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DIVERSIONS Margaret Barbieri choreographs the perfect curriculum. INSIDE
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A new rainforest garden will bring educational fun to Selby Gardens. PAGE 11A
Florida Wine and Balloon Festival descends on the area.
new towers by Roger Drouin | City Editor
Developer plans condo and hotel Preliminary plans outline 144 luxury condos and a 275-room hotel on a 2.9-acre vacant parcel.
+ Philanthropic queen to retire Sarasota resident Dr. Dede Howard was crowned Miss Florida Classic March 4, at the Miss U.S. of America Pageant. Howard has competed in pageants for the past 35 years and says the national competition in August will be her last. The philanthropist has donated time and money to dozens of charities throughout the years. She is the founder of House of Hope for Runways and Teddy Bear days for terminally ill children.
The developer of the 17-story Grande Sarasotan, which was never built, has submitted new plans to the city for a condo-and-hotel development on the 2.9-acre parcel downtown. The land at the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue has remained vacant since 2004 after two proposed condo projects never materialized. West Palm Beach-based Kolter Group purchased the land for $40 million in 2005. In 2007, The Kolter Group backed off plans to build its Grande Sarasotan, citing low demand for condominiums at the time. Kolter’s new project will feature “contemporary, artistic” architecture — a shift from the towering Mediterranean-revival, classic style of the proposed Grande Sarasotan, said Bob Vail, head of Kolter’s urban development division. Preliminary plans for the new development call for a two-tower project that will become one of the city’s most visible at one of most prominent parcels of downtown land. One tower will house 144 condo units — ranging from $700,000 to $1 million in price, said Vail. The other will be a 275-room hotel. According to Vail, each unit will face south and have direct bay views. Condo residents will be able to order room service from the hotel. Several national hoteliers are interested in operating the hotel, but Vail said the development firm is in advanced talks with the Westin Hotels & Resorts branch of Starwood Hotels. As Florida’s luxury condo market shows glimpses of a revival, and condo inventory shrinks in downtown Sarasota, Vail said, Kolter believes the time is ripe for a renewed effort to develop the vacant land. “We feel like the market is certainly recovering,” Vail said. “We think areas such as Sarasota and Naples and downtown West Palm and Delray Beach on the east coast are going to be the areas
Garrett Amadon, general manager; David Jackson, owner; Molly Jackson, owner; and Tonya Getzen Gowan, marketing and events man-
+ New Balance celebrates 10 years More than 400 friends, family and customers congratulated Molly and David Jackson and team Monday, March 18, at the New Balance Sarasota 10th year anniversary celebration, held at the White Buffalo Saloon. Guests donated to benefit Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Inc. and Susan G. Komen Run for the Cure. The Jacksons thanked their New Balance team of nearly 30 employees, providing fun facts of its 10 years of success and community support with nearly a dozen New Balance corporate executives from Boston in attendance.
Courtesy Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates, Inc. architects
Above: A preliminary rendering shows the proposed development at the corner of Gulfstream Avenue and U.S. 41. The 144-unit condo tower is on the left, and the 275-room hotel is on the right. Left: The project would stand south of the RitzCarlton, Sarasota.
SEE HOTEL / PAGE 2A
by Alex Mahadevan | News Editor
Siesta Key deputies stay alert for youth influx Sarasota County Sheriff’s Officer Sgt. Scott Osborne sits on an all-terrain vehicle and surveys the crowd of hundreds gathered at Siesta Key beach on St. Patrick’s Day. Osborne and fellow deputies Jason Strom and Chris McGregor are permanent island fixtures — veterans with more than 30 years of combined service on Siesta Key. But, through the end of March, at least four additional full-time deputies will serve the island, using ATVs, horses and bicycles to keep Siesta peaceful during spring break. Cool weather and rain have shrunk the influx of college students who
Cool weather has pared crowds of students spending spring break on the island, but law enforcement remains bolstered. usually flock to Siesta beaches and bars. “The weather sucks,” said Sun Ride Pedi Cab owner Glen Cappetta, whose firm shuttles people around the island on bicycle rickshaws. Cappetta estimates ridership is down 30% compared to last year’s numbers during spring break. Roughly 141,050 people have visited Siesta beach from March 1 through March 19 this year. The number of beachgoers has de-
creased 45% from 260,100 in the same timeframe last year. “We’ve had more staff scheduled than needed by far,” said Big Olaf Creamery of Siesta Key Manager Nathan Groff. Colleges in Indiana and Ohio staggered their spring breaks and thinned the volume of
SEE BEACHES / PAGE 2A
INDEX Briefs.................... 4A Classifieds............9B
Cops Corner........15A Crossword.............8B
Opinion................. 8A Real Estate...........4B
Vol. 9, No. 20 | Four sections YourObserver.com
BEACHES / FROM PAGE 1A those tourists, Groff said. The weather is a major factor in how thick a crowd will be on Siesta, and the overcast St. Patrick’s Day offered a respite to deputies working on the beach. But, Osborne, Strom and McGregor remained alert. Just after 2 p.m., an obviously intoxicated man, estimated to be in his 20s, pushed through a group of beachgoers while blasting music from a PA system. The beachgoers shouted for help, and Osborne rumbled on his ATV toward the man. Osborne calmly asked the man with whom he came to the beach with, and escorted him away from the public. The man’s parents spotted him, and the situation ended. On the other end of the beach, Strom and McGregor encountered an underage drinker and gave her two options: face a court date or pay a fine. During spring break, deputies have administrative orders that violators can sign to avoid going to court for underage drinking, possession of false identification, tobacco possession by a minor or littering. That prevents clogged local courts and jails and allows vacationing students to avoid another trip to the county for court, Osborne said. Osborne declined to give specific numbers of units involved in the spring-break operation, which includes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. On March 17, two mounted deputies patrolled the public parking lot, where six sheriff’s vehicles were parked, while Osborne, Strom and McGregor canvassed the beach seeking the most common viola-
THURSDAY, March 21, 2013
tion: underage drinking. Deputies nabbed about 20 in the first week of spring break, including a 14-year-old boy. Siesta has come back as a choice destination for college students on vacation, Osborne said. “Each of the last three years has been bigger than the last,” Osborne said March 14, while sitting at the Sarasota County Parks and Recreation office next to the pavilion. “I think that’s because of word-of-mouth and the No. 1 beach ranking.” He also cited the struggling economy, which makes bringing friends to stay with family and Sarasota more attractive than going to Daytona Beach or Panama City. Osborne thumbed through false identification cards confiscated during the operation. He said they are more sophisticated this year, possibly because they can be purchased on the Internet. One of the confiscated IDs, which a girl bought for $400, had a working scanner strip. Deputies must rely more on their interview techniques to catch violators. One such tactic is to ask a suspect the year they graduated. “They always know the date of birth but never what their graduation (year) would be,” Osborne said. Deputy Jason Mruczek, in his first year on Siesta, patrolled the bars in the Village during a pub crawl. The mounted patrol was on site for crowd control. Despite the poor weather, the Village was filled with college students. “The nightlife in the Village has increased dramatically,” Osborne said. “Most of the problems at night move to the Village.”
HOTEL / FROM PAGE 1A
meeting. Most of the units in the condominium tower will be about 600 square feet smaller than the units proposed in the Grande Sarasotan, which were slated to sell for $1 million to $4 million a unit. “We are not going for the large units with (as high of prices at the Grande),” Vail said. To help bring unit costs down, early plans call for “more efficient living spaces” with less formal space, Vail said. The developers hope the project is attractive to some prospective buyers who might only be able to spend part of the year in Sarasota and, as a result, might not be willing to spend $1 million-plus on a unit. Kolter has already donated a slice of land at the corner of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream to the city to set aside space for the proposed construction of a multi-lane roundabout at the busy corner. Vail said the developers believe a roundabout will make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross from the bayfront to downtown. “That is not a pedestrianfriendly stretch of U.S. 41,” Vail said. “We are big fans of the roundabout.” The company’s market analysis showed a need for luxury hotel rooms in downtown Sarasota. The proposed hotel could share some of the market demand being directed to the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. During busier peak tourism months or when the Ritz-Carlton is holding an event, the new hotel would fill a need for extra rooms, Vail said. “It will both support the Ritz and compete with the Ritz,” Vail said.
that will lead the market back.” Vail said the goal is to break ground in a year if the project secures city approval. On March 15, Kolter broke ground on a $30 million project with 84 condos and 11 two-story townhomes on St. Petersburg’s Snell Isle. In what Vail sees as an indication of the condo market beginning to rebound, Kolter has also seen a nearly 50% hike over the past year in condo sales at its Two City Plaza, in downtown West Palm Beach. City planning staff will soon consider the newest version of the downtown Sarasota project. It would not go to the planning board or City Commission for approval. The Gulfstream Avenue property is zoned Downtown Bayfront, with a
Vacant since 2004 A Holiday Inn and a Denny’s restaurant once stood at the corner of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue. The Holiday Inn was demolished in 2004, and the Denny’s building was converted to an office building. In 2004, Fort Lauderdale developer Richard Zipes proposed the 144-condounit Metropolitan on Sarasota Bay project, but it was never built. In March 2005, The Kolter Group purchased the 2.9-acre parcel for $40 million from Zipes. Two years later, The Kolter Group backed off plans to build its Grande Sarasotan development.
N RINGLING JOHUSEWAY CA
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maximum building height of 18 stories. Plans submitted Feb. 27 are preliminary, and many details still have to be worked out. “This is a complex project,” said Gretchen Schneider, general manager of planning and development with the city. City planners have seen preliminary façade renderings, and they want Kolter to come back with improved design plans for the front of the project facing U.S. 41. “We stressed to them we want them to try to come up with a ‘wow’ feature for that corner,” Schneider said. “It is a visible, key intersection.” Vail said the development firm would be talking to city planners about possible façade elements. Vail also said Kolter is considering an arts theme for the project. At a Development Review Committee meeting Wednesday, March 20, city planners also asked the developer to hold a voluntary community workshop to present plans to residents living within 500 feet of the project. Vail said the company was comfortable holding such a
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THURSDAY, march 21, 2013
main street landmarks
by Roger Drouin | City Editor
Condo tower to replace Main Street businesses Sports Page seeks a new downtown home while the Living Walls owner will retire. The Sports Page Bar & Grille is one of two Main Street landmarks that will be demolished next month to make way for The Jewel, a 17-story luxury condo tower. The Sports Page has become lower Main’s go-to-football-game hangout for locals and vacationers alike over the years. “Everyone is asking, ‘Are you opening somewhere else?’” said Sports Page co-owner Kenny Barr. That’s the plan, Barr said. Barr and co-owner Bob Richards are seeking a new home downtown — ideally a space west of Orange Avenue either on or one block from Main Street. They’re currently in talks with property owners. They want to stay downtown: Locals from nearby condos often come for lunch or call in to place a delivery order from the liquor store. The Sports Page, at 1319 Main St., and neighboring business Living Walls Furniture & Design, 1311 Main St., will both close next month. The businesses sold their buildings to developer Tom Mannausa, who plans to break ground on The Jewel in the fall. Alison Levin Bishop, president of Living Walls, sold the building for $1.4 million in May. The Sports Page sold its building for $1.2 million in July. Bishop said she plans to retire and will not re-open Living Walls. The store has been on Main Street for 28 years. Once constructed, The Jewel will feature five new commercial spaces, including the new office for Mannausa’s development firm. Mannausa declined to name the other tenants but said the potential businesses included an art studio and gallery, a jeweler and a day spa. According to Mannausa, Café Epicure, will stay put, but its façade may change to blend it in with The Jewel’s design. Ownership of the café building will not change.
Photos by Roger Drouin
In 1981, Allison Levin Bishop joined the family furniture store that her parents, Ruth and Basil Levin, founded in 1970. The store was originally located on St. Armands Circle; it moved downtown in 1985. As a downtown retailer, in 1986, Bishop was involved with the city’s first downtown master plan process. She was also one of merchants who lobbied for the Palm Avenue public garage built in 2011. “As Sarasota grew and changed, we became a part of the redevelopment effort in the 1980s,” said Bishop. Main Street has changed drastically; it was a one-way street in the early 1980s. “It has become a tourist destination,” Bishop said, “but it wasn’t when it started.” Running Living Walls has been exciting, but, according to Bishop, it’s required long hours and hard work. “It has been very exciting, but it’s time to breathe,” said Bishop. Bishop has supported Mannausa’s development since she first heard about it because it made the best use of the prime
In 1995, Kenny Barr and his mother, Edith Barr Dunn, closed Shenkel’s Restaurant on Longboat Key. Barr and Bob Richards decided to open a bar together. At the time, the men were sitting in the Sports Page talking about what possible bars they could purchase, when then co-owner Bob Tominelli popped the question. “Bobby said, ‘You guys are looking for a restaurant. How about this one?’” Barr said. Barr and Richards purchased Sports Page, which had been open for five-anda-half years. In 2003, they renovated the restaurant and bar and opened the adjoining wine-and-liquor store. About 65% of business comes from the bar and grill, with the other 35% coming from liquor-store sales. Longtime bartender, Sean Bargin, has been behind the bar for 18 years, and some of the waitstaff has worked at the Sports Page for more than 10 years. The restaurant is adorned with sports memorabilia, including autographed photos from former Ohio State
property at Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue, she said. “He was visionary — positive and enthusiastic,” Bishop said. Bishop described developer Samuel Hamad’s previous proposal for a narrow tower on a smaller parcel of land as “a stick of margarine.” Hamad’s project, called Marquee on the Bay, fell apart during the downturn in the economy. Mannausa purchased the parcel from Hamad’s estate in 2010 for $870,000. After purchasing the two nearby buildings, which currently house Living Walls and the Sports Page, Mannausa has assembled a total of three parcels for .36-acres. The property stretches across 150 feet of Main Street. Mannausa plans to demolish the buildings at 1311 and 1319 Main St. starting April 22.
running back Howard “Hopalong” Cassidy and University of Michigan football former head coach Glenn Schembechler. There are 100 photos in the office that didn’t fit on the restaurant’s walls. When Cal Ripken Jr. was undergoing injury rehabilitation in Sarasota, the Orioles shortstop ate at the restaurant almost every night. Snowbirds continue to come to the bar and grill year after year. “We had one police chief from a village outside Chicago come down every year,” Barr said. “He’s retired now, but we still see him every year.” Richards said his favorite aspect of running Sports Page has been the people he’s met, and hearing a patron say, “This is the best Reuben.” Recently, he’s heard some regular customers saying, “We’ll miss this place.”
by Roger Drouin | City Editor
Graffiti draws ire of Arlington Park residents Rick Farmer doesn’t like it when he hears about graffiti in nearby Arlington Park. And the president of the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association is perturbed when he sees someone has spray-painted the live oak trees that shade the playground and line the half-acre multiuse trail through the park. “It’s really malicious, to me,” said Farmer. “It’s all about respect for the environment. It starts in your backyard.” For the past year, neighbors fed up with the graffiti have cleaned the markings on trees, playground equipment and park tables throughout the 26-acre park. Nan Gould, a neighborhood resident, first saw graffiti in the park when she took her nieces to the playground two years ago. “Graffiti was on the trees and the playground,” Gould said. “There are still parts of the playground equipment that have spray paint on them.” Gould said she was concerned because some of the spray paint looked like gang graffiti. “It makes it look trashy,” she said. As far as crimes go, graffiti can seem like a small concern. Yet, it is a disconcerting sight to see, said
Neighbors fed up with graffiti have cleaned markings throughout Arlington Park.
Rick Farmer has seen graffiti on some of the towering oaks near the playground. Gould, who mentioned the “broken window theory,” a criminology theory that monitoring and preventing vandalism can prevent more violent crimes from occurring. Farmer said sometimes the county, which maintains most city parks, will spot and remove graffiti, but neighbors have taken
matters into their own hands and have been going out and cleaning much of the graffiti themselves. Jim Wormley, Parks and Recreation supervisor with Sarasota County, said the county’s process is to submit a propertydamage report and work order upon seeing graffiti, but county workers might not always see
graffiti right away. “If it has foul language, we’ll try to remove it right away,” said Wormley. “We don’t welcome graffiti at any of our parks,” Wormley said. “The neighbors can let us know.” Gould said she scrubbed some of trees with soap and water, a process that “kind of worked” but left discolored patches on the bark. “It’s really just boredom,” said John Mangan, Arlington Park resident. “How do you get the (vandals) to do something constructive? I say give them a board and let them paint on it. We could have a contest every week.” Several months ago, Farmer called City Commissioner Shannon Snyder, a former Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputy. In an interview last week with the Sarasota Observer, Snyder said he planned to walk the park to see how bad the graffiti is. Snyder said it’s important to remove graffiti in public spaces as early as possible. “If you don’t stay on it from a maintenance and law-enforcement standpoint, it gets worse and more expensive (to clean),”
Snyder said. “It will grow.” Cleaning the graffiti also “deprives the tagger of the recognition they would get,” Snyder said. But cleaning spray paint or marker is a more difficult task on the oaks. Scraping the bark will damage the tree, and painting over it with black paint doesn’t improve the aesthetic situation, said Snyder, who as a deputy specialized in trying to prevent and remove graffiti. “An artist can camouflage it (on trees),” Snyder said. The artist would take colors that match the bark of an oak tree and paint over it, Snyder said. With natural erosion, the graffiti will disappear. Farmer said he plans to talk to a neighbor, who is an artist, about camouflaging the graffiti. A few trees in the park have some scrape marks where it appears previous graffiti was removed. “Unfortunately there has never been too many foot patrols in the park,” Snyder said. “Having lived in the neighborhood my entire life, I can say (the graffiti) comes and goes.”
THURSDAY, March 21, 2013
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NEWSBRIEFS + County bans spacesaving in public lots
Sarasota County commissioners approved an April 24 public hearing to consider amending an ordinance to ban parking-space saving in public parking lots. The ordinance would ban people from blocking vacant spaces, with a $97 citation for violations. It gives the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office a tool to avoid parking lot altercations at Siesta Key Public Beach and elsewhere.
Siesta Key Village Association Annual Breakfast — 8 a.m. Saturday, March 23, St. Boniface Episcopal Church, Community Room, 5615 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta The Lexicon of Sustainability public event — Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March 24 to April 1, Selby Public Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota. Siesta Key Village Association Meeting — 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 2, Daiquiri Deck Raw Bar, 5250 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Siesta Key Association Meeting — 4 p.m. Thursday, April 4, St. Boniface Episcopal Church, 5615 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta
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The board complied with 2012 state legislation mandating an independent valuation and justification to remain public. Ponder & Co. used three methodologies to value the system. But, Sarasota Memorial CFO William Woetjen and Chief of Medical Operations Stephen Taylor presented statistics that showed Sarasota Memorial was competitive with — and at times ahead of — similar non-profit and for-profit health-care systems. Taxes fund less than 7% of operations at Sarasota Memorial, Woetjen said. The average homeowner in Sarasota County paid about $200 in the 2012 fiscal year to the Sarasota County Public Hospital District. The taxing authority, which the Florida Legislature established
+ Hospital Board votes to keep SMH public The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board agreed unanimously March 18 that Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System, worth between $425 million and $475 million, isn’t for sale. Formally, the board determined selling Sarasota Memorial to a for-profit firm wouldn’t benefit the system any more than remaining a nonprofit and being supported by taxes. The vote came after presentations of financial and healthcare data and several tearful speeches from members of the audience at the Waldemere Medical Plaza.
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THURSDAY, march 21, 2013
communities, as opposed to suburban sprawl east of I-75. Another meeting was held March 20, at the same location. Sarasota County staff met with developers from September to January about how to simplify the long-range planning aspect of the plan and agreed to revisit proposed amendments to the 2050 plan. Developers of properties east of I-75 have raised concerns with the plan, saying the restrictions are too specific and need updates and modifications. Sarasota’s 2050 plan offers incentives through density bonuses — a larger number of homes — for landowners who: • Preserve open space; • Preserve agricultural and environmentally sensitive land; • Build compact, mixed-use, walkable developments in appropriate areas. For more information on Sarasota 2050, contact Bill Spaeth, Planning and Development Services, at 861-5140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix in jeopardy Sarasota County commissioners approved a $10,000 grant and $3,500 of donated services March 19, at a regularly scheduled meeting, to support the 2013 Super Boat Grand Prix Race. But, that may not be enough to buoy the charity event’s budget. Lucy Nicandri, festival director and vice president of marketing and special events, told commissioners a decline in donations from businesses and increasing costs for heavy equipment threatens the Fourth of July weekend event. She asked for a contribution of $100,000 from the Sarasota County General Fund and in-kind services. The 2012 Super Boat Grand Prix Race netted roughly $136,000 for Suncoast Charities for Children. That’s 20% less than the festival’s net revenues the previous year and 32% less than 2010. But, it generated $14.3 million in economic impact to the county in 2012. “I would spend money all day to get an economic impact like this,” said Commissioner Joe Barbetta. Other commissioners worried taking money out of the General Fund would set a precedent, and other charity events would ask for larger contributions.
+ City Commissioners advance roundabouts
+ Sarasota gets public feedback on 2050 plan Sarasota County government is soliciting feedback from the public, regarding potential changes to the county’s 2050 plan. Members of the public had the chance to talk with county planners about 40 possible changes to the plan, which was enacted in 2002, when the county hosted an open house March 13, at Twin Lakes Park. The plan was to encourage compact, walkable
A project for 10 planned U.S. 41 roundabouts rolled ahead Monday, when city commissioners unanimously voted to submit a request to regional transportation planners for consolidated funding for five of the roundabouts. The request includes “major project” funding for roundabouts on U.S. 41 from 14th Street to University Parkway. The funding request is part of an effort to fast-track the northern portion
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of the series of roundabouts planned for U.S. 41 along the bayfront. “If we are successful in getting major project funding, we would be looking at the whole corridor,” said City Engineer Davis Shaw. Regional planners at the Sarasota Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) have said the consolidated funding request makes sense. Even though the roundabouts are still several years away from fruition, Mayor Suzanne Atwell said the funding request marks an important milestone. Roundabout advocate Rod Warner told commissioners the vote Monday was a big step forward for a project that would transform U.S. 41 into a “multi-modal” corridor.
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• Commissioners terminated a project that would have added on-street parking to Kumquat Court in the Rosemary District. Commissioners said they were concerned adding on-street parking to both sides of the street would have made it difficult for emergency vehicles to travel down the street. • Commissioners voted against creating a task force on homelessness. • Commissioners voted 4-1 to hold off on creating an ad-hoc committee that would have studied possible ordinances regulating downtown sound. Instead, commissioners asked the city attorney to review current enforcement regulations, seek advice from a sound expert and plan discussions on potential changes.
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MEETING WRAP UP
The next City Commission meeting will be held at 2:30 and 6 p.m. Monday, April 1, City Commission chambers, City Hall, 1565 First St., Sarasota.
in 1949, runs Sarasota Memorial. Twenty-one members of the audience spoke at the hearing; many shared stories of how doctors, nurses and programs at Sarasota Memorial saved their, or their childrens’ lives. Most speakers claimed for-profit ownership meant losing programs that benefit the needy and newborn babies. “It would be a tragedy to change a system that provides care for the most vulnerable and youngest in the community,” said local neighborhood activist Cathy Antunes.
Southbridge Mall 6595 Midnight Pass Rd. 349-4343
Siesta Key Village 5124 Ocean Blvd. 349-1111
Midtown Plaza 1281 S. Tamiami Trail 365-9116
THURSDAY, March 21, 2013
by Alex Mahadevan | News Editor
County Commission grades its top staff Commissioners praise Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid’s focus on ethics, but highlight staff communication as still an area of focus for improvement. It seemed like a bad day for Sarasota County commissioners to review their highest paid — and only — employees. Tuesday, March 19, during their regular meeting, commissioners struggled to understand the details of a $36.8 million financial valuation of Dolomite Utilities Corp., an acquisition target. The discussion lasted two hours before they moved on to the annual reviews for Sarasota
County Administrator Randall Reid and County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh. Earlier in the day, Commissioner Joe Barbetta questioned DeMarsh about mistakes that delayed a major settlement with Siesta Key business owner Chris Brown, and he questioned Reid about a $3 million under-estimate of the Beach Road drainage improvement project. “Huge mistakes are being made,” Barbetta said. “I mean, when I see a $3 million error, it’s pretty bad.”
Randall Reid COUNTY ADMINiSTRATOR Commissioner score
Patterson 3.56 B+ Robinson 3.73 A-
E H T D FIN N O O L BAL
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THURSDAY, march 21, 2013
Commissioners gave Reid satisfactory reviews overall, noting communication as the most prominent area in need of change. Commissioners praised Reid’s work cleaning up the procurement department, after former County Administrator Jim Ley resigned amid the purchasing scandal in 2011, and for his appointment of new county administrators Tom Harmer, Mark Cunningham and Lee Ann Lowery. “You’ve made some excellent hires,” Barbetta said. Cultural problems leftover from Ley’s administration are partly to blame for service issues and project delays, Commissioner Nora Patterson said. Through public emails this month, Commissioner Christine Robinson questioned Reid about whether staff properly followed County Commission direction during community meetings on the Sarasota 2050 plan and about de-
layed one-on-one meetings with her. Under Ley, staff would regularly “pop in” to chat with commissioners after meetings to answer questions that were unanswered in the commission chambers, Commission Chairwoman Carolyn Mason and Robinson said. “For whatever reason, staff doesn’t feel the ability to do that,” Patterson said. “They feel the need that everything has to be formalized now.” Commissioners gave higher marks to DeMarsh, who makes an annual salary of about $207,000. The lowest score was 3.69 (on an academic grade scale) from Barbetta. But, Barbetta leveled criticism at one of DeMarsh’s attorneys. Commissioners only have oversight of DeMarsh and Reid, who makes an annual salary of $190,000. “There still is a culture in this organization that hasn’t changed, and it still permeates,” Barbetta said.
STEPHEN DeMARSH COUNTY ATTORNEY Commissioner scor e
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