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Editorial Letters – Week ending December 18, 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.

Bicycle bells

To: Editor

What happened to the Longboat Key requirement that all bikes have bells? There used to be signs stating that which disappeared. A bicycle rider cannot be heard when approaching a pedestrian from the rear.  Some riders are kind enough to advise the walker on the

side they are approaching, but not all! Less frequently a golf cart can also surprise a walker and has no warning signal, but this has never been addressed and should be. Install a horn on all carts?

Marvin G. Frank, M.D.

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key Republican Club Holiday Party

To: Editor

I was shocked and dismayed to see the pictures of people celebrating without masks

on page four of the Longboat Key News, dated December 11, 2020.

I can only hope that these were pictures taken from a prior year.

It’s the height of irresponsibility to gather indoors without masks with non-household members, as we are now at 300,000 deaths from COVID 19 in the USA, and Florida is a hot spot.

People can cry “freedom of expression”, but are we free to drive 100 miles an hour down a

residential street?  My freedom to stretch my arm ends with your nose.

The strain that this irresponsible behavior which leads to transmission of COVID 19 is now overwhelming our health-care system. That is because the medical staff are being sickened by COVID 19 and unable to work. This impacts the medical care of all of us, as the hospitals will not have the staff to treat general medical emergencies such as car accident victims, heart attack victims, and appendicitis victims.

This type of irresponsible social behavior is counter-productive to role-modeling of Civic Responsibility and Civic Engagement. In fact, it violates the Longboat Key Ordinance on Mask Wearing. Shame on the Longboat Key Republican Club.

Ruth Moss

Longboat Key

 

COVID numbers

To: Longboat Key Commission

Sarasota County is now sending COVID 19 reports out on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Their next report will be on December 18th.

We are currently using the State data posted after their report- so the Sarasota County numbers may be slightly different than what we reflect from the State dashboard.

Statistics from the dashboard on the State website: www.floridahealthcovid19.gov   The comparison from the day before is included.

Florida (an increase of 11,541 positive test results and 125 new deaths)      

Tue 12/15         1,143,794 confirmed cases with 20,365 deaths (positive rate 9.15%)

Wed 12/16        1,155,335 confirmed cases with 20,490 deaths (positive rate 9.27%)

Sarasota County (an increase of 158 positive test results and 5 new deaths)    

Tue 12/15         16,031 confirmed cases with 445 deaths (positive rate 6.42%)

Wed 12/16       16,189 confirmed cases with 450 deaths (positive rate 6.07%)

Manatee County (an increase of 192 positive test results and 2 new deaths)    

Tue 12/15        19,212 confirmed cases with 398 deaths (positive rate 9.15%)

Wed 12/16      19,389 confirmed cases with 400 deaths (positive rate 8.01%)

We are continuing to see higher positive rates, over 5 percent.

We now know that the State doesn’t accurately distribute the cases between the two counties on the island so we are now reporting the total numbers reported within the overall zip code.  The State website zip code data for all of Longboat Key (34228) on December 15thindicates 114 (up from 112 on December 15th) cumulative positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Sarasota County Public Health official reported on Monday, December 14th that there were 2 new cases on the island between 12/6 and 12/12.  Their next update will be on Monday, December 21st.    

Regardless of the breakdown, we are seeing a spike in numbers within our zip code and that trend is also reflected in the Sarasota County Heat Map with noticeable increases in the zip codes on the mainland.

Here are the December 16th statistics for Sarasota County Hospital Beds.

Total beds-1406

Occupied-   1,063

COVID related-121

Total ICU beds-114

Occupied-85

COVID related-17

Here are the December 16th statistics for Manatee County Hospital Bed information as listed in their daily Report.

Non-ICU

Total beds-695

Available- 23

ICU

Total beds-70

Available-4

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

MPO meeting on roundabouts

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

I wanted to follow up with regarding the active members on the Barrier Island Traffic Committee as well as provide the date for the next meeting. We were unable to get FDOT and other members to hold another meeting in December due to availability and travel restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however the next meeting is on the calendar for February 8th and I have included the invite to that meeting in the email.

I’ve also included the member’s list for reference as we have confirmed representation from each jurisdiction. As always if you have any further questions regarding the committee please don’t hesitate to ask.

Ryan Brown

Principal Planner

Sarasota/Manatee MPO

 

MPO meeting on roundabouts

To: Ryan Brown

Under the circumstances, I certainly understand the need to move the initial fully constituted BITC meeting from December  to February . While it obviously will be a committee decision, in order to assure an ongoing barrier islands’ focus, it is very important for, and I strongly urge that the MPO Staff recommend that Issac Brownman (The only Staff employee from a barrier island on the committee) be the Chair, and that Lynn Burnett (The other barrier islands representative) be the Vice Chair.  I thank you, and especially Dave for the consistent MPO support of the BITS, and I look forward to the realization of many of the traffic mitigation recommendations contained in its final report.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Mask ordinance updated

To: Longboat Key Commission

Attached is the updated Administrative Executive Order regarding COVID 19 maintaining current restrictions. The Order will be re-evaluated again on or before December 29th.

We have also updated our Mask Ordinance Fact Sheet and signage to be used by our residents and businesses.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Wastewater leak

To: Longboat Key Commission

Attached is the final Berkeley Research Group (BRG) report on the Town’s wastewater leak.

The overall report with exhibits is almost 600 pages long and is too large to email.  If you would like to review the exhibits, the complete document is currently available through the following link: https://longboatkey.egnyte.com/fl/BUSIvzZfQw

As you recall, BRG previously issued a preliminary  report that was subject to peer review.  The peer review was completed and the final leak estimate is 14.7 million gallons.

We have forwarded a copy of the report to the FDEP and have asked them to substitute the 16.5 million gallon estimate in their Proposed Consent Order worksheet with the BRG finding of 14.7 million gallons.

The final report also includes a discussion on the cause of the leak and associates it with a log that was observed at the time of repair under the pipe at the location of the leak.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager

Town of Longboat Key

 

Coyotes

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier

At our Bay Isles board meeting today, the concern about the presence of coyotes in our area was discussed. The board passed a resolution to bring the issue to the Town’s attention and to seek Town leadership and support for dealing with the coyotes.

What do you advise?

Bob Simmons

Longboat Key

 

Coyotes

To: Bob Simmons

I am aware of the situation, as is Tom Harmer who has had several sightings in his Bayou neighborhood.  I am copying him on this note as well as yours to me.

When we last had coyote sightings on the island two years ago, representatives of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission spoke to several groups of citizens here to educate them on coyote behaviors and threats and how to react to them safely.  There is no real option to trap and relocate them, as they are present in all 67 counties and no one wants any more.  Some residents moved to retain a hunter which was under consideration when the coyotes vanished.

At this point, we are asking that sightings be reported to Tom’s office so we can determine their frequency, number and location.  Further steps are under review.

Please let me know if the Bay Isles Board has any further thoughts and I will keep you apprised of developments at our end.

Ken Schneier

Mayor, Longboat Key

Coyotes

 

To: Bob Simmons

Bob, we are aware of recent sightings and ask the residents to let us know if they see them anywhere on the island. Time and location is helpful and some residents will send us a picture if they can safely take it. We track the sightings so we can understand where they may be and how many may be on the island and if there are any reports of aggressive actions.

The Town has some information we can share with you – especially advice from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) on how to safely live with coyotes. As mentioned, they are now in all 67 counties in Florida and there are sightings throughout Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Getting the word out to your members that there have been sightings is helpful. Two years ago, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) conducted a couple of public educational meetings on the island and we videotaped their presentation. They do emphasize that anyone with small pets be extra aware of the potential presence of coyotes and not leave them unattended.

There have been no reports of any aggressive coyotes on the island- if that was the case county animal control and the FWC would help investigate. As the Mayor mentioned, there are limitations on what actions can be taken. We have been advised that private property owners can hire a licensed trapper, but relocation is generally not available, and the animal would likely have to be euthanized.

I will follow up with the staff this week and have them reach out to you directly to make sure you have access to the public education information to help inform your members.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Coyotes

To: Longboat Key Mayor Ken Schneier and Town Manager Tom Harmer

Thank you for your responses. I am sharing your thoughts with our Board. If we have additional questions or suggestions, we get back to you.

Bob Simmons

Longboat Key

 

Groins for Greer Island

To: Longboat Key Commission

Commissioners, Good news! The Mayor, Town Attorney, and I attended the Manatee County Commission meeting this afternoon. Our Public Works staff and our coastal consultant provided an overview of the Town’s overall beach nourishment plans. After the presentation and an overview by County staff of the County’s beach projects and highlighting collaborative efforts with Longboat Key, the Commission voted to approve the Town’s request for an easement to allow the groins to be constructed/tied into Greer Island. They also approved the Interlocal Agreement confirming their commitment to contribute the $2.69 million towards the Town’s project.

Tom Harmer

Town Manager

Longboat Key

 

Beer Can Island Deed

To: Longboat Key Vice Mayor Mike Haycock

I wanted to forward to you this email in case you are not already aware of the deed restrictions (prohibiting the construction of any structures on the island and requiring that it be left in its natural state) contained in my grandfather’s deed of Beer Can Island to the State. As the trustee of my grandfather’s trust, I can work with Longboat Key and Manatee County to resolve issues presented by those deed restrictions. Kevin Van Ostenbridge is the county commissioner whose district includes the north end of Longboat Key…which is why I have communicated with him on this issue. Thank you for your time and I hope that all is well with you.

Bill Saba

Longboat Key

 

Beer Can Island Deed

To: Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge

Thank you for taking my call today concerning the Longboat Key north end beach projects. Attached to this email is a copy of my grandfather’s deed conveying Beer can Island to the State. The deed restrictions included in that deed are highlighted. As the trustee of my grandfather’s trust, I look forward to working with you and Tom in regard to this.

Bill Saba

Longboat Key

 

Traffic circles

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

I sent a link to the town manager about Pittsburgh traffic, where travel times were reduced by 25 percent using a grid of intelligent traffic lights. Google Pittsburgh intelligent traffic lights. If there was efficient pedestrian management at the circle, everyone might be happier.

Removing parking on the inner circle might help immensely during the three season months.

We have no traffic issues nine months of the year.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Traffic circles

To: Gene Jaleski

As I’m sure you know, as we speak, the Town is working with FDOT and the City of Sarasota to implement pedestrian patrol guards on the Circle during this peak season.

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Traffic circles

To: Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly

Sorry, I was unaware. Great if it happens.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Longboat Key students

To: Longboat Key Commission

We checked with the two County School Boards to confirm the number of students on Longboat Key in the public school system this year.

Based on the information received- see below- there are 70 students overall.

Sarasota County School Board has advised that there are 32 students on the island attending their schools (4 of which are attending public Charter Schools).

Manatee County School Board has advised that there are 38 students in the Manatee County portion of the island attending their public schools.

Thomas A. Harmer

Town Manager, Town of Longboat Key

 

Follow Up to your” Wake-Up Call for LBK” Editorial

To: Longboat Observer Matt Walsh

Focusing on your closing Editorial comments this week that town leaders’ responsibilities are”- to look beyond tomorrow”; as a town official winding down after 4 years on the P&Z and now in my 6th and final Commissioner year, I offer the following. First, you are correct to note that the Town has meaningfully addressed redevelopment of aging homes and condos by extensive amendments to its zoning code, and also pointing out the political realities of a third bridge. In addition, after many productive discussions with FDOT and Sarasota City officials with respect to the Gulfstream / US 41 / intersection roundabout, construction of which is now imminent, if we are correct, our residents will, at best, possibly only enjoy modest traffic flow relief in the future; my view continues to be that the present configuration at the intersection is the better traffic flow option. While there are many traffic remedies under consideration contained in the Barrier Island Traffic Study, there are no magic bullets, and traffic flow issues on and off the Key will continue for the foreseeable future, notwithstanding our ongoing and productive efforts. This traffic reality confirms the need to focus now, as you suggest, to plan and implement responsive long-term plans for Longboat Key. In my opinion, this can be best addressed by providing Town Center facilities which expands the availability of services and activities on Longboat that our residents desire and can enjoy without continually driving off and back on the Key. Indeed, without reviewing all the history, which began many years ago starting  with the ULI Island-wide efforts and numerous public meetings and inputs, including some three years of productive and cooperative planning with Ringling ( which occurred before Ringling  understandingly withdrew, hopefully temporarily,  from the partnership), we had developed a definitive Town Center  building concept, including a budget of some $11.3 million , and a detailed array of Arts, Creative Talents, Technology, Lifelong Learning and Performing Arts activities.  This has all been confirmed and documented in Exhibit 1 to the last memo of understanding with Ringling.  In addition, public support for the Town Center ACE (Artistic, Cultural and Educational) facility, has  again been confirmed by recent responses to a public survey and an in- person charette.  Indeed, I’ve heard comments, which I share and echo, that we’ve had enough talk about a Town Center, but not enough action. As you have previously noted (which I also commented on), The Town has dedicated substantial funding to acquire the Town Center site and is currently improving it for outdoor public events, as a prelude to continue long term facility planning.  Simply stated, we need to fashion facility plans to set the stage for private funding and operation. Recognizing both that the public has spoken and the need for additional public inputs, I suggest, its timely, and overdue, for our community to reconfirm a specific plan starting with the adoption of the above- cited Exhibit 1 concept, which contemplates a partnership with a private partner providing   funding of the capital and ongoing operating costs, while then continuing to fashion the project in response to expressed public inputs. Recent discussions with Sarasota County supporting a county library facility with a variety of services and activities on Longboat are encouraging, and clearly should be included in our plan. As we speak, we are currently locating the Longboat Historical Society’s building on the site. Again, to repeat, we must “look beyond tomorrow”. In so doing, I believe that a viable Town Center will complete the only missing link in our wonderful community. We’ve had enough talk, it’s time for action.  (Matt, I need to state the obvious that these are my personal comments and are not in any way on behalf of any other Commissioners).

Jack Daly

Commissioner

Longboat Key

 

Congratulations to new Sarasota City Manager

To: Sarasota Interim City Manager Marlon Brown

Congratulations on being named City Manager for Sarasota. Tom Harmer tells me that he has enjoyed working with you through the years and his son interned for you in Tallahassee.

We have many issues that impact Longboat Key, along with your barrier islands that we look forward to working with you on.  Certainly, transportation continues to be a critical issue for Bird Key, St. Armands, Lido and Longboat. Look forward to meeting you in person when we are safely through the pandemic. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

B.J. Bishop

Commissioner, Longboat Key

 

Congratulations to new Sarasota City Manager

To: Longboat Key Commissioner BJ Bishop

Thank you very, very much for your congratulatory note. I too look forward to a collaborative and positive working relationship with Longboat Key/your staff. I understand the importance of an efficient transportation network/system and I am committed to making sure issues that may impact that goal are resolved together and not in a vacuum. Thanks again for your note, all the best to you and yours for the holidays and please, please be safe.

Marlon Brown

Interim City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Big mistake on resident only parking

To: Mike Haycock

Big, big, big mistake making all of the village streets for resident parking only! What about the rest of the Longboat Key taxpayers who use those streets for occasional parking related to outdoor recreation. Our residential tax base is used to maintain those, and all the other streets on Longboat Key. This action is also an insult to the owners of the two restaurants on Broadway. They have both put considerable funds into improvements in recent years and, they do pay their portion of the Longboat Key taxes. This is not only a stupid move, but it is probably not a legal one…time will tell!

Tom Crowley

Longboat Key

 

Big mistake on resident only parking

To: Tom Crowley

Thank you for your letter and feedback. It is always nice to hear how citizens feel about the activities and decisions of your Longboat Key Commissioners.

The investment of our 2 restaurants on Broadway a few years ago had the hoped-for result of making them very popular and drawing larger crowds than ever before. Unfortunately, the parking provided by the restaurants, exacerbated by Valet parking, was not enough to accommodate employees and patrons and caused a significant increase in parking not only on Broadway but most of the side streets close to Broadway. In addition, the increased traffic brought with it speeding cars, noise and litter. Your Commission put a number of steps in place to improve the safety and reduced quality of life for the citizens in the Village. These included reduced speed limits, reduced parking on side streets, improving sight lines on cross streets and increased police presence.

In the opinion of the Village residents and the majority of the Commission this was not enough to guarantee the health and safety of the residents, so we started considering resident permit parking. Our attorney has advised us that these actions are legal and with sufficient precedents. The commission did not make this decision lightly and understand the extreme nature of our decision. I actually voted against it at first reading but in the end decided there was not a sufficient alternative that would provide a safe environment for our residents in the Village.

We have left 25 parking spots near the restaurant and dock for outdoor recreation use and hope when Mr. Chiles parking lot is complete their will be additional parking for the restaurant employees. Thank you again for your feedback.

Mike Haycock

Vice Mayor

Longboat Key

 

Barwin says goodbye

To: Sarasota City Commission

Mayor Brody and I having completed signing my separation/retirement/transition agreement this afternoon. With Marlon having been appointed interim/incoming City Manager, and Marlon have appointed Pat Robinson as Deputy City Manager beginning next Monday, Dec. 14 the executive city management leadership baton has been handed off, along with the accountability and responsibility for managing the day-to-day operations of the city.

Although I will remain available for information or anything the City Commission or Marlon may need from me per not only our friendship, but per our agreement, I will attempt to do my best to vacate my office over the weekend.   This clarity will be beneficial for all through the holiday season and facilitate leadership staff’s preparation for the new year ahead.

These circumstances will also me to begin to be able to spend the time necessary to better assist and continue my wife’s rehabilitation from her brain injury a few months ago. Therefore, beginning on Monday, December 14th I will be on FMLA thru December 31, 2020. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and as always I look forward to seeing your around town in our truly, very special community! Be safe.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Barwin says goodbye

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

Thank you for you service to our community and counsel during this transition. You have a lot to be proud of. Don’t be a stranger.

Hagen Brody

Mayor

City of Sarasota

 

Barwin says goodbye

To: Sarasota City Employees

As the holiday season rolls in, and my tenure as your City Manager sunsets, please accept my sincere thanks, deep appreciation and gratitude for doing all you have done and will continue to do in your public service career to help the Sarasota community continue to be a nationally recognized great place to live, and our City government a great place to work.

I may be just a bit biased, but in the most challenging year I’ve experienced in 43 years of public service, we came through this year’s challenges with flying colors, having dealt with a pandemic, tropical storm, protests, politics and you name it…with commitment, excellence and professionalism.

My wife, Mar, and I will continue to live in Sarasota for the foreseeable future as we look forward to new chapters in our lives. We will welcome any opportunities to say ‘hi’ to each and every one of you we may see around town. With that said, best wishes to you and yours for a safe and wonderful holiday season, and much success and happiness in all of your future endeavors.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Relief from Hotel Houses

To: Sarasota City Commission

I am writing to again plead our case for quick action on relief from the hotel houses on St. Armands. The 328 Monroe hotel house has been full of a large group of people here for a wedding for the past few days.  Friday night, neighbors were kept up until 2 a.m. with a party in the pool that moved to a garage party. We personally have listened to screaming kids in the pool all weekend.  Crowd noise from this large group of people is ridiculous. Today, Sunday, is another large party. There are multiple cars parked illegally, blocking sidewalks and parked the wrong direction on Monroe. The parking division is closed today so neighbors have called the police. These commercially run properties do not belong in a Residentially Zoned district. Please get the ordinance on the agenda asap so we, the people who actually live in this area, can have some relief.

Julie Bales

Sarasota

 

Relief from Hotel Houses

To: Julie Bales

I know this is a major impact to quality-of-life and frustration. Mr. Fournier was directed by the Commission to come back with language in January 2021 and as far as I know he is on target with that date.

Jen Ahearn-Koch

City Commissioner

City of Sarasota

 

Relief from Hotel Houses

To: Julie Bales

Can you share what happened when the police arrived? Did you or the neighbors meet with the officers? I am sending officers there now to address any illegal activity or parking.

Thank you for the information.

Bernadette DiPino

Chief of Police

City of Sarasota

 

Relief from Hotel Houses

To: Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino

Thank for your quick response, Chief DiPino. Officer Gleason approached the house and told them to move the vehicles and keep the noise down. He is waiting to make certain they move all the vehicles.  Officer Gleason also gave Larry Shapiro a case number so that calls will be documented.  Per Mr. Shapiro, the hotel house guests’ excuse was that they are here for a wedding. Thank you and your Officer Gleason for your assistance.

Julie Bales

Sarasota

 

Relief from Hotel Houses

To: Julie Bales

You are welcome! I’m glad Ofc. Gleason was able to address everything.

Bernadette A. DiPino

Chief of Police

City of Sarasota

 

Facebook Live

To: Sarasota Manager Public Broadcasting Miles Larson

Awesome! I have copied the Mayor so that he is aware of the effort put into this by you both to make this request a reality. Thanks for the update. You two rock!!

Marlon Brown

Interim City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

Facebook Live

To: Sarasota Interim City Manager Marlon Brown

So, working with Jan, it looks like we’ve basically got ourselves ready to go with streaming our CC Meetings to Facebook Live. The only outstanding question is regarding Closed Captioning. Currently, our system is not set up to feed the Captions into Zoom (and from there FB Live). That feed does exist though and I’m moderately confident we’ll be able to get that feed into Zoom.

Jan came up with what seems to me to be an excellent backup solution in the event that it’s not possible. Since the Captions are part of the Granicus feed, we could include in the FB live banner a statement that directs viewers who need the captions to Granicus with the provided link. I’ll look into this further this week and let you all know.

Miles Larsen

Manager Public Broadcasting

City of Sarasota

 

Sarasota bids farewell to Barwin

To: Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin

I certainly concur with some of the sentiments expressed by this letter writer, but not all. We all know what really happened with the monstrosity, and no amount of gaslighting gloss about the sexist “artist’s” supposed intentions will change that.

I said in my original quote to Tim that Unconditional Surrender didn’t represent this City.  But given the corruption, illegality, and willful domination of some at the expense of others that it embodies, perhaps it does, after all, perfectly capture this city’s ascendant ruling class.

I do wish you well in your retirement, and I am sorry that every time you drive by that thing, you will have to know that you steered things to keep that object of oppression in situ.  A “painful reminder” indeed.

Separately, I would like to acknowledge your strong, and greatly appreciated leadership on COVID-19 safety measures (within the limited confines of what our governor would allow), your championship of (most) of our City’s parks, and your laudable accomplishments in the areas of community policing and homelessness. Judging from the outside, the job of city manager appears to be a close to impossible role, particularly in a place as stratified as Sarasota.

You generally balanced the competing demands as well as any human could be expected to, and I join Commissioner Alpert in wishing you had reconsidered, although I don’t blame you a bit for saying “enough”.  I hope you will now have time to enjoy “sunny Sarasota”.  Perhaps you’ll peddle by me next time I’m at Bobby Jones taking pictures and say “hi”.  In the interim, in keeping with how I introduced myself to you, I’m attaching a photo recently taken at what I hope will become a nature preserve. Metamorphosis can offer lovely landings, and despite my un-abated righteous wrath, I do wish you one.

Kelly Franklin

Sarasota

 

Sarasota bids farewell to Barwin

To: Kelly Franklin

What a gorgeous photo, thank you for sharing it. I do hope to have more time now to get back to nature and perhaps even practice my own photography skills. Would love to do so at the future nature preserve and sanctuary at Bobby Jones.  I think the color and inherent beauty of Florida with its year around greenery and colorful flowers and birds and waters, are a big part of the reason so many of us like it here.

I very much appreciate your note for a couple of reasons beyond your taking a few moments to write it. Mostly to say that I hope the note represents that we can and have agreed to disagree on a subject, yet we can continue to respect each other.   In fact, the entire country desperately appears to need to relearn this lesson.   Every disagreement over public policy and decisions need not be a slash and burn – hostile, verbally brutal assault against each other.    

Everyone’s perspective should be taken as legitimate even when we don’t agree and don’t even understand it. In my 40 years of participating in and observing local, grass roots public decisions, 8 or 9 times out of 10 the best decisions, for the best reasons, are typically made.  Anger and accusation do not often overcome seasoned logic as policy makers do their best to synthesize all inputs.

Second, you also mentioned corruption in the context of the Unconditional Surrender. I suspect someone as smart and articulate as you would not level such a troubling charge against anyone just because you disagree with them. If you have solid information on any specific matter, especially locally, that appears to have violated the law, I encourage you to take it to the appropriate authorities. I have an ethical responsibility to ask you to come forward.   

Mar and I are very excited with our chance to reprogram and pursue some new chapters in our lives as we still have tons of passion, energy and curiosity and hope to contribute to doing what we can to make ourselves and the world a better place until our last breaths.

Thank you for your note, I do know you really care. Best wishes to you and Ron for a good, safe holiday season and in all of your future endeavors.

Tom Barwin

City Manager

City of Sarasota

 

AECOM lawsuit

To: Sarasota City Commission

This email is to advise that the Second District Court of Appeal has affirmed the May 17, 2019 Order entered by Circuit Judge Andrea McHugh which denied the motion to recover attorney fees from the City filed by AECOM Technical Services, Inc. in the lift station 87 suit.  The appellate court issued only a three-word opinion (attached) or what is known as a per curiam affirmance, meaning that the court chose not to issue an opinion explaining the reasons for its ruling on the appeal.  The practical effect of this is that AECOM will not be able to file an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court.

There is a possibility that AECOM could seek a rehearing, but this is not usually successful under these circumstances because there is no opinion explaining the reasons for the affirmance, which makes it very difficult to make an argument that the Court failed to consider or misconstrued a particular factual circumstance or legal argument.  AECOM could also file a motion specifically requesting a written opinion, which would have to be filed within 15 days or by December 31st.  In this case the City would file a response and the Court would likely rule on the motion within a short time thereafter.  But again, typically it is difficult to get such a motion granted.  If no further motions are filed within the time allotted by the rules, then this litigation will be concluded.

Briefly, by way of background, in early 2017, AECOM made a proposal for settlement to the City in the amount of 1.25 million dollars which the City subsequently rejected.  However, in order to avoid potential exposure to a claim for attorney fees as a result of rejecting a proposal for settlement, the applicable rules provide that at trial, the City would have had to recover at least 75% of the amount that was proposed to settle, which in this case would have been $937,500.00.  But, the City recovered zero.  Because zero is obviously not at least 75% of the amount of the settlement offer, AECOM attempted to recover attorney fees from the City, even though AECOM also recovered zero against the City on its Counterclaim against the City.  The motion sought to recover attorney fees commencing on the date that the City rejected the proposal for settlement.

The City argued that the proposal for settlement did not comply with the particularity requirements of the applicable statute and rule of civil procedure essentially because it contained contradictory provisions and was not clear whether it was a proposal to resolve all of the City’s claims against AECOM or only certain enumerated claims.  The Circuit Court agreed and denied AECOM’s motion to recover attorney fees against the City.  AECOM then appealed to the Second District Court of Appeal.  The appeal has resulted in the attached Opinion which denies the appeal and affirms the Order of the Circuit Court.  This is the last ongoing portion of this litigation.  The resolution of the AECOM appeal on the issue of entitlement to attorney fees with a per curiam affirmance is good news for the City.

Robert M. Fournier

City Attorney

City of Sarasota

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