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SRQ Daily Feb 9, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Most New College students graduate with no debt, and those who graduate with debt have less on average than graduates of any other state university in Florida. "

- Donal O'Shea, New College of Florida
 

[Under The Hood]  Springing For Springs
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

When it comes to preserving natural lands, voters have shown a willingness to tax themselves. Whether it’s a recent voter item passed in November to fund the Legacy Trail or statewide measures bearing the promise of saving more properties as parkland, it’s always proved a surprisingly easy sell to ask voters to take on such a burden.

But lawmakers show far less interest in spending earmarked money as intended, particularly at the state level. Ask supporters of Amendment 1, passed by voters in 2014 with a whopping 75 percent of voters’ support.  In Manatee County, nearly 76 percent of voters supported the measure, and in Sarasota County, more than 78 percent voted in approval.

So it frustrated long-time advocates for the land like Jono Miller, who lamented recently to Sarasota County’s Legislative Delegation that the dollars routinely get spent on matters besides land acquisition. Sewer projects. Risk management projects. Leather seats (well, executive overhead).

He’s happy to see some money come back to the region for projects around the Myakka area, but in general, he feels voters here agreed to buy a greener future that keeps getting put off.  Since Amendment 1 passed and voters agreed to have a third of doc stamp fees designated for land conservation, Sarasota County alone has sent $64.8 million to Tallahassee for Amendment 1 and Manatee County has sent $48.8 million.

Where would he like it spent? Since close to 8 percent of Amendment 1 dollars should go to Florida Springs, he’d like to see lawmakers put the dollars into Warm Mineral Springs and into Little Salt Spring in North Port.

The former happens to be Florida’s hottest and most mineralized spring. It’s attracted Eastern European health-seekers to the region for decades. The latter, meanwhile, has been the site of archeological finds that shed light on the lives of some of Florida’s earliest human inhabitants.

But the truth is Florida officials tend to spend these dollars in areas on North Florida, where the capital happens to sit. Miller said Florida’s southern springs get short shrift.

Of course, land is also a little cheaper in those heavily rural areas where spring dollars more often get spent. But then isn’t getting the power of state coffers behind key acquisitions a big part of why voters approved a statewide tax in the first place? It would be nice to see some serious expenses covered for the preservation of historic and ecologically significant projects in the region.

The threat to dollars, though, isn’t desire but competing needs. Lawmakers often use a new pot of money to plug other parts of the state budget, whether it’s the Sadowski housing trust or funds for buying land. Ironically, lawmakers seem much more reticent to charge new taxes on voters anxious to spend the money whenever asked.

A wealthy county like Sarasota can’t expect every dollar sent to the state to yield a dollar returned in government spending, Miller said, but it would be nice to see some of it come back home.

And Sarasota area voters certainly have made their priorities known when it comes to land acquisition. The Legacy Trail project approved in November will mean $65 million in revenue to complete and connect a public trail system in the works for years. County voters also twice approved environmentally sensitive lands and neighborhood parkland programs.

If all these taxes won such broad and consistent supporters from voters, you would think politicians could see the political capital that would come from actually spending it on facilities the public for years can enjoy.

Jacob Ogles is contributing senior editor to SRQ Media Group. 

Photo: Warm Mineral Springs

[Higher Education]  ROI on a College Degree

What is the return to students of their investment of time, money and energy in a college degree?

A lot. On average, the lifetime earnings of a college graduate are at least double those of graduates with only a high school education. This financial advantage, however, accumulates over multiple decades, and many recent college graduates find themselves stymied by high levels of student debt.

In this context, we are pleased most New College students graduate with no debt, and those who graduate with debt have less on average than graduates of any other state university in Florida. We were especially thrilled The Princeton Review just named New College of Florida to its 2019 list of “Best Value Colleges,” ranking us among the top 200 schools in the nation that provide students with exceptional ROI (return on investment).

 While ROI is a term more often associated with business investments than with educational institutions, The Princeton Review assigns a high ROI rating to schools that offer stellar academics, affordable cost and strong career prospects for graduates.

As a public institution in the State University System of Florida, we are able to offer in-state tuition and guaranteed scholarships. Our students receive an outstanding education that prepares them not just for their first job, but for jobs they will hold that do not yet exist. We have alumni whose job titles include: User Experience Researcher, Content Strategist, Interactive Designer, and Social Media Manager. These jobs came into existence in the past three decades, thanks to advances in technology.

Nor did these graduates study engineering, technology or business when they were students at New College. They pursued liberal arts majors in the natural sciences, in the social sciences, and in the humanities and arts. In their theses, they explored a breadth of topics, including theology in the literary works of C.S. Lewis, fragmentation and tension in abstract art, comparative methylation rates of nucleic acids, and government instability in Haiti.

At New College, we prepare intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement. By cultivating young people’s natural curiosity, we help them achieve their potential. Ultimately, that’s what a college education should do and it is the true measure of ROI. But it is especially sweet when the investment does not involve taking on debt that will limit career and educational choices after graduation.

Donal O’Shea is president of New College of Florida. 

Photo: New College Commencement

[On Planning]  What's in a Name?
Louanne Roy

When I read Wednesday's SRQ Daily story on the $5 million gift to Selby Gardens, I thought of William Shakespear's famous lines: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell sweet?" I wonder if the opposite were true. Would public perception change if a garage imposing on my neighborhood were named something else? Would a massive garage be celebrated if it were called a "Sky Garden" or a "Vertical Garden?" 

What Selby Gardens is planning is an urban scale garage, 270 feet long, 170 feet wide, by 75 feet tall with parking for 475 vehicles at the entrance to my residential neighborhood. This garage is similar to the two garages in the middle of Downtown Sarasota. On top of this garage will be a 10,310-foot "destination" restaurant, bringing major commercial intrusion to my designated neighborhood street.

To call this a "garden" diminishes the negative impact that this garage will have on a stable, highly taxed neighborhood.

My concerns and those of my neighbors have been casually and, sometimes, angrily dismissed. At the VIP opening to the Gaugin exhibit, attendees were told that those neighbors complaining will dine at the "destination" restaurant once it is built. At a neighborhood meeting, a Selby Gardens Board member shouted down the speaker who intended to raise concerns. Jennifer Rominieki, Selby's chief executive officer, speaks at public meetings saying Selby wants to be a "good neighbor." However, only the minimal alterations of plans have been made to address neighbors concerns.

We all love Selby Gardens as a garden. What is planned is no garden!

Louanne Roy is a resident of Sarasota. 

Rendering from Selby Gardens master plan



[SCOOP]  Gypsy Gardener Paints Large Mural

Calling all Instagammers, photo enthusiasts and art lovers….. Teresa Stone, The Gypsy Gardener, has painted a one-of-a-kind mural on the outside of The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime. The image has her unique style and embraces the indoor indie market’s atmosphere. Come see for yourself at 821 Apricot Ave, Sarasota. The Bazaar is open Thursday - Saturday 10am -3pm and 1st Wednesdays 5-7pm. You can see the mural anytime. 

[SCOOP]  Aviara Is Launching - Only at MarineMax

MarineMax is excited to be the exclusive U.S. distribution partner for Aviara boats. The all-new Aviara AV32 is a 32’ luxury day boat that blends modern style and elevated performance in a way you’ve never seen before. And it’s only available at MarineMax. Catch the Aviara debut at the Progressive® Miami International Boat Show February 14 - 18, or visit us online to meet this new brand. 

MarineMax.com

[SOON]  UMBC receives NEA Art Works grant for Margaret Re's "A Designed Life"

The Center for Architecture Sarasota is pleased to present A Designed Life: Contemporary American Textiles, Wallpapers, and Containers & Packaging, 1951-1954. This is an historical exhibition that is based on three significant traveling exhibitions of contemporary massproduced, American-designed consumer goods that were commissioned by the U.S. Department of State in the early 1950s. The three historical exhibitions — Contemporary American Textiles designed by Florence Knoll; Contemporary American Wallpapers designed by Tom Lee, and Containers and Packaging designed by Will Burtin — were each developed as collections of industry-specific consumer goods, designed and manufactured in the spirit of American modernism. The Center for Architecture Sarasota will open the exhibition to the public on Thursday, February 7, 2019 and it will remain at the Center till April 30, 2019. 

cfasrq.org

[SOON]  SRQ To Host TSA Pre Check Temporary Enrollment Center Event

The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) invites community members and passengers to enroll in the popular TSA Pre✓® expedited screening program. This temporary enrollment event will take place February 25, 2019 thru March 8, 2019. TSA Pre✓® is an expedited screening program that enables identified low-risk air travelers to enjoy a smart and more efficient screening experience. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, light outerwear or belts. Today, TSA Pre✓® has more than 450 lanes at 200+ U.S. airports. Enroll in TSA Pre✔® today and begin to enjoy the expedited security screening program that helps take the stress out of travel, more information available. 

[SCOOP]  Starry Night Soiree to Welcome Seidensticker Family as Honorary Event Chairs

Please welcome The Seidensticker Family, from Tableseide Restaurant Group, as the Honorary Chairs of the Starry Night Soirée.  The 2019 Soiree will be held on February 23rd at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and benefits the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society is attacking cancer from every angle. From funding research, providing free rides to treatment and places to stay during chemo, your support helps make a difference for all patients with all types of cancer.  

[SCOOP]  Local Partnership Creates Legal Lifeline for Teenagers in Foster Care

Imagine you’re a teenager who has drifted between living out of cars and a dozen different foster care homes. You just want two things: a stable home and your independence. But after aging out of the system, you discover your own mom has stolen your social security number and ruined your credit. Just as you’re beginning your journey into adulthood, you are now struggling to qualify for housing, unable to take out college loans, and can’t even start a cellphone plan—all through no fault of your own. This painful scenario is a reality many foster care children endure alone. In response, Legal Aid of Manasota recently launched a Legal Lifeline for Youth program to represent foster youth ages 14 and up in the 12th Judicial Circuit. There are more than 1,600 children in foster care in Sarasota and Manatee counties, and even more who have aged out. In the foster care system, the only party not entitled to an attorney is the child. The majority are left to juggle complex legal nightmares alone to claim their independence and fight back against fraud. This unique program will utilize two full-time attorneys to represent children at all stages of dependency proceedings; ensure judges have information to make decisions; engage in conflict resolution; and coordinate placement and transition plans which are the least disruptive to the child. Funded by a three-year, $540,000 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, the pilot program will expand partnerships with organizations like Guardian Ad Litem, Harvest House, JFCS, the Sarasota County Bar Association, and others. 

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: 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. 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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