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SRQ DAILY Feb 17, 2024

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The impactful contributions of these people and organizations create the vibrant community we all value and appreciate today. "

- Phillip P. Lanham, Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

[Argus]  North Port’s “Unorganized Analysis” deserves a second look
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

The Argus Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan, business membership-based organization in Sarasota County. We have members from the southern border of the county to the northern border, from the barrier islands to east of the interstate. We provide business leadership to important community issues within Sarasota County, that includes our southern municipalities, like North Port.

Personally, North Port has always held a special place in my heart having represented the city on the County Commission. I especially fell in love with its residents and business owners, they are good people who love their community. My Argus Board of Directors has been steadfast in my continued involvement in North Port, I still spend a lot of time volunteering in many forms in North Port.

Last Spring, the city of North Port proposed steep fee increases to some of its fees. The fee changes came in a package of about 29 pages with some fees going up 100% and some brand new fees. There was no backup provided in the public meetings for some of these fees, other than a few sentences of explanation. Many had listed “Analysis and comparison to local market fee rates.”

The Argus Foundation sought to get information and backup on these fees including the analysis and comparisons. We asked verbally and were told to do a formal records request with the City Clerk. In order to get the backup, which should have been readily available to the public free of charge, we received a bill for around $800.

The City Commission passed these fees knowing several members of the public had requested the information and were unable to obtain it. 

We spent some time contemplating paying this bill, even after the commission passed the fees, to get the information until recently when the City Commission had a workshop on fees.

At that workshop, the City Manager used brand new terminology to talk about the work done that led to increased fees. The conversation went from “Analysis and comparison to local market fee rates,” as originally listed, to what the City Manager now called “Unorganized Analysis.” The City Manager, to his credit, proposed an independent third-party analysis of the fees in the future. This was informally agreed to by the City Commission.

The Argus Foundation commends the City Manager and the City Commission for recognizing the flaws in its transparency on this issue. It is an excellent step to repairing trust with the community. However, a true dedication to transparency would be demonstrated by the City Commission, whose job it is to hold staff accountable for recommendations, to go back and re-examine the data in a public way. 

Everyone should have access to the “Unorganized Analysis” that caused staff to make the fee increase recommendations and the Commission to vote for it. They should have access to it without having to pay for it, and the City Commission should understand what “Unorganized Analysis” means themselves in a public setting so they can create any necessary policy to safeguard the public in the future.

We congratulate the Commission on their initial steps, but they have more work to do on this issue.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

Image courtesy Pixabay by Kevin Schneider.

[Gulf Coast]  Impact, Inspiration, Influence - Celebrating Black History Month
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Black History Month is a time to reflect, honor and celebrate the achievements, contributions, rich culture and history of Black people in the United States. Gulf Coast Community Foundation is actively investing in the Black history makers of tomorrow. 

The theme of this year’s Black History Month is African Americans and the Arts, exploring the major influence Black people have had in the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, film, music and more. 

This inspired me to share with you about a work of art on loan to Gulf Coast called Faces of Valor. The painting was commissioned by Gulf Coast Board member Frank Martucci and his wife Katherine. The Martuccis were in search of a piece that celebrates the contributions African Americans have made to the creation and preservation of our country. The painting, completed in 2023 by artist Bob Crofut, features a Black Union soldier on the battlefield. We are thrilled to display this painting at our Philanthropy Center until it can be permanently hung in the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition’s Arts, Culture & History Center. Phase 1 of the center, the Leonard Reid Family Home, will open to the public soon. We thank Vickie Oldham, SAACC president and CEO, for all the wonderful work she and her team are doing to educate our community about the incredible contributions made by Sarasota’s earliest Black leaders. 

As part of the Overtown Mural Initiative, Gulf Coast sponsored a mural featuring Reverend Lewis and Irene Colson. Rev. Lewis Colson came to Sarasota in 1885 and drove the stake at Five Points and helped in platting the city of Sarasota, according to Newtown Alive’s history of the community. The mural is centrally located on the Planned Parenthood building, in what we now know as the Rosemary District, and adjacent to the Rosemary Cemetery where Lewis and Irene were laid to rest. Notably, they are the only two Black community members buried in the cemetery. This made the building an ideal location to carry on their legacy.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe receives annual support through Gulf Coast’s Arts Appreciation Grants which offer unrestricted funding to cornerstone arts organizations. WBTT plays a vital and dynamic role in our arts community, debuting moving world premieres and incredible musical experiences, plus world-class education and mentoring programs for future stars. 

Art Center Sarasota will be presenting an exhibition by local photographer Michael Kinsey from the Listening to Black Voices series. The photographs portray local, national, and international leaders in Sarasota and Manatee’s Black community. These powerful portraits have highlighted a civil rights leader, legendary journalist, educators, artists, and more who share their resilient experiences, obstacles, and triumphs. The exhibit will be on display at Art Center Sarasota, a free art gallery open to the public, March 14 – April 20. We are honored to support this series and Kinsey’s work since its inception in 2020.

The impactful contributions of these people and organizations create the vibrant community we all value and appreciate today.  

Phillip P. Lanham is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

Photo courtesy Harry Sayer. Headshot courtesy Michael Price.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Harvest Farmers Market at Wellen Park , June 25 – December 29, 9 am to 1 pm

Visit Fresh Harvest, the newly launched weekly farmers market in Downtown Wellen. Fresh Harvest offers a selection of local goods from nearly 40 local vendors. Fresh Harvest takes place every Sunday in Downtown Wellen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can peruse different vendor booths and stock up on a variety of goods. Vendors will offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced food, including herbs, spices, cut flowers, teas, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, syrups, baked goods, pickled foods, fresh seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, milk and prepared food and beverages. A limited selection of craft vendors also participate in the farmers market. For a listing of participating vendors and more information on Fresh Harvest Farmers Market, visit wellenpark.com/events/fresh-harvest-farmers-market. Downtown Wellen, 19745 Wellen Park Blvd., Venice.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place , July 28 – May 31, 6 to 9 p.m.

Head out to Waterside Place for a rocking evening as part of the Lakewood Ranch Sights and Sounds Program. Enjoy a live concert in partnership with Easterseals and EveryoneRocks, featuring artists who are rocking their spectrum. This event is free and open to the public; there is limited seating at the Plaza, but attendees are welcome to bring their own seats. Food and beverages will be available from numerous Waterside Place merchants. For more information on shows, dates, and times, visit lakewoodranch.com/sights-sounds/. Waterside Place, 1560 Lakefront Dr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Working Conditions at The Ringling , August 26 – March 3, varied times

Explore labor through The Ringlings Working Conditions photography exhibit, running until March 3, 2024. The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries radically changed the nature of human labor. That era is defined by a global shift from producing goods by hand to manufacturing by machines and technologies that emphasized efficiency. Working Conditions explores the myriad ways in which photographs have communicated ideas about labor since the nineteenth century through examples from The Ringlings photography permanent collection. For more information, visit ringling.org.

[SOON]  FOOD: Siesta Key Rum Distillery Tours , September 2 – September 30, Various times

Siesta Key Rum runs free year-round tours for guests to learn the story of the craft distillery, the awards they have won and the secret to how they make their rums taste so good. During our 30-45 minute tour we will discuss the following topics: history of Siesta Key Rum, an overview of the awards our small company has won, what makes our rums taste so good, the rum-making process from mashing and fermentation to distillation, barrel aging and bottling of our rums. After the tour, we welcome you to sample a freshly made Siesta Key Rum cocktail, stock up on your favorite rums and browse our gift shop. 2212 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens , November 11 – August 31, N/a

Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens will be on view through August 31, 2024 at the Historic Spanish Point campus. Selby Gardens is excited to present the extraordinary imagery of photographer and conservationist Clyde Butcher throughout the grounds of the Historic Spanish Point campus. Large-scale prints on aluminum of Butcher’s beautiful photographs of plants, animals, and habitats of Florida will be exhibited amid the natural landscape of the 30-acre waterfront preserve, enabling the public to engage with the artist’s work like never before. In the tradition of earlier landscape photographers like Ansel Adams, Butcher captures the beauty and majesty of America’s natural treasures in dramatic black and white. The unique environments of Florida have been subjects of particular interest to Butcher since the 1980s, when he was first introduced to the magic and mystery of sites such as Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. Nature Through the Lens will include Butcher’s photographs of regional locales such as Myakka River State Park and Casey Key. This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Clyde Butcher Gallery & Studio in Venice, Florida. For more information, visit selby.org.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Coffee with a Scientist , December 12 – March 26, 10am

Join us for our Coffee With A Scientist series, a free public event held on Tuesdays in Boca Grande and hosted by Mote Marine Laboratory. Hear from Mote scientists on January 16, February 13 and March 26 as they share with you the latest in their groundbreaking research and their plans for the future with a Q and A session to follow. On Visit mote.org/pages/coffee to sign up and for more information.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Music Mondays , January 8 – March 25, Various times

The 2024 season of Sarasota Institute of the Lifetime Learning Music Monday Series presents performances and lively conversations with renowned and emerging performers, January 8-March 25, on Mondays at 10:30 a.m. at Church of the Palms in Sarasota; and Mondays at 3 p.m. at Venice Presbyterian Church in Venice. https://sillsarasota.org/index.htm.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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