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Editorial Letters – Week ending October 30, 2020

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Longboat Key Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues as well as Sarasota City Hall that address Sarasota issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Blake Fleetwood needs to brush up on history

To: Editor

Blake Bleetwood (Public Art Precipitates Controversy, Oct 16) needs to brush up on his history.  Victory over Japan occurred not in 1944, but on August 15, 1945 when Japan surrendered unconditionally.

Skip Wilder

Longboat Key

 

Art

To: Editor

“Unconditional Surrender” is not a work of Art.   It is a copy of a newspaper photograph. If you want to see Art and have a few minutes, go to Van Wezel and look at the tall sculpture in front of it. At the entrance to the sculpture which is across from the entrance to Van Wezel is an explanation on a sign on the ground. It is about the sculpture and nothing else. The sculpture is about what Van Wezel is about.

Bernice Sapirstein Davis

 

Your Unconditional Surrender article

To: Blake Fleetwood

Dear Mr. Blake, I just read your treatment of the controversy regarding the relocation of the Unconditional surrender sculpture on the bay front here in Sarasota, Florida.

I was astounded to learn that you thought that VJ day was in 1944. It was really on August 15, 1945.

Also, The Crazy Horse mountain sculpture is far removed from the Mount Rushmore sculptures, not on the same mountain or site.

Finally, in the fourth to the last paragraph you located the Unconditional Surrender sculpture in Saratoga, not Sarasota, Florida.

Other than that, you got things pretty straight.

Sincerely,

Ross M. Tucker, M.D.

 

Longboat is boring & exclusive; just the way locals like it

Longboat closed its beach access on 4th of July, blaming COVID concerns; but really? Or, just don’t want others to participate in or share in our state’s treasured beaches.

LBK has some resemblance to exclusive. It is meant to be boring. There are no fun places to go as none of the beach hotels have beachfront bars or restaurants or live entertainment. Your just not fun or inviting

People know we aren’t welcome on LBK.

But let’s hope you do raise taxes to pay for your infrastructure and stop dumping sewage in the bay, please.

Don Patterson

Golden Gate Point

 

Crosswalk safety

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Sherry Dominick

We were almost hit tonight by a driver that disregarded the yellow crosswalk light. My granddaughter, 1.5-year-old, was with us. How long before there is a lawsuit naming Longboat Key?

I will be one of the first to testify that you and the rest of the commission were negligent. Change the flashing yellow lights to red.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalk safety

To: Tammy Sachs

I definitely share your concerns about the apparent ineffectiveness of the crosswalk lights and signage at the intersection of Gulf of Mexico Drive and N. Longboat Club Road.  Like you and your husband, my husband and I have repeatedly witnessed, and been subjected to, driver non-compliance at that crosswalk. I personally believe that the yellow signage is too small, as is the ‘petite’ red stop sign and wording that tells drivers to stop at a ‘petite’ line on road when someone is in the crosswalk. The yellow warning lights are not clearly visible, particularly at dawn and dusk and the 45 mile per hour speed limit may be excessive for the area approaching the crosswalk. A number of commissioners, myself included, have spoken with the Town Manager about our concerns. While we understand that the FDOT insists that this stretch of State road does not qualify for the “HAWK” red slights, he and the Town Commissioners are going to continue to press the FDOT for changes in the existing signage, flashing lights, and speed limit for this and other marked crosswalks on Longboat Key. Thank you for expressing your concerns about this critical safety issue.

Sherry Dominick

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Crosswalk safety

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Sherry Dominick

Thank you, your response it is greatly appreciated.

The FDOT has been repeatedly, “Can’t do” not, “Can do”. On this issue across the state. It’s not just us. I’m afraid, as I have said before it’s largely a “good ol’ boys” network in Tallahassee of “Who is gonna pay us”? They have the monopoly on Florida taxpayer dollars.

The position of director is appointed, not elected after all.

Not about safety for them it’s about kickbacks…we aren’t going to get any help from them unless the law changes and they have to or someone shines a light on those cockroaches. If it doesn’t pay, then they don’t make any of us safer. That’s my feeling.

Tammy Sachs

Longboat Key

 

Redevelopment Application of Sun-n-Sea Property

To: Longboat Key Town Commission

The Town has received a formal Site Development Plan and Special Exception application for the redevelopment of the Sun-n-Sea property.  See note below.  After staff review this application will be heard by the Planning & Zoning Board.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Redevelopment Application of Sun-n-Sea Property

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

This afternoon we received a Site Development Plan & Special Exception application for the redevelopment of the Sun-n-Sea property located at 4651 GMD.

The proposed redevelopment seeks to replace the existing 25-unit tourism resort property with a 4-story, 16-unit, residential condominium development. The proposed development includes a Special Exception request to allow up to 10 ft. of additional height for elevator shafts, enclosed stairwells & landings and enclosed mechanical equipment areas. Consideration of these requests would be via a public hearing with the P&Z Board.  I will keep you apprised of its progress.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Manatee Clean Energy Alliance

To: Longboat Key Commission

We hope that you and yours remain well. Your service, which we appreciate, is vital to our community, especially in these difficult times.

This email is a follow up to a letter we mailed to you a couple of weeks ago, to bring the plight of people in our community who are in danger of having their utilities shut off to your attention. We are with the Manatee Clean Energy Alliance, a campaign working with the Sierra Club Ready For 100 National Campaign. As planned, we created an informational flyer and mailed that to the approximately 60 food pantries in Manatee County. We’ve attached the flyer to this email, so that you will have a copy. The flyer is available in a Spanish version as well.

Our community is like our family. When one of us is in trouble, the rest join together to help. And that help is needed now, more than it has been in many, many years. We understand that the CARES applications in Manatee County will reopen this week, on the 28th. That is good news but the need is so great and, as time goes by, people who are in financial difficulties become deeper in debt. Having their electricity or water turned off makes it more difficult to look for work or participate in classes and almost impossible to stay healthy. We need your assistance to help our community – to encourage greater communication and compassion between the utilities and the customers they serve, to find innovative ways to alleviate financial difficulties instead of exacerbating them, and to relieve the burden on the non-profits, who are doing their best to help. We are asking that you help spread the information contained in the flyer. We also renew our request for you to meet with us virtually, to discuss these issues.

Diana Cowans

Manatee Clean Energy Alliance

 

Resident Permit Parking

To: Longboat Key Commission

Thank you for your service to our town. This email is to register support for the Resident Permit Parking (“RPP”) proposal submitted by the Village Parking Committee.

As you know, virtually all Villagers have stated that an immediate adoption of RPP is necessary to protect the life and safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists in the Village; be the residents or visitors.  The immediate adoption of RPP will restore the invaluable quiet, residential, historic character of the Village; all commonly expected qualities of any residential neighborhood.  These common characteristics are obliterated every day due to on-street parking related to the expansion of the restaurants and overflow beach goers.

Villagers are grateful that the restaurants have taken the steps necessary to provide onsite and offsite parking for all of their patrons and employees, while acknowledging that, without RPP, patrons and employees will continue to clog Village streets and create very significant safety risks(despite the availability of the restaurant-provided parking facilities).

The Town Attorney has verified that it is legal to establish an RPP program in residential areas to solve issues such as now exist on the streets of the Village.  Now it is left solely in the hands of the Commission to take the simple step of enacting our Committee’s RPP proposal to restore to us the quiet enjoyment of our community and our ability to park in front of our own homes.

Please vote for the immediate enactment of our Committee’s RPP proposal.

Steve Kring

Longboat Key

 

Draft Village Resident Only Parking Ordinance- Public Records Request

To: Longboat Key Commission

Commissioners, the Staff has received requests from the public to review the current draft of the Resident Only Parking Program Ordinance- see attached.  The staff report and final version of the Ordinance will be part of the November 2nd Agenda packet that will be distributed on Wednesday.  This item is on the agenda for 1st reading.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Draft Village Resident Only Parking Ordinance- Public Records Request

To: Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer

As discussed, I’ve received requests from the public to review the current draft of the ordinance establishing a Resident Only Parking program in the Village. Attached is a copy of the draft ordinance (#2020-09) that will be considered by the Town Commission at their November 2, 2020 Regular Meeting, which will be shared with the public.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Tree Definition & Permit Application

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Thanks for sharing the constituent inquiry about the definition of a tree and the Town’s tree permitting requirements.  The tree definition (from Town Code Chapter 98) is below & a copy of the Tree Permit Application is attached.  If the constituent has any further questions or would like us to consult with them on their specific circumstances, please pass along my contact information.

Tree.” Any living, self-supporting, woody plant having a diameter of four inches or more when measured 4½ feet above ground level, and which will typically reach ten feet or more in height. For the purpose of this chapter, all palms with 4½ feet of clear trunk when measured from ground level are declared to be trees and are protected by the provisions of this chapter. For purposes of this chapter, “mangroves” as defined by F.S. ch. 403, shall be excluded from the town’s tree regulations as the regulation of the trimming and alteration of mangroves is a subject matter pre-empted to the State of Florida.

Allen Parsons

Director Planning, Zoning & Building Department

Town of Longboat Key

 

Text for SOC

To: Sarasota City Economic Development General Manager Stevie Freeman-Montes

Hope you are having a lovely weekend. I am putting the final touches on the text for the State of the City address and wanted to get your feedback/edits on the following text please. I have to record this tomorrow morning, so if you can get back to me this evening that would be appreciated. Sorry for disturbing your Sunday. Ignore the numbers at the end.

(P+C+F) Sustainability

• Let’s take a moment to look at the many sustainability efforts being conducted by the City and its partners. As the City joined the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% initiative in 2017, and committed to being sustainable as a City by 2030 and City-wide by 2045, part of that effort created the goal to include solar power. The City recently signed an agreement with FP&L as part of their SolarTogether program, that allows the the City to transition to solar power.

• Our recently established single stream recycling program, revealed an 85% success rate, meaning that 15% of the recycled materials collected were “contaminated” or  improperly placed in the recycling cart. The state’s average is around 27%, so while the City is well below that average, we do still have room for improvement and will continue to educate the community through our outreach efforts; (24)

• A recent city-wide greenhouse-gas-emissions-inventory showed a reduction of 7.1% from 2015 and 33% since 2003; (12)

• The St. Armands Parking garage earned a Silver Level Parksmart International Certification for sustainibility, becoming the first municipally-owned parking garage to do so in the world. This certification includes efforts like : the solar PV system that offsets 42% of the buildings energy, 99.8% of construction materials being regionally sourced, 76% of the labor as local, and 87.5% of waste produced diverted from the landfill. (33)

• The City’s Community Canopy Program recently gave 375 free trees to residents, for a Program total of over 1,000 free trees given to residents, providimg over 51 million gallons of filtered stormwater and 6.5 million pounds of carbon sequestered. (18)

• In partnership with Sarasota County and the Sarasota High School students a WaterGoat, was installed on Hudson Bayou. This is a trash prevention device that will be maintained and monitored by the students, and is a small, but impactful colloboration and educational opportunity. (18)

• The City is working with a handful of neighborhoods on compost stations within their parks. This is an important effort to raise awareness and educate the community about the value of composting and the importance of reducing food waste which goes into our landfill and creates harmful gasses. This program collects over 800 pounds of food waste per month, diverting it from the landfill. (21)

• The City was awarded a $10,000 grant from the National League of Cities to conduct racial equity and resiliency training for city management, directors, and elected officials. (9)

• A $30,000 grant was received to produce four PSAs to educate and share local stories of community members impacted by climate change and implementing solutions. (11)

• The City created a successful grant program, Partners for Green Places, to provide energy audits and energy upgrades to nine nonprofits. This program leveraged over $375,000 through an incredible partnership: (video list: the Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota and Sarasota County UF/IFAS & Sustainability). (13)

(P, C, F) Economic Development – The strength of our City’s economy is of paramount importance. Having a vital and thriving economy enables us to ensure our City’s needs are met, whether they are related to infrastructure, assisting businesses through tough times, training and educating employees, or working with communities to preserve history and culture. The Office Economic Development worked to create a number of programs enhancing economic development in the City including:

• Providing 221 Grants during COVID 19 pandemic that provided over 1 million dollars of assistance to small businesses

• Incentivizing the first new business in recent years to open on Dr. MLK, Jr. Way

• Reducing or eliminating Multi-Modal Transportation Fees to encourage new business development in the Newtown and North Trail areas

• Implementing a Grant Program to support the creation of Cultural Special Events

• Enhancing the holidays and safety with light displays in Downtown, St. Armand’s, and Newtown areas and implementing decorative lighting year-round on Main Street and St. Armand’s circle

• Publishing quarterly development reports to over 600 subscribers, including St. Armands’ monthly newsletters, and Newtown newsletters

• Contributing to the coordinated effort to train, educate, and graduate seven people for a career in HVAC services

• Acquiring key parcels for future redevelopment in a land-bank effort in Newtown

• Working to preserve, relocate, enhance, and repurpose the historic Leonard Reid Home, and

• Working with the community to establish a local Historic Cultural Arts Center (1:44)

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Thunder by the Bay returning to Sarasota fairgrounds with safety measures

To: Debbie Perez

Thanks for this information.  Since there are bands announced, would the City’s noise ordinance offer any mechanism to try and curtail this event?  It is the City’s bars and restaurants festival attendees will likely pack, and those indoor mask-less activities are at least as worrisome from a COVID-19 spread standpoint as the sing-along elements of most concerts.  I realize there may be nothing the City can do to prevent this event from occurring, but given how obviously dangerous it is to our community, I figured it was worth surfacing the noise ordinance possibility.

Kelly Franklin

Sarasota

 

Thunder by the Bay returning to Sarasota fairgrounds with safety measures

To: Kelly Franklin

I don’t believe this event requires a special event permit from the City because it is not conducted on City property in a city park or on city right of way.  Ms. Perez can correct me if I’m wrong about that.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney, City of Sarasota

 

Thunder by the Bay returning to Sarasota fairgrounds with safety measures

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier

Yes, that is correct. The event is taking place on private property and would not require a Special Event Permit from the City.

Debbie Perez

Auditoriums Manager, Special Events

City of Sarasota

 

Thunder by the Bay returning to Sarasota fairgrounds with safety measures

To: Kelly Franklin

No, not really. If they violate the ordinance, they can be cited of course.  But they can also obtain a temporary exemption permit for the event.  I don’t know if they’ve done this, but it’s an option the noise ordinance provides.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

Thursday shade meeting

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin, Sarasota City Clerk Shayla Griggs

If there is another item added to the agenda this Thursday regarding the purchase of park property, I would certainly appreciate it if it could be considered after the closed session rather than before since I will be paying a court reporter and the meeting is in the evening, thank you.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

Thursday shade meeting

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier

Thank you Bob. That is what are think was to add it after the closed session.

Shayla Griggs

City Clerk

City of Sarasota

 

Tuttle and Ringling

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

I want to be on record agreeing with Ms. Caldwell who wrote to you on October 22 about the backup of traffic in northbound Tuttle near Ringling.

I travel that road in both directions quite frequently and can confirm it has been a problem for quite some time. To avoid the lineup of cars, many drivers cut through the parking lot or make a right turn onto Ringling, passing Robarts arena, and then making a left turn at the Boys and Girls Club to get back to eastbound Fruitville. Those creative strategies are all to avoid the problem, but they create additional problems. I am certain our traffic engineers and FDOT can find a solution.

Kathy Kelley Ohlrich

Sarasota

 

Tuttle and Ringling

To: Kathy Kelley Ohlrich

Thank you. I look forward to hearing receiving clarity on this.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Tuttle and Ringling

To: Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch

This intersection is quite tricky due to its proximity to Fruitville.  I will check with our signal timing folks and see that they suggest.

Alexandrea Davis-Shaw

City Engineer

City of Sarasota

 

Illegal Campaign Contributions- Liz Alpert

To: Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier, City Clerk Shayla Griggs

I am the Sarasota resident who recently initiated successful action by the Florida Elections Commission against a candidate, Martin Hyde, and the Republican Party of Sarasota County, in regard to campaign finance violations in the 2017 Sarasota City Commission election.

Today, I ask for your attention and action on a campaign finance issue in the 2020 City of Sarasota City Commission election.

Sarasota City Charter: Article IX. Section 4. Paragraph (d) limits campaign contributions to a maximum of $200 from “natural” persons. Contributions from Political Action Committees and businesses are prohibited.

Liz Alpert has accepted the campaign contributions listed below from entities that are not “natural” persons.

These contributions are public record.   All contributions to Ms. Alpert’s campaign, throughout the entire campaign, may be seen at:   https://www.sarasotafl.gov/government/city-auditor-and-clerk/elections/general-election-candidates-2020

The July contribution on the list below may be seen at: https://www.sarasotafl.gov/home/showdocument?id=6351

The October contributions on the list below may be seen at:

https://www.sarasotafl.gov/home/showdocument?id=6819

I am writing to request that the City Auditor and Clerk and the City Attorney investigate these contributions and impose appropriate penalties for violations of campaign finance laws.

7/29/2020                Ruth’s List                               $200.00

10/07/2020             Ruth’s List                               $150.00

10/16/2020             Realtors Orlando, PAC           $200.00

10/16/2020             Realtors Tallahassee, PAC     $200.00

10/16/2020             Realtors Tallahassee, PAC     $200.00

Total                                                                       $950.00

Michael Belval

Sarasota

 

Illegal Campaign Contributions- Liz Alpert

To: Michael Belval

You are correct about the provision in the City Charter that limits campaign contributions to a maximum amount of $200 from “natural persons.”  Notwithstanding this charter provision though, it has been my opinion for some years that the City must exempt registered “political committees” as defined in Section 106.011(16)(a) from this provision in order to avoid a state law pre-emption issue.  By state statute, one of the things a registered political committee is formed in order to be able to lawfully do is to make contributions to candidates.  I believe that the word candidates, when used in this context, includes candidates in municipal elections.  While political committees are still subject to the maximum limit on the amount of an allowable contribution under the City Charter, state law identifies the specific ways in which political committees are authorized to spend their money.  Under these circumstances, it is my opinion that, other than to limit the amount of their contributions, Florida cities have no authority under state law to regulate political committee expenditures.

Because it is my understanding that the organizations you have identified as not being natural persons are registered political committees, it is my opinion that the City cannot enforce the charter provision you have identified against them.  I anticipate that this may become the subject of discussion when the next Charter Review Committee is appointed and convenes, which I expect to happen in the foreseeable future.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

 

St. Armands Special Events

To: Sarasota City Commissioner Liz Alpert

I am very curious as to why we aren’t being allowed to have special events on St. Armands Circle?  There seems to be a disconnect between allowing public events in the city, and especially in the county.  The city is allowing the Farmer’s Market downtown.  Is there a reason this event is allowed while others are disallowed?  We all know the farmers market brings tons of business to the downtown area, from coffee shops, restaurants, to retail.  How is this event any more “safe” than any other special event?  I understand, and agree, that people can gather at the farmer’s market safely.  However, my question is that if the market is “safe”, then why can’t others gather safely elsewhere?  How about Thunder By The Bay?  Is this somehow immune?  I believe there are also city approved events at Robarts Arena?  Are these deemed Covid free by the city?  How about the city closing portions of Main Street for restaurants to operate with more outdoor dining, while the city has disallowed this for St. Armands Circle? Seems there is a huge double standard. Please keep in mind that events such as Siesta Fiesta and the Pumpkin Festival on Fruitville are being permitted by the county with great success and huge attendance, why is St. Armands being held down by the city during the most difficult financial times of our lifetime? Does the city feel that St. Armands is a virus hot spot?  The virus doesn’t discriminate, and I would hope our city doesn’t either. Please look at the special event permitting process to make sure we are all being treated fairly, what’s good for one is good for all. Thank you for your consideration.

Eric Seace

St. Armands Circle Association

 

St. Armands Special Events

To: Eric Seace

I don’t know the answer to your questions, so I am copying staff with this response so that the appropriate staff member can respond to you.

Liz Alpert

Commissioner, City of Sarasota

 

Board Appointments

To: Sarasota City Commission

Regarding next Monday’s appointments to the expanded IPAP and PCC committees. Heather believes the Chair’s will be recommending the applicants below. The remaining number of active applications matches the current openings. Heather and I support the recommendations, thanks.

Tom Barwin

City Manager, City of Sarasota

 

Board Appointments

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Here is the information for the November 2nd board appointments (IPAP and PCC):

IPAP

There are four (4) vacancies on the Independent Police Advisory Panel. Two (2) vacancies due to its expansion and two (2) vacancies due to the recent resignation of Troy Montes and Randolph Coyner.

There are four (4) people left in the applicant pool for the City Commission to consider. Mr. Daughtry is happy to support all four applicants for appointment  (I don’t believe he can make it to give the recommendations):

Glenda Williams

Alex Guerra

Stephan Fantauzzo

Robert Lombardo

Due to the expansion of the board, there are now two (2) vacancies on the PCC.

There are three (3) people left in the applicant pool for the PCC for the City Commission to consider:

Shari Black (re-appointment)

Sheldon Rich

Robert Lombardo (applied for both boards)

I believe that Ms. Preston intends to be on the Zoom call for the board appointments on Monday. I am still waiting for confirmation on her registration though. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Heather Robison

Police Advisory Panels Administrator

City of Sarasota

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