Monday, March 30, 2015

A letter from Cathy Antunes

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you for signing the petition for Integrity in Sarasota government.

To serve ethically, Christine Robinson must choose between being a County Commissioner or working as Executive Director of the Argus Foundation.
Doing both jobs at the same time compromises her primary responsibility -- to serve the people of Sarasota unencumbered by competing interests.

Reports indicate that Argus Foundation members pay $5000 to join. The Executive Director of Argus has lobbied local government since 1985, on issues including impact fees, land use, zoning and elected mayor, to name a few. Argus has every right to lobby, but hiring a County Commissioner is an abuse of power and gross violation of the public interest.

In our ongoing effort to restore Integrity to our local government, please do the following:

1. Encourage other Sarasota residents to sign the petition. Today we are at 480 signatures. Has your spouse signed? Your neighbors? Please share the link and/or this e-mail with others.

2. Join us this Wednesday, April 1st, at 12:45 p.m. at the Rally for Integrity at the North Entrance of the County Administration Building (across the street from the Post Office in downtown Sarasota), 1660 Ringling Boulevard:

Rally for Integrity
April 1, 2015
12:45 pm
1660 Ringling Blvd. 

Thank you for standing up for Integrity!

Kind regards,

Cathy Antunes

Saturday, March 28, 2015

If Sarasota is "desirable," then what?

via SRQ Daily 

This piece about growth by Sarasotan Kevin Cooper leaves us a bit unclear. It ends:
"Growth is the inevitable indication of a desirable community. Given the fact that Sarasota’s net internal decline has increased over the last 10-years, while at the same time continuing to grow, it would appear that the area is becoming increasingly more desirable."
What is the significance of the observation? Lots of things are "desirable." Some are so desirable they are overrun, plundered, or destroyed. To have a desirable community, if that's what Mr. Cooper means, in part means knowing how to keep it intact.

Sarasota has traditionally opted for slow growth, which has helped maintain its desirability, relative to other counties around the state. What's needed is a sensible self-determining plan to ensure that it continues to be desirable, rather than overrun by those seeking to cash in on market trends.

Former County Commissioner Jon Thaxton had more to say about this matter of self-determination in the Alternative Visions Forum recently sponsored by the Better Government Association.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Can Commissioner Robinson serve two masters?

Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson now is also Executive Director Robinson of The Argus Foundation.

What is The Argus Foundation? According to its new website

"We keep a broad community perspective. We create the future. We offer solutions."

What sort of future does Argus wish to create? What sorts of "solutions" will it offer? And, how broad is the perspective Argus brings to Sarasota's public dialogue?

The Argus Foundation's 30-year track record can be glimpsed below. The statements in italics are verbatim from the Foundation's former website:

Argus is pro Big Corporation:
As a member of The Argus Foundation you will be associating with the president's and CEO's of some of Sarasota's largest and most well-established corporations. 

Argus is impatient with government:
What good is an economic development plan if business cannot rely on government plans for commercial development?

Argus on the 2050 Comprehensive Plan:
There has been a historic perception in Sarasota that we could maintain our quality of life by thwarting growth. A vocal minority has been aggressive in embedding land use regulations into the County Comprehensive Plan making it difficult for responsible development.

Argus is primarily concerned with the "well being" of one segment of Sarasota County's people:
Today, the Argus Foundation has 170 active members made up of a broad cross section of the business and professional community representing more than 50 different industries.

Argus is devoted to one interest group:
. . . the need for a rational business agenda far outweighs the other agendas individual members may bring to the table.

Can someone employed by this group seriously represent all of Sarasota's people?

Sarasota County Commissioner Robinson AND 
Executive Director Robinson, Argus Foundation

Should this conflict of interest end?

Sign the Petition


Come downtown to the April 1 Rally

North Entrance 
County Administration Building
1660 Ringling Blvd.
12:45 pm

Amendment 1 has our support, but where are our elected officials?

via the Herald-Tribune

Jono Miller:

" . . . the ballot measure passed four to one in Sarasota County. For sticklers, it garnered 78.09 percent of the vote, a seldom-reached plurality. That was great news for Sarasota, which has two highly ranked Florida Forever sites awaiting funding, and another just on the other side of the county line in Manatee County.. . . 
"When my ancestor, Hugh Archer Corley, served on the Florida Cabinet, only half of Florida was owned by private interests. Today private ownership in the state has increased to nearly three-quarters -- most of it sold at very low prices to fuel Florida's economy. Amendment 1 enables us to buy back land that we now realize should have been retained as a public asset." Read more...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Developer: "I have 3 votes in my pocket"

via Herald-Tribune:

Palmer Ranch developer Hugh Culverhouse Jr. sued fellow developers Randy Benderson and Henry Rodriguez over a 2010 land deal. He alleged they colluded to sink the mega-development. (March 13, 2015)(Herald-Tribune staff photo by Nick Adams)
Published: Monday, March 16, 2015 at 11:16 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 16, 2015 at 3:37 p.m.
SARASOTA - A pair of Southwest Florida's most prominent developers used backroom political deals with elected officials and conspired in secret meetings to doublecross their one-time partner on a major land deal, a Sarasota jury concluded on Monday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Shine a Light for Integrity in Sarasota

On Wednesday, April 1, 2015, at 12:45 p.m. in downtown Sarasota, a diverse and non-partisan group of Sarasota taxpayers will shine a bright spotlight on the conflicts of interest and lack of integrity plaguing Sarasota County government.

This community-powered "bright light" will focus first on a Sarasota County Commissioner who is now simultaneously employed as the paid
executive director of an influential local lobbying organization.

As one Sarasota County Commissioner and another former County Commissioner recently noted, the job of commissioner is far more than
a full-time job, one saying it demands 60-80 hours/week.

We believe it is untenable and unseemly for a commissioner to be
serving “two masters” in this brazen arrangement, and we also ask,
which of the two masters is getting short shrift?

If you share our incredulity at this and other local examples of the misbehavior and blatant conflicts of interest that seem to be increasingly on display in our county government, then on April 1st we will need an hour or two of your valuable time, in order that you can add your voice to our clarion call, when we will demand INTEGRITY in our county government!

Please plan to join us when we will debut our challenge to the developer-coddling politicians and the cynicism and disillusionment they foster in our

On this day, we will demand genuine "integrity" from our elected officials as well as the other public servants and county staff who work on our behalf.

Please stay tuned for further information, which will be shared in the
weeks ahead!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Kind regards,

Your energized and motivated neighbors and friends.

April 1

12:45 pm
County Administration Building
North Entrance
1660 Ringling Blvd.
Downtown Sarasota

Please RSVP at this Facebook address. Thank you!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

For Letters to the Editor

Those interested in submitting a letter to the editor of their local newspaper will find below a listing of newspapers and links to submit a letter:


Sarasota Herald-Tribune: CLICK HERE to find the online form. Length: less than 1400 characters (roughly 250 words).

Bradenton Herald: CLICK HERE to find the online form (half-way down the page). Length: 300 words.

Venice Gondolier: 
Or:  CLICK HERE to find the online form

Or CLICK HERE to find the online form

North Port/Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda:

North Port 
Or CLICK HERE to find the online form

Charlotte Sun: 
Or CLICK HERE to find the online form

Punta Gorda 
Or CLICK HERE to find the online form


Naples Daily News:
Or CLICK HERE to find the online form

General Tips
  • Focus on one issue and stay on point.
  • Include writer’s name, complete address and daytime phone number.
  • Some publications reserve the right to edit letters/editorials.
  • Newspapers generally limit how often they will print letters from an individual.
  • Letters should generally be less than 250 words (depending on news outlet).