Sarasota News Leader


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Sarasota News Leader
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Rachel Brown Hackney ( Publisher )
New Sheriff Publishing, Inc.
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Sarasota, FL
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July 12, 2013
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Robert S. Hackney, General Manager(Oct. 26, 2012)

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University of Florida
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COVER THE SARASOTA News Leader Vol. 2, No. 46 August 1, 2014 Old school journalism. 21st century delivery. Inside ABORTION POLITICS HIT THE MAILBOX HIGH COST OF REMOVING ASBESTOS Q&A: SHANNON SNYDER




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


Political mailers that have raised eyebrows, School Board con struction projects, mosquito control at the height of the rainy sea son, the city budget, a warm-water bacterium that is frightening some beach-goers, a mangrove destruction case and Bobs Boat house yes, it has been another busy week with diverse news. Add in County Editor Roger Drouins Q&A with County Commis sion candidate Shannon Snyder and City Editor Stan Zimmer mans analysis about how the City Commission plans to balance its budget, and you can see there is a lot of depth in this issue, too. Stan agreed with me last week that this is the busiest summer for news in Sarasota County that he can remember for quite some time. Still, we have made an effort to look for fresh stories to mix in among the continuing sagas. To that end, I highly recommend Rogers story about the countys mosquito control work and Associate Editor Cooper Levey-Bakers reports on the political mailer as well as worries about that bacterium in Gulf waters, Vibrio vulni cus As for me: I joked earlier this week that I am now on the Special Magistrate beat. You need to attend only one set of Code Enforce ment Special Magistrate proceedings to appreciate the dedication of many county employees. During two hearings for Bobs Boathouse on July 25, I saw a lot of faces that have become very familiar over the past several months. Even other cases that are wrapped up with relative ease offer tremendous insight into matters the Code Enforcement staff has to deal with day after day. Editor and Publisher WELCOME


ABORTION POLITICS HIT THE MAILBOX HIGH COST OF REMOVING ASBESTOS NEWS ABORTION POLITICS HIT THE MAILBOX 8 Republican County Commission candidate Alan Maio focuses on abortion in direct mail piece Cooper Levey-Baker HIGH COST OF REMOVING ASBESTOS 11 While the Sarasota County School District has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on recent major construction projects, it has hit a snag at Sarasota High School Rachel Brown Hackney Q&A: SHANNON SNYDER 18 A second city commissioner is vying for the District 2 seat on the County Commission Roger Drouin MORE THAN SPRAYING 26 With peak mosquito season under way, the countys mosquito manager uses a variety of approaches to deal with the regular tiny biters and monitor for the potentially dangerous ones Roger Drouin TAPPING RETIREES BENEFITS 33 With the last of their rainy day reserves needed to plug a hole in the current scal year budget, the city commissioners look to a different source to shore up the gap in their 2015 spending plan Stan Zimmerman SICKENING 40 Health Department issues warning for warm water bacterium that has sickened 12 and killed three in Florida Cooper Levey-Baker TABLE OF CONTENTS Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article COVER PHOTO CREDIT Picture Perfect Beach Fran Palmeri


SIESTA SEEN OPINION NO RESOLUTION TO THE DEVASTATION 43 Months after they were cited for destroying mangroves and illegally bringing in ll, Englewood property owners fail to show up for a hearing and remain out of touch with the county Rachel Brown Hackney ACCREDITATION REVIEW TO BEGIN 51 Citys Independent Police Advisory Panel to hold a meeting next week on the Police Department issue Stan Zimmerman A BUDGET-BALANCING ACT 53 Analysis: City plans retiree benets review Stan Zimmerman PENALTIES IMPOSED 57 A Special Magistrate orders Bobs Boathouse to pay about $4,100 for failing to meet her deadlines for completing items necessary to obtain its Certicate of Occupancy Rachel Brown Hackney PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS 65 A Special Magistrate dismisses a case involving outdoor dining violations at Bobs Boathouse because of the long period between old and new incidents Rachel Brown Hackney SIESTA SEEN 71 The Siesta Key Association president gets answers to Code Enforcement questions about changes at Blas Caf; and construction of Turtle Beach improvements is set to begin later this year Rachel Brown Hackney NEWS BRIEFS 81 CRIME BLOTTER 89 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article Take Your Time You Have All Week Enjoy The News Leader Anytime Day or Night


NEWS BRIEFS OPINION EDITORIAL 91 Elect Ken Marsh and School Board incumbents Reelect incumbents to the Sarasota Memorial Hospital board ALL THE REST ... COMMUNITY CALENDAR 94 SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS 96 Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article COMMUNITY CALENDAR SHARE I am so incredibly pleased, with my beautiful smile and my comfortable and natural bite. Barbara LeeFor a complimentary consultation call 941.923.5406 | Christine Koval, D.M.D. |


Republican Sarasota County Commission candidate Alan Maio this week brought up a ercely disputed national social issue abortion as a way to introduce himself to GOP voters. The mailer arrives in Republican mailboxes with just a few weeks left in the primary campaign between Maio, a retired businessman, and community activist Lourdes Ramirez. Digital scans of both sides of the one-page mailer were provided to The Sarasota News Leader by a Sarasota voter who asked not to be named. The front of the piece deliv ered Monday, July 28 features an image of a smiling infant alongside Maios campaign logo and the slogan Defending Our ProLife Values. The back of the mailer includes images of Maio and a quote from the candidate: As the father of three grown children, I under stand how precious the gift of life is. I will always stand on the side of life and defend our shared values. The card urges recipients to Vote Pro-Life. Vote Alan Maio for Sarasota County Commission. What does abortion, regulated at the state and national levels, have to do with the Board of (Above) This shows the front of the mailer. Contributed image REPUBLICAN COUNTY COMMISSION CANDIDATE ALAN MAIO FOCUSES ON ABORTION IN DIRECT MAIL PIECE ABORTION POLITICS HIT THE MAILBOX By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor NEWS


County Commissioner s? News Leader report ers who have covered the County Commission in recent years do not recall any mention of the topic at a board meeting. When asked if the mailing is a response to any particular board action or commissioner statements, Maio tells the News Leader the answer is no. There are no issues involved, he says. My only comment on that is that its my personal choice. Thats all. Maio adds that the mailing is only the rst in a series of pieces devoted to various beliefs. Maios opponent, Ramirez, tells the News Leader shes putting her effort elsewhere. Im focused on whats happening in our back yards, she says. I dont want to get involved in things that we cant do anything about. She doesnt want to distract herself from the core local issues. The mailin g could inspire Republicans opposed to abortion to support Maios cam paign, but it also risks alienating women. A national Gallup poll released in May found the country almost evenly split on the issue of abortion rights, but the poll identied a major gender divide: 50 percent of women iden tied as pro-choice while only 41 percent described themselves as pro-life, almost the exact opposite of men. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up more than 52 percent of the population in Sarasota County, more than a point higher than the state average. The Maio flyers are hitting mailboxes as county voters who have requested absentee ballots are beginning to receive them and ll them out. Early voting begins on Aug. 16. % This shows the back of the mailer. The News Leader has obscured the address label to protect the privacy of the recipient. Contributed image Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 9


...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.


Although the Sarasota County School Board unanimously adopted its tentative millage rates and 2014-15 budge t after a July 29 public hearing, final approval will not take place until after a sec ond public hearing on Sept 16. Included in the total spending plan is about $128 million for capital projects, with $106,471,168 allocated for work in the new scal year. Durin g a June 17 workshop, the School Board took its last look at the construc tion projects before adopting the tenta tive budget. With formal comple tion of the Booker Paul Rudolph, known internationally as an architect whose projects were among the most iconic of those in the Sarasota School of Architecture, designed Building 4 at Sarasota High School. Photo by Norman Schimmel HIGH COST OF REMOVING ASBESTOS WHILE THE SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT HAS SAVED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON RECENT MAJOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, IT HAS HIT A SNAG AT SARASOTA HIGH SCHOOL Ive never had to say to the board, We have a project over budget, but Sarasota High will be. I blame the vast majority of that on asbestos abatement. Scott Lempe Deputy Superintendent Sarasota County Schools By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


High, Venice High and Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI) rebuilds this year, focus will turn to a new classroom building at Fruitville Elementary in Sarasota ($7 mil lion); the replacement of the heating and air conditioning system and construction of a new classroom facility at Pine View School in Osprey ($28 million, to be spent over sev eral years); continuing work on the rebuilding of Sarasota High School ($42,367,288); and the new Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI) in North Port ($13,555,356 over sev eral years, with $9,555,356 available for the initial work). New baseball elds on the SCTI campus in Sarasota will be turned over to Riverview High School in late fall or winter, Deputy Superintendent Scott Lempe said. That plus so me site work is all that remains for that project. Our expectation is that Riverview will actu ally play their regular season games for the 2015 baseball season on those fields, he added. The district has been renting a field from Sarasota County and the Baltimore Orioles for Riverviews team to use while work was under way on the SCTI campus, he reminded the board. THE SOUR NOTE Amid generally good news about the capital budget, Lempe pointed out that in his 11 years with the district, Ive never had to say to the board, We have a projec t over budget, but Sun shades at Sarasota High also contained asbestos, school district staff reported. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 12


Sarasota High (SHS) will be. I blame the vast majority of that on asbestos abatement. The dist rict budget set aside $800,000 for that work in two campus buildings designed by internationally known architect Paul Rudolph Lempe said Building 4, which has served as the administration center, and Building 5, the West Gym. As of June 17, the asbestos abatement had just been completed on Building 4, he continued, and the total expense was about $1.6 million. We found asbestos in the stucco, he told the board, and that building has stucco on the entire exterior as well as in its iconic sun shades. Lempe added, And [workers are] taking it off with a hammer and chisel and then having to repair the concrete and go back up with a nish that makes it look like Paul Rudolph designed it. With work not yet under way on the West Gym, Lempe estimated the expense for all the asbestos removal in that building would be about $500,000. Those two things are going to cause us to bust that budget, he said, referring to the $40,356,146 then set aside for the project. In the 2014-15 tentative budget materials Deputy Chief Financial Ofcer Al Weidner presented to the School Board last week, the amended budget for the rebuilding of Sarasota High was listed as $42,367,288. The completion of the work is expected during the 2015-16 school year. Board Chairwoman Jane Goodwin told Lempe that, based on her experience with construc tion projects, she always gured on a total about 20 percent higher than the original esti mate because of unplanned consequences. Regarding the Sarasota High project, Goodwin added, It could have been worse. You dont think about finding [asbestos] in stucco, Lempe replied, noting that staff thought before the work began that the $800,000 estimate for the asbestos removal was too high. Thats a lot of money. The School Board dealt with controversy in 2012 as it planned for the rebuilding of Faculty and staff at the rebuilt Booker High School campus in Sarasota welcomed community members for a celebration earlier this year. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Schools Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 13


Sarasota High. Representatives of architec tural groups and preservationists urged the board to save the Rudolph buildings at the school because of their historic value in the community. A compromise was reached during a 2012 charrette so the buildings could remain part of the campus. SOME OTHER GOOD NEWS The Sarasota High projects higher cost is a direct contrast to the districts experi ence in rebuilding the SCTI campus. Lempe reminded the board members that when staff rst asked representatives of Shenkel Schultz Architecture 10 years ago for an estimate of that expense, they came back with a range whose top was $200 million. The nal amended budget for that project is $76,014,736, a ccording to the 2014-15 tenta tive budget. A note ac companying the gure says, [I]t is anticipated approximately $2 million will not be expended and therefore made available for other capital projects. To be able to talk about completing [SCTI] for under $75 million is incredible, Lempe pointed out. We never would have thought it was possible. The tentative capital budget for 2014-15 also shows an expected balance of $737,763 after the Booker High rebuild is complete. That project, which began in the 2008-09 fiscal year, included $1,272,686 to reroute Orange Avenue so it no longer split the campus. The capital budget executi ve summary showed The construction of new buildings at Sarasota County Technical Institute began in the 2005-06 school year. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 14


$59,178,395 had been spent or encumbered through June 30, 2014. The district will have $432,591 remain ing after the completion of the Venice High rebuild, the capital budget says. As of June 30, $87,954,645 had been spent or encum bered for that project. The City of Venice contributed $7.5 million toward the construction of the Performing Arts Center, which will be a community facility. Work on the center is running a little behind, Lempe noted on June 17. However, the Venice Symphony already has sold 1,000 tickets for its early November performance in the facil ity, he continued, so we have a real hard timeline for opening that [center] up. Indications are that all construction workers will be o ff the Venice High campus by the end of December, he added. Since the Booker High rebuild was substan tially completed, he continued, he has been telling people, It is the most beautiful campus in our district. Now, he pointed out, Venice is going to give [it] a run for [its] money. Additionally, a balance of $47,366 remained after a new heating and air conditioning sys tem was installed in Booker Middle School in Sarasota, Weidner said. The project cost $9,255,340. Referring to lower totals than the original estimates for p rojects, board member Shirley A $9 million project is under way to provide a new cafeteria and art and music facilities at Bay Haven School for Basics Plus in north Sarasota. Construction of the cafeteria is scheduled to begin this summer. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 15


Brown asked, Are we seeing that trend com ing to an end now? Lempe replied that he h ad just heard from construction industry representatives on that point. Theres more demand for raw materi als, Lempe said, so that part of the expense is rising. Further, he explained, During the economic downturn, firms left Sarasota. Therefore, that lack of competition obvi ously drives up costs. Lempe added that industry representatives had told him to expect an increase between 3 percent and 7 percent a year in overall con struction costs. On one other positive note, Lempe said the new South County Bus Depot, which was completed this year at a cost of $2,457,400, should pay for itself within ve to seven years because of the projected savings of $300,000 to $400,000 per year in fuel costs, mainte nance expenses and driver time. Before that facility was completed in North Port, Lempe noted, the district was paying a lot of money for deadhead miles between that city and Venice. Lempe was referring to the distance buses had to travel between their rst and last stops of the day and the facility where they were stored. He also told the board that district staff is talking with representatives of Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) about storing buses at the new North Port facility and buy ing fuel for them from the school district. That would be an example of good local gov ernment cooperation, he added, as well as a means of saving taxpayer money. % The rebuilding of Sarasota County Technical Institute, including the creation of new ball elds for Riverview High School, will be complete this year. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 16


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County Commission candidate Shannon Snyder sat down with The Sarasota News Leader at his home near Arlington Park this week to talk about his campaign. A lifelong county resident and a third-gener ation Sarasotan, Snyder grew up across the street from where he lives. Snyder retired after serving for 25 years with the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce. He was elected to the City Commission in 2011. In 2013, he was selected by the commission to serve as mayor. The Sarasota News Leader: What do you think will be the single biggest issue the County Commission will have to deal with after the election? Shannon Snyder: It always starts with the budget. Everything starts with the budget; no matter what you want to do, it always starts with the budget. I think probably infrastruc ture is going to be the main thing. How are we going to pay for all the necessary improve ments to handle the growth and also to handle replacement and repair of already existing infrastructure? My experience on the Shannon Snyder sits at the City Commission dais as mayor in 2013. Photo by Norman Schimmel Q&A: SHANNON SNYDER A SECOND CITY COMMISSIONER IS VYING FOR THE DISTRICT 2 SEAT ON THE COUNTY COMMISSION By Roger Drouin County Editor


City Com mission has been that poor planning can get very, very expensive, and Sarasota County should try to avoid that if they can in the long term. SNL: Why do you want to move from the City Commission to the County Commission? And why now? SS: Well, rst of all there is an open seat. Thats just an honest answer: There is an open seat. Second of all, what really motivated me was when I saw the county ethics ofcer [Steve Uebelacker] get red and escorted from the building. Lack of an explanation. Nobody gets treated that way without having something going on. And I think with all the procurement problems we had and other problems we had and the reason he was brought in, to have him be summarily dismissed is problematic. And my question is: If he was that terrible, why did [North Port City Manager] Jon Lewis hire him to help Kevin Vespia [the police chief] in North Port right away? SNL: There have been three county managers red, including the ethics ofcer. The latest is Sarasota County Area Transit Director Glama Carter. How do you feel about these rings as part of this reorganizing? SS: I think it started with [past County Administrator] Randy Reid. When you have someone summarily dismissed by the County Commissioners, who then is immediately hired by the professionals [International City/ County Management Association] to repre sent them, that says a lot for your character. I think that is rst and foremost. That was a moment; it was a clear example to every [county] employee all the way to the bottom: You will get with the program. When the top guy is dismissed and then the ethics ofcer is removed, youre not going to get a free ow of information to the bosses, because, really, they are not the bosses. Weve had problems at the county govern ment, it seems. Weve had procurement problems. [County government] seems to be run, in many cases, for a select few, and I think that is pretty evident to most employees. And that is part of the reason why I wanted to get into this race. City Commissioner Shannon Snyder listens to discussion about homelessness in the community during a joint meeting of the City and County commissions in June. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 19


SNL: So there is perhaps an atmosphere prob lem within the county? SS : There is no question there is an atmo sphere when you see the county administrator removed after a year when you see the ethics ofcer escorted from the building, when you see a very short dismissal of the SCAT execu tive who, by all accounts, was doing a good job [as far as] I could determine when you have repeated examples to the community, it is a pretty clear example to employees what your role is. It is to not a say a word to anyone about anything that might be inappropriate. And I just dont think thats want Sarasota County voters want. I think they want honest, transparent government. SNL: Overall, how do you think Tom Harmer has been doing since taking over as administrator? SS : It doesnt take any talent to be a critic. The guy is doing his job under very difcult circumstances. He was brought in by Randy Reid, which should say something to his abilities. He was able to bring the budget in where it needed to be. But make no mistake, he is doing his job under extremely difcult circumstances. SNL: You were a supporter of Reid? SS: I thought Reid was doing a good job. SNL: Regarding the come-as-you-are home less shelter, you changed your position. Why? SS: The City of Sarasota has taken on 90 per cent of the issues i n the county, whether it is the hospital, m ental health beds, counseling facilities. Most of those are inside the city. We couldnt take on the burden of another homeless facility in the city. What we found as we did more research on [homelessness consultant] Dr. [Robert] Marbut and where he said a there was a great whiz bang home less shelter, [we] actually [found] increased problems in the [areas] wherever [such shel ters were built]. I was trying to be supportive of trying to get something done. But I can tell you more of a moment when I realized we were going down the wrong road. It was when Commissioner [Susan] Chapman she may have been asking it in a rough way, in my opinion was asking a legitimate ques tion. Here is the report you submitted; here are the places you quote. Where is your sup portive data on this? She asked, Where is the supporting documentation? It was an honest, straightforward question. He looked at her and said, You need to make a public records request to Pinellas County Sheriffs Ofce to ask for that information. ... He basi cally said, No, Im not telling you. At that point, I realized what he was handing us was not what we needed, and there was no data to support that this was going to solve the problem. The Salvation Army might be able to solve some of our problem some of it, not all of it. Im in favor of a jail diversion program, a controlled facility, [not] just having a facility someone ops down at and says, Yeah, Ill listen to your counselor so I can get out of the rain and get a place to eat. You have the right to pursue happiness, and I support that. Its not the taxpa y ers obligation to pay for it, Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 20


As mayor, Shannon Snyder addresses the audience gathered for the citys commemoration of 9/11 in 2013. Photo by Kelly French Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 21


though. I have no problem with a facility for someone who has been in jail for 10 days and they need a place to come to sleep for a few days and get case management, much like [one] program at the jail right now. But this come-as-you-are shelter just to welcome any one who wants to wander in off the street? No, that is not the taxpayers obligation. A jail diversion facility would be a lot smaller. SNL: The County Commission recently voted to hold its millage rate steady. Since property values have increased, that means an uptick in taxes for some residents. You voted on the City Commission to keep the citys tax rate at, too. SS: I have never voted for a millage increase at the City Commission. This year it is at. It is exactly what it was last year. SNL: Would you have voted to keep the mill age rate steady on the countys budget? SS: Yes. We have existing roads that we do not have the revenues yet to repave, and I also dont think our reserves are where they need to be at, according to the countys own website. SNL: As you know, the city and county have not had balanced budgets in the past six years. They used revenue stabilization funds put aside in the good times to cover their decits, but those funds are now gone or low. How will you balance the county budget over the next few years without reserves? What programs or depart ments would be cut? And should reserves be brought back up to a higher level? SS: Bringing the reserves back up is some thing that should be slow and steady. I have been an advocate about that on the City Commission level, talking about making sure we are prepared if we ever got hit by a storm or some other economic [downturn]. We need to be able to put money back into a reserve fund. The problem is politicians, especially now that we have term limits on the County Commission. They want to get something done, and they only have a few years. Sometimes, though, just being scally prudent is the most important thing you can do. That is something I have learned from being on the City Commission. I point to the Utility Department at the city. There are two things the City Commission really is in agreement on. They want to take the system from a B system to an A sys tem in the next couple of decades. And they also want to work the system to be debt-free, because we are a built-out system. I will always be cognizant of the longterm scal legacy you will hand off to the next generation. SNL: Nathan Benderson Park has been in the news for different reasons, including securing big tournaments. It briey lost its ability to solicit donations while accepting signicant public funding. Is the park a golden goose or a fat hen? SS: There have been problems with it. At some point that rowing facility will be a good venue Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 22


Sometimes I thi nk things have to grow organ ically. I think when you look at the [Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates] SANCA contract I sort of laugh. Someone asked, What do you think about the SANCA contract? I said, You know any time any commissioner sits down at the City Commission, you get to hear about what a sweetheart deal Marina Jack got. When you look at the sweet deal SANCA got, in comparison, it doesnt even hold water. And I have concerns about trafc up there. I was at the [Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting this week]. It is $72 million dollars, depending on how good the estimates are now, to do that diverging diam ond [interchange]. There is money to do the planning, but if the Legislature says, No next year, it is not going to hap pen before that rowing tournament [in 2017, when Benderson Park will host the World Championships]. You may be years with basi cally gridlock at that intersection. SNL: Do you think the county should have contributed the amount of funding it did to Benderson Park ($19.5 million for construction)? SS: No. Once again, it goes to the eight-year term limit. People are rushing to get some thing done to say, Look what I did. I think term limits are a good thing, dont get me wrong. But it is inherent of politicians to try to Shannon Snyder and Willie Shaw pose on May 16 after Shaw has been elected mayor. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 23


get somet hing do ne to hang their hat on. That park probably really needed to have an oppor tunity to really shake out. You know, start with state and regional tournaments. When you look at what they are trying to accom plish, I think I would have walked before I tried to run, from an operational standpoint. In the long run, the amount of rowers that are going to come into this community, the demo graphic and income that the average rowing family will have, is a great demographic to go after. Im not saying dont go after it. What I am saying is what they probably should have done is gone a little slower and really [found] out where the problems are ... After 15 or so years of collegiate rowing, they could say, Hey, here is the economic impact. Boom, not We promise all this economic impact. SNL: Do you support the diverging diamond? SS: I think over time that project will be successful. I think there is one in Georgia everyone is pretty much happy with. Much like roundabouts, people will have to get used to it. People werent wild about round abouts, but I cant imagine anyone saying an intersection like Webber [Street] and Honore [Avenue] isnt a much more efcient intersec tion because of the roundabout. I just think we put the cart before the horse as far as development goes. You are going to have such dramatic infra structure needs with that [Mall at University Town Center] and the area around there, and with the changes from [Sarasota] 2050. You are going to see a race out Fruitville Road with subdivisions because of the changes. SNL : Do yo u think the County Commission has handled the rewriting of Sarasota 2050 well? SS: They gutted it. They gutted what this community agreed to. And I think the big issue it is going to set up is that with all of those infrastructure needs, you now end up with competition for infra structure dollars inside Sarasota County If we had stayed on the current [2050] Plan, it would have given us 10 or 15 years to catch up on infrastructure in Venice, and you would have seen that interconnectivity around Venice and Laurel Road, and then we would have gone to Englewood and North Port. The way 2050 was set up before, you would be moving slowly out Fruitville Road [with growth]. Now all of a sudden that has been thrown out the window and its whoever gets to the trough first. When you have 50,000 homes going up out east of Interstate 75 on Fruitville Road, you are going to have compe tition for infrastructure dollars. What I am afraid of is ve or six years out, what you end up with is a battle between North County and South County. The northern counties Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk had the water wars in the s and s. We are going to end up with the same problem, with infrastructure wars over dollars for roads, sewers, parks. We are going to be politically divided between north and south. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 24


SNL: Should the i de a of SCAT privatization be explored further? SS: Currently, SCAT is 80-percent funded by ad valorem taxes. For the most part, Sarasota County taxpayers are paying for [the bus sys tem]. I am all in favor of mass transport in dense areas or if you are running a shuttle from point A to point B. From serving on the MPO I can understand transit issues from that standpoint. But when you see massive empty buses running all night across the county, at some point, you have to ask, Are we doing this because we are moving people, or are we doing it because we want to feel good about it? SNL: You were opposed to the county leasing Warm Mineral Spring s to a private contractor for 5 0 years. What would you like to see hap pen at Warm Mineral Springs? SS: I was the one who wanted to put in a provision in the city charter that any leases over 10 years have to go to the voters. We are going to own it forever. Why are we rushing to develop it? The rush wasnt something the community had bought into. It was bought with environmentally sensitive lands money, which is what the darn money was meant to be spent on. And then you are trying to sell the development rights off. The county had their agenda. North Port had enough of it, and to their credit, they stood up to the county. Why dont we have some nice slow conversa tions, instead of This is our plan and if you dont like it, you are an obstructionist. % 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 August 1, 2014 Page 25


Matt Smith, mosquito manager for Sarasota County, holds a chicken named Mellow Yellow. Mellow Yellow, however, has not been living up to his name on this particular morn ing. He has been acting a little unruly with his fellow fowl in one of the countys 13 sentinel chicken ocks. Finally, he settles down in Smiths arms. Mellow Yellow really has no reason to be tense, even though he has an important job. He and the other sentinel chickens are used to detect for mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Each county ock has ve to eight chickens, and those ocks are spread out among sites near schools, wastewater plants, sw amps and parks typical mosquito breeding grounds. The viruses do not hurt the chickens, Smith said. Their immun e systems Matt Smith, mosquito manager for Sarasota County, holds one of the countys sentinel chickens. All photos by Roger Drouin MORE THAN SPRAYING We want to do what we can to make sure what we are doing [to control mosquitos] is not harming the environment. Matt Smith Mosquito Manager Sarasota County By Roger Drouin County Editor WITH PEAK MOSQUITO SEASON UNDER WAY, THE COUNTYS MOSQUITO MANAGER USES A VARIETY OF APPROACHES TO DEAL WITH THE REGULAR TINY BITERS AND MONITOR FOR THE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ONES


generate antibodies to ght the infections. If antibodies show up in routine testing, health ofcials can warn residents to avoid mosqui toes, and mosquito control units can better focus their efforts on the areas near the loca tions of the affected birds. The technique is not new. Sarasota County, along with other counties in Florida, has been using it for more than 30 years. This is the middle of peak season for mos quitoes which runs from May to October and the sentinel chickens are just one of the approaches used to keep the insects, and the diseases they can carry, in check. The county is also implementing cutting-edge technology to combat mosquitoes, such as a device that uses ultrasonic sound (18 to 30 KHz) to kill mosquito larvae without the use of chemicals. The device costs around $7,000, and it is part of Smiths effort to make Sarasota Countys mosquito management as environmentally friendly as possible. Smith showed a Sarasota News Leader reporter Wednesday morning, July 30, how the device worked, turning it on and dip ping it into the creek behind his ofce. Fish appeared to swim round it unaffected. The ultrasonic device costs around $7,000, and it is part of Smiths effort to make mosquito management as environmentally friendly as possible.` Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 27


Typically, aft er heavy rains, mosquito swarms can be detected in ditches. In the past, work ers had to spray a chemical into the water every week to keep the insects at bay. But now those county employees can use this device to kill larvae before it grows to the adult stage. In the long term, Smith also hopes using the electric device will prove more cost-efcient than the chemicals. MONITORING FOR CHIKUNGUNYA This rainy season, there is concern about chi kungunya, a virus that emerged in Africa. Over the past couple of years, it has spread across the Caribbean, and it is poised to make its incursion into the continental United States Onl y two cases of the virus are believed to have been contracted through mosquito bites in the U.S. Both were reported in southeast Florida. Smith said the two species of mosquito that carry chikungunya are found locally but in very small populations. The yellow fever mos quito, aedes aegypti, and the tiger mosquito, aedes albopictus, are capable of transmitting both the dengue and chikungunya viruses. These mosquitoes, which bite during the day time, are associated with the accumulation of water in man-made containers, such as tires and buckets, which serve as breeding sites. One Sarasota resident, who lives close to downtown, is believed to have contracted the virus while traveling out of the country. The vir us can be transmitted by mosquitoes Matt Smith points to a map showing various mosquito control areas in the county. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 28


after they have bitte n someone with the infec tion. Therefore, county workers set up traps near the residents home to see if any mos quitos in that area had the virus. The tests were negative. Mosquito control technicians also walked through the neighborhood to tell residents to drain any standing water, where mosquito larvae could develop. There have been no reports of anyone acquir ing chikungunya in Sarasota County, but Smith said the county is ready to respond to the potential threat of the virus. Health Department staff suggests residents follow simple tips to protect themselves from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry: Drain any standing water to stop mosqui toes from multiplying. Check around your home to rid the area of stand ing water, The native mosquito sh, gambusia, is already present in most healthy ponds, lakes and canals. These sh provide excellent biological control for mosquitoes in aquatic stages. includ ing containers that hold water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Flush bromeliad plants with fresh water or use a larvicide (e.g., BTI granules) in the tank of the bromeliad to limit mosquito development. Cover skin with clothing or repellent. Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and cloth ing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with picaridin, DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than two months. Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your residence. Since mosquitoes can bite any time you are outdoors, always be cautio us. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 29


When possible, stay in facilities with screened windows and doors, as well as air conditioning, to reduce risk of mosquito bites. When you are outdoors and mosquitoes are present, wear clothing such as shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to cover most of your skin. Infants should be kept indoors or mosquito netting should be used over carriers when mosquitoes are present. BEYOND SPRAYING Smith worked as lead supervisor for the Coachella Valley Mosquito Control District in California and as an entomologist for the Mobile County Health Department in Alabama before he came to Sarasota County in 2013. When he tells people he works for mosquito managem ent, people usually say, Oh youre the guys that spray from trucks. We do that, but there is so much more to what we do, Smith pointed out to the News Leader Mosquito control biologists and technicians engage in a lot of monitoring, along with a lot of community outreach. If a resident calls to report a lot of the annoy ing biters in a location, a technician will often advise the resident about how to reduce the insect population, and then the technician will set up a trap that uses carbon dioxide to attract mosquitoes. In-house lab technicians and biologists will count the different species of mosquitoes caught in the trap and test for viruses. At the countys mosquito control facility, lab technicians count the different species of mosquitoes and test for viruses. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 30


We catch them i n the eld and test them in here, explained biologist Calvin Hancock in his county ofce. Hancock showed the News Leader a sam ple of how a positive test for West Nile would be indicated in genetic imaging of the mosquitoes. Smith is also embarking on guratively new terrain uncommon to many mosquito man agement agencies. He is implementing a program to test creeks and rivers to see if the use of pesticides is having an impact on water quality. We want to do what we can to make sure what we are doing [to control mosquitoes] is not harming the environment, Smith said. This week, a biologist at the countys mosquito lab was calibrating new equipment that will be u sed in the eld to test water quality. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGC) has agreed to partner with the county on the project and fund 49 percent of the costs, Smith noted. Biologists are also working on an initiative to breed the native mosquito sh, gambusia on-site. The sh can then be given to resi dents, who can put them in newly dug ponds, livestock tanks or rain barrels. In 2012, the Sarasota County commissioners voted to increase the tax rate for mosquito control for the rst time since 2003. It was a testament to the importance of the activities. One goal for Smith is to build up a healthy reserve fund within his budget so if a hur ricane strikes the area and leaves a lot of standing water, he will have the necessary money to ramp up efforts to ensure mosqui toes are monitored and controlled. % AUGUST 7, 2014 4:30 PM St. Boniface Church 5615 Midnight Pass Road, Room F PUBLIC IS ALWAYS WELCOME WITH QUESTIONS FOR OUR GUEST The Electoral Process: How It Works In Sarasota Please join us as we welcome guest speaker Kathy D ent Sarasota County S upervisor of Elections MONTHLY MEETING Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 31


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At the end of two long budget workshops on Wednesday, July 23, and Thursday, July 24, the Sarasota city commissioners approved a tentative overall budget of $198.9 million for Fiscal Year 2014-15, a 3.37-percent increase over the current years budget. The citys s cal year (and the countys) begins on Oct. 1. City revenues do not equal expenses for the next year. A $3.9 million shortfall will be made up by a change in the way the citys pays for retiree benets (see the related story in this issue). City administration proposes hiring several new personnel in the coming period. Among them would be a civilian investigator for the Police Departments Narcotics Unit, an assis tant city engineer, a grants coordinator in the Finance Department, a supervisor for the R.L. Taylor Community Complexs new ath letic eld, a zoning analyst, another building inspector and a parking garage supervisor/ attendant. Personnel costs will again consume about 80 percent of the citys overall expenditures. In September, the City Commission will hold public hearings on the 2015 scal year budget. Photo by Norman Schimmel TAPPING RETIREES BENEFITS WITH THE LAST OF THEIR RAINY DAY RESERVES NEEDED TO PLUG A HOLE IN THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR BUDGET, THE CITY COMMISSIONERS LOOK TO A DIFFERENT SOURCE TO SHORE UP THE GAP IN THEIR 2015 SPENDING PLAN By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


THE INCOM E SIDE When people think of city taxes, they often think only of the tax on property. Staff recom mended, and the commission agreed, to hold the tax rate on property constant at 3.1728 mills. That will raise $19.3 million, a 5.14-per cent increase over the revenue for the current scal year. That is because property values for the third straight year went up, this time by 5.35 percent for the city overall. However, one area of the city the downtown tax-in crement nancing (TIF) district does not contribute to the general fund; instead, it is limited to paying for improvements down town. (The city has used TIF revenue to cover costs critics say should have been paid for by the citys general fu nd.) Thus, the increase in total revenue is reduced by the amount raised for the TIF district. Other revenue streams are projected to increase, with almost $300,000 more expected from the half-cent sales tax as the economy picks up. And the income from the excise tax on electric and water service plus fuel oil is expected to jump almost $1 million. The city is still struggling to claw back its property values after a nearly 40-percent drop in the 2009-2012 period. Many cities in Florida (most notably Fort Myers) increased their tax rates to compensate for the drop in property value. Sarasotas rate remained virtually the same, so tax revenues plunged from $22.3 million in 2008 to $16 million four years later. This was reected in a cut of about one-third of the city workforce. The citys Parking Department will be seeking an attendant for the new State Street parking garage. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 34


The citys Parking Department continues to run a decit, as it must pay for personnel to monitor city parking spaces with time limits, including those at Bayfront Park. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 35


Some city bonds are covered with property tax revenue, and that expense is dropping after the city renanced the bond for the new police station, saving about 0.0212 mills on tax bills citywide. A slide shown during the budget presentation indicated 45 percent of property tax revenue paid by city homeowners and businesses goes to the county, 29 percent goes to the School Board, 18 percent goes to the city and 7 percent goes to other taxing authorities (for example, the West Coast Inland Navigation District). While the property tax base rose this year, other revenue sources saw plummets, espe cially nes associated with red-light cameras. That fund is expected to drop $1.5 million. Electric and gas franchise fees are projected down almost $500,000 in the next fiscal year, and the communications service tax is expected to be down $1.1 million. These shortfalls for the next scal year are compounded by shortfalls as the city comes to the end of the current scal year. Similar reductions in income are leaving this years spending plan about $1.2 million short. The city manager has proposed a plan to save 10 percent of the citys operational expenses between now and Oct. 1 to make up for the $1.2 million shortfall. However, the city com missioners did not vote last week to authorize the budget change because the city auditor and clerk protested the reductions, saying, I wasnt consulted. The departments reporting to the city man ager are cu tting their spending voluntarily in City staff hopes to use statistics about the percentage of county residents who use the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex facilities to encourage the County Commission to continue to provide operational support for it. File photo Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 36


City Engineer Alex DavisShaw has been overwhelmed with work, necessitating the hiring of an assistant city engineer, her boss says. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 37


advance of a ction on the recommended City Commission budget amendment, Finance Director John Lege told The Sarasota News Leader If they waited until the commission makes a decision when it reconvenes on Aug. 18, that would leave a scant six weeks for them to save the money. In addition to the 10 percent savings by depart ments, the city will use $1.1 million from its revenue stabilization fund to balance the budget. That is money put aside in better times to buffer any economic downturn. The city has used funds from that reserve to bal ance its budgets for the past six years in lieu of raising taxes. However, the expenditure of $1.1 million to plug the hole in the current years budget means the revenue stabilization fund is vir tually exhausted. It will not be available to help balance next years spending plan or a budget for any subsequent year. This is the reason the city will turn to a retiree benet fund to plug next years gap with $3.9 million. EXPENSES OLD AND NEW While the citys overall budget is $198.9 mil lion, the majority of that covers so-called enterprise funds that pay for themselves with user fees. The biggest example is the citys water and sewer fund. These enterprise funds are separate from the $59 million general fund, which pays for city departments that do not support them selves with fees. The largest portion goes to the Sarasota Police Department, which uses about half the general fund monies for opera tions and salaries. Senior police execut ives appeared during one budget workshop to support the departments request for $29.5 million. They also came to ask for replacements for eight ofcers who are leaving the force. A federal grant program called COPS will pay for the replacements, with a few hitches. The civilian investigator for the Narcotics Squad is anticipated to look at local responses if the medical marijuana referendum passes in November. Police are also seeking an additional $500,000 for over time in the coming scal year. The citys Parking Department is again seek ing a $500,000 subsidy to enable its staff to patrol the time-limited parking spaces along streets and operate the citys parking garages. There is no paid parking in the city. The department this year took over the respon sibility for licensing valets and taxis. Parking Director Mark Lyons said he will be looking to raise the application and license fees in the coming year. He also is seeking an attendant to monitor the new State Street garage. For the record, the City Commission and city manager are not requesting any increases in their budgets. Neighborhood and Development Services is asking for an administrative specialist to han dle the foreclosed property ordinance now in the works. The fees should more than pay for the position. An assistant city eng ineer is my departments greatest need and the citys greatest need said Tim Litchet, head of that department. City Engineer Alex DavisShaw, he said, has been swamped a nd overwhelmed. And Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 38


Litchet want s t o hire another multi-license building inspector, with the cost covered by permit fees. The mowing and landscaping ofces are look ing for additional resources, too. Staffers are weighing the cost of contracting the work to outsiders or re-establishing a mowing capa bility in-house. The county outsourced most of its mowing and has suffered signicant problems over the past couple of years. While not an issue for the upcoming scal years budget, the following year will see a $320,000 hole because Sarasota Countys agreement to help fund the R.L. Taylor Community Complex will expire. The county begrudged the funding, saying it suspected the facility was primarily for city residents. Doug Jeffcoat, director of public works, said this year there are 3,258 pass holders for the complex, with 35 percent from the city and 56 percent from the county. The city may argue next year to keep the county budget allot ment because more than half of the users are county residents. Excluding the new requests, the proposed expenses for the general fund budget are $59.1 million, but the projected revenues are $56.8 million. That is a gap of $2.3 million. Add the $1.3 million requested for new positions, and the budget is $3.6 million light. COVERING THE GAP Unlike previous years, the citys reserves are shot. The last remaining reserves are being used to plug the hole in the current budget. Because the handwriting guratively started to appear on t he wall last spring, staff has been looking for other ways to make the FY 2014-2015 budget balance. One method used in the past will be uti lized again a transfer of $250,000 from the solid waste enterprise fund into the general fund. And another $500,000 could material ize through holding off on hiring new people and other personnel adjustments. But all that does not cover one-quarter of the need. The city commissioners were given two real istic options. With reserves exhausted, they could raise the property millage rate or they could undo a reform they put into effect in 2006 in regard to funding the OPEB, other post-employment benets. We need $3.6 million to balance the budget, Finance Director Lege said as the two-day workshop came to a close. Vice Mayor Susan Chapman responded, I move to reduce OPEB by $3.9 million and work with an insurance consultant and actu ary to make OPEB nancially sustainable for the retirees. The motion to use the retiree account to balance the FY 14-15 budget passed unanimously. After the budget was balanced, Commissioner Suzanne Atwell moved to accept the staff-rec ommended millage rate of 3.1728, unchanged from the current year. That motion passed unanimously as well. The commissioners will return on Aug. 18 to balance their current budget and then they will hold two public hearings on next years budget in September. The entire proposed budget is viewable on the citys website % Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 39


News that Vibrio vulnificus a bacterium lurking in the Gulf of Mexico and brackish Florida waters, has sickened two killing one of them in Sarasota County has locals worried about entering the water and has prompted the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County to issue guidelines for those concerned about getting sick. With the news fr om Sarasota, 12 total cases have now been reported in Florida, all but three of them along the Gulf Coast; three vic tims have died. Last year, 41 infections and 11 deaths were reported in Florida, none of them in Sarasota County. Vibrio vulnicus lives in warm, salty water and can infect humans who consume raw or undercooked shellsh from areas where it is present. It can also infect those with open wounds, such as cuts, scrapes or lesions, and is particularly dangerous to those who are medically compromised, in the terminology of Health Department spokesperson Dianne Shipley. That especially means people with weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease, according to a fact sheet issued by the state. The two individuals infected in Sarasota County were each mi ddle-age and had medical Photo by Tiago Fioreze, via Wikimedia Commons SICKENING HEALTH DEPARTMENT ISSUES WARNING FOR WARM WATER BACTERIUM THAT HAS SICKENED 12 AND KILLED THREE IN FLORIDA By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor


A fact sheet issued by the Florida Department of Health Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 41


compromising conditions, according to a statement from the local Health Department. The statement adds that those with liver dis ease, including Hepatitis C and cirrhosis, are most at risk for developing serious illness, while those with hemochromatosis (iron overload), diabetes, cancer, stomach disor ders or any illness or treatment that weakens the immune system, in particular, should avoid raw and undercooked shellsh. Little more is known about the two cases reported in Sarasota County. Shipley tells The Sarasota News Leader the department is still not exactly sure where the local victims were when they became infected, other than that one was shing. But the precise location mat ters little, because Shipley says the bacterium is everywhere. Its not limited to one beach or another, she points out. Vibrio vulnicus is found in area waters yearround, but higher concentrations develop in the warm summer months. Symptoms of infection through a wound include swelling, pain and redness at the wound site, accord ing to the Health Department. Consumption of raw or undercooked shellsh, meanwhile, can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, and the formation of blistering skin lesions. If you notice any symptoms, Shipley says, seek out medical care right away. And if you see a cut that may have been infected, wash it thoroughly and apply antibacterial medication, she advises. The two Sarasota County cases involved infections through open wounds, Shipley says. Neither came from ingesting shellsh. Sarasota County Lifeguard Manager Scott Montgomery tells the News Leader that life guards working the beach havent noticed anything unusual in recent weeks: no scares or concerns. And Vibrio vulnicus isnt keep ing tourists and locals away from the water. Trafc is still the same, he says. % False color scanning electron micrograph of Vibrio vulnicus bacteria. Image courtesy of Wikipedia 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 August 1, 2014 Page 42


A case involving the illegal destruction of man groves on Manasota Key remains unresolved ve months after the incident occurred, with no representative of the property owners hav ing shown up for a Code Enforcement Special Magistrate hearing on July 18, county staff has reported. In an email to the Sarasota County Commission following that hear ing, Matt Osterhoudt, manager of environ mental protection in the countys Planning and Development Services Ofce, wrote that staff had introduced photographic evi dence and testimony to demonstrate that the site at 8215 Manasota Key Road in Englewood remains out of compliance with an order Special Magistrate Robert Zack issued on April 16. Staff also informed Zack on July 18 that [it] has received no communication from the propert y owner since April 21, Osterhoudt pointed out. Therefore, staff asked Zack to impose the maximu m penalty of County staff photographed the scene after arriving at 8215 Manasota Key Road on the afternoon of Feb. 22. Photo courtesy Sarasota County NO RESOLUTION TO THE DEVASTATION MONTHS AFTER THEY WERE CITED FOR DESTROYING MANGROVES AND ILLEGALLY BRINGING IN FILL, ENGLEWOOD PROPERTY OWNERS FAIL TO SHOW UP FOR A HEARING AND REMAIN OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE COUNTY You cant even begin to grasp [the damage] until youre on-site looking at it. Christine Robinson Vice Chairwoman Sarasota County Commission By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


$250 per day as a lien on the property, based on the nature of the violation and that no good faith efforts to achieve compliance have been taken, Osterhoudt continued in his email. However, because the April 16 order called for a status hearing on June 20 which was continued until July 18 Zack did not impose a penalty, Osterhoudt added. Instead, Zack scheduled a Penalty Hearing for Aug. 15 in South County. According to a June 20 email from Osterhoudt to the County Commission, one of the prop erty owners, Paul S. Maurer of Cape Coral, had led a motion asking for the continuance of the case to July 18 because he would be unable to attend the session on June 20. The Sarasota News Leader was unable to reach Maurer for comme nt. Although the April 16 Special Magistrate order listed attorney Robert Lincoln of Icard Merrill in Sarasota as Maurers representative, a spokeswoman for the rm told the News Leader on July 31 that Lincoln no longer represents Maurer. The April 16 order identies all the owners as Paul Maurer and his wife, Lori A. Maurer; and Edward S. Maurer and his wife, Marguerite L. Maurer. Osterhoudt told the News Leader on July 30 that he had heard no update on the case since July 18. We are on for that Penalty Hearing set in August, he said. The Feb. 22 incident first was reported to county commissioners in emails from Manasota Key residents. Board Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson copied staff The mangrove destruction is depicted in another photo taken by county staff on Feb. 22. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 44


on the correspondence, which prompted Osterhoudt and Howard Berna, an environ mental supervisor, to travel to the site and order the work to cease. During the commissions March 4 regular meeting the rst after the incident occurred Robinson told her colleagues she also vis ited the property on Feb. 22. She added that photos emailed to the board members dont even remotely do [the scene] justice. You cant even begin to grasp [the damage] until youre on-site looking at it. THE BACKGR OUND David Green, president of the Manasota Key Association, emailed Robinson at 12:24 p.m. on Feb. 22, saying, This morning at 8215 Manasota Key Road (Lot # 0489-10-0012), a team of landscapers, construction trucks, sand trucks and bulldozer came to the property and started to cut down all the vege tation, including mangroves, and then began to ll in the wetland or small creek that runs through the property. A bulldozer used in the work became stuck on the Manasota Key Road site. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 45


A ag marks the location of 8215 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. Image from Google Maps Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 46


Green added, My understanding is that the county had previously denied the landowner [a permit] to do the above. Green pointed out that the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce was notied, but the ofcers who responded told residents that the person in charge had informed them that the owner had permission from Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) for the work and that they were exempt from getting a permit from the County. Green added that because it was a Saturday, he knew county ofces were closed. And it looks like all the cutting and lling will occur before the [end] of today (Saturday). Green included photos of the activity with his email. Robinson responded that she already had received several emails from other residents about the situation, so she had left a voice mail for County Administrator Tom Harmer and copied numerous staff members on her reply to Green. One of those other emails Robinson refer enced, which was sent at 10:12 a.m. on Feb. 22, said, Our neighboring lot owner is cutting and shredding huge amounts of mangroves with no visible permit. Can u help? In a Feb. 23 email, Robinson thanked Osterhoudt and Berna for their quick response, pointing out that Manasota Key residents had pretty much accepted with a heavy heart that the work would continue and get nished because it was a Saturday and county staff was not in the ofce. Not only A photo taken by a Manasota Key resident on Feb. 22 shows workers adding ll to an area where mangroves have been removed. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 47


did you surprise them by appearing and get ting the work stopped, you went above and beyond by communicating with the neigh bors and providing them with information they needed. During the March 4 County Commission meeting, Robinson also won consensus from her fellow board members to direct Harmer to review the county ordinance pertaining to mangroves and provide a report on his nd ings. That report was dated April 15, the day before the rst Special Magistrate hearing in the case. Written by Osterhoudt, it points out that work along the countys shorelines, including dredging and lling, must be approved by the commission sitting as the Sarasota County Water and Navigation Control Authority (WNCA). That board was established in 1957 through a Special Act of the Legislature that was codified later in a county ordinance. Osterhou dt further noted, Earthmoving along shorelines with mangroves also requires owners to meet standards provided in the Sarasota County Earthmoving Ordinance. Both the Earthmoving and WNCA ordi nances require the avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of impacts to native habitats and consistency with the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, and specically include the Principles for Evaluating Development Proposals in Native Habitats. Those principles, he continued, indicate that mangrove swamps shall be preserved or enhanced, dredging and lling of mangrove swamps shall be strictly prohibited, and pre viously cleared mangrove swamps should be restored. The enforcement process for violations, Osterhoudt noted, generally includes, in order, a No tice of Violation, an Afdavit of Mangroves lie on the ground at 8215 Manasota Key Road. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 48


Violation if there is no voluntary compliance, a Special Magistrate Evidentiary Hearing, a Special Magistrate Penalty Hearing and a lien on the property. The county enables a Special Magistrate in an ordinary situation to impose a ne up to $250 per day for the rst violation and $500 per day for a repeat violation, he added. However, upon the recommendation of a Code Enforcement ofcer, the ne can go up to $15,000 per violation if the Special Magistrate nds the violation to be irrepara ble or irreversible in nature. THE APRIL 16 HEARING During the April 16 Special Magistrate hear ing, county staff presented testimony and evidence to show that the owners of the Manasota Key property and representa tives of Coastline Tree Services Inc. and Environmental Turnkey Solutions LLC had engaged in clearing and lling activities [that] resulted in a large area of mangrove swamp being clear cut and several truckloads of new ll material [being] placed on the [property], Special Magistrate Zacks order reads. County staff also observed unauthorized ll material on the uplands within the WNCA jurisdic tional area, as well as a bulldozer stuck within the lled wetlands on the property, the order adds. No building permit, WNCA permit, earthmoving permit or earthmoving exemption was obtained for these activities, Zack wrote. The Maurers testied and presented evidence asserting that th eir activities were exempt A shot taken from a different angle shows the mangroves on the ground and ll that has been brought onto the property. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 49


from county regula tio n based on pre-emp tion by various state statutes, the order says. After reviewing all the evidence and the Respondents pre-emption argument, Zack wrote that he found the county had proven the existence of the alleged violations by competent, substantial evidence and that the law did not support the property owners position. Therefore, Zack ordered that the Maurers should remove all the unauthorized ll from the WNCA jurisdictional area as well as from property outside that jurisdiction or pursue an after-the-fact earthmoving permit to keep the latter ll in place. He further ordered that the Maurers complete the restoration plant ing, monitoring and maintenance plan for the altered shoreline and impacte d mangrove swamp habitat, outlined in a county exhibit provided during the hearing. THE OWNERS According to records of the Sarasota County Property Appraisers Ofce, the Maurers took title of the Manasota Key parcel on July 17, 2009. They paid $85,000 for it. The sellers were Brian E. Scanlan and Laura J. Scanlan, acting as co-trustees of the BSL Land Trust, which was established on Sept. 29, 2005. The trusts mailing address was in Redington Beach. The Maurers mailing address was 3315 S.E. 18th Ave., Cape Coral. The Property Appraisers Ofce valued the parcel at $63,400 this year, down slightly from $64,100 in 2013. In 2009, the property was assessed at $80,500. % 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 August 1, 2014 Page 50


The Sarasota Police Department is located on Adams Lane in downtown Sarasota. Photo by Norman Schimmel ACCREDITATION REVIEW TO BEGIN


Chief Bernadette DiP ino decided to suspend accreditation after she found some facets of the process with which the department was not in compliance. Since then decals denoting successful accreditation have been removed from city police vehicles. When the city commissioners met on Monday, July 21, two were ready to grill DiPino over the issue, but they were forestalled by a motion to refer the issue to the police advi sory group. The motion passed 3-2, with Commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Shannon Snyder in the minority. The Independent Police Advisory Panel will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, at the SRQ Studio in the City Hall Annex on First Street in downtown Sarasota. The public is welcome to attend the session. % The Sarasot a Independent P olice Advisory Panel is gearing up to investigate the reason(s) why the city Police Department decided to terminate its accreditation. The panel has scheduled a workshop for Aug. 6. The group normally meets quarterly, and it depends on individual members to study issues and recommend possible policy changes for the Police Department. This is the rst time it has been handed an assignment. Panel Administrator Peter Graham said the accreditation investigation must comply with Floridas public open meetings law, and the investigation may be assigned to one of the panel members or the panel could assign it to him, added Graham. A media dust-up ensued when a member of the department l eaked a memo in dicating CITYS INDEPENDENT POLICE ADVISORY PANEL TO HOLD A MEETING NEXT WEEK ON THE POLICE DEPARTMENT ISSUE By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Bernadette DiPino is chief of the Sarasota Police Department. Photo by Norman Schimmel The Police Department reportedly last won accreditation under previous Chief Mikel Hollaway. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 52


Major changes are coming in regard to the way the City of Sarasota manages its retiree healthcare. One proposal received tentative approval on July 24, when the city commis sioners approved a staff recommendation to shift $3.9 million from a benet plan to balance the proposed scal year 2014-2015 budget. The other change will take into consider ation the impact of the Affordable Care Act on retirees, especially those not yet eligible for Medicare. The city covers a huge percent age of the healthcare premiums for retirees, up to 84 percent for a family of three or more. The account used to make the budget-balanc ing payment is called Other Post-Employment Benets, or OPEB. The city is responsible for paying those fees into the future, creating what is called an unfunded liability. Most cities in Florida use a pay-as-you-go plan to handle OPEB costs, but there was a concern in the mi d-2000s that the expenses would balloon for medical, prescription and den tal healthcare plans. A few cities includ ing Sarasota, in 2006 The City Commission is facing signicant questions about the future funding of retired employees benets. Photo by Norman Schimmel A BUDGET-BALANCING ACT ANALYSIS: CITY PLANS RETIREE BENEFITS REVIEW We want to look at this as a onetime event and then look at recommendations for other solutions. Stacie Mason Human Resources Director City of Sarasota By Stan Zimmerman City Editor


began to set aside ad ditional money beyond the anticipated annual cost to provide a hedge against the rising premiums and claims. The city contributed about $2.4 million or more every year into that hedge, even as bud gets fell during the recession. During a period when one-third of city workers were laid off, the OPEB payments continued. Today, the fund has about $39 million. Once the money goes into the OPEB trust fund, it cannot be used for any other pur pose. Its irrevocable, said the city Human Resources Director Stacie Mason. In effect, the trust fund is a locked box. However, for the coming year, to balance the overall budget, the city wil l intercept OPEB funds before they enter the locked box. Instead, the city w ill revert to a pay-as-you-go plan for Fiscal Year 2014-2015. A ONE-TIME DEAL Both Mason and the City Finance Director John Lege hope the OPEB diversion does not become regular practice. I hope it is a onetime deal, said Lege. They both want to take a year to work with insurance experts and actuaries to come up with a better plan. This is not sustainable, said Mason. We want to look at this as a one-time event and then look at recommendations for other solutions. A new player on the stage is the federal Affordable Care Act, which demands every This scal year, the city expects to pay more than $14.6 million in healthcare claims, a big jump from the prior year. While the retiree claims (in blue) have remained fairly constant, claims by active city employees (in green) have jumped almost 60 percent. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 54


citizen have medical insurance. Whats opened up this year are exchanges, explained Mason to the City Commission. These exchanges allow citizens to shop among different plans. That opportunity extends to people with pre-existing conditions that might previously have prevented them from obtaining any health insurance. Meanwhile, claims against the OPEB lock box are rising. A graph used during the bud get workshop shows claims jumping nearly $3 million between 2013 and 2014 to $14.6 million. A lot of these claims are coming from our active retirees, said Mason. OPEB can only pay for retirees. Yet, the proposal was put forth to cut the citys contribution to OPEB by $3.9 million to balance the budget. Its not sustainable, Mason reiterated of the recommendation. Not sustainable in the way the plan was created, which is why we need to bring forth some recommendations or sug gestions. And we need some feedback from the [City] Commission. Part of this discussion needs to be for ward-looking, at the unfunded liability, said Mason. Were very unusual because we sub sidize the premiums so highly. Nobody else does that. A retiree with a family plan pays 16 percent of the total premium; a retired cou ple pays 24 percent. To couple dollars with those percentages, one line in the OPEB trust account (Fund 684) shows retiree premiums of $1.3 million. Assuming that is only one-fth the true cost, the city is paying $5.2 million per year in sub sidies for retired employees premiums for health, prescription and dental care plans. With the premiums we charge, there is no incentive to look elsewhere, said Mason. So weve never had any movement off our plan The city has contributed $26 million in advance funding to help bring down the unfunded liability of the OPEB account since 2007. This year it proposes to use the advance funding to balance the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The heading for the right-hand column says Employer, which refers to the City of Sarasota. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 55


because we are extremely affordable. With our subsidies, why should they look elsewhere? We are pulling back from the contribution on top of the pay-as-you-go approach, con tinued Mason. The dedication to this fund is there, maintaining a good plan. Its a great plan. But we have to take a look at the costs it takes to run this plan. There are a lot of pieces to this, said Mason. And one of the biggest pieces we need to focus on is the huge portion of retirees that are Medicare Aand B-eligible. They are on Medicare, and our plan is secondary to them. Their claims are less costly, but they are a huge portion of the OPEBs liability. We have a lot more people on Medicare than we had in the past. Perhaps, more than any other element of municipal nance, OPEB funding is a machine with many interconnected parts. Most cit ies use a pay-as-you-go plan and ignore the unfunded liability. And perhaps with the increasing use of Medicare and healthcare exchanges, the unfunded liability is erod ing away. Over the next sever al months, actuaries will look at the long-term implications of city policy variations, and insurance experts will look at the increasing multiplicity of available plans to dete rmine if any new or even radical changes are showing up on the marketplace. Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown esti mated it could be as late as January before any recommendations emerge from the experts trying to synthesize the citys desires with the public and private marketplace of health plans. At that time, a City Commission workshop could be scheduled for the board members to study the ndings and give guid ance to staff for possible changes in direction. Whether the commissioners realized it or not last week, taking $3.9 million from the OPEB contribution started a chain reaction with multiple consequences. One is the need to nd a way to balance the city budget with out resorting to raids on trust fund payments. Another consequence is the need, again, to evaluate long-term consequences in retiree healthcare. Mason would like to see some form of edu cational program for the nearly 1,000 city retirees and their dependents who may be asked again to make decisions about their healthcare. Maybe we should look at an advocate or someone to help the retirees sort through this process and choose, if we get direction to go that way. We need them to have some support. It can be overwhelming looking at all this, she added. % 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 August 1, 2014 Page 56


Pointing out that she could have closed down Bobs Boathouse months ago but elected instead to give it an opportunity to thrive, Sarasota County Code Enforcement Special Magistrate Meg Wittmer on July 25 ordered that th e business pay almost $4,100 in penalties for not com pleting a punch list of items necessary to obtain its Certicate of Occupancy according to a timeline she estab lished on M arch 21 I do have the right to issue a Cease and Desist order, she told Sarasota attorney James E. Aker, who has been representing Bobs Boathouse in the case. But we decided not to do that. We decided lets all of us work together so Sarasota County can benefit from a successful busi ness, a restaurant. However, she continued after a two-and-a-half-hour hearing, There was lots of com petent Michael Seery (left) and attorney James Aker confer during the July 25 proceedings. Photo by Rachel Hackney PENALTIES IMPOSED A SPECIAL MAGISTRATE ORDERS BOBS BOATHOUSE TO PAY ABOUT $4,100 FOR FAILING TO MEET HER DEADLINES FOR COMPLETING ITEMS NECESSARY TO OBTAIN ITS CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY I distinctly remember us all sitting at this table and discussing each and every deadline. And I said to everyone that day that I was going to hold rm on those dates. Meg Wittmer Special Magistrate Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


substantial evidence that suggests that the deadlines could have been met, where they werent. The March 21 hearing was the rst of three regarding a number of actions required under county code for the restaurant to be granted a Certicate of Occupancy (CO). Two punch list items remained incomplete as of July 25: the recording of the nal engineer ing schematics for Bobs Boathouse and the installation of the county-approved lighting plan. The former was to have been completed 60 days after the March hearing; the latter, within 120 days of the hearing. The schematics cannot be submitted for recording until after all the punch list items have been nished, according to testimony. While the lighting plan has been approved, Aker pointed out that the poles and xtures had to be custom-manufactured, and the own ers still are awaiting the arrival of the poles. When Wittmer asked Aker when the poles were expected on-site, he replied, I cannot give you a date, your honor. Im not privy to how long it takes to do that work. After county Zoning Administrator Brad Bailey estimated the lighting should be installed within 60 days, based on his experi ence, Wittmer scheduled a status hearing for 9 a.m. on Oct. 10 to ensure that all the punch list items have been completed. In her July 25 order, she ned Bobs Boathouse $250 for the rst day it was out of compliance with her March 21 order and added in a ne of County staff signed off on the completion of the watercourse buffer plantings on July 24, an environmental supervisor testied. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 58


$20 per day for each item that was not nished by the time she had specied. The Sarasota News Leader calculated the total as $4,090, based on her ruling. The Ofce of the County Attorney had not released the amount by our deadline this week. Assistant County Attorney Scott Bossard, who handled the case for the county on July 25, told the News Leader on July 28 that stan dard procedure in Code Enforcement cases calls for the tot al of a ne to be tallied from the day after compliance was ordered through the day before the work was nished. For example, the rst item on the punch list under the purview of the countys Public Utilities Department was the installation of a fence at the sewage lift station at the rear of the busi ness, which is located at 5515 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. The fence was to be nished by May 20, but it was not installed until June 6. Therefore, the ne would be assessed as $20 per day from May 21 through June 5, for a total of $320, according to Bossards explanation. Special Magistrate Meg Wittmer has presided over the case since March 21. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 59


Asked how long the business owners would have to pay the total, Bossard replied that he had not checked the appropriate statute yet. On July 25, he and Wittmer said they felt the period was 30 days from the date the order is entered into the legal record. Kevin Burns, the county Code Enforcement ofcer who handled the case, asked Wittmer to impose a one-time ne of $250 and a subse quent ne of $150 per day from May 21 until the date of compliance for each item on the punch list that was not completed within the time frame she set on March 21. However, Wittmer told Burns and Bossard that she had envisioned a customized penalty because of the different target dates. Bossard responded that the overarching con sideration was that the business still was operating without a Certicate of Occupancy, but Burns conceded, Its an unorthodox case. We want to motivate an end to the situa tion We were encouraged that theyve taken some steps to get this done, Bossard added. Im very pleased with the progress everyone has made, Wittmer said. At various points during testimony provided by county employees and also Sarasota realtor Mike Seery, who described himself as acting on behalf of the business as a friend of the owner, Aker worked to show that misleading comments and insufcient information from Howard Berna, environmental supervisor for Sarasota County (left), talks with Assistant County Attorney Scott Bossard on July 25. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 60


Special Magistrate Meg Wittmer issued this punch list with her March 21 ruling, noting the amount of time Bobs Boathouse had to complete each item. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 61


county staff had contributed to the delays in the completion of some items. (According to his website Seery is the founder of Michael Seery & Associates Inc., a real estate rm in Sarasota.) I dont want to make excuses, Seery told Wittmer, but this is the domino effect, add ing that he had talked with one staff member in the hallway immediately after the March 21 hearing to start the process rolling to achieve completion of the punch list. However, Wittmer told Aker later, Theres nothing that I heard today that was so compelling that would suggest that [Bobs Boathouse] should be allowed an extension of time, without penalty, to complete items on the list. MAKING THEIR POINTS At the outset, Wittmer cautioned Aker and Bossard, This is a penalty hearing. We are not opening up the case again. She added that she would accept only a limited amount of argument regarding whether penalties should be imposed. With the rst witness, Aker sought to show that county staff had thwarted the business from completing some work in a timely manner. Aker asked Mike Mehan, regula tory manager of the countys Public Utilities Department, whether he had told Seery that the business needed to submit an application for a right of way permit necessary to aban don the existing water service to the site. In spite of repeated questioning, Mehan main tained, No, the contractor is the applicant, A new fence has been installed around the lift station area at the rear of the 5515 S. Tamiami Trail property. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 62


adding at one point, Its always been the con tractor [under county regulations]. In follow-up questions about what Mehan had explained to Seery regarding one subcon tractors qualications for a project, Mehan replied at one point, Weve been through so many contractors on this project. On another line of questioning, Aker sought to show that county staff had indicated to Seery that the capping of the existing water ser vice should be completed before a fence was installed around the lift station or crushed concrete was laid down with a weed barrier in the lift station area. Mehan testied, Capping the water service had nothing to do with installing the fence or the crushed concrete. Aker pointed out the fence might have had to be taken down for the capping if the fence had been erected beforehand, making the capping more difcult. It was doable, Mehan said of the capping with the fence in place. Michael K. Lewis, president of Royal Oldsmobile-GMC Trucks Co., the owner of the property where Bobs Boathouse operates, also was in the audience at the July 25 hearing. Bobs Boathouse pays the rm $330,000 per year to lease the site, according to a copy of the contract provided to Sarasota County. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 63


Later, Aker indicated that Jim Dierolf, envi ronmental supervisor in the Conservation & Environmental Permitting Ofce, had not clearly delineated all the invasive and exotic species that had to be removed from the water course buffer or adequately provided details about the number of plants that needed to be added to the buffer landscaping. County records shows the plans for the landscaping received staff approval on Aug. 10, 2010. The installation of all the watercourse buf fer plantings was to have been completed by June 19, but Dierolf testied that it was not nished until July 24. We put 1,000 plants in that watercourse buf fer, Seery said. We had to add 70 more at Dierolfs request. Its possible there was a misunderstanding, Dierolf told Wittmer, referring to a June 8 meeting he had with Seery and the landscape architect for Bobs Boathouse. The punch list item given the longest period for completion after March 21 120 days was the installation of the lighting according to the county-approved plan. At one point, Wittmer asked Bailey whether he believed the county was at fault for the delay, as Aker had indicated. Bailey said Bobs Boathouse should have been able to meet [the July 19 deadline]. When Aker asked Bailey whether he had any idea how much the poles and xtures cost, Wittmer told Aker, You knew this going forward. Lets not go down the road of the nances. We did no t know that, your honor, Aker responded, not until the lighting plan was submitted, which was provided to the county on May 20, testimony indicated. IN CONCLUSION After Aker completed his closing remarks, Wittmer reminded everyone that Bobs Boathouse has been operating without a Temporary Certicate of Occupancy since the end of January. She continued, I dis tinctly remember us all sitting at this table and discussing each and every deadline at the conclusion of the March 21 hearing. She reminded Aker that Seery agreed then that he felt the business could comply with them. And I said to everyone that day that I was going to hold rm on those dates. When Aker started to interrupt her, Wittmer told him, Im not asking for your comment. Now its my turn to talk. When Aker asked whether she would rule on whether there was a good faith effort to bring the property into compliance, she replied, I am ruling that a penalty has occurred and a ne is in order at this time, adding that viola tions are still occurring on the property. Then Wittmer proceeded to impose the $250 ne and individual penalties. She said Aker would have the opportunity on Oct. 10 to explain any further delays regarding the installation of the lighting and the submis sion of the engineering schematics. The ultimate goal here is to achieve a Certicate of [Occupancy], she pointed out. % Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 64


During a July 25 hearing, a Code Enforcement Special Magistrate dismissed a case involving outdoor dining violations at Bobs Boathouse, saying county staff handled the matter inappropriately. Cou nty Code Enforcement Officer James S. Holderby had sought an eviden tiary hearing against Bobs Boathouse on the basis of a Nov. 20, 2013, Notice of Violation for serving food and beverages in an outdoor area of the restaurant after 10 p.m., which is illegal on weeknights under county code. However, Holderby testified that county staff mem bers had presumed the restaurant was in comp liance from late 2013 until they began receiving emails in April alleging other wise. April 23 was the first time since Dec. 16, 2013, that a Code Enforcement officer had returned to the The outdoor deck is easily visible to guests walking up to Bobs Boathouse from the parking area closest to Tamiami Trail. All photos by Rachel Hackney PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS A SPECIAL MAGISTRATE DISMISSES A CASE INVOLVING OUTDOOR DINING VIOLATIONS AT BOBS BOATHOUSE BECAUSE OF THE LONG PERIOD BETWEEN OLD AND NEW INCIDENTS This is crazy. Based upon the testimony Ive heard, Im going to dismiss this and if you choose to re-le, then go ahead and re-le, and well take up appropriate notice. Meg Wittmer Special Magistrate Sarasota County By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor


South Tamiami Trai l restaurant to investigate the situation, he testied. Based on his statements, Wittmer told Holderby, You assume they are in compliance and all of a sudden they are not. Thats where the drop-off just occurred. You just won Mr. Akers case by your testimony, she contin ued, referring to James E. Aker, the Sarasota attorney representing Bobs Boathouse. THE TIMELINE During his testimony, Holder explained that he observed the initial violation of the countys outdoor dining ordinance when he inspected Bobs Boathouse, located at 5515 S. Tamiami Trail, on Nov. 13, 2013. When he arrived at 10:05 p.m., Holderby said, he was seated on the outside deck, where a waitress told him he could order anything he liked. At the time, he continued, he saw customers being served at the outdoor bar. On Nov. 20, 2013, he continued, he issued the Notice of Violation, which gave the busi ness until Dec. 1 to comply with the county ordinance. Holderby then testied that he revisited the restaurant on Dec. 16, 2013, April 23, 2014, and July 22, 2014, when he again found violations. Bobs Boathouse manager Mariah Bogert and the businesss attorney, James E. Aker, await the start of the July 25 proceeding. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 66


Aker argued that the business had had no communication from county staff about the violations on Dec. 16, 2013, and July 22, just the one on April 23. We werent served till over a month after April 23, Aker added. Therefore, he was not prepared to defend against the alleged December and July viola tions, he told Wittmer. Assistant County Attorney Scott Bossard said that the county would stipulate that Holderby focus only on the April 23 and July 22 inci dents, with the latter serving as a follow-up inspection for the former. Holderby then described his April 23 visit to Bobs Boathouse, which began about 10:15 p.m. When the manager on duty asked him where he and a friend wanted to sit, he tes tied, he requested the outdoor seating area. The manager complied with that request, he continued. When he and his friend departed at 11:20, Holderby added, There were still people drinking at the outside bar. On July 22, he told the Special Magistrate, he arrived about 10:15 and sat on the outdoor deck once more. Not only was he served a Diet Coke and French fries, he said, but he also saw customers coming outside onto the deck with drinks. Servers continued to bring drinks to people sitting in that area, he added. Holderby said he left about 10:35 or 10:40 p.m. At Wittmers direction, Holderby explained that county code calls for weekday outdoor dining and beverage service to cease at 10 p.m. unless a customer has placed an order prior to that hour. The deadline is 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Special Magistrate Meg Wittmer waits for an answer to a question. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 67


His inspection visits, Holderby said, were on weeknights. When Aker asked Holderby whether he asked to be seated outside, knowing that that would be a violation, Holderby said, I did. Is that customary for you to knowingly put yourself in a position to create a violation? Aker asked. Mr. Aker, Holderby responded, How am I supposed to know if the ordinance is being violated if I dont test it? By observation, Mr. Holderby, Aker replied. Holderby reiterated that people were served well after 10 p.m. on the nights he visited the restaurant. At one point, Aker questioned him, How do you know they didnt put their order in before 10 oclock? If he arrived at 10:15 p.m. and left at 11 p.m. and people still were being served out side, wouldnt that constitute a violation? Holderby asked Aker. Well, I dont know, Aker said. Perhaps not. Mr. Aker, I saw people being served, handed drinks, when I left from outside, OK? You dont sit at a bar most people and sip a drink for an hour and a half, Holderby replied. Well, that is an assumption on your part, isnt it? Aker retorted. At the table during the hearing are (from left) Bobs Boathouse manager Mariah Bogert, James E. Aker, Code Enforcement Ofcer James Holderby and Assistant County Attorney Scott Bossard. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 68


Me seeing people being served a new fresh drink upon my departure is not an assump tion, no, Holderby told him. FOLLOWING THE ORDINANCE A dispute then ensued over whether Holderby should have notied Bobs Boathouse that he was making follow-up visits related to the Nov. 20, 2013, Notice of Violation. We dont serve notices on continuing cases, Holderby explained. I do not have to serve you again, sir, he added to Aker. So we dont have to get any notice of the April 23 incident? Aker asked. No, sir, Holderby told him. How are we supposed to go back and check what happened who did it, what time it happened, etc.? Aker responded. [The violation] should not have continued, Holderby said before reminding Aker of a meeting of county staff members and Aker after the Nov. 20, 2013, Notice of Violation was served. We specically went over what does and does not constitute a violation, Holderby continued. It was understood by all. I recall that meeting, Aker replied. It was back in 2013. However, he told Holderby, if violations had continued, it would have seemed appropriate for Holderby to notify Bobs Boathouse. The front entrance of Bobs Boathouse is near the rear of the property. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 69


I feel that there have been continuing viola tions, Holderby responded. I feel that Bobs knows that theyre violating the outdoor din ing ordinance and until we get in front of a magistrate and get a Finding of Fact, its not going to stop. PROCEDURAL CONCERNS Wittmer told Aker that once he received a Notice of Violation, you have time to correct it, and its assumed that you will continue to stay in compliance. The idea of a new notice every time isnt the case. Aker persisted in maintaining that the county should notify Bobs Boathouse of any inci dent in which the restaurant had been found in violation of the outdoor dining ordinance. It would be totally unfair to run this out on their theory that they could go night by night by night by night and then come in and say Wittmer interrupted him. You were notied of a violation and given time to [correct it]. If you choose to re-violate that same ordinance, it is not [county staffs] obligation to re-notify you every time you choose to re-violate. Wittmer added, It would be an incredible burden on the county to go back and re-in spect and re-notify every time somebody decided not to follow the rules after they were given notice. Aker told her, With all due respect, your honor, I disagree with your interpretation of that. BACK TO THE TIMELINE Bossard, the assistant county attorney, explained, This is your classic recurrence [of a violation]. Procedurally, theres no de ciency here in terms of when notice was required and to whom notice was supposed to be given. Aker countered that the presumption on the part of county staff of continuing violations after early December is a real stretch In response to a question from Wittmer, Holderby clarified that the Nov. 20, 2013, Notice of Violation gave the business until Dec. 1, 2013 to correct the situation. What happened after that? she asked. Why wasnt this brought to hearing [earlier]? Holderby explained that a follow-up inspec tion on Dec. 16 found the business was still in violation, but further inspections found no problems. Then in April, he said, Code Enforcement staff began receiving emails indicating violations were occurring once more, so he re-inspected the restaurant on April 23. I guess what Im struggling with is between November and April, Wittmer told him. There was basically an assumption that they were in compliance, Holderby replied. This is crazy, Wittmer said. Based upon the testimony Ive heard, Im going to dismiss this and if you choose to re-le, then go ahead and re-le, and well take up appropriate notice. She added to Holderby, You cant say [the restaurant is] in compliance and yet not fol low the appropriate paperwork and then say [it is] not in compliance over six months. Understand, your honor, Holderby replied. % Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 70


SIESTA SEEN A June 22 Siesta Key Association (SKA) query to county staff about whether Blas Caf was violating provisions of the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) nally was answered in full on July 25, after SKA President Michael Shay sought help from County Commissioner Nora Patterson, who then turned to County Administrator Tom Harmer. On June 22, Shay wrote to county Code Enforcement and Zoning Administration staff, I noticed Saturday morning [June 21] that Blas Caf is using additional space in [the] plaza/parking lot and I am curious to know if [the owner] has a TUP [Temporary Use Permit], th ough Shay added he believed TUPs were available just during certain holi day periods. Shay included with his email one photo taken outside what used to be a pizza restaurant perpendicular to Blas. It showed bar stools standing next to a counter. Did Blas have a permit for that use, he also asked. A second photo accompanying the email was taken in the parking lot, Shay added, noting that Blas owner Rami Nehme has comman deered additional parking spots for this tent. Is there a permit for this? THE SIESTA KEY ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT GETS ANSWERS TO CODE ENFORCEMENT QUESTIONS ABOUT CHANGES AT BLAS CAF; AND CONSTRUCTION OF TURTLE BEACH IMPROVEMENTS IS SET TO BEGIN LATER THIS YEAR By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor A June 21 photo shows bar seats next to a counter at Blas Caf. Photo courtesy Michael Shay The canopy and carpet were back in place on July 20 at Blas Caf. Photo courtesy Michael Shay


Shay continued, While we are on this sub ject of Blas Caf, I have always wondered HOW he is able to have an outside deck area in the parking lot, using parking spaces. Can someone explain how this is possible when parking is at such a premium in the Village. Finally, Shay included a photo of a handmade sign in front of Bonjour French Caf, which directed people to the parking lot behind the building. I know that for the last year [Siesta] Village has been the Wild Wild West, i.e., we ignore a lot of the outdoor display issues and of course some of the merchants are taking advantage of that, Shay wrote. But [this] is NOT fair to those who follow the rules and IT has gone on way too long! Shay was referring to an effort by ofcers of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) in May 2013 to educate business owners about what the SKOD does and does not allow. Some business owners complained later after a Code Enforcement ofcer told them no out door displays are allowed under the SKOD, which applies to the entire island. After work ing on a proposal over the past months, a group of business owners won support from the SKVA this spring for a proposed revision of the SKOD to permit displays under spe cic guidelines. That matter will be heard by the Sarasota County Planning Commission on Aug. 7 before it comes to the County Commission for a nal decision. On June 28, county Code Enforcement Ofcer John Lally responded to Shays email, noting he had just met with Zoning Administrator Brad Bailey regarding Shays concerns. The parking sign at Bonjour French Caf is allowable, Lally wrote in an email, but the current sign is too large and will have to be replaced ... Sarasota County Sheriffs dep uties told representatives of the restaurant they cannot use a portable sign, Lally added, and no one at the caf was aware of the size requirements for such signage. At the height of season in 2013, the band at Blas Caf played on the deck outside the restaurant. Photo by Rachel Hackney On June 21, Blas Caf had a red carpet laid out in its parking lot adjacent to Ocean Boulevard and a canopy over the space. Photo courtesy Michael Shay Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 72


Lally continued tha t Blas Caf has had out door entertainment for more than three years, which is allowable under the SKOD but has to stop at 10 p.m. The fact they have a canopy to keep the sun off does not warrant the need for a TUP, he added. Shay responded that the canopy is not over the existing outdoor deck of the restaurant, which is in a corner of the parking area. The canopy is NEXT to the outdoor deck and takes up 2 additional parking spots, he pointed out. This canopy is new and now adds additional outdoor space at the expense of parking spots. With parkin g at such a pre mium in the Village, I cant believe that this is allowed. Please review this. Lally also explained in his email that the plaza has more parking spaces in a lot behind the building next to Gilligans Island Bar and Grill. He con tinued, I will do some calculations for the square footage requirements for the bar stool area but I believe they have enough parking to cover it. The code requires one parking space per 50 square feet of patron area, he noted. On July 7, Lally sent another email to Shay, saying, The deck area and a handicap ramp were permitte d in 1994 and met all the requirements at that time. He then pointed out that Blas Caf has expanded its business into the space previ ously occupied by the pizza restaurant and had made further plans to take over the unit that an internet caf occupied for a number of months. That expansion, including the out door counter, will necessitate a new parking plan to ensure B las has enough spaces, Lally A pizza place and then The Village Gourmet previously occupied some of the space into which Blas Cafe is expanding. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 73


The type of sign Bonjour French Caf was using to alert customers to parking in the rear is not allowed under county code. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 74


pointed out. They have an architect work ing on the plan and hope to submit [it] next week. As for the carpet and canopy: Lally wrote that the red carpet had been removed, and I told them to move the canopy and band area back to where it was originally (on the west side of the deck) until their parking plan is approved. That area is going to be restriped and made into 4 motorcycle spaces. On July 20, Shay sent another email to Code Enforcement and Zoning staff, pointing out, OK, so its Sunday night at [6:30] and I get a call from a business owner in the Village that it is business as usual at the Blas Caf ... He rode his bicycle into the Vil lage, where he saw the red carpet that was moved is now back [and] the canopy that was taken down is now back. I am going to assume and justify this by saying that the parking plan has been approved and that all this is legal. Am I right? At least the A-frame sign had been removed at Bonjour French Caf, he added. After receiving no response from staff, he finally sent an email to Patterson on July 24, apologizing for not continuing to try to work through county employees to resolve the issues. Shay provided Patterson with a copy of his email chain, and he pointed out that Code Enforcement staff had not been enforcing the current outdoor display regu lations while the group of business owners was working on the revised SKOD ordinance. He continued that the total lack of enforce ment has created havoc and a serious morale issue among core business owners in [Siesta] Village that has lasted for 16 months with NO end in sight. But for some reason that lack of enforcement has migrated from outdoor dis play issues to other more critical issues here in the Village. He added, The current issue with Blas Caf revolves around zoning, alcohol and beverage laws, parking, just to name a few and the perception is that nothing is being done. ALL of the Village businesses see what is going on and unfortunately, for the few who dont have respect for the ordinances, it instills in them a sense of power. The County needs to set the proper example and enforce what is on the books. And if you are NOT going to enforce [the rules], then take them OFF the books so ALL the businesses get the advantage! He also reitera ted the SKAs opposition to the proposed SKOD revision, noting that Patterson had mentioned during an SKA meet ing this spring that she was in favor of the changes and felt the businesses would police themselves. The y have proven time and time again over the last ye ar that they cant/wont, Shay wrote. As a result of Shays communication with Patterson, County Administrator Harmer asked Tom Polk, director of Planning and Development Services, to meet with his staff including those from Code Enforcement and then talk with Shay about his concerns. That meeting took place o n July 25. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 75


After it ended Polk called Shay and sent him an email. The latter noted that staff had agreed the following items will be addressed: Code Enforcement will be monitoring the [Blas] parking lot situation to ensure the parking space/s in question will be utilized by vehicles (as intended), not the band and accessories; and Mr. Brad Bailey, Zoning Administrator, will go [on-site] next week to review the parking lot in relation to the number of spaces and the ongoing activities at that location. It is my understanding that the owners of the facility are preparing a design of the new parking plan. Although the County looks forward to receipt of this plan for review, Mr. Bailey will be looking at the current sit uation with regard to consistency with the applicable regulations. Polk added, I anticipate these actions will provide a better assessment, and moreover, monitoring of the situation. Following Polks phone conversation with him, Shay sent a thank-you email to Polk that also expressed his appreciation to county staff for the quick response in getting the [Blas Caf] parking spot put back to its orig inal conguration. Too bad this couldnt have been done sooner and with less angst. In a brief interview on July 29, Shay told me, I am very grateful that [county staff members] responded and I am grateful that they are working on [the issues]. He added that he was looking forward to learning what Bailey discovered when he vis ited the plaza where Blas Caf is located. Shay reiterated his concern about what thenSKVA Vice President Kay Kouvatsos pointed to last year after the SKVA-sponsored meet ing on the SKOD: the need for a level playing field. It is not fair to those who abide by the county code that you have a couple of rogue businesses that thumb their noses at it, he said. TURTLE BEACH More email chatter among Commissioner Patterson and county staff has focused on the plans for improvements at Turtle Beach. Construction is set to begin late this year and take about four to six months. Among them will be a new parking lot with 35 additional spaces, a new playground, a new boardwalk with a dune walkover that will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a couple more two-pole picnic shelters, a gazebo, a k ayak launch and a rain garden. In response to a question from Patterson, Parks and Recreation Department Director Carolyn Brown wrote on July 7, The project does not include reconguring the boat ramp parking lot because the necessary funding is not available. The primary focus of the current scope was to increase beach parking and provide safe beach access via sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, Brown added. What would be the appro ximate cost to Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 76


A Sarasota County conceptual plan for Turtle Beach, dated October 2008, shows new parking areas and facilities for the south Siesta beach park. Image courtesy Sarasota County


reorder the b oat trailer parking? Patterson emailed back. Also how many spots could it actually add and how many are there now? Brown asked county Project Manager Brad W. Gaubatz to respond with details. He wrote that the original concept plan pre pared for the park shows 38 trailer parking spaces. While the number could physically t, he continued, he doubted they would be user-friendly. As a frequent user of the Ken Thompson boat ramps and shell lot, he added, I dont think parallel parking works for boat trailers unless the spaces are designed for pull-through use and have a long run-up to straighten out the trailer, so drivers do not have to turn on a tight radius. Furthermore, Gaubatz wrote, drivers using half of the spaces would need to pull out onto Blind Pass Road. We have reviewed this with the Site and Development staff and have been told this is not likely to be allowed (despite the current on-street perpendicular park ing). The new diagonal layout at Blackburn Point Parks east node is a much better model. Gaubatz pointed out that if they were angled, the number of pull-through spaces that could be provided at Turtle Beach would be closer to 20. If back-to-back spaces could t in an angled layout, he noted, the number An aerial view shows the section of Turtle Beach where improvements will be undertaken. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 78


would be almost double that but people would still need to back out onto the road. Gaubatz added that engineering for the funded portion of the project is almost com plete. We will be sending it out for bids within the next couple of months once all coastal per mitting is complete. This does not include any portions of the boat trailer parking mod ications, which the [County Commission] removed from the funded project. The con struction budget for funded portions is about $530,000. To answer your question on cost: assuming the new boat trailer parking lot is pervious concrete so no new storm water ponds are required (we would need to verify this assumption), the total cost of the lot for engineering, project management and construction may be up to $575,000. He wrote that some contingency money remains for design work, [if] you would like us to give you a more educated estimate, Turtle Beach is popular with people who prefer its relatively quiet atmosphere compared to all the activity on Siesta Public Beach. Photo by Rachel Hackney Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 79


that could be accommodated within this contingency. Patterson responded with thanks. This has never been presented to the [County Commission] in the way that you just did. While I assume that you are correct I cer tainly do not want to spend a half a million dollars to reduce the boat trailer parking that is presently there. The thought had always been to increase the capacity. If that is not possible then I am happy to leave well enough alone. On the other hand the present con dition may actually be less in capacity than assumed given your description. She add ed, In any case I was not intending to push for a part of the project that was not included in the estimate and certainly not if nothing positive [can be] accomplished. NETWORKING LUNCHEON The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce will hold a Networking Luncheon at Captain Curts Crab & Oyster Bar on Friday, Aug. 1, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $12 per per son, and checks are payable to the Chamber. The business is located at 1200 Old Stickney Point Road. The Chamber asks that those planning to attend the event RSVP by calling 349-3800 or by emailing info@ sie % AUGUST 7, 2014 4:30 PM St. Boniface Church 5615 Midnight Pass Road, Room F PUBLIC IS ALWAYS WELCOME WITH QUESTIONS FOR OUR GUEST The Electoral Process: How It Works In Sarasota Please join us as we welcome guest speaker Kathy D ent Sarasota County S upervisor of Elections MONTHLY MEETING Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 80


The Sarasota Ci ty Commission has approved the process to ll the unexpired terms created by the resignations of City Commissioners Paul Caragiulo (District 2) and Shannon Snyder (District 3) to run for seats on the Sarasota County Commission, the city has announced. The resignations become effective Nov. 18, the date new county commissioners will take office as required by state statute, a news release points out. Candidates residing in Districts 2 and 3 who seek appointment to the seats may submit an application the City Commission approved and the questionnaire, along with the Oath of Candidate and State Financial Disclosure Form, no earlier than noon on Tuesday, Sept. 2, and no later than noon on Friday, Sept. 12, the release says. Applicants may also submit other written materials or information, with a limit of 25 pages, the release notes. Completed applications and other docu ments are to be sub mitted in person to the Ofce of th e City Auditor and Clerk, located in Room 110 of City Hall at 1565 First St. in Sarasota. The City Commi ssion will consider the appli cations of qualied individuals and will then hold a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 19, to make appointments to ll the vacant seats, the release continues. The unexpired terms end on May 15, 2015. The forms, including the application ques tionnaire the Oath of Candidate and Financial Disclosure Form as well as the timeline and city voting district map are available online or from the Ofce of the City Auditor and Clerk, the release adds. Any interested per son should schedule an appointment with the Ofce of the City Auditor and Clerk to receive a complete City Commission Applicant Information Packet. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini a t 954-4160. The City Commission has approved the process through which it will ll the vacancies created by the County Commission candidacies of City Commissioners Paul Caragiulo and Shannon Snyder. Photo by Norman Schimmel APPLICATION PROCESS EXPLAINED FOR CITY COMMISSION VACANCIES NEWS BRIEFS


Sarasota County Parks and Recreation staff members once again are seeking community comments on a proposal to allow the rental and use of stand-up paddleboards at coun ty-owned beaches, the county has announced. Residents and visitors are encouraged to attend one of two open house-style meetings to ask county staff questions and provide thoughts on what they would like to see at county beaches, a news release says. The meetings will be on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at St. Boniface Episcopal Church, located at 5615 Midnight Pass Road in Sarasota; and Tuesday, Aug. 12, at Nokomis Community Center, located at 234 E. Nippino Trail, Nokomis. Both meetings will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m., the release says. Stand -up paddleboarding (SUP), an off shoot of surng, is a sport that originated in Hawaii, the release explains. It enables surf ers to paddle while either standing or sitting and using the paddleboard like a kayak, the release adds. Users range from the casual recreational participant to serious athletic competitors, it notes. The proposal to offer stand-up paddleboard rentals at county beaches was initiated by local vendors who are experiencing an increased demand for them, said Tricia Wisner, busi ness development coordinator for Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, in the release. Currently, we only allow swimming-related activities at the beaches, so we want to know COUNTY SEEKING PUBLIC COMMENTS ABOUT PADDLEBOARD RENTALS County staff will hold two public meetings in August to obtain comments on a proposal for stand-up paddleboard rentals at county-owned beaches. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 82


what the community thinks about the idea of expanding recreation opportunities. After the Sarasota County Commission heard a proposal on March 5 that involved pad dleboard rentals at Siesta Public Beach, it directed staff to bring back a report on public safety, regulation and the feasibility of offer ing stand-up paddleboard rentals through a third-party vendor on Siesta Key. During the meeting, commissioners talked about reduc ing the size of the public swim zone to create a corridor where watercraft could be launched and maneuvered out into the Gulf of Mexico beyond the swim zone, the release points out. Sarasota County has 35 miles of coastline with only six miles of county-owned beaches that are patrolled by lifeguards, the release adds. Right now anyone can launch a kayak or stand-up paddleboard in hundreds of places around Sarasota County, said Wisner in the release. We just want to know what people think about reducing a small portion of desig nated swim zones for this use. For more information, visit or con tact the Sarasota County Contact Center at 861-5000. Goodwill Mana sota is partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County (BGCSC) for a donation drive through Aug. 2 to benet Great Futures Academy, a program that works to prevent summer learning loss, the nonprot has announced. A Goodwill Manasota truck will be in the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club parking lot at 3100 Fruitville Road from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday to accept clothing, shoes, books and small household items, a news release says. Goodwill Manasota will make a cash contri bution to BGCSC for every pound of donations received, it adds. We are proud to partner with Goodwill Manasota, where the proceeds from this col laborative donation drive will greatly help our Great Futures Academy students stay on track academically during the summer break, said Bill Sadlo, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. Improving the lives of our kids and their f amilies is strategically benecial to the entire Sarasota Community. The Great Future s Academy program has enrolled 60 children, up to the third-grade level, the release explains. The students are taught in a controlled educational environ ment every morning for three hours during the summer months, it continues. The pro gram also employs social workers to assist parents of the children in furthering their education as well, along with helping those adults enhance their job and parenting skills, the release points out. Other partners for the donation drive are the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, United Way Suncoast, the Rotary Club of Sarasota and CTQ 106.5. Education is a central focus for Goodwill, said Bob Rosinsky, president & CEO of Goodwill Manasota, in the release. In fact, Goodwill invested 15,000 hours into educa tion for team members and partners last year because we know its t hat important. DONATION DRIVE PLANNED TO PREVENT SUMMER LEARNING LOSS Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 83


SRQVolunteen stud ents raised $310 and col lected 157 pounds of food for All Faiths Food Bank at the spaghetti dinner they held Friday, July 25, at Bayside Community Church in Sarasota, Community Youth Development has announced. Seventy-ve people attended the event, which featured food and drinks donated by Whole Foods Market and baked goods provided by SRQVolunteen members and volunteers, a news release notes. The SRQVolunteen class chose addressing hunger in Sarasota for its community service project. As part of their research on the issue, students volunteered at All Faiths Food Bank, where they sorted produce and learned more about the summer meals program for Sarasota County students, the release continues. We are so proud to have been selected by the SRQVolunteen students, s aid All Faiths CEO Sandra F rank in the release. Their hard work and generosity not only helps us feed families, but they get to experience how wonderful it feels to make a difference in our community. Suriya Khong, CYDs coordinator for volun teer programs, added in the release, Hunger is a big problem in our community. Sometimes people get overwhelmed by a problem so big, but the kids got excited about doing some thing to help. The success of their project will encourage them to tackle problems in the community in the future. SRQVolunteen is a si x-session training pro gram during which students create and design their own service learning project in partnership with a community organization, the release explains. By the programs com pletion, each participant will have earned 20 hours of community service and developed leadership, problem-solving and group work ing skills, the release notes. YOUTH GROUP MARKS SUCCESS IN FUNDRAISER FOR FOOD BANK A community youth group raised funds and collected food for All Faiths Food Bank during a July 25 event. Image from the All Faiths Food Bank website Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 84


NEW COLLEGE OF FLORIDA NAMED TO FORBES BEST VALUE LIST New College of Florida has been ranked high in a number of lists this year. Photo courtesy New College New College of Florida ranked No. 12 in Forbes magazines list of the countrys Best Value Colleges for 2014, the college has announced. The ranking puts New College in good com pany among tough competition, a news release points out. The nations military ser vice academies (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine), which charge no tuition, occupy the rst ve positions in the rankings, the release notes. New Colleges fellow state institutions the University of Florida (No. 9) and Florida State University (No. 13) also made the list. Forbes joins several other publications and college guides that have recognized New Colleges value in the past year, the release continues. The Princeton Review and USA Today ranked New College the No. 2 Best Value Public College in America, the release points out. U.S. News and World Report ranked New College the No. 5 public liberal arts college in the United States. The Fiske Guide to Colleges named New College one of 44 Best Buy institutions in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, the release notes, while Washington Monthly named New College the No. 1 public liberal arts college in the United States and No. 8 among all liberal arts colleges. The Forbes rankings focus on colleges out comes, including post-graduate success, academic success, graduation rate, stu dent satisfaction and student loan debt, the release says. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 85


On July 29, Crime Sto ppers of Sarasota County honored the members of the Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce Fugitive Apprehension Unit for their hard work and dedication to catch wanted criminals in our community, the ofce announced. Over the past year, Crime Stoppers received more than 560 fugitive-related tips from the public, and the Fugitive Apprehension Unit elded the majority of them, a news release notes. The Unit consists of eight people, including a sergeant, deputies and civilian technicians who spend a signicant amount of time verifying whether the person reported is actually wanted, and conrming addresses and other pertinent information, the release points out. The resulting arrests amounted to more than $34,000 in rewards approved by the Crime Stoppers board, it adds. Crime Stoppers of Sarasota is a 501(c)(3) organization that relies on fundraising and private donations for support, the release adds. No tax dollars are used for the program. Visit for more information. CRIME STOPPERS HONORS FUGITIVE APPREHENSION UNIT (From left) Sheriff Tom Knight, Sara Doster, Lucy Nicandri, Sgt. Bob Kiefer, Deputy Tony Egoville, Deputy David Doyle, Richard Kagy, Howard Phipps, Detective Dan Valentino and Tom Roadley. Contributed photo With tui tion of less than $6,800 a year, about 60 percent of New College students have no debt at graduation, and the average debt of $18,000 is among the lowest in the country, the release adds. New Colleges Class of 2014 included a Truman Scholar, two Frost Scholars, two Goldwater Scholars and five Fulbright Scholarship winners. To view the Forbes list, visit the website Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 86


Twenty-ve co mmunity leaders from across the region recently completed the 2014 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has announced. The members of the group nished their nal training session and celebrated graduation from the three-month leadership-develop ment program in June, a news release says. The aspiring and veteran leaders were guided through seven sessions of compre hensive leadership training by faculty from the University of Georgias nationally recog nized J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the release adds. The diverse group of participants was selected earlier this year from a large pool of applicants, the release notes. The Leadership Institute was developed and is funded by Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Engaged leadership is the foundation of com munity, said Teri A. Hansen, president and CEO of the Foundation, in the release. Our graduates will take their new leadership skills and make our communities better places to live and work. The graduates of the 2014 Leadership Institute are as follows: Claudia Cardillo, former Vice President, Johnson & Johnson; Christina de Guia, psychiatrist; Tomas Dinverno, principal of Tuttle Elementary School in Sarasota; Elizabeth Fisher, president and CEO of Selah Freedom; Kristen Fisher, preschool direc tor at Englewood United Methodist Church; Leslie Gnaegy, brand marketing manager for 25 GRADUATE FROM GULF COAST LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE Graduates of the 2014 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute mark completion of the program. Contributed photo Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 87


the Observer Media Group; Douglas Grosso, broker associate at Premier Sothebys International Realty; Gregory Hall, president of Hall Architects; Dean Harloff, owner of Dean R. Harloff CPA/PA; Michael Harshman, attorney with Betras, Kopp & Harshman; Dave Herbert, chief engineer with Sun Hydraulics; Austin Jambor, nancial advisor with Morgan Stanley; Perry Korszen, nan cial advisor with Raymond James; Christine Lange, special assistant to the president for media and community relations at the Ringling College of Art and Design; Nicole Lee, individual gifts manager for the Sarasota Orchestra; Lisl Liang, president and CEO of SRQ Media Group; Jeff Maultsby, director of business an d economic development for Sarasota County; A nand Pallegar, founder and C EO of atLarge Inc.; Stacy Prouty, chief operating ofcer of the Institute for the Ages; Jamie Ruetz, client manager/sales manager for Silexx Financial Systems; Jennifer Rust, vice president/relationship manager for PNC Wealth Management; Mimi Steger, owner/pro gram director of North Port Taekwondo; Tony Stopperan, special projects assistant to the president at the Ringling College of Art and Design; Sarah Wertheimer, associate execu tive director of Embracing Our Differences; and Michael Williams, owner of ClikWiz. This was the seventh class of the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute, the release points out. Through this program and its prede cessor, the North Port Leadership Institute, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has trained 225 community leaders since 2006, the release adds. % The playground at Bayfront Park, located adjacent to the Steigerwaldt-Jockey Childrens Fountain, is open to the public once again, the City of Sarasota has announced. The playground was closed in March for public safety reasons after a regular inspection revealed corrosion on the equipment, a news release notes. Because the equipment is 15 years old, the repairs required specialty parts to be manufactured and installed, the release adds. Photo by Norman Schimmel BAYFRONT PARK PLAYGROUND REOPENS Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 88


The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce is seek ing the publics help in locating three suspects who allegedly broke into a north Sarasota home late on the night of July 26 and robbed the occupants, the ofce has reported. Deputies responded to a report of a home invasion robbery at 11:10 p.m. on July 26 in the 2400 block of Booker Avenue, a news release says. Two victims were inside when the suspects entered through the rear door, the release notes. They were Tannis T. Phillips, 62, and Demetria L. Dunbar, 41, the release adds. One suspect, reportedly armed with a pis tol, ordered the male victim to the oor, the release continues. The suspects then allegedly robbed Phillips and Dunbar. No injuries were reported. The suspects ed in an older model charcoal gray Lexus SUV, which last was seen headed eastbound on 25th Street toward Tuttle Avenue, the release adds. Suspects entered through the rear door of the home at the 2400 block of Booker Avenue in north Sarasota. Image courtesy of SUSPECTS SOUGHT IN HOME INVASION ROBBERY IN SARASOTA CRIME BLOTTER


Th e victims described the suspects as follows: A black male with a slight build; he was wearing a clown mask and black gloves with a yellow lining. A heavyset black male about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a low fade haircut. He allegedly was armed with a silver semi-au tomatic pistol. A black female of medium build who was about 5 feet 6 inches tall. She was wearing blue slacks, a black sweater, tennis shoes and a white shirt over her head. Detectives are investigating the incident, the release points out. Anyone with infor mation is encouraged to call the Criminal Investigations Section at 861-4900, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 366-TIPS (8477) or going online at An aerial view shows the 2400 block of Booker Avenue in north Sarasota. Image from Google Maps The Sarasota County Sheriffs Ofce is con tinuing to investigate the July 26 shooting death of 19-year-old Justin J. Ates during an incident in the 4800 block of Baccus Avenue in Sarasota, the ofce has reported. Upon arrival at the residence where the shoot ing occurred about 4 a.m., deputies found Ates lying in the driveway, a news release says. He suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest, it adds. Anyone with information about the inci dent is encouraged to call the Criminal Investigations Section at 861-4260, leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 366-TIPS (8477) or going online at % INVESTIGATION CONTINUING IN SHOOTING OF 19-YEAR-OLD Simply put, Crime Stoppers relies upon the cooperation between the police, the media and the community to provide a flow of information about crime and criminals. Call: (941) 366-TIPS (8477) Click: Text: Text TIP109 plus your message to CRIMES (274637) All submitted tips are secure and anonymous Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 90


EDITORIAL OPINION ELECT KEN MARSH AND SCHOOL BOARD INCUMBENTS EDITORIAL B y any rational mea sure, the Sarasota County School District is a source of pride for the people of Sarasota County. It consistently ranks among the top districts in the state in testing scores. The superintendent, Lori White, is admired and well liked by school employ ees and almost everybody in the county. Her leadership has been a dramatic improvement over what we have seen in some previous administrations. And the School Board has provided thoughtful, prudent governance. There was a temporary disruption in that sea of equanimity when board member Carol Todd suddenly announced her resignation a few months ago. However, with her seat being one of three up for election in August, it was not viewed as an issue of real importance. The board even asked Go v. Rick Scott not to appoi nt a successor for Todd, so the electoral process of replacing her could be as impartial as possible. Sadly, the machinations of a local Republican Party bigwig proved the undoing of that rea sonable course anticipated by the School Board. Christian Ziegler, a former executive director of the Sarasota County Republican Party, wanted a job for his young wife, Bridget and something like serving on the School Board would be the perfect complement to his own political aspirations. After apparently calling in some political IOUs, he and his allies prevailed upon the governor to appoint his wife to ll out Todds unexpired term. If Bridget Ziegler was an experienced educa tor or even a parent of school-age children, that mi ght have been reasonable. But her


child is barely a toddler, an d Bridget works as an insurance agent. Her experience in educa tion is limited to her own years as a student. Contrast that with the record of another can didate, Ken Marsh. He has spent the bulk of his career in public education. For two decades, he helped guide the School Board with longterm planning, as well as quality assurance and teacher evaluations. Recently retired from the school system, he saw Todds resig nation as an opportunity to continue serving the Sarasota County schools. Unfortunately, he has no connections in the Republican crony network, no political IOUs to call in. He only has decades of experience that make him ideal for service on the School Board. Perhaps that is why the governor ignored him and appointed the inexperienced wife of a political hack to the post. We urge voters to elect Ken Marsh to the District 1 School Board seat formerly represented so capably by Carol Todd. His experience, his acumen and his humanity and concern for all students will be an asset for the school district in the years to come, especially with the pending retirement of Lori White in 2017. Far more troubling than the machinations that propelled a barely qualified Bridget Ziegler onto the School Board is an attempt by Tea Part y extrem ists to seize control of that board. Although the Tea Party which has been shown to be little more than a mod ern-day incarnation of the John Birch Society, with the same rac ist, xenophobic and anti-government dogma has faded from political prominence in recent years, there remain pockets of zeal ots who spout their exclusionist propaganda. Regrettably, some are in Sarasota County. Randy McLendon, the ringleader of the Sarasota County Tea Party faction, is one of the candidates for the School Board, seeking to unseat incumbent Jane Goodwin, the cur rent chairwoman of the board. He is joined by Helen Wolff, who is opposing incumbent Shirley Brown. He also had recruited another Tea Party candidate to run for Todds seat, but Geoffrey Fisher apparently had more import ant obligations during the week set aside for candidates to le with the Supervisor of Elections (SOE). Fisher straggled into the SOE office one minute after the deadline for filing, so his candidacy was denied and McLendon was deprived of having three extremist candidates running for the three open seats. The citizens of Sarasota County will not be served by having their excellent public school system become the province of misguided radical political beliefs. Tea Party extrem ists deal only in bizarre conspiracy theories, and one of those is that the Common Core education standards are somehow a social ist plot. Never mind that the local board has to follow the req uire ments of the state in this matter, or that no less a Republican dignitary than former Florida G ov. Jeb Bush is a major proponent of the Co mmon Core Ken Marshs experience, his acumen and his humanity and concern for all students will be an asset for the school district in the years to come, especially with the pending retirement of Lori White in 2017. Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 92


curriculum. It i s all about perpetuating their paranoid narrative that the country is on the brink of a socialist takeover and the enslave ment of the populace. The School Board is no place for such wildeyed fringe views. Voters should reelect Jane Goodwin to her District 5 seat, and reelect Shirley Brown to her District 4 seat. % EDITORIAL EDITORIAL The re are ve elected seats on the Sarasota Memorial Hospital board that are open this year, but all ve Republican incumbents Robert Strasser, Darryl Henry, Richard Merritt, Gregory Carter and Joseph DeVirgilio are running for reelection. Surprisingly, another Republican is oppos ing each of them. Such unusual internecine tension was made even more sinister when one of those Republican challengers Jack Brill claimed that it was part of a plot by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) to have SMH become a for-profit hospital so HCA could acquire it (HCA owns Doctors Hospital in Sarasota). Brill, of course, is well known for having his daughter le for a sham write-in candidacy to keep Democrats and unafliated voters from participating in the Jon Thaxton-Kathy Dent primary for Supervisor of Elections in 2012. Brill claims he was approached by a represen tative of HCA to enlist his participation in the plan to assume a majority of the SMH board, and the hospitals eventual privatization, but that he refused to be part of it. His revelation sparked a vigorous denial by HCA representatives that they had any such intentions. It also led three of the other Republican challengers to claim they would REELECT INCUMBENTS TO THE SARASOTA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL BOARD sign ple dges to maintain SMH as a pub lic institution. The denial by HCA is of little consequence, given that this is the same organization once headed by Rick Scott, which paid a record $2 billion penalty to the federal government to settle all criminal and civil charges arising out of a massive fraud investigation in the 1990s. The protestations, therefore, have too much of a Nixonian I am not a crook mien to resolve any public apprehension about the intentions, and the HCA refutation of the rumor should not be trusted as credible. The so-called pledges made by the other chal lengers also mean little. Anyone can make a pledge and just as easily break that pledge once given the opportunity to do so. The most important fact is that the five incumbent board members all voted in 2013 to keep SMH a public hospital. They demon strated their commitment to the future of a public hospital by their actions, not their promises. None of the challengers can make that same claim, and voters would be wise not to give them the chance to do otherwise. We urge voters to reelect the ve incum bents Robert Strasser, Darryl Henry, Richard Merritt, Gregory Carter and Joseph DeVirgilio to the Sarasota Memor ial Hospital board on Aug. 26. % Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 93


YOUR LIFESTYLE GUIDE TO THE SUNCOAST 01+ AUGUST Friends of Selby Library present Books, Baubles & Bling Sale Aug. 1-2, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Selby Public Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota. Event will fea ture books including rare and collectible editions jewelry, bric-a-brac, accessories, handbags, art, antiques and curios. Donations welcome. Information: 861-1140. 01+ AUGUST Allyn Gallup Gallery presents Drawn From Nature Aug. 1 through Oct. 25; times vary. 1288 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Free. Show features works by noted landscape artists. Information: 366-2454 or 01+ AUGUST 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 01+ AUGUST 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 01+ AUGUST 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 01+ AUGUST Venice Theatre presents Cabaret Through Aug. 10; times vary. 140 W. Tampa Ave., Venice. Tickets: $13 to $25. Information: 488-1115 or 01+ AUGUST 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 ALL THE REST ... Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 94


The best of upcoming EVENTS Submit Calendar Events To 01+ AUGUST Florida Studio Theatre presents Taking Shakespeare Through Aug. 17; times vary. Gompertz Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $32 to $36. This is the plays U.S. premiere. Information: 366-9000 or 01+ AUGUST 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 01+ AUGUST 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 01+ AUGUST 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 02+ AUGUST Bookstore1Sarasota presents Breakfast Serial Book Club Aug. 2 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. 02+ AUGUST Fuzin Dance Artists presents In the Round Interactive Dance Performance Aug. 2-3; times vary. The Black Box Theater, Hamilton Center New College of Florida, Gen. Spaatz Blvd., Sarasota. Tickets: $20; for students, $10. Limited seating. Information: or 345-5755. 05+ AUGUST FST presents Somewhere Over the Rose: The Songs and Stories of Judy Garland and Bette Midler Aug. 5-31; times vary. Court Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. Tickets: $32. Information: or 366-9000. 07 AUGUST Historic Spanish Point presents Lisa Ridings and Vertigo in concert Aug. 7, 7-10 p.m. 337 N. Tamiami Trail, Osprey. Tickets: $5 at the door. Audience members should bring lawn chairs or blankets. Food and drinks available for purchase. Informa tion: 966-5214 or 07+ AUGUST Players Theatre presents Talking With Aug. 7-17; times vary. 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $18. Jane Martins series of monologues won an American Theatre Critics Association Award. Information: 3652494 or Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 95


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. A ROUSING GOOD TIME AT FRIDAYFEST SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS SCHIMMEL SIGHTINGS


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