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 THE SARASOTA News Leader Vol. 2, No. 44 July 18, 2014 Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. Inside SCAT DIRECTOR FIRED AN UNFLATTERING REVIEW MODERNIZING A PAYMENT SYSTEM




Rachel Brown Hackney Editor and Publisher Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor Stan Zimmerman City Editor Roger Drouin County Editor Roger Norman Schimmel Staff Photographer Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer Elinor Rogosin A&E Writer John Riley Editorial Cartoonist Vicki Chatley Copy Editor Letters To the Editor Cleve Posey Production Manager / Graphic Designer Robert S. Hackney Opinion Editor / General Manager Advertising Sales Subscription Services Press Releases & News Tips MASTHEAD The Sarasota News Leader is a registered trademark of New Sheriff Publishing, Inc., which publishes The Sarasota News Leader Copyright 2014 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 P.O. Box 5099 Sarasota, FL 34277 (941) 227-1080


Who says summer is dull around here? This week, we found our selves with two big scoops. By now, you may have read about one of them elsewhere, but I strongly assert that our version is far more comprehensive. And it has a companion piece that makes for interesting reading, if I do say so myself. City Editor Stan Zimmerman already was holding tightly, in a manner of speaking, to information about a highly unfavorable audit of the citys Information Technology Department when we learned that Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) Director Glama Carter had been red. County Editor Roger Drouin spent quite a bit of time on the latter story, waiting to see if it would become common knowledge before our issue appeared. At the same time, I was working on a story about why SCAT has been unable to accept debit and credit card payments for the purchase of passes a very hot topic at the last Siesta Key Village Association meeting, because SCAT was on the verge of launching its new Siesta trolley service. As it turns out, a more favorable take on Carter in my story took on opposite polarity in Rog ers story. Along with those topics, we have quite a bit of diversity in our coverage from Rogers rst look at the revival of the Palmer Place project in Sarasota to Stans preview of the City Commissions mega-agenda for Monday. This week, we also are most fortunate to have another of contributor Barbara Don deros wonderfully entertaining articles. This time, her focus is The Ringling Mu seums current exhibit on the art worlds con artists. Editor and Publisher WELCOME


SCAT DIRECTOR FIRED AN UNFLATTERING REVIEWNEWS SCAT DIRECTOR FIRED 9 Although she had less than two years in the position, some community residents and leaders saw Glama Carter as the key to getting the transit system back on track Roger Drouin AN UNFLATTERING REVIEW 16 An audit of the citys Information Technology Department nds a multitude of deciencies, including security risks Stan Zimmerman MODERNIZING A PAYMENT SYSTEM 21 Sarasota County Area Transit staff hopes to have a system in place by early 2015 to allow online debit and credit card payments for passes Rachel Brown Hackney A REAPPEARANCE 25 An application for the long-planned Palmer Place development is submitted to countys Development Review Committee Roger Drouin OLD PLANS AND NEW RULES 27 For the City Commission on July 21, a mega-agenda awaits, including discussion of Jesse Biters proposed Second Street development Stan Zimmerman RESERVES ALL BUT EXHAUSTED 35 Benets fund raided to balance next years city budget Stan Zimmerman DOES NOT SMELL LIKE CITY HALL 39 An historical city architectural design is proposed for the Luke Wood Park lift station in Sarasota Stan Zimmerman TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article COVER PHOTO CREDIT In Flight Fran Palmeri


SIESTA SEEN OPINION ENOUGHS ENOUGH 42 North Port votes to take full ownership of Warm Mineral Springs after almost two years of contention with the county Cooper Levey-Baker LITTLE SAY IN THE MATTER 46 County commissioners express disdain for state plans for a 22-foot wall to mitigate noise along part of a planned segment of Interstate 75 Rachel Brown Hackney A DEAD PETITION DRIVE 52 The group seeking a strong-mayor form of government admits failure Stan Zimmerman KEEP THE MONEY FLOWING 54 With Tourist Development Tax revenue continuing to rise, the countys tourism ofce plans on two new locations to entice even more visitors to see the area Rachel Brown Hackney SIESTA SEEN 59 A trial date is set in the Craig Siegel Code Enforcement ofcer battery case; county staff is continuing to work with Gulf and Bay management over issues related to the stormwater project; and Siesta Key remains at the top in tourist tax revenue collections Rachel Brown Hackney NEWS BRIEFS 67 CRIME BLOTTER 78 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article For a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. | Tonya Herschberger & Linda KeefeAfter a terrible accident I required surgery. Tonya shared with me that Dr. Koval was responsible for her beautiful smile. She gave me hope and direction. Im so grateful to Dr, Koval. Now I have a smile that I love to share with everyone.


NEWS BRIEFS OPINION EDITORIAL 85 The 2014 RINO Revolution COMMENTARY 85 New technology may be an aid, but never be a replacement, for some ways of doing things Harriet Cuthbert LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 89 ALL THE REST THE FINE ART OF CON ART 90 Not everyone who copies the masters is out to deceive Barbara Dondero COMMUNITY CALENDAR 96 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 98 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article THE FINE ART OF CON ART Dont have your own subscription to The Sarasota News Leader ? Subscribe for FREE and receive a latest issue is available online. FREE SUBSCRIPTION


...two days early! My Sunday Paper... One of my favorite things to do is spend all day Sunday relaxing with the Sunday newspaper, reading it from cover to cover. Unfortunately, my old Sunday paper is mostly classied ads, real estate ads, ad inserts and very little in the way of real, informative news. Thats why I love the award-winning Sarasota News Leader It is so full of news and features that relate to Sarasota County that I need a whole day to read it all ... perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. And reading it on my iPad means no trip to the recycling bin. The Sarasota News Leader access e-mail is delivered to my inbox every Friday morning. Of course, Im tempted to read some of it right away. Who could resist? But I know I have all day Sunday in fact, all week to read the No. 1 digital news weekly in Sarasota County. The Sarasota News Leader Your New Sunday Treat Old school journalism. 21st century delivery.


After a tenure of slightly less than two years as Sarasota County Area Transits director, Glama Carter will no longer be at the helm. In a July 15 letter, Assistant Sarasota County administrators terminated her and scheduled her last day of employment as July 18. County Administrator Tom Harmers decision to re C arter took the only county commis sioner reached by The Sarasota News Leader by surprise, and a public transportation advocate told the News Leader he is worried the action will leave a void in the countys transit system. I was surprised, Commissioner Nora Patterson said in an interview with the News Leader I wasnt aware of problems. She added, It was an administrative call. Pub lic transporta tion advocate Richard Thomas of Sarasota was also surprised to hear about Carters termin ation. He thinks Glama Carter speaks to members of the Siesta Key Village Association in April. File photo SCAT DIRECTOR FIRED ALTHOUGH SHE HAD LESS THAN TWO YEARS IN THE POSITION, SOME COMMUNITY RESIDENTS AND LEADERS SAW GLAMA CARTER AS THE KEY TO GETTING THE TRANSIT SYSTEM BACK ON TRACK I like her. She was reasonable, and she knew what she doing. I am sad. Richard Thomas Public Transportation Advocate Sarasota County By Roger Drouin County Editor NEWS


Glama Carters July 15 termination letter was signed by Assistant County Administrator Mark Cunningham. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 10


Sarasota Co unty Area Transit (SCAT) has lost a competent manager. I like her, Thomas said. She was reason able, and she knew what she doing. I am sad. Carter was hired in August 2012 by previ ous County Administrator Randall Reid. She replaced Anthony Beckford, who resigned after a negative evaluation and the discovery that about half the buses in the eet carried expired re extinguishers. With a wide range of management experience in both the private and public sectors, including a stint as Collier Countys public transit manager, Carter was seen at the time as the optimal choice to replace Beckford. Although SCAT has dealt with some hurdles during her tenure ranging from commis sioners complaints about the high costs of bus shelters to a report earlier this month showing the systems total operating expenses were higher than those of 11 comparable sys tems in the Southeast SCAT was seen by some as ge tting back on track. On July 15, before the board members were notied of Carters ring, Commission Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson told the News Leader, There have been signicant improvements since Carter took over as manager of SCAT. The switch to accepting payments by debit and credit cards is another one of those, Robinson said. (See the related article in this issue.) During her most recent evaluation in November 2013, Carter received above-aver age marks. The evaluation noted a number of achievements and did not indicate signicant areas of concern. However, in his comments, Assistant County Administrator Mark Cunningham wrote, (From left) Rob Lewis joins County Administrator Tom Harmer and Acting Assistant Administrator Steve Botelho during a May workshop with the County Commission. Lewis was named Interim Sarasota County Area Transit director this week. Photo by Norman Schimmel DOWNLOAD THE PDF Read Glama Carters last performance review. Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 11


Over the past months, commissioners have been critical of the high cost of county bus shelters and have complained that the structures are not being erected quickly enough. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 12


Glama recognizes the need for her to become more exible, and to develop skills that are essential for coping with change and to not resist new ways of embarking upon desired outcome. Under the heading of Opportunities, the evaluation included this note among three others: Accept credit cards for the purchase of bus passes. Cunningham concluded his comments by writing, I am condent that Glama will be successful in the accomplishment of all goals and expectations for the upcoming report ing period. She was approved for a 3-percent merit pay increase, making her total salary about $103,000. According to the July 15 termination letter, she is eligible to receive salary and benets through Aug. 15. MISSION REMAINS THE SAME Rob Lewis, the countys intergovernmental liaison was named SCATs interim director until a replacement can be found for Carter. He previously supervised the department as director of the countys Planning and Development Services Ofce. Carter was among about 140 at-will employ ees of Sarasota County Government, mainly directors and executives. At-will workers can be dismissed by employers for any reason and without warning, according to Florida law. [The] administration has elected to exercise its option to end this individuals employment, allowing for a change in the leadership of SCAT, county spokeswoman Jamie Carson told the News Leader on July 16, referring to Carter. The change at the helm will not impact recent efforts to launch new routes and a marketing campaign or to erect signs with QR codes that provide real-time information about when buses will arrive at stops, Carson said; all are actions designed to improve county transit. Nineteen new buses feature decals reading, Well take you there! An additional six have been wrapped in an island-themed design for service on the barrier islands, thus helping One highly successful initiative former SCAT Director Glama Carter touted this year was the implementation of Route 33 during the tourist season. It operated between Siesta Key and the Amish and Mennonite community of Pinecraft in Sarasota. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 13


riders easily id entify them as means to reach the beaches. The countys two new routes are serving Siesta Key and University Parkway. Both are under way, Carson pointed out. The transit system will be using Twitter and Facebook as part of the effort to engage rid ers, she added. We want the community to know that we are steadfast in our commitment to customer service and providing quality public transpor tation for our citizens as we move forward with the new SCAT routes and services, Carson said. The goal and mission remain the same. SCAT has also been facing the possibility of more signicant changes. The evaluation of the system released ear lier this month marks the rst step toward a County Commission decision on whether pri vatization or merging SCAT with another bus system would save money. The commission ers will discuss the ndings during their Aug. 20 budget workshop. Carson emphasized Carters termination this week has no connection to that evaluation of SCAT or talk of consolidation or privatization. ABOVE AVERAGE In her November 2013 job evaluation, Carter received an overall performance rating of 4 out of 5. (See the accompanying link.) Assistant County Administrator Cunningham wrote, Glama is a very hard-working, dedicated and capable director who is task-oriented and focuses on getting the job done in an efcient and effective manner. During the re view period, which covered Nov. 1, 2012 to Nov. 1, 2013, Carters achievements included helping negotiate a union employee contract after eight years at an impasse; re-as sessing driver training; hiring 34 new drivers; and operating SCAT under challenges while staying within budget. She oversaw the addi tion of a new express route and reorganized the customer service phone network. Carter was slated to be reviewed again in November of this year. YET ANOTHER CHANGE Public transportation advocate Thomas believes that because former County Administrator Reid hired Carter, her standing with new County Administrator Harmer was less favorable. She was appointed by the for mer administrator, so that kind of explains it right there, Thomas said. How many times do we have to go through this? In March, Harmer began reshuffling the countys organizational plan, resulting in two managers losing their jobs: Ethics and Compliance Officer Steve Uebelacker and Natural Resources Department Director Amy Meese. The county will likely seek a replacement for Carter soon. Patterson said it is important to ll the SCAT position before November, when Lewis, the interim director, might be needed to help with legislative matters. Patterson added that she thinks other com petent staffers will help to make sure there are no interruptions in bus service, in the meantime. % Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 14


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The City of Sarasotas Information Technology Department (ITD) is once again under a micro scope. Results of a risk assessment released in mid-June gave a very unattering review of its operations. The ndings will be discussed by the city commissioners on Monday eve ning, July 21, under New Business on their regu lar agenda. The mini-audits exec utive summary cited 10 findings, starting with lack of a clear understanding of ITD personnel responsibilities. It also called out minimal cross training limited stan dardization minimal understanding of why things fail no current and accurate network diagrams and other issues. The audit was conducted by ReliaQuest, which has ofces in Tampa, Atlanta, Chicago and Washing ton, D.C. The IT Department was wrenched away from then-City Manager Bob Bartolotta in Novembe r 2011 and Image courtesy of AN UNFLATTERING REVIEW AN AUDIT OF THE CITYS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT FINDS A MULTITUDE OF DEFICIENCIES, INCLUDING SECURITY RISKS [S]enior leadership and the IT director need to evaluate the personnel currently in the department. ReliaQuest Risk Assessment By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


assigned to the office of City Auditor and Clerk Pam Nadalini. Bartolotta resigned the following February. Nadalini expressed support for the IT Department in a June 20, 2014, cover letter for the audit. While much work has been done to move the department forward, the most recent audit has identied additional opportunities for growth and improvements and to enhance the capabilities of the profes sional staff, she wrote. It is my intent, as well as that of the IT Director and IT staff, to implement the auditors recommendations to ensure a secure and effective computing envi ronment for the City of Sarasota. THE FINDINGS The two opening sentences of the audits executive summary are chilling. Overall the City of Sarasotas ITD is mostly reactive and does not seem to be aware and prepared to address the risks identied, in detail, below. The IT team seems to be comprised of indi viduals that are not working together to solve common IT security problems, the document begins. The audit cites the top 10 risks to the organi zation and then goes into detail on each one, offering ndings and recommendations. The rst problem (lack of a clear understanding) cited staff members taking on more work that ultimately leads to them neglecting their base tasks. It recommends the leadership of the ITD needs to re-focus the staff making sure their core responsibilities are taken care of. The second problem noted was the lack of a formal security man ager. The audit says, The IT Network Manager has assumed this role, but does not have any explicit authoriza tion to perform IT security tasks. This causes the individual to be timid in running security scans that may disrupt service. The audit also points to a deciency in the handling of basic security tasks. One example is the fact that ITD staff did not realize that over 250 machines went 48 hours without getting the latest anti-virus updates. Users of the Microsoft operating system are familiar with the sometimes weekly patches needed to plug security holes in Windows. The City of Sarasota has over 2,500 miss ing Microsoft security patches across its workstations and server, the audit found. It recommended the department commit to a patch schedule. The audit also determined that some work ers in IT use Windows 8, while the rest of the The firm ReliaQuest undertook the recent audit of the City of Sarasotas Information Technology Department. Image from the rms website Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 17


citys comp uters run Wind ows 7. This hand icaps the ability to help the entire customer base that is running MS Windows 7, says one nding. The final issue is the lack of current and accurate network diagrams. One auditor wrote, Although I asked multiple times for a network diagram of the City of Sarasotas computing systems, I never received one. ITD staff members did not seem to know the status (existence or version) of a network diagram. This severely handicaps the depart ments ability to troubleshoot, recover from [an] incident or have a sound plan for upgrad ing old infrastructure. ANOTHER PURGE? In October 2011, former state Sen. Bob Johnson said top city ofcials were deleting emails. The next month, John Jorgensen of the rm Sylint was hired not only to inves tigate the missing email charge, but also to conduct an overview of the citys IT system. A witch-hunt mood swept City Hall. Nadalini placed IT Director Craig Chance and his dep uty, Sandra Coleman, on paid administrative leave in January 2012. City commissioners wrenched the IT Department from the city manager, and Bartolotta resigned in February. On March 12, 2012, Nadalini red Chance. Federal, state and local law enforcement officers investigated Johnsons allegation. A year later, after the dust cleared, no evi dence of wrongdoing was found by the FBI, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development or the Florida Department of Law Enfo rcement. After a yea r on paid leave, Coleman was cleared of any illegal or inappropriate actions and returned to work. In an op-ed piece just before leaving ofce in 2013, then-City Commissioner Terry Turner said the episode cost Sarasota taxpayers $537,000 on consultants and lawyers, plus the costs of Bartolottas expulsion. He had voted consistently against the Sylint investigation and referral of the issue to law enforcement. The citys IT Department remains a hotbed of turmoil. The audit said, During the engage ment it was noted that there has [sic] been ve (5) different IT Directors within the past nine (9) years. After Chance was red, 124 people applied for the job. The winner was the man now holding the job and the bag: Philip Hurw itz. Pam Nadalini is the citys auditor and clerk. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 18


He responded to each of the 10 ndings and acknowledged some of the problems. With the shortage of personnel, particularly with a critical position open, there is denitely an expansion of responsibilities beyond the standard job descriptions, he wrote. Concerning the missing security patches, a schedule is being developed to match the server patching schedule, based around [Microsoft] Patch Tuesday dates, he responded. The audit concludes with what seems an omi nous tone, The department needs a period of stable leadership. Furthermore senior leader ship and the IT director need to evaluate the personnel currently in the department. % The City Commission is expected to discuss the audit ndings at its July 21 regular meeting at City Hall. Photo by Norman Schimmel Former City Manager Bob Bartolotta ended up resigning in 2012 over allegations of improprieties involving city email. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 19


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Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) staff is working toward allowing passengers to use debit and credit cards to purchase passes online by Jan. 1, 2015, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. Nowadays, its a preferred method of pay ment, Kendra Keiderling, the new marketing and outreach coordi nator for the county bus service, acknowl edged in an interview this week with the News Leader. Keiderling encoun tered a barrage of questions and comments when she told mem bers of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) on July 1 that SCAT accepts only cash or checks, even if a person wants to buy a monthly or seasonal pass. Nobody carries cash, past SKVA President Cheryl Gaddie noted. I dont carry cash at all with me, said Sheriffs Deputy Chris McGregor. In an interview with the News Leader on July 15, Commissioner Siesta Key leaders say tourists will be more inclined to use Sarasota County Area Transits new service on the island if they can pay for passes with debit and credit cards. File photo MODERNIZING A PAYMENT SYSTEM SARASOTA COUNTY AREA TRANSIT STAFF HOPES TO HAVE A SYSTEM IN PLACE BY EARLY 2015 TO ALLOW ONLINE DEBIT AND CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS FOR PASSES I think it will be easier for college students for anyone to go online to purchase their pass. Kendra Keiderling Marketing and Public Outreach Coordinator Sarasota County Area Transit By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


Nora Patterson concurred with those senti ments, noting that she was unaware of the situation with SCAT until she learned of the SKVA discussion. I dont think it makes sense, she said, pointing out that tourists in London and Paris, for example, long have been accustomed to using debit and credit cards to pay for mass transit. Keiderling explained to the News Leader on July 15 that in talking this week with Cindy Zambella, the long-time manager of SCATs finances, Keiderling learned there really hasnt been a huge demand for use of debit and credit cards among SCAT users until recent years. The transit se rvice is working on a system that will incorporate payment card industry (PCI) security standards Keiderling added. I think it will be easier for college students for anyone to go online to purchase their pass. Patterson told the News Leader she had spo ken earlier in the day with Glama Carter, who was still the SCAT director at that time (see the related article in this issue). When Carter took over the position in August 2012, Patterson noted, Carter found the transit sys tem had no means of accepting payments unless they were cash or check transactions. A chart compares the fare revenue for Sarasota County Area Transit in 2012 to the totals for 11 other peer systems. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 22


Carter indica ted to Patterson that SCAT trans fer stations will have machines similar to ATMs that will accept credit and debit cards in the future, Patterson said. County Commission Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson told the News Leader on July 15, SCAT has been a work in progress since Ive been in ofce. Robinson was appointed in late 2010 to ll out Commissioner Shannon Staubs unex pired term. Robinson then was elected to the board in November 2012. There have been signicant improvements, Robinson said, since Carter took over as man ager of SCAT. The switch to accepting debit and credit cards is another one of those, Robinson added. The Sarasota County library system just began allowing its patrons to use debit and credit cards for payments, Keiderling told the News Leader SCAT will follow its lead, she said, working through the Sarasota County Clerk of Courts Ofce to set up the online system. Although the new scal year will start on Oct. 1, Were shooting for [the start of] 2015 to get the service up and running, Keiderling pointed out. That would be great. COMPARABLE SYSTEMS On July 8, Jonathan Paul, the countys interim transportation planning director, provided the County Commission a summary of the ndings from an organizational evaluation of SCAT that was conducted this spring. SCATs operations were compared to those Sarasota County Area Transit buses are not equipped to take debit or credit cards. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 23


of 11 pe er systems in communities in the Southeastern United States of similar size to Sarasota County. Paul did not research whether any of those other systems accept debit and credit card payments, he told the News Leader through a county spokesman so the News Leader looked into that this week. As reported in the News Leader s July 11 issue, SCATs total operating expenses were the highest in the group. Only three other bus systems surveyed in the evaluation do not allow any payments by debit or credit cards. They are Manatee County Area Transit; Collier Area Transit, based in Naples; and Pasco County Public Transportation. SCATs total fare collections in 2012 were slightly above the average for the systems, the evaluation sh owed. SCAT took in $2,323,261, while the average was $2,150,906.91. Those with the highest revenue from fares were Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (SC), which collected $3,815,766 in 2012, and Chatham Area Transit Authority (GA), which had income of $3,458,466. Colliers total was $1,354,270, while Manatees system took in the second-lowest amount: $1,132,060. Pasco County collected $1,144,207. The WAVE Transit System in Mobile, AL, had the lowest total: $966,516. It accepts credit and debit card payments only at its ofce, a spokeswoman told the News Leader The population served by the Charleston sys tem in 2012 was 510,286, the data shows. For Chatham, it was 265,128; for Sarasota County, 388,474; for Manatee County, 322,833; for Collier, 323,785; and for Pasco, 464,697. % 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 one-time 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 18, 2014 Page 24


The long-planned Palmer Place development has reappeared. The rm behind the project led pre-submit -tal documents with the county on July 10, and representatives of the developer appeared before the countys Development Review Committee (DRC) on Thursday, July 17. The proposal for 300 market-rate and 300 affordable homes east of Interstate 75 was approved by the County Commission in 2008 after the developer scaled back the plans. A representative for the developer declined to talk to The Sarasota News Leader after the DRC meeting Thursday. There is no story here, said the person, who was not identied during the meeting and declined to offer his name. This is procedural. The DRC meeting was one step in the pro -cess required for developer Billy Springer to nalize his plans and begin construction of the homes on 412 acres of property at Palmer Boulevard and Iona Road in Sarasota. An aerial map in an application submitted to county staff last year shows the location of the Palmer Place development. Image courtesy Sarasota CountyAN APPLICATION FOR THE LONG-PLANNED PALMER PLACE DEVELOPMENT IS SUBMITTED TO COUNTYS DEVELOPMENT REVIEW COMMITTEEBy Roger Drouin County Editor A REAPPEARANCE


The pre-submittal plans, led by Palmer Place LLC, show residential village areas throughout the property. A 30-acre affordable housing vil -lage is shown on the western edge of the parcel. Palmer Place was rst pitched in 2007, but it has been scaled back in response to concerns that the density of homes would be too high for the location. One proposal in 2008 called for 1,488 housing units, with half priced to be affordable to families that make no more than 20 percent of the typical income in Sarasota County. That l arger version of the project met opposition from the Bee Ridge Neighborhoods Association and a split County Commission. DEVELOPERS PROPOSAL The scaled-back project of 600 homes nar -rowly won approval in May 2008.Even with this smaller proposal, which includes 300 affordable townhouses, the development would offer the largest number of attainable homes in a single county proj -ect, if it comes to fruition. The developer previously received rezone approval under the density bonus provision of the countys affordable housing overlay zoning measure. Before the change, the prop erty was zoned Open Use Rural, allowing one unit per 10 acres for a maximum of 41 units.The Palmer Place project is resurfacing at a time when affordable housing once again has become a community focus because of the shortage of attainable homes for purchase and rent. The 300 affordable units would be developed in coordination with the Community Housing T rust and remain attainable in perpetuity, according to information posted online by the developer. The project would also result in the develop -ers transfer of right of way to the county, so Iona Road could be extended. The county also requires the developer to follow requirements for a greenway buffer, which is shown in the plans along the eastern and northern property lines. The developer told county staffers native habitat would be protected. % Plans for Palmer Place submitted as part of a preapplication packet show residential village areas throughout the property. The affordable housing section is in orange. Photo by Roger Drouin Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 26


There are many items of interest on the July 21 Sarasota City Commission agenda. There is something for everyone, including a couple of items that may spark commissioner outrage. The city commissioners will start on a very positive note as they begin the evening session. They will recognize the achieve ments of a man who has molded the future of this community as few others have. The commissioners will declare July 21 Dan Kennedy Day to recognize the man who started the Sarasota Military Academy. Before that, he was prin cipal of Sarasota High and vice principal of Riverview High. In 2001, Kennedy left the public school system to start what some considered to be impos sible a high school with real discipline. By last year, 96 percent of Sarasota Military Academys graduates had attended col lege. He will receive a key to the city, a rare honor for a resident. FOR THE CITY COMMISSION ON JULY 21, A MEGA-AGENDA AWAITS, INCLUDING DISCUSSION OF JESSE BITERS PROPOSED SECOND STREET DEVELOPMENT Businesses located in the Newtown business district should have set prohibited hours of operation from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Bernadette DiPino Police Chief City of Sarasota By Stan Zimmerman City Editor This Second Street structure covers part of the property where entrepreneur Jesse Biter is proposing to build a 10-story rental complex. Photo by Norman Schimmel OLD PLANS AND NEW RULES


This satellite view with Fruitville Road at the top and the downtown Selby Library in the lower left corner shows the site of Jessie Biters proposed 10-story development. The 2006 property line is outlined in purple, with the added parcel boundaries in red. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 28


BAYSIDE RESOURCES In the afternoon session, the commissioners will ponder briey the uses of their waterfront property. They will be asked to approve an Invitation to Negotiate, seeking a concession aire to run the Lido Beach Pavilion. The rm would operate the snack bar, gift shop and pool. And it would keep the public restrooms open and clean from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Lido Beach resi dents worked with the city to develop a master plan for the area that includes a tiki bar, meeting room, catering kitchen, small stage and a splash pad. However, the concessionaire would be required to fund all such improvements. The next item would authorize City Manager Tom Barwin to be the citys representative in a public-priva te d iscussion on the future of the 42 acres the city owns in and around the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. A group called 20:20 is proposing to update the citys 2007 Cultural District Master Plan, which fal tered in the recession. City Attorney Bob Fournier says that if Barwin participates, all the discussions must follow the requirements of the Florida Open Meetings Act. Barwin would update the com mission in the fall, and perhaps schedule a workshop in January to provide more details about the initiative. APPOINTMENT REQUIREMENTS Two city commission seats fall vacant on Nov. 18 because two incumbents are seeking higher ofce and must comply with Floridas Resign to Run law. Commissioners Shannon Snyder and Paul Caragiulo are vying for the seat being vacated by County Commissioner A vote on an Invitation to Negotiate regarding the Lido Pool and pavilion facilities will be on the July 21 City Commission agenda. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 29


Joe Barbetta u nder term limits imposed by the countys charter. The remaining city commissioners will meet in special session on Wednesday, Nov. 19, to pick interim commissioners for Districts 2 and 3. Anyone interested in serving an interim appointment is required to le paperwork in the City Clerks ofce between Sept. 2 and Sept. 12. Applican ts not only will ll out a simple city form, but they also will be asked to com plete an extensive questionnaire used by the Governors Ofce for his appointments. The time frame will allow the remaining city com missioners roughly eight weeks to evaluate the applicants for the two open seats. Several names have been floated for the District 2 seat, but so far, no District 3 candidate has surfaced. City water bill payers have received notice of a proposed rate increase. This table shows how Sarasotas fees stack up against those charged by other nearby local governments. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 30


Regular city ele ctions will be held in March 2015, with a runoff (if necessary) in May. The interim appointees will serve until May, when the newly elected commissioners will be sworn into ofce. There is nothing preventing an interim appointee from running for a seat. REGULAR PUBLIC HEARINGS Two non-judicial public hearings are on the July 21 agenda; they will be in the evening, as required by law. One will affect virtually everybody in the city. The Utilities Department wants a 6-percent increase in water and sewer rates starting Sept. 1 and another 6-percent jump a year later. The rst hike for a 4,000-gal lon-per-month user will be $4.28; in 2015, it will be $4.53. About half the new revenue will pay to replace the 50year-old pipeline to the Verna Well Field. The hikes will yield long-term sav ings, because the city will not have to borrow money with revenue bonds to pay for the pipeline and other maintenance items. Not only do bondholders receive their principal back, but they also end up with roughly twice the original amount in interest. The second non-judicial public hearing involves a hot issue on St. Armands Circle. A ap earlier this year concerning a late-sea son art festival sparked the staff and City Commission to look at the regulation of spe cial events citywide, with particular attention paid to the Circle. The commissioners will get an earful, because City Attorney Robert Fournier is offering ve different options on the number of special events the city will allow, including whether side streets can be closed off. More discussion Monday will focus on the Cultural District that has been proposed to encompass a bayfront swath, including part of the parking area for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 31


One of many maps in Robert Gibbs report shows income disparity in 2013 by geography in the City of Sarasota. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 32


EIGHT YEA RS AND COUNTING A downtown affordable housing project pro posed in 2006 will come up for nal approval Monday evening after a quasi-judicial public hearing. Sworn testimony and evidence will be used to decide if developer Jessie Biter can expand the 2006 Alcazar project by adding another lot and then combining it with the other three he owns for a unied 10-story complex on the north side of Second Street at the corner of Central Avenue. The Planning Board approved the unifica tion of the parcels on a 3-1 vote with member Chris Gallagher recusing himself for con flict of interest. The concept at one point befuddled the city planning and zoning staff, because Biter did not want to waste money to create detailed plans if staff was going to torpedo the unication proposal. How can we decide something with no plans? asked one city staff member. But building review staff signed off on the project as did the Planning Board. The pro posal is unusual because the bulk of it (the original three lots) was permitted under the Downtown Residential Overlay District, which granted a fourfold increase in density to 168 residential units. The original devel oper, Leonard Garner, called his building The Alcazar. He planned it as an affordable hous ing project, with rents of $1.33 per square foot. That worked out to $532 for a 400-square-foot studio and $1,296 for a two-bedroom/two bath unit in a brand new building in the middle of downtown when property values were at their peak, just before the real estate implosion. As a matter of historical interest, Commissioner Snyder was th en Vice Chairman Snyder on Chief Bernadette DiPino began work in the city on Dec. 31, 2012. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 33


the Pla n ning Board in 2007 when it approved Garners plans 4-0 (with one member absent). If Snyder and two other city commissioners say Yes on Monday night, the project will set an endurance record from inception to approval. NEW BUSINESS, WHOLESALE Several touchy items appear at the end of the agenda under New Business. One is a crys tal ball analysis of business futures in four retail areas: downtown, St. Armands Circle, the Rosemary District, and the commercial strip along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Robert Gibbs, a national expert on retail, will present boilerplate recommendations for all four areas, saying they need to recruit new businesses, improve facades and window dis plays (perhaps through a revolving loan fund), use new signage and adopt a sunset provi sion requiring existing businesses to adopt the storefront, signage and awning design standards within ve years of the new codes implementation. Gibbs study contains a wealth of informa tion about local housing proles, household incomes, vacancy rates, rent per square foot and real estate sales of ofce and commercial properties. His most morbid observation concerns tour ism in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Way corridor. Creating an effective strat egy for attracting tourism through historical significance or alternative experiences in comparison to existing commercial areas has the potential to appeal to a number of the countys annual visitors, he wrote on Page 237 of his rep ort. A pair of British tourists was killed during their visit to the Newtown area in 2012. That tragedy could have been on the mind of Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPinos when she added a new item to the agenda. She will propose limiting business hours and overnight parking along the MLK Way busi ness corridor. Businesses located in the Newtown business district should have set prohibited hours of operation from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. DiPino says in a memo to City Manager Barwin. Additionally we request parking restric tions along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to coincide with the proposed prohibited hours of operation. An audit and a news story are also on the New Business agenda. Commissioner Snyder wants to talk about the Sarasota Police Departments voluntary de-certication, fol lowing discovery of procedural lapses in 2012 (before DiPinos arrival). Last month, the police chief notied Barwin that she was ask ing that the department be de-listed, adding that she would pursue recertication. Unfortunately, neither Barwin nor DiPino notified the City Commission or the citys Independent Police Policy Panel. In a short interview, Barwin told The Sarasota News Leader he personally apologizes to both groups for failure to keep them informed. The police panel met July 11; three days, later the story broke in the daily newspaper. Finally an unflattering audit of the citys Information Technology Department was made available, dated June 15. Vice Mayor Susan Chapman asked that it be put under New Business on the July 21 agenda. (See the relate d story in this issue). % Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 34


The City of Sarasota is poised to deplete its budget reserves this year and tap into retiree benets next year to balance both budgets. That was the message Friday, July 11, as Finance Director John Lege unveiled next years budget. But rst he needs to get through this years budget, and its $1.2 million in the hole. To deal with that, Lege proposed a spending reduction for the next 10 weeks equal to 10 percent of the current operations budget. He is quick to point out no personnel changes are in the works to balance either years bud gets. But he faces a $1.7 million decline in revenues in the current budget, including a drop between budgeted and actual receipts from red light cameras (down $1.5 mil lion), communications service taxes (down $967,000) and franchise fees on electricity and natural gas (off $632,000). Lege said the Florida Department of Transportation lengthened the yellow light [time] slightly, which cut red-light-run ning revenue. These shortfalls were offset by better-than-ex pected receipts from the excise taxes on electricity, water and fuel oil, as well as other revenue sources. During last years budget sessions, the City Commission decided to tap into its budget stabilization reserves for City commissioners and staff pore over the numbers at their Friday afternoon, July 11, budget workshop, looking to cover a $3.6 million decit. Photo by Stan Zimmerman RESERVES ALL BUT EXHAUSTED BENEFITS FUND RAIDED TO BALANCE NEXT YEARS CITY BUDGET By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


$1,140,305 to make up the difference between projected revenues and expenses for the cur rent scal year. With revenues down, even a 10-percent crash savings plan to generate $1.2 million will not be enough to ll the budget hole, so Lege pro poses using another $1,167,011 of the budget stabilization reserves to keep the current years spending plan balanced. This virtu ally depletes the budget stabilization fund for use in the future. Only $630,184 remains, barely half of what the city has been using for the past several years to balance the budget. A new plan is needed. In other words, as of Oct. 1, the city either will need to develop a balanced budget with revenues equal to expenses or find a new source of money to cover the difference. Right now the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 is $3.6 million in the red. One of the drivers of that decit is the $500,000 needed by the Parking Department because City Finance Director John Lege provided this comparison of tax rates of equivalent-size cities between 2008 and 2013, with their rates of increase. Sarasota remains near the bottom of all Florida cities. Other communities, such as Fort Myers, raised taxes to compensate for falling property values. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 36


city commissioners refuse to pass along the cost of downtown parking management to the people who use the spaces. Lege proposed a variety of methods to plug the $3.6 million hole. Florida governments now harvest money without strings on it, usually from enterprise funds, such as those for utilities with excess cash, or self-funded operations, such as insurance and pen sion funds. This year the city budget uses $657,000 har vested from such funds. But for next year, Lege sees only $250,000 available once again, from the solid waste enterprise fund. The biggest pot of money in the city budget is for staff salaries and benets, which comprise 80 percent of the expenses. Lege noted the city is already using a four-month hiring delay to ll auth orized positions, saving $500,000. Instead of c utting staff, the administration is looking to hire six positions using general fund money while retiring eight police of cers, for a net savings of $14,000. Six more positions are proposed to be covered through the use of enterprise funds, while 3.5 full-time equivalents (FTEs) will be deleted from the budget for a net gain of 2.5 FTEs covered by enterprise funds, leaving a net change of one employee. So cutting staff is not the staffs rec ommended option for balancing the budget. A third option would be to decrease specied levels of service, but only City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo wanted to explore this option. Nobody expressed interest in an increase in the ad valorem property tax rate, either. Lege pointed out that a 19-percent hike would be required to cover the $3.6 million gap. The City Commission has declined to reinstitute paid parking along city streets downtown, even though its Parking Department has an annual decit of about $500,000. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 37


It is wo rth noting that the value of property for tax purposes is still down about 30 per cent from its peak in Fiscal Year 2008. Thus, taxpayers are paying 30 percent less than they were six years ago, because the tax rate is almost unchanged. The current value of city property today is $7.6 billion, equal to the value in 2006. For comparison, in 2006, the city employed 753 people; today it has 578 on the payroll. After looking at the other options, Lege sug gested using money budgeted for the OPEB Trust Fund. OPEB stands for Other PostEmployment Benets, an accounting term for healthcare costs, life insurance premiums and deferred-compensation plans for retirees. It is a major nancial obligation, and unlike some other cities, Sarasota has more than kept pace with payments to the OPEB Trust Fund. Lege suggested reducing the citys contri bution so it would be more in line with the expenses it pays off. For example, in 2013, the city put $8.6 million into the trust fund, but it paid only $6.3 million in claims. Some cities use a pay-as-you-go system; others have oated bond issues to cover the long-term liability, while many (like Sarasota) partially fund the tr ust fund, paying more each year than necessary to build an actuarial hedge. For the next fiscal year, Lege suggests diverting $3.9 million from the citys OPEB contribution to cover the $3.6 million decit. He would use the remaining $300,000 to build the budget stabilization fund back up. In the meantime, he said staff would work with the insurance consultant and actuary to provide a recommendation to make Other Post Employment Benets scally sustain able while providing an important benet to retirees. One of the new factors on the horizon that could reorganize how OPEBs are funded is the Federal Affordable Health Care Act, said Commissioner Shannon Snyder. There are a number of things we should con sider that will reduce the actuarial payments, said City Manager Tom Barwin. We need to do that over the next few years. The commissioners go back into bud get workshops on July 23 and 24, starting in the morning and continuing all day as departments defend their nancial requests in detail. % Search for text in stories by clicking the icon in the menubar and entering a search term. Search the current edition or all editions. QUICK TIP Search Only The Issue You Are Viewing Search All Issues Your search term here Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 38


From modern-invisible to century-old retro, the design of the citys new lift station, No. 87, might be called a study in whip lash. Initially, the structure was proposed as the citys first all-underground facility. On Monday, July 14, the latest design was unveiled, and it harkens back to 1917, when the city purchased the Hover Arcade on the bayfront at the foot of Main Street for use as the rst Sarasota City Hall. (Click here to see the architects yover video showing the proposed lift station structure.) The underground and, therefore, invisible design was favored initially to spare the res idents of nearby condominiums and the rest of the environs the view of a city lift station in the park. But faulty engineering by the former contractor on the job, AECOM, doomed that idea, and the company walked off the project. A lawsuit ensued. Then another engineering rm McKim & Creed was brought in to review the missile silo school of design, and its team said that model would never survive the storm surge of a major hurricane. Since Lift Station 87 will handle roughly one-third of the citys sewage ow and all of Sarasota Memorial Hospitals efuent, city staff and McKim & Creed engineers decided to move all the critical equipment generators, switchgear, odor controllers and much more McKim & Creed has unveiled a rendering of the updated design of Lift Station 87. It was created by Christie and Christie, architects. Image courtesy Christie and Christie DOES NOT SMELL LIKE CITY HALL AN HISTORICAL CITY ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN IS PROPOSED FOR THE LUKE WOOD PARK LIFT STATION IN SARASOTA By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


not only aboveground but 25 feet above sea level to avoid the storm surge potential. That required a 32-foot-tall building to encompass overhead cranes necessary for moving pumps and generators and other pieces of equipment. Architect Jack Christie initially doodled with Art Deco and Mission Style designs. But public reviewers suggested something more specic to Sarasota. Therefore, Christie decided to mimic the historic bayfront arcade. Because people also expressed a desire for bilateral symmetry, in which both sides look identical, the Lift Station 87 arcade will have two tow ers and an arched gateway on both its north and south sides. Arched doors on the east and west sides will be functional, allowing heavy trucks to pick up (and deliver) pumps and generators for repairs as necessary. The four towers will be functional, as well. Two will disguise substantial intake and exhaust stacks that are an integral part of lift station designs. Vents will also serve the die sel generators that will be installed to power the pumps in the event of electrical failure. The other two towers will enclose stairways to the upper oor, where all the electrical equipment will be located. The actual site plan is governed by the exist ing 25-foot-deep wet well, where the sewage will be collected. A gravity sewer main will be drilled underneath Hudson Bayou to reach the wet well. From there, pumps will raise the efuent and send it to the treatment plant on 12th Street. This is one shot from a video yover showing the proposed lift station design from directly overhead. U.S. 41 is at the top of the image; it intersects with U.S. 301 at the right. Photo of the segment taken by Stan Zimmerman Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 40


Project Manager Robert Garland (left) with McKim & Creed points out details on the pseudo-Hover design proposed to hide the electrical components of Lift Station 87 in Luke Wood Park near the intersection of U.S. 41 and U.S. 301. Photo by Stan Zimmerman The site plan was submi tted July 16 for review by the citys Development Review Committee to ensure it complies with all appropriate city building and zoning codes. By the time the ribbon is cut on the project, the total cost including work on the invis ible design could exceed $28 million. City staff and the City Commission hop e some of that can be recovered from the citys lawsuit against AECOM. Depending on nal cost estimates, the building could feature solar power panels on the at roof, and it could be faced in brick or stucco. The original Hover Arcade was demolished in 1967 to make way for the rerouting of U.S. 41 along the bayfront. % Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 41


After years of debate with Sarasota County over the future of Warm Mineral Springs, the North Port City Commission this week voted to put an end to their joint partnership, mov ing to buy out the countys 50-percent share of the Springs property. The decision puts the future of the property rmly in the hands of the city, whose board has refused to budge in its i nsistence that the land surround ing the springs be left largely untouched. The county and city jointly purchased the Springs in 2010, each shelling out $2.75 million for the 81-acre prop erty. But agreement on what to do with the land has been tough to come by, as evidenced by numerous discussions and one facilitated meeting under state guidelines. The County Commission has pushed for an aggressive redevelopment plan that would potentially include a hotel, while the City Commission recently voted for a lower -impact manage ment plan to merely renovate and replace existing buildings. That dispute has now come t o a head, with Visitors enjoy the focal point of Warm Mineral Springs. Photo by Rachel Levey-Baker ENOUGHS ENOUGH NORTH PORT VOTES TO TAKE FULL OWNERSHIP OF WARM MINERAL SPRINGS AFTER ALMOST TWO YEARS OF CONTENTION WITH THE COUNTY Think about all the criticism weve heard over the years. Lets make sure we have our ducks in a row. Robert Robinson City Attorney City of North Port By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor


An aerial map shows Warm Mineral Springs and adjacent parcels. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 43


the county voting last week to sell its share of the property to the city and the city voting this week to take the county up on that offer. Despite all that, the move will not prevent the Springs from closing at the end of August, when the city and countys short-term man agement contract with National and State Park Concessions expires. More than one attendee at the citys public meeting Monday called the Springs situation a asco, but most speakers supported the citys decision to buy the resort. The county doesnt always make the best partner, said former Democratic County Commission candidate Jennifer Cohen, a North Port res ident. I think this is a lesson learned. We as a city need to keep in mind that were pretty powerful. While some on the North Port board had dis cussed amending the citys response to the countys offer to include other items, such as a request that the County Commission call a special meeting during its summer recess to address the issue, those plans were squashed. Referring to the citys response, City Attorney Robert Robinson urged the board, I dont think you can couch this letter in terms of shifting the subject matter. He argued the North Port City Manager Jonathan Lewis and Mayor James Blucher listen to a discussion at the Sarasota County Convocation of Governments meeting in January. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 44


response should be limited to, We want to buy it and here are our conditions. City Commission candidate Lorenzo Whitehead also urged the city to keep its response simple. He called the countys offer fragile. If we mess this up, we may not get it again, he said. Commissioner Cheryl Cook eventually made the winning motion, agreeing to the countys price the original $2.75 million and its insistence that the city pay all closing costs. Included also: a stipulation that the county allow the city to enforce the current manage ment contract. Mayor Jim Blucher, who has supported the countys plans for the Springs throughout the process, argued against the motion. He said the overall price tag for the Springs would balloon t o $7.5 million with the purchase, pointing out the North Port board hadnt fully explored its options. He told The Sarasota News Leader last week his board has refused to negotiate over the property. This commis sion has stuck to its guns about keeping it a park, he said, and the county has tried to negotiate some deals. The County Commission wont meet again till Aug. 20, when it returns from its summer recess. Robinson said the sale process would take at least 30 to 60 days from that point, assuming the county takes up the issue then. In the meantime, two appraisals will be done. Robinson urged patience. Think about all the criticism weve heard over the years, he told the city commissioners. Lets make sure we have our ducks in a row. % THE SARASOTA News Leader Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. The award-winning Sarasota News Leader Sarasota Countys #1 digital news weekly! Read it online today at The most comprehensive, unbiased coverage of local news and government in the Sarasota County area. Read it on your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, Android, Laptop, Computer or other Smartphones Available for FREE every Friday Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 45


The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will be erecting its rst noise reduc tion wall in Sarasota County on a stretch of Interstate 75 between the Fruitville Road and University Parkway interchanges, the County Commission has learned. And even though the boar d members are not pleased with the prospect, their only say in the mat ter involved color and texture options. County Chief Engineer James K. Ha rriott Jr. pointed out during the commissions July 9 regular meeting that although FDOT staff had sent the county an email essentially ask ing whether the board wants to proceed with construction of the 22-foot structure, We did conrm that if your answer is No, theyre still proceeding with the sound wall. Were getting used to that, Commissioner Nora Patterson replied, referenc ing a discussion two weeks e arlier when A map shows part of the area where the Florida Department of Transportation plans to build a sound barrier wall along Interstate 75 in Sarasota County. Image courtesy Sarasota County LITTLE SAY IN THE MATTER COUNTY COMMISSIONERS EXPRESS DISDAIN FOR STATE PLANS FOR A 22-FOOT WALL TO MITIGATE NOISE ALONG PART OF A PLANNED SEGMENT OF INTERSTATE 75 If there is a sound impact, FDOT and [other state departments of transportation] are required nationwide to mitigate [it]. James K. Harriott Jr. Chief Engineer Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


board member s bemoaned the fact that the department recently had been moving ahead on projects without giving the county advance notice. At least FDOT did want the commission to offer its views on the design of the wall, Harriott noted. The board also had the option of paying as much as $20,000 per panel for custom imagery, such as a series of rowers, given the proximity of the wall to the row ing venue at Nathan Benderson Park, Harriott added. The latter idea drew no board support because of the expense. FDOT needs answers by Aug. 1, he said. The day before, County Administrator Tom Harmer told the commissioners he understood from Ha rriott that this will be the rst FDOT sound barrier in the county. It will be very similar to the walls along I-4 in the Orlando area, Harriott said. On July 9, Harriott showed the board members the exact location of the structure. It will be between North Cattlemen Road and I-75 from just north of the Fruitville Road interchange to a point approximately perpendicular to the southern edge of Benderson Lake. Residents of the Gateway Lakes apart ments, located at 1000 Marlin Lakes Circle in Sarasota; the San Palermo condominium complex, which is just north of the apartment buildings; and ot her adjacent property owners A staff presentation to the County Commission on July 9 included information from the state about disadvantages of sound barrier walls. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 47


have been polled by FDOT about their design choices, Harriott explained. According to the chart he showed the com missioners, nine of the 12 Gateway Lakes respondents, 25 of the 27 San Palermo residents and one of the three isolated home owners responding to the FDOT survey want the wall. When Chairman Charles Hines asked where the request for the wall originated, Harriott pointed out that th e Federal Highway Administration requires a sound impact study in conjunction with major new road projects. The county had to undertake one itself, he added, when it started planning to lengthen North Cattlemen Road in the same vicinity. A May 22 email to county staff from an FDOT noise specialist said, As part of a design project for the widening of I-75 from north of Fruitville Road in Sarasota County to north of University Parkway in Manatee County, FDOT is considering a noise barrier along a segment of the west side of I-75. The County Commission joined the majority of residents in the affected area in endorsing an Ashlar stone design for the wall. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 48


An aerial view shows the San Palermo condominium complex just north of the Gateway Lakes apartments. Both are west of North Cattlemen Road and Interstate 75. Image from Google Maps Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 49


Harriott explai ned to The Sarasota News Leader that the diverging diamond inter change planned at University Parkway and I-75 is the project that will create the need for the wall. If there is a sound impact, FDOT and [other state departments of transportation] are required nationwide to mitigate [it], Harriott told the commissioners. Usually, the result is a wall, and it is constructed as high as it needs to be to reduce the noise. Are we going to see these walls pop up all along the interstate [in Sarasota County]? Hines asked. Most denitely, Harriott replied, and we have no say about it. Lee County is seeing such walls erected in conjunction with the widening of I-75 through its jurisdiction, he added. When Hines asked whether landscaping could mitigate the noise sufficiently that a wall would not be needed in the Sarasota County Because of the expense, the County Commission nixed the idea of a special design on the wall panels. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 50


case, Harriott explained, Landscaping doesnt do that. One other FDOT option in these cases, Harriott continued, is start buying the houses out, a comment which drew wry chuckles from the board members. [FDOT staff members will] do a cost analysis to say, Is it more expensive to just buy the homes out than it is to build the wall? The answer generally is that the wall is less expensive, he added. Its going to be like driving through a tunnel through Sarasota County, Hines said. At the last Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, Patterson pointed out, It sounded like, ultimately, [FDOTs] goal is to add two additional lanes to the entire length of I-75 through Sarasota County, with the extra lanes either requiring toll payments from driv ers or designated for vehicles with multiple passengers. So that possibly is going to trigger this concept all along there. Patterson wondered whether FDOT ofcials could be persuaded to use a berm, which really is a lot less ugly, instead of a wall to mitigate noise in areas where residents desire some means of sound reduction. You need the distance to get the slope, Commissioner Joe Barbetta told her. Youd need 80 feet [of right of way]. When Patterson then asked whether a berm would have to be 22 feet tall, Harriott told her, You wou ld need almost half the interstate right of way to build a berm 22 feet high. All right. Thats hopeless, she conceded. I think its more the neighbors want [the wall], Commissioner Carolyn Mason noted. Wait till they st art seeing em, Patterson responded. They may not. COLOR, TEXTURE AND LANDSCAPING Harriott told the board FDOT had provided three color choices for the wall: two shades of beige one light and one dark and a gray tone. The residential poll showed respon dents split in favor of one of the beige shades, he said, and I guess in Florida sun, [the col ors will] both be about the same light beige in a few years anyway. That comment also drew chuckles. When Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson asked whether landscaping would be added, Harriott replied, They do not have room to do landscaping on the interstate side of the wall because of the placement of stormwater ponds. But they are doing enhanced land scaping at the interchange locations, the hubs at University [Parkway] and Fruitville Road. Honestly, you could plant podocarpus there. They grow 40 feet and their breadth can eas ily be kept to 15 feet at the most, Patterson suggested regarding the side of the wall adja cent to North Cattlemen. We can ask them to do [landscaping], Harriott said. As for the color and texture: Commissioners Hines and Barbetta suggested the light beige, and Barbetta proposed the board go along with the neighbors request for the Ashlar stone texture. The board approved those options unanimously. Ultimately, Robinson said of FDOT ofcials, they can do whatev er the y want. % Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 51


Political crow is a very unpalatable dish, eaten hot or cold. It is on the menu this week at the political action committee Its Time Sarasota. On Wednesday, July 16, the organization publicly announced that its petition drive to put a strong-mayor charter initiative on the November ballot failed. Its Time Sarasota is withdrawing our cur rent petition to place a complete [sic] revised Charter for the City of Sarasota on the November 2014 ballot. As we plan for our next campaign in 2016, Its Time will place greater emphasis on seeking broader community input and expanding community awareness of the need for reform, the press release said. The committee opposing the strong-mayor plan, The Citizens Voice, noted in its own press release, This was the seventh failed push for a strong mayor system, adding, In 1996, 2002 and 2009 voters defeated a vari ety of such initiatives in 2002 by 70-30 percent. The City Commission voted not to put a similar measure on the ballot in 2012. The Charter Review Committees of 2006 and 2010-11 also recommended against a change from the Commission-City Manager form of government. Its Time Sarasota has pushed for a strong-mayor form of city government. Image from the organization website A DEAD PETITION DRIVE THE GROUP SEEKING A STRONG-MAYOR FORM OF GOVERNMENT ADMITS FAILURE By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


The Sarasota News Leader reported last week that the strong-mayor advocacy group would throw in the towel, having obtained about 2,000 of the 3,500 signatures needed in the 180 days allowed for the petition drive. For the record, this was the rst city ballot measure petition drive allowed to run for 180 days. A charter change in 2012 doubled the number of days from 90. The proposed rewrite of the Sarasota City Charter was drafted by a Cincinnati polit ical science professor and backed by City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo and County Commissioner s Joe Barbetta and Carolyn Mason. Failed City Commission candidate Linda Holland was the coordinator of the effort. Its Time Sarasotas steering committee included Andy Dorr, former City Clerk Billy Robinson, David Moriss, Diana Hamilton, Ian Black, Jason Swift, Mary Slapp, Michael Bareld, Peter Fanning, Peter Wish and Matt Woodall. The City of Sarasota has used a city manag er-commission form of government for more than 60 years. % The Citizens Voice opposed the petition drive of Its Time Sarasota. Image from the groups Facebook page Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 53


As Tourist Development Tax revenue contin ues to climb, Visit Sarasota County is keeping one goal for the 2015 fiscal year that was exceeded in the 2013 scal year: increase the number of visitors by 3 percent. But it also plans to generate a 4-percent uptick in tour ists direct spending in Sarasota County. In the 2013 scal year, Visit Sarasota County (VSC) reported a 5.7-percent increase in the number of tourists after setting its 3-percent goal, and it saw their spending climb 10 per cent, meeting a second target it had set, the ofces data shows. Just last month, Doreen Buonpastore, a staff member in the countys Ofce of Financial Management, told members of the Sarasota County Tourist Development Council that Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue Visit Sarasota County staff showed the county commissioners a sample of its marketing messages. Image courtesy Sarasota County KEEP THE MONEY FLOWING WITH TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX REVENUE CONTINUING TO RISE, THE COUNTYS TOURISM OFFICE PLANS ON TWO NEW LOCATIONS TO ENTICE EVEN MORE VISITORS TO THE AREA By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


could hit $16 million for the current scal year after reaching a new high of $14,876,325.28 in the 2013 scal year. Through the end of May, according to information from the Sarasota County Tax Collectors Ofce, the TDT reve nue total was $12,652,242.72. Though Mays income of $1,121,009.87 reected the typical decline in tourism spend ing after the height of season the April collections added up to $1,724,529.43 it still was $136,066.71 higher than the amount gen erated during same month in 2013. Moreover, total TDT revenue thus far this scal year is up $1,566,529.71 over the same period in 2012-13. Additionally, statistics compiled for VSC show the total number of visitors staying in a commer cial lodging from Oct. 1, 2013 through the end of April was up 5 percent, to 604,400, in comparison with the same period in the 2013 scal year. Their spending was 9.9 per cent higher. Condominium rentals are included in the data, Virginia Haley, president of VSC, has pointed out. In the comparisons for April alone, direct spending was up 13.1 percent year-over-year, while the total economic impact had risen to $158,448,700 in comparison to $140,076,400 for the same month of 2013, the report shows. Revenue pe r room increased 20.4 percent, according to the year-over-year statistics for April, with t he average room rate at $184.82 Visit Sarasota County provided the County Commission statistics about visitors to the area in the 2013 scal year. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 55


in April this ye ar c ompared to $160.46 in the same month of 2013. The information is compiled by Research Data Services Inc. of Tampa for the County Commission and VSC. Haley appeared before the County Commission on July 9 to present her business plan and budget proposal for the 2015 scal year, which the commissioners accepted as a matter of formality. She told them she would be back before them in September for formal approval of her budget prior to the Oct. 1 start of the new scal year. CHANGES AFOOT Among other facets of her report, H aley noted that since she and her staff began a market ing focus three years ago to support all the direct ai r service to Sarasota-Br adenton International Airport (SRQ), the number of visitors to the county who ew directly to SRQ had risen from 16 to 22.6 percent. Haley also reminded the board members that VSC will be leaving its Chidsey Building home later this year. Because of signage and other issues, she said, weve seen [the number of people stopping at the facility] in the last year slowly plummet every month. In a May 12 letter she sent to the countys Facilities Services Ofce, Haley wrote that her organization would be terminating its sublease of the Chidsey Center on Dec. 12. We have struggled with the City of Sarasota for proper signage at the location since August of 2009 and can no longer continue to operate a visitor information center in a location that is not only difcult to access, in desperate need of upgrades to sidewalks and facilities; but Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, addresses the County Commission on July 9. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 56


with no proper signage other than [Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)] sign posts, visitors simply cannot nd us. Haley told the commissioners she hoped to be able to make an announcement this week about the new downtown Sarasota location for VSC. (That information was not available prior to deadline for this article.) The coun tys tourism office also will have a presence in the Mall at University Town Center, which is set to open in October, Haley reported. The expectation is that the organization will be able to reach 12 million to 15 million people a year at that site, she said, giving it the opportunity to encourage many of tho se people to drive through the A chart compares Tourist Development Tax revenue collections over the past three scal years. Image courtesy Tax Collectors Ofce Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 57


county instead of stopping only at the shop ping center. When Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson asked specifically where Visit Sarasota Countys mall location will be, Haley explained that staff members and volunteers will work at a large kiosk area inside the main entrance. Maps will be built into the countertop, she said, and beautiful photos of the county will be highly visible above the counter. When Robinson then asked whether any sig nage will direct travelers to the kiosk inside the mall, Haley replied that she and her staff are negotiating with FDOT for signage on both the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 75 near the University Parkway interchange, as well as a sign on University Parkway and at the main entrance to the mall. Noti ng that three of the commission ers are members of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Robinson told Haley, If we can help with that keep us in the loop. Robinson pointed out that FDOT District One Secretary Billy Hattaway regularly attends the MPO meetings. We [had] the initial conversation last week [with FDOT staff], Haley replied. Finally, Haley told the commissioners that 20 percent of her 2015 scal year budget would be allocated to professional services, which is far below the industry average. That aver age is 38.8 percent for tourism organizations with budgets of similar size, according to data Haley provided the board. VSC has 19 staff members and 40 volunteers, a slide in her presentation noted. % Visit Sarasota County will be relocating from the historic Chidsey Building on the bayfront to a space near the heart of downtown Sarasota. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 58


SIESTA SEEN A trial date has been set in the Code Enforcement officer battery case involv ing Siesta resident Craig Siegel, I learned this week. Sarasota County Clerk of Court records show a jury trial has been scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 27 before 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Frederick P. Mercurio. Siegel pleaded not guilty on May 6 to a charge of throwing a bucket of urine on county Code Enforcement Ofcer James S. Holderby on April 28. Holderby had stopped at Siegels Sandy Cove Avenue property to check on Siegels prog ress in cleaning up debris around the house, according to county records. On June 3, a related Criminal Mischief charge against Siegel, a misdemeanor, was dropped. Dan Yuter, the assistant state attorney assigned to the case, told me on July 15 that the charge was dismissed primarily because it would be harder to prove that Holderbys shirt was damaged beyond any further use. The Sheriffs Office deputy who arrested A TRIAL DATE IS SET IN THE CRAIG SIEGEL CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER BATTERY CASE; COUNTY STAFF IS CONTINUING TO WORK WITH GULF AND BAY MANAGEMENT OVER ISSUES RELATED TO THE STORMWATER PROJECT; AND SIESTA KEY REMAINS AT THE TOP IN TOURIST TAX REVENUE COLLECTIONS By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor Craig Siegel listens to Code Enforcement Special Magistrate proceedings on May 23 in Sarasota. File photo


Siegel reported that the shirt was soaked in the incident. The charge essentially did not t the crime, Yuter explained. Criminal Mischief counts usually are related more to the breaking of items, such as a cellphone, for example, he pointed out. However, the matter of restitu tion for the shirt can be addressed during the battery case, he said. Yuter, by the way, handles the white-collar crime cases for the State Attorneys Ofce. Therefore, he also is dealing with the larger case against Siegel, in which no action has taken place since Siege ls May 23 arraignment. In that case, the Sarasota County Sheriffs Office charged Siegel also on April 28 with 19 counts of Fraud Swindle-Obtain Property Over $5,000 in connection with rental deals involving his 6537 Sabal Drive house on Siesta Key. Victims across the coun try say Siegel owes them a total of more than $53,000 for representing that the house had 12 bedrooms when it has only ve. The reduced number resulted from his efforts last year to bring the property into compliance with county and Federal Emergency Management Agency codes. As for the liens related to the illegal construc tion, I learned from the Ofce of the County Liens reportedly remain unpaid in Code Enforcement cases regarding the Siegel house at 6537 Sabal Drive on south Siesta Key. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 60


Attorney this we ek that Siegel still has made no effort to schedule a hearing to reduce the amount, which was $39,400.09 in one case and $4,823.93 in the other, according to county staff in early February. If Siegel made no attempt to pay the balances before Feb. 21, spokesman Curt Preisser told me at the time, interest would be added to the amounts. In settling a lawsuit the county led against Siegel last year over the Sabal Drive house, County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh told the county commissioners on Feb. 11 that Siegel would be permitted to seek a reduction of the liens, but it will be up to [Siegel] to demo nstrate the nancial hardship required by Sarasota County Code. GULF AN D BAY ISSUES When work began anew last year on the Siesta stormwater project next to the public beach, Commissioner Nora Patterson heard numer ous complaints about deleterious effects on the Gulf and Bay Club condominiums in the same vicinity. Among them was that run off from the project site had led to an area of sand in front of the complex taking on a brown tint. The contrast between brown sand (right) in front of the Gulf and Bay condominium complex and the usual white quartz sand of Siesta Public Beach was evident in October 2013. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 61


That stormwater project finally was com pleted this spring, but concerns remain, Patterson said during the commissions June 25 budget workshop. I have heard again the brown [sand] hasnt gone away, she pointed out, remind ing her colleagues of the loud complaints in the past. Gulf and Bay Club management also has argued that vegetation is growing in an area where it is unwanted, attributing that to proj ect actions as well. However, Patterson noted that vegetation can be a good thing, because it holds the sand in place. Still, sh e asked staff to investigate whether the complaints had merit. Id like somebody to go take a look, maybe get in touch with the manager see if there is some real unusual effect that we dont think is going to go away. She added, Let us all know whats going on, noting of the Gulf and Bay property, Thats quite a complex, quite a piece of tax base. Most denitely, we will have staff look at that, Parks and Recreation Department Director Carolyn Brown replied. On July 7, Brown emailed the commissioners the following: The Gulf and Bay Club complex stands in the background of the ooded stormwater project site in early October 2013. File photo Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 62


Staff met on site with the representative from Gulf and Bay. There were two items that were of concern: the increase in grassy beach vegetation, and the ditch adjacent to the Gulf and Bay property and the public beach. The increase in beach vegetation along the Gulf and Bay Club property is something that has occurred naturally. After pioneer veg etation becomes established, other native vegetation will recruit, which will provide numerous benets, such as dune stabilization and wildlife habitat. However, if Gulf and Bay wishes to maintain an open beach setting, routine beach grooming can limit the growth of pioneering dune vegetation and will main tain a uniform sandy beach. She continued, Beach cleaning permits are issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and eld permits for local beach cleaning are issued by Steve West [of FDEPs Ofce of Beaches and Coastal Systems]. The Gulf and Bay Club is encouraged to contact Steve West for fur ther information about obtaining the proper Through the end of June, Siesta Key remained in top place for the amount of county Tourist Development Tax revenue collected. Image courtesy Sarasota County Tax Collectors Ofce Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 63


permitting to clean [its] portion of the beach within the parameters of a current FDEP beach cleaning permit. Brown further noted that county staff is working on a management plan for the ditch between the Gulf and Bay property and the public beach. That plan will include some vegetation removal and opening up the area to sunlight, she wrote. A letter wil l be sent to the Gulf and Bay Club explaining the information above in further detail, she added. KEEPING THE TOP RANKING Siesta Key remains in the lead among all county locations for the amount of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue collected, according to the latest chart produced by the Sarasota County Tax Collectors Ofce. The gazebo in Siesta Village is on the southeast corner of Ocean Boulevard and Canal Road, next to the Beach Bazaar parking lot. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 64


Within Siesta Village, Ocean Boulevard intersects several side streets. Image from Google Maps Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 65


With collections reported through June 30, Siesta accounted for 31.67 percent of the total, which equaled $4,006,473.87. As it has for the past few months, the City of Sarasota remained in second place, with 28.9 percent, or $3,655,935.02. Sarasota County was in third place, with 17.48 percent, or $2,211,299.41. A SPEED LIMIT ISSUE In a July 2 email from County Commissioner Patterson to the countys chief engineer, James K. Harriott Jr., Patterson reported that she had had a visit from a Siesta resident who nds it unfair and perhaps in violation of state rules that drivers entering Ocean Boulevard from side streets may not be aware that the speed limit on Ocean is 20 mph. The man said he felt that a sign should be erected on each side street just before its intersection with Ocean, she continued, so drivers will be aware of the situation. She added that she expressed to him her concern that such signs would imply the speed limit on each of those side street s also was 20 mph. Further, Pa tterson wrote, while 20 mph signs could be put up on Ocean near its intersec tions with side streets, you would need a lot of them because of the number of streets connecting with Ocean. Her vi sitor, she pointed out, had told her that deputies sometimes ticket people for driving faster than the posted speed on Ocean, even though the driver might not have gone past a 20 mph sign before the deputy signaled for him to stop. Patterson told Harriott she would like to dis cuss the matter with him and wondered how other jurisdictions handle such a situation. SPEAKING OF VILLAGE TRAFFIC ISSUES Ever since the county put up the four-way stop signs years ago at Ocean Boulevards intersection with Avenida Messina and Canal Road, drivers regularly fail to come to a halt. According to discussion at the July 1 Siesta Key Village Association meeting, tourists also evidently are confused about the trafc pat tern at that spot. Kay Kouvatsos, co-owner of Village Caf, pointed out that people still try to make a circle around that four-way stop, which is adjacent to the gazebo. Although one can pull in and out of the park ing area for Beach Bazaar on the south side of the gazebo, the road does not make a loop there. % SHARE Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 66


Sarasota County resid ents must be registered to vote by Monday, July 28, to be eligible to cast a ballot in the primary election on Aug. 26, Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent has announced. To register, one must complete a Florida Voter Registration Application, a news release explains. Applications are available at Supervisor of Elections ofces, city halls, county libraries, county ofces and social service agencies, the release notes. They also may be downloaded from the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) website Further, D ent recommends that voters visit the SOE website to verify their registration and precinct information prior to going to the polls. Just click on Voter Information in the main menu and then select Voter Lookup or Precinct Finder and follow the easy instruc tions, the release points out. A voter who has moved, had a name change or needs to update his or her signature since the last election may do so by completing a Florida Voter Registration Application, the release says. Voters may call the Supervisor of Elections at 861-8600 for assistance or for more information. Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent is reminding citizens about the need to register by July 28 if they wish to vote in the Aug. 26 primary. Image from VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE NEARS FOR AUG. 26 PRIMARY NEWS BRIEFS


Once again, Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the only hospital in the region to make the grade on U.S. News & World Reports annual Best Hospitals list, the hospital has announced. Not only was Sarasota Memorial ranked among the very best hospitals in the nation for gynecological care in 2014-15, U.S. News also ranked it among the top ve hospitals in Florida and No. 1 in southern Florida for overall care, a news release points out. The Best Hospitals rankings, now in their 25th year, recognize hospitals that excel in treat ing the most challenging patients, the release adds. Sarasota Memorials chief medical oper ations ofcer, Dr. Steve Taylor, attributed the hospitals consistently high rankings to the exceptional expertise and dedication of its entire team from physicians and nurses to leaders, staff and volunteers throughout the health system, the release continues. We are honored to be recognized among the nations best hospitals. It means as much to us today as the rst time we made the list 10 years ago, said Taylor in the release. In U.S. News 2014-15 Best Hospitals rankings, Sarasota Memorial rose to No. 30 in gyneco logical care (up from No. 48 last year). The hospital also was recognized nationally as a high performing facility in eight specialties, an increase from six last year: cancer (new SMH NAMED U.S. NEWS BEST HOSPITAL IN SOUTH FLORIDA An aerial view shows the Sarasota Memorial Hospital complex in late 2013. Photo courtesy Sarasota Memorial Hospital Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 68


this year), diab etes and endocrinology, gas troenterology and gastrointestinal surgery, geriatrics, nephrology, orthopedics, pulmon ology, and urology (also new this year). On a state and metropolitan level, U.S. News ranked Sarasota Memorial No. 1 in the Sarasota-Venice-North Port-Bradenton region and No. 5 (up from No. 6 in 2013) among all 265 Florida hospitals for overall care, the release notes. U.S. News evaluated hospitals in 16 adult specialties and ranked the top 50 in most of them, the release explains. Just 3 percent of the nearly 5,000 hospitals that were analyzed for Best Hospitals 2014-15 earned national ranking in even one specialty, the release adds. The rankings are available at health. and will appear in the U.S. New s Best Hospitals 2015 guide book, available in August. On Saturday, July 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Youth Department at Selby Public Library in downtown Sarasota will host its second annual Platos Closet Fashion Dash the library has announced. The event will feature clothing exchanges along with a fashion show at 1 p.m. and live music. The exchanges, which are for young men and women, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 2 to 4 p.m., organiz ers say. At its 6513 S. Tamiami Trail location in Sarasota, Platos Closet invites people to bring in gently used brand-name clothing and accessories. Buyers assess the items and then make offers based on style, condition, brand and the stores current stock levels, the stores website notes. People can use the payments they receive for items in the store or just leave with their cash, it adds. All ages are welcome at the July 26 event, organizers point out. Last year, library staff tells The Sarasota News Leader dozens of teens left with free outts perfect for the school year. The library is located at 1331 First St., across from Five Points Park. SELBY LIBRARY TO HOST ITS SECOND PLATOS CLOSET FASHION DASH Among the sponsors of the Fashion Dash are Sarasota County, ALSO Youth and the Womans Exchange. Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 69


The pu blic will have three opportunities on Monday, July 21, to attend a presentation detailing the results of a recent retail mar ket analysis commissioned by the City of Sarasota, the city has announced. Robert Gibbs, an internationally renowned retail market expert who conducted the analysis, will present his ndings and rec ommendations at the following times and locations, a news release says: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., SRQ Media Studio, City Hall Annex, 1565 First St. Sarasota. 2 to 2:30 p.m., St. Armands Key Lutheran Church, 40 N. Adams Drive, Sa rasota. 6 p.m., Co mmission Chambers, City Hall, 1565 First St., Sarasota. The 6 p.m. presentation will be part of a reg ularly scheduled City Commission meeting, the news release points out. Gibbs was contracted to study the optimal business mix in four locations: downtown, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way corri dor, St. Armands Circle and the Rosemary District, the release notes. The analysis was conducted with the upcoming opening of The Mall at University Town Center in mind and possible actions needed to maintain healthy, vibrant retail districts within the city limits, the release adds. PUBLIC INVITED TO RETAIL MARKET ANALYSIS PRESENTATIONS The Gibbs Planning Group is based in Michigan. Image from the Gibbs Planning Group website Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 70


Twenty-three y ears ago, Temple Sinai received a Torah on loan when it organized as a brand new congregation in Sarasota. This summer, as the Kehillah of Lakewood Ranch begins its own schedule of Shabbat services and Torah study, Temple Sinai is lending it one of the congregations Torahs to help the Kehillah congregation get started. In a moving ceremony in front of Temple Sinais ark, Rabbi Geoff Huntting explained the stories behind each of the temples Torahs and, in particular, the one being lent to the Kehillah, a news release says. When Jews want to study Torah, said Huntting, it is imperative we do everything we can to make that possible. The Temple Sinai board was unanimous in its support of helping a new congregation get started. The assembled group sang the Shehechiyanu blessing together before the Torah was passed to representatives of Kehillah. For Temple Sinai to so graciously lend us their Torah represents the true mean ing of kehillah community, remarked Brenda Schimmel, president of the Kehillah. Added Anne Schimberg, Kehillah secretary, This is a true mitzvah for which we are so appreciative. Though Temple Sinai is affiliated with Judaisms Reform movement and the Kehillah is a Jewish Conservative congregation, the TEMPLE-TO-TEMPLE EXCHANGE A STORY OF SHARING AND SUPPORT Temple Sinai, a local Reform congregation, is loaning a Torah to the newly founded Kehillah of Lakewood Ranch, a Conservative congregation: (from left) Chazzan Cliff Abramson; Marvin Glusman, Temple Sinai vice president of ritual; Rabbi Geoff Huntting; Herb Schimmel; Ellen Honig; Marty Honig; Anne Schimberg, Kehillah secretary; and Sandy Gladstone. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 71


Communit y Youth Development s SRQVolunteen program participants are inviting members of the community to a spaghetti din ner and bake sale fundraiser on Friday, July 25, from 6 to 8 pm at Bayside Community Church, located at 8200 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota. Admission is $5 or ve cans of food, and all proceeds will benet All Faiths Food Bank, a news release says. The SRQVolunteen class members decided to focus on addressing hunger for their commu nity service project, the release explains. After volunteering at a variety of area nonprots, the teens selected All Faiths Food Bank as the beneciary of their project, it adds. In addition to obtaining support from Bayside Community Church, the teens secured a gen erous donation from Whole Foods Market, which will be supplying pasta, sauce and drinks for the event, the release points out. SRQVolunteen is a six-session training pro gram during which students create and design their own service/learning project in part nership with a community organization, the release notes. By the programs completion, each participant will have earned 20 hours of community service and developed leader ship, problem-solving and group work skills, it continues. YOUTH LEADERS ORGANIZE JULY 25 FUNDRAISER TO ADDRESS HUNGER Eighteen Sarasota County schools retained their A grades from last year and ve schools rose from B to A, according to the grades released July 11 by the Florida Department of Education. The Sarasota District maintained its overall A grade, one of only 10 of the 67 countywide school districts in the state to achieve the highest grade possible, a news release points out. Sarasota also is one of only ve Florida school districts that have received an A every year since 2004, the release notes. The ve Sarasota District schools that climbed to an A grade for the 2013-14 academic year wer e Cranberry Elementary in North Port, Garden Ele mentary in Venice, Gulf Gate Elementary in Sarasota, Imagine School at North Port and Venice Middle School, the release says. Twenty-three of the districts 40 graded schools received As, six were B schools and 11 were C schools, the release continues. There were no D or F schools, it adds. Grades for high schools and some schools that com bine more than one level (such as middle and high school grade levels) are expected later this year, the release notes. COUNTY HAS ADDITIONAL A SCHOOLS AND REMAINS AN A DISTRICT release notes, both are in a small Jewish community, which means the personal rela tionships between the clergy and laypeople in the two congregations helped facilitate the exchange. The Kehillah of Lakewood Ranch meets at The Windsor, an assisted living facility, on the se cond and fourth Friday nights of the month and on the rst and third Saturday mornings of the month. For more information write Temple Sinai is located at 4631 S. Lockwood Ridge Road, off Proctor Road. Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 72


A chart shows Sarasota County school grades from 2002 through 2014. Image courtesy Sarasota County School District Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 73


NEW COLLEGE NAMED A BEST BUY IN FISKE GUIDEBOOK New College of Florida has won another signicant accolade. Photo courtesy New College New College of Florida continued a year of prominent accolades with its selection as a Best Buy college one of just 44 in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in the respected Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2015, the college has announced. New College has appeared on the Fiske list since 2003, a news release points out. Other noted institutions that made this years Best Buy list are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Indiana University and Trinity College of Dublin, the release adds. The Fiske Best Buy colleges must meet the guides criteria for a t op fouror five-star acad emic rating, and they must be in its mod erate or low-price groupings, the release explains. The guide, founded by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske, is in its 31st year. Fiskes review called New College a fast-ris ing star, the release says. The review, which draws on both data and interviews with stu dents, said the colleges academic program is rigorous and challenging and proves to students that learning can be a self-di rected, fun and productive experience, the release notes. Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 74


On the morning of July 11, Sarasota County commissioners and staff joined Bee Ridge neighborhood representatives at Sarasota County Fire Station No. 8, located at 6750 Bee Ridge Road, to break ground for a $22 million project residents of the area long have sought. From Mauna Loa Boulevard to east of Bent Tree Boulevard, Bee Ridge will be widened to four lanes. From Bent Tree to Iona Road, the two lanes will be reconstructed. The County Commissio n approved the work during votes in late May. The total project covers 2.61 miles. It is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2016, according to a county news release. The contractor is Westra Construction Corp. of Palmetto. The roadway segment from Mauna Loa to Bent Tree, a distance of 1.68 miles, will be reconstru cted to a four-lane divided urban roadway with a landscaped median, a 10-foot sidewalk on the south side, bicycle lanes, three roundabouts, landscaping and LED street lighting, the release explains. The Mauna Loa Boulevard intersection will remain signalized, it notes. The segment from Bent Tree to Iona, a dis tance of 0.93 miles, will be milled and resurfaced with the addition of bike lanes, a 10-foot sidewalk on the south side, LED street lighting and reconstruction of the Iona Road/ Bee Ridge Extension intersection as a onelane roundabout, the release notes. During the ceremony at the fire station, attendees heard remarks from Charles Hines, chairman of the County Commission, as well as Commissioner Joe Barbetta, Chief County Engineer James K. Harriott Jr. and Joe OHara of the Bee Ridge Neighborho od Committee. COMMUNITY LEADERS BREAK GROUND ON BEE RIDGE PROJECT County Commission Chairman Charles Hines (left), Commissioner Joe Barbetta (second from right) and County Administrator Tom Harmer (right) join Bee Ridge Neighborhood Committee representatives in the groundbreaking. Photo courtesy Sarasota County County Chief Engineer James K. Harriott Jr. addresses the group gathered for the ceremony on July 11. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 75


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Office has joined Operation Chill again this year, with deputies ticketing youngsters through the popular community service program sponsored by 7-Eleven stores, the ofce has announced. Youngsters who are caught in random acts of kindness, good deeds or positive com munity activities are ticketed with free Slurpee coupons, a news release explains. Appropriate offenses might include being helpful, wearing a helmet while riding a bicy cle or skateboarding, or deterring crime, the release points out. Our deputies enjoy interacting with Sarasota Countys youth, said Sheriff Tom Knight in the release. Opportunities like these help promote positive relationships and rein force trust among law enforcement and young people. Since the programs inception in 1995, more than 12.5 million Operation Chill coupons have been distributed to law enforcement agencies in neighborhoods where 7-Eleven operates stores, the release says. During the upcoming summer months and back-to-school season, children in more than 600 communities are expected to receive free Slurpee coupons, it adds. SHERIFFS OFFICE ONCE AGAIN PARTICIPATING IN OPERATION CHILL Sgt. Todd Williams tickets three children in Venice as part of Operation Chill. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 76


Sarasota County Sh eriff Tom Knight has announced that another member of his man agement staff has graduated from The Florida Sheriffs Institute Commanders Academy. Capt. Charlie Thorpe, commander of the Investigations Bureau, completed the Academy last week at the Florida Sheriffs Association headquarters in Tallahassee. Thorpe quickly emerged as one of the class leaders and was elected president by his peers, a news release says. He also estab lished what is expected to become a tradition for subsequent classes: a moment of silence at the Fallen Deputies Memorial Wall followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. The Academy was designed by the sheriffs to ensure that members of their command staffs have the background and training to carry out their responsibilities, the release explains. The program was developed in con junction with the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute. Participation in The Commanders Academy is beneficial to graduates, our agency and the community, said Knight in the release. Management regularly faces complex deci sions where this kin d of leadership and professional development really makes a difference. The intensive training included 64 hours of curriculu m in June and July, the release notes. Topics included leadership, ethics, legislative affairs, effective discipline, labor and personnel issues, scal administration, the civil process, courthouse security and jail management. Maj. Paul Richard and Capt. Jon Goetluck graduated from the inaugural class of the Academy in 20 13, the release adds. % SHERIFFS OFFICE CAPTAIN GRADUATES FROM COMMANDERS ACADEMY Capt. Charlie Thorpe/Contributed photo Share stories by clicking the icon in the menubar and choosing to share via e-mail, post to Facebook or Twitter, or many other sharing options. QUICK TIP Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 77


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce closed Swift Road in Sarasota near Grand Cayman Street on the afternoon of July 14 while inves tigating suspicious objects found in the road just before 1 p.m., the ofce reported. The Hazardous Devices Unit responded to the scene and found a ceramic bowl containing a chicken head and feathers next to a cylin drical object inside a paper bag, the ofce reported. When an x-ray could not determine the contents of the bag other than a gel-like substance, the object was destroyed on the scene, a news release adds. Following a 20-minute waiting period, a bomb technician approached the item and then cleared the scene, the release adds. A member of the Hazardous Devices Unit deals with the object found on Swift Road on July 14. Contributed photo SUSPICIOUS OBJECTS IN ROAD FOUND TO BE BOWL AND CHICKEN HEAD CRIME BLOTTER A close-up shows the bowl with chicken parts. Contributed photo


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force, has captured two suspects wanted for the brutal home invasion robbery on Santurce Avenue in North Port last April, the ofce announced in a news release. Early on April 25, two men forced their way into the home and held the victims at gun point, bound their hands and demanded their wallets and keys to vehicles parked out front, the release says. When the suspects freed the hands of one of the victims so he could sign the vehicle titles over to the suspects, the victims fought back, the release adds. There was a long, violent ght between the victims and their attackers, leaving all parties with serious injuries, it continues. The victims described the rst suspect as a tall, heavy Hispanic man with short black hair and a tattoo on his right forearm. They described the second suspect as a young man whom the rst suspect called Junior several times, the release notes. Forensic technicians collected evidence, including blood samples, weapons and clothing worn by the suspects. A ngerprint recovered from duct tape was a positive match to Armando Rojas Jr., 16, the release says. Detectives presented photos of Rojas and his father, Armando Rojas Sr., 37, to the victims, and they both positively identied the father a s the rst attacker who came through the door, the release continues. The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce Fugitive Apprehension Unit developed informa tion that the suspects were living in Pharr, TX, and forwarded the lead to the Texas Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force, the release explains. Both suspects were taken into cus tody on July 14. They are charged with two counts each of Home Invasion Robbery with a Weapon, Kidnapping and Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle. They were incarcerated in the Hidalgo County Jail in Texas to await extradi tion to S arasota County. FUGITIVES WANTED IN HOME INVASION CASE REPORTED CAPTURED Armando Rojas Sr./Contributed photo Press Releases & News Tips Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 79


The Sarasota Cou nty Sheriffs Ofce has con nected a prolic offender to four burglaries in which thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and lawn equipment was stolen, the ofce has announced. In June, detectives determined Hobert Roberts, 38, of 5186 Indian Mound St., Sarasota, and another man had pawned jewelry sto len from several units at Express Storage on Claxstrauss Drive, a news release says. The two suspects were charged with Dealing in Stolen Property and False Pawn while the investigation continued, the release says. On July 9, detectives executed a search war rant at Roberts home of as part of their burglary investigation, t he release adds. PROLIFIC OFFENDER CONNECTED TO FOUR AREA BURGLARIES Sheriffs Ofce detectives photographed recovered lawn care equipment discovered on July 9 at a suspects Sarasota home. Contributed photo Hobert Roberts/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 80


(Above) This four-wheel vehicle was reported stolen from the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Department. Contributed photo While searching the property, detectives noticed a large white utility trailer in Roberts backyard with the rear door open, the release notes. In it were two riding lawn mowers reported stolen from a locked storage lot on Palmer Boulevard, the release says. In a nearby shed, detectives found several weed eaters, leaf blowers and tree-trimming equip ment, as well as additional property reported stolen from the victim in the June case, the release adds. Further, detectives recovered a four-whe eler allegedly stolen from a secure, fenced-in Sarasota County government lot, the release notes. Roberts is charged with four counts of Burglary, and one count each of Grand Theft, Grand Theft Auto and Theft. Roberts has a dozen prior arrests in Sarasota County for crimes including burglary, grand theft, domestic battery and aggravated assault, the release points out. Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 81


Ofcers with the Sarasota Police Department are warning drivers about a red light camera citation scam. On Wednesday, July 9, a woman received a phone call telling her she had an outstanding red light ticket violation, a news release says. The caller, who did not identify himself, told the woman she had to pay the ne by 5 p.m. to avoid having her drivers license suspended and paying additional fees, the release contin ues. The caller then told the woman to go to the nearest Walgreens, purchase a Green Dot card and load $87.13 on it. Afterward, she was to call back with the account numbers on the card, the release notes. The woman contacted the Sarasota Police Department to verify the request after she was suspicious she was being scammed, Sgt. Bryan Graham pointed out in the release. The Sarasota Police Department will never call drivers asking for personal information or ask for a collection of funds. Anyone with questions regarding a red light camera citation may contact Graham or Officer John Lake at 487-0022, the release says. POLICE WARNING OF RED LIGHT CAMERA CITATION SCAM The Sarasota County Sheriffs Office has arrested a man who allegedly downloaded hundreds of videos and images depicting chil dren as young as 7 engaged in sexual acts, the ofce has reported. Computer Forensics Unit detectives inves tigating Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) determined the IP address for 4036 Crockers Lake Blvd., Apartment 926, Sarasota, was used to download 504 files that were previously identied as child pornography, a news release explains. Detectives then determined that John Dickie, 51, was the sole resident of the home and obtained a search warrant, which was exe cuted on the morning of July 9, the release notes. When detectives conducted a prelim inary computer forensic scan, they found 63 child pornography images, the release says. Many of the file titles included the term, PTHC for Pre-Teen HardCore, indicating the children shown were under the age of 13, according to the report. Dickie is charged with 50 counts of Possession: Sexual Performance by a Child. Because at least one of the pornographic images contains sexual battery of a child, it meets the criteria for an enhancement to a second-degree fel ony, the release points out. MAN CHARGED WITH DOWNLOADING MORE THAN 500 CHILD PORN FILES John Dickie/Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 82


A team of assessors from the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) will arrive Tuesday, Aug. 12, to exam ine all aspects of the Sarasota County Sheriffs Office, including policies, management, operations and support services, the ofce has announced. The assessment teams verication that the agency meets the Commissions approxi mately 260 standards is part of a voluntary process for becoming re-accredited, which occurs every three years, a news release explains. The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals and visit places where compliance can be witnessed. As part of the on-site assessment, agency members and the general public are invited to offer comments about the ability of the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce to meet CFA standards. Comments may be submitted to CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, FL, 32302 or emailed to A copy of the standards is available through the Ofce of Professional Standards, located at 2071 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota. The local contact is Lt. David Parisi, whose number is 861-4057, the release adds. The CFA Assessment Team leader is Sgt. Jon Kinney of the Putnam County Sheriffs Office; his fellow team members will be ACCREDITATION TEAM INVITES COMMENTS ON SHERIFFS OFFICE The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce has numerous facilities on Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota. Photos courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 83


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Office has arrested a store clerk for the second time in a little more than a month after learning he was continuing to sell synthetic drugs, the ofce has announced. Undercover detectives made two controlled buys from Tipu Ali in June and executed a search warrant on July 9 at Beneva Tobacco & Beer, located at 1295 Beneva Road in Sarasota, a news release says. Members of the Special Investigations Section found seven 10-gram bags of AK-47 in a gun box under the counter and one bag of Angry Birds hidden behind a cigarette sign, the release notes. Both are synthetic cannabinoids, a controlled substance that is also banned in Sarasota County, it adds. Ali, 27, of 1050 Capri Isles Blvd., Apt. P303, Venice, was arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Synthetic Cannabinoids, Violation of County Ordinance and Possession of Cocaine. During a search of his vehicle, the release continues, detectives also found a small baggie of cocaine behind the rear built-in child seat. At the time of Alis arrest on May 28, detec tives found more than 80 packages of the synthetic cannabinoid sold as OMG and seized $18,000 in cash, the release says. % CLERK ARRESTED A SECOND TIME FOR SELLING SYNTHETIC DRUGS Tipu Ali/Contributed photo Deputy Will Stone of the Seminole County Sheriffs Office and Lt. Marie Clark of the Florida State University Police Department, the release notes. After the Commissions assessors complete their review, they report back to the full Commission, which will then decide if the agency is to receive accredited status, the release adds. It is important to note that in addition to CFA accreditation of the Sarasota County Sheriffs Office, the Sarasota County Jail is accredited by the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC), and Public Safety Communications is accred ited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA) for law enforce ment dispatch and the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) for medical and re communications, the release points out. In 1996, the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce was the first law enforcement agency in Florida to become fully accredited by the CFA, the release notes. Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 84


OPINION EDITORIAL COMMENTARY THE 2014 RINO REVOLUTION EDITORIAL Am ong the mossback faction of the Republican Party, no sobriquet is considered more pejorative than RINO an acronym for Republican in name only. The true believers of the party (i.e., right-wing zealots who make up the partys core) hurl this epi thet at any Republican they feel does not pass their ideological purity test. But for those who are registered as Democrats or with no party afliation (NPAs) given the Republican stranglehold on local elected ofces the term RINO can be a badge of honor and a pathway to participation in our somewhat-flawed democratic process here in Sarasota County. For whatever reason, the local Democratic Party does little or nothing to identify qualied prospective candidates for public ofce or to encourage those individuals to run with both organizational and monetary support. Instead, only the occasional crank or gady typically les to run as a Democrat, offering a Hobsons Choice to other Democrats who usually only can vote or not vote for the Republican on the ballot. To make matters worse, the local Democratic Party earnestly urges local Democrats to vote for such unlikely, unelectable candidates because they are Democrats. One would hope that, in the 21st century, so-called Yellow Dog Democrats would be extinct, but they appear alive and well in the Democratic Party leadership in Sarasota County. So it is up to Democrats and NPAs to be proactive in ensuring thei r say in the next


round of Republicans elected to open county ofces. And that can be accomplished quite simply by changing ones voter registration to Republican by July 28. That action will allow all such RINO Democrats and NPAs to vote in the Republican primary on Aug. 26, particularly as it relates to the selection of two new county commissioners to replace Joe Barbetta and Nora Patterson, who are barred by term limits from seeking another term. (Yes, we are assuming that the general election will have no impact on these primary results.) Democrats and NPAs in Sarasota County already are aware that almost every election affords them only the opportunity to select the lesser of evils, in the hope that the county and state can survive until the next election, at which time more painful non-choices can be made. But we must not let such defeatist thoughts deter us now. By changing our party afliation to Republican en masse we at least could minimize the impact of the more oner ous choices on the primary ballot by electing the least objectionable candidate. The political status quo has yielded several Republican candidates over the years who could be considered RINOs, as they per haps beli eved taking on that mantle was the most expedient means of gaining elec tion. Former County Commissioner Jon Thaxton could be considered a good exam ple. Despite serving on the County Commission as a Republican, he was a strong defender of the pristine environment in the county. Were he still on the commission, he would be ght ing to block developer-led efforts to undo the countys 2050 Plan. More important, he could have beneted from mass defections to the Republican Party prior to his primary showdown with incumbent Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent. In a perfect world, where Republican leg islators had not subverted the will of the people by hamstringing the open primaries constitutional amendment, Democrats and NPAs would have been able to cast their bal lots in the Thaxton-Dent primary alongside Republicans, since no Democrat or NPA can didate had led for the general election. But a local Republican political operative had his daughter le a sham write-in candidacy to close the primary to Democrats and NPAs. Then the predominantly right-wing member ship of the local Republican Party handed the nomination to Dent, despite a steady airing of legitimate concerns about her administration of her ofce. If Democrats and NPAs, to combat this undemocrati c subterfuge, had re-registered as Republic ans and voted in that primary, it is likely Thaxton would have prevailed in the primary and become the next supervisor of elections. Today, however, vot ers face an even It is up to Democrats and NPAs to be proactive in ensuring their say in the next round of Republicans elected to open county offices. And that can be accomplished quite simply by changing ones voter registration to Republican by July 28. Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 86


greater th reat to the economic and environ mental health of the county. The current county commissioners have been responding to their developer overlords by systematically dismantling the countys 2050 Plan. That plan provides several key protections for new development in the eastern part of the county, but the most important provi sion is something called scal neutrality. In a nutshell, it requires developers to pay for infrastructure costs that result from those new projects, such as roads, water and sewer capacity and schools. These costs are to be borne by those responsible for them, not by existing county taxpayers. Developers absolutely hate this provision and its impact on the huge prots they hope to make on their new (and often unneeded) developments and they have done every thing in their power to have that fiscal neutrality provision rescinded. If they are successful, it could result in millions of dol lars in infrastructure costs being forced onto other taxpayers just so the developers can make more money. In the primary coming up in August, the Republican candidates for the two open districts have made their positions clear. In each district, one candidate has supported preserving the 2050 Plan as it is, especially scal neutrality. The other candidate in each district has accepted tens of thousands of dol lars in campaign donations from developers, and has dutifully indicated a desire to gut the 2050 Plan, giving free rein to developers and, one must presume, a whopping future tax bill to ordinary county taxpayers. By changing ones Democrat or NPA aflia tion to Republican by July 28, one can vote in the Aug. 26 primary for the two candidates who have made it clear they do not want to change the 2050 Plan. Otherwise, the rightwing core of the Republican Party and the big bucks developers are showering on their cho sen candidates will result in certain death for the 2050 Plan and the environmental integrity of the eastern part of the county. It is a simple matter to change ones party affiliation. Go to and download the Voter Registration Application. If your registration is otherwise up-to-date, check the box at the top for Record Update/ Change, complete all of the other information on the form, including checking Republican for party afliation. Then sign and date the form, and return it to the Supervisor of Elections Ofce by July 28. And if it bothers you to be identied as a Republican, simply go through the same process after voting on Aug. 26 to change your affiliation back to Democrat or NPA. It is a shame that the Legislature resorted to chicanery to frustrate the will of the people, who passed the open primaries constitu tional amendment almost two decades ago. However, at least this registration option remains open to voters to participate, to the greatest extent possible, in the electoral pro cess here in Sarasota County. So change your party afliation to Republican. Vote on Aug. 26 for the candidates who will be more benecial for Sarasota County. And embrace RINO as a proud symbol of your determination to preserve democracy in your county. % Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 87


COMMENTARY I have a new tab let. I am using it to write the rst draft of this article. It was a present from my son, and I will be forever grateful to him. The tablet was not exactly a present in the literal sense of its being a special item I requested, nor is it the equivalent of a fantasy trip on a yacht. It was more like a donation. The company for which my son works distrib uted beautiful, navy blue, 8-inch by 12-inch padded writing tablets to its managers as thanks for a job well done. And I could not be happier with it. Yes, the rms logo is embossed on the cover, but I have chosen to ignore it. I am su re my son did not want to just dispose of this well-designed and expensive-looking product, even though he knew he would never use it. After all, this is the Cyber Age, and it seems every thought on every persons mind gets immediately forcefed into a PC or a smartphone, or at a mi nimum, a tweet. On the other h and I think best when I write everything down on lined paper, dou ble-spaced, with lots of room for edits. I like the feel of the paper and I like to watch a page ll with my writing. The act of putting down my thoughts on paper is even more natural for me than hitting letters on a keyboard to compose a thought. I am used to the note book format and I am comforted by it. However, this very user-fr iendly tablet that sits silently on a chair in my bed room has, surprisingly, become like a journal a kind of con duit for my thoughts and also an easy way for me to record a days events. Without question, using it is much more ther apeutic than simply hitting a keyboard. I think having a beautiful writing tablet is a wonder ful way to encourage and reinforce the pleasure of writing. With all this blank paper around me waiting to be used, I just might write my me moirs. % NEW TECHNOLOGY MAY BE AN AID, BUT NEVER BE A REPLACEMENT, FOR SOME WAYS OF DOING THINGS By Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 88


To the Editor: Well done opinion on Bobs Boathouse (July 11). The writer indicates near the end that if Bobs Boathouse (BBH) continues its agrant disregard for rules and ordinances that it will become acquainted with the personal injury side of the legal system. I contend that if the owners of BBH were presented with one of these personal injury lawsuits, their lawyers would be able to show that they are so highly in debt that the injured would not see one penny. BBH knows how to play the system. Joe Martinez Sarasota WRITER APPLAUDS BOB BOATHOUSE EDITORIAL LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The S arasota News Leader welcomes letters to the edi tor from its readers. Letters should be no more than 300 words in length, and include the name, street address and telephone number of the writer. Letters should be emailed to with Letter to the Editor in the subject line. Letters actually printed will be selected based on space available, subject matter and other factors. We reserve the right to edit any letters submitted for length, gram mar, spelling, etc. All letters submitted be come the property of The Sarasota News Lead er. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. Chinese Proverb Dont have your own subscription to The Sarasota News Leader ? Subscribe for FREE and receive a latest issue is available online. FREE SUBSCRIPTION Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 89


It takes skill and cunning to be a con art ist. Like magicians, some artists create the illusion that their canvas reproductions are originals and thrill to the applause, which lulls them into thinking that their brazen acts will live on. The ve con artists in the current Ringling Museum show, Intent to Deceive: Fakes and forgeries in the Art World almost got away with it. Three of them came to no good end. One committed suicide. One was found dead in an alley in 2000. (The case was never solved.) Another died of a heart attack just as he was to begin serving a prison sentence. (He made the mistake of passing off his fraudulent Vermeer to a German art dealer, who sold it to Hermann Goring, Hitlers second-in-com mand; the same Goring who was responsible for plundering European art collections.) On the other hand, a happy ending belongs to the living British forger, John Myatt, says Chris Jones, assistant curator of exhibitions at the Ringling. When Scotland Yard discov ered his activities, Myatt served only one year in jail. Jones continued, The story of another liv ing forger, the American, Mark Landis, is sad, perhaps stemming from a lifelong men tal illness. Landis has not been prosecuted Elmyr de Hory draws a Modigliani. Hory is among the featured artists in the current Ringling Museum show, Intent to Deceive. Photo courtesy of The Ringling Museum THE FINE ART OF CON ART NOT EVERYONE WHO COPIES THE MASTERS IS OUT TO DECEIVE By Barbara Dondero Contributing Writer ALL THE REST ...


because he only wanted to donate his forger ies to smaller museums, [which] were thrilled to possess important works. He relished the interactions with museum directors. Over a leisurely lunch, for instance, dressed as a Jesuit priest one of his many disguises Landis explained to a museum ofcial that the painting was in memory of my mother. INTENT Not all of us who copy paintings intend to be forgers! When I studied at the Art Students League in New York, I was encouraged to copy the mas ters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If I could secure permission from the registrars ofce to set up an easel and paint in the gal leries, I would be well prepared to launch a portrait painting career. Education, rather than forgery, was my intent. You cant go wrong imitating the best. Study pleasing color combinations along with com position, established artists told me. All the visual challenges have been worked through. For one year, on Thursday afternoons, I kept company with the following: Titian (Filippo Archinto, 1556) It was painted just before Archinto was to become Archbishop of Milan. Political and religious turmoil intervened, preventing the appointment. Eric Hebborn is another artist featured in the show. Photo courtesy of The Ringling Museum Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 91


Anthon y van Dyke (Lucas Van Uffele, 1622) The sitter, a wealthy Flemish ship owner living in Venice, is surrounded by props showing his interest in art, music and celestial navigation. I also spent time with important gures from the reigns of three French Kings: Phillipe de Champagne (Jean-Baptiste Colbert, 1655) Colbert was superintendent of buildings for Louis XIV He was respon sible for the manufacture of the Gobelins Tapestry and the protection of the arts, including decorative objects for the royal residences. He also developed plans for the Louvre and Versailles. John Myatt poses in his studio. Myatts works also are in Intent to Deceive. Photo courtesy of The Ringling Museum Barbara Dondero poses with her copy of The Assumption of the Virgin. Photo courtesy Barbara Dondero Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 92


Barbara Dondero prepares a portrait of Marie de Verriers, copied after the painting by Francois Drouais in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo courtesy Barbara Dondero Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 93


Francois Drouais (Marie de Verriers, 1761) After a successful career in music and theater, she established a renowned cultural salon during the reign of Louis XV Perhaps the kings paramours, Madame du Barry and Madame de Pompadour, were discussed? Jean-Baptiste Greuze (Compte dAngi viller, 1763) Director-general of buildings for Louis XVI the compte advanced the noble style for all the arts in France. And, nally, I studied the British inuence, to which many of our American artists looked: Sir Henry Raeburn (George Harley Drummond, 1808) Drummond, a Scottish Member of Parliament, was also a reckless spendthrift and gambler. After he went bankrupt, he ed to Dublin, Ireland, where he died in 1855. To avoid confusion about my nal products, the registrar stamped the back of each canvas: METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART COPY Years later, I was able to put into practice what I had learned. Goya Foods, then the larg est Hispanic corporation in the United States, celebrated 50 years in business by commis sioning me to paint a mural. The painting would trace the rms origins in Spain and include many portraits of the founding family and its close associates. After the unveiling, I treated myself to a grand tour of European galleries and museums. I was excited to follow in the foot steps of the masters, particularly Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds and the American, Benjamin West. Florence was at the top of my list. I met with Dr. Silvia Barbara Dondero prepares her copy of the portrait of Lucas van Uffel by Anthony Van Dyke. Photo courtesy Barbara Dondero The finished copy of Donderos portrait of Marie de Verriers. Photo courtesy Barbara Dondero Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 94


Meloni, then dire ctor of artistic research at the Cultural Ministry, to ask permission to copy works in the Pitti Palace. I chose Andrea del Sartos 1527 Assumption of the Virgin displayed in the Palatina galleries near the royal Medici apartments. In the painting, del Sarto included a Medici Pope, Clement VII, as a bystander in the heavenly event. Before starting to work, I was asked to sign the registry. The security staff members were all autter. We forgot the formal procedure, because its been such a long time, I was told. A tapestry-bound volume was brought in and ceremoniously placed on an ornate table. They opened the gold clasp binding parchment pages that revealed signatures of leading 18th and 19th century portrait and landscape painters. Had t heir teachers told them: You cant go wrong imitating the best? Days later my goose bumps disappeared. Where did my copies go? Some ended up in an art collectors hands, in lieu of rent. He owned a home on 18 wooded acres, which I minded until it was sold. Happily for me, he accepted these faux canvases, even though they were mere copies. Intent to deceive? Or, in common with some of the artists in the Ringling Museum exhibit, a necessary nancial reprieve? Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World continues at the Ringling Museum until Aug. 2. For more information, visit or call 359-5700. % Enter To Win A New iPad e contest concludes when e Sarasota News Leader achieves 1,000 Likes on Facebook, One winner will be selected at random from among subscribers. Only subscribers are eligible to win the iPad, regardless of having Liked our page on Facebook. Contest is open only to residents of Sarasota County. Selected winners must provide a valid Sarasota County street address to receive the iPad. Contest is void where prohibited by law. 2 Then Like Us On Facebook When our Likes on Facebook reach 1,000, we will randomly select one of our subscribers to receive a new iPad. 1 Click here to Subscribe Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 95


YOUR LIFESTYLE GUIDE TO THE SUNCOAST 18+ JULY Players Theatre presents Knowing Me, Knowing You: The Hits of Abba Through July 20; times vary. 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $18. Information: 365-2494 or 18+ JULY FST presents Becoming Dr. Ruth Through July 27; times vary. Keating Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $34 to $44. Information: or 366-9000. 18+ JULY Allyn Gallup Gallery presents A Few Great, Big Pictures Through July 28; times vary. 1288 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Free. Information: 366-2454 or 18+ JULY Florida Studio Theatre presents Clearly Invisible Magic Up Close with Carl Seiger Through Aug. 3; times vary. John C. Court Cabaret, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $32 to $36. Information: 366-9000 or 18+ JULY Banyan Theater Company presents The Stye of the Blind Pig by Phillip Hayes Dean Through Aug. 3; times vary. Jane B. Cook Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tick ets: $28.50 for a single performance and $52 for two of Banyans summer season plays. ( Collected Stories by Donald Margulies will be presented Aug. 7-24.) Information: ban 18+ JULY Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe presents Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul Through Aug. 10; times vary. 1646 10th Way, Sarasota. Tickets: $29.50, adults; $16.50, students. Information: 366-1505 or 18+ JULY Art Center Sarasota presents Florida Flavor Through Aug. 15; times vary. 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Free. The all-Florida, all-me dia juried exhibition showcases twoand three-dimensional works. Information: 365-2032 or COMMUNITY CALENDAR Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 96


The best of upcoming EVENTS Submit Calendar Events To 18+ JULY FST Improv: Out of Bounds Match Up Through Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m. Brownes Lab Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $15. Information: 366-9000 or 18+ JULY UUCS Presents Jane Shannon: Works in Fabric Through Sept. 4; times vary. Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, Lexow Wing Gal lery. 3975 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Free. Information: 371-4974 or the church website 18+ JULY Dabbert Gallery presents Summer Showcase Through Sept. 29; times vary. 76 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Free. Featuring works by three sculptors, one printmaker, 15 painters, one pastel artist and one photographer. Informa tion: 955-1315 or 19+ JULY City of Sarasota presents Vintage & Collectibles Fair July 19-20; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 19 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 20. Municipal Au ditorium, 801 N. Tamiami Trail. Admission: $3 for the two-day event; children under 12 admitted free. Forty exhibitors to feature a range of items, including antiques, books, artwork, glassware jewelry and vintage clothing. Information: 954-4165 or Sarasotagov. com 19+ JULY Bookstore1Sarasota presents Breakfast Serial Book Club July 19 and each succeeding Saturday during the summer. From 10:30-11 a.m., staffers will read to 3to 6-year-olds; from 11:15-11:45 a.m., they will read to 7to 9-year-olds. 1359 Main St., Sarasota. Information: or 365-7900. 19 JULY ALSO Youth presents The Story of My Life July 19, 7 p.m. Goldstein Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Tickets $25; proceeds benet ALSO Youth. The semi-autobiographical serio-comedy will focus on the lives of Mark Bowers and Joey Panek. Information: 951-2576 or 19 JULY Venice Theatre Guild presents Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio July 19, 8 p.m. 140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice. Tickets: $20. Show is part of the Summer Con cert Series. Information: 488-1115 or 23 JULY Florida Studio Theatre presents Taking Shakespeare July 23 through Aug. 17; times vary. Gompertz Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $32 to $36. This will be the plays U.S. premiere. Information: 366-9000 or Flori Sarasota News Leader July 18, 2014 Page 97


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. THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD AND DID! SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS


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