Local Issues 2004
* Sarasota Salvation Army overflows with cold bodies as the
The people of Sarasota stood up and were heard. Bravo. It made a difference when parents and teachers stood up and told the school board they wanted to keep Planned Parenthood as a teacher of sex education.
* Junior League of Sarasota moves its Christmas sale to a
* Where do seasonal residents come from: New Yorkers 13.1 , Michigan at 7.4 percent, Ohio at 6.7 percent, Pennsylvania at 5.8 percent and Canadians at 5.5 percent, according to a study by the University of Florida. The average length of stay is five months. Sarasota ranks 8th in the state in number of seasonal residents, Lee County ranks first.
* Sarasota resident George O'Neil Jr. and an ex- A.G. Edwards broker named Christensen are being investigated for a ponzi, stock and fraudulent charity scheme involving millions of dollars.
* Sarasota County Sheriffs office requests $800,000 allocation to cover overtime expenses for two hurricanes this past summer.
* Sarasota County to vote on $7,500,000 in revenue bonds for Tervis Tumbler.
* Tiger Bay Club members hear debate on access to public records via the internet. The Florida courts squashed your rights to internet access to public records and asked a committee to study the issue. You can send your views to
No room at the Inn...
* The future of historic Sarasota H.S. which is 78 years old, has many options: a charter middle school run by the Sarasota Military Academy, and Visitor's Center, a Sarasota County History, a Sarasota Museum of Art, artists' live-work spaces, an adult high school, and for-profit proposal for affordable housing. The Sarasota School Board will make the final choice.
* Sarasota Memorial Hospital limits admissions as nursing shortage causes staffing problems.
* At least 40 birds have become sick
or died from what
* Area grows by more than
Cell phones not
Protect the rich
Is it millions or cents?
Florida's Attorney General Charlie Crist has been taking on big business with the consumers interest at heart. He has gone after the the oil companies for high gasoline prices, the phone companies for excessive charges and is trying to get the tobacco award reinstituted. It is nice to see the average citizen finally have an advocate.
* U.S. existing home sales up almost 6% in March. New homes surged around 9% in March. The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 5.84% last week from 5.77% the week before. Existing home sales for the Bradenton-Sarasota area were up 73% in March according to a survey from the Florida Association of Realtors and the University of Florida Research Center. Manatee County reported a 53% increase.
Planners decided that making a one way entrance to a new commercial store front on U.S. 41 was the best route to go. To exit you have to go to the rear of the buildings. It's like going around in circles.
Special April 1st Edition:* Publix puts everything on sale during peak spring break week.
Life is still good for the cows on Cattleman Road. Question is how will we fare after the cattle are long gone from Cattleman Road.
* Who has 1,000 cell phones and a $40,000 a month cell phone bill? Sarasota County. (Figures do not include the Sheriff's Department.)
* Sarasota County to test Nokomis beach water today again after a sewerage spill earlier in the week. If the water tests clean swimming will be allowed.
* State regulators will have to take
another look at a rate hike they approved for the state's three biggest
local phone companies.
* Low bid garbage contract winner has to opt out because they can't find a sub-contractor? Sarasota County garbage bid process goes from bad to worse:) Of course it's only around a $100 million contract. See Our Town 50 archives for background info.
* State aerial survey shows Manatee population down 13% from last year, around 400 lower.
* Domestic violence up 30% in Sarasota County in three years. SCOPE studies the problem.
* Whites become the minority in Florida public schools as ethnic minorities outnumber them for the first time.
This school year, whites make up 49.75 percent of students, followed by blacks (23.88 percent), Hispanics (21.7 percent), multiracial (2.34 percent) and Asians (2.04 percent).
* 7,000 seat sports arena planned for Lakewood Ranch gets review by public at meeting.
Florida Power and Light now wants you to donate almost $10 per month to their solar fund. It's optional of course. For every 10,000 people that donate they will build a solar facility (That comes to over $1 million dollars for every 10,000 people who sign up.) Solar should be as common place as running water in Florida. Every home should have solar. FPL should encourage homeowners via rebates to use solar hot water heaters and pool heaters.
* Sarasota School buses
* What's wrong with parents in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties. They aren't getting their children vaccinated according to state reports.
The real estate craze of buy em, fix em and rent em seems to be cooling down. Tons of homes bought as rental investments are now on the market in our area.
Sheriff Balkwill has tackled the plane crash investigation head on. Straight talk and putting it on the table always shines better in the public's eye.
Sarasota County has come a long way since the 70's-80's when it comes to economic development. In previous decades they refused to use Federal dollars to entice companies to move here. Now they are spear heading a collective effort to make a serious stand in broadening our economy. We can't depend on social security revenue for an abundance of reasons.
Venice wants to dump more effluent into Curry Creek. It's time to pay the piper and stop dumping Venice.
* Sarasota-Bradenton Airport wants to place new taxes on area residents.
* Sarasota County looks to charge people for fire fighter services when there is negligence or malice involved.
* Rep. Lindsay Harrington, R-Punta Gorda has brought a piece of legislation that would halt Florida law enforcement from tracking guns at pawn shops: What is Lindsay thinking? Some legislators will go to any length to appease constituents.
To: Publisher Our Town 50
Lights along U.S. 41. One light is red the next is green. Coordinated? Sometimes you can travel on U.S. 41 and make most of the green lights and other times there is nothing but red lights.
* Sarasota City Commission hems and hors about hiring in-house attorneys. The city spends almost two million dollars a year on outside attorney fees. They have done this for the past 24 years.
* SHT puts theatre group and government officials under the spotlight as the Players Theatre plans their trip to perform in China. Sarasota City Officials say it will foster stronger economic ties. Manatee County plans on sending their officials to Cuba even though no trade is allowed.
Sarasota-Bradenton Airport has been running deficit revenues for at least 3 years. The airlines are committed to stay until 2006. Will the airport be in existence with full service when the current contracts with the airlines expires?
* Manatee County Commissioners headed to Cuba. They want to be prepared in case the U.S. lifts trade embargos against Cuba, so they say :) They are serious. But they can't expect us to buy it. Castro above practices his golf game in anticipation of their arrival:)
* Manatee County looks at adding 30 days to the school calendar. Smart move. See commentary.
Why give out sensitive information about busting international drug dealers in Sarasota? The SHT lets the cat out of the bag by publishing that Sarasota City Police work on sting operations to bring drug dealers to Sarasota. Is the SHT in business to help the drug dealers or the police?
Affordable housing? Home prices in this area were depressed for over 20 years prior to the recent double digit run up in home prices. Waterfront homes used to sell for $150,000. 3-2's for $50,000. Wake up this is almost 2004 and prices have gone up. Most normal areas of our country have seen double digit increases before. It just so happens this is the first time it happened here. Welcome to the real world.
Sarasota County grapples with obnoxious signage along U.S. 41. At the same time a panel wants to make it a designated scenic highway.
State pays for gas tank spill at Mr. CB's.
Parts of Beneva Rd. are like a broken trail but aren't scheduled to be repaved until 2005
After centuries of not enforcing the sale of fireworks in Florida government wants to get serious about banning them. The owners of this store in Sarasota have seven stores.
* DEP head reverses his staff's decision and disallows 2,000 acre OMC phosphate mine in Manatee County. The DEP head followed the same conclusions as a judge who said that the original DEP ruling was a disgrace. The phosphate mine stood to pollute the Peace River. Bravo to the Judge and the DEP head
* Manatee County says they want $3 million in unpaid water bills from Sarasota County. Sarasota County left some water valves open and exceeded the contract usage amount by 2 million gallons. Thus Manatee County is owed the $3 million impact fee. OK where is the $3 million dollar water valve man
* Florida leads the nation in job growth. In
November alone it added over 20,000 jobs. With an unemployment rate of
4.3% the state appears economically strong.
* Red light runners beware in Sarasota. The county is installing white lights on traffic signals so that law enforcement can monitor red light runners from all directions.
* Local Comcast official says he thinks they will be the company of choice when Verizon moves into the market with TV services to challenge Comcast cable. Comcast may need to rethink their position as most people verbally bash Comcast with horror stories of their poor service and high rates
* Sarasota County Commission discusses: new water line from Sarasota to Manatee; infiltration of water lines by sewer lines; pin hole links in copper residential pipes; adding 3,000 water customers a year; residential radio transmitted water usage meters. 88% of the counties water bills are paid electronically by customers.
Our Town 50 readership spikes over summer hurricane period
as readers from near and far tuned in get the latest information. Oh,
the impact of instant publishing raises its head.
* Sarasota County faces major water shortages up to 2 and 1/2 times over demand in order to keep up with growth. The County heard from its Water Management Director and voted to buy 9.75 million gallons of water a day to replace water they buy from Manatee County.
* Judge Rapkin tells City of Sarasota their law banning sleeping in city parks is illegal. The City was trying to keep the homeless out of public places.
* New study shows local migrant workers in area earn less than $9,000 a year.
* Sarasota County Administrator gets $22,000 raise. Mills votes no others vote yes. County employees got a 3% raise Ley got a 14% raise.
* With a 5% growth in jobs the Sarasota-Bradenton area ranked second in the nation for job growth in 2001. More recently it ranked sixth in the nation for job growth.
* Sarasota EMS says Sarasota Memorial Hospital occasionally turns down critically ill patients who then must be driven to hospitals further away.
* Sarasota County and Manatee County want to put traffic intersection surveillance cameras at traffic lights but state bans them. Studies have shown that red light cameras reduce red light runners by up to 37% in other states.
* The Missing: 1,000 students did not return to Charlotte County schools after Hurricane Charley. No one knows where they are going to school.
* "Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink." Our Town 50 proposed to Sarasota County two years ago to increase their reservoir water storage capability instead of tapping our aquifer. Now the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority is considering the same idea.
Better than puppies
tree when they claim cable TV is "better than puppies". Before you know it they will be telling us cable is better than chocolate or a massage or your child. It's enough to make you want to drop cable service.
Hurricane expo that was canceled due to the unexpected arrival of hurricane Charley will be this Saturday. Call Sarasota County to find out where:) They refuse to post it to our Community Events calendar so the public can be better informed. They say they want to 'brand their info'. Are we talking brand flakes, GM, Microsoft or ? Since when did county government become a brand. It's a government monopoly that is created to serve the public not create a brand.
* June was a hot month
estate. In Sarasota
home sales were up 66% while home prices are up 30% from a year ago. Prices in Naples were up 42%.
War Zone - no enforcement?
Jim Ley, Sarasota County Administrator responds.
I have asked the Sheriff for his response. As you know the county Commission banded the sale of aerial fireworks. However, they cannot control people's personal behavior - whether it is going to another County to buy the fireworks or their setting them off. The Sheriff has worked very closely with the County code staff in enforcing against those who tried to get around the ban, running several sting operations. I was at Siesta that night and talked with several Deputies who not only remarked at how well the ban was working but who also took off at the drop of a hat anytime that they could see something fly into the air. Seeing them and catching them are two different things although I did personally witness them apprehending several violators. It is truly unfortunate that people get hurt by the irresponsible deeds of others.
* Woman charged with child abuse at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Why didn't this information come out sooner?
No more gates
* 98% of Sarasota County Fire Fighters say they lack confidence in head of department. 6/04
* Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor,
Lemon Bay, and the
* Sarasota County residential garbage rate may decrease by pennies while commercial rates go up. County looks at extending $100 million dollar contract.
* Bartow sexual harassment.
Three officials in the state Department of Transportation's District 1 office here, including top boss Ricky Langley, have resigned due to a sexual harassment investigation.
Langley, 37, supervised 880 workers in Polk and 11 other southwest Florida counties. Also resigning were Michael Williams, 37, district director of production. Maryemma Bachelder, 35, public information director, resigned Friday. The department is investigating a complaint that Langley "conducted a sexually hostile work environment."
* Sarasota County will charge almost $10,000 in impact fees for new homes if new road fees go into place.
Sarasota County Fiscal Sustainability
Don't question us
Jorge Fernandez should have consulted with the Sarasota County Commissioners before taking it upon himself to file a law suit of this magnitude. As Commissioner Jon Thaxton pointed out, this type of law suit could have tremendous repercussions in sending out a very harsh message to the residents of Sarasota County. Will big brother sue you if you question his decision?
* New study to show that Sarasota County lost almost 100,000 trees between 1976 and 1985. What about 1986 to 2003?
* Sarasota Memorial Hospital goes
into the health
* Bradenton's Island Middle School ex-Exec. Director claims board changed grades of friends.
* Sarasota - Bradenton Airport says they had encouraging words with at least five new airlines to service the airport.
* Venice woman bit by dog is told she doesn't need rabies shots by ER physician. Health department refutes that.
Venice debates how to develop 125 acres by the airport with a marina and YMCA.
* Manatee County Sheriff says he will issue alert when a child is reported missing. Most local law enforcement would wait 24 hours before even investigating a missing teenager.
* Venice Police Department says they need to do a better job with paper work in order to get accredited.
* Manatee County residents to vote March 9th to decide if they want to raise sales tax in order to buy more environmental land.
* Judge Dakan rules that Sarasota County legally re-opened garbage bidding by not awarding contract to Waste Management.
* Another motorcyclist is killed in Sarasota. He was riding his new Harley bike without a helmet. The rider on the left is wearing a helmet.
* Florida has the highest ballot passage rate for citizen initiatives. 76%. Gov Bush and state legislators want to stop citizen ballots. What does that tell you?
* Sarasota County to drop Chamber and start it's own "Economic Development" Division? We'll find out in January if its so.
* 40 uncovers stretch of I-75 south of Clarke Road headed to Venice has extreme amount of accidents. Experts think its the asphalt when it gets wet.
* Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead put a stop to access to public records over the internet on Tuesday. The order will be in place for 19 months to allow a committee to come up with some suggestions on how to handle public information.
* New report shows Sarasota County has high rates of , domestic violence, colorectal lung, breast cancer, and , melanoma based on a study released by the Sarasota Community Health Improvement Project. For more info contact: Cassie Grove at 365-8751.
* Graduation rates in Manatee county go from 56% to 74% after schools raise attendance age to 18 from 16. Bravo to the school system, Sheriff Charlie Wells and John McKay who were responsible for initiating the change
* Sheriff Balkwill wants to take over Sailor Circus under the PALS program. The school district currently runs the circus.
Water, Water..no where
* Dr. Louis Robison, interim principal of Booker Middle School, passed up for Sarasota School Superintendent. Why?
* Manatee water supply to Sarasota will drop from 14 million gallons a day to 5 million gallons a day. The contract for water will last until 2025. What then? We'll let you know.
* Sarasota County wins $3,000,000 in reduced water fees it owed Manatee; Manatee County wins 4 million gallons back a day of water that it owed Sarasota County. Everybody smiles :) The extra $3 mill Sarasota owed was from the county leaving a valve open that consumed extra water. Was it really water down the drain?
* So what took the SHT so long to ban handgun sales in their newspaper? A murder. Common sense would have told anyone that promoting the sale of guns would facilatate murder. E-Bay has banned the sale of gun's for years and they are only eight years old. The SHT is over 50 years old. Next question is why do they carry adult escort ads?
* Sarasota Memorial lays off 21 workers for a total of 42 layoffs. The savings will amount to over $3 million dollars.
* Venice looks to set up it's own EMS service and drop using Sarasota County. Economy of scale would dictate that wouldn't be a smart move.
* Almost a million dollars for
"Homeland Security" in Sarasota County? Sarasota County will have to
decide if they will match Federal funds to support the grant.
Do we want more high rise condos or
houses blocking views? "If adopted by county commissioners after meetings on for all citizens and visitors,
Do we want more high rise condos or houses blocking views?
"If adopted by county commissioners after meetings on
for all citizens and visitors,