Sarasota News Leader


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Sarasota News Leader
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Rachel Brown Hackney ( Publisher )
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Robert S. Hackney, General Manager(Oct. 26, 2012)

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COVER Inside PARKING METER COMEBACK? DENIED A SEAT ONWARD Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. THE SARASOTA News Leader The Progressive Voice Of Southwest Florida No. 43 July 12, 2013




Copyright 2013 Sarasota News Leader All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Member National Digital Press Association The Sarasota News Leader is a publication of: New Sheriff Publishing, Inc. Post Ofce Box 5099 Sarasota, FL 34277-5099 Rachel Brown Hackney Editor and Publisher Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Stan Zimmerman City Editor Roger Drouin County Editor Roger Norman Schimmel Staff Photographer Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer Elinor Rogosin A&E Writer John Riley Editorial Cartoonist Vicki Chatley Copy Editor Letters To the Editor Cleve Posey Production Manager / Graphic Designer Robert S. Hackney Opinion Editor / General Manager Advertising Sales Subscription Services Press Releases & News Tips MASTHEAD


New County Editor Roger Drouin had a busy breaking-in period this week, as the County Commission pushed through a gamut of business before it headed off on summer recess. Fortunately, Rogers reporting experience with the city came in very handy, as one agenda item the proposed sale of a parcel in down town Sarasota was an issue he had handled at length in the past. Rogers debut in the News Leader also marks the widest range we have roamed yet for an issue from north Sarasota County all the way down to North Port, with the City of Venice thrown into the mix. The other news Roger tackled this week was an EMS dispute be tween the City of Venice and Sarasota County, along with the County Commissions decision not to put former colleague Jon Thaxton on the Planning Commission. Cooper Levey-Baker was back on the beat, a place where he has become very much at home, as evidenced by the clarity of his explanations. Stan Zimmerman, likewise, is the best reporter I know for making the Sarasota Community Re development Agency discussions not only com prehensible but also enjoyable. You do not have to be a policy wonk to appreciate his latest CRA story this week. As for Siesta Key: A bit of laughter in the Coun ty Commission Chambers Wednesday reect ed board members relief that six years of legal action between the county and Siesta businessman Chris Brown was over at last. That was not the only Siesta topic, though. The future of outdoor merchandise displays in Siesta Village and island trolleys also had board airings. I encourage you not to rush through this issue. Editor and Publisher WELCOME


PARKING METER COMEBACK? SIX YEARS OF SUITS NEWS & COMMENTARY PARKING METER COMEBACK? 8 Burns Court is looking to join the Downtown Improvement District and talk arises of parking meters returning to the city as a budget necessity Stan Zimmerman DENIED A SEAT 13 Michael Beaumier and Paul Bispham are named to the county Planning Commission, while former three-term County Commissioner Jon Thaxton received only one vote Roger Drouin ONWARD 17 County pushes forward on 2050 overhaul Cooper Levey-Baker FLORIDA PLANNERS AND OBAMA, TOO 22 The President of the United States endorses Benderson Parks bid for the World Rowing Championships as the facility wins state accolades Staff Reports SIX YEARS OF SUITS 27 The County Commission votes 3-1 to vacate a right of way in settling a 2011 lawsuit led by Siesta Village property owner Chris Brown Rachel Brown Hackney TRYING TO PLUG THE HOLE 32 The City Commission has no comments this week on a proposed 2014 scal year budget starting out at $5.7 million in the hole, with a loss of 17 police ofcers and 80 percent of payroll costs projected to cover pension obligations Stan Zimmerman FLEXIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT 36 The most signicant change in a new county ordinance governing surplus land sales deletes the requirement that the county can only sell its surplus property to the highest bidder Roger Drouin SPARRING OVER EMS COSTS 41 The County Commission takes issue with Venices request for county reimbursement every time a city re truck responds to a call with county EMTs Roger Drouin SORRY, NO SWIMMING 45 Sarasota County and the City of North Port will seek an independent assessment of the state of facilities at Warm Mineral Springs while the resort remains closed Rachel Brown Hackney TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article PHOTO CREDITS Front cover: Summer Skies Norman Schimmel Sarasota Leisure: The Gnarled Oak Robert Hackney No. 43 July 12, 2013


SUPERSTARS SIESTA SEEN A NUMBER OF UNRESOLVED ISSUES 50 Although the County Commission this week approved a at total millage rate for the next scal year, it will not address employee raises until August Rachel Brown Hackney AN EARFUL 56 Representatives of other CRAs offer a local study group plenty of fodder as it contemplates the future of the Sarasota CRA Stan Zimmerman SEEKING ASSOCIATION CONSENSUS 62 The county commissioners agree that the organizations representing both Siesta Key residents and businesses should concur on recommendations for outdoor business displays before the county acts on a proposal Rachel Brown Hackney NEWS BRIEFS 69 CRIME BLOTTER 74 OPINION EDITORIAL 80 Money for nothing COMMENTARY 82 Summer improvements coming to downtown and north Sarasota Bill Nichols and Richard Winder LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 84 SARASOTA LEISURE SUPERSTARS 87 Sarasota skywalker Nik Wallenda heads up the parade of offshore racing boats Staff Reports SIESTA SEEN 94 County commissioner seeks to speed up the Siesta trolley timetable; the Turtle Beach renourishment project moves forward; the Siesta Chamber sells enough VIP picnic tickets to cover the July Fourth reworks expense Rachel Brown Hackney A&E BRIEFS 101 RELIGION BRIEFS 105 COMMUNITY CALENDAR 107 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 108 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article No. 43 July 12, 2013


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The merchants around Burns Court are con sidering joining the Downtown Improvement District, an area of self-taxing property own ers using the money for a variety of land scape and hardscape improvements. The news came this week from John Mo ran, operations man ager of the DID. He said the initiative is at an early stage, so it might entail either an expansion of the existing DID or the creation of an entirely new one. Moran added that Sharon Katzman, owner of IOPTICS Eyewear in Burns Court, is trying to round up support for the idea. She has enlisted former City Commissioner Ken Shelin to help. Shelin was on the commis sion when the current DID was founded. Burns Court property owners are interested either in joining the Downtown Improvement District or creating a district of their own. Photo by Norman Schimmel BURNS COURT IS LOOKING TO JOIN THE DOWNTOWN IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT AND TALK ARISES OF PARKING METERS RETURNING TO THE CITY AS A BUDGET NECESSITY PARKING METER COMEBACK? The manufacturer of those famous meters has found a way to refurbish them. We cant return them, and nobody else wants them. Eileen Hampshire Board Member Downtown Improvement District By Stan Zimmerman City Editor NEWS & COMMENTARY


Parking meter stumps were removed a while after the other equipment was taken away in downtown Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 9


There are two ways to establish a self-tax ing improvement district. The St. Armands Business Improvement District was created by petition and referendum. The downtown Sarasota DID was created by the Sarasota City Commission through an ordinance. Moran had pulled together some information to help Katzman, including the property tax values of the area under consideration. He said the tax assessor appraised the property at $57 million, so an improvement district would raise about $114,000 annually. Dr. Mark Kaufman, a DID board member, sug gested a Burns Court organization might pre fer to remain independent. Id think theyd want their own autonomy, he said. They would want to spend that $114,000 in their area, not downtown. Burns Court is a com mercial and business district about two blocks south and east of Main Street along Pineapple Avenue. THE RETURN OF PARKING METERS? Parking was a hot topic this week. At their Monday, July 8, budget workshop, the city commissioners were informed the Parking Department would need a subsidy of half a million dollars next year to stay aoat. And this year, the department is using nearly as much to plug a funding hole. Since the city commissioners reversed them selves a couple of years ago and ordered park ing meters removed from downtown Sarasota, there has been precious little revenue from tickets to pay for salaries, signs, vehicles and parking garage maintenance all part of the Parking Department budget. Louies Modern opened in the ground oor of the Palm Avenue parking garage in April. Photo by Nor man Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 10


At the Tue sday morning, July 9, DID meeting, board member Eileen Hampshire raised the specter of the meters return. The manufac turer of those famous meters has found a way to refurbish them, she said. We cant return them, and nobody else wants them. Hampshire added that the meter maker had discovered a way to intensify the liquid-crys tal display so it could be read in sunlight. The difculty the public experienced in guring out what the meters showed in bright light was a major complaint when the meters last were installed in the city. They will work, Hampshire said. And theyll cost about $1,000 per meter, which controls 10 spaces. She suggested the city experiment with one of the new models. Put it out there and we can try it out, said Hampshire. She also sits on the citys Parking Adviso ry Committee, which, she says, is making a huge effort to look at the whole thing. We are going to have to have some form of paid parking. DID STICKS TO ITS GUNS Normally, when city staffers tell advisory board members they are making a mistake, the gurative response is All engines, full reverse. But when a senior planner and the downtown economic development director told the DID board members this week that they should revise or eliminate a recommen dation about the State Street parking garage, which is in the design phase, the DID dug in its heels. On June 25, the DID voted 4-1 (Tom Mannau sa in the minority) to recommend to the City Commission that no more than 40 percent of the rst oor of the garage structure be de voted to a restaurant. The district board mem bers said leasing the entire ground oor of the Palm Avenue Garage to a restaurant effective ly killed any retail on that block of the street. They warned a similar fate could be in store for State Street if another goliath restaurant took over the entire rst oor of the new ga rage as well. Ian Black, the Realtor trying to nd buyers for the State Street property, and Norm Gollub, the citys downtown economic development coordinator, asked the DID to back off. I have concerns about unnecessary restrictions on uses for the garage, said Black. Were in se rious discussion with three or four parties. Gollub urged the use of guidelines instead of hard numbers. We believe as we get into ne gotiations with a developer, we should be able to guide them to appropriate uses. We think guidelines are adequate enough to emphasize our preferences. We have a glut of restaurants now, said Hampshire. Its starting to look like Ybor City [in Tampa]. Kaufman agreed. I have watched St. Armands over the years turn from high-end retail into a food court. I personally think we need restric tions [on State Street]. I would reafrm what we did. In the end the DID board kept its recommenda tion intact, and its representatives will inform the City Commission of that news at the next commission meeting Monday, July 15. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 11


This may take a while. Some things are just hard to resist. Like The Sarasota News Leader Its a feast of indepth local news, delightful and entertaining features, and thanks to its partnership with This Week In Sarasota access to the best community calendar available. The rst impulse is just to gobble it all up. But its better to take it slow and relish every news morsel. Theres no rush. You have a whole week. Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. The Progressive Voice of Southwest Florida


The Sarasota County Commission on Tues day, July 9, appointed Michael Beaumier and Paul Bispham to the Planning Commission, denying the candidacy of former three-term County Commissioner Jon Thaxton. General contractor Beaumier and sod business owner Bis pham garnered five and four votes, respec tively, while Thaxton received a lone vote, cast by Commissioner Nora Patterson. Patterson subsequently asked Chairwoman Carolyn Mason to allow her to change her vote so the support for Bispham would be unanimous as well. In August, the two new planning commission ers will ll open seats vacated by Cheryl Lu ehr and Roland Pic cone. Jon Thaxton. Photo by Norman Schimmel MICHAEL BEAUMIER AND PAUL BISPHAM ARE NAMED TO THE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION, WHILE FORMER THREE-TERM COUNTY COMMISSIONER JON THAXTON RECEIVED ONLY ONE VOTE DENIED A SEAT Not much surprises me anymore. Jon Thaxton Former Commissioner Sarasota County By Roger Drouin County Editor


A map shows petitions for new development in Sarasota County that were active or pending as of June. Image courtesy of Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 14


Thax ton served on the County Commission from 2000 until 2012, when he could not seek reelection because of term limits. After he left the board, Thaxton took over as the director of community investment for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Thaxton said he ap plied for the open planning seat because he felt it would be a good voluntary opportunity for him to contribute to the county, based on his experience. In addition to his tenure on the County Commission, Thaxton also served on the Planning Commission from 1996 to 2000. It is an area I have a great deal of expertise and knowledge in, and a person likes to con tribute where they think they will be most helpful, Thaxton said in an interview with The Sarasota News-Leader after Tuesdays vote. I wont throw my hat in the ring as swimming pool inspector. He was not surprised, however, by the County Commissions decision. Not much surprises me anymore, Thaxton said. Commissioner Joe Barbetta was the rst to nominate Beaumier, a general contractor with the Mills-Gilbane construction company. Com missioner Christine Robinson also nominat ed Beaumier, along with Bispham, the owner of Bayside Sod and Stockyard Feed Store in Sarasota. Thaxton was nearly overlooked by the com missioners, three of whom had served previ ously with him. Patterson then spoke into a microphone which was not turned on to name Thaxton as the third nominee. The vote marks the second, recent public of ce defeat for Thaxton, 54. H e lost his prima Sarasota County Commissioners Joe Barbetta and Christine Robinson consider an agenda matter in March. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 15


ry election bid for supervisor of elections in August. The former commissioner said he plans to keep busy at his job with the Gulf Coast Com munity Foundation helping working homeless families nd housing and homeless people nd jobs. While serving on the County Commission, Thaxton, an environmentalist, managed to combine his environmental focus with a pro-business mindset, winning a juxtaposition of awards such as recognition from the Coali tion of Business Associations and a Lifetime Achievement award from the Venice Audubon Society. In addition to Thaxton, 11 other candidates applied for the pair of open posts on the Plan ning Commission. A FULL AGENDA Beaumier has become a downtown propo nent for economic development, leading his companys effort to try to bring a pharmacy to downtown Sarasota and serving as both vice chairman of the citys Community Redevel opment Agency Advisory Board and a board member of the Downtown Sarasota Alliance. Robinson noted there were several well-quali ed applicants and that Beaumier had applied on several occasions to serve on the Planning Commission. They are all worthy, but we only have so many slots, Robinson said. He has been on the list several times, Rob inson added of Beaumier. In his application, Beaumier wrote that A Commission member should be open to all pro posals and be able to review them based on the adopted Comprehensive Plan and be able to provide a thoughtful position. Bispham, 59, wrote in his application that he would stay open, informed, and unbiased in helping the bcc (Board of County Commis sioners) make zoning and future growth de cisions. He added in his application that he had attended about 40 public meetings on the Sarasota 2050 Plan. He has also been an Argus Foundation board member and is a past pres ident of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program. Robinson also noted that Bisphams father, the late Cyrus Bispham, had served on the Planning Commission. The new advisory board members will likely address a full agenda as a multitude of new developments are proposed on the shoulders of a recovering economy, and as the county addresses proposed changes to the countys 2050 Plan. I just heard that you denied Jon Thaxton to the Planning Commission at a time when the Planning Commission would be advising you on the 2050 Plan, Dan Lobeck, an attorney and president of Control Growth Now, said during the afternoon public comments at the July 9 County Commission meeting. It is shocking. Piccone is the only remaining member of the Sarasota Planning Commission who worked on the 2050 Plan upon its inception. Because of term limits, he could not keep his seat on the advisory board. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 16


Urged on by board member Joe Barbetta, the Sarasota County Commission this week plunged ahead in its efforts to overhaul Sara sota 2050, the detailed land-use plan cre ated to guide development over the next half-century. The debate over 2050 has raged since the commission decided last September to have staff meet with area developers to regis ter their complaints about the 2050 plan. Approved a decade ago, 2050 is a volun tary plan that requires developers to follow strict design rules in exchange for the right to increase density on undeveloped land. It was created to help the county avoid urban sprawl as its population grows over the decades. The county wanted to hold this growth to a new, higher standard, Allen Parsons, the countys long-range planning manager, told the commission Tues day afternoon, July 9. That meant pushing three main priorities: preserving o pen space, The Sarasota 2050 plan was designed to prevent urban sprawl east of Interstate 75. File photo COUNTY PUSHES FORWARD ON 2050 OVERHAUL ONWARD By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor I dont want an academic. I dont want a team of people coming in here who dont know anything about 2050. All we need is a good, quality economist who has development project experience. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County


encouraging New Ur banism design princi ples such as walkabili ty, and scal neutrality the requirement that any new growth pay its way through impact fees and taxes. But developers charge that 2050 is unwork able that its layers of regulations have staunched growth. More than 7,000 units have been approved under 2050 guidelines, but only one project has bro ken ground: Neal Communities Grand Palm. Defenders of the plan, such as environmen tal groups and con trolled-growth advo cates, say the global recession is to blame for that inactivity, as well as the regions ongoing housing cri sis. The Bradenton Herald reported just this week that the Bradenton-Saraso ta-North Port metro area is now ranked as the third worst foreclosure market in the United States. The intent of 2050 remains valid, Parsons told the commission, but the specics of its A graphic shows designations of land applicable to development under the 2050 Plan. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 18 If we in our choice are going to hire somebody whose job is to sell the economics of a development, we might as well not do it. Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County


rules may need to be reworked. Were not looking to tear down or defend 2050, Parsons said, making the case that the county now has the benet of user experience and that 2050 will benet from an objective and open-mind ed evaluation. Parsons then laid out the details of the staffs proposed Scope of Work. One example: how to specically dene evaluation parameters for alternative greenway congurations that developers may propose when designing a new neighborhood. Matt Osterhoudt, the countys manager of con servation and environmental permitting, tells The Sarasota News Leader the goal is to rec ognize theres not a one-size-ts-all approach to greenways and that the county should seek to truly create meaningful corridors and en vironmental features rather than just saying, feet. According to Tuesdays staff report, the coun tys Environmental Technical Manual current ly provides a framework for evaluating alter native open space plans that include native habitats, and Osterhoudt says staff will look there for ideas on how to frame 2050 alterna tive greenway guidelines. Those evaluation parameters are not num bers, he adds. They talk about context. They talk about: How well is an alternative proposal meeting the needs of connectivity? How well is the alternative proposal related to quality? Is it a manageable system thats being creat ed? Even a decade after the plan was approved, Osterhoudt says the county still has limited experience in 2050 practice because of the low number of applications it has seen, but he adds the county has an opportunity to create more effective and more meaningful green ways. THE BIGGEST DEBATE The issue that generated the most debate among commissioners involved scal neutrali ty. The staff report called for outside help from an independent, non-biased, academic insti tution, which would analyze scal neutrality to provide a more factual basis with which to potentially consider changes. The goal of bringing in an academic outsider would be to limit concerns or perceptions that results are pushing any particular agenda. Barbetta swiftly attacked that suggestion: I dont want an academic. I dont want a team of people coming in here who dont know any thing about 2050. All we need is a good, quality economist who has development project experience, he said. Team him or her up with a c ouple of lenders, Commissioner Nora Patterson. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 19


retired bankers, and any problems with scal neutrality could be solved in 30 days. I think scal neutrality is a big deal, argued Commissioner Nora Patterson, the only board member to have voted for 2050 in the rst place. was designed in order to allow development east of I-75 in such a way that people did not feel that the burden of nanc ing all the roads and the schools, etc., outside the urban service boundary would fall on their shoulders, and the trouble is its a rough con cept to measure. County Administrator Randy Reid said the thinking behind bringing in an academic was to give the county a very high-level review that would incorporate state-level trends. He added that it would help limit the polariza tion over the issue in the community. Barbetta said the problem was the $85,000plus price tag. Weve got nine or 10 planners, he added, pointing out that the commission just approved the hiring of a new planner to deal with 2050. Staff isnt super-busy, he said. I will in no way support staffs recom mendation. Planning and Development Services Director Tom Polk said the county lacked the exper tise to analyze scal neutrality, while Barbetta Control Growth Now President Dan Lobeck addresses the County Commission in April regarding proposed changes to the 2050 Plan. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 20


argued th e county could hire a non-academic economist to do the work for between $20,000 and $25,000. Commissioner Christine Robinson suggested skipping the academic and hiring an econo mist who would be given access to a banker and an expert in public nance. Barbetta supported that idea, with the stipulation that the economist possess private sector project development experience. But that private sector experience is proba bly going to be working for a developer, Pat terson pointed out. She said she was jaded because of past experience with project econ omists whose results werent up to snuff. If we in our choice are going to hire somebody whose job is to sell the economics of a devel opment, we might as well not do it. Your argument doesnt make any sense, Barbetta told her. One of the people he rec ommended for the job was Donna Arduin, a budget adviser to Gov. Rick Scott. Nobodys naming Hank Fishkind. Fishkinds Orlando consulting firm, Fish kind & Associates, provided scal neutrality reports for Neals Grand Palm in 2010. In a contemporary review, county staff found that while the report was adequate in its gener al approach, ndings and conclusions, there were questions about the validity of the data in a table showing total impact fee revenues exactly equaling the capital expenditures for the respective services. From real-world ex perience of our capital budget, our impact fee revenues are generally lower than our corre sponding capital expenditures, particularly when it comes to roads. (Emphasis in the original.) Barbetta continued his argument: To sit here and say we dont want to hire an economist who happened to work for a developer some time in his life Patterson cut him off: I didnt say that. The implication was pretty clear, Barbetta said. Dont put words in my mouth. Robinson then made her proposal ofcial; it was quickly seconded by Barbetta, and ap proved with a 4-1 majority. Patterson was the only No vote. NEXT STEPS The conversation then moved on to the spe cics of the hiring process and the timing of staffs Scope of Work. The commission ap proved the overall plan of attack. Staff-pro posed zoning changes should be back in front of the board by November. Early in the meeting, Barbetta said there are a lot of lies, a lot of misinformation about the countys intention in reopening 2050. Were doing the best we can up here, he said. Were not in the pockets of developers. I, too, think the acrimony is unfortunate, but actually its less than what I expected, having gone through the acrimony of approving 2050 in the rst place, Patterson added. The dis cussion among developers was youve got to stop the 5-acre ranchettes because its urban sprawl. ... But frankly, row after row of resi dential developments on quarter-acre lots with no walkability and no possibility that elderly people can live there who can no longer drive is classic urban sprawl, and we were trying to avoid th at. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 21


Pr esident Barack Obama has signed a letter supporting Sarasota Countys bid to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships at Nathan Benderson Park. The letter will be part of the bid package Sara sota County ofcials will present this week end to the Fdration Internationale des So cits dAviron (in English, the International Federation of Rowing Associations, or FISA), the county has announced. The presentation will take place in Switzerland. I am pleased to voice my support for Saraso ta Countys bid to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships, wrote President Obama in the letter. Sarasota County would be thrilled to share its beautiful and expansive beaches with the athletes, and would provide a won derful, unique experience for each of the 42,000 attendees. Receiving the support of the President of the United States for this project provides a huge boost to our goal of establishing Sarasota County as destination for world class rowing events, said Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid in a news release. We appreci ate the Presidents support as well as that of all the people who have worked tirelessly on this project. Landscaping improvements were visible this spring at Benderson Park. Photo by Norman Schimmel THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES ENDORSES BENDERSON PARKS BID FOR THE WORLD ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS AS THE FACILITY WINS STATE ACCOLADES FLORIDA PLANNERS AND OBAMA, TOO Staff Reports


The White House provided this letter of support from President Obama. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 23


In January, Paul Blackketter, chief operating ofcer of the SunCoast Aquatic Nature Center Association (SANCA) told the Sarasota Coun ty Tourist Development Council that US Row ing, the national governing body for the sport, and FISA want to bring international rowing back to the United States. He pointed out, The impression that we get is that this [bid] is basically ours to lose. SANCA is the nonprot organization charged with overseeing events at Benderson Park and landing major corporate sponsors for the championships, if the park wins the bid. According to estimates provided by Visit Sara sota County and SANCA, the 2017 World Row ing Championships could generate $24 million in economic activity for the state and region, with mo r e than 42,000 visitors from 62 coun tries attending the two-week event. Addition ally, approximately 130 million people from around the world would be expected to watch the championships on television and on the web, the county news release notes. Blackketter began traveling the world several years ago as Benderson Development Co.s executive director of planning to tour inter national rowing venues and become acquaint ed with FISA ofcials as work progressed on the park. In recent months, Reid, representatives from Visit Sarasota County and commissioners from both Sarasota and Manatee counties have joined Blackketter on his trips as a sign of support for the Benderson bid. A Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce vehicle leads a procession across the North Cattlemen Road exten sion at Benderson Park on May 24. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 24


Rei d also was part of a delegation that trav eled to Washington this spring to seek federal support for the effort. In an email exchange with county representatives on July 11, Reid gave major credit to the countys Washing ton-based lobbying rm, Holland & Knight, for its assistance in securing the Presidents endorsement. According to that email exchange, the White House evidently made an error in the rst let ter it sent and had to provide a corrected ver sion. In sending the revised letter, Kellyn Blossom in the White House Ofce of Intergovernmen tal Affairs, added, [We] wish you the best of luck. The Rowing and Aquatics Sports Center at Benderson Park is located at 2500 Honore Ave. in Sarasota. Over the past four years, competitive rowers from around North Amer ica have traveled to Sarasota County to prac tice and compete on the 2,000-meter course, the news release notes. Earlier this year FISA representatives toured the park as well as a practice course at Fort Hamer Park in Manatee County. Sarasota County has committed $20 million to the de velopment of Benderson Park. When com plete, [it] will be one of the premiere facilities in the world, the news release adds. MORE GOOD NEWS Even before the big news broke about the Presidents letter, county commissioners were voicing excitement this week about the news that Benderson Park had won a 2013 Ameri can Planning Association (APA) Award of Ex cellence from the Florida chapter of the APA. The honor came in the Planning Project cate gory, a news release says. The award will be presented at the chapters annual state confer ence in Orlando Sept. 10-13, the release adds. During the conference, county representatives will be panelists at a moderated session about the park. The participants will be Sarasota County Planning and Development Services Director Tom Polk and Senior Planner Beth Rozansky; Tom Walsh, design architect on the project; community representative and rowing enthusiast John Krotec; and Blackketter, the release notes. At the APA National Conference in April, Sarasota County was a co-winner of the 2013 APAs prestigious Hunter Award for Excel lence in Economic Development, the release also points out. The award was for the design and development of Benderson Park and the projects economic development potential for sports tourism. At the April conference, the county also re ceived the 2013 Award of Merit from the APA Paul Blackketter. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 25


Coun ty Pl anning Division and the National As sociation of County Planners (NACP) for the park project. The Award of Merit is based on collaborative partnerships between Sarasota County and Benderson Development Co. that involved the coordinated planning of Bend erson Park; the adjacent, large-scale mixeduse project by Benderson Development; and the construction of the North Cattlemen Road extension and improvements, the release ex plains. Yet more recognition for the park has come in conjunction with the recently completed ex tension and improvement of North Cattlemen Road from Richardson to DeSoto roads. That Sarasota County project will be recognized at the annual convention of the Florida Trans portation Builders Association Inc. (FTBA) Aug. 8-11 in Orlando. The two-year road project, which was com pleted in May, won a 2013 FTBA statewide Best in Construction award in the Local Agen cy Program (LAP) category. Under the Florida LAP program, funds from the Federal High way Administration (FHWA) are administered by the Florida Department of Transportation through a grant to the local agency in this case, Sarasota County government. Accepting the award will be representatives of the county; the contractor, Prince Con tracting LLC; and the company that provided construction, engineering and inspection ser vices, CDM Smith. The $15.7 million Cattlemen Road project was largely funded by the nearly $14 million LAP grant, the release says. The approximately 2.75-mile-long extension of North Cattlemen Road provides improved access to Benderson Park. % 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 July 12, 2013 Page 26


A red circle in the lower right-hand corner shows the area where the vacated Columbus Boulevard begins adjacent to The Hub Baja Grill in Siesta Village. Photo courtesy of Sarasota County SIX YEARS OF SUITS This will be the end of six years of our relationship, and Ive never seen a relationship Id like to end more. Morgan Bentley Attorney Bentley & Bruning


It took less than 10 minutes on July 10 to wrap up six years of legal action Siesta Key proper ty owner Chris Brown has led against Sara sota County over parking issues related to his businesses in Siesta Village. On a 3-1 vote with Commissioner Nora Pat terson, a Siesta resident, in the minority; and Vice Chairman Charles Hines recusing him self the County Commission approved the vacation of a right of way along Columbus An aerial map shows the vacated right of way. Image courtesy Sarasota County THE COUNTY COMMISSION VOTES 3-1 TO VACATE A RIGHT OF WAY IN SETTLING A 2011 LAWSUIT FILED BY SIESTA VILLAGE PROPERTY OWNER CHRIS BROWN By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 28


Boulevard adjacen t to The Hub Baja Grill in Siesta Village. Hines has recused himself from discussions of the lawsuit settlement since he was elected in November 2012. His law rm had represented Brown in the past. Earlier this year, Patterson opposed settle ment terms for this third lawsuit Brown had led against the county since the fall of 2007. When the commissioners voted on April 24 to approve those terms which necessitated a public hearing before they could be nalized Patterson said of the right of way vacation, Its a little bit of a heartache that that is part of a lawsuit, just like [the right of way on the Ocean Boulevard side of The Hub] that we va cated. I do have a problem with somebody settling a lawsuit and coming back for another bite at the apple. As part of the settlement of Browns rst law suit, the County Commission agreed to pay $35,000 and vacate a portion of its Ocean Bou levard right of way. (Brown had been accused of allowing outside tables at the restaurant to encroach on that county property.) Im certainly glad its over, Brown told The Sarasota News Leader after the boards July 10 action. His attorney, Morgan Bentley of Bentley & Bruning in Sarasota, drew laughter from com missioners when he addressed them during the meeting: This will be the end of six years of our relationship, and Ive never seen a re lationship Id like to end more. Parking space bumpers will keep vehicles from encroaching upon the right of way area transferred to Chris Brown. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 29


Although Bentley and A ssistant County At torney David Pearce had reached a mediated settlement in April, a public hearing was nec essary before the County Commission could vote on vacating the 804.1 square feet of right of way near the intersection of Ocean Boule vard and Columbus Boulevard in Siesta Vil lage. Brown also will receive $75,000 from the county. This lawsuit was led in October 2011 after Brown received his annual parking assess ments for his Siesta Village properties; he saw three of the assessments had risen signicant ly. The tax bill for the Avenida Messina proper ty where Blu Que Island Grill stands went up about 1,500 percent. How ever, Brown learned th at assessments for other Village properties went down some as much as 30 percent. That tax bill arrived about a month after the county reimbursed him $2,500 for excessive parking assessments in 2009 the crux of his second lawsuit. Diane Kennedy, acquisition agent for real property in the Public Works Department, provided a number of photos for the County Commission at the outset of the public hear ing on July 10, showing the right of way in question. Patterson did ask a question to clarify the area to be vacated, which Kennedy showed her again in a Po werPoint presentation. A chart shows the history of the lawsuits business owner Chris Brown has led against Sarasota County. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 30


Kenned y f urther noted that none of the abut ting property owners had offered any objec tions to the right of way vacation. Additionally, a July 10 memo she provided to the board said, the request was reviewed by all concerned county staff members and rep resentatives of private utility companies with easements in the area. Peoples Gas System, a division of Tampa Electric Company; Verizon Florida, LLC; and Sarasota County Utilities have requested utility easements over the area to be vacated in order to maintain existing fa cilities, which are currently held in escrow by [Browns rm], the memo continued. Flori da Power & Light Company and Comcast Ca blevision have no objections to the requested vacation, it added. Bentley told the board he and Brown accept ed everything staff members had put into the report on the right of way vacation. They did a really nice job holding our feet to the re, he noted. A BOON TO THE COUNTY Bentley then explained one important bene t to the county in vacating the right of way something that had not been pointed out already. Referring to a slide Kennedy had shown with a child and adults standing near the entrance to The Hub Baja Grill (See the accompanying photo), Bentley said, This is a classic prob lem. Because patrons cannot access The Hub by exiting their cars on the Ocean Boulevard side of the restaurant, Bentley continued, they get out of vehicles on t he Avenida Messina side and stand right there, waiting to be seated at a table. That sidewalk next to the restau rant, he explained, was county property, and the fact that people were waiting on it regu larly potentially obstructing those walking along the sidewalk was what had started the conversation about making the right of way vacation part of the settlement. As long as that segment of property belonged to the county, he pointed out, We couldnt get insurance on it. Therefore, if any accident had occurred, he said, the county would have been the liable party. Bentley was quick to note he was unaware of any lawsuits having been led because of that situation. Nonetheless, he said, [The vacation is] prob ably music to your ears, because Browns in surance will immediately cover the sidewalk upon transfer of the property to his company. After Bentley concluded his remarks, Chair woman Carolyn Mason said no member of the public had signed up to speak during the hearing. Commissioner Joe Barbetta then made the motion to approve the vacation of the right of way. Staff did a great job, Barbetta said. The staff report is real clear. Im glad its over with, he added of the lawsuit. Referring to Brown, Bentley told the News Leader I think this is a really good resolution from his standpoint. This was a settlement based on common sense and the end of negativity, Brown said. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 31


On Monday, July 8, Saraso ta city staffers pre sented thei r spending plan for the next scal year, which kicks off Oct. 1. City commis sioners sat in silence as the numbers were presented. The num bers will c hange over the coming months, but the Monday presen tation represented the starting point for dis cussion. City Manager Tom Barwin led off the workshop. The bud get continues the re cession ary dis cipline A City of Sarasota pie chart shows projected expenses from the general fund for the 2014 scal year. Image courtesy City of Sarasota THE CITY COMMISSION HAS NO COMMENTS THIS WEEK ON A PROPOSED 2014 FISCAL YEAR BUDGET STARTING OUT AT $5.7 MILLION IN THE HOLE, WITH A LOSS OF 17 POLICE OFFICERS AND 80 PERCENT OF PAYROLL COSTS PROJECTED TO COVER PENSION OBLIGATIONS TRYING TO PLUG THE HOLE Cleanup after a hurricane could clean [the budget stabilization fund] out in a heartbeat. John Lege Finance Director City of Sarasota By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


of living within our m eans. He noted that 11 more jobs will be cut through attrition, and he said pension obligations now equal 80 percent of the payroll. For every dollar of pay, we must kick in 80 cents, he pointed out. All totaled, thats $3 million more than last year. Barwin touted a couple of initiatives. Our goal is to have 40 hours of training every year for every city employee, he said. Training fell by the wayside for several years to save mon ey, as was noted by former Sarasota Police Chief John Lewis review of city police prac tices, released earlier this year. A second initiative requires $100,000 for a street response team to supplement the Po lice Departments involve ment with the citys homeless and vagrants. We have to deal with the chronic revolving-door problem of home lessness, Barwin said. The entire budget is on the citys website, Bar win noted, and a new feature is a page for citi zen comments and questions. Get your ngers ready: ityGovernment/Content/Budget/Finance/Fi nance2013-2014proposedBudget.html FILLING THE HOLE Property taxes make up only about 30 percent of the citys total revenue. A variety of other taxes hidden in other bills for electricity, communications, gasoline, sales taxes, water service and more provide additional city income. About $13.5 million comes from oth er nancing sources and all other revenue A city budget chart compares the Sarasota Police Department to other Florida municipal police forces. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 33


sources. Ever y bit of it goes into the general fund, which this year totals $53.2 million. The budget City Finance Director John Lege presented for next year is up almost $3 mil lion, to $56.2 million. Two-thirds of that will pay for public safety, including the Sarasota Police Department and pensions for former city reghters. In all, the general fund starts about $5.7 million in the red. A variety of solutions were presented to re duce the decit. The increase in the tax roll valuation of property is worth $741,515. And transfers from other funds, such as those for self-insurance and solid waste which are normally independent will kick in another half a million dollars. A renement in police pension calculations is worth another half-mil lion. And the county School Board is kicking in $312,248 to fund school resource ofcer po sitions dropped by the county sheriff. With all these adjustments and more, the general fund is st ill $2.5 million in the hole. Since the City Commission pulled parking me ters out of downtown Sarasota, the Parking Department now needs an annual $500,000 subsidy to enforce regulations and maintain parking garages. An unspecied increase [in] parking revenues would cut the subsidy in half. Parking is not the only city effort requiring a subsidy because it makes less than it costs. The poster child for this used to be the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, which required a $1.3 million subsidy six years ago. Today, it operates at a prot. But the Municipal Audito rium does not; it needs an estimated $41,280 in the next scal year to stay in the black. And the Payne Park Auditorium poses a de cision point for the City Commission: Spend $110,981 to keep it open next year or close it. The city could dip into its reserves in bu reaucratic speak, the revenue stabilization fund for $1 million to help plug the budget gap. But even after all of that, the hole is still $1.2 million. While the budget stabilization The City Commission listens to a Parking Advisory Committee presentation on June 3. Photo by Nor man Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 34


fund holds $2.9 million, that is also the citys emergency money. Cleanup after a hurricane could clean it out in a heartbeat, said Lege after the meeting. THE POLICE DEBATE As is true of all municipal and county budget workshops, every City of Sarasota department head was in the audience July 8 to answer any question should one arise. The Sarasota Po lice were represented by the chief, the deputy chief and a third ofcer in uniform. Lege presented another table showing 15 Flor ida municipalities with populations similar in size to Sarasota. The table examined city density (citizens per square mile), total police staff divided by the number of citizens, the number of ofcers per square mile and the crime rate per 1,000 citizens. Sarasota scored on the high end of most of those criteria. Of the 15 cities, it has the sec ond highest number of sworn officers per 1,000 citizens, at 3.3. Naples has 3.6. The av erage of the 15 cities was 2.3. Sarasota ties with Naples for the highest num ber of sworn police ofcers and civilians per 1,000 citizens 4.2. The shocker is an analysis of crime rates in the 15 cities per 1,000 residents. The average was 46 crimes. Sarasota was the second high est on the table with 53 crimes per 1,000 peo ple. Only Pensacola was higher, at 67. The budget proposes a reduction in the num ber of sworn Sarasota ofcers, dropping the force to 158 from the current level of 175. The reductions would cut the ratio of sworn ofcers per 1,000 residents to 3.0. The force reductions would come from position elimi nation and attrition. % The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall used to require a city subsidy. Now it operates in the black. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 35


A revi sed Sarasota County ordinance that changes how the county sells its surplus lands now gives the county commissioners more lib erty when deciding to whom to sell property. In the most signicant change, the new or dinance unanimous ly approved by the County Commission Tuesday, July 9, de letes the requirement that the county can only sell its property to the highest bidder. The previous ordinance states the county would negotiate a purchase agreement with the highest bidder. The new measure, how ever, strikes out highest bidder and replaces the phrase with selected respondent. Florida law requires local governments to sell real property to the highest bid der unless a local ordinance specifies an alternative ap proach, according to county officials. Many of those who park in the lot at 20 N. Washington Blvd. head to the historic courthouse across the street or to other buildings in the countys downtown Sarasota judicial complex. Photo by Norman Schimmel THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN A NEW COUNTY ORDINANCE GOVERNING SURPLUS LAND SALES DELETES THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE COUNTY CAN ONLY SELL ITS SURPLUS PROPERTY TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER FLEXIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT This is something that will help us accomplish a land-use vision and allow us to do public-private partnerships and achieve the best economic use for property. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County By Roger Drouin County Editor


Commissioners say the new ordinance would allow the county to attempt to jumpstart eco nomic redevelopment at or near a surplus site, and focus on how a project blends into a neighborhood instead of just selling land to the highest bidder. This allows us the discretion to see what is best for the community as a whole, said Com missioner Charles Hines. Opponents of the modied proposal say it would be a boon to developers and property investors, but it would not protect the inter ests of taxpayers. On Tuesday, Dan Lobeck, president of Control Growth Now, called the proposed changes an affront to taxpayers. Lobeck pred icted the modified ordinance would open the doors to a repeat of the citys criticized 2012 deal to sell a highly visible par cel along Fruitville Road directly to Bender son Development Co. for half the price of an other developers offer. Frankly, this is one of the most startling pro posals Ive seen, and Ive seen some startling proposals in my 25 years here, Lobeck said to the commissioners. The change impacts the possible sale of up to 10 surplus parcels, including prospective deals in the near future regarding two sites: an acre at the northeast corner of U.S. 301 and Main Street in downtown Sarasota and 42 acres on Cobu rn Road, east of Interstate 75. The lot at 20 N. Washington Blvd. has a view of both the Synovus Bank and the Seaside National Bank and Trust buildings on Main Street. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 37


Over the past year, Comm issioner Joe Bar betta has advocated for selling county-owned land declared surplus by the county, getting the property back on the tax rolls, while shed ding costs. He said Lobecks charges mischaracterize the purpose of the new ordinance. This is something that will help us accom plish a land-use vision and allow us to do pub lic-private partnerships and achieve the best economic use for property, Barbetta said. Modifying the ordinance is something the County Commission should have done a while ago, Barbetta added. The new ordinance gives the county the dis cretion to nd the best deal as it tries to sell surplus land, resident Larry Grossman told the c o mmissioners Tuesday. It allows the county to consider a prospective development that would best bolster the economy of an area, even if the developers do not offer the highest bid, Grossman noted. There may be some public perception that special deals are being cooked up that might not be very popular, said Grossman, a 2013 challenger for Longboat Key Town Commis sion. With that discretion, there is additional responsibility to say there are certain needs that are being met. Commissioners Hines and Christine Robinson agreed with Grossman. Robinson said the new ordinance should help homeowners in situations when surplus coun ty-owned land bo rders residential communities. The historic courthouse which is experiencing roof repairs and the North County Jail are visible across the street from the North Washington Boulevard parking lot. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 38


A letter from WMR Consulting of Sarasota expresses interest in acquiring the countys property at 20 N. Washington Blvd. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 39


This will actually help protect neighbor hoods, because instead of always going to the highest bidder who will build the most intense use, we can actually pick someone who will build something that ts in the character of the neighborhood, Robinson pointed out. The new ordinance provides more exibility in returning the property to tax rolls, said Lin Kurant, real property manager for Sarasota County. U.S. 301 AND MAIN STREET The commissioners on July 9 also approved a resolution declaring two parcels as surplus property, the rst step in a process to sell or transfer ownership of the land. One resolution classied the 42 acres at Co burn Road and Fruitville Road, east of Inter state 75, as surplus. The commissioners also deemed a highly visible, .95-acre parcel at U.S. 301 and Main Street in downtown Sarasota as surplus property and approved a timetable for an Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) aimed at bringing development to the site, which serves as a parking lot. The Invitation to Negotiate will be advertised for 45 days, starting at the end of July. Rod Connelly, president and founder of Civix Inc., a Sarasota-based real estate development company, wants to trade with the county so he can build a hotel on the U.S. 301 property. He has met with county ofcials. Within the past three weeks, a second devel oper also has pitched a plan to the county. We have two letters of interest in the Main Street parcel, said Tom Harmer, deputy coun ty administrator. Both d evelopers plan to include public park ing spaces to replace those currently used while people are conducting county business, said County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh. Hines said the U.S. 301 parcel is too good for use as a parking garage because of its prime location downtown. Commissioners disagreed about the time frame to advertise the property. Barbetta and Robinson pushed for the 45-day period, while Hines and Commissioner Nora Patterson ar gued for at least 60 days. Hines said the lon ger period would give prospective national developers time to get information about the initiation to negotiate and submit a bid and preliminary plans. Hines wanted to see the process opened to a wide variety of people who might not be sitting here today. Barbetta voiced concern that advertising the property for even 15 days longer, combined with a lengthy negotiating period, could cause the county to end up missing an upswing in the real estate market. Forty ve days is plenty of time for people to express interest, Barbetta noted. Robinson said she did not want to jeopardize the efforts of the two current prospective de velopers by delaying the process. We know there are folks out there interested now, Robinson said. As the county advertises the U.S. 301 parcel, it will also get current appraisals for the value of the land. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 40


Sara sota County commissioners have red back in an ongoing dispute with Venice city ofcials over the cost of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the city. The County Commission voted 4-1 Tuesday, July 9, to have County Administrator Randall Reid send a stern reply to Venice ofcials who want the county to pay the city every time a city re truck responds to an emergency call along with county EMTs. The letter, dated July 9, highlights the fact that the county spends in excess of $100,000 each year on EMS services in the city of Venice, and points out that the Englewood Fire De partment provides the same exact response assistance and does not receive a subs idy. Reid writes in the letter: I am very concerned about the citys request as the current system is based on a cooperative approach. The letter goes on to note that the county provides other emergency services in Venice, such as a Hazardous Materials Team and 911 call taking and dispatch for the Fire Depart ment. Reid writes: As opposed to jeopardiz ing our current collaborative effort to provide emergency service to the citizens of Venice, it may be in the citys best interest to assume responsibility for providing Fire and EMS ser vice to your citizens. The po litical wrangle is yet another sign of lean budget years and rising expenses. The debate intensified in May when the Venice City Council members discussed a propos al The County Commission sits in session in Venice in June. Photo by Norman Schimmel THE COUNTY COMMISSION TAKES ISSUE WITH VENICES REQUEST FOR COUNTY REIMBURSEMENT EVERY TIME A CITY FIRE TRUCK RESPONDS TO A CALL WITH COUNTY EMTS SPARRING OVER EMS COSTS By Roger Drouin County Editor If they would like Venice EMS, they can take it. Otherwise, we need to end this conversation. Christine Robinson Commissioner Sarasota County


to as k t he county to reimburse the city part of a $600 ambulance fee the county charges. When a Sarasota County rescue squad crew responds to an emergency in Venice, the city often sends backup in the form of a re truck with two reghters trained as emergency medical technicians. Fifty to 60 percent of all emergency calls in Venice such as a traffic accident with injuries require a re trucks response, said Venice Mayor John Holic. The types of situations that ne cessitate rolling a re truck are spelled out by an interlocal agree ment between the city and county. Holic said he wanted to see whether the city could get reimbursed for some of its expens es on those calls. He reasoned the request was justie d because in unincorporated parts of the county, the county charges the same $600 fee, but it provides both EMS and re response. We are not getting any reimbursement, Holic pointed out. I didnt expect the county to say, Sure well pay you, Holic added. Would it have been the right thing? Yes. After the county com missioners on July 9 directed Reid to draft his letter, The Saraso ta News Leader spoke with Holic. The coun ty is going to hold onto the revenue it has, the mayor said. And Im going to look into more ways to make it fair for our residents. Holic is concerned Venice residents will soon end up paying ballooning taxes to both the EMTs respond to the scene of an accident in the county. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Mayor John Holic of Venice. Photo courtesy City of Venice Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 42 I didnt expect the county to say, Sure well pay you. Would it have been the right thing? Yes. John Holic Mayor Venice


city a nd the county, when in some cases they are receiving only city services. The mayor also cited Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knights decision to stop having deputies work as student resource ofcers in schools within the city limits of Venice, North Port and Sarasota. That is an example, Holic said, of city residents paying taxes for a county department when service has been cut. As a result of Knights action, a Venice Police De partment ofcer has been reassigned to the position of school resource ofcer. Knight has said he made the change because he felt municipal law enforcement ofcers should work in schools in their jurisdictions. COMMISSION VIEWS The cou nty commissioners Tuesday spent some time discussing their rejection of the citys request for any kind of repayment for emergency medical calls. County Commissioner Christine Robinson, who represents a portion of Venice as part of her district, said Venice ofcials can take over emergency medical service operations in the city if they are dissatised with the way the system is working. If they would like Venice EMS, they can take it. Otherwise, we need to end this conversa tion, Robinson said. We are getting into tit for tat with them. Commissioner Joe Barbetta agreed with Rob inson. He was in favor of sending a forthright reply to Venice o fcials. Thi s has been going on for too long, and it has been a game for some people, Barbetta said of the debate. If they can do it better, more power to them. Let them take it over. Commissioner Charles Hines agreed with the message but opted for a more measured ap proach. Hines wanted to make sure the nan cial data about the cost of operating EMS in Venice was included in the letter to city of cials. The letter that was drafted included ve sep arate notations of expenses for emergency County Fire Chief Mike Tobias. Photo courte sy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 43


services the c ounty provides in Venice in cluding $110,000 a year for EMS and $110,000 a year for 911 Fire Department dispatch. The commissioners, though, did mull over one concern if Venice ofcials assume responsibil ity for EMS in the city: The county has about 27 EMTs who work primarily in Venice. Mike Tobias, the countys re chief and direc tor of emergency services, pointed out that some of those positions could be absorbed into the agency as other emergency ofcials retire. On average, about 40 county reghter/ EMTs retire every yea r, he noted. W EIGHING THE FACTORS Holic remains interested in nding out more about the possibility of the city providing EMS service to its residents. He said he actually had been trying for weeks to get data from county ofcials so he could determine whether it would be advantageous for the city to make the change. We have not received the information we re quested, Holic said. Taking over the service is still an option, the mayor pointed out. We are not looking to make money on it, Holic said. We are looking to see if we can take it over and not l ose money. % Men always want to be a womans rst love. Women like to be a mans last romance. Oscar Wilde Manuel R. Chepote, LUTCF Chepote Insurance Inc. 1300 Main Street Sarasota, Florida (941) 366-0100 Serving Sarasota & Manatee Counties Click for driving directions Auto Home Life Renters Motorcycles Flood Business Annuities Financial Services Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 44


Tem porar y restroom facilities are not an op tion to enable a short-term reopening of Warm Mineral Springs just for swimmers, Saraso ta County Commissioner Christine Robin son reported to her fellow board members this week That was t he news she had received from the county Health Depart ment, she said on July 10. Because of state health regulations, she pointed ou t, portable toilets coul d not be allowed on the site for more than 120 consecutive days. It made no sense to try to open the resort for that space of time, she added, if the county and the City of North Port had to close it again immedi ately afterward because a short-term operator was not in place. Robinson offered the information to her fel low commissioners as they were wrapping up their nal discussions before starting their summer recess. County and North Port ofcials are working to get Warm Mineral Springs reopened as quickly as pos sible. Photo by Stan Zimmerman SARASOTA COUNTY AND THE CITY OF NORTH PORT WILL SEEK AN INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT OF THE STATE OF FACILITIES AT WARM MINERAL SPRINGS WHILE THE RESORT REMAINS CLOSED SORRY, NO SWIMMING [The roof] is an area of immediate concern. Ed Gable Director General Services Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


Earlier that day, Jennifer Graham, former assistant general manager of Warm Mineral Springs, appealed to the board to go ahead and reopen the resort to swimmers. It would take only a small staff to handle that, Graham said, and the expense could be covered by ticket revenue. People do not go to the Springs for the spa or the caf, she point ed out. They go for the water. Graham added, I urge you to address the situation today and vote on it. Just a day earlier, the County Commission vot ed unanimously to authorize County Admin istr ator Randall Reid to work with the staff of the City of North Port which co-owns Warm Mineral Springs with the county to pursue a third-party, indepen dent assessment of the state of the facilities at the resort as quickly as possible, accord ing to an amendment offered by Commis sioner Joe Barbetta. The city would take the lead on getting quotes, Reid indicated, because its pro The main structures at Warm Mineral Springs are connected by an open arbor system. Photo courtesy City of North Port I wouldnt be replacing an entire roof or doing mold [remediation] without coming back to the board. Im smarter than that. Randall Reid Administrator Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 46


curement pro cess is not as complicated or time-consuming as the countys. The board also gave its consensus to allow Reid to use his authority under the new coun ty Procurement Code approved this year to proceed with reasonable expenditures for any repairs deemed necessary. The code allows the county administrator to obtain goods or services at a cost up to $100,000 without com mission approval. Before the vote, Commissioner Nora Patter son said, I would be happy to let [the City of] North Port, with assistance of [county] staff, get somebody in there really fast to assess the nancial bill thats attached to this, referring to the inspection process. But Im not willing to come back from break and nd out that the staff felt like they were given the leeway to address a couple of million dollars worth of things that I think should be the responsibility of a long-term operator. I have an expenditure limit that you have set, Reid told the board. I wouldnt be re placing an entire roof or doing mold [remedi ation] without coming back to the board. Im smarter than that. Thank goodness, Patterson told him with a chuckle. Reid pointed out that he already had been working with Jonathan Lewis, the North Port city manager, about the need for repairs at the resort. County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh told the board the Procurement Code also gives Reid authority to take appropriate action to rectify issues posing danger to health or safety. Robinsons mo tion authorizing the indepen dent facilities assessment followed a board discussion with Ed Gable, the countys di rector of general services, who had conduct ed several walk-throughs of Warm Mineral Springs since it closed on June 30. In response to a question from Robinson, Gable said he expected it would take three weeks to a month to hire a rm to do the in spection. When Robinson questioned why it would take so long to get the work done, Gable said, We can certainly expedite that if we need to. Our decisions going forward are going to be based on the structural integrity of Warm Min eral Springs, Robinson replied. If the inspec tors report indicates the buildings needed to be torn down, she continued, then our longJennifer Graham, the former assistant general manager of Warm Mineral Springs, addresses the County Commission on July 10. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 47


term planning for Warm Mineral Springs will shift at that particular point. Our options will be much more limited. A LONG PROCESS Following the November 2012 election of two new North Port city commissioners Cheryl Cook and Rhonda DiFranco a majority on the city board took issue with an agreement the County Commission had secured with the previous North Port City Commission. During a joint meeting in July 2012, the commissions voted to pursue an Invitation to Negotiate to obtain proposals regarding development of the resort. After the November elections, Cook, DiFranco and Mayor Linda Yates said the Springs should be maintained as a park. Because of the divergence of those views, the County and City commissions could not even reach an agreement on the short-term opera tion of Warm Mineral Springs beyond the June 30 lease termination the boards had with the operator, Cypress Lending. The county and city had bought the resort from Cypress Lend ing in December 2010. Since the Springs closed, as Robinson pointed out on July 10, county commissioners have received numerous emails asking when the resort will reopen. According to an interlocal agreement the North Port Commission nally approved with the county on June 24, the city has 60 days to act in good faith to advertise and settle on a short-term management lease for the resort for a period no longer than 12 months; that recommendation must go to the County Com mission for approval within 30 days of the North Port Comm issions vote. North Por t Manager Lewis notied the City Commission in a July 8 memo, The bid and its associated documents have been drafted by staff and currently are in our legal depart ment for review. Once that was completed, he continued, the documents would be sent to the county for its review. In the meantime, the county and city are split ting the cost of security measures on the site. STAFF FINDINGS In a July 8 memo to the County Commission, Gable, the General Services Ofce director, wrote that he and his staff had made another site visit to Warm Mineral Springs to assess the condition of the facilities. Of the seven structures on the property, he wrote, four make up the main building and are connect ed by an open arbor sys tem. Two structures North Port City Manager Jonathan Lewis. Photo courtesy City of North Port Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 48


are used for m aintenance; one, as a storage shed. One of the maintenance buildings and the shed are in disrepair and should be de molished, Gable added. All the structures date from the mid-1950s, he pointed out. At that time, he noted, the state building code had no provisions for hurricane hardening, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements did not exist. The roof, he wrote, is an area of immediate concern. Its conguration contains multiple valleys, the memo says, many of which have been leaking for some time. Gable also noted that the existing restrooms do not comply with ADA standards and are not large enough to bring them into compli ance. Moreover, he wrote, the condition and loca tion of a number of septic tanks on the proper ty are unknown, and upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems have been completed through the years without the benet of per mitting or inspections. LOOKING AHEAD During the County Commission discussions on July 9, Robinson told her colleagues, We have to repair the buildings. We have to open those buildings. She had toured the site, she added, and had noticed water and electrical problems. I think were talking about a big ticket, Pat terson said, referring the expense of repairs. Robinson replied, I think were talking about a big ticket, too, and the co unty commission ers a year ago had envisioned a long-term management rm handling that. Now its go ing to fall on taxpayers shoulders, Robinson said. I believe that we should authorize the mini mum repairs needed for health and safety to get it done, Robinson continued. Im ne with that, Patterson told her. The goal, Robinson reiterated, is to get the re sort reopened as soon as possible under shortterm management. Referring to the interlocal agreement, Robinson added, As long as [the city commissioners] hold up their end of the bargain, I intend to hold up ours. % County Administrator Randall Reid. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 49


Leaving big questions unanswered includ ing empl oyee pay raises until their nal budget workshop on Aug. 20, the Sarasota County commissioners this week unanimous ly adopted the tentative millage rates for the 2014 scal year, leaving them at from the cur rent year at a total of 3.93. By law, the board cannot raise the mill age rates above that point when it votes on the nal budget in September. The total of the proposed 2014 scal year bud get is $1,032,677,312. That compares to the $897 million spending plan adopted for the current scal year and $870 million in FY 2012. The last time the county budget exceeded $1 billion was in FY 2010, when it was $1.003 million, according to documents provided by the countys Ofce of Financial Planning. According to mate rials made available before the July 10 reg ular County Commis A pie chart shows tentative, estimated Sarasota county expenses for the 2014 scal year. All the Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) positions have not been approved yet. Image courtesy Sarasota County ALTHOUGH THE COUNTY COMMISSION THIS WEEK APPROVED A FLAT TOTAL MILLAGE RATE FOR THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR, IT WILL NOT ADDRESS EMPLOYEE RAISES UNTIL AUGUST A NUMBER OF UNRESOLVED ISSUES By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor We have not approved compensation increases yet, nor have we nished approving the budget. Christine Robinson Commissioner Sarasota County


A chart compares 2013 scal year budget expenses to those projected for county departments in FY 2014. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 51


sion meeting, the proposed budget includes not only a 3 percent merit pay raise for nonunion employees but also an increase of 105 full-time positions. The pay hike means an extra expenditure of $927,000 in general fund money along with $973,000 from other coun ty funds, County Administrator Randall Reid pointed out in brief comments. The proposed budget also includes $2.3 mil lion allocated to raises for employees of the countys constitutional ofcers, including the Sheriffs Ofce and the Ofce of the Clerk of the 12 th Circuit Judicial Court. However, Commissioner Christine Robinson claried certain points in an exchange with Chief Financial Planning Ofcer Steve Botel ho: We have not approved compensation in creases yet, nor have we nished approving the budget. That will be happening at the end of August ofcially approving what money goes where at that point, correct? Corre ct, Botelho replied. The budget will not become nal until the board approves it after a second public hear ing in Venice on Sept. 23, he added. Its easily interpreted otherwise, Robinson told Botelho, just with the way its worded in [the agenda material]. Reid said he hoped the board would complete all its spending decisions by the conclusion of the Aug. 20 budget workshop, prior to the rst public hearing, which has been set for 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 in Sarasota. Following those comments, Commissioner Joe Barbetta made a motion to certify the ten tative ad valorem millage rates and non-ad va lorem assessments for the 2014 scal year, so they can be advertised. As always, Mr. Botelho and his staff did a great job under to ugher circumstances this A chart compares the total county millage rates from the 2000 scal year through FY 2014. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 52


year, with a l ot of changes that oc curred, Barbetta said. Robinson was the most vocal of the ve commissioners during a June 21 budget workshop, raising points about the confusion pro duced by changes in the proposed department budgets. Because of an administrative decision to change the allocation of staff responsible for operations and maintenance work in the coun ty, one department was eliminat ed, two new ofces were created in the Public Works Department and a number of positions were returned to other departments. Botelho and his staff said at the time that the action necessitat ed about 5,000 line item changes in budget documentation for the 2014 scal year. Commissioner Nora Patterson concurred with Barbetta in com plimenting Botelho on July 10, adding that information he recent ly had emailed the board had an swered a lot of questions as well. BUDGET DETAILS Among the changes already re ected in the FY 2014 budget is the inclusion of 67.8 full-time-equiva lent (FTE) positions the County Commission has approved during the current fiscal year. Twen ty-four of those were allocated to the new Field Serv ices Ofce Commissioner Christine Robinson. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 53


to hand le mowing. Commissioners have said numerous times over the past year that they found it highly embarrassing to see grass grow so high along roadsides and in medians because of problems encountered with con tracted mowing services. The county elded a signicant number of complaints about the situation last summer. Another 18.8 FTEs were approved to maintain parks and athletic elds. Additionally, the board agreed several weeks ago to hire nine new staff members in the Planning and Development Services Depart ment to handle the increased workload ema nating from growth linked to the improving economy. Seven of those positions will be paid for through fees collected by the department. The FY 2014 budget requests from depart ments included requests for 36.9 new FTEs. Among them would be six new employees in the Sheriffs Ofce, one new Code Enforce ment ofcer and one new employee in the Natural Resources Department to assist with a backlog of work as well as the completion of the Post Disaster Response Plan (PDRP). Barbetta recently has complained about the delay in nalizing the PDRP. If the County Commission approves all the re quested new positions, the FTE count will rise from 3,297 in the current scal year to 3,402 in the 2014 scal year. During their June 21 budget workshop, the commissioners did approve the hiring of two additional Code Enforcement ofcers to focus on stopping the work of unlicensed contrac tors in the county. Robinson cast the sole No vote on that decision, citing concern about how much of its reserves the county will have to spend to balance the FY 2014 budget. Thanks to a 4.2 percent increase in proper ty values this year, the new budget will have an extra $4.4 million in general fund revenue compared to what was available for the cur rent scal year. However, the material provided to the board in advance of its June 12 budget workshop showed a projected draw of $27.7 million from reserves to cover expenses for FY 2014. The county used $9.2 million in reserves during the 2012 scal year, a chart shows. Botelho told the board he estimated at least that much would be used again for the current scal year, though the projected amount shown on a chart was $15.9 million. % 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 July 12, 2013 Page 54


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


The group studying the fate of Sarasotas Com munity Redevelopment Agency took testimo ny Tuesday, July 9, from a serious profession al, a gifted amateur and a man who was there at the beginning. All three suggested Saraso tas CRA had lost its way. The man who was there from the begin ning is former Mayor Kerry Kirschner, who was on the City Com mission in 1986 when the 30-year deal was hammered out with Sarasota County to inject county tax money into downtown redevelop ment projects. The agreement expires in 2016. In the mid-1980s, downtown was not a place for an evening out unless you were looking for bar ghts and drunks. It was then the city and county agreed to freeze property taxes at the 1986 base level and devote all city and county property taxes above th e base to a Downtown Sarasota no longer has areas of blight, partly as a result of projects funded by the CRA. Photo by Norman Schimmel REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER CRAS OFFER A LOCAL STUDY GROUP PLENTY OF FODDER AS IT CONTEMPLATES THE FUTURE OF THE SARASOTA CRA AN EARFUL The plan is the key to the whole thing. Sherod Halliburton President Manatee Community Federal Credit Union By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


communit y redevelopment agency. Today this tax increment nancing scheme produces about $6.6 million a year. The CRA was able to invest the tax money in a variety of ways to ght slum and blight conditions. Initially, some 95 percent of the revenue was spent on tangible projects. But the fraction going toward such work now rep resents slightly more than half of the total, and that is a problem for Kirschner. We stopped updating the plan. We stopped issuing the annual re port, he said. Now 40 percent of the money is used for annual oper ating expenses. For example the CRA contributes more than $1 million to the city police. But the diversion is actually much greater. Some commissioners tell us [the city] put in $3.1 million and takes back $2.6 million for the general fund, said David Merrill, the groups chairman. Kirschner replied, Its a short-term x that doesnt solve the long-term problem. Because we dont have a vision, were total ly dependent on other people telling us what they want. A map shows the boundaries of the Sarasota CRA. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 57


THE PRO FROM DELRAY Chris Brown was blunt. CRAs need to be around forever, he said. He ran Delray Beachs CRA for almost that long. Brown then formed a company that special izes in community redevelopment agencies. He and his team write the plans, do the legal research and administer CRAs in Pompano Beach and West Palm Beach. One problem with Sarasotas CRA is its governing board, he noted. Today the ve Sarasota city commis sioners also act as the board of directors of the CRA. So when money is tight, it is tempt ing to siphon off CRA money for the citys gen eral fund and keep the overall tax rate low. Brown says that is dangerous. I would rath er see an independent veor seven-member board, he added. [A CRA] should be admin istratively independent of its governing body, like the city or county, in order to focus on its purpose. That purpose once slum and blight have been pushed back is economic develop ment, he pointed out, not replenishing the general fund. You need public input and a new CRA plan and a ve-year funding plan, said Brown. Part of the city of Bradenton has realized the economic development benets of CRA funds. Photo by Ebyabe via Wikimedia Common Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 58


He suggested a much greater focus on the Newtown portion of the citys CRA, and he urged an expansion of the area to include north U.S. 41. You need to put the North Trail in your CRA for redevelopment, he said. As the advisory group searches for a future for the CRA, Brown noted a great opportunity beckons. Counties traditionally in the past 20 years have hated CRAs because they have to write a big check every year, he said. But the county has as much interest in econom ic development as you do. I think you are on the cusp of convincing the county to do some thing different. BRADENT ONS MIRACLE MAN Sherod Halliburton did not aspire to run a CRA. His expertise is in nance, not redevel opment. But when the City of Bradenton and Manatee County created a CRA in the east ern part of Bradenton, Halliburton ended up running it for seven years before returning to banking. The Central CRA was created specically to ght slum and blight in a primarily lower-in come, African-American neighborhood. In stead of charging ahead with the usual bricks and mortar, Halliburton focused on human The city of Delray Beach has its own Ocean Boulevard. Photo by Ebyabe via Wikimedia Commons Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 59


Residents of downtown Sarasota high-rise condominium complexes have access to a Whole Foods grocery store, thanks to CRA funds. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 60


resources. He used his CRA as a tool to at tra ct outside investment from foundations that could provide grants. We helped fund CareerEdge with a $200,000 investment. To date it is a $5 million opera tion, with $2 million invested from outside the Sarasota-Manatee area. It is only there be cause we had a tool, the CRA that attracted outside investment, he told the CRA commit tee members. He also helped start Suncoast Community Capitol to assist with the nancing of small businesses, again by teaming up with other partners. Because the CRA nancial model works on the difference between the tax base at the start, compared to the tax base in later years, the early times for a CRA are hard. Halliburton is proud of the fact his CRA bumped up the tax base by $2 million during his seven years in a n almost exclusively residential area. It takes a long time for that money to accumu late, he noted. The long-term plan was to create an envi ronment for investment. CRAs create an in centive; [they provide] money to subsidize developments that wont make sense without that public investment, said Halliburton. You have to bring other players to the table. Sarasotas CRA did that with a $5 million sub sidy to bring a Whole Foods supermarket to downtown Sarasota. And Halliburton did it with a lot less to bring a Save-A-Lot grocery store to his East Bradenton community. In both cases, the stores make the surrounding areas much more livable. The plan is the key to the whole thing, said Halliburton. T H E RE AL ISSUE Merrills panel asked about how current CRAs are governed. In the case of Delray Beach and Bradenton, the city commissions appointed the members of the board. Those boards, in turn, could hire a professional to direct the operation if they chose to do so. Halliburton was paid by the CRA, not the city. When he resigned to return to banking, he was replaced by Bradentons planning director. In Delray Beach, Brown was hired by the CRA, not the city. Additionally in Delray Beach, the board has total latitude over spending. The city cannot veto or otherwise inuence decision-making except by appointment to the CRA board. In Bradenton, the City Commission has 30 days to veto any spending move. Brown said Bra dentons veto power was unusual in the world of CRAs. One of the thorny issues facing the Sarasota study group is whether it should recommend the establishment of a new governing board if the CRA is renewed. Should the Sarasota City Commission remain the board? Should the Sarasota County Commission have a say, since it pays $3.5 million per year into the CRA? Should the board be appointed and in dependent? M errill and his group will learn more about how CRAs are governed at their next meeting July 24 when Carol Westmoreland will brief them. She is the executive director of the Florida Redevelopment Association. She will be joined on the agenda by Bob Fournier, the Sarasota city attorney. The public meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. in Ci ty Ha ll. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 61


Siesta Key Village business owner Martha Smith took it as a positive sign this week when the Sarasota County commissioners agreed that a ny request for changes to the zoning code governing Siesta Key should come from the islands residential and merchant associ ations, not individual business o wners. Smith is among those Village proprietors leading an initiative to amend the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) to allow merchants to d isplay wares out side their shops with out having to apply for temporary use per mits. During the June meeting of the Siesta Key Village Associ atio n (SKVA), Smith Martha Smith, owner of Le Grand Bisou Caribbean Boutique, is among those seeking a code provi sion for outdoor displays in Siesta Village. File photo THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AGREE THAT THE ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTING BOTH SIESTA KEY RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES SHOULD CONCUR ON RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OUTDOOR BUSINESS DISPLAYS BEFORE THE COUNTY ACTS ON A PROPOSAL SEEKING ASSOCIATION CONSENSUS There was a time when we would not allow somebody to put a pot of owers outside a Publix. Nora Patterson Commissioner Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


r aised the issue, saying she had seen sales at her Siesta Village shop, Le Grand Bisou Carib bean Boutique drop from $1,600 a day to $195 a day in one week after a Sarasota County Code Enforcement ofcer notied her it was a violation of the local zoning code to place clothes on racks outside the shop. She told The Sarasota News Leader on July 9 that she would contact Siesta Key Associ ation (SKA) President Catherine Luckner to request an appearance before the SKA board and members during the next meeting, Aug. 1. Its on the table, she said after the News Leader conveyed to her the gist of the com missioners discussion about the proposed SKOD change. That makes me happy. As she had promised Smith and two other business owners who had talked with her re cently, Commissioner Nora Patterson brought up the matter during the County Commission meeting on July 9 in Venice. Patterson told her colleagues the three propri etors all said they had seen their sales drop af ter a Code Enforcement ofcer advised them that the zoning code prevented their outdoor displays. They had come up with a proposal, she continued, that would designate quite a bit of footage on their property for such dis plays while their shops are open, though the merchandise would not be on the right of way. Among the items they want to display, she said, are golf carts and recreational vehicles, and I think that starts making the area look pretty honky tonk. However, Patterson said she had told them she would seek the boards approval to allow county staff to work on the proposed zoning changes. The only concern I have, Commissioner Joe Barbetta replied, is when restaurants put up sandwich boards [in the past], they got beat up pretty bad [by Code Enforcement ofcers]. And I dont see how that differs from outdoor displays. Unless the SKOD changes had pretty much unanimous support from both the merchants and residents associations, Barbetta added, and a healthy discussion here by the board, he would not support county staff work on the project. In my heart of hearts if I had the unilat eral vote on it, Patterson said, I probably wouldnt go for this [zoning change]. But I dont have that unilateral ability, obviously. She continued, I think it gets pretty messy looking and pretty abused and very, very hard to enforce once you start putting parameters in place [for outdoor displays]. Nonetheless, she told her colleagues, I have a hard time saying, No, I wont support the discussion. Barbetta responded that he would defer to the board majority on the matter. Im supportive of it, Commissioner Christine Robinson said. I just dont want to turn this into a giant issue that sucks time away from some other important countywide issues. Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 63


And I dont want to turn it into something where somebody can set up golf cart displays in front of their business, Patterson replied. In years past, she added, commissioners and staff had gone back and forth during simi lar discussions. There was a time when we would not allow somebody to put a pot of owers outside a Publix. Regarding the Siesta Village business own ers request, she continued, Its a struggle between trying to keep the quality of the com munity but allowing some types of outdoor displays. Finally, Patterson made a motion authorizing staff to use discretion in allocating time to Siesta Village Outtters has kayaks, bicycles, paddleboards and even mini cars available for rent. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 64


A section of a draft amendment for the Siesta Key Overlay District zoning species provisions for outdoor displays. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 65


leading discussions with the residential and merchant associations on Siesta Key regard ing prohibitions on outdoor merchandise dis plays and sandwich boards used to advertise restaurant specials. Robinson seconded it. However, if her fellow commissioners did not want to do that, Patterson said, that would be ne with me. I am responding to a request. Robinson reiterated her concern that she did not want the staff discussions to include mul tiple public meetings. Im not going to support the motion, Bar betta said, only because I havent seen any groundswell [of] requests. He added that he would prefer the commission acted on the ba sis of form al requests from the SKA and SKVA, after having their board meetings and prop erly vetting [the request]. Thats a great suggestion, Robinson told him. Patterson then said she would make sure to provide all her colleagues with copies of a draft amendment to the SKOD regarding the outdoor displays as well as a letter she had received from the owner of Comfort Shoes in Siesta Village, requesting outdoor displays. Tell those [business owners] to go through the usual channels, Barbetta said again: Ap proach the associations for support. Ill be happy to do that, Patterson replied, then asked Chairwoman Carolyn Mason to rule her motion out of order. DRAFTING T HE ORDINANCE CHANGE S During the July 2 meeting of the Siesta Key Vil lage Association, President Cheryl Gaddie re prised the June discussion Martha Smith had initiated, noting the topic had arisen during a May 21 zoning meeting with county staff. That May session, which the SKVA had organized, was designed to educate new business owners about the provisions of the Siesta Key Overlay District. People were not really clear on outdoor dis plays and what the code said, Gaddie pointed out. Following the June SKVA meeting, Gaddie continued, Kevin Cooper, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, be gan talking with business owners and working on a solution regarding outdoor displays. Cooper told the members present on July 2 that he had learned outdoor merchandise dis plays are not allowed anywhere in the coun ty except under a temporary use permit or a special exception granted by the County Com mission. State wide, Cooper added, ordinances vary widely in regard to such displays. Based on his research, he drafted the proposed amend ment to the SKOD that would permit business owners to have wares outside under specic circumstances. The countys zoning adminis trator, Brad Bailey, seemed to be receptive to the concept, Cooper noted, when Smith and Rick Lizotte, owner of Comfort Shoes lo cated at 5128 Ocean Blvd. talked with Bai ley abo ut it. Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 66


Among other spe cications, Coopers pro posed SKOD amendment says no outdoor display would exceed 6 feet above nished grade unless a greater height is permitted through the special exception process. Fur ther, the display area would be located only adjacent to and/or against a single building wall, or storefront, of the responsible busi ness, and it could not extend further than 6 feet from that wall or storefront except by vir tue of the special exception process. No tents or canopies would be allowed over the display area. Cooper told the SKVA members he was hope ful Patterson would direct staff to work with the business owner s, which would save thou People commonly ride bicycles on the sidewalks in Siesta Village. File photo Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 67


san ds of dollars in fees the businesses oth erwise would have to pay if they pursued the special exception process. PRIM ARY CONSIDERATIONS Although he, like Smith, had not heard the County Commission discussion on July 9, Cooper told the News Leader he and Gaddie already had talked about the proposed SKOD change with Luckner, the SKA president. We were waiting to see what happened [during the commission session], he continued, and that action meant the associations needed to proceed with seeking the best solution for ev eryone. Ideally, he said, we would have a unied voice in approaching the County Commission with a proposal. Cooper continued, I understand the compel ling business reason for outdoor displays. However, he added, We dont want [the Vil lage] to be a place that is uninviting. We have to maintain the character of Siesta Key as it stands. Still, Cooper said, he had visited other com munities that had found ways to [provide out door displays] tastefully. He added, We want to do our due diligence, so no one would nd unwelcome surprises in the future, if the SKOD was amended. I think there needs to be a lot of explanation and dis cussion about it. Luckner told the News Leader the most im portant focus of the discussions should be a resolve that any change to the SKOD does not increase the intensity or density of use in Si esta Village. Its about being good neighbors. Safety also is a key concern, she noted, be cause, for example, pedestrians are not the only one s who use the Village sidewalks; bicy clists are common, too, and they have to steer around people on foot. People with disabil ities who use the sidewalks are yet another consideration, she added. Further, the discussions need to produce clear answers about what the business owners be lieve would be most helpful to them, Luck ner said. The property owners also have to be involved; many proprietors do not own their storefronts, she pointed out. Additionally, Luckner said, business owners as well as County Code Enforcement staff should easily understand any changes. During the July 2 SKVA meeting, board mem ber Jeff Madden, owner of Beach Bites, raised the point that a Code Enforcement staff mem ber already had weighed in, wondering wheth er the business owners even could nd con sensus to proceed with proposed changes to the SKOD. I have not heard any objection from anybody at all, Gaddie told Madden. Past SKVA President Russell Matthes empha sized that the island associations would work together on the project. Thats what weve always done, he said. The objective, Matthes added, was not to let outdoor displays spoil the Village atmosphere. Nonetheless, he point ed out, Were supporting the businesses. We want you guys to be successful. As co-owner o f the Daiquiri Deck and the Dai quiri Deck Raw Bar, Matthes added, Id love to be able to d isplay stuf f outside. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 68


Saras ota County Sheriff Tom Knight on July 9 received the 2013 County Partner Award from the Florida Association of Counties (FAC). The award is presented to a local leader who demonstrates support and understanding of county issues during the legislative session and advocates for home rule, a news release points out. In making this selection, FAC commended Knight for all of his work to defeat pain man agement bills introduced in the Florida House and Senate this year that would have taken precedence over county ordinances, the re lease adds. It also noted his willingness to travel to Tallahassee to provide support for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, educate policymakers about the law enforce ment perspective and ensure existing county pain clinic ordinances were not preempted by proposed legislation, the release says. Sheriff Knight was a great county partner in helping to increase public safety as counties try to stop prescription drug abuse, said FAC Executive Director Chris Holley in the release. Prescription drug abuse is a life and death is sue, and Sheriff Knight stood up to protect local authority and help our communities save lives. Because the Sarasota County ordinances passed by the Board of County Commissioners in 2011 were used as a model by other Florida counties, Knight wanted the commissioners to share in the award, the release notes. He asked that the presentation be made during the Coun ty Commission meeting in Venic e on July 9. The Sarasota County commissioners stand with Sheriff Tom Knight as he is presented with the 2013 County Partner Award from Lisa Hurley of the Florida Association of Counties. Knight recognized the board for the collaborative working relationship that led to the development of pain clinic ordi nances that have served as a model for other communities throughout the state. Photo contributed by the Sheriffs Ofce SHERIFF KNIGHT PRESENTED AWARD FROM STATE ASSOCIATION NEWS BRIEFS


In remarks during the presentation, Knight pointed out, The [County] Commission gives us what we need through ordinances to keep Sarasota County safe. He added that the countys legislative affairs team worked with him in Tallahassee, empha sizing the partnership in that effort. The news release notes, For more than 80 years, FAC h as represented the diverse inter ests of Flo ridas counties, emphasizing the importance of protecting home rule the concept that local leaders and residents of communities should make the decisions that impact those communities. The Florida Association of Counties helps counties effectively serve and represent Flo ridians by strengthening and preserving coun ty home rule through advocacy, education and collaboratio n, it adds. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee (JFSM) recently received a $250,000 bequest from Herb and Rita Gold, long-time friends and supporters of the organization, the Fed eration has announced. The Golds established The Herb and Rita Gold PACE Fund before Rita died in 2008, a news release notes. They created the endowment to celebrate Ritas legacy as a teacher and their mutual love for Israel, says Rich Berg man, the Federations major gifts ofcer, the release adds. Mr. Gold died last year at the age of 97, but his and Ritas memory lives on, Bergman con tinued in the release. Over the past 10 years, I was privileged to become close to Herb and Rita. They were intelligent, kind and loving people who were dedicated to creating ways for the less fortunate, particularly children, to receive superior opportunities. Israel was their top priority. Bergman adds in the release that, Herb and Rita were proud of the progressive changes in science, space, agriculture and medicine Israel accomplished over the stretch of only a few decades. Up until their nal days, they remained ercely passionate about offering every Jewish child the opportunity to visit Is rael, learn about their history and strengthen their Jewish identity. Bergman notes in the release that the $250,000 recently received for The Herb and Rita Gold PACE Fund will help the Federation, support Jewish people who are at risk or in need here in Sarasota-Manatee, in Israel and around the world. Herb and Rita created a legacy, and their name and good works will continue to live on forever. For more information about The Jewish Fed eration of Sarasota-Manatee, call 371-4546 or visit Herb Gold/Contributed photo JEWISH FEDERATION RECEIVES MAJOR BEQUEST FROM COUPLE Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 70


New College of Florida got off to a hot start in July with high marks from the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014, Colleges of Distinction and, publications that advise students and families on the best choices for a college education, the college has announced. The Fiske Guide, founded 30 years ago by former New York Times education Editor Ed ward B. Fiske, named New College a Best Buy one of just 41 colleges in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to earn that distinction, a news release says. The review called New College a fast-rising star with academics that are very intense but in a non-competitive atmosphere, the re lease adds. Teaching is outstanding and pro fessors care about their students, the Fiske Guide said. The Fiske Best Buy colleges must meet the guides criteria for a top fouror ve-star aca demic rating, and they must be in its moder ateor low-price groupings, the news release notes. The rating places New College in the company of noted institutions such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Texas at Austin and Trinity C ollege Dublin in Ireland, the news release points out. Colleges of Distinction put New College on its list of nearly 300 institutions, noting that as the states independent honors college, New College of Florida retains its distinctive academic program and high standards which make it a college of choice for students who can manage the freedom and responsibility of designing their own education. That guide, based on interviews with high school counselors, college ofcials, alumni and students, praised the colleges teaching, saying, NCF takes the life of the mind seri ously, and its high standards demand rigorous student involvement and motivation. Its stu dents develop a sense of personal responsi bility and habits of mind that enable them to excel as lifelong learners in any vocation, the news release continues. named New College one of its 27 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Stu dents, a list including Brown University, Be loit College and Goucher College, the release points out. NEW COLLEGE GETS STRONG MARKS IN MORE COLLEGE GUIDEBOOKS New College is north of the city of Sarasota, with numerous buildings close to Sarasota Bay. Photo courtesy New College Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 71


Secured bicycle storage has been made avail able at the Palm Avenue garage at no cost, the City of Sarasota has announced. Located near the garage entrance, the lock er will provide bicyclists with an added level of safekeeping, a news release says. Approx imately 28 bikes can be stored within the lock er. An additional 38 can be accommodated at the garage, the release notes A private key code will be issued to a person upon his or her completion of an individual usage agreement, the release adds. Forms may be obtained at the parking attendant ofce on the rst level in the Palm Avenue garage or at the Parking Operations Division (POD) at City Hall, 1565 First St. The Palm Avenue garage is located on North Palm Avenue just north of Main Street in downtown Sarasota. A bicycle storage area has been provided free to the public in the Palm Avenue garage. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota The Palm Avenue garage is located in down town Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel FREE SECURE BICYCLE STORAGE AVAILABLE AT PALM AVENUE GARAGE Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 72


Sarasota County Utilities staff closed a por tion of Central Sarasota Parkway at 9 a.m. Monday, July 8, to replace a failing 18-inch sewer main, the county reported. Utilities staff closed the road across all lanes of Central Sarasota Parkway at Stoneybrook Boulevard, near the entrance of Stoneybrook Golf and Country Club, a news release says. Repairs were expected to take no longer than two weeks, the release notes. Central Sarasota Parkway is expected to be closed for another week for the replacement of a failing sewer main. Image from Google Earth courtesy of Sarasota County PORTION OF CENTRAL SARASOTA PARKWAY CLOSED FOR SEWER PROJECT Traf c message boards have been placed on the corner of Honore Avenue and McIntosh Road at Central Sarasota Parkway to alert mo torists of the road closure, the release adds. Access to all local residences will be main tained. For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000 (TTY: 711) or visit % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 73


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce has ar rested ve members of a south Florida crime ring who allegedly committed several smashand-grab vehicle burglaries in Sarasota July 9 and then used the victims credit cards at area stores, the ofce has reported. The investigation into the crime spree began around 7 p.m. July 9, when two women no ticed their vehicle windows were smashed and purses stolen outside Funtastics Gym nastics & Cheerleading on Ashton Road, a re port says. Deputies investigating that crime received notice of three additional vehicle burglaries at Twin Lakes Park on Clark Road, the report adds. Within the hour, deputies were able to alert members of the Tactical Unit to locations where the stolen credit cards were being used. TAC deputies located two suspicious vehicles at the Cattlemen Road Walmart and stopped them as they left the parking lot, the report continues. Most of the stolen property has been recovered. Detectives viewed store surveillance video, which showed the suspects using the credit cards that had been reported stolen, accord ing to the Sheriffs Ofce. Some of the sus pects had existing warrants or committed other offenses during this investigation, the report adds. As of July 10, the suspects were facing about 49 charges altogether, including mul tiple counts of Vehicle Burglary, Criminal Use of Personal Information, Fleeing to Elude and Providing False Names to Law Enforcement while Legally Detained. The investigation is continuing, and additional charges are pending. Surveillance video shows suspects using allegedly stolen credit cards in Walmart. Video courtesy of the Sheriffs Ofce SOUTH FLORIDA CRIME RING MEMBERS ARRESTED CRIME BLOTTER Click to watch the video


The suspects drove a silver 2012 Chrysler 200 and a silver 2004 Cadillac SUV, both of which were impounded. Detectives are trying to locate additional sus pects, including a woman seen using one of the victims credit cards at the CVS in the 5200 block of Clark Road, the report points out. A rrested in this crime spree were Fort Lau derdale residents Marcus Thomas, 27, of 3231 NW 18th Place; Christopher Pierre, 24, of 2851 NW 23rd St.; Jackie McBurrows, 25, of 711 SE 15th Ave., Apt. 2; Lionel Bain Jr., 29, of 4231 NW 19th St., No. 250; and Nick Arline, 29, of 2615 NW 17th St., the report says. Marcus Thomas/Contributed photo Lionel Bain/Contributed photo Nick Arline/Contributed photo Jackie Mcburrows/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 75


Anyone with information about these sus pects is encouraged to call Criminal Inves tigations at 861-4900, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 366-TIPS (8477), go online at www.sarasotacrimestop or send a text message by texting TIP109 plus a message to CRIMES (274637). The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce once again is reminding the public not to leave valuables or purses in their vehicles, to help prevent crimes of opportunity. Christopher Pierre/Contributed photo Ten local convenience store clerks were cited for selling alcohol to a minor during an undercov er operation conducted by the Sarasota Coun ty Sheriffs Ofce Juvenile Alcohol Task Force (JATF) last week, the Sheriffs Ofce reported. The following businesses were found to be in violation of selling alcohol to a person under age 21, and the clerks were given a misdemean or Notice to Appear: 7-11, 5232 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota. Circle K, 5651 Clark Road, Sarasota. Citgo, 2201 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. BP, 2791 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. 7-11, 1721 Honore Ave., Sarasota. Chevron, 6895 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Shell, 6991 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Discount Tobacco, 2240 N. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis. Quick Mart, 700 N. Tamiami Trail, Nokomis. The clerk at the Sunoco located at 3951 Clark Road, Sarasota Andrij Joseph was arr ested for the same crime, a news release notes. He did not have legal identication, the release says, so deputies could not issue him a Notice to Appear. Another 35 businesses were found to be in com pliance, and each was sent a letter to commend owners and employees for helping reduce the sale of alcohol to minors, the release adds. Andrij Joseph/Contributed photo 10 STORE CLERKS CITED FOR UNDERAGE ALCOHOL SALES Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 76


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Office has asked for the publics help in identifying and locating two female suspects wanted in con nection with a grand theft case, the ofce has announced. On July 8, Sheriffs Ofce deputies responded between 3 and 5 p.m. to the Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T shops located respectively at 4215 S. Tamiami Trail, 4132 S. Tamiami Trail and 2300 Bee Ridge Road to investigate three separate incidents of stolen cellphones, according to the report. The two suspects allegedly were able to dis connect the cellphones from alarm cords The Sheriffs Ofce is seeking help in identifying these two suspects in a grand theft case. Image cour tesy of the Sheriffs Ofce TWO WOMEN SOUGHT IN CELLPHONE THEFT CASE without activating the alarms, the report adds. A total of eight cellphones were stolen, the report continues. One of the businesses was able to provide a surveillance photo of the suspects while the women were inside. They possibly were driv ing a new black, four-door sedan, perhaps a Chevrolet, according to the report. Anyone with information about the suspects is encouraged to call the Criminal Investiga tions Section at 861-4900, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 366-TIPS (8477) or go online at www.sarasotacrimes Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 77


The Sarasota Police Department is seeking a man who allegedly exposed himself to two juvenile girls on Sunday afternoon at a Lido Beach hotel. The department received a call about an inci dent involving indecent exposure in the pres ence of children that occurred on Sunday, July 7, about 4:15 p.m. at the Limetree Beach Re sort, 1050 Benjamin Franklin Drive, Sarasota, according to the report. Ofcers responded to the hotel lobby to meet with management in reference to the com plaint, the report says. There, the officers spoke to the grandmother of the two juvenile girls who were guests at the hotel. The grand mother told the ofcers the girls were play ing ping pong in the game room when a man approached them while he was masturbating and said he was going to f--them, according to the report. The victims described the suspect as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s, about 5 feet 9 inches in height with a thin build and facial hair. The man was wearing a black baseball cap and swim trunks with a owery design in shades of black, blue and white, the girls said; he d id not have on a shirt and his feet were bare, the report notes. A hotel manager said no video surveillance is used on the property, the report adds, so of cers had no assistance in that respect in terms of developing a better description. About 5:40 p.m., the Police Department re ceived another call from the hotel, this time saying several people were chasing the sus pect east towards Ted Sperling Park, the re port continues. A perimeter was set up with negative results, the report notes. At that time, the suspect was described as wearing black swim trunks or long pants and carrying a dirty white shirt and ip-ops. Ofcers ran the tags for several vehicles in the lot at the park, but they found no owner matching the suspects description, the report says. 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 call ing 366-TIPS (8477), go online at http://www. or send a text message by texting TIP109 plus a message to CRIMES (274637). SUSPECT SOUGHT IN INDECENT EXPOSURE CASE ON LIDO The Sarasota Police Department is investigat ing circumstances regarding a loaded hand gun that was found in a hotel garbage can on July 5, the department has reported. Ofcers responded to the Regency Inn, 4200 North Tamiami Trail, at approximately 10:44 p.m. that day in reference to a handgun one of the maids had discovered in a garbage can located on one of the hallways in the hotel, a news release says. The handgun had a round in the chamber and a magazine with 16 other rounds, the report POLICE SEEKING INFORMATION ABOUT GUN FOUND IN HOTEL TRASH says. It was reported stolen in Manatee Coun ty on July 1, the report adds. Anyone with information about the weapon is encouraged to call the Sarasota Police De partment Bureau of Criminal Investigations at 954-7070, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 366-TIPS (8477), go online at or send a text message by texting TIP109 with a message to CRIMES (274637) % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 78


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EDITORIAL OPINION MONEY FOR NOTHING EDITORIAL Gov. Rick Scott and his Republican cohorts in the Legislature like to crow often and loudly about what good guardians they are of the tax payers pocketbooks. Yet they duplicitously use political sleight-of-hand to pick the tax payers other pockets. There is no better example than their require ment, passed in 2011 and signed into law by Scott, that all county tax collectors take over complete responsibility for all drivers licens e testing and is suance no later than June 2015. Of course, the state will continue to re ceive the funds it al ways did for providing this ser vice to Florida drivers only it will not be doing anything to earn that money. Instead, it forces coun ty tax collectors and the county taxpayers they serve to pick up the tab for any extra capital investment and personnel expenses, so state drivers essentially will end up paying double. In a recent appearance before the County Commission, Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates estimated it will cost her ofce millions of dollars over the next several years as she prepares to take on the extra duties. In addition to exten sive renovations of her existing ofces in the Terrace Building in downtown Sarasota, Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates estimated it will cost her ofce millions of dollars over the next several years as she prepares to take on the extra licensing duties.


she also w ill need to acquire more centrally located quarters where she can offer examina tions and license issuance for county drivers. A new, centrally located facility could cost as much as $3.5 million, she estimated. Once the transition is complete, she expects an additional 45,000 customers to visit her of ces just for drivers license-related matters. But most concerning for her are the estimated 5,000 road tests her employees will need to administer each year. Of course, her ofce already has been pro viding drivers license services for a number of years, as have other tax collectors across Florida. The accessibility of the tax collectors ofces has been an attractive option for driv ers, who are willing to pay a small additional fee for the privilege. The state legitimately could see how transfer ring all responsibility for license examination and issuance to the county tax collectors was a reasonable evolution in the delivery of those services. However, the states legitimate de sire for efciency is betrayed by its craven de sire for money it no longer will deserve once it abandons licensing. Propriety never has stayed the states hand in the past, though, so one should not be sur prised it does not now. By legislative at, the state forces the counties to assume a duty it ul timately has been responsible for, yet requires them to continue to send on to Tallahassee the fees each county tax collector receives. All the counties are able to do is continue to collect the small fee they always have been al lowed for providing licensing services, which covers onl y a fraction of the funds needed to fully nance the transition. Ford-Coates did inform the County Commis sion that the Florida Tax Collectors Associa tion has made convincing the Legislature to correct this inequity its No. 1 legislative pri ority. The commissioners, meanwhile, said they hoped the tax collectors were working with the Florida Association of Counties as well to achieve that legislative goal. But Ford-Coates reminded the commissioners she previously had asked the County Commission to make the matter one of its top legislative priorities, apparently to no avail. Now, it would appear, the commissioners nally are listening. The oily entreaties regularly made by candi dates for the Legislature and statewide ofce, offering to reduce the size of state government and reduce the burden of individual taxpayers, continues to have a seductive appeal. Yet logic dictates that much that is proposed by these political hacks is not feasible, or worse, only shifting the costs from one agency to another essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is a distasteful game of governmental Three-card Monte and an undeniable disser vice to citizens. Regrettably, it will continue as long as voters succumb to the allure of these hollow promises of scal prudence and lower taxes. Good government costs money, and all vot ers should acknowledge that reality, because bad government at least in this instance costs twic e as much. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 81


COMMENTARY As members of a community, we are on the lookout for ways to improve our beautiful city, whether it is a small tweak in a neighborhood or something more large-scale, impacting the greater population. The City of Sarasota is embarking on two sig nicant improvement projects this summer, which we expect will improve walkability downtown, improve landscaping and create a more user-friendly travel experience for vis itors. One project will occur downtown; the other, in north Sarasota in the Bayou Oaks neighborhood. Both projects started this week, and both are expected to temporari ly impact motorists and pedestrians during the construction periods. Upon completion, though, we anticipate these tandem projects will improve the overall quality of life in Sara sota. DOWNTOWN ENHANCEMENTS Enhancements needed in downtown Sarasota were originally identied more than a decade ago in the citys Downtown Master Plan 2020. Then, in 2011, creating a more vibrant down town became a high priority as a result of a conference and review of the 2020 Plan. So we are excited to collaborate with the Down town Improvement District to make these long-awaited improvements a reality. Main Street is the primary focus of the project, with $1.8 million in improvements planned at various locations stretching from Gulfstream Avenue to Five Points and up to Goodrich Av enue. The enhancements will be the instal lation of brick paver sidewalks from Gulfst ream Avenue to the Five Points roundabout, the creation of wider sidewalks with parallel parking on the north side of Main Street from Gulfstream Avenue to Five Points (angled parking will remain on the south side of the street), the planting of additional landscaping, the replacement of light poles to improve visi bility for pedestrians, the installation of brick pavers at select crosswalks and the addition of trash receptacles and benches. When we are nished, our urban commercial district will be even more attractive. (On July 15, the City Commission will con sider an additional enhancement for the proj ect: the installation of brick pavers at the four crosswalks at the Main-Palm intersection. If that is approved, the intersection will be temporarily closed for approximately three weeks.) As directed by the City Commission, a ma jority of the work will be completed during the summer, with substantial completion ex pected by Veterans Day. We are asking for your patience throughout the summer and early fall, as we endure these public improve ments. In the end, the slight inconvenience will be worth it as we create a more livable, visitor-friendly city. By Bill Nichols and Richard Winder Contributing Writers SUMMER IMPROVEMENTS COMING TO DOWNTOWN AND NORTH SARASOTA COMMENTARY Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 82


To ensure minimal impact to merchants, shop pers and the general public, city staff and the contractor are coordinating very closely. Our many restaurants, cafs and shops will remain open during this time, so please continue to patronize them. OLD BRADENTON ROAD IMPROVEMENTS For years, the city and residents in the Bayou Oaks neighborhood in north Sarasota have wanted to calm trafc along Old Bradenton Road, the main arterial road bisecting their neighborhood from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way to University Parkway. Now, it is about to happen, but it will be a complex project. Not only will Old Bradenton Road be recon gured into a two-lane divided roadway with a 5-foot raised median with landscaping and drip irrigation, roundabouts will be construct ed at Myrtle Avenue as well as 47 th Street. The project will make the area pedestrianand bike-friendly, with sidewalks and bicycle lanes added on both sides of the road. (The bike lanes will be painted green, a new concept in bicycle safety and the rst of its kind in Sara sota.) Mitigation of tree loss is planned along the right of way and will adhere to the citys tree ordinance. Also, four Sarasota County Area Transit bus shelters will be added along Old Bradenton Road, which is a major route for SCAT. The complex nature of this project revolves around the relocation of a multitude of util ities along the entire path. City of Sarasota water and sewage lines will be moved as well as Verizon, Comcast and TECO Peoples Gas lines. City staff has met with all the parties involved, and the expectation is for each util ity company to have a coordinated plan and work closely with the other utilities to ensure the successful relocation of all these service lines. Timing and communication will be es sential. Even with the best coordination ef forts, though, unexpected events can occur. We ask residents to be patient during this project, which is expected to be completed in January 2014. While Old Bradenton Road will remain open during construction, we strongly encourage non-local drivers to use alternate routes. City staff continues to work with the neigh borhood association regarding its desire to ofcially rename the entire length of the road way Old Bradenton Road. The association has completed the signature requirements; the request will be presented to the City Commis sion this month. After successful completion of the entire process, the new name will ap pear on all street name signs as part of the project. Enduring construction can be a challenge. That is why we are coordinating with numer ous groups in advance to ensure any disrup tions are kept to a minimum. We plan to pro vide the public with regular updates on both projects via the citys website, direct emails, traditional news media and social media. Please sign up to receive email updates by visiting and follow the progress on Twitter @CityofSarasota as we move forward, making Sarasota an even more desirable and livable community. Bill Nichols is the Old Bradenton Road proj ect manager. Richard Winder is the downtown improve ments project manager. % Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 83


To the editor: Thanks for your detailed coverage of the denied request to open up a new channel through the ourishing seagrass beds of our shallow bay ( Denitions skewer dredge dream, July 4 ). I would add only one salient fact to the article. The site plan chart showing the proposed dredge follows the straight path of a 1920s dredge that was perpendicular to the basin along the shore. After several of us partici pated in the public input at the hearing, the attorney for the applicant presented several photographs to conrm a continued pres ence of the channel over many years. On these photographs, she repeatedly pointed out completely different paths that zigzagged obliquely from the basin in southwesterly di rections through the seagrass below the 1920s channel, in an attempt to convince the staff and the commissioners that an open channel had persisted since the last aerial evidence of it disappeared in the 1950s. Dredged channels do not move about. Sea grass often appears in patches that change over time, however, and light conditions may make it appear as if there were paths through it, but the shifting paths being pointed out were never part of a channel dredged in the 1920s. Few would be familiar enough with the issue to notice the discrepancy. Public input was denied after the hearing was closed. When the attorneys new information was presented in rebuttal, we were unable to point out this blatant misinformation to the Sarasota city commissioners. We were very concerned that they would be persuaded by the misinformation. Luckily, a decision against the dredge pivoted on the maintenance aspect of the application that was just as far-fetched. This application could have been approved, however, because of persuasive misinformation that could not be rebutted. This needs to be noted in case of appeal and to demonstrate that the City Commission needs to suppress new information after it has closed a public hearing; otherwise, the commission needs to allow the public to address that new information. Ka Benz, president Friends of Seagate Inc., Sarasota CITY NEEDS TO ADDRESS REBUTTALS AFTER CLOSING OF PUBLIC HEARINGS LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 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 July 12, 2013 Page 84


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The superstar from the air joined forces with superstars from the waves on July 5 in down town Sarasota, bringing out hundreds of cheering fans in spite of intermittent down pours. After Nik Wallenda, the Circus Sarasota home town star, successfully negotiated a walk above the Grand Canyon on June 23, he was invited to be a grand marshal for Suncoast Charities Festival Parade of Boats. One of numerous events over a nine-day period, the parade was part of the Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix Festival, which culminated in the 30 th running of boat races on July 7 off Lido Beach. Wallenda le d the parade, followed by a rep resentation of his fellow Circus Sarasota per formers. Then i t was the boats and racing teams turn down Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue. Festival proceeds support the work of Suncoast Charities for Children This spring, the Sara sota County Commission provided a $79,200 grant and $3,500 in in-kind services to make the festival possible after the organizers voiced concerns about having to cancel the events be cause of a lag in private contributions. The Sarasota City Commission approved $36,582 in in-kind services for the festival, a $5,175 increase over its 2012 contribution. Ad ditionally, the Sarasota County Sports Com mission gave Suncoast Charities $15,000 as a sports marketing grant. All photos are by Staff Photographer Norman Schimm el. % Grand Marshal Nik Wallenda waves to the crowds lining the streets of downtown Sarasota. SARASOTA SKYWALKER NIK WALLENDA HEADS UP THE PARADE OF OFFSHORE RACING BOATS SUPERSTARS Staff Reports


Performers with Circus Sarasota pay homage to Nik Wallendas aerialist feats. Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 88


Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 89


The Baltimore Orioles mascot, Bird, greets young fans along the boat parade route. Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 90


Boat parade entries line up near the intersection of U.S. 301 and Main Street in downtown Sara sota before the event begins. Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 91


Not only were the powerful vessels on view in the parade through downtown Sarasota, they also were on display for the public at Centennial Park during the Powerboats by the Bay events on July 5 and 6. Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 92


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 No trolley service to Siesta Key until 2016? That is too long! The assertion came from Commissioner Nora Patterson in a recent email exchange with Glama Carter, general manager of Sarasota County Area Transit. As a result of their conversation, Patterson raised the issue on July 10 during the nal minutes of the County Commissions nal meeting before its summer recess begins. Patterson pointed out to her colleagues that trolley service on the key had been envisioned for a number of years as a means of alleviating some of the parking concerns for visitors and residents. A couple of years ago, she continued, the County Commission was asked whether it wanted to advance funding for the match of a state grant to bring the trolley service on line sooner. We were in a particular nancial crunch, Patterson told her fellow commis sioners, and we decided not to do that. However, Cart er had explained in one of those recent emails, Patterson continued, that be cause of the timing of the grant and the aver age 18-month lag between the countys placing an order for new buses and the buses deliv ery, Siesta trolley service appeared to be im possible before the beginning of 2016. In response to a June 25 email from Patterson, Carter wrote the following on June 27: In order to operate the proposed Siesta Trol ley route, two vehicles are needed. The route, as planned, would operate every 30 minutes, Carter noted, including a stop at Turtle Beach every 60 minutes. With the addition of the new Trolley route, she pointed out, SCAT [also] would expand the current Route 11 on Sunday to connect downtown Sarasota with Siesta Key. The Siesta Trolley would be funded with a 50/50 three-year service development oper ating grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, Carter continued. That grant, COUNTY COMMISSIONER SEEKS TO SPEED UP THE SIESTA TROLLEY TIMETABLE; THE TURTLE BEACH RENOURISHMENT PROJECT MOVES FORWARD; THE SIESTA CHAMBER SELLS ENOUGH VIP PICNIC TICKETS TO COVER THE JULY FOURTH FIREWORKS EXPENSE By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


ava ilable in the 2015 scal year, would be in the amount of $1.087 million. SCAT intends to pursue funding for the re quired vehicles and operators in 2014 during the FY 2015 budget preparation, Carter add ed. That would make it possible for the Siesta service to start in January 2016, she noted. On June 29, Patterson replied, I am sorry but this seems entirely too long for a service that was needed a while ago. I did not feel that we could advance the grant funding for this year as was suggested before you came, but wait ing until 2016 for service is another matter entirely. If the funding is available in 2014/15 from FDOT I would hope that we would have the [trolleys] in time for the fall of 2014 when the operating funds are available. That is al most a year and a half away. What you suggest carries it out still an additional year plus to [January] 2016. We have been talking about this for years! During the July 10 County Commission meet ing, Patterson pointed out that the Siesta Pub lic Beach improvements will be getting under way in the not-too-distant future, which will exacerbate the parking situation on the island. Referring to the January 2016 timeline Carter had mentioned, Patterson asked, Could we try to do better than that? She added, If theres any way to expedite the ordering of the buses to match the avail ability of the operating monies were going to get from the state, that would make much more sense. Com missioner Joe Barbetta asked that county staff have a report ready for the board when it returns from its summer break. County Administrator Randall Reid told the commissioners that report would be ready as soon as you get back. According to the calendar on the county web site, the next meeting will be on Aug. 20. TURTLE BEACH RENOURISHMENT One piece of Siesta business that won easy approval this week involves the Turtle Beach renourishment project. During its regular meeting on July 9, the Coun ty Commission voted unanimously to pay $725,237 to Humiston & Moore Engineers of Naples for design and construction phase ser vices for that initiative. An April 22 memo to the County Commission from the countys coastal resources manag er, Laird Wreford, pointed out that $5 million from a Tourist Development Tax fund desig nated for renourishment would pay for the Turtle Beach project. A July 9 staff memo from Amy Meese, direc tor of the countys Natural Resources Depart ment; Isaac R. Brownman, director of capi tal projects; and Curtis R. Smith, the project manager, notes the previous South Siesta Key Beach Restoration Project which began in December 2006 and ended in March 2007 consisted of the placement of approximately 922,300 cubic yards of dredged sand along ap proximately 2 miles of open shoreline front Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 95


ing the Gul f of Mexico, from just north of the former Midnight Pass, to about 300 feet south of Point of Rocks. That sand came from four borrow areas lo cated in the Gulf, 6.5 to 8 miles west of the project, the memo adds. This material was emplaced to create a widened and elevated beach and dune system to protect property and infrastructure threatened by severe shore line erosion with an overall goal of providing storm protection Since the work was completed, the memo continues, the area has been monitored and evaluated regularly both for permit compli ance, an d to pro vide information for planning maintenance nourishment events These routine evaluations indicate that while the project generally is performing as expected, it likely will require maintenance nourishment by the winter of 2015. In September 2012, the County Commission approved submittal of a funding application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the renourishment, the memo points out. Almost exactly six months earlier on April 13, 2011 the commission had authorized staff to initiate the design and per mitting of the rst maintenance nourishment of the project, th e memo adds. A photo taken in late November 2012 by Siesta Key Association board member Ron Flynn shows the erosion that has occurred on Turtle Beach. Photo courtesy of Ron Flynn Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 96


A map shows the area of the planned renourishment for Turtle Beach. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 97


During the pro curement process that led to the July 9 vote, the memo notes, seven rms responded to a Call for Professional Services. The bid period closed on Oct. 19, 2012. Humis ton & Moore Engineers was the top-ranked rm after staff completed its evaluations of the responses, the memo says. FIRE IN THE SKY The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce did meet its fundraising goal for the July Fourth reworks show at the beach, Executive Direc tor Kevin Cooper told me this week. He was breathing a sigh of relief. Just a day before the big event, the chamber sent out an other email blast, saying it was about $5,000 short of its goal for the approximately $35,000 expense of the reworks. No public money goes toward the event, though tens of thousands of people relish the spectacular each summer. Cooper said it was a bit of a soggy day for the VIP picnic that helped cover the cost of the reworks. A substantial amount of rain Fireworks boom into the sky over Siesta Public Beach on July 4. Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 98


Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens Photo contributed by Peter van Roekens Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 99

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fell, as he put it, during four pretty lengthy periods. The ground already was signicant ly soggy, too, from downpours earlier in the week. But the show went on a little earlier, though, for the reworks themselves. The person in charge of the pyrotechnics saw a window of opportunity before the rains be gan again and went ahead and launched the rockets, Cooper pointed out. And, based on the lovely photos Siesta Key Association Secretary Peter van Roekens gen erously provided us this week, it appears ev eryone watching had plenty of opportunity to Ooooh and Aaaah. CHAN CE MEETING IN PARIS 2005 Booker High School Visual Performing Arts graduate and Siesta Key native Bruce Merkle was in Europe in June when he decided to revisit Notre Dame. As he walked by the world-famous cathedral, he felt a hand on his shoulder. To his surprise, it was 2006 VPA graduate Charlie Barnett. That was the story Bruces mom, Marlene Merkle, told me recently. Bruce, who now lives in Los Angeles, has been seen singing on several TV shows, among them performances in comedy skits on The Tonight Show Charlie, who lives in Chicago, stars as Peter Mills on the hit show Chicago Fi re % Charlie Barnett (left) and Bruce Merkle pose in front of Notre Dame in Paris. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 100

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The Banyan Theater Company is present ing its 12th season of summer entertainment through Aug. 25, with Painting Churches by Tina Howe the rst show continuing through July 14. Heroes by Gerald Sibleyras with a translation by Tom Stoppard will run from July 18 to Aug. 4. Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies will take the stage from Aug. 8 -25, a news release notes. Painting Churches focuses on Gardner and Fanny Church, who are preparing to relocate from their Beacon Hill house to their summer cottage on Cape Cod. Gardner, once a famous poet, has retired, the release adds. He slips in and out of senility as his wife, Fanny, valiant ly tries to keep them both aoat, the release continues. They have asked their daughter, Mags, to come home and help them move, it adds. Mags agrees, for she hopes as well to nally paint their portrait. She is on the verge of ar tistic celebrity herself and aspires, by painting her parents, to come to terms with them and for them to do the same with her. In Heroes three World War I veterans Hen ri, Gustave and Phillippe pass their monot ony-lled days in a military hospital by engag ing in verbal battles of long-forgotten military campaigns, grumblings about the staff and re ections of their lives, the release says. Their cantankerous camaraderie becomes strained Don Walker is Gardner Church and Jenny Aldrich is Fanny Church in Painting Churches. Photo by Gary Sweetman BANYAN THEATER COMPANYS 12TH SEASON UNDER WAY A&E BRIEFS

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when Gustave conjures up an escape plan. Looking over the cemetery to the poplars be yond, they dream of freedom. Will today be the day they nally make it to Indochina or only as far as the top of the hill? Time Stands Still puts the spotlight on Sar ah and James, a photojournalist and a foreign correspondent trying to nd happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy, the release continues. Theirs is a partnership based on telling the toughest stories and to (From left) Alan Kitty, Joseph Parra and Peter Thomasson star in Banyan Theater Companys pro duction of Heroes. Photo by Gary Sweetman gether making a difference. But when their own story takes a sudden turn, the adventur ous couple confronts the prospect of a more conventional life. The Banyan Theater Company performs in the Jane B. Cook Theatre at the Florida State Uni versity Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. A three-show sub scription costs $70, a two-show package is $52 and single tickets are $28.50. To purchase tick ets, visit Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 102

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Sky Water Blues: A Series of Works Inspired by Three Geographic Locations will be on display at The Womens Resource Center, 340 S. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota, from July 18 through Sept. 26, the center has announced. The show features abstract and representa tional personal landscapes in oil, pastel and acrylic by Sarasota artist Carol Hershberger, a news release notes. Hershbergers paintings are inspired by her memories, the release adds. They reveal themselves in symbolic forms and are composed of multiple layers of color, composition and materials, the re lease continues. Hershberger grew up on a dairy farm in Holmes County, OH, the release says: Steeped in Mennonite tradition and ritual, she was deeply inuenced by a sense of place. Hersh berger notes in the release that her work em b odies a sentiment from author Lucy Lippard in the book, The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multi-Centered Society : If space is where culture is lived, then place is the result of their union. In 1997, Hershberger moved to Sarasota to at tend the Ringling College of Art and Design. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003 and has exhibited her work locally at Selby Gallery, Crossley Gallery, Sarasota Art Center and Selby Library. Visit to see examples of her art. The opening will take place July 18 from 5-7 p.m. in the Selby Room. The public is invited. Refreshments will be served, and Tyler Plaster of 3D Burn will perform bluesy New Age and folk music on the guitar. For more information, call the Womens Re source Center at 366 -1700. Beaulahs Hill by Carol Hershberger is acrylic, oil stain and oil pastel on canvas. Contributed image HERSHBERGER LANDSCAPES TO BE ON DISPLAY AT CENTER Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 103

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Since its fo unding in 2010, international ballet star Jos Carreo has served as artistic direc tor of the Sarasota annual dance festival bear ing his name. Now, in addition to his duties at the Carreo Dance Festival, he has been named artistic director for the well-respected Ballet San Jose in California, the company has announced. In Silicon Valley, Carreo is working on plans for the Ballet San Joses 2013-2014 season, a news release notes. However, he will return to Sarasota in time for the opening of the third annual Summer Master Class Series at the Sarasota Opera House and the Sarasota Cu ban Ballet School from July 29 through Aug. 17, culminating in the traditional Festival of Stars performance, the release adds. My expectations for another successful sum mer program in Sarasota are extremely high, Carreo says in the release. We have an im pressive roster of pre-professional students from across the United States, as well as Can ada and the United Kingdom, he notes, and we are welcoming another incredible interna tional faculty. Among the faculty members assembled by Carreo and Robert de Warren, president of the Sarasota International Dance Festival, are Loipa Araujo, co-director of the English Na tional Ballet; Yuri Fateev, director of the Ma riinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia; Rinat Imaev, company teacher for American Ballet Theatre; Carlos dos Santos, modern Brazilian choreographer and master teacher; Magaly Suarez, master teacher and artistic director of Florida Classical Ballet; and Julie Kent, prin cipal dancer from American Ballet Theatre. Highlighti ng the Festival of Stars program at 5 p.m. on Aug. 17 at the Sarasota Opera House will be a performance of the pas de deux from The Merry Widow with Kent and Carreo, the release continues. The program also will fea ture The Sleeping Beauty Suite as well as A Contemporary Mood especially created for the Festival of Stars by Carlos dos Santos with original music by David Goldstein. Appearing in the Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty will be Shelby Elsbree from the Bos ton Ballet, a Sarasota native who danced with the Royal Danish Ballet for four years, the re lease adds. Other guest artists will be Jordan Elizabeth Long from the Royal Swedish Ballet and Nathan Chaney of Ballet Zurich. Tickets are on sale at the Sarasota Opera box ofce: Call 328-1300 or visit www.sarasotaop spx % Jos Carreo and Julie Kent perform a pas de deux in The Merry Widow. Photo courtesy of ABT-Gene Schiavone CARREO DANCE FESTIVAL TO RETURN FOR A THIRD YEAR Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 104

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Through out the past school year, Temple Sinai students engaged in many discussions about mitzvot (their Jewish obligations) and gmilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness). In the fall, in the wake of Superstorm San dy, youngsters in the entire school dedicated their weekly tzedakah (money collected for others) which totaled more than $300 to the American Red Cross, a news release says. In the spring, second-graders created a pup pet show that contrasted a day in the life of a child their age who went through a day not being kind and thoughtful with a day in which the same child showed respect to parents and teachers, helped out a friend and cared for animals, the release adds. The fth/sixth-grade class was charged with researching non-profit organizations and choosing the ones that would receive the ad ditional $448 that had been collected for tze dakah Under the guidance of their teacher, Joni Mandel, the students decided to support several projects, the release continues. Learn ing about the critical shortage of safe drinking water in many parts of the world, the students decided to give half of the tzedakah to Clean Water Action, the release adds. After the youth heard about lobbying efforts to pressure supermarkets and restaurant chains to support farmworkers, the decision was made to contribute the other half of the tzedakah to the Coalition of Immokalee Work ers Inspired to do something more hands-on as well, the class organized a used book drive for Oasis Elementary and was able to collect The second-grade students created a puppet show about kindness. Contributed photo TEMPLE SINAI STUDENTS ACT ON LESSONS ABOUT KINDNESS RELIGION BRIEFS

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Fifthand sixth-graders learned about the importance of clean water. Contributed photo ve boxes of childrens books and classroom learning materials, the release notes. Indeed, this year Temple Sinai stu dents both learned about and acted on important Jewish values, the re lease says. % 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 July 12, 2013 Page 106

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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 12+ JULY Florida Studio Theatre presents The Underpants Through Aug. 3 (times vary), Keating Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Tickets: $18 to $42. In formation: 366-9000 or 12+ JULY FST Summer Improv Through Aug. 24, 8:30 p.m., John C. Court Cabaret, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Tickets: $12. Infor mation: 366-9000 or 12+ JULY Dabbert Gallery presents Summer Showcase Through Sept. 30, 76 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Admission: free. Information: 955-1315 or 17+ JULY WBTT presents The Best of Stevie Wonder July 1728 (times vary), Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1626 10th Way. Tickets: $29.50. Information: 366-1505 or online at 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 20 JULY WSLR presents The Couple Conundrum a staged reading July 20, 8:30 p.m., Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Court. Tickets: $10 in advance; $12 at door. Information: 894-6469 or Community Calendar The best of upcoming EVENTS This Week In Sarasota has been acquired by the Observer Group, which ends our partnership with TWIS. Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 107

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

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