countys tourism advisory board offers suggestions for a new grant program designed to bring even more visitors to the area, especially in the off season Rachel Brown Hackney WIN-WIN 51 Legislative breakfast a success for local community health organizations Cooper Levey-Baker QUESTIONS AND CONFUSION 53 After wading through accounting changes and debating some requests for funding in the 2014 scal year, the County Commission agrees to a few new expenses Rachel Brown Hackney NEWS BRIEFS 58 CRIME BLOTTER 65 OPINION EDITORIAL 71 Let us not gild the already golden calf SARASOTA LEISURE THE WALK 76 As viewers hold their breath around the world and in Sarasota, Nik Wallenda completes another stunning performance Harriet Cuthbert SIESTA SEEN 83 County Code Enforcement staff addresses trashy problems; work continues on an effort to change the county code governing outdoor displays of merchandise Rachel Brown Hackney A&E BRIEFS 90 RELIGION BRIEFS 95 COMMUNITY CALENDAR 97 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 98 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article No. 41 June 28, 2013 FOR ADVERTISING INFO (941) 227-1080


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Within weeks of coming home from a military deployment in Afghanistan last July, Greg Para found himself out at Save Our Seabirds the City Island nonprot dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing injured birds that took over the old Pelican Man property in 2008. Para, an avian specialist with a lifelong love of parrots, calls his time at SOS pet therapy. I was there six days a week, just healing and helping out and volun teering, Para says. According to an afdavit he will be present ing to the Sarasota City Commission Monday, July 1, Para spent between four and six hours a day at the facility. But that all ended this March, with the departure of SOS founder Lee Fox. Now, Para charges, SOS is a mess, and he is organizing a rally outside the facili ty Saturday morning to bring attention to the situation. Paras afdavit makes a number of disturbing claims arguing that SOS does not have any Owls peer through the wire of their cage at Save Our Seabirds on June 26. Photo by Norman Schimmel FORMER VOLUNTEER MAKES DISTURBING CLAIMS ABOUT THE CONDITIONS AT SAVE OUR SEABIRDS S.O.S. FOR S.O.S. This has been my lifes work for 27 years. Lee Fox Founder Save Our Seabirds By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor NEWS & COMMENTARY


A wooden building stands at the entryway to Save Our Seabirds. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 9


staffers qualied to care for birds, that it is im properly housing birds, that it is euthanizing birds rather than helping them recover and that it is scaling back its rescue operations points, he notes, that violate the nonprots lease with the city. Fox says things at the nonprot started to change with the arrival of CEO David Pilston last year. SOS stopped sending out volunteers to pick up injured birds, she adds, and began only accepting birds brought to the facility. The decision incensed her. In January, Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, a bird rescue located in Indian Shores, stopped accepting injured birds because of funding issues, and SOS was asked to help house some of the critters. Foxs immediate re sponse was absolutely, she tells The Sara A sign welcomes visitors to Save Our Seabirds. Photo by Norman Schimmel A parrot peers out from its cage. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 10


sota News Leader The Sanctuary was helping 10,000 birds a year Fox says she knew SOS couldnt handle that volume, but the facility could accommodate at least some of them. But the board said no, and prevented volun teers from going to pick up some of the birds. Why are we there? she asks. Thats why I went there, to help the birds in the area. An FAQ (frequently asked questions docu ment) distributed to the media by Pilston claims that Fox wanted to treat all of the Sanctuary birds in Sarasota, a notion that just wasnt practical: SOS has continued to take in at least as many birds as we always have from Sarasota and Manatee Counties. According to the FAQ, the SOS board was left with no choice but to terminate Fox this spring after she rejected a one-year employ ment offer that would have had her working in Wimauma rather than City Island. The FAQ says the issues with Fox were numerous, serious, and openly communicated to her. Fox, who is cautious about describing her de parture on the record, calls the decision un believable. This has been my lifes work for 27 years, Fox says. Ive given up a lot. Para is less circumspect: They fired the founder from her own organization. Since Foxs leave-taking, Para alleges, con ditions at SOS have only gotten worse. His afdavit describes dead or maimed parrots from rat attacks, and rats he saw enter and Parakeets share quarters at Save Our Seabirds. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 11


leave ina dequate bird enclosures. Hes also concerned about the decision to euthanize birds more quickly. Fox says that during her tenure, severely injured birds were given up to ve days to show signs of improvement before SOS would euthanize them. That patience is now gone, according to Para: Theyre putting down anything that needs more work. The FAQ acknowledges that putting down birds is taking place, but defends the SOS process: Anyone who has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation knows that euthanasia is sometimes necessary, for two reasons. First and foremost, if a bird is suffering and there is no reasonable way to alleviate that suffering, the bird should not be forced to live in pain. Second, the regulations on which our permits are based are very strict and very clear about what birds should be kept alive and what birds should not. Lee Fox routinely ignored those regulations, but we are determined to comply. Para says the euthanasia debate is part of a bigger dispute: The process may be up to code, but the organization lacks someone with the qualications necessary to make those life-and-death decisions. They need to bring somebody on staff who knows whats going on, he points out. Pilston conrms that SOS permits were held in Foxs name, but he says that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allow for a grace period when a permit-holder leaves a rehab operation. He tells the News Leader that SOS received word this week that its new application for a permit has been rec ommended for approval. A Florid a Fish and Wildlife representative says transferring a permit to another name is usually a pretty easy process, but that it does require proof of experience, letters of recommendation and even an inspection. She couldnt answer denitively whether there is a deadline for when an organization must apply to have the permit transferred. The goal of Saturdays rally, which kicks off at 10 a.m. outside SOS, is to bring attention to all these matters, Para says, and he hopes to force the organization to either bring back Fox or to hire someone else equally qualied. The SOS FAQ says Fox has caused so much irreparable harm to SOS through her false statements to the press and others that a re turn to SOS is out of the question. Para recently spoke at a meeting of Florida Veterans for Common Sense, discussing the healing he experienced at SOS and asking the group for support. The anti-war veterans group sent out an email alert about the rally, as well as Paras appearance at the commis sion Monday, encouraging veterans to support his cause. Para says many volunteers feel the way he does, even some who believe any care is bet ter than no care and have remained working at SOS. The goal of the rally is not to harm the organization, but to strengthen and refocus it, he notes: In no way do we want them to go away or go out of business. Asked about the rally, Fox is hesitant. Im not sure how its going to turn out, she says. I know theres going to be a lot of people. % Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 12


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Thanks to Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knights implementation of an Intelligence Led Policing program since he was rst elected in 2008, the county has seen a 25 percent reduc tion in crime. The decrease from 2012 over 2011 was 18 percent, and the crime rate was down another 14 percent for the rst quarter of 2013, Knight told the County Commission during its June 21 budget workshop. Almost as great a point of pride for him, Knight noted, is the fact that citizen complaints com ing into his ofce have declined 22 percent over the past four years. Because of the effectiveness of the Intelli gence Led Policing (ILP) program, Knight also wants to provide pay raises to the sergeants and lieutenants who carry most of the load, he told the commission the law enf orcement indi viduals I believe are responsible for our crime decrease. He is seeking $91,873,196 for the 2014 scal year, while his current budget is $86,554,672. However, Knight pointed out, $3,546,424 of the projected expenses for the new scal year, which will begin Oct. 1, are beyond his con trol, including a $1.7 million hike in payments to the Florida Retirement System. Because most of his employees are in the special risk category for health benets, the Sheriffs Of A graph compares expenses for the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce for the current scal year and FY 2014. Image courtesy Sheriffs Ofce Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 15


ces new chief nancial ofcer, Lisa Kiesel added, the office also will have to absorb greater expenses for them. The total healthcare benets hike was put at $1,573,050. Theres not a thing in the world you can do about increased [state retirement] costs or health costs, Commissioner Nora Patterson told him. However, when she asked whether Knight planned on providing merit pay increases or general raises for the sergeants and lieuten ants, Knight was clear about how law enforce ment agencies have to be careful in linking sal ary adjustments to job performance, because that can lead to unwelcome results. With the Florida Highway Patrol in years past, he point ed out, It turned into [trafc] tickets for pay. Nonetheless, Knight said, he would be pro viding the raises on a merit basis among his lieutenants and sergeants. When Patterson asked what he planned for the rank and le, Knight responded, Con tractually, its status quo, meaning step in creases built into union wage plans. In response to another question from Patter son, Knight said he planned no raises for dep uties in his department. A chart shows ofcer-to-population ratios for select law enforcement agencies. Image courtesy Sara sota County Sheriffs Ofce Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 16


POLICY AND STATISTICS According to graphs Knight and his executive staff presented to the County Commission, the cost per capita for the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce as of April 1, 2011 was $352. That compared with a statewide average of $464 among sheriffs ofces. Manatee County had a cost of $362, while Charlotte Countys expense was $395. Over the past seven years, the Sarasota de partment has seen a reduction in person nel from 1,060 in the 2007 scal year to 992 planned for FY 2014. Of the latter number; 405 will be sworn law enforcement ofcers, while 379 will be civilians; the remaining 208, certi ed corrections ofcers. The Sheriffs Ofce has 1.3 deputies per 1,000 population, Col. Steve Burns told the commis sioners. Nationwide, the average for sheriffs ofces is 2.2 deputies per 1,000 residents, he added. In the state, the average is 1.65 per 1,000. If the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce wanted to match the state average, Burns pointed out, it would need to hire 88 new deputies at a cost of more than $11.2 million. In response to another question from Patter son, Burns provided follow-up statistics for A chart shows the average cost per capita for a number of sheriffs ofces in the state. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 17


municipal police departments statewide: The average is 2.3 ofcers per 1,000 residents. As The Sarasota News Leader reported last week, the number for the City of Sarasota Po lice Department in 2011 the last year for which data was available is 3.3 ofcers per 1,000 population. Maj. Kurt Hoffman told the County Commis sion, What the sheriff has tasked each of us with at the senior staff level is reviewing every single position that comes up for a vacancy. Discussions ensue over whether a position can be turned over to a civilian, for example, he said, or consolidated with the work of an other employee or made part-time. Knight also pointed out that it costs a mini mum of $123,650 from the time a person ap plies to be a deputy until that person is trained (From left) Sheriff Tom Knight, Col. Steve Burns and Maj. Kurt Hoffman appear before the County Commission on June 21. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sheriff Tom Knight is shown on the video stream in the County Commission Think Tank as he presents his 2014 scal year budget on June 21. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 18


and on the road about 10 months. There fore, he said, retaining deputies is huge. Moreover, Knight said, Were always out scouting for the best candidates. His view is that quality of personnel is more important than quantity, he told the board. Salary and benets for a rookie deputy are $61,181, according to a graph presented to the County Commission. That gure accounts for 49 percent of the cost. Maj. Kevin Kenney pointed out to the com missioners that a reduction in force normally leads to decline in service. We have not rec ognized that whatsoever, he said. Knight came into ofce with a plan to change the culture of the agency, which is difcult to do, Kenney added. We cant do that without complete buy-in at the mid-management and direct supervisor level, he continued, and thats where we focused our attention. We worked very hard as senior staff to get those folks trained effectively, consistently and put the accountability on them. Kenney continued, One word that character izes our agency over the last four years is ac countability. Reinforcing Kenneys comments, Maj. Jim Lil ly said, We try to instill the thought, Good things dont happen; theyre made to happen. Chairwoman Carolyn Mason said that from what she understood of the Intelligence Led Policing program, its a huge asset to the com munity, but that doesnt mean that you have abandoned community policing. No, Knight replied. And it cant be done without the coop eration of the surrounding jurisdictions, Mason added. It works better when you get collaboration and cooperation, Knight told her. The Sheriffs Ofce was in the forefront of community policing initiatives in the 1990s, Knight continued. [ILP is] hugely based on analytical data and actual data. The Sheriffs ofce is very well engaged with [the] North Port [Police Department], he add ed, and Venice is on board with us. Were always looking to partner and share informa tion. ANOTHER POSITIVE TREND Regarding the jail, Maj. Jim Lilly told the com missioners the department had been able to maintain the population between 860 and 950 a day over the past 12 months, in part as a result of work-release and other programs co ordinated through the judicial system. Several years ago, Lilly said, the jail popula tion hovered between 1,017 and 1,060. With the decrease in crime the county has ex perienced, Knight said, I dont see us arrest ing enough people to populate that jail for another 200 beds for the near future. Responding to that, Commissioner Joe Bar betta told Knight, Thats huge. % Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 19


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


Sixty days: That is the time frame within which the City of North Port hopes to have re sponses to an advertisement seeking a shortterm manager for Warm Mineral Springs. A special meeting of the North Port City Commission probably will be necessary in August to approve an agreement, City Man ager Jonathan Lewis told his board during its regular meeting on June 24. That is be cause after its last regular session in July, the City Commission is not scheduled to meet again until September. According to the terms of a new interlocal agreement between the city and the county, the Saras ota County Commission will have 30 days to vote on the North Port boards ac tion regarding shortterm management. Lewis comments came just before the Swimmers enjoy the water on a late June day at Warm Mineral Springs. Photo by Stan Zimmerman WARM MINERAL SPRINGS WILL CLOSE AT 5 P.M. SUNDAY, BUT THE CITY OF NORTH PORT HAS BEGUN THE PROCESS OF HIRING A SHORT-TERM MANAGER, WITH THE CITY COMMISSION HAVING APPROVED A NEW AGREEMENT WITH THE COUNTY EMPHASIS ON TEMPORARY Its too bad it boiled down to us versus them. Its bad for the citizens [but] I think its all going to work out now. Carolyn Mason Chairwoman Sarasota County Commission By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


A yer distributed around the county early this week advertises the Everything Must Go! sale planned this weekend by the management company at Warm Mineral Springs. Image courtesy Sarasota County


North Port Commission voted unanimous ly to approve that interlocal agreement with Sarasota County regarding the future of the 81-acre resort the two local governments pur chased jointly in 2010 for $5.5 million. It was the rst time since two new North Port commissioners were elected in November 2012 that the board had agreed to a Sarasota County Commission document regarding the resort without suggesting changes. In the meantime, Sarasota County staff is working on arrangements for a temporary fence to be erected around the swimming area of Warm Mineral Springs, county spokesman Curt Preisser told The Sarasota News Leader on June 27. The resort will close at 5 p.m. on June 30, when the contract with its current management company, Cypress Lending, ex pires. Signage also will be placed at the resort, Pre isser said, to make certain the public under stands the resort is not going to close perma nently. A nyone with questions will be directed to contact the countys call center at 861-5000. Additionally, the county has requested that the North Port Police Department provide extra patrols around the property, and county staff is investigating the possibility of hiring private security guards to make certain the grounds are protected 24 hours a day, Preisser added. While he had no information prior to the News Leader s deadline regarding the costs of the security measures, Preisser noted that a Mem orandum of Understanding between the coun ty and the city species that expenses will be split 50/50. Staff has been working with both the City of North Port and Cypress Lending on a number of details, Preisser said. NORTH PORT COMMISSIONS VOTE Shortly after 11 p.m. on June 24, Lewis sent an email to County Administrator Randall Reid, saying, The City Commission approved unan Visitors to Warm Mineral Springs remark on the ambiance as well as the healing value of the waters. Photo by Stan Zimmerman Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 23


imou sly the interlocal that was approved by the County Commission on June 19, 2013. Lewis added that he had been directed to send the county a letter stating the desire of the City to take any steps appropriate that might keep WMS open. Over two days of discussions June 18 and 19 c ounty commis sioners had crafted numerous changes to the interlocal agree ment the North Port Commission had re vised and Lewis had sent to the county on June 14. County Attor ney Stephen DeMarsh had drafted the origi nal version to memo rialize decisions the two local government bodies made during an all-day facilitated joint meeting on April 17 to try to avoid litigation over the future of Warm Mineral Springs. During th e North Port City Commission meet ing on June 24, Mayor Linda Yates brought up the latest version of the interlocal document, pointing to the changes the County Commis sion made last week including reinserting a clause afrming the two local government bodies are equal partners in owning the resort. In response to a question from Vice Mayor James Blucher, Lewis said a two-week period would be the minimum time frame in which he felt a request for proposals could be ad vertised for new management of the springs. Realistica lly, 21 days, Lewis added. However, the in terlocal agreement provided for the city to make good faith efforts to un dertake the competitive bidding process with in a 60-day window, Lewis pointed out. That gives me some comfort, he added. If the City Commission approved the inter local agreement that night, Lewis said, We would begi n work on [the advertisement pro cess] immediately. Commissioner Cher yl Cook broached the idea of modifying the language further, to give the city more time. However, she noted that the Coun ty Commission would have to approve any changes the City Com mission made in the latest document. That means we have to go another round, sending it back to the county and bringing it back. Lewis told her he had reviewed the interlocal document again before the meeting. I was worried about the 60 days. Ive been worried about the 60 days all along. But the revision [the County Commission] made this time it does make me more comfortable than I was before. Lewis added, Obviously, we make every ef fort, working with their staff, to get it done within 60 days Thats still good faith. Yates protested county commissioner com ments that the Springs would have to close. However, she said she had noted the new agreement called for the two boards to select a short-term manager as soon as possible to avoid prolonged closure of the springs. Im in the minority many times, but I will tell you, I have tried to keep [the Springs] open as a swimming place several times, and that just wasnt supported, so this could all have been avoided We all need to apologize as commissioners, but I cant speak for any other commissioner but myself. Linda Yates Mayor City of North Port Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 24


This is saying the Springs is closing July 1, Yates pointed out, adding county ofcials had said they felt there was no way the two local governments could provide staff to keep the resort open until a new operator was selected. Theres nothing we could do, even if we sign this, that could keep the facility from closing? she asked Lewis. Weve essentially got ve days, Lewis told her. The county commissioners were very clear that the city could not act unilaterally to keep the resort open and then they just become a kind of conscientious objector, he said. According to state law, because the county is co-owner of the property, a competitive selec tion process must be used before any manage ment contract is awarded. In early June, the North Port Commission discussed pursuing action on its own to hire an interim manager until the long-term future of the resort could be determined. The County Commission reit erated last week that that would be a violation of the law. Yates then referenced Cooks earlier point: If the City Commission did not approve the in terlocal agreement that night, the temporary closing of the springs would last longer. When Yates nally asked for a motion, Bluch er made one saying simply that the City Com mission approve the interlocal agreement with Sarasota County. City Commissioner Tom Jones seconded it. I believe [this] is a starting point, Blucher said something we need to do. Then we have a lot of work to do as a team. It is a start, Yates responded. It is a very sad situation, she added. Im in the minority many times, but I will tell you, I have tried to keep [the Springs] open as a swimming place several times, and that just wasnt support ed, so this could all have been avoided We all need to apologize as commissioners, but I cant speak for any other commissioner but myself. Yates had joined Cook and City Commissioner Rhonda DiFranco in the past months on votes to try to maintain Warm Mineral Springs as a park. A July 2012 joint city-county agreement prior to Cooks and DiFrancos election called for the two local governments, as joint owners of the property, to pursue an Invita tion to Negotiate for development options at the site. Bluchers motion passed unanimously, almost exactly 54 minutes after the discussion began. Mayor Linda Yates of North Port. Photo cour tesy City of North Port Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 25


COUNTY RESPONSE It took a while, but we can go forward now, which has been the County Commissions intent all the time so that the Springs wouldnt close, County Commission Chair woman Carolyn Mason told the News Leader June 27, referring to the North Port vote. Regarding the pending closing of the resort, she added, We all hope it will be as short as possible, so we dont lose any momentum. Its a good start, and we need to put all the rest of the arguments behind us, County Commissioner Nora Patterson said of the North Port Commission action. Im very hopeful that weve turned a corner, said County Commissioner Christine Robin son. Robinson was optimistic that the 60-day and 30-day clauses in the new interlocal agree ment which she proposed inserting last week will keep the closure [of Warm Min eral Springs] to a minimum. Patterson added of the North Port commis sioners, I think they had to swallow hard to accept the county [agreement] as written. I think its a very positive sign that we should be able to work together. Its too bad it boiled down to us versus them, Mason said. Its bad for the citizens. Still, Mason added, I think its all going to work out now. EVERYTHING MUST GO! As Warm Mineral Springs prepares to close, the current management rm, Cypress Lend ing, drew some raised eyebrows by announc ing early this week that it was having an Ev erything Must Go! sale Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A cop y of the yer advertising the sale was forwarded to county ofcials on June 25. It says furnishings, wall dcor, equipment and supplies will be offered to the public. Own a piece of history! the yer proclaims. In a June 25 email to County Administrator Reid, Carolyn Brown, the countys Parks and Recreation Department director, indicated staff had veried that only items owned by Cy press Lending would be offered for sale. She added that Cypress Lending representatives had asked whether the county would be in terested in purchasing anything. She planned to discuss that with North Port city ofcials, she noted. Preisser, the county spokesman, told the News Leader on June 27 that county staff had obtained a detailed inventory list. We have a pretty good handle on what is theirs and what is not, he added. We feel very condent that whatever they are offering for sale is their prope rty. % North Port City Manager Jonathan Lewis. Photo courtesy City of North Port Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 26


A committee is debating whether a nearly 30-year-old funding stream for downtown Sarasota should continue. Photo by Norman Schimmel WHERE DID THE MONEY GO? Weve had ve public-private partnerships, and thats great. But where are the next ve, and the ve after that? Andy Dorr Member Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency Extension Study Committee


At rst glance, it seems like the deal of the century. In 1986, the Sarasota City and County commissions agreed to create a community redevelopment agency (CRA) to ght slum and blight in downtown Sarasota. At that time, property in the geographically designat ed area was worth $2 billion. A quarter of a century later, after they spent $76 million in CRA funds in the same area, the property was worth $6.8 billion. The $76 million represents about one-tenth of 1 per cent of the $6.8 billion current value; yet, CRA supporters believe that that one-tenth of 1 per cent i nvestment was directly responsible for downtown values tripling. While that explanation is much too simple, it may hold enough truth to keep the CRA alive downtown. SHIFTING PRIORITIES The CRA is scheduled in end in 2016 after a 30-year existence. Should it continue or be modied or even expanded? To examine those questions, the City and County commis sions created a nine-member board called the Downtown Community Redevelopm ent Agen A map shows the location of the downtown community redevelopment agency district in Sarasota. Image courtesy City of Sarasota MEMBERS OF A COMMITTEE APPOINTED BY THE CITY AND COUNTY COMMISSIONS BEGIN EXAMINING THE EXPENSES OF THE CITYS COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


cy Extension Study Committee. It held its sec ond meeting on Wednesday evening, June 26. Chairman David Merrill asked for a nancial history lesson, a how much and for what lecture by staff. He received it in spades. The professor was Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown. The CRA receives funding from city and coun ty property taxes, and it can spend the mon ey only within the dened boundaries. The funds come from tax increment nancing, through which the property tax base value in the beginning year of 1986 is subtracted from the higher tax base total in subsequent years. The difference the increment grows as property tax revenue increases. For the cur rent year, the countys contribution to the CRA is $3.5 million and the citys is $3.1 million. Brown took the committee through the steps of how the money is spent. One shift in the pattern appeared early in the presentation. In its rst 15 years, the CRA focused tightly on bricks and mortar, spending between 85 and 95 percent of its money on capital improve ments to the area. Therefore, it put very little into operating transfers only 5 or 10 per cent of the money was shifted to other uses. State laws allow a wide range for CRA expen ditures. However, in the past ve years, the two cat egories have ip-opped. Bricks and mortar still account for the majority of expenditures Financial records show downtown Sarasota has beneted from the funding provided through the com munity redevelopment agency. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 29


(55 per cent), but operating transfers from CRA accounts to other city accounts grew to 39 percent of the total. This dynamic acceler ated after 2004, when the city commissioners unilaterally decided that they could pay for police services and landscaping expenses out of CRA funds. The shift caught the eye of Ernie Ritz, chair man of the Downtown Improvement District. He spoke during the committees open-to-thepublic section. Ive seen us start to use CRA funds as a general fund, money coming out of the CRA going for police and other things I dont think the CRA was created to do, he said. Current inter-fund transfers include $1 mil lion for police services within the CRA area, $540,000 for landscape maintenance, $265,000 for street and highway maintenance, $85,000 for the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex and $725,000 to run two redevelopment ofc es (one for downtown; one for Newtown). PARTNERSHIPS EXAMINED Brown pointed to several locations where CRA investment in public-private partnerships produced great benets. In 2003, the CRA provided almost $5 million to bring a Whole Foods grocery to downtown Sarasota. The year the deal was cut, the property was assessed for tax purposes at $3.2 million. To day it is on the tax rolls for $57.4 million. The project includes a parking garage with 300 public spaces and 95 condominiums. It has paid $6.6 million in property taxes since it was developed. Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 30


A 2005 ag reement with The New York Times Co. paid for a variety of impact and building fees and construction of stormwater reten tion facilities for a new headquarters for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (then owned by the NYT Co.). The CRA paid $768,000 to keep the newspaper ofces downtown, after the Her ald-Tribune threatened to build a complex on Fruitville Road in the county. Since that deal was inked, the building own ers have paid $1.7 million in property taxes. The assessment jumped from $5.7 million in 2006 to nearly $14 million in 2012. The Courthouse Centre project directly west of the historic courthouse on Ringling Boule vard was awarded $250,000 for underground utilities and streetscape improvements. The land was valued at $1.8 million when the deal was made in 2003. Today it is worth $19.1 mil lion, and the property owner has paid $2.8 mil lion in taxes. Committee member Michael Beaumier noted these projects also generated other economic benets beyond property taxes. Theres sales tax generated, and jobs are created and other developments around them, he said. Member Chris Gallagher piled on. And [doc ument stamp] fees, occupational licenses, building permits even now when a condo gets remodeled, he pointed out. Others were not convinced. Casey Colburn asked, What kind of return is associated with these investments? I want to see where the money was spent and what happened in that area. PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES The political, physical and logical boundaries of the CRA were the nal elements of focus during the meeting. Member Katie Leonard noted the gap between 10 th and 17 th Streets separating the Newtown fraction of the CRA from the downtown fraction. How do we sup port Newtown with a plan that is more coher ent and seamless? she asked. Chairman Merrill suggested other sites might be included in an expanded CRA. Perhaps some of the areas near Payne Park should be included. And the gap between Newtown and downtown, thats a logical place. Boundaries issues may be an area for discussion, he said. Member Andy Dorr suggested a physical audit of the CRA to nd more pockets of slum and blight to address. Theres some terrible build ing stock in the area, he noted. How do we evolve the boundary lines? The city and coun ty are now focused on the North [Tamiami] Trail. Should we extend the CRA to include the commercial district on both sides of the North Trail? Dorr asked when the next public-private partnerships would arise. Weve had five public-private partnerships, and thats great. But where are the next ve, and the ve after that? Merrill closed the discussion by noting the CRA is a supplementary fund. If it went away, would we cut policing in downtown or New town? he asked rhetorically. Some say weve fullled our role and it should expire. Should it ever end? All these things will have to t into our report. % Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 31


Sarasot a police are quietly beginning to uti lize the High Point strategy to take violent offenders off the streets with the help of com munity residents. Several sources have con rmed the action, named after a North Caro lina city that used it to cut crime signicantly. City police officers are using parole vio lations, drug sales and other cha rges to m ove offend ers to prison, and local judges are set ting high bails to keep them from returning to the streets. The strategy calls for the offend ers to receive stiff sentences as an incentive to urge lower-tier criminals to go straight. The anti-crime offen sive began earlier this month. They grabbed 20, and t he bonds were amazing, said one source knowledgeable about jail activity. No bod y mad e bon d. Main Street in High Point, NC, is damp from a recent shower. Photo by Lindy676 via Wikimedia Commons POLICE DETECTIVES ARE ROUNDING UP FIRST TIER CRIMINALS AND WARNING THOSE IN THE SECOND TIER TO SHAPE UP OR MEET THE SAME FATE FOLLOWING HIGH POINTS LEAD By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Weve been recruiting community partners since last year. David Grant Detective Sarasota Police Department


Police are n ow identifying second-tier of fenders, who will be offered a second chance to become productive members of the com munity, or they will face the fate of those in the rst tier. Through the Police Depart ments use of deferred prosecution, home visits and letters of intent, the second-tier violators are being given the opportunity to change their ways at a distance from the crim inal justice system. Sarasota Police ofcers are calling the oper ation DMI drug market intervention, and they are focusing on the Newtown area. After the case is made, those without a his tory of violence will be called in and be of fered options, said Sarasota Police Det. Da vid Grant. Weve been recruiting community partners since last year. WE MAKE CASES Grant pointed out that the offensive is, at its heart, basic police work. We do what we al ways do. We make cases, said Grant. In the past, weve turned people over to the court system, and most received minimum sentenc es. The second tier is different. If you dry up the [drug] market, you dont have street violence. Thats what were trying to do, Grant added. The DMI works on two levels, he said. It is aggressive policing for those selling narcot ics, Grant noted. Theoretically, we want to eliminate hand-to-hand drug sales, because that automatically eliminates the street vio lence that goes with it. The second prong is taking longer. The po lice are working to create support in the sur Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino pre pares to address a meeting of the City Coali tion of Neighborhood Associations shortly af ter beginning her tenure early this year. Photo by Stan Zimmerman Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 33


round ing community to help the second-tier offenders with mentoring and other assis tance. Were putting in a strong foundation, said Grant. The byproduct will be the trust of the com munity, to have the faith to call us, he added. We have to win over the condence of the people. Were not here just to arrest people. POLITICAL WILL The High Point strategy was imposed from the top down. The City Commission, and espe cially Commissioner Willie Shaw, urged the city police to use it. When the city manager, under the guidance of the commission, select ed a new police chief late last year, the High Point strategy was one of the make-or-break questions for applicants. All ve nalists ex pressed support for the strategy. When Bernadette DiPino was selected as the new chief, Grant said it was clear from the outset where she stood. There was no doubt the chief was on board from day one, he pointed out. I recall a meeting on her rst day about this. Grant says the State Attorneys Ofce is back ing the High Point strategy as well. Theyve stood behind it from the beginning, he said. State Attorney Ed Brodsky participated in the initial trip Sarasota ofcials took to North Car olina to examine rst-hand how the strategy worked. The strategy was put in a nutshell during a June 12 police promotion ceremony. James Rieser, who was promoted to detective lieu tenant, told the crowd of well-wishers, If youre dealing drugs, youd better stop, be cause here w e come. % Vice Mayor Willie Shaw. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 34


Tasers, leashe s and the Public Art Committee are on the Monday, July 1, Sarasota City Com mission agenda. But the hot item will be the conclusion of a public hearing on a medical spa on North Tamiami Trail. UNDERLYING ISSUES Fusion Healthcare wants to build a medical spa on about half an acre at 1174 Hampton Road, immediately w est of the Tamiami Trail in the Ta hiti Park n eighborhood. The facility would use in-patient techniques to address skin problems. It would be the rst commercial use ever al lowed in the neighborhood. That became pos sible when the City Commission changed the land use of the property in 2008 without noti fying the neighbors. The action was part of an omnibus change to the citys comprehensive A Sarasota man wants the citys bayfront to become home to a copy of the Marine Corp Memorial de picting the ag raising on Iwo Jima. Image by dbking via Wikimedia Commons THE JULY 1 CITY COMMISSION AGENDA WILL FOCUS ON A MEDICAL SPA PLANNED FOR THE NORTH TRAIL, A NEW LEASH LAW FOR PAYNE PARK, POLICE DEPARTMENT TASERS AND QUESTIONS REGARDING THE PUBLIC ART COMMITTEE SCC PREVIEW By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


plan, allo wing the rezoning of the property from Residential to Community Commercial. Tahiti Park residents did not learn about the change until long after it had been made, and they feared commercial intrusion into their area. The zoning change sought by the appli cant would allow a gas station, convenience store, bar or liquor store should Fusion sell the property at some point. The Planning Board recommended denial of the petition. The City Commission took testi mony on March 4 and June 3. Mondays pub lic hearing will be the wrap-up session, with cross-examination and rebuttal before the commissioners decide wh at to do. FAILING TASERS Police Chi ef Bernadette DiPino will come for ward Monday to tell the commissioners her department has applied for a $35,406 grant from the Ofce of Justice Assistance to buy 26 Tasers as part of an effort to replace all the departments stun guns. Tasers are pistols that re darts containing a high voltage that disables people, but they are designed to be non-lethal. DiPino says the Tasers carried by her ofcers are rst-generation equipment that has been in use for nine years, and they are out of warranty. She is not requesting funding. The public hear ing is a requirement of the grant. A U.S. Military ofcer holds an M26 Taser. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Military via Wikimedia Commons Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 36


LEASH LAW The city commissioners will also hold a public hearing to add Payne Park to the areas requir ing leashes on dogs. The Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Board recom mends the change. The city already declared the new childrens playground at Payne Park to be a pet-free zone. If approved, leashes would be required on dogs at Bayfront and Island Park, Gillespie Park, Arlington Park and Payne Park. The city law also says a leash may be no longer than 26 feet. SAVE OUR SAVE OUR SEABIRDS The status of Save Our Seabirds (SOS) in Ken Thompson Park comes under review Mon d ay. At least one volunteer is alleging major violations of the organizations lease to use city property. The group recently ousted its founder, Lee Fox. (See the related story in this issue.) Gregory Para swore out an afdavit making several allegations after he served as a vol unteer at SOS from August 2012 until March 2013. He said the organization does not have qualied or certied personnel on staff to make qualied medical decisions for sick or disabled waterfowl since removing the found er. Because the bird sanctuary sits on city prop erty, the City Commission is the ultimate land lord. It is rare for a leasehold to be brought before the commission before the end of its lease. In the case of Save Our Seabirds, the lease does not end until 2018. Leashes soon may be required on pets in Payne Park. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 37


WHO IS ADVISING WHOM? The final item on the agenda Monday re ects a rare role reversal. Normally, advisory boards provide advice to the City Commis sion. But Monday, the commission will be providing advice to its Public Art Committee. The arts group has scheduled a special meeting on July 3 to consider the donation of a statue commem orating the capture by the U.S. Marines of Iwo Jima during World War II. It is an iconic statue, wide ly recognized. Other copies are at Arlington National Cemetery and the gates of the Marine Corps base at Quantico, VA. Commissioner Susan Chapman asked that the item be placed on the City Commission agen da, because it appears to her the decision on the donation of the statue is being unduly ac celerated. In an email to staff, Chapman asked, Why is a special meeting of the public art adviso ry committee being set on July 3, the day be fore a national holiday, just to consider the Iwo Jima statue? This is hardly fair to the general public which needs adequate notice and the opportunity to consider this at a time when all can be present and appear. This type of fast-tracking of controversial items is a rec ipe for another public embarrassment. % The City Commission sits in session on June 17. Photo by Norman Schimmel Why is a special meeting of the public art advisory committee being set on July 3, the day before a national holiday, just to consider the Iwo Jima statue? Susan Chapman Commissioner City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 38


RAISES OR NOT? WITH REQUESTS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, THE COUNTY COMMISSION HOLDS OFF ON A VOTE REGARDING MERIT PAY INCREASES FOR NON-UNION COUNTY WORKERS A chart provides compensation comparisons for other employers in Sarasota County. Sarasota Coun ty Government is the second largest employer in the county. Image courtesy Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor It may be the last budget workshop of the summer as it was last year before the Sarasota County Commission decides whether to provide a pay boost to non-union county employees in the next scal year. Commissioner Nora Patterson raised the issue at the end of more than seven hours of presenta tions and discus sions during a June 21 budget workshop, as the board considered requests from both county constitutional ofcers and its own department heads. There were no takers. Mr. [Randall] Reid is asking for that now, Patterson said of a de cision on the county administrators pro posal for a 3 percent merit pay increase. If I were asked today, saying if Ive got to fish or cut bait, I would probably support the salary increase Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County


It seems to me thats a major budget item and probably should be put on the table, Patter son added. Steve Botelho, the countys chief nancial planning officer, told The Sarasota News Leader on June 26 that, excluding constitu tional officers employees and bargaining units, the total estimate of the pay raise in the FY 2014 budget is $927,000 to the general fund and an additional $973,000 to other funds (utilities, stormwater, water and solid waste, for example). No one was certain on June 21 how much the county will have to dip into its reserves for FY 2014 because a number of other decisions on expenditures remained to be made. None theless, Patterson said, If I were asked today, saying if Ive got to sh or cut bait, I would probably support the salary increase No other commissioner offered a comment. So silence, to me, indicates the board is prob ably not ready to make that decision, Patter son noted. Im not, at this time, Chairwoman Carolyn Mason replied. The commissioners then directed Reid to pre pare two copies of the draft budget for their next workshop on July 10 so they can consider the options. Reid earlier had pointed out that they would be asked on July 10 to adopt their do-not-exceed millage rate for FY 2014 though he stressed the commissioners already had made the com mitment not to raise taxes. The board will hold its nal budget workshop on Aug. 20. On that same date in 2012, on a 4-1 vote, the board approved a $1,000 lump-sum payment to all non-union county employees. Commissioner Christine Robinson was in the minority that day, saying she did not feel she could approve the measure while the county still was spending reserve funds to balance the budget. As requested during the commissions June 12 budget workshop, Reid provided details on Steven Botelho, the countys chief nancial planning ofcer, listens as County Administrator Randall Reid makes a point during the June 21 budget workshop. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 40


Ju ne 21 about plans of some of the countys other employers regarding raises. Sarasota Memorial Hospital, for example, provided a 4 percent average wage hike in the 2012 scal year, with an average increase of 3 percent built into the FY 2013 and FY 2014 budgets, a chart showed. PGT Industries the countys sixth largest employer, offered 2 percent across-the-board increases in FY 2012 and FY 2013; company representatives said they were looking at im plementing merit pay adjustments in the 2014 scal year. Most manufacturing companies declined to offer salary information to the county, Reid explained, because of worries about competi tion for workers. However, he pointed out, he meets regularly with representatives of local rms each month. One manufacturer had in dicated there are raises being given by man ufacturing companies in the area, he added. Nonetheless, Reid continued, many smaller businesses including mom-and-pop oper ations are having difculty providing higher wages because the economy has not improved sufciently since the recession began. Reid also pointed out to the county commis sioners that between 2011 and 2014, projected gures showed the cost of Sarasota County employees health insurance plans will have risen by 20 percent. Employees will see the annual cost of one type of family plan go from $5,470 in FY 2013 to a projected figure of $6,194 in FY 2014, according to a county chart. Reid noted that the healthcare expenses keep rising in spite of the fact the county has pret ty innovative efforts to try to contain costs, including the offer of screening for various health problems. On June 12, Reid reminded the board that county employees began having to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to the Florida Re tirement System (FRS) in FY 2011. Commissioner Joe Barbetta requested data on healthcare costs for the employers on the chart Reid provided, while Robinson asked for details on how much the county pays for its employees healthcare benets. Barbetta further pointed to a detail in Reids PowerPoint presentation, showing the county had reduced its number of full-time equiva lent employees by 13 percent over the past six years. I dont want to use that as a benchmark, Bar betta told Reid. I want to start from today, because I think we were fat six years ago or seven years ago. We all have a different per spective on it, though. Those were good times, and we had a lot of employees. Barbetta add ed, We sucked it up and trimmed it down, and things still went forward pretty well. % Commissioner Joe Barbetta considers a mat ter on June 21. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 41


On Monday, June 2 4, the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) unanimously approved a plan for north U.S. 41 from 14 th Street to University Parkway, in cluding four trafc roundabouts. Do not look for construction to begin soon, however. The project goes to the bottom of a priority list, coming in at No. 29. The MPO is composed of elected leaders of the two counties and their respective cities. The estimated construction cost would be $52 million from state and federal funds. H owever, segm ents of the project the roundabout at University Parkway, for example could be accomplished as an intersection improvement through use of other funding sources. The multi-modal plan for U.S. 41 includes not only roadway and intersection improvements but also pedestrian walkways, landscaping and bicycle lanes. The project could climb higher on the priority list next year, when MPO members crea te a new ve-year plan. These engineering drawings show the construction phasing for the upcoming work on Main Street. The contractor hopes everything will be wrapped up by Thanksgiving. Image courtesy of Jon Swift Inc. general contractors THE MPO ENDORSES THE NORTH TAMIAMI TRAIL TRAFFIC PLAN; MCCURDYS IS MOVING DOWNTOWN; MAIN STREET IMPROVEMENTS TO GET UNDER WAY CITY BRIEFS By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


LAUGHS MO VING DOWNTOWN After a quarter-century run in an old movie theater on the North Tamiami Trail, McCurdys Comedy Club will be moving downtown, prac tically next-door to another laughter-lled building, the historic Sarasota County Court house. The iconic comedy venue will be moving into the Courthouse Square building near The Melting Pot fondue restaurant. MEN AT WORK: DOWNTOWN Construction will begin Monday, July 8, on aesthetic improvements to Main Street. New plantings, better pedestrian access, brick crosswalks and more are planned. The $1.9 million project is funded b y the Downtown McCurdys Comedy Club will be moving into a storefront by The Melting Pot in downtown Sarasota. Image from Google Maps This banner, held up by Downtown Improvement District member Dr. Mark Kaufman (right) and DID Operations Manager John Moran, will let people know businesses are operating as usual while Main Street improvements are under way. Photo by Stan Zimmerman Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 43


Impr o vement District, through which down town property owners tax themselves to make the area safer and prettier. Work on the rst and third segments will be done simultaneously. Section two will get un der way next summer. Cognizant of the trafc debacle caused by the construction of the 1350 Main Street condo minium complex several years ago, the DID board has insisted trafc will be obstructed as little as possible. IWO JIMA, HERE WE COME The Sarasota City Public Art Committees spe cial meeting scheduled for July 3 will consider the donation of a 20-foot-high statue of the U.S. Marine Corps ag raising on the Pacic island of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945. The iconic imag e graces the Arlington National Cem etery in Virgin ia and the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quan tico, VA. Thomas Sav age would like to install the sculpture on the Sara sota bayfront, facing U.S. 41 south of the Uncondition al Surrender statue. On July 3, Savage is e xpected to present his application to donate the artwork to the city. (See the SCC preview story in this issue.) The application says, The popular Uncon ditional Surrender, the second greatest icon of WWII, will be joined by the number-one icon of WWII, Felix de Weldons original Iwo Jima sculpture. These two historical treasures honor both [the] service and sacrice of over 400,000 veterans in Sarasota and nearby coun ties. [A] plaque will honor [the] artist, donors and history of the sculpture. Savage estimates the price will be $1.2 million, plus $50,000 for annual maintenance and in surance. The money would be raised through donations. His plans include lighting, a fountain and a flower gar den midway between the two sculp tures, along with protec tive barriers to prevent another mo torist from crashing into the artwork. Last summer, Uncondition al Surrender suffered ex tensive dam age when a ve hicle plowed into it. % Taking credit where it is due, the Downtown Improvement District will plant this temporary sign in numerous places to make sure the public knows the improvements are not com ing thanks to the city or the downtown redevelopment district. Photo by Stan Zimmerman Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 44


I expect we will see a pretty darn good June, [too]. Virginia Haley President Visit Sarasota County When Visit Sarasota County President Virgin ia Haley appeared before the members of the countys Tourist Development Council (TDC) last week, she talked of how the May tourism gures were the best ever even exceeding the numbers for May 2012, which were re cord-breakers at that time. Then Haley began mak ing her case for a new grants program de signed to bring even more tourists to the community for overnight stays. The TDC gave its consensus for the initiative to provide funding for new events as well as new and improved facilities, but with a rec ommendation that the process be flexi ble in how the dollars are allocated. In other words, no set percent age should go to either capital projects or fa cilities each cycle. A Visit Sarasota County trip to Asheville, NC, prompted planning for a new tourism grant program. Photo by Abe Ezekowitz via Wikimedia Commons THE COUNTYS TOURISM ADVISORY BOARD OFFERS SUGGESTIONS FOR A NEW GRANT PROGRAM DESIGNED TO BRING EVEN MORE VISITORS TO THE AREA, ESPECIALLY IN THE OFF SEASON BUILDING ON THE BEST OF TIMES By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


A VERY GOOD MAY Regarding the May tourism numbers: I actu ally was not looking forward to [them], Haley said, and they denitely surprised me. Comparing the gures to those from May 2012, the latest set showed the number of visitors to the county was up 8.6 percent; tourists spend ing was 14 percent higher; the occupancy rate for hotels/motels was up 6 percent; room rates were 5.5 percent higher; and the amount of revenue realized from available rooms rose 11.9 percent. Furthermore, Haley noted, Visit Sarasota County had provided $60,000 to enable inter nationally known aerialist Nik Wallenda to train for two weeks at Nathan Benderson Park off University Parkway before Wallenda ew to Arizona for his Grand Canyon wire walk on June 23. As a result, Haley said, as of June 20, 83 million domestic media impressions mentioned Wallendas Sarasota connection. (A media impression is a single look at a news article or TV show, for example.) That gure did not include his Today Show appearance that morning, she added. Given the fact that the Sarasota Music Festival and the Pan-Am Masters Swimming Champi onships had brought thousands of visitors to the county this month, Haley said, I expect we will see a pretty darn good June, [too]. Then it was on to something new. Funding aid from Sarasota County enabled the Sarasota YMCA to install shade shelters at its Selby Aquatic Center before the Pan-Am Masters competitions were held this month. Photo courtesy Sara sota County Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 46


THE PRO PO SED GRANTS PROGRAM On May 1, Haley pointed out, 12.5 percent of the revenue from one penny of the 5-cent Tourist Development Tax (TDT) had become available for use in new tourism promotion. That funding stream is expected to produce about $350,000 to $400,000 per year, she point ed out. A couple of years ago, in anticipation of that revenues availability, she continued, Visit Sarasota County (VSC) staff and its board be gan pondering how best to utilize the money. During a trip to Asheville, NC VSCs rst inter-city trip to pursue tourism-related ideas VSC representatives learned how that city was able to boost its visitor revenue by de veloping new tourism capital projects. And we really thought that was a missing link for Sarasota County, Haley added. Visit Sarasota County representatives dis cussed that concept further with the TDC members in April, Haley reminded them, and won their approval to move forward with it. Additional discussions with community res idents revealed a desire that the program be broadened to include funding for new or ex panded events as well as capital projects, Ha ley explained. If the decision is made to include funding of new events in the program, she added, her staff and board recommend such events receive a maximum of $50,000 per year for two years. In other words, the most a new event could get from the program would be $100,000, she said, and the funds could cover no more than half the total budget for it. Moreover, Haley po inted out, the program guidelines would make it very clear that if a group won funding for an event that ultimate ly was cancelled, the money would have to be returned to VSC. Any group should be wise enough to buy event insurance, she noted. One important factor in considering funding a new event would be its scheduling, Haley pointed out, with preference given to activi ties offered when we really need a boost in tourism. Additionally, applicants would have to demonstrate that [the event] does not repli cate something that is already in the county. For example, she said, Longboat Key could not seek funding for a shark tooth festival, because Venice already hosts su ch an an nual Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Ha ley addresses the County Commission in May. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 47


event. One rm rule would be you wouldnt be hurting an existing event. What if theyre at a totally different time, asked Commissioner Nora Patterson, who chairs the TDC. Good point, Haley responded. Perhaps consideration should be given to an event similar to one already held during the year as long as the new event was scheduled at a different time, Haley said. TDC member Cheryl Cook, a North Port city commissioner, noted that events held in south county that might be similar to those held in north county still could generate more tourist visits. THE CAPI TAL SIDE Returning to the concept for capital projects, Haley pointed out that state regulations gov erning use of TDT revenue necessitate that only publicly owned and operated or not-forprot owned and operated facilities could be considered for nancial support. The idea, she said, is to offer a grant applica tion cycle every other year, with funds provid ed to projects costing a minimum of $50,000; the money would have to be used over a peri od no longer than ve years. One basic tenet of that aspect of the program, Haley pointed out, also would be the restric A graphic shows proposed guidelines for applicants seeking funding through a new county tourism grant program. Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 48


tion tha t the funds could never cover more than half the cost of the project. While the focus initially was on new projects, Haley continued, later discussion had cen tered on whether the program should cover renovations or expansions of existing facil ities. For example, Haley said, the county provided funds to improve the Selby Aquatic Center at the YMCA on Potter Park Drive, to enable it to host the Pan-Am competitions and bid for future events. Asheville had one good example of how renovating a facility had enabled it to boost tourism, Haley said. The lobby of a popular club-type venue was remodeled to expand the facilitys seating capacity by 20 percent. I would support the expansion of existing [fa cilities], said TDC Vice Chairman John Ryan. Before she takes the concept to the County Commission in September for its comments, Haley said, it appeared a number of rene ments in the program guidelines would be necessary, including clear denitions of new. TDC member David Brenner, a Longboat Key town commissioner, suggested Haley and her staff employ the words innovative or cre ative instead of new for events and facili ties. Patterson told Haley, I guess I lean towards the capital projects rather than the events, just because the capital projects give you a perma nent capacity. So I dont think we should box ourselves in. After further discussion, the TDC members gave their consensus to Haley to include events in the planning for the program. TDC member Norman Schimmel of Sarasota suggested the application process award more points to an activity that would occur, or fa cility that would be used, at times when the county had few tourism-related events taking place. Haley told the TDC members that after the revised concept with their suggestions is presented to the County Commission in September, she would incorporate the latter boards ideas and bring the plan back to the TDC for further discussion. The County Commission will be responsible for nal approval of t he program. % 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. | Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 49


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


Our delegation was behind us 100 percent on our priority issues. Kathyrn Shea President and CEO The Florida Center for Early Childhood As the clic h goes, if it aint broke, dont x it. Thats why little will change at this years leg islative summit and Legislative Breakfast of Champions, organized each year by the Com munity Alliance of Sarasota County to educate area lawmakers on the highest-priority com munity health issues facing the area. Last November, Alli ance representatives and other stakehold ers met over breakfast with state Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota and Sen. Mike Bennett of Bradenton and staffers from the ofces of state Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice and Reps. Greg Steube and Ray Pilon, both of Sarasota. One by one, the Alliance representatives out lined the most important budget and funding issues local nonprots were facing, pushing the legislators to support them during the spring session in Tallahassee. And, well, it worked. Our delegation was behind us 100 percent on our priority issues, says Kathyrn Shea, the president and CEO of The Florida Center for Early Childhoo d and the chairwoman of the Alliances legislative advocacy com mittee. We have d one a really good job cultivating (From left) Sherri Reynolds of the Sarasota County Schools, state Rep. Doug Holder of Sarasota and Kathryn Shea, Florida Center president and CEO, were among the participants at last years Legisla tive Breakfast. Photo courtesy Kathryn Shea LEGISLATIVE BREAKFAST A SUCCESS FOR LOCAL COMMUNITY HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS WIN-WIN By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor


The modern Florida legislative building stands tall behind the Capitol in Tallahassee. Image from iStockphoto our legislators and letting them know more about who we are. That means more than just asking for money. Shea credits Alliance members for stepping up as a resource for the delegation. When De tert had a question about how the proposed expansion of Medicaid would affect the states elderly population, the group provided an swers, saving Detert valuable staff time. When state Rep. Jim Boyd of Bradenton had a ques tion about funding for the Florida Centers fe tal alcohol clinic, Shea was there to help. We are seen as problem solvers, she says. The Alliance based its strategy on one used by health and human services nonprots on the Treasure Coast, but its still a rarity in Florida politics. It does seem like a no-brainer, but there are actually very few communities in the state of Florida that are holding these legisla tive summits and breakfasts, Shea points out. Last years pattern will largely be re peated this year: The Alliance will is sue invitations to local stakeholders, asking them to suggest issues for the Legislature to focus on. The Alliance will review those proposals and then offer them to working groups at its Sept. 12 summit. Next, the re ned priorities will hit the breakfast table Oct. 17. Th e biggest change to the process will be the addition of a legislative training session, intended to educate local nonprots about the ins and outs of the bill and budget process. Shea says the one source of disappointment during this years legislative session was the decision to reject federal money to expand Medicaid as part of ObamaCare, despite Gov. Rick Scotts well-publicized about-face on the issue. Shea remains abbergasted by the deci sion to leave the federal dollars on the table. Not that the issues dead. Some lawmakers are still urging Scott to call a special session to deal with ObamaCare, and its implementa tion will certainly be debated in the spring of 2014, when the Legislature next meets. Alli ance members and community advocates will surely have something to say about it. At last falls breakfast, Bennett called Shea a wonderful lobbyist who will at wear your ass out. During this years session, the delegation members were so bombarded with community input they called up Shea and asked her to call off the attack. Those same lawmakers will be hearing more from the Alliance soon. % Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 52


The Sa rasota County commissioners last week approved several new expenditures for their 2014 scal year including the hiring of two extra employees to root out unlicensed contractors. However, Commissioner Christine Robinson appeared to be speaking for the entire board at one point when she said, Todays budget [presentation] was, unfortunately for me, confusing and some what disorganized. After spending almost three hours in the mo rning and close to 3 hours that afternoon listening to spending proposals from the coun tys constitutional ofcers including Sher iff Tom Knight (see the related story in this issue) and Clerk of Court Karen Rushing as well as those of county department chiefs, Robinson told her colleagues she could not approve any of the re quests that day. A major change in how personnel are being reallocated to depart ments prompted nu merous commission questions as the after The County Commission listens to budget requests on June 21. Photo by Norman Schimmel AFTER WADING THROUGH ACCOUNTING CHANGES AND DEBATING SOME REQUESTS FOR FUNDING IN THE 2014 FISCAL YEAR, THE COUNTY COMMISSION AGREES TO A FEW NEW EXPENSES QUESTIONS AND CONFUSION From what I see, [the reserve spending] went from seven figures to eight gures today Christine Robinson Commissioner Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


noon wore on. B ecause of board complaints over the past year about how accounting procedures have clouded actual spending on construction projects, County Administrator Randall Reid and his staff dismantled the Op erations and Maintenance (O&M) Department. Instead, as Reid put it in his June 21 budget PowerPoint presentation, Service responsi bilities are aligned directly to the responsible departments. Starting with the 2014 scal year, if a Parks and Recreation Department employee spends time on a project such as the planning for im provements at Siesta Key Public Beach, for example, that expense will be reected in the Parks and Recreation budget not the O&M budget. The other major change has been the creation of two new departments General Services and Field Services, which oversee county maintenance. That change is designed to en sure optimal service delivery and responsibil ity, Reids presentation pointed out. However, those changes meant more than 5,000 line items had to be adjusted before the FY 2014 budget could be drafted, Reid said, and that work was not complete by June 21. Those missing line items, Robinson told staff, made it impossible for her to comprehend the actual stafng changes being proposed for each department. Its been very frustrating to me as well, Reid said. For example, the Natural Resources Depart ments one-page slide in the PowerPoint pre sentation indicated the total number of fulltime equivalent (FTE) employees it has in the current scal year is 46, while 46.35 will be included in the FY 2014 budget. Commissioners Charles Hines and Nora Patterson consider funding requests by Sarabeth Kalajian, the countys library system director. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 54


Amy Meese, director of that department, told the commission her FTE count actually had decreased because of the O&M changes. How ever, she was requesting one new employee: a coastal project manager position to assist with signicant coastal project demands, ac cording to the Natural Resources PowerPoint slide. A chart provided to the commissioners said the position would assist with increased workload needed to offset workload of staff on RESTORE, PDRP and Siesta Key renour ishment. RESTORE refers to the use of funds expected to come to the county as a result of the BP settlement related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. PDRP is the Post Disaster Response Plan on which county staff has been working for the past couple of years. The renourishment project is planned for Turtle Beach, tentatively be ginning in the 2015 scal year, according to a staff report written this spring. Referring to the BP settlement, Patterson told Meese, It may be years before you have that money, prompting Patterson to question the need for the extra employee. Meese responded that her staff was working at capacity and more attention had to be paid to the PDRP process. County department chiefs asked for a number of new expenses in the 2014 scal year budget. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 55


By mid-afternoon, Robinson voiced concern about whether the commissioners even could manage to hear all the department heads pre sentations before the end of the day, given the number of questions the board members were asking. Reid already had noted that only the items in green on the handouts the board members had for each department involved new spend ing. Therefore, Patterson proposed the depart ment chiefs discuss just the green items. I agree with you exactly, Reid replied. I dont know how many times I said that [to staff prior to their presentations]. THE DECISIONS After the last department requests from Spencer Anderson, director of the Field Ser vices Department [think mowing] Patter son suggested the board members move down the list of expenses requested, except for new personnel. I am not going to support any of these right now, Robinson said. Im willing certainly to award some of them, Patterson responded. Id like to go through these, she added, unless a majority of her fel low board members disagreed. I dont mind going through [the list], Mason said. Commissioner Joe Barbetta concurred. The following decisions resulted from that process: By a 4-1 vote, with Robinson dissenting, the board agreed to hire the two new Code En forcement ofcers. After county staff began trackin g data in February 2012, it found 13 fel ony cases, 17 misdemeanor cases, 38 citations and 456 Notices to Obtain Permits had been recorded in regard to unlicensed/unpermit ted activity in the County, according to the PowerPoint presentation. The estimated cost for FY 2014 is $264,842; however, fees would cover about 80 percent of that, with the remainder coming out of the general fund, Assistant County Administrator Mark Cunningham explained. Additionally, staff would be seeking board ap proval to amend the county zoning code to require that every contractor conspicuously post the county work permit on site, Cunning ham said. The Florida Building Code says only that the permit be kept on the site, he added. Referring to the request for the two new em ployees, Vice Chairman Charles Hines said, This is very, very imp ortant. [Contractors] Commissioner Christine Robinson. File photo Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 56


that are doin g it wrong need to be put out of business. By a 3-2 vote, with Robinson and Hines in the minority, the board approved an appro priation of $100,000 for the Library System to enable it to purchase new materials for col lections. Libraries Director Sarabeth Kalajian requested the funding, saying, Our collection is pretty lean and very well-used. The county spent $1.5 million on its collec tion in the 2007 scal year, Kalajian pointed out. The next year, that amount dropped to $500,000 because of cutbacks necessitated by the recession. The collections are more important than the facilities, Patterson said. Barbetta seconded Pattersons motion. Its a proven fact your library system probably is one of the best around, he said. Per capita, its very inexpensive. By a 3-2 vote, with Robinson and Barbetta dissenting, the board approved about $246,000 for specialized equipment a long-arm mower for what Field Services Director Anderson referred to as vertical vegetation maintenance, or tree-trimming, on the coun tys rights of way, plus the cost of one pickup truck to transport the crew to the mower. An initial motion by Patterson for one longarm mower, plus $100,000 for the rehabilita tion of landscaped medians, failed on a 2-3 vote, with only Mason supporting Patterson. I still feel the most important thing that we need to do is to maintain the appearance of our community, Patterson said. I agree with your reasoning, Mason replied. However, Barbetta pointed out that Ander son had told the board Anderson had not researched whether private rms that trim trees for utility companies could handle the vertical vegetation mowing at a lower cost. Moreover, Barbetta noted, referring to oth er comments Anderson had made, We had all this equipment and we sold it and Im still disturbed by that whole thing and what weve gone through in the past six years on mowing Its come back to bite us, he added of county employees decision to sell mowing equipment during the recession to cut costs. Its a hard thing to forget, he said, though he added he was not criticizing Anderson, who was not su pervising mowing at that time. After the rst motion failed, Hines suggested the county buy one piece of equipment and one pickup truck. THE RESERVES By the time the discussions ended on June 21, Robinson pointed out that the board had just increased the amount of money it would be drawing from its reserve fund to plug the gap in the FY 2014 budget. During the June 12 workshop, Steve Botelho, the countys chief nancial planning ofcer, had projected the amount at $27.7 million, though he said the county used only $9.2 mil lion in FY 2012 and indicated it might not use much more than that in FY 2013 or FY 2014. From what I see, Robinson told her col leagues, [the reserve spending] went from seven gures to eight g ures today % Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 57


Culverhouse Nature Park includes a scenic pond. Photo courtesy Sarasota County NEWS BRIEFS Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, Friends of Sarasota County Parks, Friends of The Legacy Trail, Friends of Palmer Ranch Parks, Friends of Culverhouse Community Garden, the Sarasota YMCA and the Palmer Ranch Master Association will host an open house celebration from 10 a.m. to noon Sat urday, June 29, at the new Culverhouse Na ture Park, 7301 McIntosh Road, Sarasota, the county has announced. Culverhouse Nature Park is at the northern terminus of The Legacy Trail. Sarasota Coun ty acquired the 82-acre property in July 2010 through a donation from the Culverhouse fam ily, a news release says. The new park is one of seven trailheads for The Legacy Trail. In addition to providing access to the trail, the news rel ease notes, the park offers opportuni ties for picnicking, hiking, bicycling and gar dening. The park hours will be from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April through October and from 6 6 p.m. from November through March, the release notes. Guided nature walks, community garden tours, surrey bicycle rides and refreshments will be available during the open house, along with park information and displays, the re lease adds. For more information, contact the Sara sota County Call Center at 861-5000 (TTY: 711) or visit the Sarasota County website at CULVERHOUSE NATURE PARK CELEBRATION SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY


sisted the RLTCC team in our goal of making a difference in our community, he added in the release. A standard annual youth pass, which costs $166.92 (nonprot group rates vary), gives children access to the many amenities at RLTCC, including the aquatic center, game room, gymnasium and a variety of summer youth programs, the release points out. While the City of Sarasota has worked diligently to maintain economical prices for most bud gets, some families cannot afford to purchase a youth pass, the release notes. The youth pass sponsorship program was established to assist those families. Although based in Pinellas County, The Kai serman Foundation has ties to Sarasota, the release says. The nonprot organization seeks out youth programs in the region in need of nancial assistance to benet the greater com munity, the release adds. RLTCC is located at 1845 34 th St. To learn more about the facility, visit More than 100 eligible Sarasota children will be able to play and learn at the Robert L. Tay lor Community Complex (RLTCC) at no cost for one year, thanks to a generous donation from a St. Petersburg-based philanthrop ic organization, the City of Sarasota has an nounced. RLTCC accepted a $7,000 donation from The Kaiserman Foundation, earmarked for RL TCCs youth pass sponsorship program for underprivileged children, a news release says. The donation will cover the costs for more than 100 children, ages 18 and under, to have full access to the recreational center, the re lease adds. We are truly grateful for the Kaiserman Foun dations generosity, said Jerry Fogle, RLTCC manager, in the release. The Robert L. Taylor Community Complex team believes that in or der to effect positive change in a community, a society must start by empowering its youth and instilling in them a sense of worth, pride and honor. The Kaiserman Foundation has as The Robert L. Taylor Community Complex is located in north Sarasota. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota CITY COMMUNITY COMPLEX GETS DONATION FOR CHILDRENS PASSES Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 59


Demolition of the original Gulf Gate Library began at the 7112 Curtiss Avenue site in Sara sota on June 21. The new library, which will be a two-story structure, will be erected on the same prop erty. In the interim, the library is operating in about 20,100 square feet of space in Westeld Sara sota Square Mall, located at 8201 S. Tamiami Trail. The new Gulf Gate Library is scheduled to open in the autumn of 2014 with an increase in A contractor begins to tear down the original Gulf Gate Library building on Curtiss Avenue on June 21. Photo by Norman Schimmel GULF GATE LIBRARY DEMOLITION UNDER WAY IN SARASOTA spa ce from 17,303 square feet to 26,000 square feet, according to an update provided to the County Commission on June 21. When the County Commission gave nal ap proval to the design of the facility, in late June 2012, the grand opening was planned for May 2014. The cost of the new library is about $10.1 million, according to the current scal year budget. Staff Reports Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 60


The revenue bond rating for the City of Sara sota Utilities Department was upgraded last week to AA from AA-, the city has announced. The upgrade by Fitch Ratings signies the Utilities Department is financially healthy and carries a very low risk of default into the foreseeable future, a city news release says. It also represents potential future savings on interest rates, the release notes. AA is FitchRatings third highest rating, just behind AAA and AA+, it adds. This is good news for the nancial state of the City, said City Manager Tom Barwin in the release. Our Utilities debt burden is declining and our liquidity has greatly improved with the sale of the Hi-Hat Ranch property, Bar win pointed out. Meanwhile, were executing a signicant long-range capital improvement program to continue providing excellent sew er and water service to our customers without increasing our debt. Receiving this upgrade now truly speaks to the quality, professional job staff is doing to position the city to ensure its nancial health. Fitch Ratings cites several factors that create a stable nancial outlook for the Utilities De partment, including the following, according to the release: Scheduled declines in annual debt service this year and in 2016. Increased liquidity because of the sale of 2,500 acres of city-owned property in 2011. Systematic predictable rate increases. Bond ratings range from AAA, the highest investment quality, to D, which indicates default. CITY OF SARASOTAS UTILITIES BOND RATING UPGRADED The seven Sara sota Police Department of cers who will be losing their jobs at the end of this scal year referenced in the June 21 article A Law enforcement quagmire were funded through a federal grant, City of Saraso ta Public Information Ofcer Jan Thornburg told The Sarasota News Leader It has been known since the grant was accepted that the funding would no longer be available after a certain point, she told the News Leader John Lege, the citys nance director, further claried the information this week for the News Leader He said the grant covered the rst three years of the ofcers employment, with the proviso that the city would pay for their fourth year of employment. That fourth year is ending on Sept. 30, which is the last day of the citys scal year. The average annu al cost f or a city police ofcer is slightly more than $100,000, according to budget records. The June 21 article, Tent city opens incorrect ly reported the source of a magazine article, Million-Dollar Murray That article appeared in The New Yorker Additionally, Liz Nolan, manager of Selby Li brary, who was quoted in the article, asked the News Leader to allow her to clarify her comments. She said she believes homelessness cannot be remedied by just spending more money on shelters. Instead, she believes the communi ty should be putting money into proper case management services, which can help put the homeless on paths to better lives. CLARIFICATIONS Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 61


Sarasota County District 4 Commissioner Nora Patterson has been named the recipient of the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) 2013 Presidential Advocate Award, the orga nization has announced. The award was presented to Patterson on Wednesday, June 26, during FACs Annual Conference and Educational Exposition, be ing held at Marriott Tampa Waterside Hotel in Tampa. The Presidential Advocacy Award is given annually to those county commission ers from around the state who have shown exceptional leadership in partnering with FAC to advance the counties legislative agenda, a news release says. Patterson was honored for her leadership during the most recent legislative session in Tallahassee, the release notes. Working with the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation, she advocated on behalf of county home rule to allow smoking bans in public spaces and sought to keep the Legislature from passing a state law that would take precedence over county fertilizer ordinances designed to pro tect local water quality. Patterson was ele cted to the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners in 1998 following two terms on the Sarasota City Commission. During her career in public service Patterson has served on nu merous boards and commit tees including the Sarasota County Tourist Development Council which she chairs the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Airport Advisory Board, the West Coast Inland Navigational District, the Peace River Authority and the Tampa Bay Regional Trans portation Authority. In addition, she serves on the Florida Association of Counties Board of Directors. A native of New York City, Patterson attended Duke University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a postgraduate degree in educational psychology from the University of Florida. She and her husband John moved to Sarasota in 1970. Commissioner Nora Patterson. Photo by Rachel Hackney COMMISSIONER PATTERSON WINS PRESIDENTIAL ADVOCATE AWARD The Sarasota News Leader No Nonsense Reporting Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 62


The Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) has elected Sarasota County School Board member Caroline Zucker as vice presi dent, the organization has announced. The action came on June 13 during the FS BAs general meeting in Tampa. Zucker, who was elected to the post by the organizations general membership, is serving a one-year term until mid-June 2014. Patty Hightower of Escambia County is the current president, a news release says. The FSBA is a nonprot organization repre senting the members of the 67 countywide school boards in the state. Its mission is to increase student achievement through the de velopment of effective school board leader ship and advocacy for public education, the release adds. Zucker said she is pleased to serve as vice president of FSBA because it is an opportunity to inuence the direction of the organization and legislation related to public education, the news release notes. I want all children to have the educational advantages that will help them live up to their full potential, said Zucker in the release. This position will allow me to participate in the de cisions that will further that goal throughout Floridas public school districts. She chairs the FSBA Bylaws and Procedures Committee and serves on the Advocacy Sub committee of the Legislative Committee, the Long-Range Planning Committee, the Charter Schools Committee and the Task Force on As sessment and Accountability. Zucker has served for 15 years as a Saraso ta County School Board member (1992-2000 and 2006 -2013 ). In 2012, she was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Juvenile Justice and De linquency Prevention State Advisory Group. The group, which is mandated by federal law, advises the state about compliance, require ments and funding related to the federal Ju venile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act. It has 20 members, the news release adds. She was one of the founders of the Sarasota County Juvenile Justice Council in the early 1990s and has served at various times as its chairwoman, vice chairwoman, secretary and treasurer, the release continues. The coun cil was a forerunner of the Juvenile Justice Board. She also has served as chairwoman of the State Juvenile Justice Committee for the Florida School Boards Association, the release notes. Beginning in 2009, she served a two-year term as chairwoman of the Juve nile Justice Board for the 12 th Judicial Circuit of Florida, which includes Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto coun ties. Caroline Zucker/Contributed photo ZUCKER ELECTED VICE PRESIDENT OF SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 63


Most Sara sota County government ofces, li braries, recreation centers and transit services will be closed Thursday, July 4, to observe the national Independence Day holiday, the coun ty has announced. However, the Payne Park Tennis Center will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Ar lington Park Recreation Center will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) will not operate on July 4. Garbage, recycling and yard waste collection schedules for the July 4 holiday will be de City o f Saras ota administration ofces will be closed Thursday, July 4, in observance of In dependence Day. Garbage, recycling, yard waste and bulk waste will not be picked up that day. The regularly scheduled collection will occur one day later, a city news release says. The Friday collection will also occur one day later, on Saturday, July 6. MOST COUNTY OFFICES TO CLOSE FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY, JULY 4 CITY OFFICES TO BE CLOSED FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY layed one day, with collection happening on the day after the regularly scheduled day, a news release notes. Thursdays collection will be done on Friday, and Fridays collection will be done on Saturday. The landll administrative ofce and Chem ical Collection Center at 4000 Knights Trail Road in Nokomis and the Chemical Collection Centers at 8750 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota, and 250 S. Jackson Road, Venice, will be closed July 4. For more information about July 4 holiday schedules, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000 (TTY 7-1-1). Other City of Sarasota holiday hours are as follows: Bobby Jones Golf Club: regular hours (6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Lido Pool: regular hours (10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.) Robert L. Taylor Community Complex: The facility will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.; the pool will be closed. Steigerwaldt-Jockey Childrens Fountain in Bayfront Park: closed % 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 June 28, 2013 Page 64


Members of the female crime ring who were arrested by the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce in November 2012 pleaded guilty this week and have been sentenced for a variety of charges stemming from their two-week crime spree, the ofce has announced. Caroline Catarzi pleaded guilty to 14 burglary charges plus six counts of Dealing in Stolen Property and Providing False Information To a Pawn Broker, the report says. She received a 10-year prison sentence with one year of com munity control and four years of drug offend er probation. Alyssa Conrad pleaded guilty to charges relat ed to 14 burglaries plus eight counts of Deal ing in Stolen Property and Providing False Information To a Pawn Broker, the report continues. S he also received a 10-year prison sentence with one year of community control added and four years of drug offender proba tion. Samantha Smith pleaded guilty to seven bur glary charges plus four counts of Dealing in Stolen Property and Providing False Informa tion To a Pawn Broker. She was sentenced to four years in prison and 10 years of probation, the report adds. Brandy Kinney pleaded guilty to six burglary charges and was sentenced to just under a year in jail plus four years of probation. This group was suspected of more than 30 burglaries that were investigated by both the Sheriffs Ofce and the Sarasota Police De partment, the report n otes. MEMBERS OF FEMALE CRIME RING SENTENCED THIS WEEK Caroline Catarzi/Con tributed photo Alyssa Conrad/Con tributed photo Samantha Smith/Con tributed photo Brandy Kinney/Con tributed photo CRIME BLOTTER


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce has ar rested six people in connection with an orga nized retail crime ring that reportedly stole nearly $2,000 in merchandise from Burlington Coat Factory in Sarasota. Throughout an investigation into thefts May 11, May 15 and June 10, detectives worked with store loss prevention ofcers to identify suspects and their roles in the operation, a Sheriffs Ofce report says. The ofcers identied one suspect as Asia Ros ier after seeing her mug shot in reports of her May 20 arrest for Child Neglect in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, the report adds. ORGANIZED RETAIL CRIME RING MEMBERS ARRESTED That helped detectives identify the remaining co-conspirators, who were identied as Ken dalla Goodman, 22, of 1572 31st St.; Clinecia Johnson, 20, Clashawn Johnson, 21, and Jauo ra Robinson, 22, all of 2133 Mango Ave.; and Kenisha Pittman, 22, of 3026 Gillsepie Ave, Sarasota. Clinecia Johnson faces three counts of Grand Theft, the report says. Robinson was charged as an Accessory After the Fact to Grand Theft for allegedly driving the getaway vehicle in one case, the report notes. The other women are charged with one count each of Grand Theft. Kendalla Goodman/Contrib uted photo Clashawn Johnson/Contrib uted photo Jauora Robinson/Contribut ed photo Clinecia Johnson/Contribut ed photo Kenisha Pittman/Contribut ed photo Asia Rosier/Contributed pho to Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 66


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce has ar rested Michele Whitehead, 59, of 1509 Over brook Road, Englewood, for allegedly steal ing thousands of dollars from a disabled client who hired Whitehead to prepare her taxes. The 60-year-old victim lives in St. Petersburg and has chronic health problems that render her bedridden and cause her to be frequently hospitalized, the report says. The victim hired Whitehead in August 2011 to le two years of tax returns for her because she thought White head was a CPA, the report adds. The victim said she gave Whitehead a $2,400 retainer, agreed to pay $15 an hour for work exceeding that amount and gave Whitehead durable power of attorney, the report notes. However, detectives learned that Whitehead stopped bank statements from being delivered to the victims home, and over a period of a year made seven wire transfers from the vic tims account totaling more than $7,200, the report says. Invoices for the tax preparation totaled just $708.75. WOMAN CHARGED WITH STEALING FROM DISABLED CLIENT Whitehead is charged with Exploitation of a Disabled Adult and Grand Theft for exploiting the trust and breaching the duciary duty of the power of attorney. The Sarasota County Sheriffs Office has ar rested James Hunter Santo, 27 whose last known address was 8503 Alam Ave., North Port for two crimes, thanks to finger prints he left behind on a 7-Up can in the most recent case, the office has reported. Early Tuesday morning, June 18, someone broke into the home of a 91-year-old wom FINGERPRINTS ON SOFT DRINK CONTAINER LEAD TO SUSPECTS ARREST an on L ord Street in Englewood, a Sheriffs Office report says. Deputies discovered the suspect left a soda can on the workbench in the victims garage before he allegedly used a chisel to pry open the door to the home and steal items from the living room, kitchen and bedroom as the victim slept, ac cording to the report. Michele Whitehead/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 67


Ofcers with the Sarasota Police Department are investigating an armed robbery that was reported in the 2100 block of North Cocoanut Avenue Tuesday night, June 25, the depart ment has announced. About 9:35 p.m., the male victim told ofcers, he arrived home and climbed out of his car in his driveway. Then he saw a man he did not know appear from behind a van also parked in the driveway. The victim was carrying a briefcase which contained personal documents, the report says. The suspect, who was wearing a dark hoodie, produced a handgun and held it to the back of the victims head, the report notes. The suspect yelled at the victim not to look at him, then pressed the gun to the side of the victims head, the report adds. The s uspect reportedly stole the briefcase as well as jewelry the victim was wearing including a watch valued at $100 and ed westbound on foot, the report continues. A perimeter was quickly established, the re port says; however, a K-9 unit was unable to locate the suspect. The suspect is described as being Afri can-American, 6 feet 1 inch in height and weighing 180 pounds. He last was seen wear ing a black hoodie of a silk-like material and black sweat pants, according to the report. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Sarasota Police Department Bureau of Criminal Investigations at 954-7070, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 366-TIPS (8477) or going online at http://www. SUSPECT SOUGHT IN ARMED ROBBERY ON COCOANUT AVENUE The next day, latent print technicians identi ed two ngerprints as belonging to Santo, the report says. Detectives then found that Santo had pawned several pieces of the victims sto len jewelry, including her wedding ring, which she had kept in a jewelry box on her dresser, the report continues. Detectives arrested Santo on June 21 and charged him with Occupied Burglary, Dealing in Stole n Property and Providing False Infor mation to a Pawn Broker. They already had an arrest warrant for Santo for allegedly stealing checks from an 82-yearold man earlier this year, so he is also charged with two counts of Forgery and one count of Criminal Use of Personal Identication, the report no tes. James Santo/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 68


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce has ar rested a man who reportedly stole keys off a key rack at the Potter Park YMCA to unlock vehicles and steal the victims belongings, the ofce has announced. Detectives arrested Peter Strohminger, 24, of 5518 Eastwind Drive, Sarasota, in connec tion with incidents that occurred on June 4 and June 6, the report says. Each time, Strohminger checked in at the front desk, but instead of working out, he walked to the weight room key rack, took a set of keys and headed outside, the report adds. In the rst instance, he allegedly broke into a car and stole several items out of the victims purse. In the second instance, he reportedly took an other set of keys and approached the vehicle but was caught by the victim and a supervisor from the YMCA. Strohminger is charged with two counts of Petit Theft, one count of Burglary and one count of Attempted Burglary. At the time of his arrest, Strohminger was out of jail on bond following his arrest in February on ve cases of Dealin g in Stolen Property and Providing False Ownership Information To a Pawn Deal er. He has already been released on bond on the new charges, the report notes. The Sheriffs Ofce strongly recommends that patrons of all local gyms retain posses sion of their keys or properly secure them at all times, the report adds. Peter Strohminger/Contributed photo MAN ARRESTED FOR STEALING KEYS TO BURGLARIZE CARS If you tell the truth, you dont have to remember anything. Mark Twain Dont have your own subscription to The Sarasota News Leader ? Subscribe for FREE and receive a weekly notication when the latest issue is available online. FREE SUBSCRIPTION Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 69


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EDITORIAL OPINION LET US NOT GILD THE ALREADY GOLDEN CALF EDITORIAL It has a mouthful for a title and a multimil lion-dollar public responsibility to both the City and County of Sarasota. It is the Down town Community Redevelopment Agency Ex tension Study Committee, or DCRAESC. This committee will be pivotal over the next seven months, because it will recommend a future for $7 million in annual revenue now going to a tiny urban patch in downtown Sarasota. Nearly 30 years ago, Sarasotas downtown was on the skids. The historic area looked anything but historic. It looked old, rundown and vacant, without any great prospects for the future. But in 1986, the city and county crafted an historic pact called a community redevelopment agency (CRA) to ght slum and blight in the down town area. Today Sarasotas vibrant downtown is a tes timony to what millions in public money can do for a private business district. Since 1986 more than $85 million was lavished on down town, or an average of about $3 million per year. About $20 million was used to provide more parking, $11.4 million went to infrastructure improvements and $7.3 million went for Eighty-ve million dollars is a lot of property tax money. So before the county extends the downtown CRA, shuts it down or establishes a new one elsewhere, taxpayers deserve to know how wisely the money was spent.


property acqu isition. On the other hand, $6.1 million went to public-private partnerships, and $20.7 million (about one-quarter of the total) went to transfers. The agreement is good for 30 years. With 2016 fast approaching, the committee was empan eled to study the post-CRA environment. Continue the CRA, modify it or kill it seem to be the three options. At this point, we are convinced the best option is the last one. The CRA has nished its job of ending slum and blight, and now it is time for somebody else to benet from the revenue stream. A community redevelopment agency is not unique to Sarasota. CRAs were enabled by the Florida Legislature in 1969. Englewood has one; Bradenton has three of them; and oth er communities across the state have them, too. The CRAs all depend on a clever funding mechanism through which a portion of city and county taxes are diverted to pay for im provements in a specic area. In the case of Sarasota, the agreement froze the city and county receipts for property tax revenue. Any increase in property values and property taxes paid on them would go to the CRA. In the beginning, the receipts were tiny, but over time the property values in the downtown core have soared. About $3.1 million in city property taxes an nually are apportioned strictly to the CRA; for the county, the number is $3.5 million. Part of the growth has come from ination, and for a bit of time some of it was the result of property speculation. Through thick and thin, the difference between the 1986 base and cur rent taxes grew and gre w. In hindsight, we know not all of the money was spent wisely. Certainly, the incentive to Whole Foods to build its grocery store down town made the area more livable. But in centives to the New York Times to keep the headquarters of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune downtown seem a poor investment. Redistrib uting some of the funds to buttress the Sara sota Police Department budget appears even more improvident. It is all water under the bridge: decisions made and the money gone. The Sarasota County Commission entered into the CRA agreement because it realized a living, beating heart in the city was vital for the areas biggest industry tourism. If the downtown were to collapse as it had in many other Florida cities the damage would spread far beyond the city center. It would hurt tourism countywide. Thanks to ination, property speculation and real property value growth, downtowns worth swelled beyond the 1986 imaginings of either the City or County commission. But it brought problems as well. County commissioners saw a vibrant down town skimming $3.5 million every year in county revenues. In fact, the countys budget projections for 2016, at the CRAs end, show the county portion of revenue coming back into the general fund. And there are many voices in the community beyond those of county commissioners suggesting slum and blight in other areas deserve CRA-like atten tion. The Laurel-Nokomis-Osprey area has begged for a library for more than a decade, to no Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 72


avail. And as county revenues took a nose dive in the still-lingering recession, the possi bility for library expansion vanished. But the downtown Sarasota CRA continued to reap its share of county funds. North Port has requested a CRA, as has Ven ice. But county commissioners, eyeing anoth er 30-year draw on their taxes for a small and specic area, are reluctant to make another long-term commitment. And long-term it must be, because to be successful, it has to use the compound interest model of property value growth. The time for the downtown Sarasota CRA is drawing to a close. Most of the funding still to come is already devoted to paying off bond issues, subsidizing the police and other com mitments. Thus, we can expect little new from the downtown CRA. By most measures, it has been a success. The CRA, coupled with a variety of downtown or ganizations that evolved over the past three decades, deserves a hearty round of congrat ulation. Slum and blight are a thing of the past. The DCRAESC now should engage in a round of nancial analysis to determine what worked and what did not. Whole Foods, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune building, individu al public-private partnerships, Police Depart ment subsidies: Each of these could be ex plored to determine the enduring worth of the investments. These types of analyses will be invaluable should the county want to extend the current downtown Sarasota CRA or establish another one. While the county has a habit of asking cit izen advi sory boards for analysis and advice, it also has a habit of ignoring their good work. Eighty-ve million dollars is a lot of property tax money. So before the county extends the downtown CRA, shuts it down or establishes a new one elsewhere, taxpayers deserve to know how wisely the money was spent. Allowing the current CRA to expire will free up both the city and county to spend their money more widely. For the city, for example, the money could fund operation of the Lido Beach pool. For the county, that long-await ed Laurel library potentially could become a reality. If downtown cannot survive without the in jection of $7 million per year in public money, maybe it deserves to die. That is not to say the county should abandon any commitment to the city, because the city is more important to the countys future than ever. But limiting the spending to downtown Sarasota seems shortsighted when so many other areas of the county need a ttention. % 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 in clude the name, street address and telephone number 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 June 28, 2013 Page 73


Featuring Sarasota Leisure SARASOTA LEISURE Inside THE WALK


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By Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer Editors note: Staff Photographer Norman Schimmel was in downtown Sarasota on the evening of June 23 to join the crowd in watching Nik Wallenda. Included among Schimmels photos are a number featuring Sailor Circus student performers entertain ing the audience before the walk began. The festivities were hosted by Circus Sarasota and Mattisons City Grille on Lemon Avenue. The TV has just warmed up; the magnicent Grand Canyon is in front of me on the screen. And after only five seconds of viewing its scope and depth, I am already dizzy and my stomach is doing ipops. I am among about 1 billion people worldwide who are collectively one very anxious ball of nerves as we await Nik Wallendas 1,500-foot wire walk across and through Hell Hole Bend, AZ. Jim Cantore, nationally known meteorologist (call him a weather expert) is describing some variables that can happen and change within an instant. In another area nearby, Nik is focusing on his upcoming walk. Jims lectures are very informative and fasci nating. The show is scheduled for more than two hours on TV, and the two co-hosts from NBC, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist, are try People begin gathering along Lemon Avenue, where they are greeted by representatives from Circus Sarasota with which Nik Wallenda has performed and Sailor Circus. AS VIEWERS HOLD THEIR BREATH AROUND THE WORLD AND IN SARASOTA, NIK WALLENDA COMPLETES ANOTHER STUNNING PERFORMANCE THE WALK


Acrobats with Sailor Circus demonstrate their skills during the pre-walk festivities. ing their hardest to keep us interested while we wait anxiously (and safely) to see The Walk. Seemingly, everyone who knows Nik is being interviewed. Even Joel Osteen, the celebrity pastor, is there, along with Niks wife and extended family. The stunning aerial photos of the Grand Can yon capture my attention because I know I can only see this sector through the lens of a photographer who is shooting from the inside of a helicopter. This area that Nik has chosen to cross is not the site that has been open and available to visitors. Hell Hole Bend is deso late devoid of people and somewhat other worldly. It appears to be timeless. Nature has f ormed its beauty, which is part of the reason Nik has chosen it for his latest challenge. As I was being lulled into another narrative by the co-hosts, suddenly the camera panned to a different location. Nik was nally beginning his walk and I was holding my breath. Even though I have known the basic facts of his walk (2-inch-thick cable; 1,400 feet high), it is only when I watch him navigate and contin uously use prayer to inspire himself that I feel the full impact of this journey. Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 77


The combination of breathtak ing scenery from afar and Niks wire-walking skills shown up close is ama zing. His fathers soothing voice is guiding him along and supporting Nik as he conquers the erce winds and the desert heat. As Nik approach es the nish line, he begins a jaunty and condent run toward his waiting family. And, nally, we all let out that giant breath we had been holding for the past 22 minutes. I know that Nik Wallenda is at the pinnacle of his profession as an aeri alist, but I would also like to imagine that his moms beautiful handmade shoes had a special magic in them to keep him safe. Congratulations, Nik! You were fantastic. % Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 78


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I like to take my time. Sure, its a temptation to rush. Each issue of The Sarasota News Leader is brimfull of in-depth coverage of all the news and goings-on in Sarasota County. And it has delightful and informative feature stories. Thanks to its partnership with This Week In Sarasota I always know what the most exciting happenings are each week. Plus, it is simply so beautiful, with photography that takes my breath away. There is so much there, I dont know where to begin. So it is hard to resist the urge to read it all at once. But I know better. Take your time and indulge in all that it has to offer. You have a whole week. Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. The Progressive Voice of Southwest Florida


SIESTA SEEN It all started on Friday, June 21, with an email from Prudie Varro, the resort manager at Sun sets by the Key, located at 5203 Avenida Na varra, which is parallel to Ocean Boulevard. After apologizing for her long email to come, Varro went on to describe in great detail what can be summed up simply as a smelly mess. As convenient as the inns location is for her guests, she explained in her missive to coun ty staff and commissioners, that also poses problems, not the least of which is the noise emanating from the bars and restaurants. With this particular email, however, Varro zeroed in on a source of irritation that had reached critical mass. COUNTY CODE ENFORCEMENT STAFF ADDRESSES TRASHY PROBLEMS; WORK CONTINUES ON AN EFFORT TO CHANGE THE COUNTY CODE GOVERNING OUTDOOR DISPLAYS OF MERCHANDISE By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor MED RES Photo: Dumpsters and trash on ground by Sunsets on Key June 21 2013 Garbage is piled up adjacent to the dumpsters near Sunsets on the Key. Photo courtesy of Sunsets on the Key


Varro wrote, In 2 006, Sunsets on the Key, and surrounding businesses, were told that it had become mandatory to conceal trash contain ers: trash containers were no longer allowed to be seen from the street. At an expense of nearly $3,000, she added, she made sure the inns relatively small trash receptacles were enclosed. All of our neighbors up and down Avenida Navarra did the same, she continued. During the last many, many months, in fact for almost a year now, the large dumpsters at the corner of [Avenida] Navarra and [Avenida] Messina are not only out in the open 24/7 usually and literally partially in the street. They are lled and overlled with trash strewn about on the ground, the majority being food refuse from the 3 restaurant vendors at Key Corners. It is a disgusting sight and smell. Varro added, Even more outrageous, the lids are never closed, which had been creating a haven for maggots, rodents, [crows] and dis ease. The dumpsters, she pointed out, are never out-of-sight; always create an eyesore; are a pedestrian and vehicular hazard not to mention the STENCH!! It permeates the entire area. Regardless of whether someone is just walk ing down the street while trying to get to the Village businesses or lying out at the Sunsets by the Key pool, which is about 175 feet away from the dumpsters, she noted, the smell is horrendous Varro reported that Key Corners had enclosed areas where the dumpsters used to be kept, but those spaces are just lled with junk and debris. The 5-foot by 6-foot gates to those en closures are left wide open, she pointed out, obstructing the sidewalk and leaving pedestri ans no choice but to walk in the street to get to the Village, all the while having to dodge the trafc in the street at this busy, congested area. Varro continued, Another offender is The Arches property, whose dumpsters sit directly next to our pool area ... literally 10 feet from our guests trying to enjoy our pool and hot tub. The lids of the dumpster at the back of the property alongside our pool are never closed, nor are they ever washed out. She even included an email from a recent guest, who had written, I want to say again how much we enjoyed our time in Siesta Key, and particularly how much we enjoyed stay ing at your property. As we discussed, there is one main issue that is preventing us from booking a trip for Spring Break and Summer of 2014, and thats the smell from the next door garbage dumpster that really interrupts a nice relaxing time at the pool. The smell is so off-putting, that we couldnt spend much time in that area at all, and thats a deal break er for all of us. Sadly, that means that not only is your business with us jeopardized, but the surrounding businesses in Siesta Key (restau rants, shops, etc.) might not have the bene t of the money that our group of 10 spends while were there. Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 84


The writer added, We really hope that your efforts to resolve this issue are successful so we can rebook asap! Varro also included an email from a resident complaining about the dumpsters adjacent to Sunsets on the Key. Moreover, Varro provided photos of the situ ation. Although she was pretty descriptive in her prose, the photos put icing on the cake, so to speak. Finally, Varro wrote, I encourage you to take a walk down our street if you dare, and see and smell this Jewel of Sarasota. Youll im mediately understand my complaint since it has now progressed to both borders of our property. I await your immediate response, as this situation is no longer tolerable. As a follow-up to Varros email, Michael Shay, vice president of the Siesta Key Association, investigated Varros complaints then sent his own email to Sandra Jones, operational man ager in the countys Code Enforcement Ofce, and John Lally, the keys Code Enforcement ofcer. He also took photos. I am aware that there has been a lot of at tention recently to warning/citing business owners for ignori ng the [Siesta Key Overlay The tops of the dumpsters on the Key Corners property, near the Broken Egg, are not closed and the dumpsters themselves are in the street on June 22. Photo courtesy of Michael Shay Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 85


District] ordinanc es, Shay wrote. I trust that these infractions will be resolved quickly. Thanks much for your attention to this. On June 23, Commissioner Nora Patterson, who lives on Siesta Key, responded to Shay and made certain county staff was aware of the situation with the dumpsters. She wrote, This kind of thing is bad for the tourism in dustry on Siesta Key which is a huge economic driver and seems simple to correct with some more enforcement of the codes and little cost to the businesses. On June 24, Tom Polk, director of the countys Planning and Development Services ofce, re sponded to Patterson th at Co de Enforcement Ofcer John Lally investigated the complaints today and the following actions were taken: A Notice of Violation was issued to the Broken Egg for their dumpsters being left out and for the debris around the dump sters. He added that Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Burns would make a fol low-up inspection on Friday afternoon, June 28, after the dumpsters had been emptied to see whether employees put the dumpsters behind the enclosed fence. If not, then further code enforcement action will occur (Special Magistrate process), he added. This is a dumpster at The Arches property off Avenida Navarro on June 22. Photo courtesy of Michael Shay Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 86


A Notice of Violati on was also issued to the owner of the Arches Plaza to replace the doors (10 day deadline) of the enclosure and to make certain the lids are closed on the dumpsters. A Courtesy Notice was given to Tropical Breeze for leaving [its] dumpster out after it was emptied. Polk noted, Code Enforcement staff will continue to monitor this situation on Siesta Key. Then on June 25, Shay sent out another email, thanking the Code Enforcement staff but pointing out he had been in the Village that night and had observed the following situa tions: The Broken Egg dumpsters were shoved into the enclosure: thats a good thing but the enclosure doors couldnt close because of all the junk in the enclosure. The recycling bins were on the street but maybe that is because they are going to be emptied tomorrow? [T]he dumpster in the Archers had its lid closed, but a bar lock had been installed on it so no one but authorized individuals could open it to dump items into it. That lock, he noted, prevents the top from clos ing completely and needs to be xed. Shay further wrote that neither the dumpster in the municipal parking lot between Aveni da Madera and Avenida de Mayo no r the dumpster diago nally across the street from the municipal lot (behind the shops where Beach Bites is located on Avenida Madera) is enclosed. The owner of the latter property says that he wont comply until the Village dumpster is in compliance! Shay added. I guess violations can be contagious! Mark Smith of Smith Architects, who heads up the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp., has told Siesta Key Village Association mem bers in past meetings that he has been work ing to get the dumpster enclosed in the munic ipal lot. Regular readers of this column know that county wheels turn slowly sometimes when the Maintenance Corp. asks about get ting things done occasionally because of a need to gure out how to apply the county ordinance governing the Village upkeep. Shay added in his June 24 email, Its just too bad that these violations were not handled proactively and had to be brought to every ones attention by an unhappy business own er. Patterson wrote back to Shay the same day, thanking him for his efforts and pointing out that, while it is not a good excuse, the fact of the matter is that the county has not had sufcient Code Enforcement staff in the past few years. Nonetheless, the only new Code Enforcement employees the County Commission has autho rized so far for the 2014 year will be looking to shut down the operations of unlicensed con tractors. (See the related story in this issue.) Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 87


UPDATE ON PROPOSED SKOD CHANGES In her June 25 email to Shay, Patterson also provided an update on the efforts of a group of Village merchants who want to change the Siesta Key Overlay District ordinance (SKOD) to allow them more latitude in displaying mer chandise outside their shops. After complaints were aired at length during the June 4 SKVA meeting, some of the mer chants created a subcommittee at the sug gestion of SKVA ofcers to delve into the issue. They had visited Patterson, she wrote Shay, to discuss their frustrations. Patter son added that their initiative is a topic all the original SKOD stakeholders might want to address. She had given the subcommittee members the contact information for the SKA, she noted, so it would have a chance to dis cuss the proposal. FIREWORKS! It is not too late to purchase VIP tickets for the July Fourth picnic and reworks show on Siesta Public Beach. The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce is sell ing the tickets for the 23 rd annual July Fourth Fireworks Extravaganza. Martha Smith, owner of Le Grand Bisou Caribbean Boutique on Ocean Boulevard is among the mer chants working to amend the code governing Village businesses. File photo Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 88


The VIP party, held at the picnic shelter, costs $150 per couple. It raises a signi -cant portion of the approximately $35,000 expense of the reworks. The package in -cludes the following: Convenient, reserved on-site parking at Siesta Beach. On-site catered picnic dinner for two people. Beer, wine and soft drinks. Live musical entertainment. Preferred viewing area for the 25-minute rework display. Acknowledgment in event advertising and on-site signage.To access the traditional VIP package order form, click here.For questions, contact Chastanna at 349-3800 or email % Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 89


Is laughter really the best medicine? The pop ular adage is put to the test in a hysterically funny, one-woman tour de force about picking up the pieces of a broken heart and beginning life again, My Brilliant Divorce now at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, a news release says. In only the second major American regional production of the play, Asolo Reps produc ing artistic director, Michael Donald Edwards, directs Broadway star Mary Testa as Angela, the 40-something housewife blindsided by her philandering husbands desertion, the release notes My Brilliant Divorce is Geraldine Arons engaging, mid-life crisis comedy, the release adds. Mary Testa a two-time Tony Award nominee, is such a wonderfully gifted actress, Ed wards says in the release. I could think of no one better to play the part of Angela. Mary is witty, charming, feisty hilariously so and at the same time, vulnerable and engaging. Au diences in Sarasota will identify with her and they will love her, added Edwards. Weve all experienced heartbreak at some point in our lives, so we naturally embrace those rare art ists who can inform our own existence and at the same time, make us laugh until our sides ache. My Brilliant Divorce is a very popular play throughout the world, although it is not as well known in the United States, the release notes. It premiered in 2001 at the Druid The Mary Testa stars in My Brilliant Divorce. Contributed photo by Barbara Banks TESTA BRINGS ONE-WOMAN SHOW TO THE ASOLO REP A&E BRIEFS


atre in Galway, Ireland (where Aron was born) and was later transferred to the West End of London, where it was nominated for the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment. At pres ent, it has been produced or is awaiting pro duction in 33 countries, the release points out. Edwards first became aware of the play through a colleague who worked on the Amer ican premiere. After Edwards read it, he was inspired to approach Aron with the idea of tai loring an Asolo Rep production to showcase the comedic strengths of Testa, the release continues. Edwards knew Testa through her long and storied career and had lured her to Sarasota for last seasons production of Love, Loss and What I Wore it adds. The play focuses on Angela Kennedy-Lipsky, the middle-aged American wife of Max, a Brit who has run off with his lover and left Ange la high and d ry in London, the release con tinues. Once a professional window dresser, Angela gave up her career to be a wife and mother and now nds herself adrift in a sea of shifty solicitors, Christmas on her own, and her condence at an all-time low, it says. Should she ght to keep her husband? Or should she sign the divorce papers and move on? My Brilliant Divorce runs through July 14, 2013 in Asolo Reps Mertz Theatre, located in The FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail. Ticket prices for all performances range from $20 to $72. Tickets may be purchased at the Asolo Repertory Theatre box ofce in person or by calling 351-8000. They also may be pur chased online at An exhibit titled, Females and Felines: Paint ings by Valerie Kerwin will open on Sunday, July 7, at the Unitarian Universalist Church Gallery, located at 3975 Fruitville Road, Sara sota, with a reception to be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the church has announced. Admission is free. The Females and Felines exhibit reveals the inuence of artist Valerie Kerwins work as a fashion illustrator after she graduated from college with a graphic design/fashion illustra tion degree, a news release says. As a paint er, her subject matter has evolved to focus almost exclusively on women, girls and cats, the release adds. KERWINS ART TO BE ON DISPLAY AT UNITARIAN CHURCH Plush Persians by Valerie Kerwin. Contribut ed photo Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 91


In addition to running a batik business in the past, she has taught childrens art at the Sara sota YMCA after-school program, the release notes. Kerwin is a member of Women Contempo rary Artists and exhibits locally with that or ganization. The church gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. The exhibit will be on display through Aug. 28. Flower Crowning by Valerie Kerwin. Contrib uted photo Fir st United Methodist Church at 104 S. Pine apple Ave. in downtown Sarasota invites mem bers of the community to a concert at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 12, featuring Golden Gates Russian children and youth group performing traditional songs and dances from Russia and Ukraine. The program participants thrill everyone with their skillful virtuosity, colorful costumes, syn copation of footwork and gymnastic leaping, a news release says. GOLDEN GATES TO PRESENT RUSSIAN CHILD PERFORMERS The show also features humor and audience participation, the release continues. All ages will enjoy this highly energetic and entertain ing evening, it notes. No ticket is required, but a freewill offering will benet United Methodist Volunteers in Mission in its support of Russian orphanages, the release adds. For additional information, contact the church ofce at 955-0935. The fth an nual Sarasota Improv Festival re turns on July 12 and 13 for two nights of nonstop comedy with 16 of the hottest groups on the national improv scene, Florida Studio Theatre has announced. Acts from Chicago, Boston, Austin, Mi ami, Atlanta and everywhere in between will perform on the Cabaret stage, a news release notes. FST TO HOST FIFTH ANNUAL SARASOTA IMPROV FESTIVAL In one-ho ur slots, groups will perform differ ent types of improv shows: traditional improv games, long-form comedy, short sketches and musical improve, the release says. Returning to the fest after sold-out appearances on FSTs stage are Available Cupholders (Austin, TX), Dads Garage (Atlanta), SAK Comedy (Orlan do), Jester Theater (Orlando), ImprovBoston (Boston), Stacked: All-female Musical Improv Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 92


(Chicag o), The T hird Thought (Tampa), Hawk & Wayne (St. Petersburg), Lazy Fairy (Saraso-ta) and the home team troupes FST Im -prov and Vintage Whine. Sure to be audience favorites are new kids on the block Smith & I (Chicago), Sick Puppies Comedy (Boca Raton) an d Mad Cowford (Jacksonville), the release adds.Rebecca Hopkins, Sarasota Improv festival director and FST managing director, said in the release, It is hard to believe it is already the fth anniversary for the festival. The rst year we did it, we thought it might be a one-t ime event, but Sarasota loves to laugh and has embraced it fully.This year a brand new group has been add -ed for a special event on the Gompertz Stage, the release points out. The Improvised Shake -speare Company is based on one audience suggestion: a title for a play that has yet to be written. From that suggestion, the troupe cre -ates a fully improvised Elizabethan-style show, to provide the audience one and a half hours of off-the-cuff comedy, the release continues. This hit group hails from Chicago where it has been called, Smart, sophisticated, downright hilarious and Staggeringly brilliant by Tim -eOut Chicago. The New York Times agreed stating the troupe is lled with on-the-spot soliloquies and perfect pentameter. The Improvised Shakespeare Co. performs Rubber Crazy. YouTube link courtesy of The Improvised Shakespeare Co. Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 93


Single tic kets for this special event will sell for $25 and it will be included in night and weekend passes, the release notes. Along with the performances, workshops will take place on Saturday, July 13, featuring the following Improv groups: Available Cuphold ers, Dads Garage, Hawk & Wayne, Improv Boston, Jester Theater and Stacked: All-fe male Musical Improv. Tickets are available by calling 366-9000, go ing online at or by visiting the box ofce at 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Ticket prices vary, with weekend passes available at $59, nightly passes at $49 and per individual show at $10 each. % 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 June 28, 2013 Page 94


Matthew Drefn, son of Lori and Scott Drefn of Sarasota, was ordained a rabbi at the He brew Union College-Jewish Institute of Reli gion (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles in May. Drefn also earned a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew letters from HUC-JIR in 2010 and a Master of Arts degree in Jewish education in 2011. He was awarded the L.H. Rubin Me morial Prize for his outstanding art capstone project, a news release says. The Drefns have long been associated with Sarasota reform congregations rst at Tem ple Emanu-El and then as founders of Temple Sinai, the release adds. Matthew Drefn grew up spendi ng his summers at URJ Camp Cole man in Georgia and had his Bar Mitzvah and was conrmed at Temple Sinai, the release continues. He went on to graduate from Tu lane University with a degree in studio arts. He also won an award at Tulane for most out standing glass art student. Dreffin will join the staff of the Goldring/ Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, based in Jackson, MI, where he will be on the staff of the Education and Rabbinic Services Department, the release notes. He will coordi nate the work of nine Education Fellows, who travel each week end to some of the more than 70 participating congregati ons. Rabbi Matthew Drefn with his parents, Scott and Lori, and his nephew, Asher. Contributed photo SARASOTA MAN ORDAINED A RABBI IN LOS ANGELES RELIGION BRIEFS


Among his student activities, he served as a summer chaplain at Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, AL, and as an educa tor at the URJ Mitzvah Corps in New Orle ans. He also interned and served as religious school associate director at Temple Judea in Tarzana, CA, the release points out. H is fo cus has long been on education, formal and informal, t he release continues; that set him on a career path that led him to the position at the institute. The Sarasota Jewish community is proud of inspiring Matthew Drefn to become a rabbi, the release adds, and we wish him and his wife, Erica, a hearty Mazel Tov JAZZ MUSICIANS TO BE FEATURED DURING SERVICE Area musicians Don Bryn, Bob Lunergan and John Paul Coley will jazz up the Sunday service at the Unitarian Universalist Church on June 30 at 10:30 a.m., the church has an nounced. The public is invited. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota is a welcoming congregation serving Sarasota and Manatee counties, the release adds. It is located at 3975 Fruitville Road in Sarasota. For more information, visit www.uusarasota. org or call 941-371-4974. % Don Bryn/Contributed John Paul Coley/Contributed Bob Lunergan/Contributed Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 96


28+ JUNE Florid a Studio Theatre presents The Underpants Through July 28 (times vary), Keating Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Tickets: $18 to $42. Information: 366-9000 or 28+ JUNE FST Summer Improv Through Aug. 24, 8:30 p.m., John C. Court Cabaret, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Tickets: $12. Infor mation: 366-9000 or 04 JULY Gloria Musicae Celebrates America (Stay for dinner downtown and reworks on the waterfront) July 4, 4 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 104 S. Pineapple Ave. Admission: $35. Tickets: 360-7399 or 05 JULY Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix Festival Parade of Boats July 5, 7 p.m., Main Street (from U.S. 301 to Gulfstream Avenue) Admission: Free. Information: 12 JULY Golden Gates: Traditional Song and Dance of Russia and Ukraine July 12, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 104 S. Pineapple Ave. Admission: Dona tion. Information: 955-0935 or 19 JULY Friday Fest at the Van Wezel, featuring Kettle of Fish July 19, 5 p.m., Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail. Admission: Free. Information: 953-3368 or ComMunity CALendar The best of upcoming EVENTS To get all the details on these and other great ac tivities food, nightlife, music, art, theater, chil drens events, learning opportunities and more go to Sarasotas No. 1 source for local events, hot spots, fun activities and hidden gems:


Each week, Staff Photographer Norman Schimmel searches Sarasota County for iconic shots that underscore why the community is a favorite with residents and tourists alike. SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS SUPERMOON AT DAWN SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS